It was a Saturday night and I was 40 weeks and 4 days. We’d stayed up late watching telly and didn’t get to bed until around midnight. I didn’t have any signs I’d be going into labour any time soon, until I abruptly awoke to my first contraction. It was around 1.30am and I just knew it was a contraction. They came every few minutes but were gentle, similar to a period pain, although I wasn’t able to sleep through them. I decided to run a bath and see if I could stop them coming for now, so I could get some rest before the big event – but it didn’t work. I relaxed in the bath for an hour and then I went into the spare bed, to listen to my hypnobirthing app. I put the positive affirmations on repeat and tried to get in the right mindset. The hours flew by and before I knew it, it was 6am and I was making breakfast. I woke Neil and told him to get ready, because we’re going for a walk. Now that it was the morning, I wanted to get things going – plus it was the Euros final that night and England were in it! Neil was desperate for Ellie to arrive before then….
We took a walk and informed the doulas that today would be the big day. I started timing my contractions as they were coming quicker and with more intensity. Back at home we started to prepare the room – it was getting exciting!
I spent most of early labour bouncing on my pregnancy ball and breathing in a blend of essential oils to stay relaxed. One of the doulas made me a herbal tea and we tried out the TENS machine on my lower back, but I hated it. I decided to try another bath, but things were getting too intense and I wanted the pool filled up. Neil sorted the pool for me and I made my way back down. I stayed in the pool for quite some time, riding the contractions, breathing in for 4 seconds and out for 6 seconds, with Neil holding a fan on my face. I started being sick from the pain and the warmth of the pool was making me too hot and agitated so I asked my doulas what else I could do.
She suggested sitting on the toilet backwards, which I attempted but it was too painful. I just wanted to get into bed, curl up and for it all to be over. I did the closest thing to that by getting on to the bed and riding out my contractions there. I didn’t know it at the time but I was there for four hours! I think lying down had slowed down Ellie’s descent, but eventually, I felt a warm pop as my waters broke. We then decided it was time to move again, so I headed back downstairs. Every step was agony by this point and I was starting to struggle. I made it to the bottom and got straight back in the pool. I could feel the sensations in my body had changed and this time, they were strong convulsions downwards (like the feeling of being sick but at the bottom). Things began to unfold fast now. My doula encouraged me to “let go” and I started to push. The next thing I knew, she was telling me she could see the head! I pushed as hard as I could (which I’d planned NOT to do, but by this point I just wanted the contractions to be over). The head was there again and this time, it didn’t retract back in. All of a sudden I felt an intense pressure and my body ejected Ellie involuntarily, throwing me upwards in the process – wow! I had experienced what is known as the foetal ejection reflex. Baby Ellie was finally here after 18 hours…
She was perfect! We had to get out of the pool pretty quickly as the umbilical cord was really short and I couldn’t bring her up high enough to be out of the water. We didn’t want her getting cold so we got on the sofa and snuggled up in my dressing gown. Ellie was so alert where we didn’t have any drugs in our system.
Where I’d been throwing up, I hadn’t kept any food or drink down all day, so felt extremely faint and started to shake. Presumably from where the adrenaline was wearing off and I was likely feeling somewhat shocked. We called an ambulance as a precaution to check me over, but after some sugar water, all was fine. I passed the placenta naturally after 45 minutes. Thankfully that’s much easier to pass and it literally just slips out of you!
We then called the midwife who arrived, weighed Ellie, checked her over and myself. She informed me I’d experienced a grade 2 tear but I decided to let it heal naturally and declined stitches.
My doula helped me shower and latch Ellie. We had our first breastfeed, while Neil and my other doula cleared everything away. I had my first wee, which is where you realise your pelvic floor has been destroyed, so that’s fun. Before I knew it everyone had left and we were sat staring at our baby daughter. It all went by in a blur and whilst intense, it’s completely doable. I had no pain relief or medical staff present and managed it, so please don’t fear the experience. Plan, prepare and educate yourself on your rights and options, as it really is a life changing experience that’s worth the investment of time.
I wish for everyone to have a positive birth experience and a healthy, happy baby!
If you have any questions or concerns surrounding birth, please feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll help you as best I can 🙂