Kirsten Watson, 32, a teacher, lives in Hampshire, with husband Dean and sons Joel, three, and Theo, 18 months.
I had been induced at 12 days overdue with my first baby. Second time round, I wanted to avoid medical intervention and was aiming for a natural home birth. My midwife said a home birth was risky with an overdue baby. But I’d done my research and felt confident. And I’d hired a doula, Rebecca, to provide support during labour.
Days passed. A few false starts and finding out I was 4cm dilated got my hopes up, but my labour never progressed. Every other day I had to go to hospital to be monitored.
I made the decision to refuse induction as long as my baby was healthy. The doctors were satisfied all was well, even when I went beyond two weeks. But at 21 days overdue they found traces of meconium in the amniotic fluid, and weren’t happy with my baby’s heart rate. ‘Your baby’s in distress,’ a consultant said. ‘You need to give birth today.’ I was devastated.
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Rebecca and my husband Dean came straight to hospital, and made me feel better. Rebecca explained that meconium in the waters is common in overdue babies. That gave me the confidence to refuse the c-section I was offered, and think positively about trying for a natural birth. To help things along, my waters were broken at midday and contractions soon started.
My fears of hospitals faded as a lovely midwife explained she would introduce some elements of my birth plan – she dimmed the lights and reassured me she wouldn’t do any internal examinations – while Rebecca turned the monitor screen away from me and pulled a curtain across the baby resuscitation unit. These little things helped relax me.
I felt calm and practised my antenatal-yoga breathing as they intensified
Once we knew my baby was OK, Rebecca and Dean gave me the confidence to refuse the constant monitoring that meant I’d be confined to bed. Moving around was important to me, so the midwife took readings on the move! Despite strong contractions, I felt calm and practised my antenatal-yoga breathing as they intensified.
I’d written in my birth plan that I didn’t want pain relief offered to me. It never crossed my mind to ask for it. I was ‘in the zone’. After a couple of hours, I followed my body’s instructions to push.
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But by mid-afternoon, my baby’s heart rate had dropped. A doctor told me I needed to give birth in the next five minutes, and I was told to lie back on the bed. The next few minutes are a blur, but I remember a midwife telling me to push as hard as I could. It wasn’t how I wanted to give birth, but that was irrelevant now.
Within a few pushes, my baby was born. My little boy was handed to me for cuddles and I broke down with tears of relief and elation. The biggest shock of all was finding out that Theo weighed 10lb 10½oz, so no wonder he took his time to come out! I’m so pleased I trusted my instincts and refused induction as it meant I was able to have a calm and controlled birth.