My labour started around 6pm on a Friday evening – 2 days before my due date. I was out walking with my husband at the River Almond. I got a tight period pain that lasted about 30 seconds then stopped. We enjoyed a lovely walk round the river which took around an hour and by the time we’d finished I’d had 4 of the tightenings. I told my husband but didn’t want to get too excited as knew early labour could last days and also thought they may be practice contractions. They continued when I got home so, I decided to put the Tens machine on. It felt funny at first but I’d heard trying it in early labour and building it up as labour progressed would work best.
Carry on with things and distract myself
The tightenings were continuing to come every 15 minutes and something told me this is it! I still didn’t want to get too excited though and thought I’ll just carry on with things and distract myself. I went to bed and must’ve fallen asleep for a few hours. I was woken by another tightening. I got up and went through to the living room and felt a leak down below. I thought it was my waters. I phoned the labour ward as I was a planned home birth and they advised I put a pad on and go back to bed and try and get some rest.
I was up quite a lot to go to the toilet to move my bowels and kept drinking water. It was quite a restless night. I managed to drift off to sleep while listening to a relaxing script from my hypnobirthing class. When I got up the next morning my husband set up the birth space with some sheets. We had the birth pool set up already in the corner of the living room ready to be filled. The community midwife on call phoned and said she would come out and see me.
Wanted to be left to let things take their course
When she arrived she checked my temperature, pulse and blood pressure. She felt my stomach and confirmed I was having contractions. I forgot to let her know every time I had one and as I bounced on the birthing ball she asked if it was another one and I said I’d had about 3 since she’d arrived! She was worried about my temperature. I did feel quite hot but the flat was also warm. She advised me to keep drinking. There had been no more water on my pad which was confusing and the midwife asked if I was sure it was my waters and not urine. She advised there was a 24 hour period from waters breaking where risk of infection becomes a concern and asked about my views on induction. I stated I was against it unless medically necessary and wanted to be left to let things take their course. She also said I could go into hospital to have a speculum to check if my waters had been broken but I was unsure about this. She measured my temperature again and seemed happier. She suggested walking up stairs and going out for a while to get things moving along. Another midwife was coming on shift later that day and I was told to phone the labour ward if there was any progress.
Felt so unprepared
I decided to go out for a bit and went for breakfast with my husband. I couldn’t eat anything as I felt nauseous and I kept going to the toilet. It was uncomfortable to sit for long periods and I was feeling a bit agitated. I continued using the tens and using the boost function when I got a contraction. I was also getting worried that we didn’t have a lot of food in the house as we do our shopping on a Saturday! I had anticipated I’d be 2 weeks late so, would be prepared and hadn’t stocked the house with snacks for labour. We went round and did some shopping and I bought fruit, coconut and date Nakd bites and jelly.
Gentle movement and to eat, drink, rest and trust!
I tried to rest a bit when I got home but was becoming a bit worried about potentially having to be induced and time ticking on, even though no one was sure whether my waters had broken. I messaged Tricia, who I’d met at a Positive Birth meeting. She let me know that there was a small risk of infection with getting the speculum and that I didn’t have to go in even though it had been offered to me. She suggested some gentle movement and to eat, drink, rest and trust! It was so helpful to have some advice and reassurance there and then from someone I trusted. I spoken to my parents and gran also and received lovely encouraging texts from a friend and my auntie.
They were increasing in intensity
I decided to try walking up and down the stairs 2 at a time in my stairwell. My contractions were irregular sometimes 5 minutes apart and then spacing out again to 12 or 15 minutes apart. This was frustrating but I decided to stop timing them and just let it happen. I went out another walk around tea time down to the harbour at Newhaven. Again, the Tens with the boost function helped during the contractions. I started to feel like they were increasing in intensity. I had a bath when I got home which really helped but getting out was difficult as I was desperate to get dried and get the tens machine on again before another contraction came! I still didn’t want to eat but managed a few Nakd bites and grapes. I just felt so nauseous.
I was torn between moving and resting
After some more rest I went out for a final walk around a local park around 7pm but only managed about 10 minutes and decided to turn back. I was torn between moving and resting but every time I tried to rest I got another contraction and had to walk around. I did some hip opening yoga postures and set up a space on the couch to relax. My husband put on some music – the Braveheart soundtrack. I’d been playing this to baby during pregnancy. It started to annoy me though and conversation with my husband became so difficult as I was having more contractions. I think I had at least another 3 baths! My husband went to bed and had some rest while I paced up and down. I was still convinced I was in early labour at this point as contractions were still irregular! I paced up and down the hall with each contraction and breathed out with each one. This seemed to make them go quicker. The more intense they got and the more each contraction built I would moan and make ‘ah’ noises.
I got a massive contraction and was sick and shaking
I went to the toilet and some blood came away. I decided to phone the labour ward as I felt a bit panicked. They asked if I thought it was my show but I wasn’t sure being a first time mum. I wasn’t sure if it was mucusy as it had gone down the toilet. They told me to monitor and phone back. I decided to eat a jelly and felt the sugar might help. Not long after this I got a massive contraction and was sick and shaking. I went to the toilet and there was more fresh red blood. I phoned the labour ward again and they suggested I come in to triage to be assessed.
I can’t go on like this much longer
My husband got my pre packed bags together and lifted some last minute things. I was so agitated and just wanted to get in the car and get going. I waited outside. It was 2:30am by this point. The cool air outside was refreshing. The car journey was so difficult with the contractions coming every 3-4 minutes. When we arrived at the hospital triage was empty and I paced up and down. I remember thinking I can’t go on like this much longer. I was whimpering with the intensity of the contractions. I was asked to give a urine sample but could hardly produce anything. There was blood in the container and the midwife who was assessing me confirmed it was my show and totally normal.
I couldn’t believe it
The midwife took my hand and gently told me to breathe slowly and relax my shoulders down. I was asked when my baby last moved and I couldn’t remember due to such an intense car journey. They hooked me up to a monitor and lay me on a bed. The pain felt so much more intense so I got up off the bed and leaned against the wall. I felt a really uncomfortable feeling in my bottom. The midwife told me it was the baby! The midwife asked to examine me and I was 8cm!! I couldn’t believe it. She said I had done so well and they didn’t think I was so far progressed as I was so calm. I was then wheeled to the labour suite in a wheelchair. There I met a lovely midwife who would help deliver my baby.
I felt myself relax
I was given some more checks while lying on a bed. The midwife also started asking me lots of questions – if I was allergic to anything, if I wanted dad to cut the cord. They asked me about pain relief and I asked for gas and air. It was such a relief to use this and helped me breathe in and out slowly. I moved onto all fours on the bed. I remember looking between my legs and feeling something wet and bulging. I asked if it was the head!! The midwife said it was my waters. She asked if I wanted the pool filled up and I said yes. I was covered up and wheeled through to another room and heard the running water. I felt myself relax. I got in the pool. It was so warm and I totally relaxed and let go. The midwife said when I felt the urge to push to push into my bottom. The next contraction I pushed and the midwife encouraged me. I was on all fours in the pool and felt I had my own space and privacy. I was aware of the midwife there but it wasn’t invasive. I think I probably had my eyes shut also.
You can do this
I could hear my husband also saying “you can do this Louise!” I was getting a bit impatient at this point and pushed really hard. I felt a stinging down below and knew his head was coming. My waters must’ve broke before this also in the pool but I can hardly remember. I just kept sucking on the gas and air!! I remember thinking ‘let go, relax’ from my hypnobirthing. In a few pushes my baby was born!
I remember speaking to her and saying “I did it!”
I had gone into hospital at 3:30 and my baby arrived at 5:17am! He came between my legs and I lifted him up onto my chest. He didn’t make a sound. The midwife rubbed him a bit and he cried. I remember thinking he was quite slippery and trying to keep him above the water while I sat back in the pool. My husband phoned my mum and I remember speaking to her and saying “I did it!” I felt such a relief and so proud. The midwife asked how I’d like to deliver the placenta. I’d initially thought an injection but decided to try physiological. The midwife massaged my belly and I stood up and gave a push and out it came! My husband cut the cord. I got out the pool and took baby over to the bed and had skin to skin and he latched on and began feeding.
Although I was disappointed I never got my homebirth, I was so happy I got to use the birth pool and felt my birth was gentle and natural. My son Ruairidh was born on his due date after about 35 hours of labour.
It’s so lovely to meet a first time mum who is as sure about herself as Louise was. What’s lovely about this birth is that Louise was in total control throughout. It’s really common for first time mums to transfer in. In this case, what this birth exemplifies is having midwifery support in her home meant that she could really stay where she was comfortable and that’s probably why this birth went so well.
Not all women have blood during labour but it can be surprising how much there is. It’s commonly referred to as the show and can be quite stringy. If you search some of the images of birth on instagram you’ll sometimes see this and I feel it’s really important to be familiar with is so you remain completely calm. If you are concerned at all, then do get in touch with triage/your midwife.
Thanks Louise for sharing this.
Much love, Tricia xxx