Nicki’s Story: Induction, a Birthing Centre labour at 42+3, and a surprise from baby!

Nicki and Luke did the Barefoot Birthing Private Course in September 2019 for their second baby, due in December. This is Nicki’s incredible birth story…

My first birth didn’t go the lovely natural way I had really hoped for so I really wanted to prepare for the birth I wanted during my second pregnancy. My husband and I attended the Barefoot Birthing Hypnobirthing course and fully immersed ourselves in the practices and ensuring the baby was in the best position for labour. This meant spending many evenings sat bouncing on my ball, lying my chest over the ball, rocking on all fours and lots of rebozo work. I was convinced I was going to go into labour early – being “due” on the 10th December – I had childcare organised with my family, should I go into labour anytime from mid November! Little did I know how late he would be!

“I confidently declined another sweep”

40 weeks arrived and I declined a sweep, feeling confident about my choice. At my 41 week appointment (at 39+6) I confidently declined another sweep knowing that I would be back at the hospital within a few days, labouring naturally! I had a couple of sessions with the osteo to try and “open up” my pelvis and I kept visualising holding my baby knowing it was going to happen so soon.

My husband and I used “BRAIN” to assess the options available

At 41+1 I started to have a wobble thinking that this is going down the same path as my first baby (induction via drip and a difficult ventouse delivery) which left me quite mentally scarred. My husband and I used “BRAIN” to assess the options available and decided that a sweep was the best next step to potentially avoiding an induction. I made an appointment with the midwife for the sweep and on the day I was disappointed to hear that my cervix was not as ready as I had hoped, however she was able to perform the sweep.

“I decided I would accept induction at 42+2 which was Boxing Day”

I had come to the decision that I didn’t want to be in hospital for Christmas because of induction for post dates, but if I was there due to my most longed for natural labour, then so be it. I was so torn between sitting tight and sticking by my choices versus desperately wanting to know the end date of this pregnancy. I decided I would accept induction at 42+2 days which was Boxing Day.

“That chat was a real game changer for us.”

41+3 came (Friday 20 December) and during a check up appointment induction was discussed and I respectfully declined it again. I had to see the Dr. to discuss the risks associated with going past 41 weeks which I listened to but keeping in my mind that my baby knows the right time to be born. The midwife suggested I speak to a consultant midwife to discuss the options. This had been suggested to me earlier in my pregnancy but I wasn’t sure of what their role was and what they could do realistically do to assist with navigating the guidelines that all NHS staff work to. That chat was a real game changer for us. She wanted to know what I was fearful of with induction and how she could make the experience better. I told her that I really wanted to give birth in the MLU (midwife led unit) in one of the nice rooms with a pool, and I didn’t want to have that taken away from me because of how supposedly “overdue” I was. I also requested an “outpatient” induction, where basically I would have the pessary put in and after some monitoring I could go home. She agreed to me being able to labour and birth at the MLU any time providing that all checks ups were positive and showed no further elevated risk. She also agreed to the outpatient induction, which was great. Following our meeting I mentally calmed down a lot and now my baby had another 5 days to make its way out before I would attend for outpatient induction at 42+2 days, which was Boxing Day.

“I chose to come back 8 hours later after putting my daughter to bed”

Christmas came and went and it was induction time. Before the pessary went in the midwife said my cervix was favourable but still had some length to it, so I could either have my waters broken or have the pessary put in. I opted for the pessary as I wanted to ensure my cervix was optimal and after monitoring I went home. As an outpatient they expect you to come in every 6 hours for monitoring. I chose to come back 8 hours later after putting my daughter to bed and decided to stay overnight (at the hospital) as I didn’t want to set an alarm to come in in the middle of the night. The pessary was in for 24 hours with no natural signs of labour, so I was told that the next stage was to break my waters, that meant it was all over at the MLU for me, I had to go to delivery suite. I had a chat with the head midwife at the MLU where I was quite emotional and I explained again that I knew the risks but up to this point all checks were positive with both baby and me in good health. I requested if she could break my waters and stay in the MLU. She eventually agreed which was amazing!

“it was quite an unusual position for the baby to be in!”

Whilst she broke my waters, she lingered inside after the waters started to come out. I asked if everything was ok and she said yes but she was just checking something. She came out and said “right I know why you haven’t gone into labour naturally… your baby has its fist above its head in a superman type pose, meaning the head is still a bit higher as the fist is the first thing I could feel.” She then told me she was lingering because the baby had actually grabbed hold of her finger and the baby wouldn’t let go!! She said that it hadn’t happened for her before as it was quite an unusual position for the baby to be in! She needed to speak to the doctors as she was concerned that maybe more of the arm would drop down, or worse still the cord which would have led to an emergency c section. At this stage I made peace with the fact that I might not get the lovely natural labour although I had done everything possible to try and have it!

“I genuinely enjoyed them and just breathed through them”

When she went out of the room I felt a weird shift inside and when the midwife came back I asked for an examination. The shift I felt was the baby tucking the arm in and the head dropping, so the doctors were called off and I was able to stay in the MLU as planned. The surges started a couple of hours later whilst I was walking up and down the corridors and stairs in the hospital. It sounds strange but I genuinely enjoyed them and just breathed through them, focussing everything on my breath. I didn’t get to experience this with my daughter (due to lots of medical intervention). I used a surge timer app called ‘Freya’ which was so calming and made me feel in control. I could walk through all of them albeit very slowly . The app told me quite a few times that I was in established labour but we continued pacing around. I used the TENS machine for pain relief which I had on constantly and pressed the Boost button during the surges. When I started to feel nervous about not being in the MLU we went back and they filled up the pool. At this stage I hadn’t had any further examinations.

“I pushed in so many different positions”

I was in the pool (which was amazing for pain relief) for about an hour when it was time to be examined. I was very keen to find out how dilated I was, even though I had to come out of the pool… they really should find a way to examine you whilst in the pool!! It was quite a struggle to get out of the pool but I was delighted to hear I was 10cm dilated. The midwife was really impressed with how I was breathing through the contractions but she wanted me to actively push through the surges. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to experience the feeling of my body pushing the baby out, but I pushed in so many different positions, squatting, on all 4s, leaning against the pool… I managed to get the baby so so low but it had taken about 2 hours and the baby’s heart rate was starting to go a bit all over the place. At this stage I had to be transferred to the labour ward for an instrumental delivery. At this stage I got quite scared at the idea of a ventouse delivery with no pain relief on board (having experienced it first time round with an epidural)! It didn’t take too long before my baby was placed on my chest for a wonderful Golden Hour.

“I feel amazing and so empowered for the fact that I pushed the boundaries to get the best birth I could have had”

Although I didn’t have my “ideal” labour of giving birth in the pool, I feel amazing and so empowered for the fact that I pushed the boundaries to get the best birth I could have had. I had a baby via ventouse on Gas and Air, and the reason I was able to do that is because I had managed to push the baby down so so low, up in the MLU.

Alexander born December 2019