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Labour and meeting the little one

These diaries were written in 2012 by mums with epilepsy. Lots of mums-to-be have found them really helpful and reassuring.

For up-to-date information about epilepsy and having a baby, go to Epilepsy Action's advice and information pages.

You’ve made your birth plan, packed your hospital bag, are closer to choosing a baby name - but what will your baby’s birth really be like? We can’t tell you that, but our mums can tell you what their birth was like.

Meet our Jubilee baby

Clair: I was particularly lucky in that my friend (from when we were two and a half) was a student midwife at the hospital where I was having my baby. She helped deliver my baby and had really looked into epilepsy.

My husband played such a huge part in my pregnancy and labour too. He was amazing, always there to support me. The labour was as hard for him to watch as for me to go through. (Editor – I’m not sure I believe him!)

In the end my labour wasn’t straight forward, but it had nothing to do with my epilepsy. After 24 hours of labour and a tug of war with forceps - baby Riley Elizabeth was born on 3 June, Jubilee bank holiday, (very patriotic, although that’s not why we chose the name!), weighing 8lb 8oz.

Felt love for the anaesthetist

Jennifer: Our hospital had tips for a quick labour on the walls (all lies!!) My husband took one of the tips a little too literally. It suggested close eye contact with your partner by way of support. I opened my eyes from a big contraction to find him quite literally in my face. I took off from the bed with the biggest fright.

My labour was 40 hours long and ended with emergency caesarean. (Not sure I'm the best person to quote here!) Sounds horrific but wasn't actually that bad at the time. Gas and air is fabulous stuff and as for the anaesthetist who administered the epidural - love felt for him more than husband at that point. 

Ventouse will be on my next birth plan

Nicola: I think I have wet myself. Definitely liquid has leaked. I know fore-waters are a gush and hind-waters are a trickle. It is coming up to my due date, but how much of a trickle is a trickle? Hmm think I am going to keep quiet about this one, it’s a bit embarrassing…

Five days (after the wet incident) I have a routine appointment. At the end of which I thought I’d better ask the question. “Oh, by the way, I don’t think they have, but maybe it could possibly be possible that potentially my waters might have broken…” And the next thing is that I am not allowed to leave the hospital as they are going to induce me! And I only have my handbag...

The next couple of days are a blur. Waiting for my waters to break (several midwives and a doctor tried to break them with a stick type thing without success, and then more waiting). 

Then finally my contractions started. Whoever invented TENS machines should be nominated for sainthood. At 4am - my waters broke properly. This time there is no doubt about it! Then things start to get really painful. Gas and air makes me feel like I am having a pre-tonic-clonic seizure aura, so I stop that pretty quickly.

The consultant takes a look and is concerned about Mr Wriggly’s heartbeat. I might have to have a caesarean after all! I decide to have an epidural straight away. This way if a caesarean is needed, I won’t have to have a general anaesthetic. But all seems to be OK.

The hours pass in a haze of boiled sweets and chatting to the midwife and student nurse. Gerald is asleep in the corner (thanks, luv). Oh yes and contraction after contraction which I can monitor on a little graph thing next to the bed… 

Finally, 17 hours later I am told that I might have to have a caesarean after all as Mr Wriggly has wriggled into an unhelpful position. I’m not too impressed by this suggestion. Luckily the little man manages to right himself, but as his heartbeat is dropping, the decision is taken to suck him out with a ventouse. He comes out with two and a half pushes and no tearing. I wonder if next time I can put ‘ventouse’ on my birth plan?? 

An early start

Ingrid: My labour ended up being 24 hours long. It started three weeks early. We were staying with relatives for the holidays and were due to head home on the day my contractions started. We had a bit of distraction as we had to ring the local maternity unit to find out if I could go there. Thankfully they said yes!

I am a new mum, but I still have epilepsy

Rebecca: In April (2012) I had a beautiful, healthy, baby boy. In fact I have written most of this diary with him next to me either sleeping, screeching or gurgling. He was 8lb 6oz, so a good healthy size but not huge! I couldn't feel luckier after all of my concerns about the effects of my medication, and my anxiety about the birth.

I had a caesarean section in the end which all turned out fine. He let out an enormous scream when he was born and, although I was a bit groggy, I remember seeing his lovely dark hair when they put him next to me.

The down side to having a caesarean was that I couldn't get out of bed for about 24 hours, and couldn't move around much at all for a couple of days after that. It was really frustrating not being able to pick him up when he cried. I had to wait for a nurse to come and help me, which sometimes took a while.

I didn't sleep the whole time I was in the hospital and felt that my epilepsy was a bit overlooked. I had to ask if they [the midwives] could look after him for a little while so I could sleep for a couple of hours, but they didn't seem very keen. I felt awful for wanting them to take him. But it was very hard to cope with feeling so uncomfortable, not having any sleep and adjusting to having a baby to look after. I had absolutely no experience with children so it was all pretty daunting.

Mount happiness

Emma: In short I climbed a mountain, after brain surgery, epilepsy diagnosis, and three kids. I gave birth to twins. June 2011, I had a beautiful, non-identical, boy and girl, born five weeks four days early, and needing 12 days of care in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The birth of both my daughters was very similar

Emma H: The births of both my girls were nearly exactly the same. Both were long labours due to poor positioning of the babies, ending up with an epidural. [Chloe and Megan weren’t laid in the best position for moving down the birth canal].

I would have loved a water birth but was told this was not possible due to the risks with my epilepsy.  As it turned out, I couldn’t have had one anyway. When my waters broke there was meconium in them – this is a sign that the baby is distressed. The midwives had to put a monitor around my tummy to check my baby’s heart rate throughout the labour. This would have allowed them to pick up any signs of distress quickly.

Both girls were born healthy and I was fine. I was kept in over night with both girls for general observation. But I think this was probably due to the meconium as well as the epilepsy. 

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