Maggy van Eijk, 29, a social media manager from London, gave birth to Astrid in a birth pool in hospital
“I didn’t really know much about birth when I got pregnant. I was the first of my friends to have a baby, so I had a lot to learn! But I did know I wanted to give birth in water because I love swimming and water really relaxes me.
“I laboured at home to start with, but when the midwife popped over and concluded I was 6cm dilated it was time to head to hospital. Although I’d packed a bikini, when it came to climbing into the birthing pool I didn’t care and was happy to be completely naked! Suddenly wearing clothes didn’t feel important anymore. The lights were low and it was just the midwife and my partner Alex in the room, so it felt very quiet and chilled out. I found a great position hanging over the edge of the birth pool in a kind of squat. It meant I could continue taking gas and air, which helped a lot, and with each contraction I sang my favourite Arctic Monkeys song in my head which distanced me from the pain.
“When the urge came to push, I made some really loud grunting noises – it actually felt like I was doing the biggest poo in the world! Our midwife kept saying: 'You’re doing great; just trust your body.' My boyfriend Alex was brilliant at encouraging me and he told me when he could see the head coming. I’d been in the water for about an hour by this point, and only pushing for about 20 minutes. It all happened really quickly! As soon as the head was out, Astrid whooshed out into the water. As I took her into my arms she looked up at me with her big, blue eyes and she had such a calm, contented look on her face. It was such a magical moment to finally hold her.”
Water birth tips from Parenting Club midwife Emma Mills
• Getting out of the pool and having a walk around every few hours in the first stage of labour can be an effective way to help optimise the pain relief of the water and allow the baby to move deeper into the pelvis.
• Use a folded towel to kneel on in the pool to make yourself more comfortable and use an inflatable pillow to rest your head on between contractions.
• Remember to drink lots of drinking water while in the pool. You will be expending a lot of energy during labour and it’s easy to become dehydrated.