Natalie Mackie got more than she bargained for when she gave birth at Inverurie Community Maternity Unit last week.
Not only was she the first mum to have a water birth at the facility since its two birthing pools reopened after a three-year closure.
She also got to finally decide on a name for her daughter.
“One of our midwives was called Jude,” the 27-year-old explains from her Inverurie home.
“The name was already on our shortlist of three baby names so when we found that out we took it as a sign.
“It sealed the deal.”
A landmark moment for Inverurie – and Natalie thanks to birthing pool
Baby Jude was born weighing a healthy seven pounds and three ounces at 3.30am last Tuesday.
With her at the maternity unit were mum Natalie and dad Stuart Sproat, with older brother Oscar, 5, waiting at home.
It was a landmark moment for the Inverurie maternity unit as its birthing pools finally came back online after their own protracted delivery.
But more importantly it was a night Natalie and Stuart will never forget.
“I got everything I’d wanted,” says a delighted Natalie. “I got the birthing pool, and was able to have my partner really close as well as my sister.
“It was just all the little things that I was looking for.”
‘With my first at ARI, it felt a lot more chaotic’
What made the birth even more special was how it compared to Natalie’s experience giving birth to Oscar at Aberdeen maternity hospital.
“With my first it felt a lot more chaotic, and it felt a lot more rushed,” she says. “I was worried that I was going to end up with the same thing again. But it was just the total opposite.”
In Inverurie, Natalie was in labour for five hours compared to nine in Aberdeen. More importantly, she was able to have family closer at hand.
Stuart even got to cut Jude’s cord, something he wasn’t offered with Oscar.
“I look back on them both so differently,” she says of her two deliveries.
“Of course, labour is horrible, there’s no getting round that. It’s not an enjoyable experience.
“But I look back on [Jude’s birth], and I feel like I got everything that I could have wanted.”
The long road to Inverurie birthing pools reopening
NHS Grampian announced last month the Inverurie pools would reopen on January 29, ending a three-year closure that some groups and mums said contributed to a lack of birthing options across the region.
The shuttering of the Inverurie pools due to an installation issue combined with closures of birthing pools at ARI and Peterhead meant that only Dr Gray’s maternity unit in Elgin handled water births.
Peterhead Community Hospital’s two birthing pools reopened in October while ARI’s facilities remain closed.
Inverurie’s reopening came just in time for Natalie. Though she thinks she played her part.
“When I went for my first midwife appointment, I was told the chances of me getting a water birth were really slim,” she says.
“Then the week before my due date they announced that the pools were reopening. And I was saying to everyone, I’m holding out. I’m not going into labour.”
Did that make the difference?
“Yes,” says Natalie with a smile. “I willed it into existence.”
Stuart changes his tune on water births
The birthing pool had some other near-miraculous results.
Prior to the birth, partner Stuart had reservations about a water birth.
“It was the aftermath of it,” explains Natalie with a laugh. “Seeing it all there in the pool.
“But actually being there, he said it was totally different to what he expected.
“It wasn’t as gruesome,” she laughed.