Experience: Childbirth

When I first found out I was pregnant I was utterly terrified of having to give birth.  I couldn't even see past it to actually having a baby to look after at the end of it, I barely gave that a thought, I was so hung up on the event! I read endless posts in online forums, asked so many questions at ante natal class and watched countless videos of birth on YouTube, trying to find out what childbirth would be like.  I thought I'd post my experience for anybody who feels the same! I kept a diary at the time so I will just copy it in, and it's in lots of detail.  I had planned a homebirth with no pain relief.

24th July 2010, baby's due date.

Well.... despite some bad back and hip ache yesterday and last night, what might be Braxton Hicks and lots of pressure, there are no real signs of labour yet! Looks like Baby might be late (taking after his/her Daddy who was two hours late for our first date, definitely not taking after punctual Mummy!) but we will see what the rest of the day brings! I still have high hopes of having no labour pains at all and having the baby in 30 seconds on the toilet or in the bath!

Still no sign of baby! I've been really tired today so have slept alot, and am going to have an early night now, maybe my body's trying to conserve energy to start labour in the next few days. Have had hardly any appetite too, which happened to Natalie the day before she had her baby, so maybe it will be on the way sooner rather than later. I did manage a curry for dinner to try to kick start things but to no avail! It's a bit disappointing as I was expecting things to start today! I just hope it doesn't take another 2 weeks, that would seem so long! It's difficult not being able to plan these things! Perhaps baby likes my tummy so much it doesn't want to leave :) But I'm sure baby will make an appearance when he/she's good and ready :) Possibly when the midwife is back from her holiday on the 28th - that would be good!

That night....

25th July at 02:30 in the morning (so only 1 day overdue, or if you prefer - and I do! - the night of the due date!) I woke up thinking I had wet myself! I was pretty convinced it wasn't my waters breaking as, as you can see from my last post, I thought the baby was going to be late and not come that day after all. I sat in the bathroom unsure if I was weeing or not! About 15 minutes later I started getting tummy pains in the lower half of my bump, and assumed that I just had an upset tummy from the take away curry we'd eaten for tea!
However, these pains started to get worse and also spread into my back, so we rang the pager of the community midwife on call to say we thought I was possibly in labour. An hour later, at 04:00 we still hadn't heard back from anyone, so Alex rang again. Finally at 04:45 we got a call from the community midwife who assessed me on the phone. She asked me to explain what was going on, then said I sounded fine, at which point I got a contraction and couldn't speak, and was moaning and writhing around on the floor, begging Alex to make her come now to help us! She said she'd be there within half an hour, and arrived at 05:15. In the meantime I took 2 paracetamol and put on my Hypnobirthing relaxation on the iPod, and got in the bath. I managed to stay calm and ok for alot of the labour, only finding some of the later contractions unmanageable and was bellowing like a buffalo! After Jane arrived she did some paperwork then made me get out the bath and come downstairs where she examined me, and found I was already fully dilated and ready to push. She called for a second midwife, Mary, who arrived quickly and was really nice, spending lots of time rubbing my back. I spent time pushing in some different positions, but after an hour and a half started to get a bit disheartened as nothing seemed to be happening. Alex was so helpful, being reassuring ad saying how well I was doing, and rubbing my upper back. He tried to make the midwives coffee but had soya milk curdling issues! Jane examined me again to check I was definitely fully dilated, and found she was right and that I was, but now the baby's head was swelling slightly where it was being pushed against the cervix. She made me walk sideways upstairs like a crab, which when you're having strong contractions and urges to push was extremely difficult! But unfortunately nothing was strengthening the contractions and nothing was happening, I could not get the baby out :( The midwife phoned the hospital and at 08:00 an ambulance was sent to take me in. Alex dashed about getting a few essentials for my hospital bag. I put on a dressing gown and managed to just get to the ambulance before needing to push again! The journey to the hospital is a bit of a blur. Alex followed the ambulance in the car. At one point we stopped and pulled over as there was a wasp in the ambulance so they had to shoo it out, Alex thought I must be having the baby there and they were going to get him in the back of the ambulance to witness the birth! At the hospital I was taken on the stretcher to the central delivery suite and saw a new midwife, Sharon, and a doctor. Sharon had an accent like Josie from Big Brother, and she was really positive and helped me with my pushing. The decision was made to give me Syntocinon drip to strengthen the contractions. I was upset about this and had a few more big pushes to see if I could manage without, but in the end agreed. It took about 20 minutes for the contractions to gain any strength and then they did get slightly longer, and I was pushing with all my might! The baby was still not coming out so the midwife, Sharon talked about a ventouse delivery. I really wanted a natural birth and I started being able to push harder and she said things were looking a bit better, so we'd try to manage without. I pushed for another hour and she was happy with the progress, and said that she could see the baby's head finally coming down so I should be able to have a natural delivery. I kept pushing and the baby just wasn't moving, so she offered to do an episiotomy. I agreed, but then managed some really big pushes and managed to get his head out. Feeling the baby in the birth canal was so uncomfortable and strange, and crowning really hurt! Sharon realised that the problem was that the baby had it's hand up by it's face, which was making it so hard to push out. After the most exertion and hardest push I would ever have thought possible I finally gave birth to a boy! Seeing him come out was bizarre and amazing, and then they put him to my chest. I was overwhelmed and shocked, and couldn't believe the birth was finally over. Unfortunately because of all the trauma baby Eric was a bit blue, so he had some facial oxygen for a little while, whilst I delivered the placenta. But all was not over yet! Because I had pushed for so long, my uterus was too tired to contract and constrict all the blood vessels, so I lost 1 litre of blood, and had a team of 5 people rushing to work on me to fix it. I then had a catheter put in, cannulae put in each hand (which sprayed blood everywhere!) and was given 4 different drugs via injection, drips, and up my bum! The consultant doctor, Kristen, put pressure on the bleed with her hand - unpleasant. She also put in some sutures as I had a second degree tear. During the whole birth I had no pain relief! I had to remain on the drips for 4 hours, then be monitored for a further hour, to check the bleed had stopped. I then had to have an antibiotic drip. During the whole time I wasn't allowed any food or water and was SO hot and thirsty! Eric only had to be on the oxygen for a few breaths, and then Alex held him whilst the medical staff worked on me. I then had him back and was able to cuddle him and give him his first feed. He was born 8lb 4oz, head circumference 36.5cm, with lots of dark spikey hair :)

 So that was how Eric was born.  It wasn't the birth I planned but at the time I was happy to do anything to get him here safely.  It was important for me to have as natural a birth as possible and the midwives and staff were understanding, and I'm so proud I had no pain relief other than paracetamol.  The feeling is intense, but I don't remember it being painful or unmanageable for most of the birth, and I think being relaxed really helped.  I'd recommend hypnobirthing to anyone, the cd and book I used was Hypnobirthing by Mary Mongan.   I listened to the cd every night for weeks before the birth as I went to sleep, and read sections of the book (though not all of it!) I had acupuncture leading up to the birth too.  It really is true what they say that birth doesn't usually go to plan, and don't forget every birth is different :)


  1. http://www.bristolhomebirth.org.uk/

    You should go and tell your story to the Bristol Home Birth Group - they have a theme of 'Contrasting Experiences' every few weeks - one person whose home birth went to plan tells their birth story, and another person who ended up transferring to hospital tells theirs.

  2. I can't believe you only had paracetamol even though it all went off plan. You are amazing! I am reading this as research... xxx