When Gemma Leighton gave birth, she had no idea it was going to involve water and a spot of Abba! Here she shares with us her second birth experience.
What did you have planned for baby number two?
Having given birth before, I thought I knew it all! I was planning on going down the same route as last time – gas and air, pethidine and epidural if I had to. My first baby, Amelie, had been delivered with an epidural and I had no qualms about asking for one again. At that point I preferred the 'no nonsense' approach.
When did you go into labour?
Strangely enough, I went into labour on my due date. I kind of wasn't expecting that and I wasn't really prepared if I'm honest. My first baby had been 11 days late so I was preparing myself for more of the same. But baby number two wasn't hanging around!
When did you think about leaving for the hospital?
My contractions started at around 4am. By 6am I knew I was getting somewhere as it was becoming pretty painful. At 6.30, my waters broke with the force of a huge contraction. It was at this point that I told my husband to phone the hospital. My mum is only five minutes away so she raced over pretty quickly to see to Amelie.
Did they admit you straightaway?
I got to hospital at around 7am and was assessed. By this point I was 4cms and was admitted to a labour room. This is when the unexpected happened again...
So what did happen?
I was given an active birth room. The hospital didn't have many of those and I had heard that, if you were planning on having a water birth, you were lucky to get one. Despite insisting on a bed-birth with all the drugs you can think of, I had a sudden urge to get into water. So I asked for the birthing pool to be set up.
When did you finally get into the water?
It's all a bit of a blur, but the bit I do remember is getting in and feeling a tremendous wave of relief. It really was the most amazing, gentle feeling and I felt lighter than I had in months as the water provides support. I remember wondering why I hadn't done this before, and why I had been so scathing of the whole thing!
How long did you stay in the pool?
At around midday I demanded an epidural and also demanded to get out. But I had a fantastic midwife who told me that I was 8cms and that all I had to was grit my teeth just that little bit longer and it would all be over. Her experience was telling her that I was progressing quickly, which also meant that it was probably too late to have the epidural. But she was so encouraging, kind and supportive that it was just about enough for me to carry on. I did have some gas and air at this point, but it didn't really do much.
What happened next?
Fortunately I got to 10cms within the hour – the midwife was absolutely right. All of a sudden I had an urge to push and an urge to listen to disco music! My husband had brought lots of gentle soothing music, which was just irritating me if I'm honest! It wasn't helping at all. So out of desperation he put some Abba on!
Our baby girl Fern was born about 30 minutes later to the sounds of Mamma Mia! We all thought that was quite apt!
And what was it like to see Fern for the first time?
It was just totally wonderful. I had a wonderful birth, a wonderful midwife, and here I was with my wonderful new baby. The feelings of deep emotional love washed over me once I had her in my arms. She was of course absolutely perfect and a beautiful little miracle. Those first moments really are indescribable. And when Amelie came to see her new sister it was the icing on the cake.
What did you learn from the experience?
Nothing but this – when it comes to childbirth, expect the unexpected. It's the only thing you can count on!