A Zumba-induced baby born in the caul

February 13 | Guest post by Virginia

Empire readers might recognize Virgina as one half of this Transformers-themed wedding tale!

By: John SpadeCC BY 2.0

I always knew my baby would be "late." I disagreed with the due date predicted by my three-month scan and thought my actual "forty week mark" was about twelve days later. When I declined induction, I was referred to a consultant who was surprisingly supportive and said that twenty years ago I wouldn't have been induced, so it was my decision. The hospital offered additional monitoring which I declined since I didn't believe I was that overdue. I was constantly aware of every kick in the womb, which was more reassuring to me than any scan could be.

When I was seventeen days overdue, my doula invited me to a zumba class. The instructor danced with me saying, "Let's get that baby out tonight! Show off your beautiful bump!"

The next morning, I had a bloody show. I spent the day shopping in town and read all afternoon in a café. I felt sensations low down in my body, but it didn't occur to me that I was in labour. I walked home that afternoon with all my shopping and felt the sensations each time I stopped at a cross walk.

My husband returned home from work early and I cancelled plans with friends for that evening, though I still wasn't sure if I was in labour. I sat on our bed painting my nails while I listened to my natal hypnotherapy CD. By about 4:30pm, the sensations became more intense and I called my sister who lives in the US and our doula.

By 5:30 the contractions were every two to three minutes and we asked our doula to come over. She suggested we put the TENS machine on. I recommend reading the instructions before you actually use a TENS machine. My husband put it on me on full power to start with, that was literally a shock! But after we turned it down it was really helpful in making me feel in control of the contractions.

When our doula arrived, I hadn't spoken much to anyone all day and was very chatty. My contractions slowed, so she subtlety started reading her book with me in our bedroom, while my husband ate dinner downstairs.

At about 8:30pm, I knew it was time to call the midwives after I had a good cry and threw up. I'd been keeping the pool as my incentive for pain relief and looked forward to getting in. However once I was in, it didn't feel as good as the TENS machine and I had to check the thermometer to confirm it was actually warm.

When the first midwife arrived our doula had her read our birth plan before entering the birth space. I was in the pool for about 45 minutes and then got out after the midwives said our baby's heart beat was getting high. As our doula helped me out, I exclaimed, "Oh I have that same skirt! Isn't that funny?" and she replied saying, "This is actually your skirt." It turns out I had soaked her with water from the pool and she'd had to change her clothes.

I just thought about making as loud and deep of sounds and pushing the energy of the sounds DOWN and OPEN.

I practiced breathing in my antenatal yoga class, but vocalizing through each contraction is what got me through. I made every variation of sound I had practiced: ahh, uhh, oooh, breathing through my nose, my mouth, grunting, groaning, moaning, humming, "horse lips," and repeating "down-down-down," "open-open-open." After all that waiting, I never consciously thought "I'm in labour now!" the whole time. Instead I just thought about making as loud and deep of sounds and pushing the energy of the sounds DOWN and OPEN. Now I feel like I can barely even remember the edges of the pain, let alone the pain itself.

I kneeled facing our couch with my husband holding my hands. I was there for about 35 minutes when the midwives announced the head was out. My first thought was, "No, it can't be, it's just gotten hard now so there must be hours and hours still to go." I chose not to have vaginal examinations so I wouldn't know how far (or not far) along I was and to have no directed pushing. I felt no distinction between contractions and pushing, so had pushed him out without even realising it. Our baby was born at 10:25 with his water sac unbroken. The cord was short so the midwife cut it once it stopped pulsating and I was able to bring him up to my breasts and look into those newborn eyes.

My husband and I were in such shock that the labour was over so quickly and the baby was here, that we let our guard down a bit and left things to the midwives. Everything became very rushed as I focused on delivering the placenta. The midwives told me to try urinating in a bucket in the living room, which was just not possible so our doula suggested I went upstairs to the toilet. We also had a container ready to keep the placenta for a smoothie and encapsulation. One of the midwives suggested coughing. I forced myself to cough and the other midwife who was outside of the bathroom said, "Oh is she ok?" and I wanted to tell her, "Don't worry, this is just a fake cough!"

After the placenta came out, I was examined by the midwives who said I had a minor tear. During this time my husband was with our baby downstairs having skin to skin time with him and introducing him to the Transformers collection in our living room. Finally around 2:30am, after a short hospital visit for stitches, we went to sleep in our own bed, looking forward to sharing the long awaited news when morning came.

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  1. What a wonderful birth story.
    I wonder if my hospital midwifes can be persuaded to do no vaginal examinations.
    Interesting to hear how useful you found the tens machine – might have to look into one of those

    4 agree
    • They shouldn't have to be persuaded. There's a word for sticking your fingers in someone's vag without consent, and that word is assault!

      13 agree
    • My midwifes always asked if I wanted them or not, but I'm in Australia and things seem to be different over here. I went with a clinical nurse midwife team known for low intervention, so maybe you should ask about your midwife/s history and practices.

      1 agrees
    • Well said Anji! My NHS midwives were used to doing VEs (vaginal examinations) but I informed them in advance I did not want them during my labor and they had to respect that. That applies no matter who is offering the VE, a doctor, nurse or midwife, it's your body.

      1 agrees
  2. Congratulations! Sounds like a lovely birth.

    For the moderators: Does the "Fix Typo" button do anything? I use Firefox and clicking it has never once had an effect, FYI.

    3 agree
  3. Beautiful story. Yeah you for trusting your instinct and refusing an early induction. That can take a lot of courage when faced with pushy hospital staff.

    3 agree
    • Thank you Sandra! We were lucky to have a supportive consultant at the hospital. My family also has a history of long pregnancies so they were supportive as well. Really though the best support against pressure for induction was our doula who was worth her weight in gold and more. She lent us a really useful booklet published by Association for Improvement to Maternity services called 'Induction, do I really need it?' which helped us to make informed, evidence based choices.

      Also just want to thank other mamas who sent their birth stories to Offbeat Families – I read so many while I was waiting for my baby and kept telling myself, 'No one stayed pregnant forever, the baby always came eventually!'

      2 agree
  4. Lovely story! Similar to my son's NHS homebirth (in March 2012).

    I am also American living in the UK!

    🙂

    2 agree
  5. I loved this, I hope Eduardo comes just as easy. I'm not scared, I'm just 28.2 weeks pregnant and I havent started my prenatal class but I do know that I don't want painkillers, I hope I can go ahead without them.

    Thankfully I found a magnificent place here in Mexico where they specialize in pregnancy and kids, so they are very open about having your baby the way you want it. They are there just to help if necessary and I love that since your body knows better; but I'm the daughter of a doctor so I do want to feel safe in an hospital.

    I was a 40 week baby, I was born the exact day my mom was told so that may be a clue for me. But I have this funny feeling that he's gonna come early or late but not on time, I just know it, just like I knew that he was a boy and not a girl like all the family thought, I just knew. And when I say all the family, I mean ALL the family, I was the only one with a fair doubt.

    The only thing I am scared of is the fact that I am NOT scared, if that makes any sense.

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