Orla's birth at 42 weeks
Did you know that…
…if your baby hasn't arrived on his/her 'due date', an induction is generally proposed quite soon afterwards. It is important to remember that it is your decision but sadly, many women simply aren’t aware that they have a choice. Which of course is not to say that there are no circumstances where intervention isn’t necessary and life-saving, but many women are going into an induction not fully understanding the risks, benefits and their options. Here, Laura shares with us why she declined induction three times and went on to have a beautiful (and quick!) birth with her second child. This is one empowered woman you will want to hear from!
As a second time mum, it’s hard not to reflect on your first birth story, draw comparisons and reflect. My beautiful first born, Rupert, was born at 38.5 weeks and was one of the hardest personal experiences that I’ve ever gone through. He was born swiftly, after multiple induction processes, and I experienced a post-partum haemorrhage, followed by feelings of postnatal anxiety for many months afterwards. As you can imagine, going into my second pregnancy, I was cautious as to whether this would happen again. I wanted to get more information on why it had happened and on whether I could I have done anything to prevent it. I was also very aware of the fact that I didn’t want it to overshadow my second pregnancy or birth.
Understanding my first birth was key
I fell pregnant in December 2017 and we were delighted to find out in January 2018, that we were expecting our second child. Right from the beginning, I was ready to own my pregnancy and birth. I attended my six week check at the hospital with the lovely Liz from the Home Birth Team. Little did I know at that point that this amazing woman would be such a fundamental part of my birth experience for the next nine months. We completed all the checks and, knowing what was ahead, I felt positive and excited leaving.
During the course of my pregnancy, I wanted to understand more about my first experience and so it was suggested that I visit the most awesome midwife at East Surrey Hospital, Sian Dudgeon. I had met Sian a few times before at the Positive Birth Movement Redhill & Reigate. I visited her on a very hot June day after a visit to my consultant hadn’t gone so well. I was nominated a consultant because of my history whom I visited at 12 weeks and again at 20 weeks. Whilst the consultant was pleasant and incredibly experienced, it was her view that I should undertake a “medical induction” as opposed to a natural breaking of my waters in later pregnancy. We discussed what this meant, and it wasn’t entirely clear, but it was certainly heavily mooted that I should come in to be induced towards the end. Personally, I didn’t agree. I should caveat here that I conducted research myself and spoke to other medical professionals as to why this may not have been the necessary course.
Sian went through all of my paperwork from my previous birth and my pregnancy so far. She carefully explained what had most likely happened to cause the postpartum haemorrhage; a delayed second stage of labour after a prolonged induction. It all made sense and it was the first time anyone had explained but most importantly listened to what I needed and wanted. I was back on track.
We were lucky enough to sign up to Miriam’s Hypnobirthing classes with Parent Tribe and it was excellent - I can’t recommend it enough. Miriam and I had been friends for a few years and my husband was pretty sceptical around hypnobirthing and what it all meant. I tasked Miriam with “winning him over”. He attended her free taster session and he was definitely intrigued, by the end of the classes, he was won over entirely. We practiced our relaxation techniques, I listened to my music and spoken meditation and I absorbed as much positive birth information as I could. I attended the Positive Birth Movement meetings every month, met amazing women and heard amazing stories. I read Ina May Gaskin’s books and after some consideration, I signed up to the Home Birth Team at East Surrey Hospital at 29 weeks pregnant. From there on, I was in the safest hands I could have been in. I met with the Home Birth team midwives in the comfort of my own home every fortnight and every week towards the end. They always rang before they arrived, had a cuppa and spent time talking about my week and how I’d been feeling. My appointments never felt rushed. They reassured me along the way that I was doing a great job and my blood pressure remained steady and low for the entire pregnancy- this did not happen during my first pregnancy due to white coat syndrome. All in all, they were there for 45 minutes to an hour each time they came, and it was one of the most wonderful aspects about my pregnancy.
Due date and the inevitable pressure.
As for many women, the dreaded “due date” came and went on 29th September. We moved into October and I was determined not to clock watch, so I just enjoyed the final weeks of my pregnancy and time with my little boy. I won’t lie, there were days when I felt frustrated, wondering when I would meet my baby, but I trusted my body and my baby.
I declined induction at 40 weeks, 41 weeks, 41.5 weeks and at 42 weeks. The home birth team always explained everything to me and reassured me that it was absolutely my choice, I was experiencing no high risk at that point and they knew that I so desperately wanted to have my home birth which wouldn’t have been possible had I been induced. At the last appointment, I saw the lovely Liz who came to my home and talked me through everything again. She took my blood pressure which had risen a little. She took it again and then made a couple of calls. She wanted me to pop along to the midwife unit and have a profile, just to check what was happening. Every part of me didn’t want to go, I was a little upset, but she said there wasn’t any emergency, but could I pop up this evening. We made childcare arrangements for my little boy and we headed there for around 5:30. I was greeted by Sara, the Head of the Home Birth Team. Liz had made a request for her to see me. Sara was so so kind, calm and wonderful. She popped the machine on to listen in and there was my baby’s heartbeat - steady, strong and healthy. She let me listen for over 45 minutes. They took my bloods and then let me go home. They were confident there was a plan and that I would call if any there were any changes. They rang later that night with the results of my bloods - all clear. I went to bed happy and calm.
The following morning we went into town for a walk and a bit of shopping. I had a couple of twinges, but nothing more than what I felt were Braxton Hicks. Suddenly, as we came towards Boots, a huge wave came over me - it was a surge. I bent over double and my husband asked if I was ok. We made our way back home - it was around 1:30pm. Within moments of arriving home, I knew it was time. We called my parents to come over and then the hospital. I had my birth ball, my essential oils and my music. I was totally relaxed. My surges were around 6-8 minutes apart. They said they would call me back whilst they located two midwives for me to come out soon. I kept breathing and remaining calm.
Within 15 minutes, my surges were stronger and only 4-5 minutes apart. The hospital called and confirmed that unfortunately, beyond all their best efforts, they didn’t have a senior or second midwife to send to me. Three other women had gone into labour at home that same day and the midwives were with them. We had a choice: birth at home and call an ambulance or I could come into the midwife unit and have my water birth. For a moment, I could feel my dream of a home birth slipping away, I wanted to cry. But the midwife, Chelsea, on the phone was so calm and just said, “You know that you want that water birth, you can do this Laura, we’ve got this”. My friend drove down to look after my little boy and then we made our way to the hospital. Chelsea stayed on the phone almost the entire way. I just kept breathing and smelling my essential oils.
We arrived at the hospital and it was the longest walk I’ve ever known to the midwife unit. We were greeted by Chelsea. She sat us just in the waiting room for a few moments, with a birthing ball and low lighting before showing me into the Daisy birthing room. The room was warm, the blinds closed, the lights down low, the pool was full. They took my birthing focus board, my oils and my bag. I took off all my clothes and got into the pool. I had one breath of gas and air and I just leaned over the pool. I couldn’t hear anything. I just kept my eyes closed. A lady kneeled in front of me and said, “My names Jen, I’m going to be your midwife Laura, you’re ready to do this - whenever you’re ready” and I did. Our little girl, Orla Grace Esme Walker, was born at 3:52 pm on Saturday 13th October on the eve of 42 weeks. She is beautiful, in every way, and I couldn’t believe that I could have yet more love for a baby. My husband looked so in awe of her. Of course, just like her brother, she had to add some drama to the event and, as she was born, she ripped her own umbilical cord! It’s rare, but it can happen.
We stayed on the unit until around 9pm before transferring to Burstow Ward. We left the following day, around midday. It’s not important to go into the finer detail, but I self-discharged. I was ready to go home and we were there purely for Orla to get her checks - she aced them all.
When I wrote this birth story, I could not imagine not thanking some of the amazing women that enabled me to birth our beautiful baby in the way that I wanted and allowed her safe arrival into the world. So, thank you to Sian Dudgeon and Anne Fawcett for your support. Sara, Lead Midwife for the Home birth team, Liz, Maggie, Debbie, both Emma’s, and all of the ladies on the Home Birth Team - you do an awesome job as midwives! To Jen, I literally couldn’t believe how awesome you were! To Shannon, Orla was your very first baby birthed as a midwife, amazing work! Chelsea, thank you for all of your support. To Nikki, for coming down in record time to look after Rupert! To my Mum for being there every day of my pregnancy. Finally, to Miriam, there are too many words, but thank you from the bottom of our hearts for everything that you did for us both.
A huge thank you to Laura and her husband, Andy, for sharing Orla’s birth story with us.
Find out more about the full antenatal course we offer over on our Group Hypnobirthing Course page.