Natalie, 28, from Teddington ordered a curry but didn't manage to enjoy it as her baby, Emily, wasn't going to wait!
How did you go into labour?
Well, I had been starting to get a bit fed up the week of my due date, and I remember a pharmacist saying I could take the homeopathic remedy Caulophyllum to get things moving along. You're supposed to take one and then 12 hours later take another one.
So I did and then I just got on with my everyday business. Christmas had been and gone and I had managed to make the sales, and on the day I gave birth, we had been loafing around in Ikea earlier in the day.
Did you get any warning signs?
I had been having Braxton Hicks for weeks, but on that day I noticed that they seemed a bit more painful. I asked my husband to order a curry and then we put the children to bed. I was texting a friend about having her and her children over for lunch the next day when my waters suddenly broke. Needless to say, I never got to eat the curry! We called our friend who offered to look after the children and she came over around 8pm, luckily they were in bed asleep. We told her we had just ordered an Indian and she could help herself.
When were you due?
I was due on 1st January, which was a great due date for telling people, but the reality was I didn't actually want to be in hospital when I could've been home at watching Jools Holland Hootenanny! Emily was actually born on 29 December.
Did you have to go far to the hospital?
Thankfully we live really close to the hospital and so it was only a short drive, but as my husband was loading up the car with the birthing ball, birth bag, and other bits and bobs I had a big contraction and literally couldn't get into the car! I don't think either of us realised that the baby was coming so fast and my husband drove quickly to the maternity ward avoiding all the roads which have humps. I was having really painful contractions and was pretty shocked at how quickly everything had sped up. My first baby was born after nine hours labour and my second was after five hours. A friend told me you have to halve every labour you have with each child, but I thought there's no way I'll be in labour for two and a half hours. Even that seemed too quick.
Did you know what to expect?
This was my third child, so I knew what to expect, but a part of you still forgets what an incredible experience it is and what you body has to go through to get to the end result.
Did you have any pain relief?
No. I've always done hypnotherapy for childbirth and have survived on the odd slurp of gas and air. In this labour there just wasn't enough time for pain relief anyway, an hour after I had texted my pal to decline lunch, she was born! Originally, I was booked into the Natural Birth Centre part of the maternity ward, so when I arrived the staff told me that they were having a shift change and were preparing the room for me. I was put into Triage where they assessed me. There just so happened to be a birthing ball in the room and I went on it, whilst the contractions now seemed to be coming thick and fast. I was in a room full of strangers and I was in total agony. My husband went to go and get a midwife as I said to him that I felt the baby was going to arrive.
What happened next?
A midwife came in, cleared out all the other people, shut the curtains and examined me. She said I was nine centimetres and was about to have the baby. There was no time to get me into the birth centre, so they found a normal birth room. It made no difference to me as I was having a natural birth! I remember my husband asking whether I wanted to listen to my hypnotherapy mp3 and I just shouted NO, but I did try to keep calm and stay focussed despite all the madness.
Where did they take you?
They managed to get me into a wheelchair and raced me down the corridor to a room. I got onto the bed and moments later the midwife went to take the baby's heartbeat. She could hear static. There was a big silence in the room, but I felt that I just needed to concentrate on getting the baby out. Every time she tried to take a heart trace, she couldn't get anything. Then she decided to examine me, and when she looked the head was out. That was why she couldn't get a heart beat, the baby was practically here. Another push later and Emily arrived. All that happened in the space of 10 minutes. So from leaving home to giving birth it was approximately an hour.
Were there any complications?
Was your husband at the birth?
Yes, he's a pro and doesn't bat an eyelid at any of the gory bits. He finds the whole thing incredible.
How did you feel when your baby was born?
Amazing, but it was hard to comprehend the speed in which it all happened. An hour before I was ordering a takeaway, then I had a baby in my arms. It took me a while to get my head around it all, but as I had a straightforward labour, I was up walking around as normal shortly afterwards. She was the final piece of our family jigsaw. And I won't be doing it again!