I was feeling heavy and had all the usual late pregnancy side effects . My body was getting tired. I was having on and off surges since 20 weeks of pregnancy and had a few nights where surges came every ten minutes and this lasted for five hours. I knew, though, that it was my body preparing and taking it positively and imagining my cervix being a bit more open for a quicker and easier labour.
So on the big day at 6 am I started to have tightenings and feeling pressure. They were quite intense straight away and were coming every 4-6 minutes . My two toddlers were sleeping next to me so I tried to cope with surges in bed as my children seem to have a special mechanism alerting them as soon as I go somewhere. Staying in bed didn’t help much although being on all fours was relieving much of the pressure felt down there.
Then after two strong surges I decided to have a bath, it was good, but it didn’t take the feeling off nor did it slow anything down. I stayed there for about an hour with my children now fully awake, crying for me. I took a last picture of them as two youngest “babies” grumpy crying and found it amusing. I got out of the bath and started running around between surges (organising the last things for birth) , stopping and breathing in order to help me through.
I was starting to orgagnise everything – asking my aunt to come and look after the toddlers, letting close people know in case I needed them. I really found it to be my challenge of the day – multitasking in labour.
I had a quick chat with my mum (she lives in France ), called the midwives telling them I don’t need them just now but that probably today is the day. I still wasn’t sure though. My aunt came as my seven-year-old was getting ready for school. My husband was taking it easy like always (sleeping on the sofa). And I just had one thing in mind – the POOL! I had to get everyone out in order to jump into it. Gathering toddlers stuff and their food in order for them to go took some time though.
Once everyone went, my husband started to blow up the pool , midwives came and helped him to put the liner in. Water was now pouring into the pool but it not fast enough so he got a bucket and was filling it with the bucket at the same time. Surges were strong although not painful. The midwife did few normal checks although I’m so glad she didn’t ask me for urine sample as I just hate having to pee in a container between surges. Pressure was real, it made me feel unable to move much, I just wanted to be stuck in one position.
Midwife wanted to palpate me to feel the baby, but I knew lying down was the last thing I wanted, so asked her if she could do it with me standing. It was tricky, I wanted to make it easy for her, tried to lie down but failed and then I thought of all women being stuck on their backs the whole labour and felt so sorry for them.
I remember saying to my doula: “Poor women”, and praying for them imagining how they have to suffer being on their backs. I said to my midwife: “No sorry I can’t”. She replied: “That’s ok”. Then I said: “I know baby is engaged very low and coming very soon,” just to reassure them and leave me alone.
My fixation now became the pool I just needed to get in. Once the minimum water level line was reached I had another surge wave and then jumped in.
It was wonderful! So soft and cosy and deep; it was amazing and the hot water… wow… Everyone should give birth in water! These homebirth pools are so nice much better then the birth centre baths that are quite hard at the bottom.
But, again, it’s me with my fixations and special requests. I had the mini pool which was really big enough. With midwife checking here and there for the heartbeat and sometimes for temperature, she was mostly out of the room (as I requested) and the second midwife was in the kitchen the whole time (upon my request again). Midwife was getting my cord tie and towels ready for baby. She was absolutely wonderful. My doula was stuck in traffic.
Overall, I had some discomfort but mainly I was sleeping. Sometimes I was just opening my eyes for few minutes and pouring water on my face. I loved these moments . They were very deep, spiritual. I was trying to do little prayers between tightenings as well as working on visualising my body opening for my baby, cervix stretching and opening.
There were no vaginal examinations and midwives didn’t ask for them – to my big surprise, they completely respected my wish. Amazing midwives! My husband was asking me if I needed anything. I needed nothing, just the pool was enough and some water. I liked to be left alone. Nobody was talking to me, touching me or doing anything to me. I’ve learned over the years that in this life there is only one person I can count on, and that’s me. I am responsible of my own happiness and feelings and how I respond to negativity, I control the way I feel.
When my cervix was fully dilated, around 10am I started to feel even more pressure and I started doing little pushes while changing positions. I was listening to my body. Baby was descending slowly and she took her time and that was alright.
This lasted for two hours. I was aware it could take so long, surges were slowing down, it was then just a matter of baby descending slowly into the birth canal. They slowed down and I couldn’t be more alert. I laughed and talked in between or just stayed silent. I experienced what we call ‘the rest and be thankful stage’. It’s quite euphoric. With little pushes, maybe every 10 minutes. Body was doing all what’s necessary by itself. Strong pushes were there from 10.30am to midday, with a mix of small pushes in between.
This wasn’t like my other labours. It was very different, my body gave me resting time of 10 minutes in between surges and the pushing didn’t hurt, just a bit maybe in the last 15-20 minutes when baby was crowing as obviously everything was stretching. It was more of a powerful feeling that pain. I was able to see the baby as this time I was sitting on my bottom so had a good view. Few pushes took quite a long time, but I don’t see it as something negative, as the amniotic sac was holding her safely in so I had to basically push her in it.
Midwife and doula thought the sack had ruptured, although I knew it hadn’t and was annoyed that they just did not listen to me. Only when midwife took the torch she said: “Oh, yes, you were right baby is still in it.” We had a laugh that she is taking her time; then in one big push the head was out and in again, which made everyone laugh again, including myself. Afterwards, we waited 20 more minutes – another surge and the head was out!
Then I could feel her shoulders moving inside me, probably rotating? Shortly after shoulders came out and then the whole body! I caught her and slowly pulled her up to my skin.
She was covered in vernix, it was everywhere. Placenta followed naturally very shortly. Midwives clamped the cord and hubby cut it with the cord tie on. I have a video of this. It’s amazing! And whenever I feel down, I watch it and say to myself: “Hey, Hayet, you’ve done well, haven’t you? Look at what you did!”
Everything went well. Perineum was intact, like with my other babies. Apparently I should do it again, the midwives said. I think I’m done after four children! I was advised to go to hospital to monitor baby as I tested GBS positive during pregnancy, but I declined it. I had minimal blood loss of about 350 ml, last time it had been 650ml. So, again, it is a sign that every labour and birth is different.
Went into my bed, had the checks done there, I fed the baby and went to sleep. I didn’t even dress my baby, just wrapped her in a blanket naked next to me, full of vernix. New baby, undisturbed, at home , just as it should be. Perfect.
Hayet Hbabed is an experienced doula who has four children herself (including two pain free but powerful births). The birth story above relates to her youngest daughter, born in November 2016 in Tower Hamlets. Hayet decided to become a doula after her first birth, which was “natural” but nowhere near empowering. She didn’t have enough knowledge and felt things could have been different, if only she had been more prepared and had someone experienced to advocate for her and remind of all available options. Hayet is passionate about pregnancy and childbirth, as well mother’s well being and healthy nutrition. Her qualifications include paediatric first aid, breastfeeding peer supporter, hypnobirth, mizan therapy massage, aromatherapy for childbirth and reiki.