Positive birth stories
Jessica & Nathans positive story when plans changed to the labour ward.
Like so many women, covid introduced restrictions that meant that the birth of my second child was always going to be different from the birth of my first. Regardless, both of my birth stories are positive and I want to say this at the outset.
With my son, I choose my sister Victoria and mother to be my birth partners. I embarked on the prospect of birth with an inherited view from my mother that men serve no purpose in a labour room and their nervous energy is just a hindrance. Mum had 5 successful births with just herself and a midwife so she speaks from experience. This time around things we’re a bit different. My sister now had a full time job as a macmillan nurse so wasn’t able to take time off. At this point, due to Covid restrictions I was only allowed one birth partner and actually the thought of giving birth with just mum, made me feel a bit anxious. I think she struggled watching me in pain the first time round and the formula of both of them only worked as my sister was able to keep spirits high throughout my labour.
My husband suggested our wonderful friend Victoria Lemmon to support me during the birth and thankfully she had availability so happily agreed. I’d experienced snippets of Victoria’s nurturing touch and vast knowledge when I was at her house one day and she talked me through optimal birthing positions. I was so happy that she agreed to guide me on this birthing journey and it filled me with a sense of excitement for what lay ahead.
In the weeks prior to the birth, we had several informal sessions at both of our homes, with and without Nathan. Victoria was very keen to involve him as much as possible because although I didn’t plan to have him there during active labour, I wanted him to be there supporting me at home as the contractions ramped up. This worked for my previous birth and he was brilliant, really intuitive and sensitive to what I may need next. Victoria and I discussed my birth plan options and made tweaks along the way - she was very thorough and wanted to make sure we’d talked about all possible eventualities and quite rightly so as this made me feel calm and in control. We even discussed our thoughts around having meconium in waters but as this wasn’t an issue with our first birth, I didnt place much thought on it.
One week before the due date, we had our penultimate session together. I love how Victoria would always have her endless bag of tricks with her for us to delve into in preparation of the birth, such recommended hypnobirthing literature, a mini hot water bottle, tea lights or even flash cards to put up on the walls around our home as gentle hypnobirthing reminders. During this last session, Victoria said to be in her naturally intuitive way ‘Jess. I can't explain it but you look different. Like you’re ready.’ We continued to have our session, not realising that the stronger kicks I was experiencing were actually soft signals that the labour was about to start. At 9pm that night my waters broke. Victoria was at ours within ten minutes, full of smiles and positivity regardless of the fact that there was an unexpected concern of meconium in my waters.
Bags packed, we decided to head to the hospital to be assessed but I intended to go home to allow labour to progress with Nathan and Victoria to support me. Victoria’s calm energy was like a constant nourishing hug, which was exactly what I needed.
Unfortunately, due to the meconium I decided to be monitored at hospital and continue my care there. Having a water bath in the birth centre at the UCH was also out of the question but to be honest, as long as my little girl was safe I felt quite relaxed and just knew that with Victoria by side, I was in the best hands. Prior to the birth, we’d got special permission from the UCH to have an additional birth partner should I change my mind and thankfully Nathan decided that he wanted to be present. Our beautiful birth journey had begun.
We were warned by the consultants about the risk factor of the meconium on the baby and that the best plan is to start a syntocinon hormonal drip so that the labour would progress swiftly. The idea of doing this just didn’t feel right. I wanted to continue my plan to hypnobirth and I didn’t want any unnecessary intervention. I explained this to Victoria and she gave us the confidence to follow our intuition. There is no way Nathan and I would have gone against the consultant's advice had she not been there. We’d suffered two back to back miscarriages prior to this pregnancy so all we wanted was a healthy baby but Victoria guided us gently and we questioned the consultants before making our decision to wait. Victoria gave us the reassurance and mental strength that we needed at this point to take control.
We told the consultants that I wanted to build on my contractions myself and now had the self belief that I could. I did however have a sweep just to get it all moving along a bit initially. They respected my wishes and allowed me to follow my hypnobirthing plan, albeit in the labour room. Only hushed voices were allowed, tea lights and our favourite mix of music. By 5am my contractions really picked up and rather than the subsequent 7 hours feeling out of my control, it was a really beautiful time of talking, eating and of course delving into Victoria’s bag of tricks again. There was a tribal shawl that Nathan used to pummel my bum to help with loosening my hips, a process called ‘shaking the apples.’ It was really special that Nathan felt so involved, unlike my last birth when he was just worrying at home.
Victoria was like an angel in the room. Quiet when I needed space and present when we needed guidance or if I needed a gentle touch, hand on my back or a giggle.
At 12:50 after a 10 minute ‘roar’ from me, our baby girl was welcomed into the world very quickly. Victoria swiftly had my placenta put on ice and sent off in a cab to the wonderful, Tara Riverozea. Within 48 hours, nourishing placenta tablets arrived at my door. The speed of it!
Although there were changes to the birth that were out of my control, Victoria ensured that I always had a voice throughout the birth to speak out when things didn’t feel quite right and that I was always listened to and options were discussed. This alone was very empowering. I feel truly blessed to have had Victoria (and Nathan) support me during the birth. It felt like the three of us were a united force of nature. I love how intuitively everything flows when you have the right support network around you and hand on heart, I did.