Jacqueline's story

I wanted a home birth originally but my husband was dead set against it. However, he did like the fact that I would have home antenatal appointments with the same midwives, of which two of them would be dedicated to me during my labour. We agreed I would stay at home as long as I was comfortable. Secondly, as loving as my husband is, he was also not willing or ready to be a birth partner for me. This wasn't a big issue for me as I found a doula and immediately connected with her and trusted her as my birth partner.

My birth was relatively quick and actually on time. I think it helped me was that I didn't anticipate the birth; my 'due date' was 13th but I knew that I have a healthy body with no history of severely late or complicated births in my family. I trusted that my body would deliver the baby when it was ready. So I kept busy and for me that meant working right up until I was in labour (literally!). I scheduled coffee meet-ups with friends and I was in the gym the night before. Maintaining 'normal' activity helped my body to be relaxed and as it turned out, my son arrived exactly on his due date.

The early signs of labour started the day before with a tiny bit of 'show' appearing in my underwear at midday and then what felt like period pains in the afternoon (I was still working away at my desk). I had thought it in my mind but didn't want to raise false alarms but by 10pm I actually said out loud to my husband I things had begun, as the cramps had started to have a periodic rhythm of intensity and relief. 

I had a hot bath and some camomile tea. My doula came over to my house at around 12pm. I had studied all of these poses that would supposedly make me feel better during the contractions. But for me, just lying on my side with my dog next to me and inhaling lavender essential oil on a handkerchief was the easiest way to manage it. 

We called the midwives around 6/6:30am and they arrived an hour later. I had dilated to about 8cm by this point and I thought this baby could come soon. I had another bath and my waters broke.  (On a side note, I would recommend a birthing pool if you anticipate a bath would make you feel better as getting comfortable and in and out the bath was a nightmare).

I felt we were really close but the midwives had noticed that I had started bleeding and whilst it wasn’t a dangerous amount, the midwives will always ere on the side of caution and an ambulance was called.

I couldn't fathom the idea of moving during labour. I could barely walk from the bedroom to the bathroom next door, let alone comprehend a transfer to the hospital. Fortunately, they have an excellent protocol and whilst an ambulance and siren seemed excessive, I was thankful to be at the hospital in less than 10 minutes.

This part of my labour was the polar opposite experience to my home, brightly lit and with about seven or 8 medical staff in the room. I had never thought I would be on the labour ward, especially the way things were at the end, which was lying on my back, with my legs in lithotomy stirrups. It now felt incredibly important for me to have my doula. She was my advocate and in a situation that was so unknown and not planned for, it felt good to have support -  someone I knew and trusted by my side.

I had a monitor belt on to track the baby's heartbeat, and as it turned out the bleeding was my placenta coming away early (which is really unusual I'm told) but the baby was fine. We'd got to the hospital at about midday and spent a good hour and half pushing but with no progression. The baby's chin was up and he wasn’t going to come out without some help. Caesarean was mentioned but thankfully my doula knew what my intentions so we requested a final push with the use of a ventouse. Three big pushes and he was out, just 2 hours after entering the hospital.

When I immediately reflected on the experience just a day later, and even now as I write this 9 months on; the home part of my labour was completely manageable. I was comfortable, things were familiar and everything led my mind to think this baby is coming out any minute now "I'm nearly there". 

Once I was in hospital, I think particularly because I was in the labour ward (not the maternity led unit) I did feel a little panicked at times. But overall my birth was extremely positive; it was relatively short, most of it without fear (it only crept in during the last two hours when they were probing around and use of the ventouse), and most importantly the result was a healthy little boy and a healthy mum.