You’ve planned every detail of your birth right down to the temperature of the water in the birth pool, but sometimes babies have their own ideas about how they come into the world
Alison Holloway, 29, lives in Bournemouth with husband Paul, 29, and Joshua, eight, Chloe, four, Ethan, two, and Amelia, 10 weeks
'For this pregnancy, my fourth, even though I knew what I was doing, it was my first high-risk pregnancy. At my 20-week scan, I was told I had a Single Umbilical Artery (SUA), a rare condition where the umbilical cord is formed from one artery, instead of two. This can cause complications in the baby, like heart or kidney problems.
The day before my due date, I woke early in the morning with a painful stomach ache. Although I was excited, nerves hit me, followed by a couple of sharp contractions. They lasted a minute and a half. I realised immediately this was going to be a quick labour. Paul dialled 999, explaining I was a high-risk pregnancy.
'In the next huge contraction, an urge to bear down overwhelmed me'
As I rushed to the bathroom, I heard Paul, on the phone, taking instructions. “Whatever you do, don’t push yet,” he directed. Easier said than done! In the next huge contraction, an urge to bear down overwhelmed me.’
Paul was talking to the 999 operator on hands-free, while I stood in the bathroom, breathing through the pain. I pushed again with all my strength. There was no way I could resist what my body was telling me to do. In one massive contraction, the baby shot out into Paul’s waiting hands. With a mixture of relief and panic, I looked at her tiny body and could hardly believe how fast things had happened.
Following the operator’s instructions, Paul placed her on my chest, and she let out a sharp cry. Thank God, I thought. Moments later, the paramedics arrived and checked the baby over. They confirmed everything seemed fine.
‘In one massive contraction, the baby shot out into Paul’s waiting hands’
Still in shock, I was helped into the waiting ambulance, clutching baby Amelia with my umbilical cord and placenta still intact. When I got to the hospital, I delivered the placenta but had to go into theatre to be sewn up because I had a third-degree tear. Although shock had numbed the pain, it was probably due to the speed of the delivery. Amelia initially struggled to maintain her body temperature so she had to go in a special heated cot. But as soon as she recovered, I was able to celebrate her arrival.’
Alison’s tips for surviving a quick birth
Trust your instincts
If you think labour might be starting, don’t ignore it. I should have picked up on the Braxton Hicks (practice contractions) I had the day before.
Prepare yourself for the fact that the birth might not go the way you want or expect it to. After four births, believe me, there are always surprises.