Birth Stories

Having A Birth Plan Helped D During Her Hospital Birth

  • When did you realize you were really in labor?

    Trigger warning: stillbirth

    After reading a lot of your birth stories, I wish to share mine too. However, it’s a sad story because I gave birth at 20 weeks and 3 days and my son passed away a few minutes after he was born.

    I wasn’t able to follow the complete course before my little one arrived, but did some parts of it.
    I was terrified of giving birth (due to a history of sexual abuse) and wrote a birth plan before I dared to become pregnant. I walked into the office of an OB at ten weeks telling her: ‘hi, I’m pregnant and I do not want to give birth, but with this plan, we are going to do it anyway’ she was lovely and offered me all the support I needed. Even a planned c-section would help ease my fear, but I didn’t want that either.

    I was having some blood loss (pink/brownish) and a lot of Braxton Hicks since 14 weeks. I woke up in the middle of the night at 1:30 am, 20+2 weeks pregnant. I went to the toilet and saw red blood, it was more than usual and I was also having frequent Braxton hicks (every 3 minutes) which were a bit painful. After waiting for about an hour with a hot water bottle things didn’t subside, so I called my midwife. She was not alarmed and asked me if I would like her to come over to check the baby’s heartbeat. I was feeling movements, so I told her that wasn’t necessary. However, I remained crampy and was worried, so about a half hour later I called the hospital myself (I live in the Netherlands, so normally a midwife is your first contact and she can refer you if necessary). The nurse asked me to come over because she was alarmed by what I was telling and told me she wanted to make sure I wasn’t in labor.

    I arrived at the hospital around 4 am and waited forever for a doctor to examine me. At 5:30 am a doctor finally arrived and made an ultrasound. She told me my cervix was too short and there was a real possibility I would go into labor. Because of my cramps and blood loss, she wasn’t able to perform a cerclage or give me medication to help ease the contractions. I was admitted to the hospital for a ‘wait and see’ and mostly a ‘fingers crossed’ policy. I survived the day with some Tylenol and a hot water bottle.

    Unfortunately during the day, my cramps kept coming, and around 6 pm I knew they were becoming real labor contractions. I called my support person and asked her to come over (single mom). I closed my eyes, put on some music, and tried to focus on relaxation. (A hard job when you know you are going to lose your baby). She arrived, hugged and hold me. After another checkup, it was confirmed I was going to give birth, and we moved over to a delivery room. The doctor asked me if I wanted pain relief, but I told her I preferred not.

    The room was beautiful and thoughtfully decorated. There was no monitoring, no resuscitation table, on the poster on the wall for the ‘sign in’ (double check for records and preferences) there was a large butterfly over the part for the neonate. There was soft light and not a single trigger towards a healthy baby.

    I took a shower and that felt really nice on my painful contractions. Afterward, I went to lie down (hadn’t slept more than 2.5h in the last 36 hours) to try to get some rest. There was a sofa available for my friend, which we pushed next to mine. So we almost had a double bed.
    I wasn’t able to sleep but was able to rest a bit for about an hour.

    Around 1 am my contractions started to intensify and I had to really focus on my breathing. I was able to blow them away and felt completely relaxed in between contractions. Which surprised me, because I have a history of sexual abuse and was terrified to give birth. I was nowhere near the preparation I had been hoping for. But my endorphins were flowing ☺️. I squeezed my friend's hand and felt safe and supported.

    Around 3 am I met the midwife which would be attending my birth. A lovely lady which made soft contact with me. She told me she would not offer me pain relief, but that I could ask for it any time. I told her I was hoping to do it without pain relief, but if it was necessary I would like remifentanil and no epidural. I also told her I wanted the least amount of interventions possible and she agreed with that. I wasn’t even given an IV! (Which I am very thankful for).

    Contractions became hard to handle, but the relaxation in between made them doable. I was having some self-doubt but the next time I asked what time it was it was already 4:15 am, so despite my doubts more than an hour had passed and I regained some confidence.

    Around 5 am I didn’t know what to do because of the pain, I wasn’t able to completely breathe through them anymore as they took so long and double-peaked. My hot water bottle wasn’t hot enough and I was squeezing both of my friend's hands and wanted to push in my back and have a hand on my belly at the same time. We pushed the bell and my midwife and the nurse came instantly. She saw I was having a difficult time and checked me (very carefully with one finger) and told me I was 5-6cm dilated, the head was pushing severely on my cervix, but that the opening just wasn’t enough for him to pass yet. She also told me he was very low and the pain I was feeling wasn’t normal pain for a term birth with 5-6cm. (For a birth around 20 weeks you don’t need more dilatation than 5-6cm normally).

    I became nauseous and vomited, I could not sit properly anymore, so turned on my hands and knees. After two contractions on my hands and knees, I felt the urge to push and turned on my side. It was overwhelming and went very fast. I started to panic a little, but my friend told me he was about to be born and the midwife said I was feeling my little one and invited me to feel myself. I reached down and felt the amniotic sac (which was still intact) between my legs. In the next contraction, the rest of the sac was born and the midwife and I placed my little boy on my belly together.

    It was beautiful to see and he was still moving in the amniotic sac. After about five minutes we opened the sac and I lift him onto my chest. There he tried to breathe once and made some small movements before it became silent and he passed away.

    The placenta had been born together with the amniotic sac and I had almost no blood loss (knowing there is about a 50% chance of heavy blood loss and having to remove the placenta in the OR by this term I was very glad). I cut the cord and held my little boy, looked at him, and loved him so much ♥️.

  • What was the most challenging thing about going natural?

    Knowing I was going to lose my baby was the hardest part. Also the anticipation (I was really scared of giving birth by forehand because of sexual abuse as a child) and not knowing how it would go

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  • What was the most helpful thing you did to prepare for childbirth?

    I wrote a birth plan before I even became pregnant, which really gave me something to hold onto.

  • What surprised you about your birth?

    The biggest surprise was that my little boy came at 20w3d only. The second biggest surprise was that I was able to relax, and focus wasn’t scared but look back on a lovely and very positive birth, despite the circumstances.

  • Believe in yourself!
  • What pain relief strategies worked best?

    Breathing, hot water bottle, and squeezing my friend's hands. Relaxing between contractions helped as well.
    The shower felt nice, but as labor progressed I was scared to shower because I was scared he could fall out any moment.
    I only thought about pain relief during the last 5 insane contractions, then he was there.

  • How did it feel to hold your baby for the first time?

    I was overwhelmed. He was so small and yet so complete, but most of all he was still alive. I was able to hold him in my hands when he passed away, which I am thankful for.
    It is insane how much love you can feel for such a little human being.

  • What did you name your baby, and why?

    He kept the name I was referring to him when I was pregnant because I didn’t choose a ‘real’ name yet.

  • What advice can you give to other mamas who want to go natural?

    I am sharing this story because, despite the sad circumstances, I had a lovely birth. My body produced endorphins no matter what. I felt cared for and respected at any moment. I had never met the midwife or nurse who attended my birth before, but both of them were so nice and treated me exactly the way I needed them to. The most ‘medical’ thing happening during my birth was handing me some Tylenol (which did nothing of course).

    If I can do it: scared as hell, knowing I was going to lose my baby, with 2.5h sleep in 48 hours, all of you can. Believe in yourself!

    (Sorry for any grammatical errors, English is not my native language)

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