This story is probably the most dear to me, as it's the story of my own son Monty's birth! Getting the news of having Strep B can be really confusing for a mum-to-be, but it's important to know that all of your treatment is a choice, and that a profoundly positive experience is definitely possible!
In early pregnancy I was absolutely terrified of giving birth - I have a really low pain threshold ordinarily, and I just didnt think I 'had it in me'. Having been gifted a Hypnobirthing book my entire outlook on what I was capable of, and what was possible totally shifted! Myself and my husband went all the way to Durham to do a Hypnobirthing course (there was nothing up in North Northumberland then!) and the rest of my pregnancy was filled with calm confidence and excitement about giving birth!
I’d found out at 12 weeks that I had Step B, which became a consistent source of anxiety for me during pregnancy - not necessarily just because of any risk to the Baby, but also because I was extremely fearful that this automatically put me on the ‘high risk’ list and under consultant care. I was really nervous, right up to going into hospital that I was going to have a constant battle with the consultancy team to avoid intervention - something very important to me as I wanted to keep the birth as calm as possible, and to be able to give myself the best chance of giving birth on my terms.
At 3:45 in the morning my waters went whilst in bed, following just 2 or 3 strong contractions. Once the waters had gone (and they went with a gush!) I was experiencing very strong contractions every 4/5 minutes for about 1/2 an hour. As I had Strep B I’d been asked to call the hospital and go in as soon as my waters went - so we did this and made our way to the hospital, an hours drive away from our rural home. During the journey I managed through my contractions by listening to Hypnobirthing tracks - I don’t remember much of the journey!
Once we arrived into hospital (NSECH/ Cramlington) we were shown into our room and we waited an hour or so for our midwife to come and check Labour progress. By now my contractions were very strong and coming every 3 mins, and I imagined I was probably around 4/5 cm... so when my midwife said it was more 1 to 2 cm I felt extremely worried and disheartened - if I found the contractions this intense at this point, how on earth was I going to manage?!
Promptly a team of 5 consultants/ doctors and students arrived into our room and in my head I though ‘here we go..' My expectations, however, were completely wrong... the head consultant was very calm, and let me know they had read through my (very clear!) birth plan and understood I wanted as little interference as possible, and that although usually he would be suggesting that we begin inducing labour in the next few hours - however - what he proposed was that I was given my IV antibiotics for the step b, and that we were to be left alone for 5 hours, and that he had every faith he wouldn’t see me again.
What a relief.. and we didn’t see him again. The following 10 hours were spent calmly labouring in private with my husband and our wonderful midwife, who had taken a course in hypnobirthing and was amazing - most of the time I didn’t notice she was there, until I needed her. I did go through the typical ‘transition’ which I had read about, when I asked for an epidural when I’d got to about 7cm. Having been watching me calmly breath through contractions up until this point, my midwife wisely suggested I try some gas and air instead... what a dream!
I feel like I sailed through the last few cm with the help of gas and air, breathing consciously through contractions, using the breaks to speak lovingly with my husband, drink water and even snack!
The final stages of labour were the most empowering moments of my life so far, breathing through those ‘pushes’ and feeling totally serene in between, gazing up at my husband and midwife.
Monty joined us at 7pm that evening, following an hour of active pushing (which felt like 10 minutes!) weighing 7lb 2 at 39 weeks.