Steph's induction water birth story in her own words:
Trigger warnings: Difficulty conceiving, miscarriage, IVF, post partum haemorrhage
Having spent over 4 years trying for a baby which involved numerous tests, various medications, miscarriages, operations and 3 rounds of IVF (including a round of donor egg IVF as I was told my eggs were “no good”), we then discovered we had miraculously fallen pregnant naturally. This meant my biggest fear about labour was something happening to our baby. I wasn’t worried about the pain or the actual process of birthing our baby.
Long before our fertility journey, I had always dreamt of having a water birth. I am most relaxed when I’m in the water and after doing Nicola’s hypnobirthing course and learning all about creating a safe/calm environment, it made me want a water birth even more! But instead of writing a birth plan, I decided to call it birth preferences. My ultimate wish was to deliver a healthy baby, safely and I would have been prepared to do whatever it took for that to happen.
I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 18 weeks. This meant due to trust policy and NICE guidelines it was recommended that I be induced at 40+6. Nicola really empowered me and I felt like I could have disputed this guideline, but the truth is, I just wanted to meet our baby. I was scared about being induced, but I was more scared about something happening to our baby if I went further overdue.
On 8th May (40+6) the hospital called to invite me in to be induced. When I arrived I was 2-3cm dilated (I thought I’d been having contractions through the night but I wasn’t sure)! A couple of midwives tried to break my waters, but the membranes were too tight and close to our baby’s head. I was scanned to check baby was in the correct position, and then a balloon catheter was inserted at around 10:30am. The consultant said I would be unable to have a water birth and would need to go to the labour ward (I’d hoped to use the birth centre) and have continuous monitoring of the baby. Initially I was disappointed, but I told myself I had to do what was safest for the baby. I was then taken down to the ward where my husband and I could relax. At around 14:30pm I sneezed and my waters went. During the first phase of labour, I was able to manage the contractions with the aid of a TENS machine and by keeping active (ball bouncing and pacing the room). I was examined at 19:30 as the contractions were coming hard and fast and I was 4cm so classed as being in established labour. The night team were just coming on, so once they’d had their handover I was moved up to the labour ward.
To my surprise, our midwife had read my birth preferences and seen I’d like a water birth. She had spoken to the doctors (new team from the morning) and they were happy for me to get in the pool and have baby’s heart beat listened to every 15 minutes. If at any point there were any concerns, I’d need to get out for continuous monitoring. While I was busy contracting and the midwife was filling up the pool, my husband set about creating a nice calm environment. We put fairy lights around the pool, dimmed down the lights and played an instrumental covers playlist we had found on Spotify.
The contractions were coming frequently with increased intensity so I gave gas and air a try. I don’t think it helped with the pain, but it definitely helped me with the breathing techniques Nicola had taught me. I was examined again just after midnight and was told I was 8cm. The midwife said it wouldn’t be long until I needed to push. I asked the midwife how would I know when I needed to push? She said I would know. The very next contraction I got this indescribable urge to push. I thought I must have just been imagining it, so I resisted the urge. The next contraction came and I really needed to push. I told the midwife I needed to push and she guided me through this next stage of labour. With 30 minutes of pushing, our beautiful daughter was delivered without any assistance in to the water (apparently she was born as Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” was being played). I was able to lift her to the surface and let everyone know what gender she was. I ended up tearing quite badly and was haemorrhaging, so sadly had to be rushed out the pool to deliver the placenta and get some treatment. My husband tells me I was laying on the bed with my legs up in stirrups, doctors and midwives coming at me from all angles but I just laid there with the biggest smile on my face. I didn’t care about me, I couldn’t stop staring at our beautiful baby and couldn’t believe she had safely arrived.
I wasn’t sure about hypnobirthing but so many friends had recommended it - I thought what have I got to lose?! I found it invaluable learning about all the hormones and what would be going on in my body at the various stages. I honestly loved my labour, and felt safe and in control at all times.
I am still amazed at how natural birth was and how the body just knows what to do. For years I’ve felt really disappointed with my body for “not doing what it’s supposed to do”, but this has made me love my body again. Not only did it manage to grow a beautiful little girl, it also safely delivered her in to this world.