My birth story

Here we go… grab a cuppa as this is likely to be a long one… It’s taken me nearly 7 weeks to write ūüėČ

If you were following my pregnancy updates, you’ll know:
– I was suffering from high blood pressure
– I was hoping for as natural a birth as possible

Routine high blood pressure check

So at 39+6 (may 1st 2014) I went for a regular BP check and consultant appointment at the hospital (3pm). My other half was with me, and unusually we’d gone in 1 car rather than meeting there in separate cars…. handy because… my blood pressure was ‘through the roof’ (I think it was about 180/110)…..
Suddenly from a routine check, we were in a small, hot room with about 5 staff telling me I needed to get my BP down… funnily enough, that had the opposite effect so after a quick chat with the doctor (which randomly included her checking my reflexes!) I was put in a wheelchair (more randomness as I was still feeling absolutely fine!!) and wheeled up to a delivery suite in the consultant-led unit!

Induction #1

Despite me telling my OH over the last few weeks¬†that I wouldn’t let them keep me in, and I didn’t want to get induced as it was unnatural… when I was hooked up and was being told by a consultant and midwife that they wanted to induce me because¬†of the¬†risks to my health if I went home¬†(fit/stroke if it turned into pre-eclampsia)¬†I really felt like I couldn’t say no and that this was the best result all round.

I remember saying to her that I’d never get through labour if I couldn’t handle the pain of the sweep, but she explained that my cervix was still tucked up well out of reach and wasn’t quite soft yet hence the uncomfortable feeling (which passed immediately after).¬† (I’d also been given Lobetemol tablets to reduce my blood pressure)

 

Lol @ 'vaginal delivery system'!
Lol @ ‘vaginal delivery system’!

That was about 7pm and while she was doing that, dear OH was getting me my bags from home and a McDonald’s for dinner ūüôā

Waiting….

Then we had to wait….. my OH went home about 9-10pm and at 11pm I was moved to a ward which they call the ‘induction ward’… nothing was happening so I was hoping for sleep…

Alas, they were waking me up to check my BP every few hours… and I was surprised to hear other women being induced, and then going into labour. There were only a couple of women on the ward but with just curtains between us you could hear everything including the loud, chavvy couple who turned up about midnight and shouted updates out of the window at their family below before going into labour about 3 and moving upstairs at 4….

More waiting…

So Friday morning (due date) nothing had happened and I knew I had to wait til 7pm before they’d induce me again. I sent my OH to work but we had a walk around the hospital before and after work. In the meantime I’d discovered the hospital had free WIFI so I downloaded the Great Gatsby and watched that, downloaded loads of music for labour¬†(didn’t end up listening to any of it!)¬†read some magazines, ate the (surprisingly ok) hospital food and just chilled.

Hospital food!
Hospital food!

Considering the panic when they admitted me the day before, they left me to my own devices on this day and only checked my blood pressure a couple of times!

So far this was all quite surreal – I’d gotten a bit emotional before getting induced as it was all just such a shock and everything had happened so quickly. Despite the bad night’s sleep I was starting to think it was a good idea they’d brought me in as just being in hospital and hearing other women go into labour was at least preparing me for my labour and I guess ‘normalising’ the hospital experience for me (I’d never been in hospital before!)

Induction #2

Friday 7pm, lovely Rachel informed me that she couldn’t induce me again yet as the delivery suites were all busy so we’d have to wait a few hours… She took my pessary out, gave me another sweep and said my cervix had softened slightly but still wasn’t dilated…

So more waiting… can’t even remember much about that evening but again, didn’t get much (any?) sleep and at 2am Rachel woke me to monitor my blood pressure and contractions and then induced me again at 3am (this time was a gel as opposed to a pessary, which can then be given every 6 hours) – by this point I was 1cm dilated and had started losing a bit of my plug.

Heartbeat and Contractions
Heartbeat and Contractions

Here we go……

At 6am, things started happening… I started getting cramps, I had some diarrhoea and¬†as I was on the floor hugging a birth ball, I threw up…¬†my body was¬†getting ready. I called my OH and he arrived in time for me to get an anti-¬†sickness jab about 7am and saw (smelled!) my waters break about 8am. (I was on the bed, I heard a loud pop and then felt a huge gush… very strange feeling!)

From what I remember the next couple of hours were among the toughest – due to being monitored I had to stay on the bed, despite me always having wanted to walk around in the early labour stages. My contractions were getting stronger, but I had to wait to be seen by a doctor… when they’d finally done their rounds and came to see me the paper in the monitoring machine had run out so they had to refill it and wait for longer… aarghhgh!

I think I’d just started on the gas and air when they came back in, checked my monitored results, checked me over and by now I was 3-4cm dilated so they were happy to send me up to delivery. This was about 10am.

TENS, Gas and air

In the delivery suite, we met and clicked straight away with our lovely midwife Laura. The 3 of us seemed to work well as a team, my OH was fantastic – he was in charge of holding the gas and air, and giving me water, rubbing my back etc.

I forgot to say, we’d put a TENS machine on my back a few hours prior – we didn’t really use it properly as after a while I stopped pressing the ‘boost’ button but we left it on during the entire labour on a low setting – it was a strange sensation but I’m pretty sure it took away the lower back pain that I’d started getting when my contractions had started.

At this point I have to tell you I thought gas and air was AMAZING – I never expected it to be so effective but I loved it and loved the slightly woozy/high feeling I got ūüôā

If we timed inhaling it right, I could get through a contraction without feeling any pain. If we mis-timed it then I felt it but it wasn’t too bad (I say that now!!). The only issue I had with it, is that in all my yoga classes we’d been practising long breaths out, but using gas and air I was told to take a long breath in and a short breath out, so I did get a bit confused on occasion!

Not long to go…

By 11-11.30am I was 7-8cm dilated (so things had progressed very well and quickly all morning!)…..I asked if I needed any stronger pain relief but the midwife was confident I’d get through it on gas and air as I’d gotten this far. I vaguely remember that every contraction I was getting the urge to push and she kept telling me to hold it back…

By 12/12.30 I was fully dilated and ready to push ūüôā

Cue me panicking after holding in the urge for so long… ‘I don’t know how to push!!’

And despite my preparation into calm, natural labour – from somewhere I got this instinct to be pushing as hard as I could (including having my OH in a headlock!) and as loudly as I could (I vaguely remember sounding like a very loud, primal animal!) .

Again, similarly to the induction ward, in the delivery suite I’d been on my back on the bed for the most part hooked up to the machine. (At some point as baby got lower down- I the baby’s head was hooked up with a monitor to mor accurately¬†keep an eye on their heartrate.¬†During this pushing stage she was happy to take me off the monitor, and ecncouraged me to try some different positions. Despite me practising these in yoga, and telling my OH that I didn’t want to give birth lying down, it’s funny how you get hit by a confidence crisis – and as I’d been lying down for so long it felt like the right place to be!

Here he is!

Luckily he got me to stand up so we did some pushing with me leaning on the bed (and him) I’d been pushing for about 40-45 minutes when she told us that the head was about to come out and it might sting a bit… 3more pushes and he was out… our beautiful baby boy was born at 1.35pm – what a wonderful, life-changing feeling! We didn’t know if we were having a girl or boy but had guessed it was a girl all the way through so it was a real surprise that it was a boy ūüôā

He was perfect – healthy and gorgeous! (Weighing 7lb 2oz) Me on the other hand….

Epidural and 3rd degree tears

Laura gave me the jab and delivered the placenta while baby was on my chest. I remember seeing the placenta (yuck!) but I don’t remember delivering it – my OH tells me I was in lots of pain. Once the placenta was out, Laura tells me I’ve torn and goes to get a doctor¬† for a second opinion…

Turns out I had 3rd degree tears – ouch! Again, I don’t really remember the pain and it’s funny that very early on in my pregnancy, tearing was one of my fears but the reality didn’t seem that bad (oh thank you gas and air!)

I had also lost a lot of blood (not sure how much – my records weren’t updated properly) so was starting to feel faint/tired on top of the woozy feeling. To stitch me up they needed to take me into theatre and give me an epidural.

I couldn’t believe the irony! I got through labour just on gas and air, but was now going to be given an epidural!!! Again, going into theatre was another fear… I was in there for an hour and half in total (it takes a while to make sure the epidural has worked) and I must say I had an excellent team in there – they made me feel so at ease, and we were joking around and chatting (I guess they do this to make sure I stay alert etc but for me it was relaxing!)

Finally, I’m stitched up and on a recovery ward where daddy and a hungry baby were waiting for me. On top of worrying about me, daddy had to put a nappy on and clothe our baby while I was in theatre 9he had to run to the car first as the post-labour bag was in there!), and vacate the room with all of our bags… also as baby was hungry he’d been suckling on daddy’s finger, nose and neck, bless!

 

image

Finally we were a family, and over the next few hours both sets of grandparents came to visit. I had to stay in overnight, with baby next to me, in a shared ward (so cue 3rd night on no sleep with babies crying!!) Рagain, a special time just me and him and me feeding and holding him.

I had a catheter in and also had the pleasure of getting cleaned by nurses (by this point I have NO dignity left!) and¬†didn’t get out of bed until the next morning by which point I was desperate to come home – after packing all those toiletries I didn’t use any of them as I just wanted¬†a shower at home! We had¬†to wait a while to be discharged – originally they wanted me to have a ‘bowel movement’ first but I think they wanted the bed just as bad so after handing me a huge bag of medicines, we came home about 3pm¬†– just over 24 hours after giving birth ūüôā

Post-labour diet
Post-labour diet

This story is so long it needs a summary!:

  • Everyone tells you this and it’s true – there’s no point having a very prescribed birth plan as anything can happen and you just have to go with the flow!
  • I felt some disappointment at having to use gas and air (who was I kidding that I could just breathe my way through it!) and tearing (did I not push right? Did I not do enough pelvic floors?) even though we think he came out with his hand next to his face so it couldn’t be avoided – anyway, we can’t feel any disappointment – labour isn’t a competition against yourself – once baby is out, safe and sound, forget about the how’s and why’s and just focus on your beautiful little bundle of joy ūüôā
  • I think trying to stay calm and stay positive helped me get through labour – I recommend NCT pregnancy yoga for this!
  • Us mums-to-be¬†getting our hospital bags prepared – I guarantee you that you won’t use half of the stuff in there and you will think of stuff you didn’t pack! My essential items were drinking straws (I drank a lot of water all the way through labour), hair bands, face mists and a hanky with lavender oil on which I sniffed regularly during labour.
  • A¬†huge thank you to all the staff at UHW, Cardiff – I feel like I had excellent care and having gone through induction, gas and air and an epidural I feel like I will be ready for anything if I have another baby!
  • An even bigger thank you to my other half – he was the dream birth partner, soothing and motivating me, supporting me and being practical by holding the gas and air, giving me water etc! Thank you and I love you so much x x x

If you’re still reading this, wow! Thanks for reading, if you’d like to read more birth stories check out this round-up of blogger birth stories that I compiled.

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What’s in my hospital bag?

What to pack for labour/post-labour in hospital

So with just #3daystogo I left it slightly late to finish packing my bags although we did start a couple of weeks ago… most people suggest having it ready a month in advance but I am always a last-minute Minnie!

So, we have 2 bags – roughly 1 for labour, 1 for post-labour¬† (I say roughly as one is a bit fuller than the other so they’re having to share a bit of space ;)) I’ve used bags instead of a suitcase¬†for easy access… but the labour one is full and heavy so I imagine we might re-think that before we go!

Hospital bags are packed....
Hospital bags are packed….

What’s in the labour bag?

Some essentials for labour....
Some essentials for labour….
  • 3 small bottles of water, 3 small bottles of Lucozade
  • Drinking straws (recommended by a friend who says they’re handy in case you’re in some weird positions during labour!)
  • A bag full of energy snacks e.g. brunch bars, go-ahead bars, nuts and yoghurt-covered raisins
  • my new Cath Kidston¬†toiletries¬†bag (thanks girls!) which has my¬†2 favourite facial¬†sprays – the Elemis lavender toner, and the Body Shop Vitamin E face mist (had a third as a gift which was Simple – already used all that ooops – I love face mists!) hairbands; lavender oil with a hanky to sprinkle the oil on, lip balm (everyone says these are handy if you use gas and air as your lips get dry) and some of my fave beauty products –¬†leg/foot gel and face cream, face wipes
  • my comfiest slipper socks (from Boux Avenue) in case my feet get cold (and if not, handy for¬†the overnight stay!)
Energy snacks for labour!
Energy snacks for labour!

What’s in the post-labour bag?

For mummy:

Post-labour toiletries!
Post-labour toiletries!
  • Paracetamol – a friend told me these are handy post-birth as I might be in some pain and will have to wait AGES if I ask the staff for some!
  • Towel – for post-shower etc -everyone says to pack an old, dark one – well this is one of those but also has a funny story behind it – this is an ‘I love Greece’ one that I bought the day that we think Bean was conceived on – and I was sick on next to the pool as I was so hungover!
  • Toiletries bag – small samples of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body cream, toothbrush and toothpaste, and some sample sizes of make-up e.g. mascara, my full-size bare minerals make-up, deodorant and some nipple cream remnants (lansinoh and Asda) that my friend gave me, hairbrush
  • spare bra and a couple of breast¬†pads (just a free sample pack I was given)
  • PJ bottoms (M&S) and a t-shirt
  • Comfy dress to wear home
  • Maternity pads
  • Disposable knickers
  • Normal knickers (M&S!)
Comfy going home dress (ebay... Mammas and Pappas)
Comfy going home dress (ebay… Mammas and Pappas)

for Bean:

Packing the hospital bag... some of Bean's first oufits
Packing the hospital bag… some of Bean’s first oufits
  • About 10 outfits – vests/sleepsuits – we’ve only packed that many due to the range in sizes! Hard to guess which ones will fit best!
  • A cardigan to wear in case it’s nippy when it’s going home time
  • Scratch mitts and hats (again a variety for size!)
  • 2 blankets (1 cellular, 1 cotton/fleece)
  • 10 nappies (Pampers size 1)
  • cotton wool pads
Enough baby outfits for hospital?
Enough baby outfits for hospital?

Other bits to add in

  • I need to get a bag of loose change for machines, parking etc
  • I still hope to sort out some music for my iPhone
  • Must remember to pack my iPhone charger on the day… oh and the hospital notes!
  • No idea what I’ll be wearing when I go in but I hope it includes comfy pumps/flip-flops that I can wear to walk around once I’m in there and coming home too
  • Arnica –¬†sold out in the last couple of shops I’ve tried but will try and get some the next few days (heard it’s good for bruising afterwards!)
  • I also have a plastic bag in there for dirty clothes etc
  • Book – I might pack one if labour is going slowly when I leave for hospital but otherwise I can’t imagine having time to read in there¬† (or ever again!)

What do you think? Have I missed any essentials? (Obviously if me and/or Bean are in for a few days we’ll need daddy to get some more supplies but hoping this will be enough for an overnight stay?)

Pregnancy books – the best 5!

5 favourite books about pregnancy that helped to relax me!

The pregnancy books I read
The pregnancy books I read

Early on in my pregnancy one of my best friends lent me a stack of pregnancy books and magazines, they were all really useful and I’m not sure if I would have thought of buying any prior to that if I’m honest. I was given another as a gift from my CEO in work (!) and bought 2 based on recommendations… here are my favourite 5 books out of that stack¬†(in no order of preference!)

#1 – ‘The pregnancy countdown book’ by Susan Magee with Kara Nakisbendi, M.D.

(c) 2006 by Susan Magee – ISBN 978-1-59474-573-7

I love all the weekly update books and email lists (I signed up for loads including NHS, Netmums, Mothercare etc) – it was always good fun to see how big baby was compared to various fruits and veg, and what was coming up in terms of baby’s development and my body!

Out of all of the weekly update books though, my favourite was this one because it was:

  • short/easy-to-read/concise/ great layout
  • generally relaxed approach and tongue-in-cheek at times e.g. when describing how to open baby shower gifts ‘you have to hold everything up so everyone can go ‘Aww’ and ‘Ooh’ and ‘Cut the cake first. That way you’ll have the strength to go on’
  • full of anecdotes from real mums for each section e.g. in a section about exercise one mum (Rena) says ‘you don’t know what kind of exerciser you’re going to be…. for me, walking was a great exercise. And in my third trimester, going to the mall counted as a workout’ (!) many of which I could relate to, and even if I couldn’t it was nice to¬†have the¬†‘human touch’

Only downside is that’s it an American book, but most of it still makes sense to us Brits ūüôā

#2 – ‘Mums on pregnancy’ by Carrie Longton, Justine Roberts and Rachel Foster

(c) Rachel Foster, Carrie Longton and Justine Roberts  ISBN 1 84403 0717

Staying with the ‘real tips’ theme that I like from book #1, this book is entirely made up of snippets of quotes from real mums, compiled¬†by¬†the founders of Mumsnet. Again, this is great as you get a ‘real’ take on everything and always a wide range of opinions which made me feel better about everything from drinking caffeine to whether to go to NCT classes or not e.g. in the ‘diet – what did you stop eating’ section:

  • ‘Well I was unknowingly evil and ate about a million raw oysters when about five months pregnant….. I’d… somehow missed the shellfish embargo. Good grief but they were tasty though!‘ (Scrummymummy)
  • ‘….I drank at least six mugs of strong… coffee during pregnancy and breastfeeding – I now have a very lively and active toddler’ (Lindy)
  • ‘I eat sushi. There, I’ve said it.‘ (Pie)

#3 – ‘What NOT to expect when you’re expecting’ by Zoe Williams

(c) Zoe Williams, 2010 ISBN 9780852652664

This is a funny, great read – an antidote to all the books about what you should and shouldn’t be doing and feeling. At times I found pregnancy to be one long worry¬†e.g. from one scan to the next. Reads like this helped to relax me – Zoe takes a lot of pressure off mums-to-be and new mums on topics from alcohol (devoting a chapter to proving that there’s no proof that a couple of drinks does any harm) to the pressures¬†to breastfeed.
All of this done is through great writing and humour – an easy, essential read. I remember taking my other half to A&E after he took a knock at football, and I was just sat there reading this paragraph¬†laughing out loud! This was argument #33 she remembers having with her boyfriend – if you had any funny, irrational, hormonal arguments hopefully you’ll find this funny:

‘We had argument after argument about¬†room temperature in our bedroom… You’re meant to have it really low otherwise babies catch cot death, and yet you can never let it get low enough without freezing your over-exposed tits off and C says ‘what this room needs is a throughput of air’ and I thought he said ‘Rupert the Bear’, and normally I would think ‘Well, I just misheard my beloved’ but on this occasion, I thought, ‘This idiot, how would Rupert the Bear help? How would we even get hold of Rupert the Bear?”

#4 – ‘Spiritual midwifery’ by Ina May Gaskin

(c) 1975, 1977, 1980, 1990, 2002 Book Publishing Company ISBN 13 978-1-57067-104-3

Everytime I get nervous thinking about labour I come back to this book and read a couple of the birth stories. Long story short, Ina May is a guru who pioneered natural home births in the States and this book is full of positive birth stories based on that, with some of the main learnings for labour from a wide range of birth stories being:

  • relax!!!!
  • look lovingly into your partners eyes
  • cuddle and smooch your way through labour – loose lips above creates loose lips below ;p
  • ‘don’t complain, it makes things worse’

If you do this, you can expect to feel ‘rushes’ not ‘contractions’ and hallucinations… and a natural, drug-free birth ūüôā ‘Over and over again, I’ve seen that the best way to get a baby out is by cuddling and smooching with your husband. That loving, sexy vibe is what puts the baby in there, and that’s what gets it out too’ (Cara)

I particularly like the story about a baby who was talking a while to get out, so,¬†in established labour, the couple got married and the baby popped out as he/she¬†obviously wanted to enter into the world of a married family! (My other half wasn’t having ANY of this!)

So an essential read if you’re interested in natural birth – reading it relaxes me and inspires me.

To be honest if you’re not interested in natural birth you’ll probably find it a good laugh including all the photos from the 60’s and 70’s and the language used ūüôā

#5 – ”Hypnobirthing’ by Marie Mongan

(c) 1992, 1998, 2005 by Marie F. Mongan

I’m not aiming for a hypnobirth – I haven’t been on a course/ bought the CD/practised anything from this book but again it was really useful reading when it came to thinking about a pain-free, natural birth.

I found the intro an interesting read in terms of how as recently as the 70’s women were tied to the bed and babies delivered under general anaethsthetic compared with the way some African women still give birth – taking a break from work and just leaning against a wall! Main learnings and techniques for a natural, pain-free labour are:

  • Breathing
  • Relaxation
  • Visualisation e.g. putting yourself somewhere where you are relaxed like on a beach
  • Affirmations e.g. telling yourself over and over again ‘I feel confident, I feel safe, I feel secure’

with lots of examples for each. Similar to book #4, they suggest a calm atmosphere¬†and using love-making to bring on labour:¬†‘hugs before drugs’

Critics of this book argue that there’s no such thing a pain-free labour, I have no idea as I haven’t been through it but, similarly to book #4 this book has lots of practical exercises on how to relax in the early stages – which has to be worth a shot!

So I hope you found this round-up useful – essentially all of these 5 books have helped to relax me throughout my pregnancy whether it was worrying about having a glass of wine or wondering how I will get through labour! (I’ve included links so that you can buy them but of course check out your local bookshops too!)

If you found it useful please share it via social media or leave a comment, thanks ūüôā