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  • Writer's pictureMidwife Pip

Rebecca Lynd’s Birth Story: Forceps Birth

I should have twigged what lay in store later that night when at 2pm, six days into my maternity leave, I got a sudden urge to paint a wardrobe in our otherwise ‘all-set’ baby nursery. I guess nesting really is a thing, even if you aren’t conscious that you are nesting at the time! I’d felt a little more tired than usual that day, but no more tired than at any other day almost 39 weeks pregnant. So, as I settled into bed beside my husband, Jack, at 10pm I was caught off guard as my waters broke. And broke they did – I had the movie-style gush that I had been led to believe rarely actually happens. Initial shock turned almost instantly to excitement – we couldn’t believe it was finally happening. Two years of trying to conceive, a smooth and magical pregnancy, and now, the little person we’d wished into the world for so long was as eager to meet us as we were him.


The next few hours are a bit of a blur as my adrenaline took over. I dried off, stripped the sheets and got into a bath as the contractions came very quickly. I hadn’t expected this – we’d heard stories of people’s waters breaking and it being hours before contractions really started to kick in. Before long, Jack was on the phone to the delivery centre describing that my contractions were coming every 3–4 minutes and they advised us to begin making our way in.


I was in a lot of discomfort on the journey there, but concentrated on my breathing throughout to give myself something to focus on besides the growing pains. Something I wasn’t prepared for was that my waters kept going. Maybe I should have read more books about this – I’d heard about hind and fore waters before, but only later learnt that your body continues to make amniotic fluid after your waters break. By the time we got to the hospital, my leggings were drenched through, not that I cared of course. As we walked from the car park to the delivery centre, I remember noticing how calm and peaceful the night was. At such a late hour, just before midnight, the hospital was extremely quiet, and it was a warm, pleasant night and brought a sense of calm I was struggling to hold onto at this stage.


The delivery centre was extremely busy, and we were immediately told that the birth centre was closed due to staff shortages. As soon as a room could be arranged for us, we were invited in, and I was examined for the first time. I was 4cm and my contractions were coming strong and fast now – every few minutes. I was starting to struggle with remaining focused as the pain intensified and the lapse between contractions shortened and, honestly, fear started to creep in. I remember asking, ‘Why are they coming so quickly?’, ‘Is this normal?’


Sadly, gas and air didn’t cut it for me; I felt quite spaced out using it so opted instead for pethidine. This, in turn, made me quite sick and I became stranded, bouncing up and down on an exercise ball because every time I stood, I would be reaching for another sick tray. I couldn’t really speak but just kept focused on Jack, seeing him silently willing me on was so crucial at this stage. He and I both knew this needed to happen – we would get past it and soon our little boy would be in our arms.


At my next examination, at around 4am, I was 7cm dilated. Panic started to wash over me at this point, despite my wonderful midwives calmly and directly talking me through all my options. Projecting that I’d be another four hours before I was ready to push, I instantly knew what I needed in that moment. It wasn’t what I’d wanted, planned or expected, but I knew, with absolute clarity, that I needed an epidural. Everyone in the room supported me in that decision as soon as I made it and preparations were made for the procedure. It took 10 or 15 minutes for the epidural to begin working its magic, giving me some much-needed respite and while I didn’t manage to sleep, my body was able to relax a little and I felt able to regain some control.

When the morning staff handover came and went, I was unsettled to be losing the two fantastic midwives who’d seen me through to this point. But in walked Faith. I name her specifically because she was the ‘gold standard’ of midwife and I feel so lucky to have had her present and guiding me through my birth. She had the most soothing and reassuring voice and, when the time ‘to push’ approached, spoke to me with such conviction and encouragement that she instilled in me a strength I had lost over the past seven hours of labour.


At 7.30am I began to push. I know epidurals work differently for everyone, and to different degrees but mine had strangely worked better down one side of my body than the other so I could still feel contractions somewhat down my right side. This might sound unnerving, but I liked it – it felt reassuring that I could still feel the contraction sensation and didn’t, therefore, need to be told when to push. This, paired with my ability to moderate how much of the epidural drip I released , again gave me more control over my experience and allowed me to feel as much of the natural pain and pressure as I could bear. I was also far more mobile than I’d thought I could be and, again, with encouragement from Faith, was able to push knelt up on the bed and laid back – however I felt most comfortable.


After an hour of pushing, the head was visible but I was struggling to get our little boy’s head further along. I was told he ‘was clearly nice and snug’ initially, but it wasn’t long before the unspoken truth of these repeated phrases began to hit home: he was stuck. Though advised to keep pushing, as I approached the two-hour mark, Faith said to a younger midwife assisting her ‘We might have to go to Neville Barnes’. ‘Who the hell is Neville Barnes?’ Was he the best ‘awkward baby’ extractor among the consultants on shift? Neville Barnes is, in fact, a type of forceps – a very small pair but it still eludes me as to how they got the name of what sounds like a Harry Potter character. Time was now of the essence and arrangements for an instrumental delivery were made quickly and unbeknown to meet at first. I was told that forceps were going to be necessary to help me pass the head and, honestly, I didn’t care at this stage. I was tired, exhausted and beyond impatient to meet our little boy. What did surprise me was that I didn’t move; everything and everyone came to me. I’d expected that a trip to theatre was going to be necessary, but it was quickly explained to me that an instrumental delivery with Neville Barnes could be conducted in a delivery room, much to my relief.


Following a quick and painless episiotomy, our little boy, Charlie, was extracted in a rush of love and tears before being brought up and placed on my chest. It was easily the best, most surreal and magical moment of my life. In that instant, after hours of chaotic thoughts, I focused with absolute concentration, tracing from his tiny face to his perfect shoulders, to his scrunched-up hands and tons of hair! Jack joined us at the head of the bed, hugging us both. It wasn’t the birth we’d planned or expected, but it brought Charlie well and peacefully to us and, ultimately, that’s all we ever wanted.



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