First Time Mum's Positive Birth Experience in the Domino Scheme in CUMH

At 36 weeks, I'd had a lovely, smooth-sailing pregnancy and had one week of work to go. My husband's best pal was tying the knot in Wexford on Saturday, so we travelled up Friday night. The only clues I had that something was about to go down was that my mucus plug had loosened on the journey up Friday, and I was feeling exhausted and emotional. But I didn't think much of this until afterwards...

We were staying the Friday night at my sister's student house outside Wexford as my sister was away. When we got there at 10pm, my partner asked me to drive him to the pub to meet the bridal party, I naturally told him where to go!! So I retired to bed, and he was home again by 1am (sober, thankfully). I woke again at 3am with feeling soggy... didn't take long to realise my waters had broken in my poor sister's bed and things were kicking off. I woke my husband really excitedly (but quietly as there were other people asleep in the house). We lay there chatting and giggling for the next half an hour while we tried to decide what to do. 

This being my first pregnancy, we were ready for a long drawn out affair. All the same, my contractions started within about 15 minutes so we decided to hit the road for Cork. We packed our bags which we had just unpacked, and headed downstairs. We bumped into a couple of my sister's flatmate’s downstairs and got chatting to them about their night out and a festival that we'd all recently been at. When we made for the door at 4am explaining that we had to go now as I was in labour, the look on their faces was priceless. 

Newborn baby

So off we went on our three hour drive to Cork. We started off with some Gentlebirth affirmations which set the tone for an upbeat journey.  Then I DJ'ed the road trip and rode the waves of each contraction by singing along loudly to all my old faves on Spotify. At the same time I was drumming out the beat on the dashboard with my hands, and when the surge got too strong to sing through, my partner encouraged me to shout out 'I love it!!' at the top of my voice. We stopped for coffee and scones half way and I stomped around the car through more surges. 

I DJ’ed the road trip and rode the waves of each contraction by singing along loudly to all my old faves on Spotify. At the same time I was drumming out the beat on the dashboard with my hands, and when the surge got too strong to sing through, my partner encouraged me to shout out ‘I love it!!’ at the top of my voice.

We were timing the surges and were surprised that they were 1 minute long and 4 minutes apart almost from the beginning. They were still manageable though, although we had to stop the car a couple of times on the way so I could stomp up and down on the side of the road - this was at 6am on a misty morning and there weren't too many passersby. 

We finally reached our house in Cork. The minute I walked in the door, the surges ramped it up a couple of notches. I don't know if it was because I left the car and lost my rhythm, or because my body realised it was back on familiar soil (=> go time!!) but the pain was so suddenly hiked up that when I made the call to the Domino nurses at CUMH I was crying while trying to explain my situation. 

The nurse on the line told me to come in after I had had a shower and eaten breakfast. I had the shower, the water helped a little bit but the contractions were still so painful. Trying to dry and dress myself was comical because the contractions were coming so quickly I couldn't get anything done. It took about 20 minutes, a TENS machine, and my husband’s assistance to get me dressed. He kept reminding me about my gentlebirth breathing which was so helpful. We have a video of him trying to persuade me to have some black pudding he'd cooked and me saying we need to go NOW!!

When we got to CUMH I was 4cm dilated, after about 6 hours of labour. John and my lovely midwife walked me to the delivery ward and I leaned on the CUB while they filled the bath. I climbed into the bath then. It was pleasant and enjoyable but definitely didn't take the pain away! What did help was the gas and air, which was amazing. I stood up in the bath and hung with two hands off the pole that looks like a stripper pole - this really worked for me. 

John decided to leave at this stage to go park the car as we had just abandoned it outside on the roundabout. But a few minutes later I started feeling extreme pressure pushing down. I was worried that the baby was going to come while John was out but my midwife reassured me that my body wouldn't let that happen (I assume she had fingers crossed behind her back while saying this).

When John returned the student midwife was already letting the water out of the bath. I couldn't really believe it, but it was starting to dawn on me that it was time to push already. (I must have dilated 6 cm in 45 minutes?). I was helped out of the bath and over to the CUB, where I leaned on it with my elbows and had knees on the floor.

The feelings at this stage were so so strong. I just let my body take over. I totally trusted the process to my body, my midwife and my husband. My mind faded into the background. Everything was calm... however it was definitely not peaceful as I was a very noisy pusher. After about 20 minutes of pushing, I reached back with both hands and Roisín fell into my arms. John and I were awestruck and just sat there on the floor for ages just marvelling at our new 6lb2 little friend and the miracle of what had just happened. She locked eyes with me in the middle of all the hubbub, it was just the most surreally beautiful experience. I got the first breastfeed underway with John by my side. 

...I reached back with both hands and Roisín fell into my arms. John and I were awestruck and just sat there on the floor for ages just marvelling at our new 6lb2 little friend and the miracle of what had just happened.

I escaped without any tears, so no stitches required. That was not the end of the story though. My placenta wouldn't deliver naturally and I had to go to theatre and receive a spinal anaesthesia to have it manually removed. However the staff explained what was happening every step of the way and it was easy to remain calm and happy. John and Roisín enjoyed some skin to skin and quality time while I was gone. We spent the next week or so on cloud 9, reliving every awesome moment. 

Credit goes to the Gentlebirth course (thanks Mary Tighe!) and app; the incredible Domino midwives at CUMH; Juju Sundin's birth skills; Ina May's spiritual midwifery; and of course my one and only John Phelan.

Aisling, John & Roisin, CUMH, November 2018


Speedy birth after Induction for a First Time Mum - CUMH

I went into Cumh Sunday 25th Nov at 3.30pm for induction. I was in 3 south ward in a room just opposite the nurses station which was great.

I had printed my GentleBirth plan with a beautiful floral design in colour and had the main points printed on a label and stuck it on the cover of my hospital file. I printed flash cards with my positive affirmations, breathing techniques and lots of funny memories to keep me in a positive calm mindset and to keep laughing! I had lots of LED t-lights and my relaxing labour play list on, so the atmosphere was really lovely and relaxing in the room, all midwives said it when they came into the room.

I was given a gel at 6pm and nothing was stirring I just had very mild cramps, (little did I know how mild😂). I got checked around 9pm and was only 2 cm. I got the second gel at midnight and again nothing had changed when they checked me  around 2.45am, so I sent Dermot home to sleep at 3am.

I was getting ready for bed and got up on the bed to reach the light switch and POP my waters went like they do on a film! I went out to the midwife station but my midwife was on tea break and told another midwife and she didn’t seem too phased, said it would be a few hours before anything happened, and said she’d have a look in a minute.  

The real pain started almost immediately after my waters went so I rang my partner to come back quick! He got to the hospital at 3.10am. I had some very strong contractions and I told my partner to ask the midwife could I get up and move but I was on the monitor, I dont think she believed me about how painful it was. She said to wait just 5 more minutes on the monitor. 

I explained that I needed to push and asked for pain relief so she said “all right I’ll have a little look” then she called in a second opinion and was told no time for pain relief we have to go to the delivery suite now! They told my partner to grab a nappy and bag there was no time for anything else and they literally ran with my bed down to the delivery suite shouting don’t push don’t push!! 

I got to the delivery suite at 4 am. I had to go from one bed to the other but ended up standing grabbing the bed for a while, I just couldn’t move to the other bed. The midwives raised the back of the delivery suite bed so I could lean over it while on my knees on the bed. I remember the sweat running off me and my partner got me a cold face cloth.... the nicest feeling in the world!!!!!

I had the gas and air but I wasn’t breathing it in, just out through the tube, I got it a little mixed up....oops!!
I asked for an epidural only to be told there was no time they could see Baby’s head. At this stage they were a bit concerned as her heart rate was dropping slightly and they were trying to get a consultant but it was all happening too quick no one could get there quick enough, they told me to push as hard as possible as they needed baby to be born, I was so tired I changed position onto my back but sitting up and they held my feet.

After 3 or 4 contractions her head was out and she was born on the next contraction!  They put her straight into my chest and the cord was Snow White when it was cut! 

Baby
I dread to think how I would have felt if I hadn’t used GentleBirth in the months prior to the birth.

They took her away to weigh her. She flew into the world 58 minutes after going into the delivery suite, they were all shocked at the speed things progressed!! They kept me in delivery suite for 3 hours because my pulse was very high so they gave me a drip and just monitored me, when the shift change was happening they were telling the other midwives what happened and they were all saying... oh wow and first baby that’s fast with no pain relief ..wow!!! But it wasn’t for the lack of asking 😂

The birth wasn’t what I had planned and I think I was in shock for a little while after as it all happened so fast, I was expecting to be in labour a very long time with induction. I dread to think how I would have felt if I hadn’t used GentleBirth in the months prior to the birth. I still use the tracks if I’m having trouble sleeping. In the first few days my anxiety was very bad and I found the new mum track really good.

The day before my induction I spent time reading my affirmations and flash cards, and while I was nervous about going into the hospital I honestly think I would have needed medication to deal with my anxiety and nerves if I hadn’t the GentleBirth training under my belt!

We both really enjoyed the workshop with you, and will definitely be back if we decide our little one needs a little brother or sister! 

I believe all I’ve learned while using GentleBirth will continue to help me with my anxiety even after my pregnancy

Empowered and Positive Caesarean Birth at CUMH for a 3rd time GentleBirth Mum

Realising that I was expecting my third baby was a moment tinged with both elation and anxiety.  While the birth of my first child was a positive experience, my second child’s birth story began with the baby having reduced fetal movement.  My consultant was away and my son’s birth was a series of interventions culminating in an emergency caesarean section.  To be honest that night remains one of the scariest experiences of my life and the whole experience left me feeling confused, traumatised, and disempowered.  I knew that this pregnancy would be my last and so I wanted to reclaim the experience as my own and give myself and my baby every opportunity for a positive birth.  

:...one of the big things I took from the course was to be prepared, but flexible.

With my consultant, we decided to plan for a VBAC.  I wanted to actively prepare for it and so I looked into hynobirthing and found Mary’s course.  My partner and I weren’t sure what to expect but we both really enjoyed the weekend and I left feeling that a positive, gentle birth was possible for us.  I suppose one of the big things I took from the course was to be prepared but flexible.  Through the course, I realised that for me, understanding what was happening and why it was medically necessary was vital.  You can’t get answers if you don’t know what questions to ask and the course gave me the questions to ask.  At each prenatal appointment I would have a topic for my birth plan ready to discuss with the consultant and I found that talking things through really reduced my anxiety.  I had two birth plans prepared, one for the VBAC and one for a gentle c-section.

Given how difficult my second child’s birth had been, I realised that I needed some help to process what had happened two years before.  I sought out some counselling and I realised that I was holding myself responsible for not giving my second child the birth I had wanted for him, even though what had happened was largely out of my control.  I began to focus on all the love, care and attention that give my son every day since before he was born and I was finally able to let go of the guilt I felt about his birth and move on.

Baby Foot.jpg

My daughter’s birth started on a similar note to my son’s in that she had reduced fetal movement and again my own consultant was not available.  The difference was that this time my partner and I had the knowledge and language to be empowered to ask for the birth we wanted.   We met the on call consultant and he was very supportive of the VBAC and was generally very open and positive.  Given the reduced movement, my waters were broken to see if labour could be induced. The staff didn’t suggest continuous monitoring and I was allowed to walk around the hospital.  Despite walking up and down the stairs a thousand times, my contractions never really became regular.  The consultant then suggested that we try a low dose of the drip to see if that would help.  At that point, we went through the gentle c-section birth plan and the consultant was very open to everything I asked for.  I opted for the epidural at that point.  

My midwife was fantastic.  I had my own playlist playing and lemon and lavendar essential oils in the room.  I also used the peanut ball.  Even with the drip, my labour never became established and there came a point four hours later when the baby became distressed and I asked for a c-section.   Things did get scary but I found I was able to cope much better and even though I got upset, I stayed in control and held on to positive thoughts.

The team were great, I was allowed to have my own music playing in the theatre, and they agreed to milk the cord.  The drip etc were all placed in my non-dominant arm so that I could hold the baby.  The biggest difference between my son’s birth and my daughter’s was that they lowered the drape as the baby was being born so that I could see her and that was just an amazing moment. 

The team were great, I was allowed to have my own music playing in the theatre, and they agreed to milk the cord.  The drip etc were all placed in my non-dominant arm so that I could hold the baby.  The biggest difference between my son’s birth and my daughter’s was that they lowered the drape as the baby was being born so that I could see her and that was just an amazing moment.  At times we had to be assertive in insisting that my partner could stay with me and once I got the baby I insisted in keeping her with me.  I didn’t get to do skin to skin immediately as they wrapped the baby up in a blanket in the theatre but once I got to the recovery room I did it and also fed her myself there.

I kept the baby with me all the time in the hospital.  The Midwives offered to take her on the first night and on the last night but there was no way I was letting her go!  I was lucky that I felt physically and emotionally able to keep her close and breastfeed her as much as possible during those early days.  

Even though I had hoped and prepared for a VBAC and my daughter arrived by emergency c-section, I have no regrets.  I felt informed, empowered and prepared.  I always understood what was happening and I feel that I  adapted to the change of plan as well as possible.  My partner and I were very much on the same page and he was a rock of support.  Because he had such a clear understanding of what I wanted he was able to advocate for me and look after me.  My strongest memory of my daughter’s birth is a very joyful one of the blue drape being lowered and seeing her enter the world.  Given all of my previous history, being able to hold that moment in my mind that means more than words can say.  

My strongest memory of my daughter’s birth is a very joyful one of the blue drape being lowered and seeing her enter the world.  Given all of my previous history, being able to hold that moment in my mind that means more than words can say.