I didn’t get my VBAC – ‘Resident Blogger’ Susanne

mummy and elsieResident Blogger Susanne did not have an easy time of her fourth pregnancy. Suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (severe pregnancy sickness) in the early weeks, she endured the uncertainty throughout the third trimester of whether her baby would have to be born prematurely due to IUGR, a condition fortunately picked up through the use of customised growth charts and extra scans.

IUGR, which stands for intra-uterine growth restriction, can be indicative of a problem with the placenta which prevents the baby from receiving the nutrition it needs, and is one of the biggest risk factors for stillbirth. Babies suffering from IUGR often have to be delivered early and can experience problems associated with being born very small.

Susanne’s emotions were further complicated by her desire for a VBAC, a vaginal birth after caesarean, which became less and less of an option as the pregnancy became more complicated. Having already undergone three previous sections, Susanne knew from the start it would not be an easy road. Here you can read about Susanne’s difficult journey, which happily culminated in the safe delivery of little Elsie Rose at 37 weeks.

Susanne blogs at www.ghostwritermummy.co.uk where you can read more about her experience with HG, IUGR and the subject of VBAC.

Back in May, I decided I wanted a VBAC. Since discovering I was pregnant, I always kind of knew this was what I wanted to do when it came to the birth. But I remember consciously making up my mind and speaking it aloud.

There.

It was out there. My intentions were known. No going back. I wanted a VBA3C. A vaginal birth after three c-sections. A ‘natural’ birth. A ‘normal’ birth.

susanne bump 20 weeksThis was met with mixed responses. Sensible responses from people such as my mother (“Just wait and see what happens. I’m sure it will work out the way you want it to in the end.”); positively positive responses (“Of course you can have a VBAC! Your body was made for it!”); horrified responses from people such as the first midwife I saw (“After three previous sections? There isn’t a doctor around who will support you in that!”); and vaguely amused responses (“Why would you want to do that? Don’t you know the risks?!”).

Yes. I knew the risks. I joined a Facebook group filled with women who advocate VBAC and natural birth. Women who were successfully getting their VBACs after 3, 4 and even 5 previous c-sections. I knew the risks of scar rupture existed, but I also knew they were very small. So I weighed it up and weighed on in.

In the group, lots of women speak of ‘not being allowed’ a VBAC, according to their doctors. These women routinely reply with the standard mantra

            Your body, your decision.

and it kind of stuck throughout my pregnancy. Whenever I was faced with the question over whether or not ‘they’ would let me birth my baby the way nature intended, I told them the same thing. This was MY body and MY choice.

My choice was to deliver my baby myself. To hold her against my skin moments later and to finally finally understand what it was all about when women spoke of feeling empowered, head over heels in love and like they could conquer the world. To be able to carry a baby to term and to deliver that baby without medication, medical assistance and sterile lighting. To do it the way my body wanted to. That was my choice.

Another regular line heard in the VBAC group came with birth announcements. Babies are born, eventually, after much discussion over how and when and with what interventions, and they are duly announced in the group. We are all waiting to hear. Did she get it? So the opening line of most announcements are either I got my VBAC! followed by wonderfully uplifting words of encouragement to the rest of us still waiting and hoping; or I didn’t get my VBAC but… usually followed by details of whether or not the surgeon ‘allowed’ skin to skin, or whether or not the lady laboured before the decision was made to perform a repeat c-section. So here is my announcement.

I didn’t get my VBAC.

BUT.

But I wanted to. I really, really wanted to. The decision was taken away early into my third trimester and to cut a long story short, my VBAC was pipped to the post by IUGR. Growth restriction meant my baby was too small for a ‘normal’ delivery. Growth restriction meant that my pregnancy had to end early, and a c-section was the only option since my body (scar) wouldn’t be able to handle an induction. Growth restriction meant my announcement in the group wasn’t written the way I’d intended it to be written back in May.

BUT.

elsie rose first 25 hoursBut I got my baby. And she is well. And we love her a lot. And that really does matter, but it is not ALL that matters.

It matters that I didn’t get my VBAC, because I went on a journey to get it. Self-acceptance. Self-awareness. Confidence. I actually, after all these years, believed I could do it. Birth my baby. Scans showed that she was head down, facing the right way and ready to go. During surgery I was told that there was practically no scar tissue at all after my 3 sections. My surgeon was amazed, and told me that my body was in perfect condition for carrying and delivering a baby. And, strangely, that was the nicest thing anyone ever said to me in a long time.

I didn’t get my VBAC but I got something else instead. I got to the end of that path and saw that I could do it.

Follow Susanne on Twitter @Ghostwritermumm

How I got my body back with a VBAC – Tarynn Playle

tarynn 1I’m excited to bring you a trans-Atlantic perspective on the VBAC from the lovely Tarynn, who lives in Seattle, and is a stay-at-home ‘mom’ to her three year old daughter, and her son who is one. Tarynn started writing down her experiences with her little ones to document her children’s development but has found it to also be great therapy.

Many of you will identify with Tarynn’s VBAC experience and the feelings she talks about will be familiar to those who have been through the same dilemma of whether to ‘try’ for a vaginal birth after caesarean.

Tarynn blogs at www.mamabyfire.com

Before my daughter was born, I had a birth plan. As well as a certain expectation. She would be born, drug-free, and we would be smitten from the moment our eyes met.

After 17 hours of hard back labour, I broke down and got an epidural. Five hours after that, I was taken in for an emergency c-section.

I was devastated and disappointed. I also felt robbed of the immediate connection I had been looking forward to. It took months for me to feel a genuine attachment to my lovely little lady.

When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I began to mentally prepare myself for another surgery. Then I heard about the possibility of having a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC). I decided to find out what I could. I did plenty of research online, which was encouraging with success stories, but also riddled with not so successful stories.

So, a little tentative, I asked my midwife what she thought. She was helpful in that she gave me information and statistics, but she didn’t suggest I do one or the other.

I met with the OB that did my caesarean to see if he could give me any direction. He explained why I had to have the surgery in the first place (the cord was wrapped around her neck) and that it wasn’t likely to happen again. So I was considered a “good candidate” to “try” for a VBAC. (They say “try” for a VBAC, because if anything doesn’t go their way, you’re straight into surgery.)

It was nerve-wracking, but I decided to go for it.

Once I made the decision, I was surrounded by support.

At the hospital, during labour and delivery, you are always monitored no matter your circumstance. But with a VBAC, they monitor a bit more, and if you have a midwife, like me, there has to be an OB on call at all times. This is why they wanted to know ahead of time my intentions for this birth – so they can be prepared.

My due date was on the Fourth of July, and I was miserable. I could barely walk, had to pee every half hour, and I had the impending labour/delivery looming over my head.

I started having contractions the next day. It was a Friday and they were intermittent throughout the day. I wasn’t sure how to tell when I needed to go in because the first time around, my waters broke at home. That’s pretty much a no-brainer.

This time, I just waited through the contractions. By 9 pm, we finally went in because they were pretty close together.

I was only 4cm dilated, but they decided to keep me because the contractions were so consistent.

I always thought I had a high tolerance for pain. My first labour proved me otherwise, so this time, I planned on getting the epidural. I waited as long as I could, but got it a few hours in.

Unfortunately for me, the anaesthesiologist wasn’t successful the first time. Not entirely his fault – I have a severe curve in my spine, 96 degrees to be exact. So I can imagine he had his work cut out for him. Luckily, the second try took like a charm and I was able to get some rest.

At 5 am, I got to start pushing. I was surprised at how much work it was! It was difficult to tell if I was doing any pushing at all because of the epidural, but I had encouraging midwifery staff rooting me on.

My husband was there the entire time as well. It’s a humbling experience when your husband and a few strangers are staring at your nether regions for five hours.

That’s how long I had to push. Five hours. Every time I had a contraction, I would push and he would start to crown….then back in. Out a little, then right back in. The midwife offered me a mirror to see, and I politely (I hope) declined. I know it was an amazing miracle that was taking place, but I was a wreck and I didn’t want to add to that by seeing what my husband had been staring at for hours.

My midwife played it cool, but I think she was a little concerned at how long it was taking. She finally sought out the on-call OB. He played a very important role in the birth of my son. A few roles, actually.

tarynn 2First, he pulled him out. It took about another hour of contractions and pulling during each one. Then, all of a sudden, as if it was nothing, my son was out, and immediately placed on my chest.

There is no other feeling like it. The intense bond, the incredible love. It was overwhelming.

His right hand was on his left cheek the entire time I was in labour, which is why it took so long. He was also 9lbs 15oz. One tiny ounce away from being 10lbs. If they had known he was that big, they would not have let me “try” for my VBAC.

This leads me to the other major role the doctor played. It took him over an hour to stitch me up. I kept my eye on the clock because I was impatiently waiting to hold my son again. So different from my first birth. I loved my daughter with everything I had, but I did not want to hold her after she was born.

This birth was empowering. I had no control the first time, my body was out of my hands. This time, I felt I had regained a part of myself that I had lost.

Don’t get me wrong. I love c-sections. Surgery saved my daughter and me, and they save thousands of others daily. If it was necessary for me to get another one, I would have.

But I didn’t have to, and for that, I am grateful.

Follow Tarynn on Twitter @mamabyfire

Emergency vs elective caesarean – Ali Shattock

RB pic - AliIn a brilliant post, the wonderful Ali shares the birth stories of her two children Harley and Lola – a tale of two caesareans. After finding herself in a potentially dangerous situation in her first labour, Harley was born via emergency c-section safe and well. Ali was then faced with the dilemma that many women have in a second pregnancy – to attempt a VBAC or opt for the elective c-section.

We’d be interested to hear your experience of c-sections – have you had a VBAC or more than one caesarean? How did you feel about making those decisions? What influenced your choices, and did you feel you had one? Get in touch on Twitter @BlogsForBabies or via our contact form if you’ve got a story to share.

Ali blogs at mylifemylove.com

when harley met lola
When Harley met Lola

I often get asked about the labour and delivery that I experienced with both my babies. In truth, both experiences were so completely different even though I had a caesarean section for both of them; the only difference being that one was an emergency and the other elective. So I thought I would share my experience of both, for expectant mums.

At just over 40 weeks, I felt my waters break; well it was more of a trickle but I was pretty sure that this was the moment! I rang the maternity unit and was told to go down, only to be sent home again because they said that my waters hadn’t broken yet. I thought that I was going mad because I kept having the sensation that everyone talks about – when your waters break, you can’t stop it like you can if you’re going for a wee. The next day it was exactly the same, so I went to the maternity hospital again. This time they agreed with me and kept me in.

I started having contractions through the night but the minute my husband arrived in the morning, everything stopped. I was later induced. Before I knew it, I was 5cm dilated and was asked if I wanted an epidural. At that point I wasn’t in any real pain so couldn’t decide whether to have one or not. In the end I took it, as it was offered. I didn’t want to regret it later on when it might have been too late to have one.

Labour lasted 16 hours. I remember watching the Big Brother final on TV and topping up the epidural whilst my husband slept on the floor! Despite being rather drawn out, everything had gone to plan so far but the turning point was when I had my final assessment. The midwife who had been with us throughout the whole labour was due to end shifts. She swapped over with another midwife and a student midwife.

I was told after the examination that I was fully dilated however the student disagreed and felt that I was still only at 9cm. The experienced midwife overruled this and so I pushed for an hour. But sadly nothing was happening and I was getting so tired. The doctor was called and was very disturbed to see that I was not fully dilated and should not have been pushing at all. It was similar to pushing my baby against a brick wall! He then said that I would need an emergency section to prevent further distress to baby. I distinctly remember begging them not to send me home or to make me wait for the op!! The doctor humoured me and said it would have to happen right now.

baby harley
Harley

Luke was ushered out and changed into his scrubs and I was wheeled into the operating room. By this point I was so unbelievably tired and pumped with drugs that I remember drifting in and out of sleep on the table. It was precisely 8 minutes from the start of the operation to getting Harley out. I remember Luke and I holding our breath until we heard his first cry. Harley needed a little bit of oxygen but other than that he was a happy 8lb 9oz baby boy.

I lost 2 litres of blood but fortunately, I didn’t need a blood transfusion and I felt really well. For me, the hardest part about it being an emergency section was that I wasn’t allowed to hold Harley. Luke took him into another room. Even now it breaks my heart that I missed that first cuddle, that first skin to skin contact.

My recovery from the operation was remarkably very quick. Within 5 days, I had no pain at all and we were going for a short walk around the local park. I could move around as normal and wondered why on earth I wasn’t allowed to drive for the next 6 weeks as I felt so well. In hindsight, I now know that I was simply incredibly lucky, as recovery from my second caesarean was not nearly so easy.

For my second pregnancy I was offered a section if I wanted it because of what happened last time. I was actually very surprised that I was offered one and that it took me many weeks to decide what I wanted to do. I weighed up both options as I had done similarly with my sister who was in the same boat, a few months previously.

As much as I wanted a natural birth this time, the memory of last time didn’t leave me. All I could think about was the mistake that the midwife made and the harm that it could have caused my baby. I didn’t want to run the risk of that happening again. Equally, because my recovery from the operation was so quick, that was also leaning me towards choosing an elective.

There was part of me that was expecting the hospital consultants to sway me towards choosing a natural birth but they understood my experience of last time was very traumatic. They assured me that a planned section would be completely different from an emergency, inevitably in a good way.

So I was booked in for the day after my due date. Because Harley was a week late, I never thought that my daughter was ever going to come early – if she had we would have crossed that bridge when we came to it!

So I was given some tablets to take at set times the night before and on the morning of the op and by 7.30am I was down the hospital ‘checking in’.

There were 3 other mums in the ward with me booked in for the same day and it was lovely to see us all so calm. I had an underlying nervous anticipation but ultimately I was excited. My excitement turned quickly to nerves when I was told that out of all of us, I was going to go into theatre first and that I should get changed into my gown.

It was so unbelievably different, walking into theatre as opposed to be being rushed there on a bed. This time, I made the mistake of scanning the room and seeing all of the equipment and the many people in the room with us. It was all a blur last time and I was completely unaware of what or who was around me.

I was so nervous when the anaesthetist put the needle into my back but I remembered the position I needed to get into from last time. I remembered the hideously cold spray which was sprayed up my body to see where the spinal block was working. It took all of my efforts last time, to concentrate about feeling the spray, but this time it was much calmer, I think I was actually smiling. The anaesthetist was fantastic, both times. She stood by my head and talked me through every stage.

baby lola
Lola

Whereas with Harley it took 8 minutes for him to enter the world, everything was much longer this time and it was 43 minutes for Lola to make her appearance. (My bladder was stuck to my uterus so a surgeon had to come in to separate them, which is why it took a little longer than it should have; it didn’t help that he wore a massive mask with ‘Splatter Shield’ written on it – nobody needs to see that!!).

This time, I was holding my beautiful 7lb 12oz bundle while I was being stitched back up. It was so lovely to have that moment that I had lost with Harley.

I lost less blood this time, so I wasn’t in the High Dependency Unit afterwards. However, my recovery once home took much, much longer. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t enjoy my baby because it was too painful to move. I was frustrated that I had to rely on my husband to do everything. I was frustrated with myself for not healing as well as I did last time. I had expected too much of myself. It was a good 3 weeks before I started to feel comfortable sleeping and moving around. All of this was simply due to having a second section and the surgeons having to cut through previous scar tissue.

harley and lola bath
First baths at home!

We don’t plan to have any more children, but if I was in the situation again, I wouldn’t think twice about have an elective caesarean again. I took comfort in it being planned and having a ‘date’; it was calm; it was reassuring; I knew everything that was happening.

They came into the world via the same route but in very different circumstances. Both are beautiful, in my eyes.

Follow Ali on Twitter @aliandlucky

Indiana’s birth story – Emily Vaughan

emily vaughan 3Our latest post is a looong birth story from Emily about the arrival of her 4 month old daughter Indiana. As I was induced and as a result had an artificially short labour, the drawn out process Emily describes here is unimaginable to me! The strength that she shows being told time and again that she wasn’t dilated enough to be admitted, and having labour pains for the best part of two days, is a great example of what women can cope with when we really have to. Featuring an epidural, culminating in a ventouse delivery with episiotomy and postpartum haemorrhage, this story has got everything!

Emily is 20 years old and lives in Kent with her boyfriend Jack and little Indiana. She is blogging as well as vlogging about their life together and all things baby!

Emily blogs at emilyandindiana.blogspot.co.uk

I was due the 24th November 2013 and after everyone telling me my little lady would be early, I was still pregnant when my due date came around. So I got on my hands and knees, scrubbed the bathroom then went on a long walk with Jack around some local shops. After a well needed Costa break (this will be a recurring theme in my blogs as it’s our favourite place, haha) we headed home.

It got to dinner time and I’d given up hope of a due date baby when all of a sudden I started getting back pain on and off. By 7.30pm they were coming every 10-15 minutes and I was having to squeeze Jack’s hand as it was pretty intense. It was at this point we started roughly timing them and they were becoming more like 5-10 minutes apart. We got in bed to try and get some rest but the pains were getting stronger so I got zero sleep (Jack was snoring away much to my annoyance).

By midnight the pains were around 5 minutes apart and much stronger. I felt an odd ‘pop’ sensation so got up to check. I had finally lost my mucus plug! It was then Jack got up to go to the loo and my waters broke. We had spent my whole pregnancy saying how waters breaking weren’t like in the movies, but boy were we wrong. They gushed out all over our bedroom floor with a massive splash! Jack didn’t even realise they were my waters, bless him. It was after this the pain got 10x worse and we called triage for the first time. We were advised to go in so at 1am off we went.

On arriving I was checked and told I was only 2cm dilated :(. I was given co-codamol as paracetamol was useless (so was this but worth a try, eh?). I was given a sweep and we were sent on our way, much to my disappointment. So home we went and we got back in bed and watched Bedtime Stories. I say we but Jack was snoring away from the second his head hit the pillow. The film ended and the pain was getting worse so I woke Jack up and we called triage again. They suggested a bath to ease the pain.

Baths have never helped me with any pain yet I thought I’d give it a go. The midwife said the water had to be covering my bump for it to work, but I’m sorry this was impossible! My bump was pretty average but there was no way it was going to be covered. I had to lie at a sideways angle to keep my bump under; all that was while Jack fed me gingernut biscuits as I was starving!

No surprise to me the bath didn’t help, so triage was called again and we went back in. Checked again and I was STILL only 2cm dilated. I was so upset, I was in agony and for no reason! I was given another sweep and sent home again. My waters were still leaking too; luckily Jack had a mat in his car to protect the seats, haha.

emily vaughan 2By now it was around 7am and the pain was excruciating. My sister Laura came over as she was my other birth partner. She was so helpful as I was becoming so distressed and upset with the pain and lack of progress. Wherever I was or however I positioned myself the pain was no better. I remember kneeling on the floor with my head in Jack’s lap rocking. I needed more pain relief badly! By 10am I couldn’t take it anymore. I was crying through being so tired and from the pain. So we went back to triage to see where we were.

Anyone who has experienced labour will understand just how bad contractions are. But contractions in a car are by far the worst. You’re stuck sitting with no way of moving, and where my pain was all in my lower back sitting was so so painful. We then had to park ridiculously far from the entrance as I didn’t want to be left alone during my contractions. Crying in pain I walked back to triage.

I WAS STILL ONLY 2CM! Hearing this news made me break down again. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I also had the most horrible midwife who basically told me to take some more co-codamol and go home. She even gave me a sweep during a contraction which was awful! Jack also became upset as he felt useless and hated seeing me in so much pain. So we left again, but decided to go to my mums for more support and change of scenery.

My mum had run me a bath and made us lunch while we were there. She was literally the most amazing person at this point; I’m so glad we went. She helped me to breathe through the pain and never left my side. The bath helped a bit more this time and I had lots of company while I was in there for over an hour. I got out and we started to time my contractions again. By 3pm they were less than 5 minutes apart lasting about a minute and so painful. So we tried our luck and went back to our second home, triage.

From this point on I had the most amazingly lovely midwives and care. I was given the best news that I was finally 4cm and allowed to stay! Yay! I was taken straight to the delivery suite and given my best friend, gas and air. I loved the stuff and it was such good pain relief. I was more in control and my normal self between contractions now. I had asked for an epidural but while being set up for it I told my midwife Claire that I felt pressure. She checked me again and by 6pm I was 8cm dilated – how the hell did this happen!? It was this point I decided I’d try with just gas and air as things progressed so quickly.

I was laughing and giggling on my gas and air. I remember telling Jack and Laura I wanted to watch Friends With Benefits and even had a giggling fit but for no reason at all. This didn’t last however as it got to 8pm and the pain was getting worse again, and after being checked I was only 9cm. This is where things took a downward spiral again.

I was in so much pain and had stopped making progress again. So I gave in and got my epidural at around 9-10pm ish. The first attempt hit blood so it had to be done twice. But oh my God, it was amazing. Yeah having a catheter and cannula wasn’t nice (this was actually more painful than the epidural) but hey it was worth it. I was also put on a hormone drip at this point to get me progressing again. Soon enough I was 10cm but was told to get some rest before pushing to let her drop into the right place more.

After a blissful 2 hour nap I was woken and told it was time to push! Not the best wake-up call but I was so excited to finally meet my baby girl. Pushing is so hard! My epidural was wearing off too so I felt everything and this was definitely the worst pain yet. My bum felt like it was going to explode. Sorry TMI, but hey I think it’s best to be honest! As I had my epidural I found pushing harder so I had my legs in stirrups with Laura and Jack holding a leg each. By this point the midwives had switched and I had a lovely midwife as well as a student midwife (I was always against having one but she was amazing and I’d definitely recommend them as they’re very supportive!).

I was pushing for over an hour with not much progress. I was literally exhausted, after being awake for over a whole day now I was running out of steam. Labour really does mean what it says! The pain was awful and I remember screaming at Jack telling him to make it stop and saying I couldn’t do it – haha, cringe! A doctor was called in to give me a hand. Within a few seconds the bottom of the bed was whisked away and he had given me an episiotomy! I had asked at my antenatal classes if I’d be told and was reassured I would – this was not the case at all! However he gave me a hand with a ventouse and out came her head, followed seconds later by the rest of her at 2.12am on the 26th November!

emily vaughan 1We were in complete shock; our baby girl was finally here… and she had hair, haha! She was placed straight onto my chest and I couldn’t believe how big she was (Jack was crying again bless him, he’s so emotional it’s cute). I had some skin to skin time with her until she was taken away to be cleaned up. I was upset to learn the doctor cut the cord and not Jack, but I guess it had to happen! She had her checks which she passed with flying colours, and we discovered she weighed a chunky 8lb 4oz!

I was stitched up while Jack and Laura had cuddles with our little girl, who we had decided to name Indiana Rose. It wasn’t until I read my notes that I discovered I had lost 1000ml of blood. This is considered a postpartum haemorrhage. This explains a lot why I was now anaemic and felt awful for the first few weeks postpartum!

I was taken up to my room around 4-5am, which was a private room with our own bathroom and TV. We were given a sandwich each and left to bond with our baby. I couldn’t even sleep despite being knackered as I just couldn’t stop staring at her; she was perfect.

We were allowed to go home on Wednesday around lunch time. We would have gone earlier but I had a high pulse and had to have extra checks. I now know it’s because of my blood loss, but obviously at the time I just wanted to go home and rest with Jack and Indiana, not stay in a stuffy hospital (Jack agreed as he had to sleep on the floor for two nights, haha).

So that’s it, that’s my very long story! You wouldn’t believe I left bits out, but I tried to be as thorough as possible. I hope you enjoyed it and I look forward to reading others’ stories as I love seeing what other people went through to get their babies!

Emily xx

Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyVaughanx

Anna’s birth story: dad’s perspective – Ben Harrison

emily harrison picLast week I posted the birth story of Emily and her daughter Anna – a long and arduous labour culminating in an assisted delivery with forceps. I was thrilled when Emily got in touch to say that her husband Ben wanted to write a post about the experience from his perspective as the first time dad in the situation.

Obviously as mums we are often in our own little bubble when it comes to childbirth, with memories clouded by the intensity of it all. Here Ben tells us how he supported Emily through her labour, but with great clarity details some of the things he wishes he had done differently. He raises some really interesting points about how involved birth partners actually feel and how much influence they can have in the delivery room.

Huge thanks must go to both Emily and Ben for sharing their experiences with us. Can any other dads relate to Ben’s post?

Emily blogs at confessionsofafailedbreastfeeder.wordpress.com

Ben does not have a blog but is happy to be known as ‘Emily’s husband’.

When my daughter, Anna, was finally born, my most overwhelming feelings were not related to joy, love, instant recognition or even ‘What Do I Do Now?’, like all the parenting books said they would be. Some or all of those feelings were there, of course, but my overriding emotion was one of relief. Relief that, after 42 weeks of pregnancy and the same number of hours of labour, our little girl had arrived and was healthy.

If you are reading this, the chances are that you have already read Emily’s birth story, so I will not go into details of the birth itself; suffice to say that I spent a lot of time pacing the floor, holding my wife’s hand, getting her what she needed, saying that everything would be fine when I wasn’t sure that it would be, and eating rubbish food.

As Emily has already said, the outcome of the birth – a beautiful baby girl – was more than we ever imagined, so from that point of view, nothing that preceded it really matters. However, as time has gone on and memories of the experience crystallised, I have increasingly felt that the labour could have been shorter and less eventful had I been more assertive. There are three specific points at which this is the case:

1)  When Emily was in the induction suite and we were waiting for the pessary to kick start labour, I was sent home at 11pm and told to get a good night’s sleep, as there was ‘no chance of anything happening for at least eight hours’. I did as I was told, which meant that when Emily’s waters broke at 5am and she was in a lot of pain, unnecessarily having to convince the midwives that she was in labour, I was 20 miles away, failing to get a good night’s sleep. I wish now that I had refused to leave the ward, or at least the hospital.

2) In the middle of the next afternoon, the labour was progressing as planned but Emily couldn’t keep fluids down and she kept being sick. As a result, she became dehydrated and the labour stalled.  When Emily was being sick, I suggested to the midwife that she be put on a saline drip to avoid dehydration but was told that there was no need. Looking back, it was clear that Emily was dehydrated and I wish I had insisted on the drip.

3) After the labour stalled, Emily was quickly put on a saline and hormone drip and things started proceeding very quickly again. However, we had to wait another 4 hours to check to see that Emily was sufficiently dilated to start pushing. This proved to be the case, but things had moved so quickly that I wondered whether it had been necessary to wait the full four hours.  I wish that I had suggested checking to see if Emily was ready to start pushing sooner – had she been, then her exhaustion may not have been so severe and the forceps may not have been needed.

It is difficult to be assertive in this situation – the midwives and doctors are the professionals and they know far more about labour and birth than any first time dad, however many books or articles on the internet he thinks he has read. Many readers will think that me having such thoughts after the event is at best pointless, or more likely utterly self-indulgent, and they would be right.

However, us men are the ones who know our wives or partners best, and are therefore well placed to respond to their needs in any given situation. It may be the case that none of the steps I’ve outlined above would have made any difference and I must stress that much of the care we received in hospital was outstanding, but I still wish that I had been more assertive.

If and when we have a second baby, I will certainly not hold back from saying what I believe to be in the best interests of my wife and child.

Follow Ben’s wife Emily on Twitter @failedfeeder