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Mother of two (born 2000s/2010s), from Ireland

First birth - in London - arrived at hospital around 1am and was 5cm dilated. Baby girl was born at 4.27am. Was told I could use the pool, as per my birth plan, but it needed to be prepared. I was in my own zone, didn't feel like speaking or being touched, throughout the birth so my husband just did his own thing and brought me some water whenever I gestured that I wanted it. He chatted with the midwife about our plan to collect cord blood. He saw the head come out while I was in the pool and, while I was being sewn up, she looked at him and melted his heart! On this occasion he was a little perturbed (not quite distressed but unsettled, I guess!) by the amount of blood loss I had. I was marked down as post partum haemorrhage but didn't need a transfusion or anything.

Second birth - in Dublin - arrived at the hospital around 11.20pm. Baby was born at 12.41am. Husband drove us to the hospital but needed me to navigate a bit as we didn't drive into the city often and weren't sure of one way streets. I had, of course, prepared directions for him but, on the night, I directed. He had his ipad in hand with contraction master on it which he showed the midwife on admission - she was nonplussed and examined me as a more direct manner of finding out! I was 4cm along at this point. We weren't fully sure if I was in labour as my contractions were lasting less than a minute so he had brought his own bag into the hospital but left mine in the boot of the car. When we were told how far along I was, he went to get my bag! I needed to have antibiotics in labour due to Strep B but asked that they wait to give me the needle 'cause I wanted a hand to hold! He was surprised at this, I think - he assumed that I was feeling the same as with our daughter so mostly stayed in the background though I asked for his hand a few times as this was quicker, more intense birth and I found it harder to stay focussed and calm. We had been told at the scan we were having a boy but weren't going to believe it 'til we saw it! I was standing, and being monitored due to baby's heart rate dipping with contractions. I did not feel comfortable getting on the bed so stayed standing and midwife crouched behind me. As baby came out, midwife asked husband to go and ask for help - she thought baby's shoulder was stuck but she asked me to spread my legs a little further apart and out came baby - midwife caught the baby and I looked down and said to husband "It IS a boy"! While I was being sewn up, I had to pass our baby son to my husband as I was in some pain and discomfort and didn't feel I could hold him caefully enough at that point.

My husband would have loved to have been a doctor and has surgical experience on animals due to his job. He was happy to be involved to help the medical staff and, on both occasions, to collect umbilical cord blood after the birth. It was good for him to have practical stuff to focus on, I think.