Vicky's story - Cerys' birth

This was my first pregnancy and I went into it by doing what I often doing when heading into something unknown - by reading and researching as much as possible. I found out about the the importance of being in a calm and comfortable place to give birth. As well as realising it would help the birth by encouraging oxytocin to flow, I knew being in my own calm space would also help with the anxiety I can experience. I felt giving birth at home would be a good environment, all the while that was working for us.

I was very fortunate to have a fantastic community team of midwives. With them, I have the benefit of continuity, as I saw the same midwife in my home for nearly all appointments and this same midwife also able to be at the birth. Whilst there were concerns about living in a 5th floor flat (with no lift) and how this could affect any transfer to hospital, we discussed my reasons for wanting to be at home and they made it clear they would support my decisions.
I reached 41 weeks and we were all very eager to avoid having any pressure of an induction later in the week. I was offered a sweep which I accepted and booked another one in for two days later. I also ate some spicy food, did lots of hand expressing and spent lots of time with my husband to support my oxytocin.

I had contractions begin early in the morning of 41 weeks and two days of pregnancy. My waters began to go about an hour later, where I'd have small gushes with each contraction. My husband and I got up and breathed through these and he read to me. But a couple of hours later, they slowed down. I emailed my midwife about them so she knew for our booked appointment for the morning and went back to bed.

When my midwife came in the morning we discussed hospital policy for induction 24 hours after PROM (premature rupture of membranes) but also my other options and the research behind all of these. We decided to not book in an induction at this stage but instead to keep a track of my temperature and the baby's movement, agreeing we'd seek help if there was any change . We decided we'd reassess the situation the next day if needed. It was amazing. I felt so supported in reaching this informed decision, with the knowledge we could change our minds at any point.

We spent the day resting, walking in the park and getting a take-away. I was having light contractions and hoped these would intensify overnight. At 2am on 41+3 they started again but once again didn't really intensify and I went back to bed.

When my midwife arrived in the morning she noted that  they were coming more frequently thanthe day before and that she thought she would be back later in the day , saying to rest whilst I could.

I went back to sleep and woke up around 11am with stronger contractions and I had a bath which no longer eased them. I then spent some time on my birthing ball, using breathing techniques and a tens machine. By mid-afternoon my contractions were around 3 in 10 and we called out one of my midwifery team to assess me. She used a speculum and saw that I wasn't dilated at all at this stage which was quite disheartening. But I was coping well and she said she'd leave and that we were to call back if there was any change.

Almost as soon as she left my contractions became more intense and I became worried as to whether I'd be able to cope with the whole labour if I still had a long way to go. My husband encouraged me to do my breathing exercises and to listen to some hypnobirthing tracks (which honestly I raised an eyebrow at). He also encouraged me to rest in between contractions and I even managed to nap in between them. At just after five, my husband called the midwives, worried about whether I was coping, as the surges were stronger and closer together. My waters then went with a full gush and I felt something move down. My named midwife had now come back onto shift and on the phone offered options of either going straight to hospital for a pain relief injection or her coming to assess me. I opted for assessment still believing I wouldn't be far dilated. 
My midwife arrived and using the speculum said she could see a lot of my baby's head. I was overjoyed - something was happening at last. She then assessed me and said I was over 8cm dilated! 
This explained why the past hour and half had been so difficult. I was now ecstatic and realised this meant it was all  happening and in fact happening quite quickly.  My midwife told my husband to put up the pool  and went to call for an extra midwife. I went to the bathroom to stay away from the commotion and swayed against the wall. I told my husband I was scared that I was starting to push when I wasn't ready to, but my midwife reassured me to listen to my body and did some breathing with me. She then set up pillows to lean on, on the sofa in the living room.

After this, my midwife told us that we don’t have time for the pool and suddenly I realised - this is happening now. I didn’t know it at the time but my midwife also told my husband he might need to be her second (making use of the small amount of maternity training he has after training in adult nursing!).

Over the course of the next half an hour, I mostly breathed out my baby with only pushing to hold her position towards the end. This didn’t feel anything like I thought it would. It didn’t have the pain of the contractions before and felt like the most satisfying bit of labour. My midwife helped to hold my perineum as I delivered her head so I didn’t tear.  Just as the head came out, the second midwife arrived, then one contraction later I delivered my baby girl’s whole body.

My midwife caught her and passed her through to me and we cuddled on my chest. It was amazing. We then moved onto the sofa where she took to the breast really quickly. She was 3.74kg. 18 mins later after our daughter was born I delivered the placenta, which was huge. I had very little blood loss and a tiny 1st degree tear from her shoulders and body coming very quickly. 

As my waters had broken more than 24 hours before (39 hours) I was told hospital policy was for 12 hours of observations to ensure no infections and asked if was happy to go into the ward for this as it would be overnight we were happy to agree to this but there was no rush. We had skin to skin for over an hour and a half, then she had skin to skin with her daddy as I had a shower. Due to the total non-emergency we would have waited a couple of hours for an ambulance to take us in so we agreed with the midwife to go in a taxi instead. So I put her in a sling and we went in the taxi for the couple of minute drive to the hospital then walked onto the ward with her in the sling feeling like superwoman.

We went home the next day with no concerns, walking the 15 mins from the hospital home. I will never forget the look on my husband's face as he looked at me afterwards. My feeling of having done something amazing felt so good. I look at our daughter and and honestly can't believe that I made her and delivered her so calmly, just with a tens machine. 

It took about 10 days to come down from the high of the amazing birth I had. I still feel amazing to think of it but I also think that this gave me the confidence to go into those first few days of being a parent in the best possible way.