Updated: Mar 24
In short, I really did have a wonderful experience with my labour, all the midwives I encountered were just fantastic and I'm so fortunate for my first labour to be as quick and straight forward as it was. I would even go as far to say I enjoyed my labour. The breathing skills you taught us really did help and got me through. I was kept informed the whole time and the midwives couldn't do enough for me - they even looked after Steve really well, he got cups of tea brought for him and everything.
My pregnancy was quite straight forward and we decided to find out we were expecting a girl. Due to a couple of factors I was also consultant led. I had additional scans and also some extra monitoring as my placenta being at the front made it a bit trickier to track baby’s movements. The consultant and all the staff we encountered at the hospital (St. John’s) were fantastic. I had this fear that I was being overbearing with the little one’s movements but not once was I made to feel like a nuisance, I was always told that I was doing the right thing by getting checked over. I remember one of the midwives telling me to be kinder to myself, she said “If you have the slightest doubt, always phone in, that’s what we are here for. If you were sitting in your house with your baby and your house was on fire, would you get out or would you sit around for a bit to wait and see” and that always stuck with me. She made me realise I was already being a good mum looking out for baby and that I was doing the right thing and not putting the midwives out of there way. They were there to help me as much as check on the baby.
I had a scan at 37 weeks and 4 days on a Friday. There were concerns about baby girls stomach growth. The line on our growth chart had dipped ever so slightly so the consultant on duty that day came to speak with us (this wasn’t my regular consultant but he was really helpful and understanding) to discuss our options. The consultant, looking at all our notes and scan results was almost certain the dip in growth was a bit of a blip with the previous scan measurement potentially being recorded slightly out but of course he couldn’t guarantee that was the case and he had also had seen the other side of this scenario were the outcome wasn’t as positive because they didn’t act sooner. After a lengthy chat, it was up to us to make the final decision whether to be induced over the weekend and get baby out or wait until my next appointment with my consultant to review (which was on the coming Monday). We made the decision to proceed with an induction and we were booked in to come back the next day to get checked in and start the process.
Induction & Labour
Steve was allowed to be on the induction ward with me, partners can be there from 9am until 10pm. I was admitted late lunchtime on the Saturday, the midwife on duty showed us to my bed and even offered to bring me some lunch even though lunch had just finished - nice touch. I was in a room with two other woman who were both quite friendly.
Jane, the charge midwife, came to introduce herself to us and that she would be looking after me for the start of the induction process. She popped me on the monitor to check baby’s heartbeat and then I had a quick vaginal exam. Jane recommended we start with the pessary, she explained it all to me and I agreed to it and had this inserted at about 3.30 p.m., they would review in either 12 or 24 ours depending on how things were going. From there it was a case of waiting. You are allowed to walk around the hospital grounds or nip to the shops and you have a wee buzzer by your bed in case you need the midwives for anything. The rest of the day passed by, we had gone for a walk and I spent some time on one of the birthing balls (they have them in the room) but not much was happening, then it got to 10pm when Steve had to leave for the night, I told him I would text him any updates and to make sure he got some rest. The midwife looking after me overnight was Laura, she explained that she would be monitoring baby every two hours with a doppler and any concerns you are then popped on the monitor. I was popped on the monitor at about 11pm as baby’s heart rate was slightly elevated. All was fine but during the time on the monitor I felt this weird vibration at the top of my bump, it’s hard to describe, it wasn’t painful but something I hadn’t felt before. I mentioned this to Laura and she did say that it could be the start of something and to keep her informed. I started to feel some very mild tightenings a short while later but nothing too intense. I tried to get some sleep but it is tricky when you are being woken every 2 hours but all for the greater good - thank goodness I brought a sleep mask though :-) I wish I had brought ear plugs as the woman next to me was a bit of a snorer!
Another check done at 1.30, all fine. At about 2.30, I started to feel what I can only describe as period cramps, enough to wake me up from whatever sleep I was managing to get. I lay there and thought to myself if I can’t get back to sleep in next 5-10mins I’m going to buzz for some pain relief. The next thing I knew it was 3.30 and I was being woke up for another check, so I mentioned the cramps but by this time it had gone. Laura was convinced things were beginning to progress and to let her know of any changes. Another quick doze and a check at 5.30 a.m. went by. Soon enough it was the back of 7 and breakfast was going to be served shortly. I was feeling quite uncomfortable, cramps were coming and going and I just could not get comfy. I managed to get a shower and tried to eat some breakfast but I was starting to struggle so I buzzed for the midwife, Laura had finished her shift and Adele was now looking after us. Adele quickly put me back on the monitor and it was clear I was having contractions, she double checked I had not had an exam since the pessary had been inserted, which I hadn’t, so she took me to be checked. I text Steve as he was on his way in at this point and said I would meet him on the ward as I was going for exam. He knew I had been on the monitor and having uncomfortable cramps.
During the exam Adele said “you are doing really well, you are 4cm dilated”, my jaw hit the floor, I was so surprised, I don’t know what I was expecting, knew something was happening but I wasn’t expecting that. Adele removed the pessary and put me back on the monitor to check baby was okay. All fine and she said I could go back to bed and she would let the labour ward know I was in the queue to go downstairs - I was third in the queue. It was a busy time that weekend, all the valentines babies being born and the two other women in my room who were being induced were the two ahead of me in the queue.
Well baby girl and my body had other ideas, clearly didn’t want to wait. Steve was at my bed by time I got back from the exam, I remember getting on the bed and lying down and asking for his hand, breathing through a contraction, I managed to say’ I have an update for you, I’m contracting (in case he couldn’t tell lol) and I’m 4cm dilated’. Steve’s jaw also hit the floor, he laughed “so I’m not taking you out for a Starbucks then”. The contractions kept coming and I had started to bleed slightly which was my show. Adele offered me some pain relief, dihydracodine, and came back after 20 minutes to check on me. The dihydracodine did nothing for me and the contractions kept coming. Adele then sat with me and timed the contractions, they were lasting 40 seconds and coming every few minutes, she said she was going to phone the labour ward. The next thing we knew, I was skipping the queue as I was progressing a lot faster than the other two women in the room and were going to be met by Dawn who would be looking after us in the labour ward. I could here Adele explaining to one of the other women that she was sorry and she wasn’t next going down and it was me - I thought to myself this girl is going to go mad as she had been waiting to go down to the labour ward for nearly 36 hours but her labour wasn’t progressing much at all. She actually wished us luck as we left and I found out later that she went down to the labour ward not long after me.
We were met by Dawn and she took us downstairs to our room. Handy tip; don’t try to walk to the labour ward when your contractions are close together, I thought I could and a contraction hit and I remember breathing and laughing through it saying “no, I don’t think I can walk’ and ended up getting a wheelchair down, much more comfortable.
Once in our labour room - this was now back of 11, time was flying in - I was offered gas and air, which I was happy to have, and I moved around a little. Steve was also rubbing my back from time to time which helped but I still felt these contractions were coming fast and getting a tad more intense. Dawn and Steve then helped me get on the bed and I was strapped up to the monitor (as I was induced they wanted to keep an eye on the little ones heart rate), my bump was so round that the monitor kept falling down so Steve had to help hold it in place, he ended up in some weird positions taking care of that and holding my hand at the same time. Dawn then went over my birth plan with us (I kept my plan quite open, a go with the flow plan, we wanted as much of a calm atmosphere as we could have and to be kept informed throughout) and said she would do a vaginal exam at the back of 12, she also asked if we would be happy for a student midwife to join us which we were more than happy to have. Her name was Jennifer and she had two children of her own. She was lovely and another person to chat to and help me through the process. A few more contractions with the gas and air came and went and they were really ramping up. Dawn offered me additional pain relief, we discussed the morphine injection, I agreed to having it but I had also mentioned I didn’t want to feel sick or be sick; Dawn said they could give me an anti-sickness injection which I agreed to, so both shots done and everything now just felt a little calmer, contractions still coming but they just felt that bit more manageable for now. The morphine really helped with the intensity of the contractions. From then on it was breathing and gas and air that got me through the rest of my labour. It’s such a weird feeling as the contractions start of so mild and ramp right up so quickly as quickly as they disappear.
Dawn carried out the vaginal exam at the back of 12 and I was now 7cm dilated. My waters still hadn’t broke so Dawn broke them for me, then the contractions really started coming. At one stage, I remember saying to Dawn, I feel like I need to start pushing, she said “your body is going to naturally start working with the contractions”. I had this feeling it wouldn’t be too much longer until l our little girl was going to make her entrance and the intensity of the contractions had now changed and I could really feel the pressure in my bottom. It was now 1.35pm and I had got through a few more contractions and remember shouting “oh my god I need to push” so Dawn did a vaginal exam which I didn’t even feel and as another contraction came she said “you are fully dilated, you go ahead and push, go for it”. It all went by so quickly from there, a couple of pushes, they could see baby’s head, then a couple more pushes and baby’s head was out, for the last big push Dawn suggested putting the gas and air down and concentrating all my effort on that last push (we had a bit of a laugh as she actually said she was going to be mean and take the gas and air off me). Well, waiting on that last contraction felt like forever, they had been coming so frequently and then at that last part, baby’s heads out and it’s not the most pleasant feeling at that stage and I’m like “where the hell has this contraction gone”, then it came, Dawn, Jennifer and Steve both encouraging me that I’ve got this, I gave it my all and probably my loudest scream and then it was over, there she was, our baby girl, on my chest, this 7lb 10oz little munchkin with a head of hair, our little Keira. Steve cut the cord, it just all seemed so surreal but I had done it, I had delivered our little girl, emotions where everywhere and tears from both Steve and I, it was the best moment.
I had to have some stitches and everything was explained to me before they started, Dawn actually hadn’t carried out stitches for a while and one of the lesions wasn’t a straight forward stitch so she asked if I was happy for another midwife to do them. It didn’t take long and it was over quite quickly. The midwife doing my stitches kept checking in to make sure I couldn’t feel anything and to let her know at the slightest bit of discomfort. At the most all I should feel was the the string being pulled through. They numb you and I can honestly say I didn’t even notice anything until just before the last couple of stitches, I felt a sharp poke and said to the midwife so she stopped and gave me a bit more numbing and then it was all over. While this was going on Steve had some skin to skin time with Keira and then we had some time just the three of us, I had decided on bottle feeding so Steve gave Keira her first feed while I had a rest, in amongst all this going on, the best tea and toast you will ever have arrived; and some nice biscuits. I eventually got up and had a shower, although maybe a bit too soon as I actually felt a little faint after so Dawn checked my blood pressure which had dropped, only because I got up and moved about soon after labour so on to the bed for a little rest and then it was back up and on to the maternity ward where we stayed one night before being discharged the next evening. We were taken up to the maternity ward at about 5.30/6pm I think it was. I had some dinner on the and another rest while Steve kept an eye on Keira. I started to feel so much better and felt I was buzzing from the whole experience, an adrenaline rush. Then it was 10pm and Steve had to leave, he really didn’t want to but a comfort to him knowing I was recovering well from labour and feeling okay about being on my own overnight it gave him strength and comfort knowing we would both be okay. The night went in quick and a few feeds and nappy changes later (the midwives on duty were more than helpful when I buzzed them to bring milk or help change Keira) Steve was back with me on the ward and granny was arranging to come and visit. We did notice a couple of feeds Keira wasn’t quite taking the amount of milk expected so we monitored it and were offered to stay another evening if we wanted but I was ready to bring baby girl home and get back into my own bed. We agreed to decide later in the day, after Granny had been to visit. Keira’s amount of food picked up so we asked to be discharged. The paediatrician checked her over and we mentioned the feeding to him, both he (and the midwives) said that it was most likely the morphine making its way out of Keira’s system and she had been a bit more sleepy than if I hadn’t had the morphine during labour. One of the side effects of the morphine injection is it can make your baby sleepier and less interested in feeding for the first 24 hours. Later that evening Steve brought the car seat in and we were soon on our way home to begin our life as a family of 3 (really 4 if you include our lovely Lab Lola).