Fiona had a lovely experience giving birth to her first child, so she wanted to have her second baby in the same birth centre.
Fiona, Essex, mum to Nikita born in February 2016
“The birth centre was more like a hotel than a hospital”
I had my first baby in the freestanding birth centre that was closest to where I lived. Everything about that birth went smoothly – I felt very comfortable there and it was more like a hotel than a hospital.
There was a big double bed so my partner could stay, no one came and bothered us but were still around if we needed help and we had our own TV and CD player. There was food there as well so I could go to the kitchen and make my own cup of tea and microwave food.
When I got pregnant with my second baby, I thought about having a home birth as my sister had her baby at home. But since the hospital close to where I live doesn’t have a good reputation, and that’s where the home birth midwives would be connected to, I decided it would be better to go with the birth centre again.
My first labour was very fast, just three and a half hours, and when I was expecting my second we had moved and lived 40 minutes’ drive away from the birth centre. So my main fear before my second birth was that we wouldn’t make it to the birth centre on time if the labour was even quicker this time around.
“We brought towels for the car seats”
A week before my due date, I started feeling pains on a Friday afternoon. I managed to sleep through the night, but early Saturday morning the contractions started coming on stronger and I called the birth centre.
At first they said that the birth centre was full, which got me slightly panicked as I thought I might have to go to the hospital after all, but a short while later I spoke to them again and they said that someone was just about to be discharged so we could come on over.
Luckily it was Saturday morning so there was very little traffic on the roads. We brought towels to cover the car seats with just in case anything happened on the way. We had read up on this in advance, so my husband was prepared in case he had to help me deliver the baby while we were stuck in traffic.
“The second I got in the pool I felt different – the water really worked as pain relief”
When we got to the birth centre we were taken to a room straight away. I was in a lot of pain at that point; the contractions were really strong. The midwife examined me and said I could go in the pool – and the second I got in the water I actually felt different, it really worked as a pain relief.
I had been all ready to try out the gas and air, but once I was in the water I didn’t feel that I needed it any more which was nice. The process was very natural and I could stay in control the whole time.
I had packed some swimwear in my hospital bag, but I really didn’t care about that once I got to the birth centre, I just had a bra on and got in the pool. I was in so much pain it was the last thing on my mind – I just went with the flow.
The pool was large enough for my husband to go in as well, but I didn’t want him in my personal space when I was going through so much pain. He was still supporting me, holding my hand and encouraging me to breathe.
We had practiced breathing before I went into labour, so he knew how to remind me, because it’s easy to forget to breathe when you’re in a lot of pain.
“The midwife told me to reach down and scoop up the baby”
After I got in the pool I started pushing almost straight away and the baby was born just an hour after we got to our room. As I was pushing, the midwife asked me to put my hands down to scoop up the baby, so I was the first person to touch her. It was amazing – she looked just like my son.
We hadn’t found out the sex of the baby beforehand, so I moved the cord to the side and at first I was really dazed to see that she was a girl – I think I had just got so used to seeing boy parts through the years of changing my son’s nappies.
We waited until the cord had stopped pulsating before my husband cut the cord, and after that we came out of the pool and I delivered the placenta. We then stayed at the birth centre for a few hours, but since she was born around lunchtime and we wanted to get home to our son we didn’t stay the night.
The following day we came back to the birth centre to have the baby looked over thoroughly by an experienced midwife, as would have happened if we’d stayed overnight.
“The stitching actually hurt more than the actual birth of the baby”
I think people tend to be fearful of the birth process, but the most difficult part for me was actually after the birth. I had stitches and I thought that the stitching actually hurt more than the birth of the baby.
It’s really tricky afterwards, when you’re in pain from the stitches and yet you have a brand new baby to look after and breastfeed – not to mention that going to the toilet after giving birth really stings!
You don’t tend to hear these stories, but I think people need to be prepared for what comes afterwards. I do think that doing pelvic floor exercises and massaging the perineum during pregnancy can help with making it slightly more comfortable for you after the birth.
- From gas and air to epidurals – we tell you everything you need to know about your pain relief options when giving birth.
- Have you decided where to give birth yet? Use our tool to find the right place for your baby to be born.
- Find out how antenatal classes can help you prepare for labour and parenthood.