Why as soon as you become pregnant, everyone tells you the horror stories about labour? As if it isn’t enough leaping in to the unknown, without getting petrified about labour because everyone has told you their bad experiences. Well its not all doom and gloom. Read on to find out about my labour experience.
I was 37 weeks + 3 days pregnant when I gave birth. So the myth about how you are always late with your first was not the case for me. Everyone told me contractions were like bad period cramps. I had visions of my waters breaking in the supermarket or being in so much pain, that no pain relief could help, because everyone told me how painful giving birth was. We all have a different tolerance to pain, so I never listened to anyone’s stories. We are individuals and all our labour experiences will be different.
So I had my first contraction on a Saturday, when I was 37 + 1 pregnant. I just thought it was a pregnancy niggle you get towards the end of your 9 months. I went back to my home county, to give my horse a bath, unbeknown to me that I was in early stage labour. Maybe it was my version of nesting, ensuring my boy (horse) was clean. I was so unbalanced with my bump; I actually ended up falling on my bum and back as I tried to wash my horse’s legs. Mum ended up doing the last leg for me. These simple funny memories I will always keep.
I went back home, and got more contractions in the car, they came every 5 minutes, but they weren’t painful. I actually describe the pain of a contraction to brain freeze after/while eating an ice cream. I ended up making this connection as I had a Mcfurry and a contraction came when I had a mouth full of ice cream! Seriously, the pressure just went from top to bottom of my abdomen, it was just a pressure, which built up and then stopped, the same pain as brain freeze. I tried to go to bed, but the contractions were too uncomfortable to sleep, so I took a bath.
The bath stopped my contractions, so this meant I was not in established labour. I went to bed at midnight, and by 4am, the contractions started again. I relaxed in the garden and took a nice long walk, minus the dogs, as it was too hot for them. I kept bouncing on my ball, but the contractions just didn’t feel painful enough to be in labour. I gave up and rung the midwives, explaining that I think it was Braxton Hicks as the contractions were not painful. They told me I was in labour.
The reason I didn’t realise I was in labour for so long, was because everyone told me how bad and how painful contractions were. But for me and my relaxed nature, I just did not find it painful; uncomfortable but not painful. I took another bath that night and again the contractions stopped until 4am Monday morning.
By now, my contractions were a lot stronger and coming every 3 minutes, but to me they still weren’t painful enough to be in labour, not what I was expecting. My partner was supposed to be racing at Snetterton, I told him to go racing but he didn’t. His gut feeling was that he needed to stay. I got my partner to ring the midwives again, to update on my progress. I didn’t think they took me seriously when I rung, as on the phone I did not sound like a woman in labour. I’m just too chilled out. The midwives advised for me to take a 2 hour-long bath, so this is what I did while reading my book and my partner feeding me hot cross buns.
I said I was reading my book in labour; well I had to give up. I couldn’t get through a page without another contraction, and I could not concentrate on reading mid-contraction. The midwives asked if I had taken any paracetmol, I hadn’t because personally I don’t think it does anything. I took one anyway just so the next time we rung up, I could say I took one. I got my partner to ring the midwives once I got out of the bath, as it was bank holiday Monday and traffic is a nightmare in Norfolk with all the holiday people leaving. I just wanted to go to the hospital just to be checked over and a confirmation if I was actually in labour as I didn’t feel like I was.
So they agreed for me to go to hospital, we took our hospital bags in case we had to stay in. We took the back roads in, to avoid the traffic and parked up at the Queen Elizabeth hospital. I went to the Waterlily birth centre and the midwives asked for an update on how I was feeling. They wanted to monitor me for a couple of hours to see how I was progressing. They timed my contractions and kept checking my baby’s heart rate, to make sure she wasn’t getting stressed.
Finally I got a vaginal examination to see if I was dilated. I had never had a vaginal exam, and I had student midwives with me. I think its so important to allow students to learn. So with me being laid back, I was more then happy for them to be involved in my baby’s birth. Anyway to the midwives amazement, I was actually 7cm dilated when I arrived at the hospital. Being clueless I was still expecting to go home. They obviously wanted me to stay in.
The midwives offered me pain relief, but I didn’t want any. I didn’t think it was painful enough to use any, with the side affects it can have on your baby. (Obviously you do what is best for you, yes pain relief can affect your baby, but they wouldn’t offer it, if it were harmful to your unborn child, so if you need pain relief to enjoy your labour, take it). I had to tell the midwives when I was having a contraction, so they could time it. We were just chatting, like we were enjoying a coffee at the kitchen table, so I actually kept forgetting to tell the midwives when I was having a contraction!
We decided to go for a walk, to help progress my labour, I did crab walks up and down the stairs, to try and move the process along. We were naughty and walked round the car park. We didn’t know you had to stay in the hospital. Another few hours passed and I had another exam. This time I was 9cm dilated. Again we went for a stroll around the corridors, to try and get that last cm. I still didn’t have any pain relief; I didn’t use a birthing pool, as I get anxiety in water. If you don’t feel safe, your body might stop labour, as it may think it’s not safe to bring your baby in to the world. After another couple of hours, I had another exam, and I was only 9.5cm dilated. My contractions started wearing off, I just went completely off, and I didn’t feel like I was in labour anymore.
The midwife previously spoke about breaking my waters, as my labour was stopping and starting and then it went off completely. I agreed to have my waters broken because I could feel my body wasn’t going to let my waters break naturally. Having my waters broken, was so funny. The amount of amniotic fluid that came out was crazy, I kept laughing. Well you do need a lot of fluid to protect your baby in the 9 months of growing and developing.
Soon as my waters were broken, once I got up I had another contraction. This pain had stepped up a lot! They say the transition period from being fully dilated to pushing is the hardest, because I admit this contraction was now painful. I was still on no pain relief. The first one took me by surprise; I can see how women start to panic as I nearly did. I got through the first contraction, took control of my breathing again and got used to the higher pain level.
My body wanted to push; it was time to meet my little girl! I got down on all fours, resting on the beans bags, as this was comfortable for me. I asked for gas and air, just in case I needed it, but I did not have time to take any. Little lady wanted out. The pushing stage was painful, but you are about to meet your baby so the pain did not matter. My little girl decided to make an appearance within just over 20 minutes of my waters breaking.
The midwives helped to guide her out, they told me when to push and when to stop pushing. I had to stop when her head was out, to allow her to twist her shoulders for the rest of her body to come out. I pushed with all my strength, as I just wanted to meet our baby. We did not know the gender; we left it as a surprise. I had dreamt we were having a girl; so I had a feeling our baby would be a girl.
So yes our baby arrived, safe and sound and we got a beautiful little girl. She was so alert soon as she arrived, we had skin to skin and she tried to feed straight away. My little girls heart rate never rose and mine didn’t raise either. I don’t know whether she was so alert because we were drug free with a natural birth, other then getting my waters broken.
Part of the reason why I didn’t take pain relief was because I’m stubborn and once I got so far without pain relief, I wanted to go all the way. But I also didn’t feel the need to take pain relief. I controlled my breathing; I stood up and breathed through each contraction. I stayed calm and relaxed. I chatted all the time we were in the birthing suite and it resulted in the most perfect, relaxed easy labour. I arrived at hospital at 1pm and by 10:40pm our daughter had arrived.
I never practiced hypno birthing, even though the midwives thought I had. But my advice is to not listen to the horror stories, remember your body is unique, we are all individuals and each labour is different. Just stay calm and let your body do its thing. We are designed to give birth, it is natural, so trust yourself and you will get through it. I am very fortunate to have experienced such a beautiful labour and I wish it upon everyone. It does not matter how our babies arrive, as long as they are safe and healthy, that’s what matters.
I’m sorry this was such a long blog, but as we know, labour is not a 5-minute process.
Thanks for reading I wanted to get some positive labour stories out there.