Amanda’s Waterbirth Transfer Story

It all started on Monday 7th June 2010.

I hadn’t slept at all all night until about 4.30, (no ctx, just insomnia), and then I managed an hour before my bladder woke me. I drifted off again just after DH went to work and I was dead to the world until he phoned at 10.30. I had to cut him short though, because I could feel something going and had to lurch to the loo. My first thought was, “yes! My water’s have broken!” My second thought was: “YES! They are clear!” and my third thought was “Now I need to phone him back and tell him….”

He decided he’d head home fairly soon, even though I wasn’t feeling any contractions yet, so he could get a couple of last minute things. I went through to DS (3yo) and told him that Peanut was fed up of being in my tummy now, and wanted to come out…. might even come today! He asked “Will it be a girl?” I said “I don’t know. We will have to wait and see!” I also called Mum to let her know, because she was invited to the event. She was still in Pembrokeshire where she’d been for the weekend, but expected to be home mid-afternoon. Things were going slowly, so I wasn’t worried. I texted my sister to tell her not to buy the pool liner she was looking at for me, because I knew it wouldn’t arrive in time.

I really wanted to go for a walk to get things moving, because if I went more than 24hrs before contractions started I might have been pressured to go to hospital.

But every time I moved there was another gush, and the pads weren’t really helping that much. Since I was house bound, I undressed again and just wore my dressing gown, to save getting through 20 sets of clothes. I had to settle for going up and down the stairs. I WISH I had invested in a birth ball to bounce on. Lesson learned for next time!

I started getting really mild and irregular contractions, so faint that I wasn’t sure if it was just wishful thinking. I waited for them to get a bit more definite before I called the midwife unit. They told me to call back when they got to about 7 minutes apart. I borrowed DH’s iphone so I could use the contraction timer on it. They got stronger and stronger but I was still comfortable, I just felt them as pressure in my back and my bump.

DH kept himself busy packing away the dog kennel and dining table and inflating the pool and then we spent most of the day relaxing. I kept DS home from nursery so we could all be together, just the 3 of us, for the last time. DH had bought him some mega blocks on his way home, when he was in Toys R Us buying a digital thermometer for the pool. (It’s frog shaped, and it’s still in my kitchen… I haven’t the heart to put it away, and I get a pang of nostalgia every time I see it :-) )

At around 9ish in the evening, the last of my water went. I could tell, because straight away I could feel the contractions grinding the baby’s head down on my cervix.

The pressure in my back and bump got a lot stronger as well, but it was the pressing on my cervix which was uncomfortable. It was hard to relax through, and when I tensed up it made the contractions themselves hurt as well. I experimented with different ways of managing, groaning, swearing, pacing, rocking…. I found that breathing them away and leaning over helped the most. I called mum to let her know to make her way over soon. This was at about 11pm. (Poor mum had only just gone to bed!) I also called the midwives again and described where I was at. They said they would send someone out straight away. There was some water left in the bath and I got in there and that felt pretty good. It made me start thinking of the birthing pool. I asked DH to start filling it and let him know that I had called the midwife unit and someone was on the way.

I went to get some paracetemol, but then decided that it had probably gone a bit far for paracetemol to be any help. I went back to the bathroom to get back in that water while I waited for the pool to be ready, but DH had pulled the plug. That was too much, I sat on the loo and cursed my way through my next contraction. That one HURT. A LOT! I’m not sure if it was me losing focus, or my position (sitting on the toilet), it could have been both. I pulled myself together just as DH let the midwife in.

She wanted to do an internal, and I’d originally thought I didn’t want any, partly because I didn’t want to feel like I was on a stop watch (they like you to dilate at 0.5cm per hour, or go to hospital) and partly because now my waters had gone there was increased risk of infection. But I was sort of curious, so I decided I’d have this one but I wouldn’t have any more. I said “I had better be 9cms or I will cry!” Mum arrived just as the midwife was doing the exam – nice timing!

I was a very thin and stretchy 4-5cms, so around halfway there, and far enough along to use the pool! Hooray!

I was aware of people setting stuff up and making drinks but only vaguely. I was concentrating hard on breathing away the contractions – they were getting stronger and stronger and I didn’t want to lose it like I had in the bathroom because that just made it a lot worse. Leaning over the back of the sofa helped a lot. I felt as if I was in a bubble, jut me and my body and these massive waves, and everyting outside the bubble was just meaningless fog.

The pool wasn’t *quite* ready and the midwife suggested I use the loo first. I thought that wasn’t a bad idea, but then another contraction came and I said “sod it, I can do that later! I’m getting in now!” That was a mistake… I really SHOULD have gone to the loo then, because it turned out that was my last chance. This was about 00.20am. Labour really picked up from here, the contractions were very close together and very strong.

The warm water felt delicious – I’d have spent that money many times over for that relief!

I experimented with different positions and felt most comfy on my knees, leaning over the side of the pool, so that’s how I stayed pretty much the whole time after that, kneeling upright whenever a midwife wanted to check Peanut’s heart rate.

I remember saying I was going to be sick. I normally hate being sick, I’m a real wimp about it, but I was really glad about it this time, because all I could think was how much it would help me dilate, and bring Peanut to me all the quicker. I think it was DH that brought the bucket for me. Then he went to wash it out and Milton it so it would be ready if he needed to top the pool up, just as another contraction started. I said, “Let mum do that! I need you here!”

Time went a bit squiffy… I have no idea how long it was before I asked for gas and air. The contractions were very strong and pretty much on top of each other, so it was getting harder not to lose it. The gas and air helped a lot, not just to relax me and give some relief, but also because it made me breathe slowly and deeply and that made all the difference.

To me, it felt as if it was very soon after getting in the pool that I started feeling pushy, and that had been not long after finding out I was 4-5cm… Maybe I dilated very quickly and had a gradual second stage? I wondered if I should ask for another internal but decided not to. I used the birth breathing (from Hypnobirthing), and that felt just right so I kept doing it. The second midwife arrived and at one point they had both gone into the living room leaving me alone with Mum and DH.

The difference in my next contraction was huge, I’d only been vaguely aware that there was anyone with me at all, but the moment they left the room, my urge to push trebled.

Nikki (the MW) asked me to lift up out of the water every so often so she could check the progress down there. I remember her saying that the head was sitting right there, waiting to be born and I was thinking, “I know, I can feel it, I can feel just where it is!” I have never felt so tired, and so excited, all at the same time.

I was breathing down with more pressure and could feel everything stretching and opening to let Peanut out. I could feel a little burning, stinging sensation which was worse when I lifted up out of the water, but certainly bearable. The gas and air helped with that.

When I didn’t feel pushy, I felt kind of heavy. I concentrated on feeling loose, and imagining a flower opening.

The burning intensified, and I could feel that the head was on its way out, so I put my hand down there to shield myself. That helped so much – partly because I could protect my most sensitive bit and partly because I could feel so much of the head had been born and I knew I was nearly there! I could feel lots of hair! I stroked the hair for a while, thinking “dear Christ that feels weird!” I grabbed DH’s hand again and pulled it under the water. I was trying to tell him that the head was nearly out, there was loads of hair, he just HAD to feel it…. but in my excitement I’d forgotten to take the gas and air tube out of my mouth.

I got really excited then, and it was all I could do to not push down hard, not because I felt like I “needed” to, but just because I was so close and almost impatient. I kept breathing down with the contractions and very soon (not sure exactly how long, time had gone very strange) I felt an enormous slithery sensation and I heard someone say “pick your baby up!” I lifted it up and brought it to my chest and told it that it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was 2.34am on Tuesday 8th June ’10.

I was thinking, “I hope mum has got her camera out.” I looked up and Mum was there smiling, but no camera.

I reminded her about what she was meant to be doing and looked back at my baby. It was all sort of lilac with lots of black hair, and very obviously perfect. I was rubbing its back and telling it how beautiful it was. A midwife leaned over and rubbed its foot to get it to cry and breathe. It worked – there was a little whimper and then the colour started changing straight away.

Someone said, “aren’t you going to look and see what you’ve got?” I had been looking forward to that moment – finding out the sex myself – throughout my whole pregnancy and when it came down to it, I’d forgotten! I was very glad they reminded me though, because the contractions had been so intense when the midwife arrived that I had forgotten to tell them that was what I really wanted to do. So I looked, and said “We have a girl!”

We waited a little before clamping the cord, but in the end I decided to let them do it, I thought it would be easier to get out of the pool and move around if it was cut. I would definitely wait longer next time if possible. She weighed 8lb 7oz and her head circumference was 36cm.

The placenta was very stubborn and
didn’t want to come out at all, even after a second jab of syntocinon and lots of cuddles and feeding.

My temperature also went very high. So they called for an ambulance and I transferred to hospital. It was all very calm and matter of fact. They managed to get the placenta out by pulling on the cord. It wasn’t very nice, but at least I escaped surgery! Because my temperature had gone so high, they were worried about infection so I had to stay in for an IV course of antibiotics. Then LO had some problems with her breathing and had a short stay in special care…. but even with the problems we had afterwards, I am still thrilled about the actual delivery and I can’t wait to do it again! I hope DH agrees to one more! I would probably avoid the internal next time, if my water have broken… I can’t help but wonder if that may have caused the infection which was partially responsible for my transfer. But without a doubt I will plan to birth at home, in water. It was wonderful.