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‘My friend saved the day and helped me give birth’

Julia with Ryan

Julia Weischtordt, 26, lives in West Sussex with sons Liam, three, and Ryan, 15 months. 

What was your pregnancy like? 

Physically fine, but emotionally tough, because I split with the boys’ dad at seven months pregnant. My ex and I had kept in touch and we’d planned for him to be with me at the birth. Towards the end of my pregnancy I kept texting him reminders to keep his phone on.

When did you go into labour? 

It started at 10am, a few days before my due date. By 11am the contractions really kicked in. ‘I think I’m in labour,’ I told Mum, who was staying with me, so she could look after Liam while I was in hospital. I called my ex, but there was no reply. I felt so let down.

Did you panic?

Yes! As I phoned round friends to see if they could drive me to hospital, the contractions got worse. Anger and fear overwhelmed me. How could my ex do this to me? None of my friends could come, and my mum didn’t have a car. By midday, the contractions were constant and I could no longer wait. As I was about to call a taxi – I didn’t think to call an ambulance – my friend Janaina returned my call and said she’d take me to hospital. As I waited for her to pick me up, intense pressure prevented me from closing my legs. At 12.30pm, Janaina arrived. By then it felt like I had a watermelon between my legs and the urge to push was strong. 

What happened at the hospital? 

Janaina dropped me at A&E while she found a parking space. I waddled to reception. Thankfully, Janaina found me and we tried to find the right ward. Thank goodness she was with me, carrying my bag and notes, telling me it was going to be OK. ‘She needs help,’ she pleaded with a passing nurse. I was in agony, but was still made to walk. 

How did you find a midwife?

With difficulty! Fighting the urge to push, I found the maternity ward at last. ‘She’s about to give birth!’ Janaina said. Finally, I was examined. My relief was soon overtaken by fear as I was too far along for pain relief. ‘You can do it, just push,’ Janaina urged. 

What was pushing like? 

At first I worried about tearing, so didn’t push hard, but I was pushing more strongly at 1.15pm when I was told my baby was becoming distressed. I was taken to theatre so they could try forceps. That, along with Janaina’s encouragement, was the boost I needed. At 2.15pm, as the doctors were preparing the forceps, I lay back, pushed with all my might, and my baby came straight out.

Was it a surprise? 

Yes, Ryan nearly slid on to the floor because the doctors were busy preparing the anaesthetic. Rushing over, the midwife picked him up and handed him to Janaina, who burst into tears. I felt an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. I’d never have made it to the hospital in time without her help. It was such a special moment for all of us. Janaina will always be a big part of my life and her bond with Ryan is unbreakable.

Janaina with Ryan seconds after his birth

Three things I’d tell my friends

  1. Prepare for the worst-case scenario in labour. Have back-up plans. Don’t rely on one person.
  2. If you think you’re close to giving birth, don’t be afraid to get emergency help. The most important thing is that you and your baby are safe.
  3. If your back-up birth partner, and not your first choice, ends up being with you during labour, remember they’re a blessing. Try not to feel frustrated if they don’t always say what you want to hear.
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