Tavia’s arrival into the world, in her mother’s words

“I had a straight forward first home birth 15 months ago, (on a Full Moon) I was obviously hoping for something similar this time round. Lawson was a bit of a surprise as I was only 37+3 and we’d only been in our new house 5 days!
Therefore, we had been expecting Tavia to arrive early this time, and in fact there had been times when I had been concerned the she’d arrive too soon, as we’ve been renovating our new house since the end of Nov and I had a toddler to run round after.
Everyone was convinced she’d arrive over Easter in line with the Full Moon again, but it wasn’t to be. Despite being half ready I was aware we still had lots of odd jobs to finish, which would make life easier after the birth and my husband had various things going on at work which would also be better if cleared out the way before her birth. So Easter came and went and then the days started to tick by.

I had started to get lots of sharp pains in the top of my legs/groin, which I had last time a few weeks before the birth. As I had SPD last time and a little this time, I just put it down to nerves/ligaments etc. Little did I know that these would be exactly how my contractions would feel this time! So, 39 weeks came and went, I had seen my midwife Julie and I’d already declined booking a sweep at 40 weeks and I therefore wasn’t due to see her again until 28th, when I would have been 40+4.

taviaSaturday 18th April was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and it really felt like Spring had arrived, my Doula, Dee Coe, had mentioned during the week that Saturday was the end of the’Dark of the Moon’ and the start of the ‘New Moon’, which had something to do with feminine energy (perhaps we were clutching at straws as I hadn’t followed pattern and I’d missed the Full Moon this time!). So, on Saturday morning Kev and I were both in a really good mood and he was determined that the 3 of us would go to Belle and Jerome for Breakfast in Beeston, so off we went bright and early as we needed to be back for Lawson to nap afterwards. I had a lovely full English ( I had Fish and Chips for tea last time, so I obviously need a good carb store), and then nipped to Boots. I mentioned that walking was hard and really felt like I was waddling!
We got home and shortly after I had a ‘show’, so I text Dee to let her know not to go too far. My first birth was fairly swift so we were expecting similar. Not much happened, we both pottered around the house doing little jobs whilst Lawson was asleep, I ordered some more nappies online, filed a pile of letters I’d been meaning to do for a while, and tidied up a bit, but it was calm and quiet and the sun was still beaming. Lawson woke up and Kev finished packing his stuff as he was going round to our next door neighbour.

I thought that my waters had gone a little at 1pm, as there was a little fluid released. I wasn’t surprised it was minimal as she’d been head down for ages and this is what happened the first time when all the water was behind Lawson. I wasn’t really sure that I’d felt Tavia move much that day, so Dee told me to go and lie down and try to monitor her for a while, which I did and she soon started moving. She hadn’t moved much the last few weeks as I felt she’d run out of space (much like last time) and it was really uncomfortable for both of us when she did, but she did get hiccups a lot (and still does!). Kev made me some pasta for lunch and I decided to stay in our bedroom with the curtains drawn and try relaxing to Maggie Howell’s MP3. Last time I’d laboured during the night and had slept through a lot of it, so I was wondering how I was I going to do it during the day with the sun streaming through the house.

Lawson normally has a second nap at 3pm ish, so Kev put him down for that. As if a switch had been turned I then started getting proper contractions (I don’t think I’ll ever cease to be amazed by the power of the mind). I think Kev called Dee and the midwives then to let them know things were progressing. Dee came round shortly after and I was ‘prowling’ round the house like a tiger (or so it felt!) I spoke to the midwife on the phone and she said she’d come round. I warned her that things may progress quickly even though I was coping well.
The midwives arrived at about 4.30pm. One of them said that my contractions had been closer than every 5 mins when I’d spoken to her. This was a new experience for me, having midwives in my living room asking questions, taking tests and filling in forms, last time we called them a bit too late and they walked in as I started to push and Lawson was born 20 mins later!

If I’m honest I didn’t like it, they were nice and respectful but I did feel like I needed to perform in a certain way, but I wasn’t sure how that was, but I understood they had a job to do and our best interests at heart, this combined with having contractions was probably why my BP was up a bit, with a bit of ‘white coat’ syndrome. Lawson woke up just before 5pm as usual, so I said good bye to him and Kev took him next door, I told Kev not to be too long! There went the second switch!

My contractions felt so different this time, they were low down and in my legs/groin and sharp! I was coping well, standing in the living room, swaying from side to side and breathing them out, but I was getting restless. Dee suggested we went next door where the pool was and the midwives stay in the living room for now. I agreed when Kev came back and thought I might as well get in the water. I remember saying I won’t bother putting my tankini bottoms on as I don’t think they’ll be on long!

The wooden blinds were down, but the sun was on that side of the house by now so the room was still bright, I had lots of waterproof LEDS in the pool and Tealights, but the full effect was lost, not that it mattered as I love the spring sunshine and I had my eyes closed most of the time anyway! Kev was fussing a bit, offering me food and drink and music and anything else he could think of, Dee suggested he get in the pool, which I also thought was a good idea. This hadn’t been part of his plan, but he’s pleased he did. He did make me laugh the next day, asking if the midwife would have got in if he hadn’t have been in the water to catch our daughter!

The contractions seemed much sharper this time, the pool seemed to shorten them but make them more frequent, I had to work hard to keep focused to manage the pain. Last time I honestly described my contractions as intense but not necessarily painful, this time I would use the phrase sharp and painful and asking for gas and air did cross my mind, except I would have had to break focus to ask. I managed the pain with breathing, Kev rubbing my back and applying pressure on my lower back with each contraction and Dee keeping my upper back and shoulders relaxed as I was on my knees hanging over the pool side. My armpits were a bit sore the next day! I agreed with the midwifes that they would stay next door but they could monitor the baby’s heart rate every 30 mins. The problem for me was that when you are trying to hypnobirth this breaks your concentration, however I think they only needed to do it three times. On the last time when I was sitting on my haunches I felt a ‘pop’ as my waters went and my husband saw them break into the pool.

I then had a very strong urge to push, so I did! I do vividly remember feeling her head come down and then crowning, I don’t remember getting the ‘ring of fire’ sensation like last time, so I think the pool definitely helped with that. Around this time I remember there being conversations over my head about the lay z spa saying the water temp was 38 degrees and it being too hot, a thermometer in the water did show that it was actually only 37.5 degrees, but I found this incredibly irritating as I knew she was about to be born and there was no way I was getting out before she was, therefore through Kev and Dee I asked the midwives to leave the room. A few minutes later her head was born, and I then realised Dee couldn’t see so I told her and she called the MW back in and Tavia promptly followed with Kev ready to catch her and pass her up through my legs.
I then sat back and Kev held us both as I stared at our little girl and all the sensations of the last few hours instantly stopped.

Apparently my waters couldn’t have gone earlier as if they had I’d have been in hospital, as there was quite a lot of old meconium in them, so not from the labour but from sometime before. Tavia was a little floppy when she came out but was responsive, I could see that the midwives were a little concerned and where keen to cut the cord so that they could try stimulating her a bit. I suggested that I got out the pool so that she was easier for them to access and I didn’t want to cut the cord until it stopped pulsing. It didn’t stop pulsing for an hour!
It was great to have Dee there at this point as she knew my preferences but also suggested that perhaps it was a good thing she was still getting gases from the placenta while her breathing was laboured. Tavia needed a bit of encouragement to feed and I was nervous about this as this was when my breastfeeding struggle started with Lawson ( it took 8 weeks for us to properly crack it last time, blood, sweat and tears, but we got there in the end and I fed him for 8 months, only stopping as I was pregnant and shattered).

As Tavia perked up she started to make attempts at feeding, we then dropped a muslin over my shoulder which I’d been sleeping with for a while and she definitely became more interested. She latched on well and fed well on both sides. After the cord pulsing for an hour, Kev cut the cord and the midwife used my crochet cord tie rather than a clamp, which was lovely to deal with for the 7 days she had it, much nicer than the clumsy plastic clips. Kev then took Tavia and had skin to skin while I tried to deliver the placenta. This was easy last time and happened instinctively, shortly after the cord had been cut, however after another hour of changing position, squatting over buckets, sitting on the loo and sniffing clary sage I was having no contractions at all and the MW’s were getting concerned about how long it was taking. I said I was happy to try the injection as I really didn’t want to be transferred to hospital.

The MW suggested before we did that we could see if it was just ‘sitting there’ and just hadn’t come out. I got back on the sofa and tried actively pushing and very soon it started to come, this was painless, straight forward and quite quick and I was hugely relieved by this point as I was getting tired and just wanted to be left alone. However, I still had the final few miles of the marathon to go as despite my efforts with perineum massage in pregnancy and a water birth I still hadn’t escaped a second degree tear again.

I had decided that this time I was going to try a placenta smoothie, as if this could aid a speedy recovery it could only be a good thing. Despite having a straight forward birth last time, I did feel fairly rough afterwards for quite some time. Having a toddler this time I was keen to try anything that might help. So I had a smoothie that night, the remainder in the morning and the rest encapsulated. I definitely feel better this time, physically and emotionally and this may or may not be down to the placenta I will never be able to categorically say.
By this point is was getting to the end of the MW 12 hour shift (well done them!) So, a MW from the night shift had come and she could sutra, so I wasn’t transferred and had this done at home on our bed with local anaesthetic and the support of Dee helping me to relax, but it did feel like forever, but I understand for my future benefit you don’t want to rush this!

So, at about 10pm I was tucked up in bed with Tavia, tea and toast and Kev went to collect Lawson from the neighbour. Kev managed to transfer him straight to bed and he slept through until 7am the next morning as usual totally unaware that his sister had arrived whilst he was out. We did call the MW back at about 4.30am as I was concerned with Tavia’s breathing, as she seemed to be panting. She popped straight round and checked her over, she said she seemed a bit cold (which can happen when born in water), so she layered and bundled her up and it did the trick and we felt reassured.”

Alexia Leachman
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