My birth blog – a positive induction experience
16 September 2020
I would never have imagined that I’d be here writing about a positive induction experience. After a traumatic first induction with my daughter Eliza, I was determined to not be induced this time around. My plan of giving birth at a midwife led birthing centre had already been scuppered due to issues with my platelet count which meant I was at a higher risk of bleeding. This was a blow for me but I eventually accepted that I was going to be giving birth at hospital and tried to enter the birth with a positive mindset and equipped with all of my hypnobirthing tools. I was still very much against an induction however my due date came and went, I had two sweeps which were not successful so at 41+12 I reluctantly accepted the induction. I could have waited another 2 days but had very much reached the ‘get this baby out of me’ stage and did not fancy having to undergo daily monitoring which is required past 42 weeks.
I felt extremely emotional saying goodbye to my husband and daughter at the doors of the induction ward. Due to Covid, inductions are begun alone, with your birth partner allowed to join you once labour has been established (which can take several days). I feel so sorry for first time moms, I was scared enough, and I have already been through induction and labour! I appreciate the importance of keeping people safe but to me this seems unnecessary cruel.
I arrived at 11am and by 1pm I had been examined and the hormone pessary inserted. The aim of the pessary is to get your cervix ‘ripe’ enough to enable your waters to be broken. To my joy the midwife told me I was already 2cm and looking favourable, so she expected things to progress quickly. Within a couple of hours, I was getting mild and regular contractions (around 5 minutes apart) and this continued for several hours. I went on walks around the hospital grounds, bounced on a birth ball and watched rubbish realty tv to pass the time. As the contractions intensified, I was offered paracetamol (which made me laugh – like that’s going to help with labour pains!) and told to let them know once the contractions were 3 minutes apart.
At 7pm baby was monitored, and the contractions were still around every 5 minutes. By 11pm the contractions were increasing in strength but not frequency, I realised at this point that sleep was off the cards! I used my Freya app to keep myself focused on my breathing. Around midnight I had a bloody show and realised my pessary had come out. They examined me and I was 3cm and the midwife said my waters were almost ready to be broken. She reinserted the pessary and told me to let her know if things intensified. As soon as she left the contractions increased massively in intensity and frequency, coming every couple of minutes. At this point I was struggling with the pain and having to use my breathing techniques to get through. The contractions were mostly felt in my back which made lying down impossible, the best position was on all fours or bent over the bed.
To manage the pain, I tried to walk but was told that due to Covid I had to stay in my cubicle! This was so frustrating as my body was telling me to move. I knew things were picking up, so I called my husband to warn him to be on standby. By 2am I was starting to lose my head a little, I felt so sorry for the ladies in the room with me, I was in the thick of labour and making some very load moans during each contraction. I desperately wanted gas and air, the birth pool and my husband! I was told I would be moved to the delivery suite soon, once a room was available. Thank goodness they found me some portable gas and air which got me through the next couple of hours. I was examined at 3am and was 5 cm but they were still waiting for a room. I started to think the baby would arrive on the induction ward!
At 4am a room finally became available and I was told my birth partner could join me. I have never felt so happy to see my husband! At this point things moved very fast and it’s all a bit of a blur. I laboured in the bath with lots of lavender oil which really helped to ground and calm me. My husband created a relaxing environment for me with electric tea lights and aromatherapy room spray. I went into a trance like state, purely focusing on my breathing and getting through each contraction.
At 4.30am I asked the midwife about pain relief options – the contractions were intense and relentless. On reflection I think this was probably the ‘transition’ phase (just before pushing) where many people start to panic and doubt themselves. She offered pethidine but said it could make the baby drowsy/cause breathing problems if she arrived soon. I asked her to examine me again – I knew I could get through without it if I was close to delivering! She said I was 7cm and babies head was right there, this gave me a boost to get through naturally. I asked about using the birthing pool and was told that due to my platelet levels I could labour in it but not give birth. I asked them to prepare the pool for me and I got back into the bath in the meantime.
It turns out baby Matilda had other ideas. Whilst waiting for the birth pool I felt a massive ‘pop’ as my waters went followed by an overwhelming urge to push, in fact my body started doing it for me and the midwife recognised that the noises I was making had changed (you really do ‘moo’ a bit like a cow). The midwife asked me to hop out of the bath (easier said than done with contractions coming constantly). With help I made it to the bed and started pushing in an UFO position (upright, forward, open). This might sound insane, but I loved the pushing phase. Whilst it was incredibly intense (and yes, I did feel the ‘ring of fire’) it was not painful as such. Mentally I was extremely focused on getting the baby out and my husband said he’s never seen me so determined. This was in part driven by the desire to avoid any interventions – forceps, cutting etc. I started pushing at 5.15am, producing animalistic noises in-between shouts of ‘come on’ and ‘get out’. The midwife was amazing and coached me to push, pant and do little pushes to reduce damage. At 5.36am Matilda was born and passed under my legs to be held. I will never forget the feeling of accomplishment and joy I felt at that moment. I had gotten my positive birth experience!
We had delayed cord clamping and just enjoyed holding our baby whilst the midwives did their various checks. I was delighted not to need any stitches. Because it had all gone so smoothly, we were allowed to stay in the room and be discharged later that morning rather than me having to transfer to the ward and Jon being sent home. By lunchtime we were home with Matilda, exhausted, a little dazed but very happy and proud.
My final thoughts on this topic – you CAN have a positive and empowering birth experience in whatever form it comes. Do your research, prepare and have techniques ready to help you cope. For me, my ideal birth was a natural birth, and despite being induced I was incredibly pleased by how it went. I felt in control at every point, able to make informed decisions for me and my baby. I put a lot of this down to hypnobirthing techniques and could not advocate them enough. Ultimately all you must do is BREATHE. For any mama’s to be out there – you’ve got this!