How I went from low risk to needing an emergency cesarean

I wanted nothing more than to have a water birth in the birth centre. I had envisioned a peaceful, non-medicalised labour and delivery–complete with delayed cord clamping, vernix left on our baby’s skin and immediate skin-to-skin contact. Baby was head down and on the left in an anterior position for weeks. I was low risk.

I went into labour at home. At first I felt very tired and it came on suddenly. I was about to take a nap but I had to rush to the bathroom because I could feel the plug suddenly come away. I went back into our bedroom to do some laundry since I knew labour could begin soon. I then felt something else happening so ran to the bathroom as my waters started leaking. I was so excited and nervous until I wiped. My heart sunk and I started to panic a little. I realised the baby had done her first poo in the womb. I told Dec to call triage and we had to get to the hospital straightaway. He asked if we could go to the birth centre and were told no–we had to go straight to the labour ward. We left at 2pm and it was just as I was getting into the car that my contractions really began.

We arrived at the hospital. There was no time to even look for a free parking space. My contractions got stronger and closer together during the ten minute car journey. Since our baby did a poo in the womb, she needed continuous heart monitoring to watch for signs of distress. Thankfully I was able to continue with labour but contractions were coming on so quickly. I went from 4cm centimetres dilated to 10cm and having to push well within six hours. Unfortunately, our baby did not want to come out. It turns out she somehow positioned her head in the birth canal at an angle. She got herself stuck. I was pushing for nearly two hours. I even had to be induced to see if they could get my contractions even stronger (even though they were very strong already) in hopes of getting her to turn her head. It didn’t work.

The obstetrician and midwife told me they’d try a manual turn in theatre. That as well didn’t work. She was so stuck and her head was starting to swell that they had to make a judgement call. An episiotomy and forceps/ventose delivery weren’t even an option…she was that stuck. In the end, she was delivered by emergency cesarean. This meant no immediate skin to skin (because of the poo she did in utero), no delayed cord clamping, etc. I initially was so disappointed to not have been able to deliver vaginally. But you know what? I ended up more relieved to have bypassed the forceps delivery. Our baby remained calm with a consistent heart rate for the entire labour. She remained calm during the attempt at a manual turn and after the cesarean as well, which was a huge relief. I did not like the idea of a forceps delivery because of the affect it would’ve had on her. On the day, a cesarean suddenly didn’t seem so scary to me. Whatever it took to get her out so she was safe and happy is all we wanted.
I’ll never forget hearing her little cry as soon as she was pulled out. I was grateful her daddy was able to be with her straightaway. The NHS is brilliant. The team of doctors who delivered our daughter, the midwives who looked after me during labour and after delivery were amazing. The anesthetist in particular was brilliant and went above and beyond her role. Thinking about it, I actually look back on the day with happy memories. Our NCT birth classes helped us to prepare for the unexpected and take the massive changes in stride. This also meant things were added to my birth ‘plan’ just in case and helped us to keep an open mind when it came to labour. In a time when many couples would be panicking and afraid, our classes gave us the tips and knowledge to evaluate the situation. It taught us the protocol the midwives adhere to which meant we (mostly my husband) knew what questions to ask and when. The classes taught us how to risk assess various situations. Because of the classes, I had added a few key requests to my ‘plan’ in case something were to deviate from our ideal birth experience (i.e. epidural if induction needed). My husband was brilliant throughout the entire process. If it weren’t for him, I don’t think I’d look back on the day with such happy memories. He really made the difference.

Our little Órla was born happy, healthy and strong on the 8 January 2017 (39 weeks and 3 days). She weighed 8lbs 2 ounces. She was 54 cm long and born with a full head of hair. Her oxygen and ph levels in her cord were excellent and so far everything else is going really well for us both. I was also was told there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to have a vaginal birth next time. Thankfully, there is nothing to indicate there’s anything wrong with me. It was just one of those things.