Can you have a “normal” birth following a loss?

posted 11 Jan 2012, 03:50 by Olly Cruickshank

The straightforward answer is no – it can’t be "normal" – not the pregnancy and certainly not giving birth to a baby you will this time take home. Physically, the birth will be the same as hundreds of thousands of other women, but mentally you can’t escape the pain and trauma of what happened before.

But I was determined to have a natural birth. I know some people thought I was crazy, and for those who lost babies later into their pregnancy I can understand why they couldn’t even think about going to term. But there was something inside me that said I’m going to have the water birth I had always hoped for.

My story was that I went into labour and gave birth early – there was nothing wrong with the babies (I was carrying twins) nothing wrong with my placenta or my blood. I had developed an infection and my body’s way of dealing with this infection was to go into labour. At just under 22 weeks gestation, the twins were just too small to survive.

The chance of this happening again were slim – and once I got past 30 weeks and the pregnancy was continuing well I started to believe that there was no reason why I shouldn’t continue until term and give birth how I wanted to.

Following research on induction and numerous discussions and deliberations with my partner, my consultant, my midwife, the NCT class teacher, and other SANDS members, I made up my mind and chose not to be induced early. The overriding reason for this was the statistical percentage of prolonged, painful inductions (prior to term + 10 days) and the number which ultimately ended in caesarean section – something I personally was determined to avoid.

The last few weeks were not easy – I frequently thought "my baby is alive right now and would be perfectly healthy if born now" but I hung on in there.

My due date came and went and I was now getting quite nervous, despite the frequent ‘check up’ trips to the day assessment unit. I remember those trips well – I would get so nervous walking through the hospital and couldn’t relax until the trace had been completed and everything was OK. I frequently thought "why am I putting myself through this?" But by this time I knew of three other ladies who had inductions before term - none of which worked particularly well and 2 ended in caesarean – real life examples, not just a book of statistics.

But the strain was beginning to show – not just for me but my partner too. I saw my consultant and we agreed on induction at Term + 10 days, when success was more likely.

Fortunately the induction worked at the first attempt and my labour progressed well. My Blood Pressure and the baby’s heart rate were perfect so I was cleared to go into the pool. I then continued to have a relatively straightforward (although of course, long and painful as most are!) labour and delivery.

Throughout life I’ve always been a very determined person and firm believer of "if you put your mind to something you can achieve anything".

I will never forget the painful, traumatic experience of giving birth to the twins knowing they’ll not survive, but I’m very proud of achieving the most amazing birth experience I could ever have imagined for the delivery of my daughter.

Since writing this article Helen has subsequently had another baby, born at Term+2 days with no complications.