Guest post written by Hannah @Hannahlmaynard
I feel incredibly lucky & grateful to have had two very empowering and positive birth stories.
Hi, I’m Rachel, mother to three kids under five, and proud home birther to two out of three of my babies. We welcomed our last baby, Temperance, into the world on 28th September 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic in our home is Hampshire.
This was our second home birth, both of which were empowering and amazing experiences. So here’s my story of a pandemic home birth
My home birth experience (Southampton University Trusts)
The first moment I knew I was in labour was in the morning of the 28th around 7:30am when I started to feel strong backache and mild contractions that bordered on braxton hicks. Our four year old was due to go to school (his first full day) so my husband dropped him off, taking our two year old with him so I can pace around the living room, and bounce on my exercise/birthing ball. They came back and I put our two year old down for a nap around 9:30am.
I started to monitor the contractions and read a bit of my book (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) to distract me as they started to get more intense. I phoned the midwives around 10am to have a chat. My contractions weren’t hugely regular, a mix of 4 minutes to 2 minutes apart, sometimes lasting 30 seconds, sometimes longer. I knew this was typical for my body from my previous births. I don’t fall into a particular pattern. I decided on the phone to give it a little longer before I requested the midwives to come.
Half an hour later, the contractions were getting increasingly more difficult to talk through so I called again. The labour line said they would contact the midwives and see if and who could come out to me. I received a call perhaps 10minutes later from the midwife saying she was coming from the hospital and how was I doing? I was starting to get the bearing down sensation from the contractions where the pressure started to build in my back, spread to the front and pushed downward. I said this to the midwife who asked if I thought it would be a good idea to request the second midwife which I said yes. They would be with us in half an hour.
In that time, Dann began filling our hired birthing pool. He had inflated it earlier that morning before the school drop off. The pool took about 30 minutes to fill being a mini birthing pool (the standard size can be upwards of 45 minutes but our water tank struggles to keep up with that size and maintain the water temperature at 36 degrees. We’ve learnt this from previous experience.) To fill up faster, Dann connected hoses to both our kitchen sink tap, and the hot tap in our downstairs toilet. The pool was filled when the midwives arrived at around 11:30am.
The lead midwife (who turned out to be the student who had attended both of my previous births which was pretty special) did my internal exam, as well as general wellbeing checks giving me some entonox to tide me over as the pain was getting more intense. We phoned my friend to come collect Dexter who had now woken from his nap, and I got into the birthing pool with the entonox by my side. The midwives were super helpful with hand holding and helping me get into the pool whilst my husband sorted Dexter who was good as gold throughout.
As soon as I got in the pool the sensation to push increased and I let my body do its thing. The next part is a little fuzzy from the pain and pain relief (entonox makes me very heady and spaced out though I know this isn’t the case for most). Not long later, I could feel baby girl’s head near crowning, and I was aware of the midwives monitoring more closely, using the mirror in the pool to monitor any crowning.
To everyone’s surprise, my own included, she crowned on a contraction, with her body slipping out on the same push. My previous home birth, I pushed the head out, then had to wait a full contraction later before I could push his body out. The midwives caught her and said I could move back so they could pass her up to me. The surprise is written all over my face in some of the photos my husband took. Dexter was with me the entire time, blowing on the entonox canister by the pool as I breathed it in.
I was given the injection to pass the placenta, passed Temperance to my husband and the midwives and guided out of the pool to the sofa to pass the placenta and get checked over. Before I managed to get to the sofa, the placenta slipped out onto the floor. Fortunately we have wood flooring and understanding midwives who had a good laugh about it.
After another check for tears and grazes, I was deemed as a graze which didn’t need stitches (the midwives can do these at home so you don’t have to transfer) and Temperance was brought back for cuddles and her first feed whilst the midwives monitored me for a bit longer and fill in their paperwork whilst we all enjoyed a cup of tea. My friend arrived to collect Dexter for a playdate so we had a bit of time as a three with our baby girl. The most fascinating part of having a home birth is learning about the placenta checks the midwives do, particularly as our hospital trust is a teaching hospital so always has students. I had three midwives attending in the end for this birth.
It was an intense and quite quick birth, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
How the pandemic affected our pregnancy and birth experience
As a low risk pregnancy, I was lucky to not have many difficulties. Due to the pandemic, my husband couldn’t attend a single scan which was hard, even as a third time mother. We had our first scan a week into the first lockdown. I was the one who told my husband we were having a girl when I got back in the car after my 20 week scan.
All my appointments with my midwife (the same community midwife I’ve had for each of my pregnancies and the most supportive woman ever, she was the one to suggest a home birth in the first instance.) were alone, in masks.
I had an additional growth scan at 37 weeks due to stagnant growth which was not a hugely fun experience, though bumping into Lucinda, my midwife at the hospital was nice.
During my actual birth, the pandemic fortunately didn’t make a big impact. The only real perceptible difference was the fact the midwives wore masks the entirely time, aside from when they had a drink. I am glad we chose a home birth as I think I would have ended up birthing alone in a hospital due to restrictions and childcare.
I think the pregnancy restrictions were far worse and harder than the labour restrictions, and I am very pleased to see that a lot of Covid restrictions have been lifted now for partners and pregnant people.
The months since have been different to how we expected to spend our days with our baby girl when we conceived her in January 2020, but we have our healthy baby girl and a wonderful birth experience to remember, and that’s all that matters to me.
YOU CAN READ RACHEL’S FIRST GUEST POST BY CLICKING HERE : EVERYTHING YOU NEED WHEN PLANNING A HOME BIRTH
Are you planning to give birth to your baby via caesarean? Is this elective, or perhaps you have been advised to do so for a medical reason. You may be feeling completely fine with this decision or you may feel disappointed, perhaps with a sense of having no options and the vaginal birth you were planning has been taken away from you. I want to reassure you that you can still have a sense of control over your abdominal birth and having this sense of control can then allow you to feel more prepared and excited whether planned or unplanned.
Your baby’s birth can be magical when you give birth abdominally. It is proven that the more relaxed you are going into your abdominal birth the easier the bonding, healing and recovery can be. We want and need to have an emotional experience however we birth, we should be given the opportunity for involvement and to be a part of the birth as much as possible, therefore you can use hypnobirthing as it has a wonderfully beneficial effect on your mindset and your ability to remain relaxed. Hypnobirthing as birth preparation really is for all births. Incorporating logic, mindfulness, affirmations, breathing techniques, confidence and techniques to keep the adrenaline at bay so you can enjoy your birth.
If you have elected or are preparing for an abdominal birth then being aware of your choices, understanding what the team is open to doing within your hospital and then communicating this to them via your wishes for birth will also help you to feel more in control. I always recommend my parents put together an option for a plan B or C. So even if you have an unplanned abdominal birth, you can still have some choices in place.
Are you familiar with the term ‘gentle caesarean’? This means that the obstetrician would make the incision and your baby’s head would be born gently before slowly waiting for the body to follow, this allows your baby to have a calmer entrance into the world. Moving through in this way also helps with expelling the fluid from the lungs which would have been squeezed out if your baby was born vaginally through the birth path.
If you have been using guided hypnobirthing MP3’s in your pregnancy, they would have made a positive association for you which will still be very helpful. Make sure you have your MP3 or music on one headphone, so you have this to keep you calm while also staying informed of what is happening in the room if this is your preference.
On gowning up you can have your gown tied at the front opposed to the back, like putting on a jacket, this will enable you to enjoy skin to skin with your little one as soon as you can. We know the benefits of skin to skin and this should be as encouraged with an abdominal birth. It will help to release the oxytocin and to stimulate your supply.
You may have heard of delayed cord clamping. Straight after birth, historically your baby’s cord would have been cut either right away or after around one minute. We now know that delaying your baby’s cord from being cut has huge benefits for the baby. Delaying it for even 3-5 minutes ensures that they receive a huge amount of extra oxygenated blood volume through the cord from the placenta, up to 30%. They are also then receiving iron which will be enough for 3-6 months. White blood cells and antibodies to keep their immune system boosted. They will also get the transferral of vital stem cells. You can also leave the cord until it goes white and floppy. Delaying your baby’s cord being clamped should be done for you unless of course, the baby needs some help after birth and in this case they will need to clamp the cord to assist your baby.
You can have the ECG dots placed on your upper back and shoulders opposed to your chest which will then allow for immediate skin to skin and for your baby to be placed directly on your chest after birth without any interference.
You can ask for the lights to be dimmed around the theatre room apart from those being used directly above the surgery. Once your baby has been born, it will then be able to enjoy skin to skin in a darker more dimly lit atmosphere up by your chest.
The surgical screen can be lowered so you are able to see your baby being born, this is magical if you would like to experience it. Some parents would prefer not to see it however some have described it as magical. It is your decision however, you do need to communicate this with your birth team I would suggest before the day just to make sure it is something they do offer.
Skin to skin. The first hour should be as calm as possible to encourage your baby to feed and establish breastfeeding if this is your wish. It will help to produce the oxytocin for bonding and will assist in encouraging your uterus to contract down. You can request that the midwives do not weigh or measure your baby until after that first initial hour following birth.
I really hope this helps to let you feel more in control of your abdominal birth and for you to prepare in the best way for you both as parents. I would urge you to communicate with your midwives as much as possible which will then enable you to stay close to your choices and if it is not possible then you will understand why.
Hello, a quick introduction. My name is Rachel, mama to three kids under five (yes I know!). I’ve been really lucky to have the best of birth experiences, and had two home births out of choice and preference. I get a lot of shocked faces, and surprise when I’ve spoken about my home birth before (more so about my second born, first home birth as that was in 2018 so we’ve seen more people as opposed to my 2020 home birth where we obviously haven’t seen many people).
There’s a lot of thoughts and feelings about home births. Like most things there are facts and figures, both positive and negative, which add to preconceived ideas and feelings.
I’m a huge advocate of home births and women’s birth rights, especially around where they give birth and reducing the surprise that seems to surround home birthing. I promise, it is safe. It is no more risk than any other kind of birth.
For both home births, I discussed my plans with my midwife who gave me the go ahead at my 36 week appointment. She knew I wanted a home birth prior to this, but it was decided and agreed at 36 weeks during our birth planning appointment. If it’s your first home birth, your Trust will organize a home visit.
The home visit is not about judging the cleanliness of your home, or how well you’ve decorated. The midwife mostly just wants to know if there will be enough space, especially if you plan to have a home water birth as the pools are quite large. They also want to check parking and access, considering the possibility of ambulance being needed (this isn’t to scare you, but should absolutely be taken into account). Once your home birth has been agreed, which is dependent on your personal circumstances and pregnancy (see more on your rights below), your Trust will organise the home birth kit.
Depending on your Trust, some have dedicated home birth teams, others use their community midwives, others still use the midwives within the hospital and send them out as and when needed. Some Trusts will send your home birth kit to you at 37 weeks (the advised date at which a home birth is deemed safe as you are full term) which you store in your home until required. Or, your midwives will bring the kit with them on the day/night of the birth. The former happened for our first home birth, the latter happened for our second home birth. These kits include incopads, syringes, disposal kits, emergency resuscitation equipment, general medical supplies, and entonox if requested. This is usually brought by the midwives on the day/night of labour but I have heard of it being with the kits too.
I have always been a fan of the idea of water births, and have attempted water births for all three of my labours, with two successful (my first was a dry land birth, after spending a lot of time in the pool for the labour but needing some extra monitoring for my back to back baby for the last part of pushing).
Home births absolutely allow for a water birth if you wish to go that route. Some Trusts have the scope to offer birth pools on hire, some for free, some for a small charge. Many, unfortunately don’t. However, there are many birth pool hire companies, where they will provide everything you need for your home water birth, including instructions and courier service. We have used the Gentle Births Birthing Pool Hire for both of our home water births, which is a small independent company that have the very best customer service and excellent quality hired pools. You can also buy a pool outright, and then sell later. Both options are usually around the £100 mark.
For pain relief, aside from the pool, you can use tens machines and paracetamol. Speak to your midwife and GP about pethidine or other heavier painkillers, which can be given in a home birth but has to be prescribed in advance by a GP. Entonox, or gas and air, is the most commonly used pain relief in home births.
There’s quite a lot of fear associated with home births. Around 2% of births in England and Wales (I don’t have the data for other areas, sorry) happen at home (ONS) or outside of a NHS/hospital setting.
“Overall around 80% of first-time mothers who planned a birth at home or in a Birth Centre had a straightforward birth, compared to only 60% of those that planned a birth in an Obstetric unit.” (Aims) This figure increases for the second time and subsequent mother’s.
There isn’t a definitive fact for why home births lean toward more straightforward births but many believe the reduction of stress from moving from one environment to another (especially a clinical one) can contribute to labour being managed better by mother’s.
“In the Birthplace Study, only about 5 or 6 in 100 women transferred from home or an FMU in order to have an epidural, and about twice as many from an AMU.” (Aims)
There are many reasons to birth at home, and why it may be a viable and preferred option. Many, like myself, don’t like a hospital environment. Particularly when you factor in the rates of intervention for a hospital birth compared to a midwife led unit or home birth. Some choose a home birth to regain control after a traumatic previous birth. Those who have had previous fast deliveries are often advised to consider a planned home birth as generally second births are faster than the first.
As with all aspects of maternity and perinatal care, your choices are your own and you are well within your rights to change your mind, before, and during labour. If you do, you can be reassured that being at home isn’t going to endanger your child. You can still be transferred. This also applies to births that develop complications. We all know that no birth is the same, and to expect the unexpected. Midwives are trained to look for signs of distress, just as they would within a hospital environment, and will have you transferred to hospital if you need the additional assistance. Ambulances will rank you highly on their priority list too.
“The most common reason for transfers is that labour is going slowly and the mother wants it to be speeded up artificially. The other main reason is that her midwife has picked up signs that her baby may not be coping well with labour. Midwives are trained to spot these warning signs early, so the transfer can normally be done in plenty of time and in a calm way.” (Aims)
Unfortunately, some parents to-be are not supported with their choice to home birth by their Trust. This does not remove your right to birth wherever you choose.
“If you are keen to have a Homebirth and your Hospital Trust is reluctant to support you, another option is to hire an Independent Midwife to provide your care. (link to IMUK) and in some areas private companies are offering midwifery services, some of which are paid for by the NHS.” (Aims)
You are also able to free birth should you wish for no medical intervention. This is sometimes the path taken by those who have been advised that a midwife cannot get to them at home, usually due to staffing, who do not want to go into a hospital environment. You can also call for a paramedic crew to attend should you need emergency support but you should remember that they are not trained to the same level as midwives about intervention and baby monitoring, and will likely transfer you to hospital unless a midwife can arrive shortly after the birth in the case of quick and sudden births.
“Some women choose to birth at home without midwife support (known as free-birthing). This is legal. It is also legal for a relative or friend to support a woman who is labouring without a midwife present, as long as they are not acting in the capacity of a health professional or giving medical or midwifery care.” (Aims)
if you want a water birth (they come with liners and pumps. You may need to purchase a thermometer and sieve).You will also need a hand mirror so the midwives can use it in the water to monitor your visible progress. I found an affordable hairdressers hand mirror for about £4 on Amazon.
preferably old ones in dark colours but I promise home births really aren’t as messy as you would like. You’ll want ones for around the pool, for you when you get out of the pool (if applicable) plus ones for your sofa or bed, plus for baby to be wrapped in.
This helps to protect your floor especially if you have carpet (you can duct tape to the carpet to stop it sliding). Also can be used on your sofa or bed to protect them. Cheap is fine. I used £2 shower curtains from ASDA that we threw away at the end with the pool liner and incopads.
are helpful too if you have the funds. Your midwife team will bring incopads in their kits, but these are great for between calling and the arriving, as well as after birth if you are a heavy bleeder. Boots do a good pack of five pads.
For you, the family and the midwives. For my first homebirth I gave birth at shift change so it wasn’t hugely necessary. But my second, I laboured right through to lunch (more about that later) which made for some peckish midwives who didn’t even appear to contemplate food. We offered tea and biscuits which they gladly accepted as I held our new born daughter and they did their paperwork. Chocolate hobnobs will forever remind me of giving birth.
are great options for creating a cosy atmosphere. Some midwives advised against real candles due to naked flames near a flammable substance, i.e. the entonox, although I’ve never had that problem personally. Many choose fairy lights to go around the pool, and battery powered candles as they also last a long time with no fire risk.
I also packed an emergency hospital bag, just in case. You never know if your circumstances are going to change, and with every birth and baby different, it doesn’t hurt to have a plan B. I packed all the basics for a hospital stay in case we needed some extra help. Fortunately I’ve never had to use it, and raided it after the birth for my hidden extra snacks!
Most of all, if you’re planning a home birth, enjoy the process. Own your choice. Home births, not so long ago, were the norm, and hospital births unusual. They are safe. You are safe.
Oliver Hudson arrived on the 18th February 2020 at 8am, weighing 7lb 1oz. He was two days early and boy was he in a rush. I always knew I was going to share my labour & delivery story on here, just as I shared Teddy’s but since the boys deliveries safely into the world were so vastly different I want to share it even more! It is so important to share my positive birth story, especially after such a traumatic one with Teddy (55 hours of back to back labour, theatre for forceps & a haemorrhage). When people tell you every birth is different, they really aren’t lying and I am a prime example of that! I’m still in shock almost 12 months later…
I had absolutely no inkling that baby would be arriving; nothing. I went bed on Monday the 17th February without a care in the world at around 10/11pm. I then was woken up at 1am with “belly ache” – first instinct was oh I’ve been pretty constipated (standard) so just need the toilet. Did my business and got back in bed.. a few minutes later.. the same thing so off I went to the toilet and did more of my business. Repeat for an hour! I then accidentally woke Aaron up and said I had belly ache, but I didn’t think it was anything.
After about two hours the pains were coming every 6-7 minutes but still.. did I think I was in labour? LOL NOPE. Just had the shits obviously. I actually blocked the toilet at one point which is exactly what you need at 4 in the morning!
By this point I was in a LOT of pain. They were really low down, not across my belly or back as they were with Teddy so I thought something was wrong, but did I think I was about to give birth? STILL NO. Babies don’t come early. No. Especially not my baby. They’ll be late like their brother. Yep.
I tried implementing my hypnobirthing breathing I had been practicing each night but I couldn’t concentrate on a single thing. The pain was 10 times worse than I had with Teddy. They didn’t gradually build in pain factor either, they were intense straight away!
At about 4:30am Aaron mentioned that maybe I should think about ringing the hospital so I reluctantly did (I was so in denial, it’s laughable). I spoke to a lovely midwife, explained how often my contractions were (every 6 minutes) and she said to ring back in an hour, if I couldn’t speak through the contractions or once they came every 3-4 minutes. Take some paracetamol just to see if that’ll help a little bit *eye roll* paracetamol ain’t helping NO ONE.
About half an hour later it got to the point where I couldn’t breath, talk or move through a contraction but I decided to leave it a little longer as I needed to take Teddy to my mums but didn’t want to ring her too early (STUPID). I suddenly started feeling a lot of pressure in my pelvis and top of my vagina and I instantly panicked – again, not because I thought the baby was coming, oh no, but because I thought something was wrong. I suddenly couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt baby move and started to worry.
I rang the midwife back at 6am and explained that the pains were coming a lot more often, I couldn’t breathe through them never mind talk and I was worried about where the pain was. She again was very lovely and calmed me down through the contractions I had whilst on the phone and explained that I needed to get to hospital as soon as I could.
We made sure we had the last few bits in our bags (that we only packed two days before – imbeciles) & that Teddy’s bag had enough to last him a few days in-case I was in hospital the same length of time as I was with him – LOL – Aaron scooped Teddy up and put him straight in the car. Luckily my mum lives a 2 minute car journey away so we dropped him off. I literally crawled out the car to say goodbye to him and I could have bawled like a baby but the pain was that bad I couldn’t even think about it properly.
Aaron decided this was an amazing time to go to fucking Asda cash machine whilst I’m making what can only be described as mooing noises. We were about 20 minutes from the hospital and I remember feeling a LOT of pressure in my vaginal area and I suddenly felt myself pushing. OH HELL NO.. I didn’t dare tell Aaron because I needed him to not panic or worry so I literally put my hand in front of my vagina as if that would stop a child exiting it.
We got to the hospital at 7:20am and I could have cried with relief. I practically crawled across the car pack shouting to Aaron that something was wrong – he attempted to calm me down and explain we were safe now and everything would be fine. We didn’t bother getting the bags out the car because we obviously didn’t know what the crack would be and I didn’t want to get my hopes up just to be sent home (this happened twice with Teddy and it is the worse feeling) so we eventually managed to get to delivery unit but I literally couldn’t speak but the midwife who I spoke to on the phone greeted us and said they had a room and I could go straight in.
I walked into the room and I couldn’t even get on the bed because it was too painful. I was just stood mooing and swaying before I sort of threw myself onto the bed. I explained the pain to the midwife who would be with me (Francis you wonderful woman) and she said “right we need to get your pants off right now” – okayyyy.. break it to me gently what am I? 2? 3cm?
“The baby is coming right now”… excuse me now what? She had to repeat it about 6 times because I didn’t believe her. No. This baby can’t come early. Not possible. It isn’t due for two days and they will be late. Obviously.
She had to pop my waters as they hadn’t gone naturally (she said it was my waters that basically stopped me giving birth in the car. Yay) and said to push. I screamed that I didn’t know what was happening, the baby can’t come yet – I pushed like my life depended on it.
About 20 minutes later she said the head was coming and she helped me breathe and do tiny pushes as to try and prevent tearing. Now with Teddy I had a spinal block in theatre for forceps so I was numb as a daisy but with Oliver? Oh no no no. The ring of fire is real and holy shit. I apparently shouted “fucking hell it’s burning”!!! To which Aaron and the midwife laughed. I could have smashed both their faces in – this isn’t a laughing matter people!
At exactly 8am, Aaron announced we had another gorgeous boy – 40 minutes after arriving at the hospital – & Oliver Hudson flew into the world, with his arm next to his head so I did experience a second degree tear. He was put straight into my chest and oh it’s just the best feeling in the entire world – nothing will ever compare.
I was in absolute shock. I hadn’t expected a baby to come. We didn’t have our bags. I hadn’t had chance to tell my sister I was in labour. Nothing. We had delayed cord clamping and I had to have an injection to help the placenta come due to my previous haemorrhage I suffered after my delivery of Teddy.
A doctor then came in and dealt with my tear, I had anaesthetic for that thank Christ. She was down there for a while so I nicely asked if it was okay and she explained it hadn’t torn in a straight line so was just a little more fiddly – nice one kid.
We had the longest feed and Aaron read through some texts from my mum (any updates?) and my sister (WHAT IS GOING ON – MUMS JUST TEXT ME?! And another saying “you’ve got this”. Little did they know he was already here!
About an hour after he was born, Aaron went getting our bags and I hobbled to the shower. I felt so much fresher and myself – albeit still in shock! We then went up to the ward at about 10:30am after the midwife had done all her paperwork, where I would be staying and I rang my family. My mum and sister couldn’t believe how quickly it had happened. They thought I’d gone radio silent because I was too upset at possibly being sent home or not that far on.
They asked if I wanted to go home later that day or stay in overnight which I did decide to do. My sister suggested I stay, just because you have some real one on one time with your baby that you’ll never get again. I’d go home and be straight into mum mode – sorting Teddy, tidying up. So to take this one day and night to really enjoy my new baby. I’d recommend it to any new mum!
He breastfed like a champ all day, had the sleepiest cuddles and we just soaked him up. It was honestly magic. I felt so much more at ease than I had after having Teddy. I didn’t panic anytime Aaron had to go somewhere – like the toilet..LOL
PHEW i’ll be surprised if anyone is still here, but what do you know.. a lot can happen in a seven hour labour! I hope you enjoyed reading my positive birth story! x
Having a baby at any point in your life is overwhelming at the best of times. Let alone giving birth during a global pandemic. Here I share my birth story, what it was like to go through the induction process, and give birth to a baby during the first peak and national lockdown
I experienced reduced movements from Evelyn. However, I didn’t want to go into hospital unnecessarily during a pandemic to be told everything was fine and be sent home again. Over the weekend her movements picked up but then dropped again come Monday. I reluctantly went to get checked out. After being told off by the midwives for not going in sooner, I was told everything was fine and sent home. With the instruction to call if they reduced again.
Tuesday 7th April, I had little to no movement. I rang the pregnancy advice line and was advised to get checked out. I head to my local hospital where I was greeted by Rachel. A midwife I’d come in to contact with many times – a true gem! She was dressed in her PPE ( plastic apron, gloves and face mask ) and as she popped me on the monitor, she took a full set of observations.
Asking if I’d any symptoms of Covid-19 – which I hadn’t. I was observed for 20 minutes and baby was perfectly fine, but had hardly moved. As I was 37 weeks, and had been contracting for 10 weeks, she offered to examine me and see where we were at. Turns out I was 1cm, and she offered a sweep. I had the sweep and was told to really pay attention to baby’s movements. If they hadn’t increased by dinner time, I was to call the advice line again.
I went home and bounced on my birthing ball, hoping to either have baby kick up a storm, or to go into labour. Neither happened. 5pm and I ring the advice line again, explaining what had been going on. I was sent to delivery triage to get checked over again. Due to hospital regulations, Liam was not allowed with me. I had to go in alone.
When I arrived, all midwives were in full PPE and scrubs. It was weird and overwhelming. I was incredibly anxious and not having Liam there made it worse. However I had a lovely midwife who eased my anxiety straight away. We were checked over, and baby was fine. The Dr on shift had a look at my pregnancy history, and considering the reduced movement episodes advised an induction. But a natural as possible induction without hormones. This is because I was already contracting (like I’d been for weeks) and they didn’t want to risk making them uncontrollable. So it was decided that I was to have a Foley catheter inserted. Its a small balloon that’s inserted and inflated with air or water to naturally encourage the cervix to open. I had this inserted at around 9/10pm and then I was then left to try and get some sleep.
The next morning I was moved down to the antenatal ward. Liam dropped off a bag of drinks and snacks for me, I had to meet him by the lifts as he wasn’t allowed on the ward. The catheter fell out around 9am. I was checked and was dilated just over 1cm. They decided to insert a tablet to help get things going, this was left in for 6 hours. The plan was that once that 6 hours had passed, if nothing had progressed, I would be taken to delivery and have my waters broken.
I spent the day on my own. The small room I was in had three other empty beds. So I was quite bored. I ate snacks, watched Disney+ and face-timed my mum and Liam continuously as well as having the odd nap. To some that my sound perfect, but I hated being alone. I paced round the room to try and get things going but nothing was working.
4.30pm came and I was checked. I was told I hadn’t progressed an awful lot, and was taken to delivery to see if they could break my waters. When I arrived, they got me settled. I unpacked my candles and got my oil roller out, the midwives set up the candles for me and shut all the blinds to make it dark. It instantly became a calm, relaxing space to give birth in. They told me I could ring Liam and he could come join me. This made me extremely happy as they said that because my birth with Molly was so fast, things could progress quickly if waters were broken.
Boy were they right! My waters were broken at 5.30pm My contractions started pretty much straight away. Evelyn’s heart rate dropped so I had to be checked to ensure the cord hadn’t prolapsed. It hadn’t , but I had to lay on my side. Liam arrived not long after and I face timed my mum to give her an update.
At 6pm things got super intense very quickly. I was 3cm. My contractions were now back to back. I was using gas and air and trying my hardest to implement Hypnobirthing breathing techniques. Gas and air makes me high as a kite, I was more talkative during this labour compared to Molly’s though. My mum was still on face time through all of this. Her and Liam were talking and even the midwives were joining in the conversation, including my mum with everything. I was checked at around 7.15 and was told I was 4cm dilated, they also put a clip on baby’s head so they could take off the Doppler from around my stomach – as I was on my side, they weren’t getting a clear reading.
I don’t know if it’s just me that did this during labour, but with Molly, I reached a point where I asked for an epidural. This was when I was 10cm and about to push. Well, the same thing happened this time. At around 7.45 I asked, no begged, for an epidural. The midwife said she needed to examine me to see how far gone I was.
As I went to turn from my side to my back, my body started to push, uncontrollably ( if you know, you know! ) and suddenly they could see Evelyn’s head crowning. The midwife pressed the emergency bell to ask for help as nobody was expecting her to be coming quite so quickly, considering I was 4cm 30 minutes earlier.
Suddenly the room was full of midwives, Evelyn’s heart rate dropped so I was quickly rolled onto my right side, with a midwife holding my leg. Then 10 minutes and three pushes later, Miss Evelyn Elizabeth entered the world at 7.56pm.She was placed onto my chest, and Liam cut her cord. Guess what? My mum got to witness the whole thing via face time – completely unintentional, but I am so glad that she did.
I then delivered the placenta. I had a small bleed, but nothing compared to my first birth with Molly. However, I will say this though, after pains are a horrendous! I do not remember having these with Molly and apparently they get worse with every child you have. I also needed stitches as I had a small internal second degree tear.
Once clean and dressed it was around 11pm and I was moved to the postnatal ward. Liam wasn’t allowed up to the ward, so he wet home. Evelyn and I had our first night together. No sleep, lots of boob and lots of skin to skin cuddles…It was perfect. The midwives on shift that night were so lovely, bringing me copious amounts of tea and the odd cheeky biscuit!
The following morning was spent with Evelyn having all her checks and tests. She had to have a glucose test done, but it came back fine. I had my checks done and all was also good. Just like last time, I struggled to get a good latch, and had the most amazing support from a lactation specialist midwife. I was hand expressing colostrum between feeds and saving it in 1ml syringes to try and encourage my milk to come in and also having lots of skin to skin with Evelyn. I used cloth nappies in the hospital, and had so many questions and compliments from the midwives. They were happy to see someone using cloth and couldn’t believe how easy it was!
I drank more tea and got myself ready to go home whilst watching This Morning. There was a lot of waiting around if I’m honest. Because of the virus, the hospital were short staffed. But, at around 2pm we were finally allowed home! A lovely midwife helped me down to the main doors to meet Liam as he wasn’t allowed in to meet me. We then set off home. I was gutted that nobody could come to the hospital, that Molly couldn’t have the normal sibling experience of going to the hospital to meet baby sister. If I am honest, It broke my heart a little.
When we arrived home we placed Evelyn in the Moses basket. I gave Molly a huge cuddle, and we introduced her to her little sister. We managed to record the moment they met. Molly was besotted from the get go. Stroking Evelyn’s head, and saying “baby is cute” as well as asking to “hold baby”. It was honestly one of the most magical moments I have experienced. Molly has been the best big sister ever since. She has helped with feeding, changing nappies and just been. incredibly loving I couldn’t have wished for anything better.
To anyone who is due to give birth during the pandemic – You can do this!
If you would like to share your birth story with us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org