Olivia’s Birth Story
Our beautiful baby girl Olivia finally arrived on Friday 31st July at 1:45am, at Stoke Mandeville Hospital MLU. I was 40 weeks + 11 days when I went into labour and I can honestly say that I had a dream birth experience, despite giving birth in the middle of a pandemic.
When my due date came and went I tried to remain as calm and as active as possible, but it was hard not to wake up every day thinking that this could be the day! At 40 weeks + 9 days I had booked in for my first sweep at my routine midwife appointment, but was told that my cervix was closed so it couldn’t be carried out, and a discussion about an induction followed. I really didn’t want to go down this route, as I had hopes of a natural labour and water birth, so decided to book in for a second sweep a couple of days later instead and go from there.
However, the day after my first sweep I felt less movement so went into hospital to get monitored and of course, as soon as I got hooked up to the monitor my baby started to have a party! Happy & relieved that everything was ok, I was ready to carry on as normal, however, the midwife monitoring me warned me that the doctor wanted to talk to me about an induction, given my gestation period.
Thankfully my husband, Mark was allowed into the hospital to discuss this with the doctor too, especially as I was feeling a bit emotional that my ideal birth was looking less likely, so it was great that Mark was able to be there to ask all the questions, so that we could make an informed decision together.
The doctor wanted to book my induction for the next day, but we asked to be booked in for the Saturday instead, which would have meant I was 40 weeks +13 days, so that I could give our baby a bit longer to come in her own time and so that I could go ahead with the second sweep which was the next day anyway.
Going into my second sweep I had high hopes that it would be able to be carried out this time but my cervix was still closed. I felt a bit disappointed leaving the appointment since my induction date was looming, however I was determined to try to remain relaxed and to keep active, so that I didn’t end up over thinking it.
I went for a walk, bounced on my ball whilst watching friends, walked up and down the stairs sideways a few times and did some yoga hip circles and hip rocks. We also picked up a curry for dinner which I was really not looking forward to as I hate anything spicy but thought I might as well try it!! At around 7:30pm and luckily after one mouthful of curry my waters broke with a massive gush, just like in the movies, which was a shock to us both but we had a good laugh about it, saying that the baby had saved me from eating the spicy food!!
I called the hospital and got told to come in straight away, I was sure that as soon as I got there I would be told to go home as I still hadn’t had any surges or any signs of labour but this all changed very quickly!!! We were half way to Stoke when my surges began and they came on thick and fast. I tried to remain relaxed and concentrated on breathing through them. By time we arrived at Stoke at around 9pm they were very frequent. Between the surges and my waters leaking still, Mark helped me across the car park with a towel between my legs – it is true when people say that you lose your dignity as soon as you arrive at hospital! I was a bit anxious about going into triage alone but just focused on my breathing. The midwives were all so nice, they immediately put me at ease and I got seen to straight away.
I was asked if it was ok to have a vaginal examination which I was happy to go ahead with, as I wanted to know how I was progressing and this got arranged within a few minutes. I got told that I was 2cm dilated, which I was surprised and happy to hear, as I wasn’t expecting to progress so quickly after not having any early signs of labour prior to my waters breaking.
My midwife told me that I could go home since I wasn’t in active labour, but I asked if I could stay as I knew I wouldn’t make the 40min journey back home as my surges were getting more and more intense. So I was relieved when the midwife agreed that I could stay, as the thought of getting back in the car filled me with dread. I was given 2 paracetamol and a codeine whilst she set up a room for me on the MLU.
Only a few minutes had passed when she came back to take me to the room and she begun to run a bath to help with the pain. Walking to the new room was a struggle and I leant over the bed as soon as I got there. My surges were now so close together that she stopped running the bath to examine me again. She said that I was now 4cm dilated and in active labour, so I could call my husband in. it was so exciting knowing that we would meet our baby soon, that any fear I had just disappeared.
Mark arrived at 11pm to me being told not to push by the midwives, but I said that I just felt like I really needed to push so my midwife examined me again and said that I was in fact 10cm dilated and that I could carry on pushing! I couldn’t believe how quickly I had progressed, and my plan of a water birth was not going to happen as our baby was coming so quickly. However, I was still happy that I was able to be on the MLU and free to move into different positions.
I was offered gas and air but I just felt like it would be a distraction to my breathing. My surges were so frequent and intense, it really didn’t feel like there was much of a rest period between them but I just kept thinking that I was one step closer to meeting our baby girl with every surge that passed. Mark was brilliant making sure that I kept control of my breathing by breathing with me, telling me that I could do it and that I was doing an amazing job.
I changed from my kneeling position to lie on my side because I was getting tired and we all thought it may be good to try a different position. The midwives gave me a peanut to put between my legs but this felt too big and uncomfortable, so Mark held my leg open instead. After a few more big pushes our baby was coming so quickly that the midwives said that they were going to perform an episiotomy at the end of the next surge, however this didn’t happen as they saw the baby’s head coming and I was told that I was now going to tear instead.
The tearing is something that did scare me before giving birth but I honestly didn’t feel a thing and the midwives did a great job guiding my baby out by telling me when to do big or small pushes to reduce the tearing. I got told to look round just as our baby girl came out and I will never forget that moment, I felt so empowered at what I had just achieved and it was the most incredible feeling.
Although I didn’t have time to have the water birth I had in my plan or for Mark to set up my room like a spa, I was still so happy that I had an amazing birth experience, that I felt in control of, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Giving birth to our baby girl is my greatest achievement and I still can’t believe it!
Olivia weighed a healthy 7lbs 13, we did skin to skin as soon as she was born and waited until the cord had stopped pulsing before Mark cut it, and he also had skin to skin before leaving at around 7am. The midwives were all so lovely and didn’t rush Mark to go home, they just let us enjoy our first few hours together as a family, which was so precious and unforgettable.Olivia is just the most gorgeous little thing and such a chilled baby, she has brought so much happiness into our lives and we can’t remember life without her now.
I can’t thank you enough Donna because your pregnancy yoga classes kept me so relaxed in the run up to the birth and your hypnobirthing course was invaluable, it helped me so much with my birth experience, and made me trust my own instincts and my body. I hope this gives your mums to be some reassurance for their own births and I can’t wait to start your postnatal yoga classes.