Day 19: My labour experience

Don’t read if you don’t want an honest account. A few people have asked so i wanted to share but also as a reminder to myself. Bottom line is, it really wasn’t that terrible. Possibly I was lucky, either way, not bad enough to put me off considering another at some point. So, what happened…

The short version:
– i gave birth at 41 weeks and 3 days
– i was awake 72 hours and in labour for 60 hours
– i had a water birth, delivered naturally

The long version:
Tuesday 14th: start getting contractions about 8pm, 3.5 mins apart. We went to the birthing suite but contractions were too weak and i was only 2cm dilated. However they checked my blood pressure which had gone a bit high. So they shipped me to the labour ward by 2am, in the mean time my contractions became stronger but 15 mins apart. It’s amazing how the attitude changed from birthing suite (natural birth focused/calm) to labour ward (‘we may as well start thinking about inducing you as you’re late and you’ll probably need to be induced eventually’). They moved me at 5am to ‘keep me in over night’ for observation and put me in a shared ward, right next to the snoring woman with her tv and lights on, who liked to talk loudly at 6.30am to the midwife. No sleep. I got moved to a single room at 10am to try to get an hour or so of sleep. It was disrupted every 15 mins with a contraction…

Wednesday 15th May: As mentioned I managed a half hearted attempt at sleep and possibly managed an hour. Elliott came back to join me as he was not allowed to stay over night (heartbreaking for him and myself) around midday as I was trying to get a bit more kip but was failing. After some rather interesting hospital food (I seemed to have lost my appetite the one time I probably needed the extra energy) I was eventually discharged around 3pm as my blood pressure had returned to normal. Again, no sleep that night as contractions kept me awake all night and I attempted to rev up the TENS machine with each new contraction to help stave off the pain… gotta love latant labour…

– Thursday 16th May:  Continued contractions throughout the day. The bath was good and helpful in part, my bump was a bit bigger than the water level. Apparently not necessarily a bad idea as having TOO hot a bath is not good for the baby. From about midday my contractions started getting closer. By around 2/3pm we called the Lewisham Birthing Centre and were told to come in. On examination at 4pm I was only 3-4cm dialated so we were told to go for a walk. We managed 2 hours round the park and then I needed food. Around 7pm, Elliott came back with food (I had sent him out to find some as he could move faster and you forget that you need the toilet all the time, especially as baby was fully engaged) and the midwives let us eat in our (soon to be) birthing room, pool and all. ‘Sometimes people knacker themselves out by walking round and leave no energy for the actual birth’, advised my midwife Noli who let us stay in the room rather than go out for more walking. Thank God! Oddly, whilst walking the contractions became erratic and less painful, but as soon as I was stationary or laying down they seemed to ramp up again. I was given the opportunity to try out the gas and air once we were settled in the room. Result. Hubby didn’t like it. Helped take the edge off a bit for me. In the end after much pacing in the room with the contractions increasing in intensity I asked for some pethidine at 10pm. Truth was I didn’t know how long I needed to go and if I could even get an extra hour of sleep it would all help. So, whilst watching ‘The fighter’ on TV I was given some pethidine and it was GREAT! Completely relaxed me, contractions subsided, I was pretty zenned out for 30 mins and then slept for about an hour/hour and a half. Midwife sadly came in to check my pressure and woke me up (around 1am I think). Good news though was that the pethidine also helped in the sense that I was also 6-7cm dilated by the time she checked me again around 3am. So they started running the pool for me. I got in…

Friday 17th May: Noli had said a couple of times ‘I’m pretty sure this baby will come before I finish my shift’, which was 8am. This had a strange effect on me, it gave me hope that this labour experience would end and that it was up to me to help the baby arrive on time. Between 3am when i got in the pool and 7.11am when she arrived, I can tell you I spent all 4 hours on all 4s, with the belly hanging in the water. I was given gas and air by hubby and our midwife stayed in the room with us for most of it. Her calmness and reassurance helped affirm that this was indeed a natural daily occurrence and meant that there was no panic, anguish or worry throughout the whole process for me. I just remember looking at hubby once to tell him i wasn’t sure if I could do this. That was about all the protest I could manage, i was just too exhausted. By this time the contractions turned into unsurmountable white pain. I’m guessing this was probably the transition period. Then a strange thing happened. I’m not sure if my body was ready at this point or not, but I suddenly remember thinking that I was still not sure how this thing inside me was going to come out. I couldn’t feel her in my birth canal, I didn’t feel different in anyway. I knew I should be getting the need/feeling to bear down. But it wasn’t coming. I remember looking at the time and thinking there wasn’t that much time left, it may have been around 6am? I needed this baby to arrive when the midwife wanted her to as I was too exhausted to carry on past 8am and going with no idea of when the end would come, I think would have broken me. So I decided to give pushing a go. Nothing initially on my 1st attempt, but then the deeper I pushed the more I got an urge to bear down. It was the oddest thing. My initial pushes got no results it seemed. I felt nothing and midwife could see nothing. I started giving a couple of really deep, guttural pushes to which she responded, ‘THOSE are the ones we need, from now on, each push needs to be like that’. I had to give up the gas and air as I kept loosing my handle on the pushing. By this stage I don’t think the gas and air was making much of a difference anyway. So that’s how I carried on. It felt like an eternity, I kept asking if she could see anything, I just wanted a sign of progress. I then started feeling the baby come down the birth canal (no pain from this part)… eventually she said yes! Then the baby started crowning. Again no pain yet. Its odd to think that for the whole of this journey so far the only pain has been from the contractions. Of course now as she’s crowning properly you can feel yourself stretching. midwife’s only advice was,’ you’ll want to keep pushing, but when I say stop, you’ll need to stop’. The odd thing is, it hurts, again white stinging pain as the baby is crowning but a) you don’t care as you’re just so much closer to meeting your baby and b) there’s nothing you can do about it, its the only way she’s coming out! I managed to pause… and then we carried on. Out a bit more and then I think we paused again at which point she asked if i wanted to feel the baby’s head? My waters had not broken before the birth so I wondered if it was the membrane I was feeling… turns out it was her hair! A few more pushes and she was out. Hubby crying in front of me, the midwife gave me the baby but I was so weak I worried I would drop her. He cut the cord and the water was drained whilst I was still in the pool, I thought I would collapse, gravity was taking effect, I hadn’t realised the water had taken so much of my weight. Just before they took the baby out of my hands and over to daddy they said ‘oh yes, would you like to know what sex it is?’ We had a look and it was a girl. A beautiful, full head of hair, crying, bundle of amazingness.

Stitches: I was hoping that was it. Baby had her vitamin K, I had my jab to help prevent massive blood loss, placenta was delivered within 2 mins of my jab. Then off I was carted to get stitched up. Now, would you believe that my perenium was completely intact? I’m gonna guess the massage and pelvic floors helped with this, however my lovely baby was born compound and was delivered with her hand up by her face (I knew I felt her hand making movements by her face in my last 8 weeks of pregnancy!). This meant a 3rd degree tear, unfortunately toward my rectum. After 6!!! separate checks: trainee midwife, her supervising midwife, senior midwife, Dr on call in the birth centre, then up to the labour ward where the Dr (who would be stitching me up) checked me, as did her senior Dr to double check, they decided that: 1) although a 3rd degree tear, it had not gone through to the back passage so I did not need to go into theatre (where I’d need something similar to an epidural) 2) I should be happy about that 3) keep sucking on that gas and air (it really doesn’t work as well as you think it does). Oh yeah, and I have ‘fantastic sphincter tone’ (I almost wet myself laughing… but didn’t, thank God for Pelvic floor exercises!!!) After some local anaesthetic (which started wearing off before we’d completely finished) and about 20/30 mins of stitching I asked how many stitches and was told one… erm, ONE!!?? ‘Yes, one continuous one’. Gotta smile about that, I believe that is code for, a boat load. Didn’t matter by this stage. But it was all over soon enough. they popped me back on the wheel chair and kindly shipped me back to a room in the birthing centre for about 10.30am. There, the baby was next to us in a cot, I tried my hand at breastfeeding and we tried to get some sleep. How is it that after all of this I struggled to sleep? Should have taken the chance when I had it! The next day I was discharged.

Was it all worth it? Yes. I think in a way I had a very easy birth. The thing is that if you tell someone all the things that happen to you it sounds like a lot. But when you spread them out it makes them easier to deal with. There weren’t really any catastrophes. It was painful, hard, long and a completely new experience, but totally worth it. You give birth to a life at the end of it. Something that has grown inside of you for 9 months, eating/drinking what you have and growing from you… The baby is literally a part of you until it comes out. And then its yours and hubby’s to nurture, love and help to develop. All pretty mind blowing really.

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