Disclaimer: This post is in two parts not as some kind of odd suspense tactic, (hint: it has a happy ending!) but because I can’t really tell my birth story without giving a bit of background!
When you become pregnant, the whole ‘giving birth’ part hovers somewhere in your mind. It wasn’t something I really thought too much about. I parked myself firmly in the ‘cross that bridge when I come to it’ camp. With twins, I knew there were so many variables that would determine the type of birth I could have, and that things could change at any time. I accepted early on that I probably wouldn’t have a gentle water birth with twinkly lights and soft music, and went back to counting baby grows and knitting bunting for the nursery (which, to this day, remains unfinished)!
I was fortunate that my pregnancy went absolutely swimmingly for the first and second trimesters. I had no nausea, no sickness, no major fatigue. I didn’t get any strange cravings. I felt normal!
Until one night at around 29 weeks when I had a bleed without warning. I was examined and admitted to hospital. As a precaution, I was given two steroid injections, administered twelve hours apart, to mature the babies’ lungs in case labour was to start early. I spent 3 days on the antenatal ward for monitoring – no cause was ever found for the bleed.
I was relieved when I was allowed home, but after that my entire mindset changed. I had previously drifted along, thinking that as I was young and healthy I would sail through to full term. (How naive I was). I simply couldn’t relax any more. I went out less, stopped exercising and took things easier, wondering if something I had done had caused the bleed. I knew I would spend the remainder of the pregnancy on constant ‘knicker check’ and became grateful for the end of each day that the babies were still safely inside me, growing.
Then at 32 weeks, I lost some clear fluid after going to the toilet. Again, panic struck. I took a deep breath and called maternity triage, who asked me to come in for an examination to see if it was amniotic fluid. I was monitored first and then, I was taken to a room to wait for a doctor. Hours seemed to pass and it was quite late into the night when I was finally examined. The doctor looked very serious when she said “Your cervix is closed, but I can confirm your waters have broken”.
Before 37 weeks of pregnancy, this is called PPROM –
Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes.
And so, again, tearful and terrified that my babies were about to be born very prematurely, I was admitted to the ward. My care plan was as follows:
-To monitor the babies’ heart rates on the CTG twice daily
-To monitor my pulse, blood pressure and temperature 4-hourly to check for signs of infection
-Monitor the babies’ amniotic fluid levels and growth with weekly ultrasound scans
-Monitor my fluid loss. If the clear fluid was to change to green/brown at any time, it could indicate meconium (baby’s bowel movement) in my waters which is a sign of distress, and the babies would need to be delivered swiftly.
-Best case scenario – to deliver the babies by inducing labour at 34 weeks.
When we hear about ‘waters breaking’ or see scenes on television dramas, it is often shown as a dramatic gush. However, it can be just a trickle, as it was for me.
Although I leaked continuously, the amniotic fluid levels remained within the normal range. Thankfully, I did not develop an infection at any point. My observations were all normal. The babies’ growth remained consistent.
Two cots were ready for us in the neonatal unit.
If you are pregnant and think you are leaking fluid at any time, please do not hesitate to contact your midwife or maternity unit. I could have easily convinced myself that it was urine or just some kind of new discharge. (Oh how glamorous is pregnancy?) Seriously though – do get checked out.