On my first, I wanted to do it without pain relief, but I didn’t prepared, and when I was induced, I felt like my body had failed me. When I asked for pethidine and then the epidural I continued to feel like I had failed somehow. Although I escaped without episiotomy or section, I didn’t feel like I had any control – it was something that was happening to me, not something I was actively taking part in. So I wanted to do things differently this time around.
Gentlebirth helped, as did the facebook groups. I learned and I kept an open mind, and tried to focus on trusting my body. When my blood pressure went up at 39 weeks that trust wobbled a bit, but I didn’t lose it entirely, and at 40+1 I was given another week and a day before they wanted to induce. I didn’t have the strength to argue for longer at that stage, so I hoped he would come by himself before then.
On the Wednesday evening I started to have cramps and a bit of show. I bounced on the ball excitedly. Everything died down again, but I had renewed confidence.
On Thursday I went for a drive with my mum and my daughter. I felt a strong urge to be near the sea. We went to the beach and I stood in the ocean, my dress hoisted up to my boobs, not caring that my knickers were getting soaked as the waves crashed against my bump. I talked to my baby and said I was looking forward to meeting him soon.
On the road home there were some stronger surges. Just occasional ones, but something was definitely starting to happen. Mum decided to stay over in case things kicked off during the night. I had an app on my phone to time the surges, and they continued through the night, but didn’t get closer together yet. They were strong enough to wake me but I slept in between. By morning they spaced out further, so I went for a little walk and did normal stuff for the day. In the early evening I got a burst of energy and put on some music I had compiled for this stage as I tidied my room and danced and mentally prepared.
By late evening they started to intensify and get closer and closer together. I got into positions that made them easier to cope with, leaning forward over the couch and standing up holding the sink in the bathroom especially. I moaned and groaned and made whatever noises felt natural, the neighbours must have figured what was going on! Occasionally I lay down and they would space out again which gave me a chance to rest slightly. But overall, they were getting more intense and more frequent, generally coming two almost together then a longer break. My sister and a friend were looking after my daughter, she didn’t seem freaked out by it at all thankfully.
By 2.30am the surges were getting very close, about two minutes between the close ones and then a five minute break and then two close ones again. I felt so much pressure any time I went to the toilet as well, so my mum and I headed in to the hospital (it’s just a few mins away) after she rang the maternity ward to say we were coming. We got in to the maternity ward around 3am. I had my headphones and the gentlebirth music and affirmations playing, barely concentrating on them at that point but they felt reassuring.
Because of the high blood pressure I felt there was no point really arguing against an admissions trace. So I got up on the bed and of course the surges spread out again, but when the midwife examined me she said I was between 5-6 centimetres dilated and had a very soft stretchy cervix. I had hoped to be about 8cm getting to hospital but was happy enough with nearly 6, and they sent me down to the labour ward.
The midwives were lovely and read through the birth preferences mum handed them copies of. The only problem was that the trace had showed the baby’s heartbeat drop slightly every time there was a surge. So they wanted to continue to monitor me, and said they were concerned that the drop might mean meconium in the waters. They talked about breaking the waters to check, and if there was they’d have to get the doctor down to assess the situation. I suddenly had visions of being put on the drip, of emergency section. Then my mum stepped in and asked could they not keep the trace on for a few surges but with me in a different position – on my knees leaning over the back of the bed. They agreed, and I eagerly got up and into that position. I could feel baby moving around in there. I tried a few puffs of gas and air but it just made me sick, so I moaned and groaned through the contractions as they got closer and closer together. The midwives said that the pattern of two together then a break suggested the baby was back to back. I got off the bed to go to the toilet and between the short walk and peeing the surges were closer than ever and I was feeling a lot of pressure. When I got back up on the bed I could feel the baby bounce and wriggle.
All of a sudden he bounced hard down on my pelvis, I felt a pop and a gush and a huge amount of pressure and a desire to push. The midwife asked me if I would lie down briefly so she could examine me and I agreed. I was 10cm! So I got back into my position leaning over the bed, squatting on my knees, and followed my body’s urges to bear down through the surges. I remember feeling stinging as the head crowned, but not too bad, and even though I yelled “I’m never having anymore children, I can’t do this!” at one point even at that moment I didn’t really mean it. Mum kept me cool with a damp facecloth and a spray and cups of cold water. Less than fifteen minutes of pushing and I felt the head come out, then one more surge straight away and the body was out! I manoevered around carefully as I heard him start yelling and screeching beneath me, and the midwives placed him on my chest with the cord still pulsing away. He was born at 4.39am, less than two hours after I got in to the hospital!
They left the cord until it was finished pulsing, then my mum cut it. The labour ward was quiet, so we had loads of time for skin to skin. I only had a slight graze but it was bleeding, so they got the doctor to give me a couple of stitches, and weighed the baby and put a nappy on him – though not before he’d pooed meconium all over me! Then they gave us tea and toast and left us alone. He nuzzled at the breast for ages but then suckled for an hour.
I felt elated. I still do. I did it, I trusted my body and my baby and it all went perfectly – though if it hadn’t been for my mum being informed and knowing to argue for me to change positions at that crucial point, it could all have gone very differently.
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