Here at Umi HQ, we adore a positive birth story and are really passionate about contributing to change the narrative around birthing & labour for the better! Positive and empowering birth stories come in all shapes and sizes and our Helen is sharing hers with you all now…….
Just a warning that this is a lengthy read! I wanted to be able to remember every single detail of what happened so there is nothing spared from this recollection, so grab a cuppa & settle on in!
37/40: looking back, I now realise I was in early/pre-labour for approx 3 weeks before birthing Lochlann! On the day I turned 37/40 (19 days before birth), I was having, what had become, my usual daily tightenings/Braxton Hicks & period like pains (these were always more noticeable & frequent at night time) but I also lost some pinky discharge that evening which was not usual for me. Over the following week I noticed a few bloody streaks in my discharge too. Period pains were getting stronger and I also was having softer and more frequent stools. I was doing perineal massage in the evenings approx every other day and had tried the epi-no once. I continued to do my daily stretches in the morning whilst listening to positive birth affirmations and go on daily walks.
38/40: by now the tightenings/Braxton hicks were increasing & I was being woken up by them increasingly more frequently. One of the nights (12 days before birth) I thought I could feel Bandl’s ring - thankfully it turns out it was just different parts of the uterus ‘practising’. Isn’t the body amazing!? In this week, I had managed to get up to 9.5cm with the epi-no, I had started to use a clary sage diffuser each evening & I lost my mucous plug in the evenings over 3 days mid way through the week (9, 8 & 7 days before birth). I had noticed also that Beany (Beany was the Bump’s name) was feeling increasingly lower & my belly button had got lower & started pointing downwards too! I Still felt good though & even made it to CrossFit 4 times this week plus keeping up walks & daily yoga/stretches.
39/40: The ongoing regular braxton hicks continued along with the period like pains and a few false starts during the night times! Due to being high risk during my pregnancy, having early labour signs from the moment I turned 37 wks & knowing that my mum never went overdue with me or my siblings, I had convinced myself that I would be having an ‘early baby’ so by this point, on the approach to the due date, I was doing all I could to distract myself from getting impatient and really trying to focus on making the most of the last few days!
Hours leading up to labour:
39+4 was a Sunday (day before giving birth). I was feeling relaxed and had now convinced myself that Beany was never coming at all & that I’d just be the world’s first person to be pregnant forever! It was a grey & wet day so my husband & I generally just hung around the flat staying cosy & warm other than a walk in the rain to the food shops & back. I had tightenings & period pains all morning (again!). I tried colostrum harvesting for the first time in the afternoon - I collected a couple of drops and was so pleased with that as I know that it’s normal to sometimes not have anything at all in at least the first few attempts. I cooked & ate a huge early dinner of slow cooked pulled pork, BBQ beans, freshly baked rolls and pickled cucumber, which was so delicious! I then tried colostrum harvesting again in the evening & got a bit more (0.1ml in total from both breasts) which i was over the moon about! It’s amazing the things that excite you on this journey to motherhood! At no point during the hand expressing did I feel any tightenings or anything. I then did some more perineal massage in front of the TV later in the evening & had sex with my husband Dermot when we got into bed. If I’d known how busy my poor vagina was about to become I may have laid off the perineal massage &/or sex!
1st stage of labour:
39 + 5 (Lochlann's birthday!): Within about an hour or so of falling asleep I was woken up with a flash sweat across my whole body & a very strong braxton hick (this was around midnight) - I was unable to stay laying down during it as it was quite strong so I got up & went to the bathroom for a wee and then had a very strong urge to poo (which is unusual as I’m normally always a morning poo person!) I sat on the toilet wondering if my waters had gone as I was also having small gushes of light pink fluid (I hadn’t seen this light pink fluid since the day I turned 37 wks)....... I was wondering if this could finally be the start of labour or just yet another false alarm........I was quite shivery and shakey at this point but thought that this was down to the bathroom being cold. I stayed in the bathroom for a while wondering & waiting to see if this was really happening & I had a few more tightenings but nothing quite as strong as the first one....... I went back into the bedroom at approx 1am, Dermot sleepily asked if I was ok - like he did without fail every single time I had come back to bed from the toilet throughout the pregnancy (up to 3-4 times per night on the nights when my bladder was really being squished!) - instead