How to have a happy Birth Day!
From hospital to home birth, four mums tell us what went to plan and what didn't on their birthing day
Karen Ahmed, mum to Shelan
‘The birth of my second daughter, Shelan, was much better than my first, and she arrived on her due date. The contractions started at 6am but I didn’t go to hospital till 10.30am, when I felt I needed pain relief. The staff were very supportive and helpful, even though the labour ward was busy. The midwives respected my wishes that I didn’t want anything for the pain other than gas and air, which I used to help with the contractions. Throughout the pregnancy I had been reading a hypno-birthing book which was really helpful. I was relaxed and calm during the birth – one midwife even commented that I didn’t even look like I was in labour. When it was time to push I gave up on the gas and air as it was making me drowsy. After a few pushes, my baby arrived safely, was put straight onto my chest and was breastfeeding within 30 minutes. From arriving at the hospital to giving birth was a total of four hours, and we lay there together for a while afterwards just cuddling. It was sensational.’
Entrepreneur Saira Khan, mum to Zac and Amara
My childbirth experience was nothing like I had planned. I went to NCT classes, felt empowered and was really looking forward to the birth. But at 42 weeks I was admitted to hospital to be induced. Then, because I wasn’t dilating I was advised to have a caesarean as my baby was in distress. I felt disappointed that I couldn’t give birth naturally, but that just melted away as soon as I saw Zac. I was surprised at how squashed and swollen he was; but the midwife looked at me and said, ‘Don’t worry, the swelling will go down.’ I smiled because she had read my mind. My lasting memory of the birth was the professionalism and care that my doctors and nurses showed. Their expertise put me at ease and I put all my trust in their capable hands. For me the birth experience is all about the moment you meet your baby for the first time. ’
Samantha Hayward Baker, mum to Tabitha
Tabitha was a frank breech (bottom first) – and she’d been in that position for most of the pregnancy. On the last scan before my due date I was offered manipulation or an elective caesarean. I opted for the c-section. Admittedly I did get a bit freaked out about having major abdominal surgery - but that was counteracted by the thought that these operations happen daily all over the UK and I knew in advance the date on which I was going to meet my new baby.The day I went in to have Tabitha was wonderfully strange, like some weird to-do list: get up, have breakfast, go to hospital and have baby. I was incredibly nervous. The worst was waiting to go into theatre - but once I was there the staff were so lovely that I relaxed and let go of my fear. I thought, I can’t do any more, I can’t control anything – I am just going to lie here and get ready to meet my baby. The midwife in theatre knew I wanted skin-to-skin contact with my baby as soon as possible, and that I wanted my husband to be the one to say “It’s a…” (we didn’t know what we were having). Everything seemed to go like clockwork. Tabitha was born five to six minutes into the operation and although I was in theatre for roughly 40 minutes after that, I was so distracted by my beautiful baby girl that time flew by. The operation was a strange sensation - like someone rummaging in your handbag! But it meant I could get organised for the birth and it was an ecstatic and effortless experience.
Laura England, mum to Seren<
I gave birth to my first child, Seren, at home. I chose to go with an independent midwife and I was 15 days overdue when I finally went into labour – I was lying on the sofa one evening when I felt my waters break The contractions started quicky – within five minutes. I had a strong urge to walk around and leant against the door frames in our lounge throughout the early stages. Then my husband Paul set up the birthing pool for me. Jo, my midwife, arrived at about 1.30am. I was 4cm dilated and contracting regularly. I spent a lot of time in the pool holding on to Paul’s hands. But my midwife suggested that I get out of the water to try and get my focus back. I squatted in between Paul’s legs as he supported me from behind. I didn’t actively push as such, but when the urge took over, I just went with it. I could feel the baby moving down, and this strange feeling of calmness took me over. I was “moo-ing” throughout the contractions, but it was almost like an out-of-body experience. My body was just doing what it needed to do in a very animalistic way. I managed to give birth to the baby’s head slowly, but with the next contraction she just shot out on the floor. Luckily Jo caught her and passed her up to me. I shifted back onto the sofa in complete shock. I put her to the breast and she fed almost straight away. After a while it dawned on me that I’d just delivered my first baby, at home, with no drugs and no stitches, and began feeling immensely proud. I was on such a high I started phoning people, posted the news on Facebook and did the hoovering! Being at home made it all feel very natural.
Written by Tahira Khan