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Lewis's Birth Story - What not to do!

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

Lewis was due 23.03.20 - the date the UK Locked down! It was my first experience of birth and it didn't go to plan!

Warning - this isn't really a POSITIVE birth story but it is a COMMON birth story. I don't feel it was traumatic, it was the day I became a mother and incredibly special - but it isn't the birth I had hoped for.

We had my 12 week scan the day before our wedding! And from that moment on, this baby was full of surprises!

On my due date, I sat in the bath, hoping for a twinge or a sign that baby was on the way. My husband was night shift and the COVID pandemic had been ramping up across the UK, that night Boris was due to make a statement about it. I will never forget sitting in the bath with my iPad, watching that news briefing that the UK was going to go into lock down and wondering what that now meant for me and my baby! I called my husband in tears from the bath. I wasn't scared or worried just sad he might not be able to be there - I think I was in denial still about the seriousness of COVID. The lockdown was only going to be for three weeks so I figured that if baby was a little late it would be ok - my parents wouldn't miss out on too much if we were in lock down at the start. They could meet baby when it ended.

So I went from wishing my baby would arrive, to hoping he would stay in a little longer! My midwife offered me a sweep but I declined it. At 41 weeks - a week after we had been in lock down, she offered me it again. I didn't know what to expect - I assumed it would be like a smeer and decided to agree this time - I was so fed up of being pregnant by this point. The sweep however was not like a smeer - it was incredibly uncomfortable. She told me my cervix was really far back so I had to place my hands under the small of my back to help her. So I balled my hands into fists and tried to focus at a point on the ceiling until it was over.

Once home I had some spotting and cramps and got excited - perhaps baby was on the way. But after 24hours, nothing further happened. My induction was booked for the Saturday 12 days after my due date and I started looking forward to that - I didn't know at this point really what an induction meant or how it would completely change my birth experience! I had been along to the hospital antenatal education - learned how to bath baby, change a nappy, about the stages of labour and what to pack in my birth bag and I thought that was all I needed to know. I watched a lot of 'One born every minute' as another form of 'education' and felt confident that worst case - the doctors would be able to help if something went wrong - in every episode something seemed to happen and the baby was always ok in the end. In hindsight I did every thing you shouldn't do to prepare for birth!

Thursday 2nd April

On the Thursday I started to get back pain - it was a constant dull ache in the small of my back and wouldn't shift. I tried various yoga positions on the floor throughout the day to get comfortable and also used my TENS machine, but by 9pm it was really starting to get to me and although it wasn't any more painful, I found I couldn't ignore it to sleep. I knew this was because my baby was lying back to back - my mum had warned me that this would probably happen so I called NHS 24 instead of triage as I didn't know who to call. Eventually NHS 24 phoned back and explained I should call the hospital.

The midwife asked over the phone a couple of questions and asked about the babies movements - he had been moving fine but I said on the phone that the movements might be slightly reduced as my aunt had told me this was a sure fire way to be seen. The midwife told me to come in so they could check what was going on. So we made the drive to Forth Valley Hospital at 11:30pm. My husband had to remain in the car due to the pandemic and I wondered the corridors slightly lost until I found someone who could help me. I was shown into a room and strapped to a CTG monitor.

Friday 3rd April, 1am, CTG Monitoring

The midwife strapped the monitor to my tummy and explained she would be back in half an hour to check it. Half an hour came and went - I didn't have signal on my phone to let my husband know what was happening or to entertain me, so I lay watching the monitor and the print out, trying to work out what all the lines meant. I took pictures on my phone to show my husband when I got out. I guessed that I was beginning to have contractions from the peaks I could see at the bottom, and gathered the top was baby's heartbeat. Eventually the midwife returned, she wasn't happy and said she would continue the monitoring for another half hour.

I was beginning to feel uncomfortable, on top of the back ache I now needed the toilet because the straps were both pressing on my bladder, but continued to lie there for the monitor. This scenario repeated two more times with her returning but not being happy with the read out. Apparently once in every half hour or so, the baby's heartbeat was dipping. She recommended I stay in and be induced that day - a day ahead of schedule.

This was the first time I panicked - not about being induced - that I was happy with - I was so ready to get this baby out! But I wasn't ready to stay in the hospital! We had come to the hospital without even my hospital bag as I was so sure baby wasn't arriving - I just wanted the back pain dealt with! My husband wasn't with me and I needed him to help make the decision! I asked what time would they be inducing me and she went away to find out. Another 20minutes or so went by before she returned and said 4pm. It was now about 4am. I made the decision there and then I was leaving! I was not going to hang around by myself without my hospital bag for 12hours. I told them I would return at 4pm and I went to find my husband asleep in the car park.

Friday 3rd April, 4pm, Induction begins

I did manage to get back to sleep once home and woke at about 10am. I continued to have twinges throughout the day and made myself comfortable on my birth ball or in various positions on the floor. We got the hospital bags ready, and at 3:30pm we headed to the hospital. My husband dropped me off and I made my way to the antenatal ward.

Fortunately my friend had told me what to expect with an induction - and that was a lot of hanging around and not to be impatien