I have no idea if anyone that reads my blog is interested in my birth story, but I read lots of these whilst I was pregnant with Phoebe and I always wanted to write my own to help me remember it all. I am so, so grateful that my birth story is a really positive one, so I hope it can reassure anyone expecting a baby in the near future that it might not be so bad after all.
Be warned, I’m not going to hold back on the details here so if you’re a little bit squeamish or if you know me well and don’t fancy reading about my vagina and what came out of it, you might want to stop reading now (hi dad).
Monday 26th August
Four days before Phoebe’s due date, I lost my mucus plug in one big blob (told you you should stop reading if you’re squeamish, didn’t I?). I knew for sure that’s what it was, it looked exactly as the name describes! But I also knew that labour can happen days or even weeks after your mucus plug comes away, so I didn’t think too much of it at this point.
Tuesday 27th August
This was my first official day of maternity leave. My mum and I decided to pop out for a coffee and a browse around some local shops, and during the day I just knew in myself that something had changed. I can’t put my finger on what it was, I just felt a bit heavier and just a bit different.
I had slight spotting that afternoon, but just a teeny bit. I knew that was quite normal but also a sign of impending labour so at this point I was convinced the baby would be born within the next few days.
That evening, Ryan and I had a pizza and played a board game, and I kept feeling the lightest of cramps, a bit like a period pain but super mild. I kept a note of when they were happening and noticed that they were about 15 minutes apart, so I was pretty sure they were very early contractions.
I decided to get an early night, so I got into my PJs and got into bed at around 9.30pm. I laid down and turned on the hypnobirth track that I listened to each evening, and within about a minute of doing the breathing with the track I felt a pop, a lot like the feeling and sound you hear when you crack your back, and then felt a long, quite painful contraction for the first time. I hopped out of bed to the loo and noticed some liquid which I knew must be the beginning of my waters breaking, so I put a maternity pad in and told Ryan to call the hospital.
They told us we needed to come in, which is protocol when you think your waters have broken. They need to check that they definitely have and that you haven’t just wet yourself! I got changed into my comfy leggings and baggy T-shirt, and off we went with our hospital bags in tow.
I was feeling pretty good at this point. The contractions were manageable and happening about every five minutes. We got to the hospital at about 11pm (it takes 30 mins for us to drive there), and were seen by a midwife who checked that it was definitely my waters (it was) and took us to a room to be monitored.
She offered to check how many centimetres I was, but also said that she didn’t think it was necessary because she believed I was in the very early stages of labour. I was smiling and laughing between contractions, and she was the professional, so of course I believed her.
We were being monitored for around an hour, during which point my contractions began to get closer and closer together, and more painful. This was all clear to the midwife, as it was showing on the monitor quite obviously.
Nonetheless, once she was satisfied with the baby’s heart rate and movements, she gave me some pain relief in tablet form (I have no idea what it actually was) and a tens machine, then sent us on our way back home with an induction booked for 8am on 29th August (my birthday!).
Before we left, I asked the midwife when I would know it’s time to come back to the hospital and she said “you’ll just know.” I said to Ryan at the time that I thought I “just knew” already, but she seemed convinced that sending me home was the right thing to do. After all, it was midnight, Iso ‘d only started having pretty mild contractions two hours beforehand.
Wednesday 28th August
That car journey home was really, really not great. My contractions were getting so much closer together by the time we got home that I was getting almost no break in between them – two minutes if I was lucky. My waters suddenly fully broke and soaked the towel I was sitting on as well as my clothes, so when we got home I jumped out of the car, got changed and then had a couple of contractions at home while Ryan was on the phone to the hospital. We then got straight back in the car and drove the 30 minutes back.
When we arrived back at the hospital it must have been about 1.30am. It was eerily quiet, even in the maternity ward. I kept having to stop and moan through a contraction on the way up to the ward (I was a very noisy labourer).
This is where it becomes a bit of a blur for me. I was having contractions very rapidly. We went back into the first room where we met the midwife again and this time she checked me. She told me I was five centimetres but that my cervix was very thin.
We were taken into the birthing room, where she began running the pool and Ryan went outside to get our bags. I leant over a bean bag on all fours and just kept going. Within about two or three contractions, I realised I couldn’t help but push. I said to the midwife that I was pushing and was that ok, to which she replied she’d rather I didn’t but that my cervix is thin so perhaps I was ready. I knew I was ready, my body was doing it by itself!
She decided to stop running the water for the pool because she knew it was too late. I just kept going on all fours, sometimes pushing with the contraction if my body did it by itself, for a good two hours I think! At around 4am, I turned onto my back in this strange position, with Ryan holding one leg back for me, and carried on. Now I was really properly pushing with the contractions and the baby was on its way.
It felt like I was pushing forever, honestly. I had gas and air, which must have been doing something but I couldn’t really tell. I was so thirsty, too, but the problem with that was my bladder was getting so full they had to drain it twice! They’d pop the catheter in and say right, you’re peeing, but I couldn’t feel a thing. My bladder was getting so full that when they were putting the monitor on my tummy to listen to baby between contractions it was really hurting because they’d be lightly pressing on my full bladder. It was so strange, and very frustrating because it meant I was in pain even when I wasn’t having a contraction.
I can’t believe how noisy I was throughout the whole thing. I sounded like a cow! The only time I was quiet was when I was pushing. We did hypnobirth classes at the hospital while I was pregnant, and I tried my best to do the breathing, but my labour was so fast and furious that I really didn’t get the chance to use the techniques I’d learned. (That said, I loved the classes and made some friends that we still talk to and meet with now so I am incredibly happy we did it).
There was one moment of clarity that stands out in my mind, when there was a strangely long break between contractions and I said “I just really want a cup of tea!” (Let me tell you, they’re not lying when they say that first tea and toast after you give birth is the best meal ever).
Eventually, with huge encouragement from the midwives and from Ryan, Phoebe was born at 5.49am, just eight hours after my first contraction. She was placed on my chest, Ryan told me that she was a girl, and then he cut the cord once it had stopped pulsating.
I had the injection to help deliver the placenta, and luckily with some careful encouragement from the midwife she managed to get it out in one piece despite it being very delicate and almost breaking. At this point the gas and air made me feel amazing! When you’re not having strong contractions you can really tell how much of a difference it’s making.
The midwife checked how everything was looking down there, and by some miracle, I didn’t need any stitches even though Phoebe weighed 8lbs 9oz. I just had some grazing. I am sure that this was thanks to the midwife’s instructions. She told me exactly when to push and how gently or heavily I should push at every moment towards the end, and I’m pretty sure she was kind of holding everything in place at the same time! I am incredibly grateful for that, because I imagine the recovery is so much more difficult for those with stitches.
At this point, which was about 30 minutes after Phoebe was born, the midwives finished filling up the bath and let me get in to ease the pain, and to chill out with Phoebe in there. I loved that I could do this – it was so soothing for all of my sore bits. It also helped because just before I got out I had a wee in there – turns out the first wee was very difficult and painful! But slightly less so thanks to the bath.
I’m pretty sure I’ve missed some details out here, there are huge chunks of the labour that are such a blur, but I think Ryan remembers lots more of it. We plan to film a birth story video for our YouTube channel soon that will include his perspective, so be sure to subscribe and keep an eye out for that.
Have you shared your birth story? I’d love to read it. Leave a link in the comments below, or reach out on Instagram.