Kathryn's Story

My first baby had been two weeks overdue, so I was induced. Although the induction worked well and quickly, I had trouble getting fully dilated, and when I was, couldn't push him out. I was taken into theatre for an attempted forceps delivery when his heart rate started dipping, and when that didn?t work, had an emergency caesarian. I really wanted a VBAC this time if possible. I decided not to be induced, as I understood this was likely to decrease the odds of a successful normal delivery, and the hospital consultant was not happy about doing a sweep because the placenta was lying low, so I needed to go into labour completely naturally. The hospital was willing to let me go 10 days overdue, and then at that point I was booked in for an elective caesarian.

I did go overdue, and tried every natural induction method I came across. I don't know which one worked, as the day before the birth (term +5) I had given every one of them a go!, but I also didn't have any inkling that I was going to go into labour - I had no symptoms at all.

At 1.30am on term +6, I hadn't been able to sleep, so I went downstairs to make a hot chocolate. As I was standing up, I had what I thought was my show, but it was greenish rather than pinky-brown. After having the drink and thinking about it for a bit, I rang the maternity assessment unit at around 2.20am. They thought it was probably my show, but were concerned that it might have been some of my waters leaking, and if they were stained greeny-brown it could mean the baby had passed meconium. They told me to lie down in bed for an hour and check if anything leaked. I went back to bed and started noticing mild contractions. Throughout the hour they came very regularly every five minutes, but were not particularly strong. At 3.20am I told my husband he had better ring his parents to come over to look after our toddler George. They live in Staffordshire so we knew it would be about 90 minutes before they arrived.

I got up and ran a bath. The action of standing up and moving around immediately made the contractions come harder. When I was in the bath, Ian started counting the contractions and they were suddenly every 75 seconds and getting much stronger. I was starting to find it harder to talk through them and was using the breathing techniques. I rang the delivery unit, who didn't seem very concerned until suddenly I felt something go, and noticed that I had done a bit of a poo (!) I told them this, and they said to come in. Ian went to ring his parents to tell them to meet us at the hospital instead, and I got out of the bath and went to the loo, where it felt like everything inside me came out in one big gush - this was when the bulk of my waters went I think, after some going in the bath. I also think that this point I went pretty much straight into transition and full dilation - I couldn't do anything other than drop to my hands and knees and stay on all fours in the bathroom. When the contractions came I was making very loud, low noises and just focusing through them. At this point - 4.30am - we called 999 as we live 25 minutes away from the hospital and I wanted medical help, and didn't want to go in the car with Ian having to drive. The 999 guy stayed with me on the phone until the ambulance arrived. He was trying to talk to Ian, to talk him through potentially delivering the baby, but at the start of the conversation, George woke up in the room next door, heard me, and got extremely distressed, so Ian had to try to comfort him. After about 5 minutes, Ian rang our neighbour Charlotte, who I had met in the street the week before, and who had said that she would be happy to help out at any point, day or night. Once she had picked up the phone, and heard me in the background, and instantly realized what was happening, she was round within a minute, having pulled on a onesie and her teenage son's trainers! She took George downstairs and distracted him. Meanwhile, the 999 guy had been asking me if I could feel the baby's head, and if so to put my hand on it to stop it slipping out uncontrollably. I didn't think I could feel the head.

Soon after Charlotte had arrived, the ambulance did. They didn't have any midwives with them, as there weren't any available at the time, so the two paramedics were very keen to get me to hospital as soon as possible. They helped me down the stairs (I just had an old dressing gown on, and slipped on some trainers) and outside into the street, where I had a contraction and had to lean against our neighbour James's car. Inside the ambulance I was laid down on the stretcher on my side and strapped in. I was offered gas and air but didn't want any. I was just too focused on each contraction. Ian came with me in the ambulance. He had to direct them as they were a team from Kettering but I was booked at Leicester General and they didn't know the best way to the maternity unit. It went extremely fast along the A47, lights flashing, and got there within 15 minutes. I was taken in on the stretcher, straight into the delivery room.

As I had had a previous caesarian, I was hooked up the monitors and had a cannula put in my hand in case I needed to go to theatre. No surprise, I was fully dilated when they examined me. But, just like with George, the second stage of labour was slow and a bit unproductive. I wonder if my pelvis is not quite the most helpful shape, as if everything had been OK, I should definitely have given birth in the bathroom. The baby was happy, so I started pushing. Within the constrictions of the monitor, I was able to kneel on all fours and also kneel up resting against the head of the bed. They were quite nice positions to be in, but I wasn't finding them very helpful for getting good pushes going. The midwives were telling me to push into my bottom, which I did, but it needed a real strong effort, almost a change of gear halfway through, in order to feel that something was moving. In the end, we switched to me lying on my back, slightly propped up, the classic medicalized birthing position, but for me it worked because there were things in place that I could brace my feet against and pull my hands against, and I needed that much effort with every push. Two days later I felt like I'd been in an accident because all my muscles were aching so much. Still, it was taking a long time, and I was on borrowed time because of the previous caesarian, as they normally only let you push for an hour or so. After two hours, I was feeling very tired, but also a bit dejected as I felt like it was going the same way as George and that they would take me to theatre soon. Ian had a word with the midwives and told them they needed to be more positive with me and tell me how well I was doing, and after that I did feel a bit more energized. The midwife who had been with us at the start was going off shift, but then the baby passed a bit of meconium and we knew we needed to step up and get the baby out, and they suggested ventouse. I was pleased to hear this, as forceps would have raised more memories of last time, but I knew that they could do ventouse there and then in the delivery room. The old and new midwives were both there, and a female doctor. When the ventouse cap was on, I still needed to push with all my might. I had a local anaesthetic for being cut, so I couldn't quite feel everything down there, and didn't realize myself when the baby's head came out - everyone told me. Then to get the body out I needed another mighty effort, as he had turned his head to one side so wasn't quite square on. I did about 8 pushes, only three of which were with a contraction, and finally Jack was born at 7.49am.

I had been told that I was at risk of a haemorrage after birth as my low placenta might have got embedded in my caesarian scar and not come away properly, so I opted for the injection. However, the midwife initially forgot to inject me, and when the staff started wondering aloud why the placenta was taking so long, Ian had the presence of mind to ask if it had been done! Thankfully it came away intact.

It was incredible to have a natural birth this time round. As soon as he was born all the tiredness went away and I felt normal and happy and excited, and had a lovely hour snuggling with him on my chest while the placenta was delivered and my cut stitched up. The yoga definitely helped me - my breathing was controlled at all times except the very last moments of pushing, when the baby was coming - and I was able to focus. I was really pleased to have a birth without any pain relief whatsoever, and I think the yoga, and knowing about how birth happens, helped me to feel it not quite as pain, but as a series of intense experiences.