Luke, Hospital Water Birth, 26th February 2012

With my first child, I was blessed to have an uncomplicated, drug-free natural birth at Vincent Pallotti with a Gynae. However, I found it distressing and disruptive to have to get out of the bath for examinations and to give birth (the water seemed to provide immense relief) and I decided then that I would aim for a water birth with my next baby.

Two and a half years later and pregnant with my son Luke, I sat opposite Angela as we discussed my options. My husband James was far too nervous to attempt a water birth at home, and I quite liked the idea of two nights in hospital to bond with my new baby before heading back home to juggle two little ones. Fortunately, Vincent Pallotti is quite happy to accommodate water births with an independent midwife and so it was decided – we would book a birth pool a week before my due date and James would dutifully study the instructions so that he could pump it up at a moment’s notice. Angela berated me for working to the last minute, and sure enough, two weeks before my due date and before I had stopped work or even collected the birth pool, my waters broke one Sunday morning.

After my mom-in-law had collected our 2 year old daughter, we made our way to the hospital with great excitement. I was thrilled to go into labour on a Sunday as this gave me a far better chance of a private room since there were no scheduled C-sections on Sundays, and I settled in and had something to eat whilst awaiting the onset of labour. Sure enough, about an hour later, I began to get cramps which steadily intensified. James was able to get hold of the birth pool hire company who were kind enough to drop the pool off at the hospital, and he busied himself with setting it up. Within an hour, I was 4-5cm dilated and Angela arrived and calmly assisted James in filling the birth pool and ensuring it was body temperature while I waited in the bath, breathing through contractions.  The birth pool made a massive difference to my comfort through labour, enabling me to shift positions as I felt necessary and relieving pressure through the weightlessness of my lower body in the water.

I remember asking Angela when I should push – in my first labour; this had been an explicit instruction: and I was struck by her answer, which I will never forget. She said, “You will know when to push, just trust your body”. This was incredibly empowering, reminding me that indeed my body was in control of this journey and had thus far done everything expected of it perfectly – why start to doubt it at this critical juncture? It was an entirely different emphasis to my first birth.

Here, I was in the driving seat whereas before I had felt more of a passenger. And sure enough, the urge came and with Angela’s steady, unfaltering guidance and calm presence, I delivered my 3.8kg son slowly and beautifully, with no complications and no tearing. There is nothing that can compare to the euphoria of having just given birth – the feeling of immense pride in being a woman, in having this incredible body that is able to facilitate the safe passage of a tiny human being into this world. My first thought was that I truly wished every woman I love – my sister, my cousins, my closest friends – would one day experience this profound event for themselves.

In contrast to my first birth, my baby was not whisked away to the nursery with my husband to be weighed, leaving me suddenly alone. Instead, I was able to hold him for far longer, James was encouraged to bond with him skin-on-skin, and he was weighed in the delivery room, with both of us present. It was perfect, and very intimate – a big difference from the clinical process that had followed my first birth. I feel incredibly blessed to have had the birth I had wished for, and Angela was a big part of making it one of my life’s most profound and treasured experiences.

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Angela The Midwife