03 May

Helen’s birth story

Helen is a former client of Double Helping Doulas, and kindly agreed to share her story.

About a week before my due date (10th October) I’d had ‘the show’ and
experienced some Braxton Hicks contractions. I woke on the morning of the 10th noticing my maternity pad was wet but no gushing waters. I went to the hospital to get checked out and was told it could be the hind waters had gone, but only in a trickle. They sent me home to give me 24 hours to see if my waters would break fully on their own.

By the next morning I had two soaked maternity pads but still no full breakage of my waters. So I returned to the hospital and was booked in to the delivery suite.

They advised me that, due to the risk of infection to the baby, the next step would be to break my waters for me. Although I had hoped for a natural birth and knew initial intervention may well lead to more, the risk to my unborn baby was not worth taking. They broke my waters at midday and sent me to walk around for an hour. Very soon the contractions came on thick and fast but there was also some meconium in the waters, so I was then strapped to a monitor to keep an eye on baby’s heartbeat.

I used my TENS machine for the first few hours and then went on to gas and air. About 5 hours later I was examined and told I was 5cm and my cervix was paper-thin and soft which was very good progress. Although I was mainly focusing on coping with the contractions, I did start wondering if our baby would be born that evening. My husband and I also felt pleased things were now progressing naturally.

At 9pm I was examined again and was dealing with intense contractions
and barely aware of my surroundings, but I clearly heard the midwife
say, “Unfortunately, you’re still at 5cm.” I could tell by her face this wasn’t good and my stomach sank. She checked the position of the baby’s head and although it was facing the right way, the midwife could feel the anterior fontanelle (soft-spot), which meant baby was chin-up, and not chin tucked in. So baby was in an awkward position and was slowing progress.

The midwife was great and went through all our options with us. She said it was going to be quite a while longer now and although I had noted in my birth-plan I would prefer no intervention and drugs, perhaps I should consider it now as I’d probably need syntocinon to continue dilating. I was absolutely shattered and if I’d only had a couple of hours left I think I’d have got through. But I was in for the long haul now and decided to have an epidural. The midwife said I’d done really well so far on just TENS and gas and air, and not to feel bad. Births rarely always go to plan! She went off to get the anaesthetist while my husband continued helping me through the contractions.

It wasn’t long before the midwife returned with the anaesthetist but I don’t remember much other that being sat on the side of the bed and leaning with my arms around my husband’s neck. He said afterwards that had been one of the hardest moments for him, reading all the potential dangers of an epidural and having to sign the consent form on my behalf because I wasn’t in a fit state to sign it myself. The midwife said, “In a few minutes you’ll feel like a new woman!” She was right; the pain eased and I could start to think clearly again. It took another 9-10 hours for me to become fully dilated and for the midwife to say I was ready to start pushing.

About 8am I was put on my side and was told when I had a contraction as the epidural meant I couldn’t feel it. We had a student midwife in with us and she was helping hold my leg while my husband held the other leg and watched the graph for the contractions, to tell me when to push. After some time pushing, the student midwife suddenly fainted and fell over knocking her head on the side cupboard! The midwife came running over to hold my leg again, whilst saying over her shoulder, “Are you ok?” to the student who was coming round rubbing her head. I was also trying to ask her if she was ok but was told to concentrate on pushing. The student went off to sit down, apologising all the way, and we said not to worry about it whilst also trying to deliver our baby!

But the pushing wasn’t working so a doctor was brought in to examine me further and she said, “I hear you’ve been very good so I will give you some help now.” She went to prepare and they took the end off the bed and put my legs in stirrups. What followed were two failed attempts at the ventouse, then an episiotomy and forceps to finally bring our beautiful baby girl in to the world.

At 11:43am on 12th October she was delivered and put on to my tummy. I felt relieved the 24-hour labour was over and completely overjoyed at holding my gorgeous little bundle.

The pediatrician in the room then took her and she scored 9 out of 10 on her Apgar tests so she was fine after the epic labour. My husband was also able to cut the cord while I was given an injection to help the third stage along. I was given my daughter again all wrapped in a blanket and was enjoying cuddles when the doctor said, “This placenta is not coming out.” I had a retained placenta; I couldn’t believe it and started to feel really upset. I was tired and felt we’d already been through enough and this was the last thing I expected. So I was rushed off to theatre while my husband was left in the delivery room holding our baby girl. It was an extremely anxious time for him holding our baby and not knowing what was happening to me. I was given a spinal block and then pretty
much passed out while the doctor removed the placenta and sewed me back up.

I was taken to recovery ward where my husband met me with our baby. He’d dressed her in a white hat and sleepsuit, and she was tucked in under a blanket in the little hospital cot. The nurse put her next to me in my bed and tucked some pillows around us. I had tubes coming out of my hands but that didn’t matter as I held my baby again. My husband was pleased it was all over and that I was going
to be ok. It had been quite an ordeal and a bit traumatic at times, and we both had a few tears as we finally realised what we’d been through. But the main thing was I was ok and our daughter was here safe and sound. Ultimately, that’s all that really matters.