Birth story number 4
Issues: Under active thyrid, Strep B, Age 42, Insulin controlled diabetes, birthing during a pandemic.
When I was 27 weeks pregnant, Covid seemed to rake a more sinister turn for the worse. I took my kids out of school and nursery, my husband stopped work and I only worked online. We were in complete isolation. No going to the supermarket, no delivery of takeaways etc. We only went out to exercise once a day and for my essential face to face hospital appointments.
1 week later, the government closed schools and most businesses & announced that preggos were vulnerable and should self-isolate.
1 week after that, the government announced lockdown for everyone.
The same week, my family went into lockdown, the following things were happening:
· The 2nd nearest hospital to me closed its maternity dept, meaning all their pregnant ladies would move to my closest hospitals.
· Most hospitals announced there could only be 1 birth partner at births, but more worryingly, a few announced that there could be no birth partners at the birth.
· Most hospitals announced that birth partners couldn’t go into theatre for c-sections due to a lack of PPE.
· Many hospitals around the country cancelled home births and some were closing their MLU’s
· The info was that they “didn’t think” you could pass Corona to your unborn child.
The thing that caused me the most anxiety was that no maternity depts in the North West had any PPE. (If you were giving birth and you had Corona/suspected Corona, you were isolated and midwives had PPE, but if not, you were attended to by midwives wearing no PPE at all.)
By the time I reached 31 weeks, my local hospital was given PPE. When I went into hospital for reduced movement, I was relieved to see all midwives wearing masks. When I went into hospital the following week to have a growth scan and see my consultant, again, all staff were wearing masks. furniture had been re arranged, to ensure social distancing and the waiting rooms were almost empty, as any appointments that could be done over the phone were. This reduced my anxiety massively, as I felt the risk of me catching Corona from the hospital had now dropped massively.
My birth plan changed very little due to Corona. I could only have 1 birth partner, but I only ever wanted 1. When I went in to be induced, (due to complications with my GD) my husband couldn’t come in with me, I would need to call him when I was in active labour, but this is what we always did anyway. (So he could stay with our other kids as long as possible.) I added this to my birth plan:
· We would like to be seen by as few people as possible.
· No student midwives
· Only 1 midwife in the room at a time.
· The same midwife until their shift ends, where possible. (Obviously they would need to take breaks and have lunch!)
· Anyone in our room, should wear a mask
We didn’t need to push for any of these requests as they were all being done anyway.
34 wks-I went into hospital for reduced movement. Everything was fine I was sent home.
No issues at my 36 wk growth scan. The baby had moved from the 50th percentile at my 28 wk growth scan, to 75th percentile at my 32 wk growth scan, to 90th percentile at my 36th week growth scan. They were saying that the baby weighed 6.10lbs now and predicted 8lbs if I was induced at 39 ws. They weren’t concerned with the size, and I wasn’t, as I know it can often be wrong, and even if it was right, my body could easily cope with an 8lb baby. (Interestingly the exact same size was predicted with my 2nd and 3rd baby’s who turned out to be 7lb 5oz, and 7lb 3oz.)
At 37 weeks, my induction was set for 38 wks plus 4 days. (I had done my research and wasn't going to have an induction if there were no complications with my GD, but unfortunalty, I was experiencing complications, so I was felt it was the best thing to do to accept the induction being suggested.)I requested a sweep (please ask for the pros and cons, so you can decide if this is the right thing for your situation.) and had it at 37 plus 1 day. The baby was quite high up, but they could reach to do it, and when I asked my bishop score, I was told it was a 5. I had mild stomach cramps for the rest of the day, then by the am it had stopped.
I had requested another sweep for the following week, which I had at 38 wks plus 1 day. The baby had moved down a bit lower, and my bishops score was now 6. Again, I had mild stomach cramps for the rest of the day, then by the am it had stopped.
With sweeps, I am not expecting for them to make me go into labour, (although that would be great!) I am hoping they will soften up my cervix and nudge things along enough, so that they make the induction process slightly easier. If I wasn’t booked in for a full induction, I’m not sure I would have them, but knowing that is what is coming, it seems like a good starting point for me. Some people find them very painful. I have had them in pregnancies 2, 3, and 4 and only ever find them a little uncomfortable.
At 38 wks plus 3 days, I went into triage with reduced movements. Everything was fine according to the monitor but I wasn’t feeling as many movements as I usually do. This with the fact that that my insulin needs had dropped dramatically (both could be a sign of placenta failure.) meant they decided to keep me in and induce me a day earlier.
They were very busy, so I went to a ward to wait. I stayed overnight. When I woke on Thurs, it was my official induction day, so obviously I was a bit frustrated that I hadn’t been able to stay at home the night before if nothing had been started anyway. All day I waited, but they were still too busy. At 11pm that night, they were able to take me to delivery, but they were still too busy to do anything, so they took me to a room to a sleep and said I’d see them in the am. It was great to have moved 1 step closer, but frustrating to have gone from being a day ahead to a day behind. Frustrating because I am not being good at being patient, but all that time I was thinking about how the baby may be safer out than in, and how precious time was being wasted…..
A midwife came in, woke me up and put me on a monitor.
She examined me, said I was 2cm and asked to break my waters. Some people find this painful, but I have had it done 3 times and its only mildly uncomfortable. As I was Strep B positive, I had decided to have antibiotics. (through a drip every 4 hrs.) The thing about the birth I was most anxious about, was having a cannula put in. In all of my pregnancies, this has been a traumatic event, with several painful attempts needed, where I throw up/faint, the midwife gives up and calls a doctor/anaesthetist to do it instead. She told me that that would happen quicker if I let her try it 1st, and she was confident she could do it. I had had so much waiting that I agreed, and she did it completely painlessly, and very quickly! She put me on the antibiotic drip which tool about 20 mins to go in. I couldn’t feel anything, and I was bouncing on the ball she gave me. She said I’d be examined again in 4hrs
About 40 mins later, my midwife for the birth took me into a lovely, massive birthing room. It didn’t have a pool-I’d had it previously agreed that of I didn’t need gel/pessaries or to go onto the oxytocin drip, I would go into the pool-she said we could move to the room with the pool if we wanted to, later. They said I could call Jon in now if I wanted, but we had agreed that he would stay at home with our other 3 children until closer to the time.
I was going to go for a walk around the hospital grounds, to kill a bit of time and hopefully get things moving, but there was only an hour to go before my examination, I was still leaking tons of water and I was now in a lovely room, so I decided to stay where I was, bouncing in my ball, dancing and listening to Radio 1. I couldn’t feel anything happening yet.
I was 3cms. Abi asked if I wanted to wait and see how things went, or if I wanted to go onto the oxytocin drip:
My 2nd labour, they broke my waters, I refused the drip and had a lovely birth in the water.
My 3rd labour, I had a pessary, and they broke my waters. Hoping for a repeat of birth no 2, I refused the drip over and over as I was desperate to avoid all the negative things you read about it. The labour was very long, and ended in me being prepped for a c-section and ending up with forceps instead. In hindsight, I felt I should have accepted the drip.
I agreed straight away to the drip. I didn’t need another cannula as they used a 2 way attachment to the one I had-massive relief. At the same time as I had that I had a 2nd dose of antibiotics.
I was still bouncing on my ball. The monitoring machine was telling me I was having contractions, but I couldn’t feel anything for about another 90 mins, when they got a bit stronger, but I was perfectly able to breathe through them using my Hypnobirthing breathing “Waves of Relaxation.” First with my eyes open, then later, closing my eyes.
I was taking my blood sugars every hour. (If I had 2 high results, I would need to go on something called a “sliding scale”. This has never happened. I am more likely to have low results, as labour is the best form of exercise, and once on a drip you can’t eat and can only have small sips of water. I did get 2 low readings and each time I ate 2 glucose tablets.)
I had phoned my husband Jon and suggested he come in at 1pm. He phoned my mum to come round and look after our 3 older kids. She and my dad had been self isolating as strictly as we had, so she was able to safely come into our home.
At 1pm, Jon phoned asking what time I thought I would give birth!!!!! He was in the hospital car park but had a puncture and wanted to know if he had time to get the tyre replaced! He limped round to the tyre place, and begged them to believe his wife really was in labour so could he push to the front of the queue! He came rushing into the room and was relieved to see he hadn’t missed the birth! He announced it was like being in a day spa and so relaxing, set up my fan, and Hypnobirthing tracks on repeat, closed the curtains and dimmed the lights, then ate his sandwich. After our long 3rd labour, he was settling in for the long haul.
Things were definitely getting more intense now. An exam showed I was 6-7cm and I was relieved that things were moving much quicker than at the last birth. I asked for gas and air and moved off the ball and onto lying on my side on the bed. I love gas and air, it works really well to help with the discomfort, but can make me feel sick if I take too much for too long. Hypnobirthing breathing is perfect for taking enough and at the right time, so I always felt in control of the dose and knew exactly what to do with it. A while later, I asked for some pethidine. I only got a half dose, as I am “so little.” When the midwife said that, I remember thinking “though she be small, she be mighty.” I wasn’t thrilled but kept breathing and thinking about my “relaxing place.” (I don’t think it did anything to help. I feel the gas and air did so much more for me.)
Jon kept the fan pointed in my direction and kept a wet flannel on my forehead to keep me cool.
I asked for an epidural, which was something I had never had, and most definatly didn't want, but I was having a "moment"! My midwife Abi was sure this was because I was in transition/10 cm dilated and asked if she could check. I just knew I couldn’t roll onto my back and remember saying to Jon “Just sort it out, lift a leg or something.” He did, and Abi had guessed right. She said I had moved from 7cm to 10cm in 30 mins, so it was intense because I was almost there. I moved off the bed and stood on the floor, leaning on the bed. This didn’t quite work, so Jon helped me onto all 4’s leaning over the back of the bed, where I was more comfortable and stayed to the end. (The same thing happened at birth no 2)
About 10 mins later, I “trumped”, and heard Abi say “Right this baby is coming,” (Jon told me later, that she added a protective visor over her mask.) and she was right. I could feel the baby moving down into what felt like my bottom. With Hypnobirthing, we don’t do any false pushing and we breathe or hum our baby down, and this exactly what happened. The baby came in its own time, with no need for any pushing from me, or coaching from the midwife. She let it all play out. I birthed in silence and the baby came out in silence. (This is just how I happen to birth, it isn’t a rule or anything!) I remember thinking that this part was very intense but that it wouldn’t take long, so I should give into it/go with it, so I didn’t interfere or slow down the process and I took myself off to my “relaxing place.”
By 4.07pm, we had a baby. I had asked for the baby to go to Jon 1st, who would pass it to me and help me hold it. (The 1st few mins can be overwhelming and I am always a bit too shaky to be trusted) Abi brought the baby round the front of the bed and said “I’m about to hand the baby to Jon, but look, you need to look.” She was so insistent because after having 3 boys, we just assumed this would be a boy too, but somehow, we had made a girl! Then I turned round, sat on the bed, and got to have cuddles for the 1st time.
The baby had the vit K injection. We didn’t do delayed cord clamping because there is a slight increased risk of jaundice with this and GD babies are more susceptible to jaundice. I asked for an oxytocin injection to bring on the birth of my placenta more quickly and after it was checked, we put the placenta into a chiller pack, ready for placenta encapsulation.(I am a placenta specialist, so I was going to do it myself.)
She weighed 7lbs 3oz-exactly the same as baby no 3.
She latched on to my boob quite quickly and we all had some quiet time together. Abi bought me some toast-once the placenta is birthed, the gestational diabetes is gone! I couldn’t totally enjoy my carb fest, as the gas and air had made my mouth completely dry and eating it was hard work!
After about an hour, I got up to shower in our private bathroom. Such a treat, and one of the best perks about avoiding an epidural. Then back for more cuddles until we moved to a ward.
It happened to be visiting hours when we were moved there, so Jon got to stay for about another hour before he had to leave. When he went home, he stayed on our drive, and phoned my mum, so she could come out of our house without needing to come into contact with him.
Mine and the babies blood sugars were monitored over the next 24 hrs and we both passed.
Before I left the hospital I asked for a Corona test, so I could be sure that the only thing I was taking home with me was a baby! They were surprised at my request and weren’t sure if they offered that. (It’s my opinion that everyone should have it as the best way to track and trace.) It took 4 requests to 4 different people before I had it. They were very vague about how/when I could get me results. 2 days later I called the mat ward and they gave me my “negative” results.
Whilst giving birth, I felt everything was done to keep everyone as safe as possible from infection. On the ward, things weren’t quite as well covered. For instance, on my ward there were 4 beds. Staff wore gloves when taking BP’s temps etc, of mums of babies, but did not change gloves between visiting each mum and baby. So they were protected, from us, but we were “sharing” with the other mums in our room (and possibly other rooms on the corridor too.) If I’d known in advance that was going to be the case, I would have felt more confident about asking them to change gloves before doing their checks.
The “oxytocin drip” summed up:
All labours increase with intensity from start to finish. I didn’t feel that this was any more intense, or more hard work than my 3 births without the drip. In fact, this birth was easier than births 2 and 3, because it was so much quicker. I don’t know if that’s down to luck or the midwife being skilled enough to know when its time to turn the drip up or down. I instantly regretted not going on this drip at my 3rd birth as I feel I could have made it much quicker and possibly avoided the baby becoming distressed. I was scared about what I had read, about contractions coming thick and fast with no breaks in between. That was not my experience at all.
I had wanted to have my entire placenta made into smoothies in order to get the most nutrients out of it, but with Strep B it is advised that you do not consume raw smoothies and that capsules are steamed before dehydrating to burn off any bacteria, so steamed capsules it was. Steamed capsules are known to help with keeping mum calm and relaxed, which in turn can help to reduce any anxieties. Both types of capsules can help with milk supply, reduce the amount of blood less and the amount of time you lose blood over, reduce baby blues and post-natal depression. I also kept a piece of my placenta back, to make a tincture which I can take when I start to go through the menopause
to help with symptoms. I can confirm that I felt great straight away and 13 days later, I feel just as good.
We are absolutely besotted with the latest (and last) addition to our family. Welcome to the world, Mimi!