Birth Story No. 7: Amy’s Pre-Eclampsia Story

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Before getting pregnant I never considered the sort of birth I would have. The media and popular culture had led me to believe there was only one way to have a baby – on your back, in hospital, drugged up to the eyeballs and in a lot of pain screaming and shouting. But as soon as I got pregnant I instinctively felt that wasn’t the way I wanted to have my baby.

I’d taken up yoga about a year before getting pregnant and knew it was something I wanted to continue through my pregnancy and beyond, so was relieved when I found the Active Birth Centre offered pregnancy yoga classes so close to where I live.

Week by week the classes confirmed what I had instinctively felt – I wanted to have a natural labour.

Along with the weekly yoga classes, reading I did and hypnobirthing techniques my husband and I were practicing at home, we were priming ourselves up for a water birth at the birthing centre in the Whittington hospital. But a week before my due date, we soon found out why it should be called a ‘birth preference’ rather than ‘birth plan’.

A routine check at 39 weeks with the midwife found my blood pressure to be raised to a level which concerned her enough to send us straight to the Whittington to have further checks. A few hours later tests confirmed I had pre-eclampsia meaning they wanted to induced me immediately.

We were allowed to go home and grab our hospital bag (which I wish I had finished packing as you’re always told!), but then we were straight back to the hospital to be induced, where we would stay to be monitored until the birth of the baby. I knew from reading I had done that pre-eclampsia wasn’t something you messed around with, however my husband and I found it hard not to be disappointed that we weren’t going to have the natural birth we’d planned for.

However, it didn’t stop us putting everything we’d learnt throughout the pregnancy for a natural labour into practice. From the moment we were told I was going to have to be induced I used my breathing techniques to absorb the information in a rational way and remain calm and focused for the new journey we had ahead of us.

I continued to use my breathing techniques to be as relaxed as possible when being examined and induced. The initial stage of induction took 24 hours. In that time I was up and about doing amy1yoga stretches on the ward to stay active and occupied. After 24 hours the doctors were concerned about the babies heart rate dropping after contractions, so we were taken straight to labour ward where my waters were broken. Following this the contractions came thick and fast, but unfortunately I wasn’t dilating.

After hours of no pain relief we were offered an epidural – the biggest thing on our ‘no list’ previously – encouraged that I needed the time to relax and try to dilate if not they were going to start the hormone drip (where they said I would then need the epidural anyway) and following that would have to think about a c section if nothing progressed.

The epidural did the trick and within hours I was dilated enough to start pushing, meaning we avoided the dreaded hormone drip. Knowing that I wanted to be active during pushing I didn’t use the top up button on the epidural so I had enough sensation and strength to push.

When the time came we put on the music we’d been using throughout the pregnancy to relax and I managed half the pushing stage on all fours (something which I’d been led to believe would never be possible with an epidural). I used my breathing techniques between each surge to relax and regain energy for the next.

I was focused and determined to be in control of the pushing stage, and my determination was only heightened when the doctor came in threatening to use the ventouse if the baby wasn’t delivered by the deadline he had set!

Harrison Alfie Roberts arrived on 3 March. It wasn’t the labour we had hoped for, but when faced with such a situation getting the baby out safely becomes number one priority and for us it demonstrated that whatever situation is thrown your way you can still put into practice the techniques you’ve learnt for a natural labour.



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