Me at 37 weeks, just a few days before I went into labour
During my pregnancy, I read so many birth stories online and listened to dozens of podcasts. I loved hearing about people’s birthing experiences, both positive and negative, not only did it give me good insight into labour but it also made me aware just how different every women’s birthing experience can be.
Initially I wasn’t sure about writing my own birth story. I have always found writing therapeutic but whether I had a good or bad birthing experience, I wasn’t sure if it was an experience I would want to share. However, I thought about all of the birthing stories I had read on blogs and how much it had helped me prepare for my own labour and I knew sharing my birthing experience would be the right thing to do.
We have to go back slightly as my birthing story starts a few weeks before I actually went into labour…
Initially my plan was to have a water birth in the birthing centre with no pain relief and as natural as possible. However, I purposely did not write a birth plan as I was aware births do not always go to plan I wanted to see how things panned out as I was to find out!
At 36 weeks 3, I went to hospital to get monitored as I was experiencing painful and strong contractions and nothing like the Braxton Hicks I had been having a few days before. After being monitored and then examined by a doctor, they discovered I was 3cm dilated and I had to decide whether to be induced and have a pre-term baby or wait until 37 weeks and see if I go into labour naturally. My waters hadn’t broken and membranes were still in tact so after talking through the options, we decided to wait for the labour to progress naturally. If I could help it I did not want to have my baby before 37 weeks as this means it would have been premature and possibly needing more care. So I was put on a drip of antibiotics and stayed over night in hospital, reflecting on whether I had made the right decision. My care plan was to come into hospital every 3 days to get monitored and have my bloods checked for any infection as my cervix was open I was at risk of infection.
Once I was discharged, things didn’t improve and day by day, my contractions got stronger and more painful but nothing else changed. My waters hadn’t broken and I hadn’t lost my mucus plug either. I was stuck in limbo and it was so so hard. I was torn between getting induced and therefore having the labour started artificially or waiting, in severe pain, for my labour to start naturally. I battled with this decision for days but in the end, I couldn’t continue to wait being in so much pain so at 38 weeks 1, we went into hospital for my usual 3 day monitoring and blood checks. However unlike the last few times when my blood checks all came back fine, there was a peak in one of my results and potentially a risk of infection. My blood pressure was also much higher and I had very very swollen ankles, Kim Kardashian style! With this all in mind and after discussing with my consultant, my husband and I decided that evening I would be induced. I didn’t want to put my baby or health at risk anymore and it was then I knew I made the right decision.
So on Saturday night, as arranged, we turned up to the hospital labour ward with bags packed and waited to follow instruction by the midwife and doctor. I was examined again and was still 3cm dilated therefore the plan was to break my waters and wait a few hours to see if the labour would start naturally. If not, then I would then get induced and have a drip with the medication.
After breaking my waters, it didn’t take long for the contractions to start. I called my mum to get a cab over to the hospital to join my husband and I, as she was my second birthing partner. Luckily she arrived within half an hour as after only a few minutes of breaking my waters, the contractions were coming strong and fast and within less than an hour I knew I was ready to start pushing. I remember my midwife asking me if I was “sure?” and that within an hour seemed a little too quick for the pushing stage of labour to begin. I asked her to examine me again and I was right, by then I was now 7cm and ready to push this baby out!
Although I wasn’t in the birthing centre and didn’t get the water birth I initially wanted, I was so pleased with my birthing experience. My husband and mum were my two birthing partners and were just amazingly encouraging throughout my labour. I was so thankful to have such incredible support and having them both by my side made me realise just how lucky I am. As well as a midwife I also had a student midwife who were both so supportive too listening to all my requests, even if they were not considered what is usual in labour.
According to the Royal Colleges of Midwives, lying down is the most popular position to use in labour to give birth but I had never wanted to use this position as I just didn't find it comfortable. The midwives listened to me and allowed me to change positions and gave me time to feel more at ease.
Initially I tried using the birthing stool but it was difficult to monitor baby’s heart rate so I moved on to the bed, but felt like lying down wasn’t comfortable for me due to back pain. I explained to the midwives if I could change my position to kneeling on the bed instead. The midwife agreed, although she seemed unconvinced that this birthing position would give me the comfort I needed. Again, I was so glad to have stuck to my decision as this birthing position was the best for me at the time. Once I had changed into the position, in less than an hour, my baby was born.
I am so thankful to have had such supportive midwives who listened to me throughout and allowed me to have the birth I wanted. I was adamant I did not want any pain relief particularly an epidural as they had warned me that if I had this procedure, it could prolong my labour, reduce my mobility and I was at potential risk of having further intervention like a c-section. There were other options to consider like pethadine (although I did request this, it was too late for me to have it as I was too far in my labour) so I just had paracetamol and codeine and gas and air. However, the gas and air made me feel light headed and sick so I didn’t continue to use it.
Not every birth experience is the same and one of the wonderful things about labour is how different each birth can be. I was so pleased with my birthing experience, I had amazing support from my birthing partners and midwives and despite not having a water birth, I was able to still deliver naturally just as I had hoped to.
Early Sunday morning, my son was delivered fit and well weighing 7.9lbs.
I feel very blessed and thankful my labour was not only so positive but such an empowering experience and one that I will cherish forever. How was your labour? I would love to hear about your experiences too!