No morning sickness, no high blood pressure – Sheila’s pregnancy was going well. But when she was induced after her due date she was in for a long wait to finally meet her baby.
Sheila, 33, London, mum to Beck born in January 2016
“This was my first pregnancy and it went really well”
This was my first pregnancy and it went really well. I barely had any morning sickness and no diabetes, high blood pressure or anything like that. I tried to keep myself physically fit and eat well and everything was going as it should.
I’d talked to other mums who’d given birth in the birth centre and thought it seemed like a good place to have my baby. I also went on an NCT antenatal class where we talked quite a bit about where to give birth, so I felt quite well-informed.
I did know, however, that I’d only be allowed to go in the birth centre if I didn’t develop any complications, so throughout the pregnancy I was aware that it might not happen as I was hoping.
“The three-day long induction process was really frustrating”
My due date came and went, and when I was overdue by a week and a half I was booked in for an induction at the labour ward. I was excited because at that point I was so ready to go through labour and finally get to hold my baby in my arms. A friend of mine had been through an induction and it had worked straight away, she was home with her baby the next day, so I was expecting my induction to be very similar.
My partner and I went to the hospital for the induction two days before New Year’s Eve. I wasn’t induced that first day as they said I was having natural, albeit not very strong, contractions so I might go into labour on my own. However, I did have to stay at the hospital once I’d been admitted.
The following morning they gave the first stage of induction drugs to get things going a bit faster, and the day after that I was given even more drugs because nothing was really happening.
The long induction process was really frustrating. Every time I had a check-up I thought: “Right, it has to be working now” and yet every time they examined me I hadn’t dilated. It was quite demoralising, and tiring as well.
“It was decided that a caesarean section would be best”
On New Year’s Day – on the fourth day after I’d been admitted – I was still having contractions but I was only one centimetre dilated. At this point, the baby’s heartbeat started dropping dangerously low and it was decided that the best thing would be to get him out by a caesarean section.
Up until then, I had really wanted a natural birth, but after a four-day long induction I was in so much pain and my gut instinct was saying that we should have a caesarean because the baby was in distress. I was still a bit upset that we had to go down that route, though.
They had to try seven times to put the spinal block in place for the surgery and I was having contractions at the same time so it was really quite painful. My husband had to wait outside the room while I was being sedated, but he could hear me screaming in pain and he’s said that it was a really scary experience for him.
“It was surreal to finally hold him after everything that had happened”
Once they got my husband in and started the actual section, it was almost like a dream because I couldn’t feel anything from my armpits down. I’d never really had an operation before and it was quite weird being awake through abdominal surgery. People were telling me what they were doing but I couldn’t really feel anything.
When our baby finally came out, he was covered in meconium and had the umbilical cord wrapped twice around his neck. The staff checked him over and then handed him over to my husband who then passed him onto me, and I held him until they had finished sewing me up.
It was actually kind of surreal to finally hold him after everything that had happened. He was just lying there, he wasn’t crying or anything, just watching the world go by.
Sheila with newborn Beck
“If one baby was crying on the postnatal ward – they all started crying”
When you’re watching TV and people are giving birth, they’re always in their own room. In reality, you only have your own room on the labour ward when you’re actually giving birth – before that you’re on a ward right up until you’re ready to give birth and all the time after your baby’s been born.
After the birth, we stayed in the hospital for two nights on a shared ward with around five other women and their babies. The experience of sharing a room with so many women and babies was strange.
The nurses kept saying that we should get lots of rest, but it’s impossible because everyone was shifting around, and snoring, and people kept coming and going. Everyone was awake at different times too, and if one baby was crying – they all started crying.
Sharing a bathroom with other women when all I wanted to do was be by myself and take my time was also stressful. So the experience on the postnatal ward was anything but restful.
“My recovery after the c-section was a slow process”
My husband stayed with me and the baby in the hospital for those three days, I couldn’t move for the first 24 hours at all and even after that it was really difficult, so my husband had to be there to pass the baby to me for feeding.
To recover from the caesarean, I was quite adamant that I wanted to get out of bed and walk around as quickly as possible because there were other people on the ward who wouldn’t get out of bed and had to be on morphine drips, and I knew I didn’t want to be in that situation.
As soon as I was allowed to I sort of shuffled round, it was really hard to walk but I managed to have a shower. Recovery was a slow process though. I had dissolvable stitches and it took more than six weeks until it was just a scar.
During that time, I just had to take it easy – no heavy lifting, no driving. Still, it was much more pleasant once I got home from hospital, not necessarily easier but it was just more comfortable to be in my own home and I had a lot of support.
“It’s good to have a birth plan, but don’t get upset if things don’t go to plan”
I would try to have a natural birth again if I were to have a second baby, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it didn’t go to plan. Among the mums that I know, I don’t think anyone had a straight-forward birth in the end.
So I think it’s good to have a birth plan, but to not get upset if things don’t happen the way you had hoped. At the end of the day, as long as you’re healthy and the baby is healthy – nothing else really matters.
- Have you decided where to give birth yet? Use our tool to find the right place for your baby to be born.
- Ask your midwife the right questions to help you decide which local birth centre or labour ward to have your baby at.
- Watch nine mums talk about how they decided where to give birth, and what their experiences were like.