My Birth Stories, By Suzy Robertson

Suzy lives in Birkenhead, Wirral, England, and her first baby, Benjamin, was born in hospital, followed by her daughter, Hannah, at home. Suzy felt that upright and forward-leaning positions made all the difference to her posterior labour at home.

I have now had 2 posterior labours, both with very different outcomes.

Previously to the recent birth of Hannah May Robertson (12 March 2004), we had had our son, Benjamin Timothy Robertson in hospital (in June 2002 - Leicester Royal Infirmary).

Each birth was a very different experience, which I would like to share for the benefit of others.

Ben's birth seemed to start off quite straightforward. My waters broke at 7am on 23 June 2002. I was in bed and felt a popping feeling. I got up to check on the loo and found a pink/yellow substance draining out which wasn't urine. I got very excited so went and woke my husband. With it being my first baby I was anxious to get into hospital as that felt like it would be the safest place to give birth (a bit naïve in retrospect).

We arrived at the hospital at about 9.30am. I was monitored for half an hour to check I was actually in labour. Then I was sent to another room where we were told we wouldn't be for long as they were waiting for a home-from-home room to be ready. I was still there at 10.30am when they came to examine me. I was 3cm dilated, probably the result of my pacing the floor!

At this point they suggested I put on the TENs I had hired (and completely forgotten about!). So I did, but it was probably past the point of it having any effect. I was soon offered gas and air as I was beginning to get uncomfortable with the pain. This didn't go well as I couldn't pace myself.

The midwives changed hands and the next one arrived with the question of whether or not I would like some pethidine. This I took with open arms (big mistake!). The rest is a drug-fuelled haze. I have to rely on my husband to tell the rest of the story. Suffice to say, I never felt the urge to push, Ben was posterior so gave me terrible backache labour. This was probably down to the fact that they pinned me to the bed when they felt they couldn't monitor the baby with Doppler any more. I ended up pushing despite exhaustion and Ben was born with the help of episiotomy and ventouse. I bled and lost 500ml - classed as a post-partum haemorrhage. I didn't bond with him for a few days and I think this was definitely down to the birth experience.

Having found this all a bit of a trauma (though not until thinking about it and discussing it with people while pregnant with Hannah), I was somewhat scared of the prospect of labour when it came to Hannah's turn to enter the world.

I approached the midwives here (a different area to where Ben was born) with little hope of a homebirth. I had previously thought homebirth to be quite insane but after what happened with Ben I was willing to take my chances. I was told with caution that a homebirth may not be good considering my PPH last time. I went away quite disheartened. I read a load on the website and also bought the book Active Birth by Janet Belaskas. I also started to find out about aromatherapy for pregnancy and labour. When discussed again, we managed to agree on a lot of things including how the 3rd stage would go.

Hannah's birth was a dream come true, born the day after her due date. I had had a lot of false alarms so didn't believe I was in labour until a few hours had passed and contractions were regular (every 5 minutes). This was at about 10am on 12 March 2004. I told the hospital what was happening but decided to leave it another hour before calling for the midwife to come and assess me. She arrived at about 12.30pm and on examination said I was 5cm!! I was very surprised, as were my husband and my sister. We got the birth ball out and I began to kneel on the floor, rolling into the ball whenever a contraction came. As this midwife did not have gas and air with her we put lavender essential oil onto a breast pad and I used it like a gas mask. It was very effective. I also used the TENs, which I managed to put on early enough this time.

We discussed a physiological 3rd stage and agreed that first sign of trouble I would have the syntometrine. At 2pm the next midwives turned up and I started to use Entonox. By 2.25pm the TENs was not working and we felt it was a good idea to get me in the bath. So I went up and knelt in the bath, the midwife pouring warm water over my lower back. By 2.50pm I had a tremendous urge to push so was transferred to Ben's room where we planned to have the delivery. At 3.03pm my waters broke with a mighty pop! At 3.20pm I changed position, still kneeling but leaning into my husband Ricky's front. By 3.32pm I was contracting strongly and pushing as hard as I could. At 3.39pm Hannah was born in very good, lively condition. Her Apgar was 10 both at 1 minute and 5 minutes!

The 3rd stage was a bit tricky. I had run out of push-power so had to have syntometrine and CCT (controlled cord traction, ie midwife pulling on cord). The placenta appeared but was incomplete (I have since passed one cotyledon - still waiting for another, at 27 march 2004!). It was also quite small for Hannah's size and weight (7lb 15.5oz). I lost 450ml of blood.

After being stitched for a tear I fed Hannah at the breast. I felt great - not half as tired as I expected, and completely compos mentis!!

In conclusion, I can definitely say that posterior labour doesn't have to be backache labour and mine was perfectly manageable at home with the right care and attention. I think positioning is the key - staying in forward positions like kneeling on all fours or leaning while standing were very helpful.

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