real-life birth stories:
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No two labour stories are ever the same and no-one tells the tale better than someone who's been through it all already. From rushed trips to the hospital, to water births and surprise appearances, here's a glimpse into what might one day be your own birth story.
Frankie and Rocco – the dream birth
Frankie is sitting watching TV when her waters break. When her husband calls the midwife, she tells him to go straight to the hospital. 'It takes enormous willpower to get up to the maternity unit – at one point I'm on all fours in the car park! I'm 8cm dilated and hop straight into the birthing pool. From then on I keep my eyes closed.
At 5am Rocco is born underwater, and that's when I open my eyes. It's been the most perfectly natural, instinctive birth and I wouldn't have wanted it to have been any different.'
Sarah and Flora – the welcome epidural
Sarah really wants a natural birth but, as can often happen, her labour progresses too slowly. After many mild contractions she still isn't dilated enough for the birthing pool. When she does get in, nothing happens. It's time for an epidural. 'The epidural is truly marvellous. (I distinctly remember telling the anaesthetist I love him!) Within a few minutes I'm fully dilated, and it isn't long before I'm encouraged to start pushing. Flora is finally born – a huge baby weighing 9lb. I'm very proud to have got her out all on my own.'
Helen and George – the elective caesarean
During her 20-week scan, Helen asks the hospital for a C-section and they try to persuade her otherwise. 'I'm just under 5ft tall and weigh 7 stone. How on earth would a baby ever get out of me? It takes until my 33rd week before they relent and a date is booked.' Helen then goes into labour four days early. 'We rush to hospital where they try to persuade me (yet again), but I'm resolute. Everything relaxes when I get an epidural and it all happens very quickly. Earlier than expected, but absolutely fine.'
Nicola and Oliver – the emergency caesarean
Nicola is diagnosed with pre-eclampsia which causes a raised blood pressure. The doctors advise her that to have the baby early is the only way they can guarantee that it will return to normal. 'Suddenly it's action stations. Everyone pulls on a green gown. I can't understand why everything is such a rush. It's a huge relief to see Oliver at last, born four weeks early and just over 5lb. While I recover in hospital, my husband rushes out to buy all the baby paraphernalia we thought we still had plenty of time to choose.'
Caroline and Freya – the home birth
Caroline feels a twinge at 5pm and by 7pm the contractions are quick and fast. Minutes later her waters break, and after two big contractions, the baby's head appears. 'Nick is on the phone to the ambulance people who tell him to get me on the floor. He grabs all our towels and I settle, holding the baby's head in my hands. Five minutes later the rest of her body slips out. Nick wraps her in a towel and hands her to me. The ambulance arrives and we're both totally euphoric. Nick's very proud that he's managed to deliver his own baby.'