Updated: Dec 14, 2021
This is Hollies amazing birth story! Buckle up it is a good one. She practiced pregnancy yoga and hypnobirthing in pregnancy and I loved how she absolutely took control of every twist and turn like an absolute boss. So, here it is:
“Birth preferences: MLU, At home as long as possible, Water birth/ labour in pool, Open to pain relief options….Actual birth: Labour ward Induction, IV drip due to GBS, Labour in water Codeine, gas and air, epidural.
From our 20 week scan I was “diagnosed” with a baby LGA (large for gestational age) anticipated close to 10lbs by EDD- her dad is 6ft 7in so we weren’t surprised. Was tested 2x for GD due to her tummy measurements being out of proportion and off the chart every time- but GD was not present. I tried not to fall into the “big baby trap”- but as a FTM I have to say I was terrified.
Eventually, we agreed to induction with the consultant.
This was due to several factors: our 35 week growth scan estimated her to be at 7lb 6oz already, I was then found to have GBStrep and was told I would need antibiotics in labour to prevent serious infections to baby, I was on my 4th episode of reduced movements And especially for my crippling SPD!!All factors combined helped us to make the decision to induce at 39 weeks- we knew we could pull out or change our mind at any time.
Using EBRAN (this is a decision making tool where you ask yourself/your HCP is it is an Emergency what the Benefits are, what the Risks are, if there are any Alternatives, and what if we just did Nothing, in order to help making decisions) I had early membrane sweeps agreed with consultant from 37 weeks to try and get things going naturally or help me progress before induction. First sweep I was 0.5cm dilated, closed at the top and it was classed as a “cervical massage.” Second sweep I was 1cm dilated, still closed at the top, but cervix was short and soft. Third sweep I was 2cm dilated, finally open at the top, partially effaced, stretchy and soft and the sweep was “successful.” Baby was also 1/5th engaged at this point (which I already knew because my SPD was horrific by this point) I was pleased with the progress- but the sweeps did not bring on labour naturally as I had hoped. I didn’t lose any plug, or have any more tightening than usual. I didn’t feel any pain from the sweeps at all.
I was using raspberry leaf tea and dates from 32 weeks, had been on my birthing ball from 24 weeks (under chiro advice), doing prenatal yoga weekly, harvested colostrum from 36 weeks, used clary sage from 37, had sex, orgasms, walked a lot (even when in pain!) , scrubbed the floors - every trick in the book!! It must have worked as the midwives commented how impressed they were with my cervix for a FTM!
I went In for the induction process on Friday 15th October, bang on 39 weeks. I knew I’d have to fight for an outpatient induction due to reduced movements, but I was prepared for it. Got to hospital. Discussed situation with midwife. She sent consultant to see me. Consultant was very concerned about sending me home due to recent episode of reduced movements. Said she would rather I go home with the rods, instead of the pessary. However, I used my EBRAN, told her I know my body, I know my baby, I live 10 minutes away and I would progress better at home. She agreed with me after a discussion about this and I got the feeling she was impressed with my knowledge!! Midwife then came in, examined me and inserted the pessary. I consented to a sweep too. This sweep hurt and I felt like she did a proper job. I was 1cm dilated and favourable. Cue Monitoring for 30 minutes, asked to mobilise and go for a walk for an hour and then come back for 10 mins monitoring before being sent home at 3pm. Only symptom at this point was sciatica and leg cramp, still don’t know if this was related or not- but my guess is yes!
Got home about 3.15 and relaxed on the birthing ball watching Netflix.
Around 5pm period pains started coming in waves and right leg cramp got worse. then went for 3 loose bowel movements in a row. Loose bowels continued until 10pm. Got in the bath. At this point they started coming every 3-4 minutes lasting around 30 seconds. Strong enough for me to know a difference, but not strong enough for me to stop what I was doing. By 7:30pm they were lasting 45 seconds - 1minute each time. By 9:40 they were still coming every 2-3 mins and lasting 50-60 second and I couldn’t talk through them and was mooing like a cow.
22:30 pain was intense and still coming every 2 mins. Called hospital. They asked me to come in. Got to labour ward. Put on monitor and contractions were regular and strong. The midwife Told me I was in established labour- but I didn’t believe it?! I had been told it was uncommon for a FTM to labour from the pessary only. They hooked me up to IV antibiotics due to group b strep. Then noticed I was hyper stimulating on the monitor. I Was getting 4-5 contractions back to back and then a minute or so for a break. Then 4-5 more in a row each lasting a minute. Had anti sickness due to nausea.
12:30am - the midwife took the pessary out and first cervical exam showed I was still 1-2cm and not fully effaced. The contractions continued as they were before, despite the pessary being removed. I was really disheartened at this as I had been having strong regular contractions lasting over a minute for several hours and really thought this was it. I was taken away from labour ward and put back onto induction ward. I accepted codeine at this point as I really wasn’t getting a break from contracting and knew I would be in for a long ride.
2.30am The lovely midwife ran me a bath which was divine
Contractions eventually started to slow down around 3:30am. Around 10-11 hours after my first one. I was able to get some (disturbed) rest, as they were strong enough to wake me up, but I was able to continue breathing through them. They were now coming approximately once every 4-5 minutes at this point lasting 50 seconds ish.
At 4am I noticed wetness underneath me in the bed!
I looked down and saw I’d had my bloody show. Midwife was confident that regardless of the hyper stimulation, I was progressing (even if slowly!) still at this time, and so I sent my partner home at 4:15am and told him to go and get in bed for a few hours and sleep before the main event. At this point we had been awake close to 24 hours. 6:30am- put on monitor. Was contracting 3in10 and 2in10 which she said was a good sign. Can’t believe how much less-intense they were compared to the propess. Cervical exam at 8am showed I was STILL 1-2cm dilated, but I chose to see this as a positive because my body had continued into labouring on its own without the pessary!
I then chose to have the pessary back in (for a maximum of 12 hours) and asked for some codeine to take the edge off. They also agreed to get me gas and air if I needed it. Because I was “niggling” and in “early labour” already by this point- they were hopefully this pessary would work and I could go straight to having waters broken around 9pm. Partner came back in with McDonald’s breakfast- YES. We spent the day listening to music, podcasts, going for walks, giving massage, napping, met mum for coffee, bouncing on ball etc
2pm monitoring showed baby was still fine and contractions were still strong and regular at every 4-6 minutes. I could breathe through them though and felt the difference to the previous day!
5pm I could start to feel a difference in the contractions.
Becoming more intense and lasting over a minute each, but not more regular than 4-6 minutes. I focused on breathing through them. 9pm pessary was removed. Very disheartening to hear I was Still 1-2cm but favourable enough for them to break my waters. I agreed to this using EBRAN as I couldn’t face another 24 hours waiting with no progress. The midwives were particularly concerned about recent reduced movements. The plan was, water breaking. Give me a couple of hours to get things going on my own, then get in the pool and use gas and air. I had the oxytocin drip and epidural on standby just in case- I was always open to everything. The midwives fully respected all of my choices and made sure they happened.
Had Waters broken 10:50pm on Saturday night. Immediately contractions ramped up. They came more frequently and were a lot more intense. I got into the pool at about 12am. By 12:30am they were still increasing in intensity but not in length. I agreed to the drip as contractions were not effective at dilating the cervix. As soon as the drip was inserted the pain was very intense. I used gas and air and breathing techniques in the water but at 3:30am, I asked for a vaginal exam. I used EBRAN and decided if I was anything less than 4cm at this point I was going for the epidural. I was found to still be 2cm, although I was now fully effaced which was good. Decided on the epidural and got out of the pool.
Had the epidural in which allowed them to turn up the oxytocin drip and relieve me of the pain whilst progressing labour quicker. At this point my partner and I decided we needed sleep, and slept from 4am-6am which was bliss. 9am check showed I was now 4cm dilated, baby’s head was the lowest it could be and things were going well. I could still feel the contractions and move my legs with the epidural which was very important to me to stay mobile. I lay on my left side, and used positioning on the bed to try and get labour progressing whilst I could regain my strength.
Over time, the right side of my epidural failed which meant that I started feeling the pain/contractions on one side of my body only. I used gas and air to take the edge off this, whilst the anaesthetist discussed options. Chose to continue how things were and have a “top up” inserted into the current epidural to see if that helped. It did… until it wore off again. Was on the CTG monitor and for 3 hours baby’s heart tracing was classed as “suspicious”. Her HR was decreasing with each contraction. I had the doctors visit me to try and discuss interventions- but I used my EBRAN and I knew from talking to experienced midwives the decelerations were a result of labour progressing well, I could still feel her moving, everything was going okay with her obs, and I chose to continue as I was.
I was examined again shortly after 11am and I was 9cm dilated and baby was on her way down and out!!!!
That was the reason behind the deceleration, I was so pleased I trusted my gut. Went through my birth preferences with the midwife (delayed clamping, warm towel on perineum, immediate skin to skin). At this time I Was told that there was a tiny bit of cervix left to recede and that they would review me in 2 hours. Cue my partner and I deciding on another nap to save strength (they told use once we are 10cm they will leave us for an hour before starting active pushing- which can take up to 90 minutes).
At 11:50am I woke up with a contraction that was immensely powerful with a strong pressure in my bum, I had to lift my bum up to cope with it. Started using the gas and air to help as my epidural wasn’t amazing!
This happened with every contraction following and at 12pm with my contraction I said I needed to push. That woke the hubby up! Midwife was not convinced, said she would look during next contraction to see if we could see babies head at all.
Next contraction came, and yep- there was babies head!! Catheter whipped out quickly and 9 minutes later our little girl (who was not LGA after all!) arrived in the world at 12:17pm weighing 8lbs exactly. The midwives coached me through everything completely naturally, and I only ended up with 2 small labial cuts, requiring 2 stitches each.
Absolutely not the birth I had planned, but I did it my way.
My choices were heard, and respected by all of the maternity staff. I got an outpatient induction, water labour, and appropriate pain relief that ultimately allowed me to rest enough so my little girl arrived safely and calmly into the world because I trusted my body, and I’ll never trust another growth scan again!"
Hollie had her baby at QMC which is part of Nottingham University Trust Hospitals.