Archive for the ‘Pregnancy and birth’ Category

My positive birth story – home birth requiring transfer to hospital

March 29, 2013

This is the birth story of my second son born at the end of February 2013 and weighing ten pounds 8oz. We had hoped for a home birth but he was born in hospital after a transfer by ambulance. However don’t worry it’s still a positive story!

The home birth story of my first son Bub is here.

By the time my labour started I was twelve days past my due date. In a last ditch attempt to kickstart things I went for a walk of about two miles mid-afternoon which with my SPD was no mean feat. This brought on lots of aches and pains, however it wasn’t clear if this was labour or SPD. I noticed my first discernible contraction at 6.30pm amidst feelings of general achiness.

Unlike Bub (who was back-to-back) this baby was in a more favourable position. However I still felt the contractions mainly in my lower back. But they were different to last time as there was a gap in between contractions where I felt no pain. The SPD achiness remained throughout though.

For a while I was a bit ‘is it? isn’t it starting?’ as the contractions were mild and sporadic. But we packed Bub off to my sister just in case, he left around 8.30pm. By this stage I was sat on my birth ball and knew this was it. Was trying to appear fine in front of Bub was really wanted him out of there before things became more intense.

Once Bub was gone we then called the midwives via the out of hours number. I said that I was coping fine at the moment but wanted to alert them that labour had started. My contractions were around 30 seconds long and coming every 3-5 minutes. I could easily talk through them and was doing fine – it definitely felt more manageable than the early stages of Bub’s birth. My partner started to fill the birth pool. I put on my TENS machine and lit a lavender and clary sage oil burner in the living room. I then went back to my trusty birth ball.

A little later the midwife, Ann, called me. She said she was happy to come out when needed. She was half an hour away and I should call when I felt labour was more established or if my waters broke.

At this stage I was mostly sitting on the birth ball. I was able to be much more mobile than with Bub and could also walk a bit and sometimes leant forward on the ball or over the sofa. I put on a film I’d been saving, Kick Ass, and watched that. Everything felt quite chilled and relaxed, I even had a cup of raspberry tea. My contractions still felt fine, though I now had to focus on them. I started doing my breathing – in for four, out for six. I continued this throughout my contractions from now on.

As the film ended (around 10.30pm?) I turned off the tv and sat in the darkened room mostly on the birth ball. My contractions got more intense and I asked my partner to time them on his iPad so we could inform the midwife. We did this for about an hour. They were mainly 45 seconds long but coming every 2.5-3 minutes. Occasionally they were longer and further apart but this was the general pattern. Changing position tended to lead to a gap and then some longer ones. This was all a bit confusing as I’d expected them to last longer but be further apart, coming closer together as labour progressed. But mine were already pretty close together, albeit only short. This made it quite hard to estimate how far along we were and whether to call the midwife or not.

We called Ann around 11.30pm and updated her on the situation. She said she’d come straight over. I moved position to leaning over sofa and the contractions immediately got more intense. Felt like moved up a gear to ‘challenging’ for first time and I was very glad the midwife was on her way.

Ann arrived around midnight and did various checks on me and the baby. Fortunately he was fine but my blood pressure was high. She said it was too high for a home birth. However Ann said she’d check again shortly and also maybe after a vaginal examination (VE) if I was far on enough I could go in birth pool for 15 minutes as this might help lower the reading to a safer level.

My blood pressure had been fine throughout pregnancy but rose to borderline at five days overdue. It stayed on or around borderline for the rest of pregnancy and I spent time in the hospital day assessment unit. Here it normalised enough for me to retain the ok for home birth. However in labour my BP spiked up from borderline to high. I’ve no idea of the cause for any of this though I wonder if my fears about labour and in particular being induced played a part.

A bit later (around 1pm?) Ann did a VE and said I was 6cm dilated. I did feel a tad disappointed about this as I had been 3-4cm dilated the previous day.

Ann then got out the gas and air to see if using this reduced my BP but it didn’t. All the BP checks she took were just as high. There was no more talk of using the pool and I have to say I felt no inclination to get in only to have to get out again if we were to transfer. Plus I didn’t want to lose my TENS machine which was proving helpful.

Ann said she’d need to call the delivery suite and get me transferred into hospital. The BP readings were too high. This wasn’t a discussion, it was going to happen. I wasn’t inclined to argue though. It would be a shame not to have Baby at home but I had been disappointed by only being 6cm dilated. If this was going to be a long haul then I consoled myself by deciding to request lots and lots of painkillers ASAP on arrival.

Ann called the delivery suite. However our local hospital was closed due to being too busy so they agreed I would be taken to the other big hospital across the city.

Ann updated my partner who had been upstairs googling high blood pressure in birth. He’d pretty much figured we’d be transferring into hospital and was packing a few things. I had done a hospital bag and baby bag but he had the foresight to grab stuff like our coats, purses and my glasses which weren’t packed. My main concern was whether my partner would be able to travel in the ambulance with me (he was).

The ambulance arrived in what felt like a quick time but was probably about 1.30am. I’d been using the gas and air and sitting on the sofa rocking back and forwards. The contractions felt strong and frequent. I was pretty sanguine about going to hospital, I resolved to seek an epidural as things were now very painful and I felt it might still be some time as I was only 6cm dilated and my waters hadn’t broken.

I walked to the ambulance between contractions. I felt a bit like I needed to use the toilet but I didn’t want the pain of trying to do this without entonox and things were all very efficient and bustling once the ambulance arrived so I had no real chance to do this.

In the ambulance I lay on my right side on a stretcher, sucking on entonox for dear life. Fortunately the ambulance was equipped and my midwife ensured the supply was immediately available. I couldn’t reach my TENS to boost it so I had to leave this and instead focused on the gas and air.

I had all kinds of odd thoughts on route in the ambulance. I was worried that when we arrived I’d have a long way to walk and that we’d have to go sit in a waiting room before being allocated a hospital room. I also worried I’d have to fill in loads of paperwork before being ‘allowed’ to labour. All a bit mad but there we go – in hindsight I think this was transition but also highlights the need to be informed about the home to hospital transfer process if only to put aside any worrisome doubts.

Throughout the journey I had a niggling feeling of needing a wee and poo. This wasn’t a pushy feeling but a vague awareness during contractions. I was aware enough not to want to soil myself in ambulance and felt unsure how I’d cope having to use loo very soon after getting to hospital.

The journey was very quick, I’m grateful that it was in the middle of the night. My partner had his hand on my head and was holding a lavender air freshener which was a smell I associate with relaxation. Imagine he looked like a bit of a banana wafting it about but it was very thoughtful of him to bring it.

Once we arrived (around ten past 2am) I was pushed straight into a delivery room on the ambulance stretcher. Still sucking on entonox this was all rather surreal as we rushed through a deserted waiting room.

In the delivery room I had to stand to move from the stretcher to the bed but just at this point my waters broke during a contraction. My clothes were all soaked and I was helped to pull off my trousers.

I lay on my right hand side on the bed and everything was all very intense now. I asked for an epidural and was told it was too late. I felt mortified – could I be pushing for ages or getting interventions with no pain relief? However the next push someone said I was going to have the baby very soon and lifted my top leg. They weren’t wrong. In no more than three or four pushes my baby was out. I was screaming. I was in a lot of pain but also euphoric it might be over soon.

Baby was born at 2.20am. It all happened so fast the ambulance men were still in the room for the birth, plus Ann my midwife who was only there to ensure successful transfer. My second stage was recorded on my notes as being four minutes long. I feel rather fortunate it didn’t all happen in the ambulance (or maybe at home if I had followed my instincts and gone to the loo before transfer!)

Baby gave a cry and was lifted onto my tummy. Because of the high blood pressure Ann had explained earlier that they recommended I have the injection to bring out the placenta. My partner cut Baby’s cord almost immediately and he was taken to one side for examination. I had the injection and my placenta came out quickly and easily. A little later my BP was taken again and was NORMAL! It remained normal for every check after this point.

Soon Baby was handed back to me (in a nappy, which I hadn’t requested and is actually the only bit of the process that I wasn’t happy about.) We had a cuddle and I soon latched him on for a feed. When weighed he was 10 pounds 8oz (this large size was anticipated as his brother was 10 pounds 2oz.)

All in all I consider this to be a positive birth story even if it did involve a hospital transfer. The whole transfer to hospital went very smoothly and wasn’t a negative experience at all. It would have been lovely if Baby had arrived at home but my experience of hospital was completely fine. We were there for about 14 hours and came home at 4pm on the day Baby was born. The only sad thing was that my partner had to leave us when we went to the ward so from 5am to 9am he had to hang around the waiting room downstairs.

Hope this birth story is of interest and shows that even hospital transfer doesn’t necessarily prevent a positive birth experience. I’m still very pleased I tried for a home birth as my early labour was no doubt helped by me being more relaxed (and I imagine my BP was helped a bit too.) But having to transfer was totally fine and I’m grateful to have had the assistance of the midwives, ambulance crew and everything else when required.


Big birthas

March 17, 2013

Have come across a new website, Big Birthas, which aims to provide information for larger mums to be.

As someone who is overweight, and was much heavier for baby two than baby one, I was worried about how this might impact my antenatal care and birth planning. Fortunately, and slightly surprisingly, my weight was never raised with me as an issue. I had expected it might be and did a fair bit of reading about high BMI and home birth before my booking appointment. But it never came up. Instead it was actually Bub’s weight (over ten pounds at birth) that put me into a higher risk category and under consultant led care..

However I can appreciate that a site like this would have been very useful when I was doing my online research into pregnancy with a higher BMI. For instance this article about water birth is really informative and relevant to many with high BMI (a friend of mine was told she couldn’t use a hospital birth pool due to her weight.)

As Big Birtha says:

Being bigger when getting pregnant is associated with greater risks, it’s true. It would be naive to ignore those risks. And when those risks do arise, extra care is needed, as with anyone experiencing problems, but Big Birtha’s perspective is that those risks have become overexaggerated, and misrepresented, and the treatment of larger women is becoming overcautious and overmedicalised as a result.

Most overweight pregnant women go on to have normal pregnancies, with no complications. And yet they are not treated accordingly; as any other normal pregnant woman, which aside from anything else, is a shame as doing so could save the NHS a fortune!

If we bigger women want to be treated normally, we need to take control of the facts and information available and fight our corner to get the births we deserve and are capable of.

Check out the site here.

Home birth debate crops up again

March 11, 2013

Another day, another article about home birth. This time an article in the Guardian called ‘Childbirth: Why I take the scientific approach to having a baby’.

The gist of it is that the evidence around safety of home vs hospital is misrepresented. And it focuses on the rates of planned home births which end up with a transfer to hospital. The research quoted (which is pretty authoritative and which I’d read before) states that around 45% of first time mums planning a home birth end up transferring into hospital. Around ten percent of those having a subsequent child transfer.

I clearly got things muddled up as I successfully had my first child at home and then had a mid-labour, in ambulance hospital transfer with my second.

My main issue with this article is the insinuation that having to transfer to hospital implies some kind of failure. It implies that home birth was a ‘wrong’ choice for someone who has to transfer in. I certainly don’t regret trying to have a home birth on either occasion. But neither do I regret the fact I had to transfer into hospital. The experience itself wasn’t traumatic. In fact it was incredibly professionally handled by all concerned and went very smoothly. It was the right thing to happen at the time and I’m glad things went as they did. At no point was I or my baby ‘at risk’ given the prompt transfer. So it feels odd to consider myself one of the statistics implied here as having had a ‘bad’ outcome.

Home birth isn’t going to be for everyone. And it won’t work out as planned for everyone either. But just because Plan A might fall through that doesn’t mean Plan B equals failure. Or that you might regret trying for home birth even if ultimately it doesn’t work out.

All this makes me wish I’d written up my birth story already but I’ve still not got around to it. Soon I promise!

Day one

February 28, 2013

Hard to believe our new little one is only just over 24 hours old. Feels like a lifetime has passed already.

Fortunately my high blood pressure in labour came down immediately after the birth and has stayed normal ever since. And Baby is doing brilliantly too, no concerns or issues which is lovely.

He is feeding like a trouper, has a really strong suck on him! I think Bub took much longer to get the hang of it but that might have been more down to me than him. Though I had no idea how bad afterpains can be in second children – ouch that’s been painful!!

We were in hospital for around 15 hours all in and back home yesterday in time for tea. Bub therefore got to meet his little brother at home which was how I’d hoped it’d be. And fortunately Baby had had the foresight to bring Bub a present which made everything pretty much ok from his perspective. Here’s Bub showing the Baby his new Rex toy.

Am knackered, but did manage a few hours kip last night. More than I did for Bub when I think the adrenaline from the birth and general shock to my system kept me awake for several days. Baby is very sleepy at moment which I know won’t last but I hope to enjoy as fully as possible while I can!

Baby :-)

February 27, 2013

Baby Bum arrived today at 2.22am in the morning. Of course this isn’t his real name – we still need to come up with a blog pseudonym (and a real name!) But for now let’s stick to the name his big brother has taken to calling him – so welcome Baby Bum.

Eventful birth. I’d hoped for a home birth but my blood pressure was too high during labour so we transferred into hospital. Ambulance, blues n twos, the whole shebang. Baby was born literally within five minutes of getting to the hospital. My waters broke immediately on arrival and in four pushes he was out. All rather dramatic and exciting (and so near to him being born on route!) The ambulance men were still in the room apparently when he popped out. Though at the time I was very much out of it on gas and air and am rather hazy on the details.

But that’s a story for another time. Will hopefully write up my birth story as I did for Bub. But for now just want to enjoy my little babe and the fact he’s currently sleeping!

Sitting around a hole…

February 22, 2013

Still ‘sitting around a hole’ as my active birth teacher so aptly puts it. Am now eight days overdue, according to my ‘official’ due date. Keep getting a few signs that make us think ‘maybe tonight…’ And then nothing happens. Can only be a matter of time but this uncertainty is certainly fraying my nerves a bit.

I know that labour is inhibited by feeling stressed and having loads of adrenaline rushing around your system. But it’s hard not to feel excited/nervous if I think things might be getting near. And then I can’t sleep and stress builds etc etc.

It’s not helped by the looming possibility of hospital induction. Clearly if necessary we’ll go down that route. But I really hope it won’t be required. A few more days yet before those discussions begin but they won’t help my efforts to relax!

I’m also not convinced my official due date, based on scans, is accurate. I have very regular cycles and calculated my due date as yesterday (21st). But my first scan, based on size, amended this to the 14th. A whole seven days earlier. The baby’s size is used for this, but I’m under consultant care precisely because of my record of big babies. So in my book this makes a due date based purely on the theory that all babes are the same size at 14/15 weeks gestation a bit weak. So maybe I’m only one day overdue not eight…

Either way induction will likely be on cards in a week or so – if not for being overdue then for the whopping size this baby will be by then. He was estimated at eight pounds, give or take a pound, over three weeks ago. I dread to think how big he might be now… Given Bub was just over ten pounds this doesn’t phase me too much but it’s not exactly a reassuring and calming thing to contemplate….

Anyway have resolved to try to relax as much as possible and think happy thoughts. Please send any inspiration and good vibes my way 🙂

Late pregnancy niggles

February 13, 2013

Late pregnancy isn’t a fun time. Am uncomfortable and apprehensive about what’s to come. Looking forward to meeting our baby but a bit scared and nervous about the birth. Am also feeling my SPD quite badly now, it’s enough to make most moving around fairly unpleasant.

Last time around, once Bub had arrived, I looked back on late pregnancy quite fondly. I think this was mainly down to sleep deprivation, rather than anything wonderful about this stage itself. I just remembered it as a time I could sleep in and pop out for meals at the drop of a hat.

But I’m keen to capture a more accurate picture of my daily routine right now, without the rose tinted view I’ll no doubt later adopt once I’m getting zero sleep. So here’s my current ‘typical’ late pregnancy day:

  • Go for a wee
  • Try to get comfy lying on my left side on the sofa
  • Switch to other side, realise not comfy either
  • Get climbed on by my toddler who has taken to continually trying to sit on my head
  • Get up off sofa, curse my pelvic pain
  • Sit on birth ball for a bit, till toddler turfs me off for his own go
  • Eat something, get heartburn, have a Rennie
  • Chase toddler around house trying to get him to eat, wee, put on clothes etc whilst he easily defies me by staying deftly out of reach
  • Go for a wee
  • Repeat throughout day…

Due date is Thursday. Bub was ten days overdue and at the moment I’ve no idea whether the birth is going to be tomorrow or two weeks from now. My due date was shifted forward following my scans so it could be still quite a long time to go. Am trying to focus on the positive (like sleep!!) and take each day as it comes.

Routine for a three year old

February 10, 2013

Preparing for the birth of our little one has also involved planning for the care of Bub whilst I’m in labour. I’m hoping for a home birth and I know lots of mums happily birth with their kids around but I don’t think this would work for me. So Bub is off to stay with his Aunty. It’s rather odd not knowing exactly when it’ll be, or over what time period, so we’ve had to plan for it being potentially over two days including an unprecedented night away from us.

I’ve packed Bub’s bag which has more in than my emergency hospital bag. I’ve also done a note outlining his usual routine and sleeping habits. I thought I’d share for posterity and in case anyone is interested in the day to day routine of a just-three year old.

It should be noted that Bub has an unusual schedule. He gets up late and goes to bed late which suits his night owl daddy and means I get to see lots of him when I get home from work. It’s also pretty variable – sometimes he’s up for 8am, other times not till 11am. We generally play it by ear assuming he takes the sleep he needs. Ditto his food. Sometimes he is massively hungry and eats almost adult portions, other times next to nothing. Again we try to stay relaxed about this and let him decide his needs.

Bub approx routine

9-10am Wake up, have beaker warm milk and maybe a biscuit. Don’t wake him, follow his lead.

Get dressed

10.30am-ish Breakfast (usually cereal)

2.00pm-ish Lunch

7.00pm-ish Tea

8.00pm Bath time

8.45pm Beaker warm milk, story and bedtime

Drinks (water or very diluted squash or juice) available all day. Snacks (preferably fruit) if desired mid-morning and afternoon.

Bub wears pants in the day and a nappy over night. He wears a poppered vest, pyjamas and sleeping bag over his night nappy. No duvet. If the room might get cold keep his socks on and put a blanket over him when asleep. He has a single flat pillow. He needs a bed guard to stop him rolling out of bed, or put the mattress on the floor. He has a small nightlight (gro-egg), this needs to be out of reach for safety. The room will ideally have quite thick curtains to stop him waking too early.

Bub uses a potty and also likes to use the toilet. He tends to get a reward of a haribo sweet after each use but if he doesn’t request one don’t give it as we are keen to phase this out.

Time for a bit of maternity leave

February 1, 2013

Last day at work today. Am now officially on maternity leave. All feels rather surreal, I still can’t quite get my head around fact that we’ll soon be joined by a new addition to the family.

Am now 38 weeks and feeling very, very pregnant. Bub wasn’t born till ten days past my due date so in theory it could still be weeks. But I hope not. A few days to get stuff sorted etc would be nice but I hope not to go too far past my due date this time.

I’m intending to be off until Christmas. A long time but am sure it’ll fly by.

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