Birthing Pool Eases Labour

Holly shares the birth story of her daughter Verity


I really wanted the baby to come early, not because I was tired of being pregnant, but because my house was clean and Bryan had time off from work and I wanted to make the best use of his time home! That being said, I really didn’t expect to go early (or only a day or two if so), because my first born was four days late, and because I tend to have long periods.

I’d been having a lot stronger braxton hicks contractions than I did with Symeon, and at 34 weeks I had steady and increasingly stronger contractions for 10 hours, but thankfully nothing else happened, they just suddenly stopped.

January 19th was kind of a blah day for me. I didn’t really feel ‘bad’ and wasn’t really having a lot of contractions, I just didn’t feel like doing anything and didn’t have much energy. I also had a hard time sleeping that night, so when I woke up at 2:00 am, I had only gotten about an hour and a half of sleep. I first assumed that I woke up because I needed to go to the toilet (which, of course, I did. I was 39 weeks pregnant!), but then after having a contraction on the toilet and then after getting back into bed they didn’t stop but continued, I started to get tentatively hopeful. Bryan woke up at 3:30, so I went ahead and told him (I hadn’t planned to wake him for a while since they weren’t too bad). At this point, the contractions were fairly strong, but I could still talk through them. They were definitely stronger than when I started with Symeon. I got up shortly after this to take a little shower (short because I wanted to make sure we had hot water for the pool later on!).

Bryan got up and went ahead and got the hose ready and started filling the birthing pool. We called the midwife at about 6:30, she arrived about 7:15, and then Bryan called his parents at about 7:30 since they would be looking after Symeon once he got up. Turns out he woke up just as Bryan was about to get off the phone, so they came right over to collect him.

My midwife checked me at 8:30, and I was 3 cm dilated. It was a bit discouraging to me because I had the whole “with your second baby the labor could be half as long as your first” mentality, and I really didn’t think things would progress enough to have a baby in an hour! My midwife encouraged me to walk, and so I paced the hall. I was starting to get really tired, so for about an hour, from 9-10, I just kneeled at the bed and rested as much as I could between contractions. After that it was up and walking again. The contractions were quite strong, and I was so ready to get into the nice hot pool, but my midwife wanted me to wait a little longer to make sure it wouldn’t slow things back down.

At about 10:20 I had my first urge to push, not a strong one, but it was definitely there, so Bryan started topping up the pool with more hot water. At 10:30 I was allowed into the pool (man, it felt good!!), and finally had a show. My contractions got a little farther apart, but they continued to be strong and were lasting a long time, and I continued to feel the mild urge to push. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it was to be in that nice hot water.

I was kneeling at the edge, and Bryan and my midwife would pour hot water over my back. Despite the really painful contractions, I think that this last part of labor was the easiest for me to relax with because of the water. I hadn’t planned specifically for a water birth, but at this point there was no way they were going to get me out of that pool, so a water birth it was going to be.

My midwife was encouraging me to breathe through my contractions until I got to the point where I couldn’t help but push. At 11:40, she did another exam (and that was tricky in the pool, and uncomfortable, let me tell you!), and during the exam helped thin out my cervix quite a bit. She told me that it could be another hour or hour and a half before the baby came. I told her that I didn’t want to hear anything about hours. 🙂

Her help during the exam must have really helped Verity though, because at 11:50, her head was visible. Now comes the difficult part of a water birth, breathing through those pushing contractions to let the baby come out on it’s own (since the midwife isn’t right there in the water). So every contraction would be “okay Holly, breathe… push… breathe… push… “. My midwife told me that I would be much less likely to tear this way, and I told her that I didn’t really care. She smiled and told me that I would care tomorrow, which of course I knew, but didn’t care anyway 😉

At 12:02, she was born. Not only did she have a water birth, but she was also born “in caul”, which means that my waters never broke, she was born with them intact. I held her in the water with me until her cord was cut, about 20 minutes, then she had some skin to skin with Bryan while I delivered the placenta. I had absolutely no tearing or grazing of any kind, and was quite surprised that as early as that evening to find that I didn’t hurt at all “down there”. It was like I hadn’t just given birth.

~ Welcome Verity ~~