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Mother of two (born in 2000s/2010s), from South-East England

First child - when I went into labour had to call my mum and dad who live an hour away as we didn't have a car, dad drove us to the hospital at about 1am. Mum and my husband were present throughout labour and the birth, which happened at 10am the next morning. I started off in midwife unit but was moved to doctor-led unit to be moitored after my waters were broken by the midwife and meconium discovered. My husband and mum were very supportive. My husband took himself off for a cup of tea and nearly missed the birth but luckily arrived back in time. I tried gas and air but it made me throw up, tried to hold off other painkillers but went for pethidine after being moved to another room because I couldn't walk around any more, and having to lie down was very painful. Gave birth kneeling on the bed holding the bedboard. My husband cut the cord. I had to stay in hospital two nights on the ward, because of the meconium and then me passing a blood clot, which I was quite tearful about as I wanted to go home and the ward was noisy and quite dirty I thought - blood in the shower, etc. Also the midwives were so busy they didn't tell me things like the fact that the lights would be turned out at 11 or where the light was in my cubicle, so I was changing one of my first nappies when suddenly plunged into darkness. I had to get help putting on vest and baby gro as I couldn't work out what poppers went where, in my defence I hadn't slept for about 30 hours and it was dark! I also felt I didn't get enough help establishing breast feeding although it was all OK in the end. One of my main memories is th emoment when my husband and mum went home and I was left with the baby for the first time - mixed feelings of pride and OMG it's just me, what am I supposed to do??

Baby 2 - I had Strep B so had to go to hospital as soon as contractions started, this time mum and dad looked after my two year old son. Was hooked up to antibiotic drip, I was worried about this in case I couldn't walk around but it was fine. Much nicer room this time with a double bed, birthing balls etc, airy and clean. Much more consistency, one midwife throughout, previoulsy I had about 4. Able to give birth standing up. This time the gas and air was fine so that is all I had. It definately hurt a lot more, he was a lot bigger than my first though. Again my husband cut the cord. I had to stay over night again because of the strep B, knew the ropes a bit better this time - but the midwives lost my notes so I was delayed going home for some hours, I wouldn't have minded if I had had a clear departure time but they kept saying "a few minutes" and it was hours, which was distressing to my two year old as he kept thinking we were nearly home. My main memory this time was seeing my son being lifted up between my legs and thinking "ah, another boy"!