Would you want your whole family to join you in the delivery room? Meet Jeorgia Cook, who had a room full of helpers at the birth of her son…
When I was pregnant I knew exactly the kind of birth I wanted – quiet and peaceful with just my then-partner Ole present.
Because Ole didn’t get to experience being pregnant, we wanted him to bond with our baby straight away, in private and without any distractions. That was the plan, anyway! Things turned out very differently, but looking back I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
My due date came and went. On the Friday, when I was a couple of days overdue, I went into hospital for a sweep and they said I was 3cm dilated.
I couldn’t believe it – I hadn’t even felt any contractions! That afternoon, Ole and I went for a long walk to try and kick-start labour, and that weekend I tried all the old wives’ tales – raspberry-leaf tea, curries, driving over speed bumps, even sex! Nothing worked.
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But on Tuesday, my lower bump started to get really tight every seven or eight minutes.
It was uncomfortable, and I couldn’t sit still. About 4pm, Ole’s mum, Julia, came in to find me pacing the lounge.
‘Keep breathing, you might be in labour,’ she said, putting her arms around me. Ole arrived at 6pm and ran me a bath. The warm water soothed me. I chatted to Ole, who was sitting by my side, and Julia, who was popping in and out to check I was OK. It helped distract me.
Ole rang the hospital at 7pm to say my contractions were three to four minutes apart, and was told to wait until they were two minutes apart.
I stayed in the bath and focused on my breathing. Soon, I heard another voice downstairs and Ole’s auntie, Carolyn, popped her head round the bathroom door, just as I was having a contraction.
It was a bit weird, her seeing me with no clothes on, until I remembered she was a midwife! She rubbed my back and told me how well I was doing. It was a real boost.
At 8.30pm, Ole helped me downstairs to the car. Carolyn wished me luck, while Julia said she’d drive. After a 45-minute journey, the three of us made our way to the maternity wing, where I was shown to a bed.
After all that time, I was still only 3cm dilated, but I was allowed to stay. An hour after we’d arrived, I glanced up to see my nan, my mum and her partner, Jay, walking in.
‘Why are you here?’ I asked, confused. Mum told me she wanted to be with me to support me, and I realised that Julia must have phoned her. It wasn’t what I’d planned, but having so many people in the room was surprisingly comforting.
It wasn’t what I’d planned, but having so many people in the room was surprisingly comforting
At 10pm I was moved to another room. Mum, Julia, Jay, Nan and Ole chatted and sipped tea while I bounced on the birthing ball and breathed deeply. Despite my plans for a quiet labour, it was nice to have them all there as a distraction.
At 11pm, though, everyone except Ole went home for some sleep. By 1am, I was frustratingly still only 3cm, and gladly accepted the midwife’s offer of a pethidine injection. It worked wonders, and allowed me to get some sleep until 6am.
When I woke up I was disappointed that my contractions had slowed to every 10 minutes, but a midwife examined me and told me I’d reached 5cm. The contractions sped up almost immediately. It was such a relief.
As we made our way to the midwife-led birth unit, Ole called my mum to update her. ‘Don’t worry about coming, Jeorgia’s fine,’ he said. But Mum ignored him!
At 11.30am, an hour after I’d got into the birthing pool, Mum turned up, followed by Julia at 12.30pm and Nan soon after. By now, I was ‘in the zone’ and couldn’t have cared less who was there! In between contractions, I smiled at everyone and encouraged Nan to take photos. Despite not looking my best, I knew this was a special moment that I’d want to look back at.
I knelt over the side of the pool next to Ole, who’d got in with me and was rubbing my back. Julia offered me the gas and air when a contraction came, while Mum held my hand, whispering words of reassurance. Nan buzzed round, taking photos. They each supported me in a different way.
The midwife decided to break my waters to try and speed up labour at about 2.30pm, as I was still just 5cm dilated, and Ole helped me out of the water momentarily. Once I was back in the pool, I puffed on gas and air, and went into my own little world. Within an hour I felt huge pressure down below, like I needed to go to the toilet.
‘That means you’re almost ready to push,’ the midwife explained. I could sense the excitement growing in the room.
Soon I began pushing with all my energy and felt a stinging sensation down below. ‘I can see his hair!’ Ole said. Everyone rushed over and gasped. In the next huge push the head came out. It took two more massive pushes to get the shoulders out, then the body.
Ole scooped our baby boy, Jax, out of the water, just as we’d planned, and I was overwhelmed with relief, pride and happiness. I looked around the room and everyone was crying. The atmosphere was magical.
I’m so pleased my family ignored my birthplan
In the end, I’m so pleased my family ignored my birthplan. Knowing how amazing it is to let loved ones support you in labour, I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. It was a privilege to share the birth with them.