Emilio's Positive Birth Story at Leeds General Infirmary Midwife Led Unit Lotus Suite
Updated: Oct 4, 2023
Emilio's parents, Liv and Glen, planned for a home birth. Due to midwifery staffing outside of their control, baby Emilio was born in the Lotus Suite - the Midwifery Led Unit, at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).
Here Liv shares their journey preparing for birth, including the Hypnobirthing preparation she and Glen did together with Positive Birth Leeds, and Emilio's positive birth story. Liv talks about understanding what was right for them, using decision making tools during conversations with consultant obstetricians and senior midwives, dealing with a change of plan, making a hospital environment their own and the immeasurable benefit of having a knowledgeable and attentive birth partner by her side to support and confidently advocate for her and their baby.
Now for Liv's story, take it away Liv...
Preparing for a positive birth together with hypnobirthing:
"When I got pregnant, before I found out about hypnobirthing, I had always assumed that I would just turn up to the hospital when I went into labour and do whatever the doctors said as they would “know the best way to get the baby out”. But after a friend recommended I look into hypnobirthing I realised I was massively under prepared for my birth.
"I would say it [hypnobirthing] was the best investment of my pregnancy."
I found Charlotte [from Positive Birth Leeds] when we were both on a small business course together and knew that we would click and she would be a great teacher. We opted for a 1-2-1 course because that’s how I learn best and I would say it was the best investment of my pregnancy.
My husband also came along which turned out to be a godsend, more on that later, and we spent 3 evenings with Charlotte learning all we could about birth, relaxation and the choices we could make.
We created a birth preferences document with 3 possible scenarios and how we could make them the most relaxing as possible; home birth (our plan A), birth in the midwife led unit (plan B), and c section (plan C). We knew that any combination was possible so didn’t plan each one exactly but we knew what we did and didn’t want in each scenario, which really helped on the day.
Understanding what is right for us and using 'BRAIN' decision making:
"Charlotte was an excellent sounding board to help us prepare for what we knew might be a difficult conversation."
At a routine midwife appointment I was told that our baby was measuring big (from the fundal height measurement) and we were referred to the hospital a week later for a growth scan. The scan indicated that baby was measuring at 8lb 8oz two weeks before our due date and that we would need to come back to see the consultant. At that point the sonographer told us that 60% of women go on to have “normal” sized babies. (Read to the end of the story to see Emilio's actual birth weight and if the scan was accurate)
Charlotte was an excellent sounding board to help us prepare for what we knew might be a difficult conversation. We went back on the following Tuesday (38+5) where the consultant urged us that a home birth was ill-advised and that we should have the birth on the consultant led labour ward. She also urged us to consider induction or an elective c section due to the increased risk of shoulder dystocia. We were well prepared and had done plenty of our own research along side the hypnobirthing course so we were able to use our “BRAIN” to make the best decision for us. After refusing any of the options she recommended as well as being offered and refusing a membrane sweep 3 times. We left confident that we would wait for our baby to arrive when he was ready.
The Start of Spontaneous Labour:
"I felt so calm and in control that I even sent my husband to do the weekly shop when he finished work while I stayed at home."
It was almost like Emilio had heard our conversation because the very next day I woke up at 3am with some light cramping, nothing painful but enough to stop me being able to sleep. They were quite far apart and sporadic to start with so at lunchtime I decided to have a bath, listen to a hypnobirthing recording and take a couple of paracetamols just to check they would go away and if they were Braxton Hicks.
They didn’t but the warm water and relaxation techniques worked wonders and I felt really refreshed. I knew the initial labour stage could go on for a few days so I spent the rest of the day relaxing and breathing through each surge. I felt so calm and in control that I even sent my husband to do the weekly shop when he finished work while I stayed at home.
At around 7pm the surges were quite close together and lasting a while so we decided to ring the home birth team. Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough midwife’s to send someone out to us so we decided to continue to manage at home for a few hours when we hoped there would be a midwife available.
I kept my oxytocin up by eating pasta, listening to our wedding playlist and watching “At Home with the Fury’s” which definitely kept me laughing.
At around 11pm, my body decided to get rid of any unnecessary contents (including the pasta!) as well as my mucus plug. We called the home birth team again and they informed us there would be no midwife available to come out but there was a room available at the midwife led unit with a birthing pool. We decided to go in because I didn’t want to freebirth and we moved onto our plan B.
Arriving at hospital and making the room our own:
"I was 7cm dilated just by using the breathing techniques and massages from my husband during surges."
The bags were already in the car including bottles with fairy lights in as well as some other bits from our wedding we had prepared to make the room feel more homely.
We arrived at the hospital at about half past midnight. Where we were directed to the maternity assessment centre. I still had some blood which concerned me slightly so I agreed to a vaginal examination so I knew what was going on and to help me stay calm. I was 7cm dilated just by using the breathing techniques and massages from my husband during surges.
I knew we would be meeting our baby boy soon and I was taken in a wheelchair to the suite as by then I needed some help with the surges using gas and air.
Once we got to the Lotus suite the midwife ran the birthing pool and I got in straight away. The water helped me relax into the surges again while the gas and air helped me continue to focus on my breathing. All the while my husband was holding my hand, giving me affirmations and ensuring I kept snacking and drinking.
At around 5am my waters broke and the midwife was struggling to find baby’s heartbeat in the pool so she encouraged me to move onto the bed so they could monitor him using a CTG. I knew that he was very close as I felt the pressure building and I didn’t want to lie on my back to birth so I agreed as long as I could stay on my hands and knees.
Half an hour later even the CTG couldn’t measure his heartbeat and the senior midwife wanted to move me to the labour ward to be monitored and put my legs in stirrups. This is where I saw how valuable it was for my husband to attend the course with me. He knew that was the last thing I wanted and advocated for me. He asked all the right questions about the risks and consequences and told the senior midwife "no" and that if the risk was that high the consultant should come to us.
15 minutes later our baby boy Emilio was born. He was perfectly healthy and happy and weighed 7lb 13oz. Showing that the growth scan was wildly wrong and if we were less prepared we could have been talked into an elective cesarian for no reason.
Ideally I’d have wanted a physiological 3rd stage of labour but after the golden hour with the cord still attached to our boy there was still no sign of the placenta so I opted for the synthetic oxytocin injection as I was ready for the birth to be finished. Once I was stitched up for my second degree tear they weighed and did all the tests on Emilio and he was perfect. The midwife’s watched me feed him, checked that he and I had passed urine and we were ready to go home!
By midday (after all the paperwork was finally finished!) we left the hospital and headed back home into the newborn bubble.
I can’t explain how useful the hypnobirthing course was in allowing us to make informed decisions and feeling confident in expressing our wishes in the moment even when things weren’t going the way we’d hoped. I knew that my husband would make the right choices and advocate for me and my wishes without fail.
Charlotte, thank you for being our teacher and guiding us through this amazing journey. You have been nothing short of brilliant giving us fantastic support throughout.
I can’t recommend Charlotte enough for anyone wanting to expand their knowledge and confidence when it comes to birth. I hope that everyone has the opportunity to have the support and guidance Charlotte offered us through our birthing journey. 100% recommend."
Thank you so much for sharing your amazing birth story Liv, and for your very kind words. Huge congratulations to you, Glen and Emilio. I absolutely love teaching and supporting expectant parents and feel very grateful you chose me.
I can help you get informed and feel confident, relaxed and empowered for your baby's birth.