Pool Bliss – Rhian and baby Owen Connor

labouring in birth poolOk, some back story to my choices. My first son was a planned homebirth. He had been three weeks late and I had a real battle with the NHS. I had a really positive 1st stage but a difficult second stage due to him being back to back with the cord wrapped twice around him. I went into hospital afterwards as his apgars were low and it was the most horrendous experience and made me vow to never go in again!

This time round I decided to take no chances with the NHS and booked an independent midwife. Michelle is the most amazing woman, experienced, knowledgeable, calm, confident and utterly convinced that women will labour instinctively and positively if allowed to do so.

Michelle visited the day before Owen was born and we joked that I had decided to labour the next day, after breakfast, and be done before Niall’s bedtime so he could meet his baby brother.
The next morning was a beautiful sunny Saturday. We all got up, had breakfast together and began to potter. At around 10am I had a brief achy feeling in my lower back which made me stand up. I got a few more of these before starting to experience some random tightenings with mild cramps. This made me really hopeful, but I tried not to get too excited. Just after noon we went for a walk to the local shop and they became more frequent, between 5-7 minutes apart but not very intense. I phoned Michelle to let her know that things were starting and agreed to ring when they were more regular. Dermot began assembling and filling the pool and I put the TENS on.

I then started reorganising my kitchen in between contractions! My friend Debbie popped over and joined in with me. Niall went over to a neighbour’s house to play. By 2pm the surges were becoming more intense and regular – every 5 minutes and by 3pm I was making low noises and concentrating with each one. I rang Michelle who said she’d be straight over and then put on some music. At this point I just started dancing. I had a playlist with lots of stuff like Faithless, Basement Jaxx, Chicane, Moby etc. It felt so right just to be dancing round the kitchen, swaying my hips. I had my clary sage oil burning on the work top and bent over that rotating my hips to each contraction, then carried on dancing. I would recommend this to anyone especially as I was later told that belly dancing was originally a birth dance! My system was flooded with endorphins and I felt so high. Both Debbie and Michelle had a dance with me before Debbie went home.

At around 6pm the surges started to be felt more in my lower back and I was asking Michelle and Dermot to put counter pressure to the base of my spine – heaven! At 6.25pm I decided to get in the pool. The warm water was lovely and I got on all 4 fours swinging my hips and lowing with the surges. Both Michelle and Dermot continued with the counter pressure, putting their full weight into it. I’m surprised I’m not bruised back there! Derm told me at one point he released pressure to change position and I growled at him ‘BACK!’ It was the voice of command apparently.

I soon began to feel mounting pressure as Owen began to descend, I stayed very relaxed and made positive noises, saying ‘yes’ and other words of encouragement. My waters eventually went in the pool at 6:55 and were clear. Over the next 15 minutes I could feel Owen’s head moving down and at 7:10 I could feel the top of his head with my hand. The contractions were now very strong expulsive ones and I knew with some help from me I could birth him quickly, however, I was conscious of not wanting to tear and took it very slowly. I talked to him all the way through, telling him what a good boy he was and how well he was doing and what I was doing. I went easy on the next few contractions, easing him out slowly and holding the top of his head. I pushed the sides of my labia over his head and felt him crown. I remember telling him over and over ‘it’s ok’ and I was also telling myself, reminding myself not to panic but to stay calm and relaxed. Two minutes later the next contraction moved his head out and with the next one he was born. He did a bit of a corkscrew and shot out. Michelle pushed him back between my legs and I lifted him out of the water for his first cuddle! Michelle and I blew on his face and talked to him as he cried and gasped a couple of times before breathing and pinking up.

10 minutes later Niall came home and met his little brother for the first time. He seemed quite impressed! Owen and I stayed in the pool together for another hour. Owen latched onto my breast like a pro and had a good half hour feed. At around 8:30 I had still not birthed the placenta and was having lots of cramps. Dermot cut the cord once it had stopped pulsating and had his first skin to skin cuddle with his new son. I eventually turned onto my back and manually removed the placenta. It slid free with a little pressure on the cord. I then got out of the pool to be checked over by Michelle. Owen was weighed and surprised us all by being 9lb 6oz! We’d all guessed lower. Niall’s grandparents took him to theirs for the night and Dermot and Michelle emptied the pool whilst I had a well earned glass of fizz! We were then tucked up in bed together with our little treasure to spend the first of many sleepless nights.

All in all I could not have wished for a better birth experience. I had one small 2nd degree tear but it’s healing nicely on its own. I felt happy and relaxed throughout and this is what made it so manageable. Having Michelle there gave me confidence and she did that through allowing me to birth my own way, to be the expert on my own body and not taking that power away from me. She checked Owen’s heart rate periodically but that was the extent of her intervention (besides the counter pressure). I would advise anyone wanting a natural birth to look at hiring an independent midwife, they are fantastic. I had great care from the team at Yorkshire Storks throughout my pregnancy, a wonderful birth experience and the post natal care has been outstanding. Michelle made me stay in bed for a week after the birth, and despite my initial reluctance I am so glad I listened. 3 Cheers for babymoons!