After being blessed with a smooth/dream pregnancy with first baby, finding out at 35 weeks scan about our baby’s growth restriction had caused sincere shock to us. Our calm hypnobirthing home birth dreams had suddenly started to vanish in front of our eyes. Never-ending rounds of consultations have started with obstetricians and consultant midwives about terrifying facts and related actions we must take urgently. My smooth pregnancy was about to turn into the worst nightmare one could wish for. Throughout the hospital consultations, not a single person was positive about the possible outcome, trying to urge us for an immediate induction on week 36, when Our baby was below 2kg. The apparent reason was increased risk of stillbirth, however, when i asked about the percentage, no one could give me an answer. At the time I had umbilical arteries above the 95th centile ‘labelled’ abnormal, otherwise baby was proving a steady growth of 330grams / every two weeks, which is a bit less than normal, but still a solid growth. When we rejected induction for 36 weeks, we applied the BRAINS logic, learned at Katharine Graves Hypnobirthing class. By the way, I can’t thank enough Katharine to open our eyes and mind throughout, she truly proved that knowledge is power. We did our readings, academic and medical research, stood in front of the consultants and declined induction for 37-38-39-40 weeks. We knew that a forced delivery for a barely 2kg baby at the time would cause distress to it and is more likely to fail on an unripe cervix, giving way for assisted delivery methods, turning the whole experience into a disaster. We have decided to go for increased monitoring, twice-weekly scans, trying to push induction until natural labour arrives, and baby bulks up more weight to become stronger, especially if the scans were showing steady measures. Purely relying on my baby’s healthy and strong movements, my own IUGR birth 30 years ago, and to the disbelief that my fit & healthy body would fail my baby from day 1 to day 2, we carried on until week 40. On my due date I started to feel Braxton Hicks at night, which have continued the next couple of days, giving us hope. Unexpectedly the scan at 40+2 have shown a greater decrease on the umbilical artery blood flow and barely much amniotic fluid left around the baby, although movements were still solid. We have been advised having induction in 48 hours, which with heavy heart and also considering the increased chaos with the Corona Virus pandemic, have accepted. The baby was showing her head extremely low, which was a good sign of her getting ready to come out. While in training with the aniball pelvic floor trainer, I could inflate the balloon to baby head size without any discomfort. We knew that my body is ready to give birth, even if that had to be induced.
48hours later we turned up in the hospital birth centre, learning that the home away from home suites are shut by lack of midwives operating and the birthing pools are out of order because of a leakage. We were urged into the labour ward to a 3-bed room, where two other women were close to having labour, screaming from pain and discomfort. Shocked by the unexpected circumstances we have decided to return back home. All night i spent crying over, how on earth am I gonna give birth without a birthing pool? Induced? On the labour ward? As this was completely opposing even to the updated induction birth plan of ours. Meanwhile, my brother in law called us from India and asked about the situation, when told him we have returned, he said we need to go back and get it done, until we have ‘choices’ left, as he is sure i don’t want to end up in a situation of delaying this until I only have c-section as ‘choice’ left for apparently high risk baby. He also said induction is so common in India, women return home the same day with baby, while his wife had to have a c-section, and she came back two weeks later from hospital.
With strong determination to have our daughter in any circumstance possible (even under a bloody bridge if necessary) as all our plans have been ruined by now anyway, we went back next day later in the afternoon at 40+5 hoping for a calmer ward experience, which turned out how we have expected. In fact, the birthing pools were fixed and ready to use, which was possibly the best surprise in years. After a delightful 7hours of waiting because of shortage of obstetricians, I was induced with pessary at 4am on the 21th of March. Unexpectedly leaving me only couple of hours of the valuable night sleep. Same day we were up at 8am, while having nutritious oatmeal for breakfast I started feeling a pattern of surges developing. We took a walk in the hospital garden and remained there visualizing on the spring blooming of flowers. By the time we have returned to the ward at 11am, my surges were 1 minute long, 4 minutes apart. Basically, I was having a very good reaction for the pessary, clarifying that I won’t need any hormone drip…this have even calmed us further. We have lied down and cuddled in the 3-bed wardroom and listened calming audio with hypnobirthing affirmations, shutting the whole world out. By 2pm I have asked for gas & air as pain relief for surges, this had elevated a pleasant ‘high’ feel. Thinking back, the mistake I have made was that I got so high on gas & air that I did not realise my waters breaking at 3pm, and extremely suddenly I was caught in-between increasingly strong and painful surges. At the time all midwives were out on lunch and my husband was running around in the ward to get someone noticed that I’m in established labour and gonna need our own room ASAP.
By the time the midwives had arrived I was in excruciating pain, they have examined me and I was 3cm dilated by 4pm. I was literally begging to go to the pool room for pain relief, but the hospital code was to only allow women of 5cm dilation to go. At the time there was no labour wardroom empty, so my midwife had presented me the choice of giving birth in the 3-bed room and using the pool room opposite to it or waiting for my own labour wardroom. I told her we need to have our own room to set it up with lights and mood and we want to use the pool room as well, opting out from the 3-bed room. After half hour of waiting which felt like insanity, we received our room which was extremely far away from the pool room at the complete opposite side of the ward. Having to walk there on my own feet felt the longest walk I have ever taken in excruciating pain, and by reaching, realised that its absolutely pointless to set up the room, as I was unable to focus on details anymore, all I wanted was pain relief. My midwife took special permission and allowed me to go the pool with 3cm dilation at 5pm.
The birthing pool felt like heaven as soon as I stepped into it, turning my extreme surges into manageable surges I could breathe through. As soon as I got into the pool I felt a sudden urge of pushing, spending the next two hours in it pushing through, I was extremely disappointed of no baby showing, as my absolute dream and expectation was to give birth in water gracefully. In fact, a bigger team of people started appearing as my baby’s heartbeat suddenly started to drop in the water. I was reluctant to leave the pool being extremely afraid of the heavy surges without the relieving warm water. I said if I have to leave the pool, I must have an epidural, as I felt like losing all my energies by not sleeping enough, plus I just could not imagine going through again the extreme pain outside the pool. My midwife has reminded me that my birth plan was against all medicalized pain relief, not believing I really want one. Thinking back I did not expect the hospital team taking my birth plan so seriously, in fact they have double-checked any points we were about to change on, huge respect for that.
By 7pm, after 4 hours of established labour I was begging for an epidural, and the team was looking to get it for me, but unfortunately/fortunately there was no staff available to give me one. My midwife had returned with the cryptic news that -there are no pain relief available- which made me sort of disappointed, but also determined that I need to push this baby out ASAP. I have agreed into an examination near the pool, and my midwife had found out, that I was ‘fully dilated’. Spending 2 hours in the birthing pool, I went from 3cm to 10cm which was absolutely unexpected by anyone present, even to me and my husband. She said the baby is possibly 4 pushes away and I need to push her out. I was advised to return back into my room, I was transferred with a pushchair far back into. A senior gynecologist has arrived for the concerns of baby heartbeat and set me up in an actually amazing position kneeling against a leather armchair. By the time his assistant screamed that baby heartbeat is back to normal, she said, “she is a happy baby here again” Plus the epidural had arrived too. I felt a sudden relief and noticed that my painful surges have significantly reduced. The gynecologist wanted to examine me before hooking me up to the long-awaited epidural, stating the epidural is absolutely pointless as the baby is only probably two pushes away. Suddenly I remembered for the hypnobirthing down breathing technique (my breathing was a complete mess throughout my entire labour as the pain was unexpectedly high and the circumstances changing all the time.) using the breathing I literally pushed twice and our baby was born at 8.10pm on 21st March. I saw the most excited smile on my husband’s face and I knew the baby is out, meanwhile, everyone started congratulating. Most pain and discomfort have vanished straight. IUGR ‘labelled’ baby weighing 2.74kg was in perfect health, without leaving any trace of tearing on mommy. Walking out of hospital next morning.
I became ready to write this story only a week later our baby’s birth, as writing it earlier might have been in a slightly more negative tone, as have never experienced such chaos, loss of control overall in anything before. I’m always well organized, sticking to my plans. This birth had turned out extremely differently how we have planned it out, with higher pain and discomfort managed only on gas & air + birthing pool pain relief. Eventually I am able to call it as a positive birth experience with an only 5 hour active labour and natural delivery with no tearing, opposing to the cryptic stillbirth and assisted birth forecast consultants have presented to me throughout. Our strategy of delaying induction with continuous monitoring until my body is ready to give birth, and baby has an optimal weight, actually have worked out for us brilliantly. This means that my baby and my body has proven according to Our research and gut feeling. We took the risk, labelled as inconsiderate parents by many NHS staff and eventually succeeded, making a bit of a difference, and probably a story many will remember.
A week after going through all, I’m having the confident feeling I could do it all again regardless.
Wishing the best luck for all Mommies who are about to deliver in Covid Pandemic, be prepared for long delays, lack of midwifes and medical crew, supplies and all, be very patient even if hospital conditions are about to ruin your experience, forget about “right” aesthetics for once, as when baby is out all inconvenience will worth it x