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Rachael's Story - Water Birth

My name is Rachael and I have a 5 month old called Poppy.

Pregnancy had been pretty straight forward for me, one episode of reduced movement and one growth scan aside, I actually enjoyed it most of the time. Being a Primary School Teacher, the children made a lot of fuss over me but it was tiring, I was in bed by 7:30pm most nights!

20th August 2019 was a date I centered my life around; my due date. When that day arrived I

saw my midwife for a stretch and sweep, which in the end turned out to be unsuccessful due to my cervix being unfavourable.

I went home and cried and then got over it with a walk on the beach.

During my walk I found the name “Poppy” written in the sand. I didn’t know the gender of my baby but we had the name Poppy for a girl. This really motivated me to not get too down about potentially being overdue.

It’s a good job because on the 26th August I went for a stroll to get an ice cream and started to feel some mild period pains. A few hours later (and lots of ice cream) I started to lose my plug and started to record the cramping I was having.

Around midnight that night I had endured a few hours of tossing and turning and got my first painful contraction. After trying to sleep through the pains I gave in and went downstairs, my husband making us cups of tea while I listened to the Freya app through contractions.

Around 4am I rang my midwife to let them know and she said to take some paracetamol (ha!) and wait for them to increase in intensity.

After being awake all night, I had a bath and went for more walks up and down the garden. My husband and mam took turns to walk up and down with me. I was due to see my midwife for a second S+S anyway but she kept in touch with me all day to see how I was getting on. By 4:30pm I was really struggling with the pain and asked my midwife to come to my house. When she arrived she examined me and found that I was 3-4cm dilated and ready for hospital.

We rang the hospital and booked me into the midwife led unit. After a slight mishap and a jumpstart we were on our way to hospital while I was being sick and contracting at every traffic light. When we arrived at hospital I was trying to use my breathing learned at pregnancy yoga and we settled into the room, which looking back on pictures was lovely, it was actually like a hotel room!

I changed into a nightie and started using gas and air which made me a little sick. So much so that I told my husband off for eating toast that my midwife had made him!

Vicki, my midwife, started to fill the pool and by this point I was desperate to get into the water. While it was running she created an aromatherapy oil mix to give me a hand massage (which we didn’t actually get round to sadly). Eventually I got into the water and felt a huge wave of relief from the warm water. My Mam held my hand and my husband held they gas and air pump so that I could still continue to use this.

My midwife had the approach of ‘leaving me to it’ and just kept monitoring baby’s heartbeat in the water and letting me progress which really worked for me and kept the atmosphere calm. After a while, I started to feel like I couldn’t continue with the pain and all thoughts of positive breathing had gone out of the window. That’s when I got the urge to push. Next thing I know, the midwife is putting the warming lamps on and putting on gloves. For some reason this spurred me on, my baby was on its way really soon! After more pushing and deep, low noises I could feel the babies head really low, followed by a popping sensation meaning my waters had gone.

After some intense pushing the head was out and I was asked to sit back in the water as I was currently hanging over the side of the pool. As I sat back I could see the head, it was a magical moment. Vicki told me to put my chin on my chest and push. After one push the body came out and she was placed on me. It was 10pm on the dot and I had been pushing for 45 minutes.

At this point I had forgotten that we didn’t know the gender until my husband told me we had a baby girl! I was overjoyed.

Oddly though, I was expecting to feel a massive sense of relief now the baby was out but due to her having such a short cord I felt uncomfortable and I was starting to get cold in the water. We waited for the cord to stop pulsating and Vicki asked me if I wanted the injection to deliver my placenta. I really wanted to get out of the water so I decided to have the  injection. (I’m major needle phobic so it was a big decision for me)

After Poppy was taken to be weighed (8lb 9oz) Vicki administered the injection and my placenta came out. I really didn’t enjoy this experience as I was still using gas and air and it made me go really dizzy. Luckily my Mam held me up at this point as I was really close to fainting. I was checked to see if I had any tears and Vicki told me there was a first degree tear and a graze and I had the choice of stitches or not. By this point I just wanted to be with Poppy and so decided to not have stitches. Then Poppy was placed back in my arms for some wonderful skin to skin time and we also began our breastfeeding journey.

I genuinely felt like I’d had the perfect labour for me, although not without pain of course.

It wasn’t until later that Vicki told me she was meant to have finished her shift 8 hours ago but had stayed with me until the end which just made the experience even more special. I decided to stay in the ward to get some breastfeeding support for the next 24 hours and to allow my husband to get some sleep.

We finally went home the next day with our gorgeous Poppy Rae. It was then that my dad told us that there had been a horrendous storm all night while I was in labour and none of us knew!

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