Jen King was shocked when she went into labour prematurely. Here she describes what it was like...
When did you realise you were in labour?
Well, I actually went into labour at 31 and a half weeks! I wasn't expecting it and thought it was a stomach upset for a whole day before I realised the pains were coming at regular intervals and rang the hospital.
And what happened when you arrived?
Our local hospital couldn't care for a baby born so prematurely, so I was given a steroid injection and they sent me in an ambulance (with the sirens and lights on!) to a hospital with an intensive care unit for babies. The steroids help to prevent problems with premature babies' lungs once they are born.
They put me on a monitor and gave me some drugs to try to stop the contractions. Things seemed to slow down; after a couple of days the nurses were talking about sending me home.
What did you pack to take with you?
I hadn't got anything ready for going into hospital. I wish I had taken my own pillow as there were none free on the ward! My husband had to bring one in for me the next day!
What pain relief did you have during labour?
I had two paracetamol and some gas and air for a few minutes.
How was the actual birth?
By the weekend I was in terrible pain again, the monitoring equipment said I wasn't in labour – but when a doctor finally looked she discovered I was fully dilated and ready to push. The birth was very dramatic.
When I pushed, the heart rate of the baby dropped, and they began to prepare for an emergency cesarean. The team decided this wouldn't work and instead chose to quickly get the baby out with forceps. Afterwards they told me I had had a placental abruption, which can be very dangerous. Everyone said we had been very lucky.
How did you feel afterwards?
I actually felt physically fine very soon after the birth, although a bit, well - very, shell shocked. We went to visit our new daughter in the special care baby unit after I had a shower.
How was it to finally meet your baby?
She was so small, and thin! Her face was squashed and bruised from the forceps. You could see her veins through her skin and I remember her ear was folded up like a concertina because it had no cartilage. She was kept in hospital for a month but she's doing great now, she's still little, but perfect!
Would you do it again?
Although it wasn't at all how I had hoped things would be, nothing else seemed to matter when we saw our daughter. The love was instant, and she really is the best thing to have happened to me and my husband. I'd do it all again tomorrow for her with no complaints!