Sarah & James Dunn

1st baby,  labour ward water birth

Sarah’s story –Kai’s birth story actually started three weeks before he was born. My husband, James and I had been planning a homebirth and our midwifery team had been completely supportive of our decision. Our midwife came to the house the day before I turned 38 weeks to drop all the homebirth supplies and also do my 38-week check. When the midwife checked my blood pressure it was up at what would just be considered high blood pressure, but this was an increase for me compared to the rest of my pregnancy so she wanted me to go along to the hospital to get further checks. We therefore headed along to the hospital that afternoon; they monitored my blood pressure regularly for half an hour, tested my urine and sent off bloods to the lab as well as monitoring our baby. We thought everything was going to be fine as my blood pressure had dropped right down again so we figured we’d just be heading home shortly. Then the doctor came in and said some of the levels in my bloods were higher than normal. They weren’t overly clear but they seemed to suggest their concern was pre-eclampsia. The doctor said she wanted to keep me in overnight and monitor by blood pressure regularly and then check my bloods again in the morning. She then said if everything was still raised they may have to consider delivering me early. This came as a complete shock to James and me as we thought we were about to go home and now I was staying in overnight and they were talking about possible induction!….

…I got back in the pool and allowed my body to push when it felt it wanted to. After a while James suggested I try on my knees again, when I first got in the pool I found this made my contractions too intense but knew gravity would help things move along now. I got on my knees and managed to get a handle on my contractions and use the urge to push to bring down the baby. I suddenly felt his head coming and advised the midwife of this. With one more push he popped out completely into the pool still in his waters! The midwife spun him under the water as the cord was round his neck before I lifted him out and discovered he was a little boy! It was without a doubt the most amazing experience of my life seeing him for the first time.

Kai’s arrival into the world was about as peaceful as we could ever have hoped for. After all the discussion of induction in the weeks leading up to his birth we managed to have a natural pool birth with no pain relief and he slipped into the world peacefully at 7:10am. Gemma’s course didn’t just prepare us for labour, it prepared us for everything in the lead up to Kai’s birth and allowed us to make informed decisions and ask the necessary questions to ensure we got the best possible birth experience forus. We consider the course to have been invaluable for us and Gemma’s ongoing support has allowed us to feel confident we were making the right decisions. Sometimes induction is absolutely necessary but there are occasions when it is proposed as the best option for the treating team without the consideration of the individual who they are inducing. Gemma’s course allowed us to determine what the best decision for us was.

James’ story- 

The experience of birth for me doesn’t translate into words. People have asked me a few times now ‘how was it?’ and I’ve struggled to answer. Words seem entirely insufficient to capture the experience and I’m sure many parents feel similarly. Reading positive birth stories online begins to give you a sense of it on reflection but for me even the words I would use like pure, presence, inspiring, focus, awesome, wonderful, powerful, primitive, connecting, love, joy etc. don’t really capture the experience. The experience of birth for me was like experiencing these emotions for the very first time: they felt like entirely new experiences rather than a stronger version of what I had experienced previously. It was truly the most wonderful and pure thing I have ever been fortunate enough to be involved in.

The Positive Birth Scotland course, and particularly Gemma’s delivery and support after the course, were absolutely fundamental in achieving our experience I feel. My Wife’s, Sarah, story gives more of the details and I feel like our birth could have been a very different story without all the support we helped create around us. Whilst there is a large element of luck I’m sure, I also feel like we facilitated our desired birth as much as possible and gave ourselves the best chance by extensively practicing hypnobirthing, repeatedly speaking to Gemma and other experts and parents, hiring a Doula, reading lots of books, attending sessions to hear about positive births, getting chiropractor sessions, acupuncture and reflexology etc. Each of these contributed to us feeling as positive as we could about the experience and gave us the confidence to be able to relax and focus (on un-focusing really) during the labour which made it the incredible experience it was. As highlighted by everyone else, these techniques really can work and now I know (and believe!) what Gemma meant when she said she was jealous that we were all going to experience labour again…

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