I had planned on sharing my birth plan and what I had packed in my hospital bag the week leading up to my due date because most first pregnancies tend to arrive after 40 weeks, but for us, our surprise baby girl arrived four days early, exactly the way I’d hoped.
The plan was always to have a water birth at my nearest MLU (midwife led unit), instead of a hospital. My pregnancy was low risk, so the chances of needing the support from a hospital were slim but if I did need an emergency c section or extra care then we would have been blue lighted to the nearest hospital which is around half an hour away. Thankfully we never had to be!
At 02:50am on the 4th July, I woke up needing the toilet. I thought I’d just eaten way too much that day, after going out for lunch with Josh and then going to my friends surprise baby shower for afternoon tea. After relieving myself, I got back into bed but began to get the same feeling again, so went to the toilet to see if I could relieve any more pressure in, what I thought was, my stomach. That feeling didn’t disappear.. so I woke Josh up to tell him that I thought I was having contractions. I went downstairs and put Emily in Paris on, whilst bouncing and rolling on my birth ball. I started noting down the time between each contraction, which was around 3 every 10 minutes, each contraction lasting between 20-50 seconds. I called the MLU and they advised me to keep timing the contractions but to call back if I was having around 4 every 10 minutes, lasting for around 40-50 seconds. I timed them for a further half an hour and noticed that they were speeding up and getting more regular, so I called the MLU to tell them I needed to go in. By this point, Josh was up packing the hospital bag. Luckily I’d already sorted the baby stuff out but hadn’t got anything together for the pair of us. In hindsight I should’ve got this done a week earlier so there wasn’t the stress of it on the night.. but you live and learn! The only things I used from my hospital bag were a change of clothes, deodorant, maternity pad and most importantly, a bag of fruit pastels that Josh fed to me in between having gas and air. They kept me going!
When I got to Helme Chase (the MLU) the midwife checked how dilated I was, which was 4cm and then left us for a while for the contractions to get further along. She did keep on coming in to check on me, though it all seems much of a blur by this point. Once I was a little further on, I asked if I could get in the pool but because I wasn’t classed as being in established labour the midwife could only run me a ‘bath’, which was slightly shallower than a pool. As soon as I got in the bath, it was so soothing. That’s when my contractions picked up a lot quicker and stronger. Sooner than later, they were running me a pool and I was asking for the gas and air, although I was pretty adamant I would never need/want it but I was willing to give anything a go to help with the pain of the contractions. Time flew by and I feel so lucky that my midwife, Rachel, who I had throughout my whole pregnancy journey was on the ward at 9am. She really helped keep me calm and encouraged me when I felt like giving up because I was just so tired. Josh was also my rock throughout labour, he sat with me and held my hand by the edge of the pool, giving me the gas and air when my contractions started and took it away when they stopped. Without his support it would have been a totally different experience and it was just incredible for him to be able to experience it all too.
By 10:31am our baby girl was born. We couldn’t believe we had had a girl, as we were so convinced it would be a boy! Her umbilical cord was wrapped around her legs and neck and she didn’t cry or make a noise when she was brought up and out of the pool but the midwives did say it was because she was born in to the pool very calmly, which is the same temperature as my body. They gave her a little rub over and she let out a cry. It was just the most emotional, incredible, exhausting experience, it’s so hard to describe!
After the birth, I got out of the pool and on to the bed. Mali and I did skin to skin and I was just so mesmerised by her tiny toes and fingers. I couldn’t believe we had made her and she had been in my womb all this time. We did the delayed cord clamping, so she was still attached to me with her umbilical cord until it went white. This allows her to receive all the nutrients from the placenta and was something I knew I wanted to do from the beginning. Josh then got the cut the cord!
The next step was to deliver my placenta.. which initially I thought I would wait to come naturally but I decided I didn’t want to go through the pain of the contractions again, so I asked for them to give me the injection in my thigh to help get it out quicker. I was nervous about the placenta coming out but it was totally fine and actually really awesome to see what also developed in my womb, alongside a baby. I’m still amazed by my body, to think it grew this tiny little person! I don’t think you ever really fully realise how amazing it is until it happens to you.
After a check over and a few hours just coming to terms with the fact we’d just welcomed our baby girl into the world in less than 6 hours, we headed to McDonald’s for a cheese burger and a milkshake to celebrate! We were so hungry!
I’m sure there may be bits I’ve missed but if there’s anything you want to know, send me a message! I found it really helpful speaking to Mum’s about their experiences. I do think knowledge is key whilst also trying to be relaxed as possible. I’ll share my feelings on the fourth trimester in a separate post, as this is quite long now! Speak soon, L. X