Kristel's birthing story...
My labour started around 9pm on Friday the 6th of March, following a relaxing day at home and having lunch with my friend Cheryl.
When I felt my first surge just after 9, it was completely different to what I had experienced with my first birth, as it was all in my lower back this time and not my tummy. As it was such a different sensation I wasn't convinced that it was labour and decided to take paracetomol and go to bed. I managed some sleep before being woken by another surge at 11 and from that point they started to become more frequent.
I rang the antenatal ward for some advice as I really wasn't sure how quickly I would progress and whether I was definitely in established labour. They were very calming and supportive and suggested that I try to stay home for as long as possible, preferably until my surges were lasting for longer, but did say that if I wanted to come in that would be fine and just to ring ahead first.
During my surges I utilised the up breathing that Nancy had taught me and took some rescue remedy. The surges became more regular and lasted longer and I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep so I rang the hospital again and advised that we were going to come in within the next 45 minutes or so once our relatives had arrived to care for our Daughter.
The surges continued to come every 4-5 minutes during the journey and I continued to use my up breathing, whilst inhaling lavender oil from a tissue.
It was a very busy night on the antenatal and labour wards, so we were given a bed in a cubicle whilst waiting to be seen.
When the midwife arrived she commented my calmness and was very shocked to find that I was fully dilated when she examined me, so much so that she double checked!
I was pleased to hear that the Midwives had read my birth plan, which I had written inside my maternity notes. My original intention was to give birth in the Midwife Led Unit, however a Community Midwife needed to be called in and they didn't think she would make it on time given that I was already fully dilated so they said I could birth on the Consultant Led Ward without fixed monitoring, thus enabling me to stay active.
As they were so busy I was given a delivery room that is rarely used and as such, it was pretty small with no birthing ball, CD player etc, so I had to make the most of what was to hand, namely a chair and the bed!
I started off leaning over the side of the bed, then moved to sitting astride a chair. I initially refused the entonox, preferring to sniff my lavender oil with each upward breath during surges. The first Midwife was a little concerned that despite being fully dilated for over an hour, I wasn't getting any urge to push, but she could see I was in established labour.
She said that she would like to examine me at 6 a.m. if I still wasn't getting the urge to push, which I agreed to. After 20 minutes or so, she said she'd like to examine me at 5.30 instead. Thankfully my husband questioned this decision, knowing that with my previous birth the examinations had caused me pain and halted my surges and ultimately led to unwanted intervention. The Midwife agreed to keep it at 6 but was called away prior to then and a different midwife came to care for me and although I still didn't have the urge to push, I could feel that the surges were becoming more intense.
As 6 a.m. came closer, I went from being calm and collected, inhaling my lavender oil and breathing through each surge to getting fidgety, sucking on the entonox and shouting that I couldn't do it. Luckily my Husband saw that this was a sign I was in the transition phase and requested that the Midwife refrained from giving me an examination. Within 10 minutes I got the real urge to push with each surge and it was a totally surreal but immensely satisfying sensation as I was just going with what my body was wanting to do and not doing forced pushes to verbal commands as I had done on my previous birth. With each surge I used the affirmations that we had gone over in our hypnobirthing course, reminding myself that baby was getting closer and closer to meeting me and that my body was designed to do this. My lovely husband and the Midwife took it in turns to rub my lower back, which really helped as I could feel so much pressure there.
The Midwife listened in to baby's heartbeat every 15 minutes after a surge had finished and told us how strong and consistent it was, which helped to keep me calm and positive.
I moved from the chair to kneeling on the bed, so that she had a better view of what was happening. I continued to follow my urges to push with each surge, whilst inhaling entonox and doing downward breaths.
I could vaguely hear the Midwife and my husband joking about how stubborn my waters were and was then aware of another Midwife introducing herself and taking over but I was so in my own little bubble that I barely responded to her.
Soon after her arrival, she told me that the head was partially out and that she was going to break my waters, this was so rewarding to hear as I knew I had almost done it. She encouraged me to do gentle, short breaths at this point to allow a more controlled delivery. After breaking my waters she advised that on the next surge I would deliver my baby, so I gave one final push as the surge was building and felt my lovely baby girl slipping so easily out of me.
Seren Gillian Berry was born at 7.40 a.m, 10 minutes after the new Midwife arrived. She passed Seren up through my legs so that I could bring her up to my chest for those precious first cuddles and skin to skin contact.