Birth Diaries: 'We Ran Out Of Gas And Air During My Home Birth Due To A Local Shortage'

"I remember drawing my last breath from the last cylinder knowing in that moment there wasn’t going to be any more for a while."

In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Sian Dando from Bridgend shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email amy.packham@huffpost.com.

I was convinced my daughter would be early. My sisters gave birth before their due dates; my mum was on the date with us; and my mother-in-law was the same. I was so convinced I’d be early, I left work before I needed to.

Alas, my due date came – and my baby did not. I had three sweeps and still didn’t show any signs of labour, but thankfully, the day I was booked in for an induction (at two weeks overdue), things began to happen naturally.

It started as mild contractions at 7am on a Saturday morning. I’d planned for a home birth and when the midwife turned up around 11am, she said I was progressing well and stayed with me from that point on. That’s the great thing about home births – you get so much attention and feel comfortable in your own environment. You sit where you want, and eat and drink what you want.

I was calm at this stage, watching Miss Congeniality and cuddling my cats on the sofa.

The contractions ramped up in the afternoon and the midwife brought in gas and air canisters from the back of her car. I was muddling through, having showers, baths, wading in and out of different rooms in the house. At one point I sat naked in my utility room because it was the coolest place I could find.

The midwife was pretty sure my birth wouldn’t last too long. “She’ll be out before the end of the day” she said of my baby – assuming she wouldn’t need to change shifts with the next midwife. But as time went on, and I carried on having examinations, I stopped dilating. That was around 6cm.

Midnight came and went, and a new midwife swapped in – one I’d met before, which was nice. In the early hours of the morning, we ran out of gas and air. There was a shortage in the area, and we needed more canisters, so we had to ring around to find out where to get them from.

I have no recollection of timings now, but my husband said we waited between an hour and an hour-and-a-half for canisters. The midwife with me had to phone another midwife on call, who travelled from Ammanford to Bridgend to bring it – a 40 mile drive. I remember drawing my last breath from the last cylinder we had, knowing in that moment there wasn’t any more for a while.

It was a huge relief when the midwife turned up, but I’d felt empowered to work through the contractions with breathing techniques I’d learned in hypnobirthing. They helped me get through, so I carried them on after the new gas and air arrived.

By 4am, I’d been at 8cm for a while, but nothing was moving forward. So after 18 hours of active labour, we headed into hospital to see if a hormone drip would help. It didn’t. They took a baby blood sample – as my daughter seemed distressed – and they saw signs of a potential infection. I was told I needed to go to theatre. I’d either have an assisted delivery with a ventouse, or a C-section. I was disappointed but by this point, I just wanted her out safely.

Doctors realised she was facing the wrong way, so they turned her around while she was inside the womb. But by the time we got to theatre, she had turned back around the wrong way already. Because of this, and the fact I couldn’t get to 10cm, assisted delivery was off the cards – so a C-section it was.

I never thought complications would happen to me. I’d heard about them, sure, but assumed I would be fine. My daughter just really didn’t want to come out – she obviously knew she wasn’t supposed to come out that way!

In theatre, I felt in good hands – the staff in the room were super supportive and made conversation with me to take my mind off it. And, in the end, it was all really fast. Before I knew it, there was this Lion King moment where they lifted my baby up over the sheets so we could see her. She cried very quickly – we didn’t have that agonising wait that some parents have – and we had skin-to-skin straight away. That was incredible. That was what I wanted.

It didn’t matter about my birth plan anymore. It had been a whirlwind of events – but it was so, completely worth it. I didn’t care how she had come out, I’m just happy that she did!

My birth advice?

It’s good to have a positive mindset. I wasn’t really expecting things to be different from how I planned them to be, so having an open mind is essential. Don’t beat yourself up or feel like a failure if it didn’t go as you planned. It doesn’t matter how you gave birth, it’s just amazing that your body did that!