Being Pregnant in London: Part 3


Late-term pregnancy: Man proposes, but God disposes


I can honestly say that my entire pregnancy was easy and happy, without any serious complications. There was nothing to suggest to me that I would not give birth around the day of my due date. The plan was simple: around 19 July I would deliver my baby (naturally, of course, and in the best way – into water), everything would be just wonderful and my mother, having travelled from Prague to London, would be able to enjoy her new baby grandson. However, there was one big BUT…

Lucas didn’t want to come out and I was growing more and more agitated by the day. I was doing all I could: making myself comfortable, staying positive, doing pregnancy exercises, eating healthily, taking long walks with our dogs, reading the pregnancy affirmation cards… everything! But my due date came and went and I found myself experiencing a ´late-term´ pregnancy – now, positive thinking was no longer helping and I began to feel anxious. The end of July was fast approaching and friends who coincidentally had the same due date had long since given birth.

The idea of the pregnancy carrying on beyond 42 weeks – becoming ‘post-term’ – really worried me as inducing labour usually takes place in a classic maternity unit in hospital in the presence of doctors – just what I didn’t want. Furthermore, induction is started by using artificial oxytocin which has its risks, and in most cases birth contractions occur much faster, with greater intensity and are much more painful. Induced women often ask for an epidural as a result, and one intervention alternates with another, your birth is no longer ‘yours’. This scenario literally scared me.

Time was running on so fast and still it didn’t look like I would give birth any time soon. Again, I tried to do my best to speed up the birth in a natural way. So, in the tradition of the old wives’ tales, I drank raspberry tea sprinkled with cinnamon and tried to get more exercise, walking the dogs for longer and cleaning the entire house. One of the last consultations with a particularly calm midwife gave me a little cause for optimism, even though my wishes for natural childbirth were beginning to disappear as pressure time wore on.

My stress was compounded by well-meant messages from relatives and friends: “Has the baby been born yet?” I came to hate this question!

But it wasn’t over yet. The midwife advised me to have a ‘membrane sweep’, a suggestion which hardly thrilled me! But it was now eight days after my due date, so on the grey and moody morning of Saturday 27 July I arrived at the hospital feeling completely stressed out, for another midwife to take me through this procedure.

And yet the midwife could not do the membrane sweep – a sign, I thought! Lucas wasn’t yet close enough to the birth canal. For me this was a small victory but one that was shortlived. The midwife explained to me that my official 42 weeks were almost through and if my pregnancy went beyond this, I would not be able to give birth at the birthing centre at UCL Hospital. This is because pregnancies beyond 42 weeks are considered risky in Britain. So, another appointment was booked – for Thursday morning, 1 August 2019, to induce labour. I had no choice but to prepare for it.

Leaving the birthing centre, Jacob and I didn’t speak much. However, my adventurous mother wanted to explore UCL Hospital some more, to see what café facilities were on offer (probably to prepare for Thursday). She was especially captivated by the multicultural prayer room on the ground floor. The prayer hall offered four doors, one each for Hindus, Jews, Christians and Muslims. We visited the small Christian chapel and all of us had only one prayer – that everything would turn out well!

The last few days before the induction lay ahead and the temperature in London topped 38˚C, while I was drinking one hot raspberry tea with cinnamon after another. We made a clear plan as a family: tomorrow will be Sunday and the best opportunity to go for a classic ‘full English breakfast’[1], and on Monday we would go for a ladies’ day out in central London, which we were determined to enjoy! Surely walking a few miles around the city centre in a heatwave would have to coax Lucas out! My husband Jacob, although his colleagues expected him to take some days off, was still working at this point, in order to have more time off for the birth itself, and so I was immensely grateful to my mother for supporting and helping me through these final days. So, on the Monday we visited almost every monument in London and survived travelling on the Underground during the highest temperatures the UK had experienced in living memory, the mercury reaching above 38.5˚C. We literally crawled back home!

Our plan for Tuesday was to stay at home and rest. Jacob brought his work home and I started to feel really overwhelmed with fatigue that day. I slept almost all afternoon. How wise the human body is: it knew exactly what to do! It was that evening, around eight, I had my first regular contractions. Later, I thanked all the saints for hearing our prayers during a furiously quick midnight taxi ride to the UCL Hospital.


Thank you for reading! If you are interested in my experience with natural birth at the birthing centre in UCL Hospital, visit my site in the following days or subscribe to receive notifications of all new posts and stories!

[1] Traditional ´Full English breakfast´ consists of homemade sausages, roasted bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms, two bull’s eye eggs, beans in tomato sauce and toasts. Vegetarian or vegan version of the English breakfast is also more and more popular, so we also had this veggie option.