Real Birth Stories – Episiotomy and ventouse

A real mum - after successful IVF treatment - shares her birth experience of induction, episiotomy and a ventouse delivery

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Sally Hipwell

Birth Summary

*Sally Hipwell, 28, gave birth to baby Harrison after being induced at 38 weeks.
*Length of labour: 21 hours.
*Pain relief: Gas and air, epidural
*Scariest moment: When lots of people arrived and started to shout instructions, it made me think something was wrong, but it was just the anaesthetist who was being busy and efficient.
*Funniest moment: As I was being stitched up, we were chatting about how Liverpool Football Club were doing in the league. It was all very surreal!
*Advice for mums-to-be: The nurses and doctors are there to help, so trust them and you won’t go far wrong.

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“After several years of trying to get pregnant, I had IVF treatment, which worked first time. The pregnancy was fine until the 29th week when I had high blood pressure. I was monitored and scanned regularly to make sure the baby was okay.

“At 38 weeks, due to concern over the baby’s erratic heart rate, and another rise in blood pressure, it was decided the baby should be induced. I was admitted to hospital at 2pm on Friday. At 7pm I was given a dose of prostaglandin to induce labour and my husband, John, went home to get some rest, as we were told we could be in for a long wait.

“I woke up at 3am with period-like pains and dull backache, which gradually got worse. At about 8am I decided it was time to have a soothing, hot bath. Just as I was getting into the tub my waters broke, which intensified the pain.

“Things were really starting to move and it was time for the reinforcements to arrive. John got there at 9am with my parents. Then the consultant, who had seen me through my IVF and all my antenatal appointments, arrived. I was taken straight to the labour ward where I was put on monitors and given gas and air for the pain, which was intense despite the fact I was only 1cm dilated.

“My birth plan had been to work my way through the drugs as I needed them – but I had to have everything at once! I was given an epidural and hooked up to a hormone drip to speed up labour. Concern about the baby’s heart rate meant I was told I’d probably need a caesarean.

“I felt all the decisions were being taken away from me, but as my baby’s health was paramount I didn’t care. The baby’s heart rate settled so I was left to progress on my own with my midwife making regular checks.

“By turns, I was bored, excited and worried – everything you’d expect from a first-time mum, but John was with me the whole time. By 10.30pm I was told to push. The baby was moving down the birth canal, but his heart rate dropped radically, and he needed to be brought out quickly. I was given an episiotomy [a cut to widen the vaginal opening] and Harrison was born at 11.01pm, with a bit of help from ventouse!

“It was a delight to see the baby we were afraid we’d never have. I was sure it was going to be a girl, though – my womanly instincts are rubbish!”

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For more real birth stories, don’t miss Practical Parenting magazine each month.

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