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

Positive GentleBirth for First Time Mum in CUMH

On 30th January I thought I was getting contractions. The pain was pretty intense on and off and I was timing them, but there was no consistency. So I was bouncing on the ball and walking around, using the TENS machine, taking paracetamol when I felt I needed it and using a heat pad on my lower back. I then thought, as the evening went on, the contractions were getting closer. I was in touch with the CUMH that day, so rang them again and filled them in. The midwife said to make my way in for a check-up. So my partner and I got all our stuff in the car and headed into CUMH after dinner. I was thinking that if I was in proper labour I probably wouldn't be able to eat dinner, but I did, so wasn't sure if it was the real thing. The pain was pretty intense, so I was hoping it was real! I noticed on my way in that the contractions were getting further apart time wise. 

Our little baby was born eyes wide open just then, at 10.30pm on 31st January. It was and has been the best feeling ever since. I am so delighted with how my labour and birth went

We went into the hospital and I was checked and the midwife confirmed I was only 1 cm dilated. She said I was only in the very early stages of pre-labour and that it would probably be best if we headed home. We were gutted! But we headed home and I had more contractions on the way home in the car - only one or two and nothing major. When we got home, we unpacked the car and went to bed. I couldn't really lie down, as the pains were really intense and I felt like I needed to go to the loo!!! I stayed up watching rubbish on Netflix. I slept a bit on the sofa and about 6 am woke my partner and asked him to get up and keep me company!! 

GB FTM Quote2 .png

He suggested running a bath for me to help ease the pain. From that point on, I had very little pain. I stopped using the TENS machine, as I felt it was a bit cumbersome to bring around the house with me. I was taking panadol as much as I needed to and found that and the heat pad on my lower back very effective. 

I had pretty intense pain on and off as the day went on, felt like I needed to go to the loo, but couldn't. About 5, or 6 I thought my waters went but I wasn't really sure. I rang CUMH, they said to make my way in when I was ready, but not to be disappointed if I was sent home again that night. So off we went again, packed up the car and headed into CUMH. I listened to my tracks on the way in and slept most of the journey from our house (which was about 40 minutes away). When we got to CUMH, I joined the queue in the ER again (second night in a row!). My partner went off to get food as we hadn't time to get dinner. I didn't feel like eating anything. When he was gone I ran out to go to the loo again twice. The third time the door into the ER was open, so I walked in there. The nurse at the desk said I should use the loo out in the hallway, but I said 'no I'm afraid I have to go here'. When I got out of the loo, I asked the midwife if someone could please check to see if I was in labour, as I was in a lot of pain and couldn't go back out into the waiting room. The midwife sent me into one of the cubicles and said she would check me out in five mins. 

The midwife came in and checked me and confirmed I was fully dilated!!!! She asked who was with me and went out to the waiting room to get my partner. He came back with her and helped me out on my shoes. She said normally they would bring people down in a stretcher, but she thought I looked like I could walk, so off we went following her downstairs to the delivery suite. There were two midwives in the room waiting for me. I walked into the delivery suite smiling and they were shocked that I was fully dilated! Oliver went out to get my bags in the car. They said they would leave us to get settled and would ask me to start pushing after about half an hour/40 mins.

I used the gas and air for contractions after that and found it a huge help. The pushing was very difficult and I was pushing for about an hour. My doctor was there and she used a little bit of suction for the very last push, but I needed a hand then as I was completely exhausted. 

Our little baby was born, eyes wide open just then, at 10:30 pm on 31st January. It was and has been the very best feeling ever since. I am so delighted with how my Labour and birth went. 

I've been promoting Gentle Birth and will continue to do so. As well as GentleBirth, I was going for regular reflexology treatments and found those to be another vital part of my pregnancy, labour and birth journey. So there you go, it only took me 8 months to update you!

Wishing you all the best and I'm happy for you to share my story.

Speedy GentleBirth for First Time Mum in CUMH

First time Mum Deirdre and her partner Brian did a Gentlebirth workshop with me a few months ago. They kindly shared their very speedy birth story with me a few days ago. 

“I had a really great experience and GentleBirth was definitely a huge part of that.”

Ferdia arrived in rather a rush on Thursday morning at 6.26am. I woke around 3.20am with what felt like period pain, felt a trickle, woke my husband and told him what was happening. Because I'm a first timer and we expected it to take a while, we just made sure the bag was ready, made tea, and settled in for the anticipated slow early labour.

I had my tracks, my essential oils, tens machine etc packed and was rather looking forward to the pool. At 4am my waters broke properly and I felt surges coming as close as 3 minutes together, by the time we reached the hospital 20 minutes away, they were closer still and as the emergency room midwife was examining me for admission I began to push.

Although I didn't get to use *any* of the physical tools I found out about through GentleBirth, I found the whole 'trust your instinct' mindset was so incredibly useful - I told the midwife when the baby had crowned as it all happened so suddenly, she had just examined me and thought it would take a lot more time. The mantras really helped as my body completely took over and thinking about the surges as just productive in helping Ferdia to get where he was going with a minimum of complications was so beneficial. I had a really great experience and GentleBirth was definitely a huge part of that.