Don’t worry – I won’t give any graphic details about placentas and icky bits! However, if you are especially sensitive then maybe don’t read this post because as you probably all know by now, I really don’t sugar coat!
That said, I don’t think my birth story really needs sugar coating…it really truly was amazing. Mostly people look at me like I’ve grown two heads when they ask me how my birth was with that concerned look, like they’re bracing themselves to hear the horrors…and then I respond with “it was absolutely fantastic and I genuinely enjoyed it!”
The thing is, how many positive birth stories have you been told? If you’re anything like me it’ll be none. I had plenty of people tell me the horror stories while I was pregnant (yep, thanks for that. Because it’s really helpful to hear all about how you tore from your pee hole to your bum hole 🙄) but not one person recounted a positive experience to me. So I’m going to. Because not all births are traumatic and scary and horrendously painful. Mine is a case in point.
Looking back, I think I was in very early labour for about a week. My midwife measured my bump as being small at my last appointment with her at 39 weeks and so I was referred to the hospital for yet another growth scan. The growth scan showed that little Arthur hadn’t grown in two weeks and although his heartbeat was still really strong and he was still very active the consultant decided it would be better if he came sooner rather than later. The plan was to induce me on the Friday morning (this was on the Wednesday) so they tried a stretch and sweep that afternoon on the off chance that would kick start things. As it turned out I was already 3cm dilated and the sweep caused contractions to ramp up and become more regular. They got gradually stronger throughout the day Thursday, and then on the Thursday evening my waters went. We took a quick trip back to hospital to check that my waters were clear because they looked bloody – as it turned out though that was just some bleeding as a result of the sweep and all was well so we went off back home. I jumped in the bath, had a good meal and tried to just go with it and stay home as long as possible. But by 10:30pm the contractions were much stronger and coming every 3-4 minutes so we opted to head back to the hospital.
We were taken to the birthing suite as I had been insistent on wanting a water birth. We were taken to a private room which was really cosy and relaxed. We stayed there from about 11:30pm until 4am. The staff brought us food and cups of tea and monitored Arthur’s heartbeat regularly.
My contractions were heading the right way and we thought we’d be in that pool in no time at all…until my contractions inexplicably dropped back to being every 6-7 minutes and much more mild. So at 4am the staff at the birthing suite decided to move me to labour ward since I was still only 3cm and so couldn’t get in the pool anyway.
I moved over to labour ward and Paul went home to get some sleep. An hour later I was phoning him telling him to come back…my contractions suddenly picked back up in the hour that he was gone and by the time he arrived they were constant and very strong. I was pacing the ward unable to sit still with tears streaming down my face. I’d had no pain relief since I tried some co-codamol at around 11pm (which did bugger all to be honest) and these contractions were so strong and so constant that I was convinced I must’ve been close to birth…and then the midwife devastated me by telling me I was still only 3cm.
They then started offering me pethidine assuming that I really wasn’t coping with the pain. I’d been fairly insistent in my birth plan that I didn’t want anything stronger than gas and air and despite the pain now making me want to go home and not have a baby after all, something in my gut told me to turn down the pethidine and keep going. So I did. I am so glad I did because despite being “only 3cm” by 7am I was pushing without even meaning to. It’s such a bizarre sensation! Your body just does it all for you. That whole “push, don’t waste the contraction” thing that you see on tv just didn’t happen to me. I couldn’t have stopped the pushing if I’d wanted to, it was very much involuntary. I started shouting that I needed to push and again the staff placated me, thinking I couldn’t possibly be ready to push at just 3cm. When they heard me grunting with the next push though they took me seriously and whipped me off in a wheelchair to the birthing suite! I was thrilled when we got to the room with the pool to find that my favourite midwife was there and would be the one to deliver my baby. She was equally pleased that I’d “waited” for her to be on shift!
I got straight in the pool and was finally given the gas and air – oh wow the gas and air! That stuff is bloody fantastic! By this point I can’t say the contractions hurt anymore, it was more like a pressure than a pain and the pushing wasn’t painful at all. I relaxed completely and let my body work its magic. Two hours later my little man was curled up on my chest!
I kept thanking my two midwives, Jo and Natalie, but they kept telling me that they hadn’t done anything! They told me I breathed my baby out beautifully…at the time I was so tired, emotional, exhilarated, and frankly, high on gas and air that I didn’t really think about it much, but later when we were settled in our room again just the three of us I thought about their words and actually yeah, I did do it all myself! Neither Jo nor Natalie had any cause to intervene at any point. They monitored Arthur’s heartbeat regularly but other than that they were just there for support.
I was very lucky and didn’t need any stitches or further pain relief, and we were home later the same day as we were all doing so well.
Recovery wise, by day 3 I wasn’t in any discomfort any more and I felt good. The worst thing about the post partum period was my milk coming in. Tender doesn’t even cover the feeling, but alongside that you also get the baby blues and constant crying. That was the absolute worst and a definite low point. Thankfully my parents were on hand to help us out, give us a break by looking after Arthur for us to nap and for me to have a soak in the bath.
So now, one month on we’re all doing well. Arthur is gaining weight beautifully and his jaundice is clearing by itself.
Breastfeeding is hard going, but worth it as far as I’m concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve wanted to give up so many times because it really is exhausting being the only one able to do feeds, but I’ve been very lucky in so much as I haven’t had any pain or complications so I persevere. By week 3 I started expressing one bottle a night so that Paul could take the 2am feed. I can’t tell you how much of a difference this has made. I’ve never been great without sleep and by week 3 I was frazzled and crying a lot – there’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique!
So, if you’re pregnant, or even hoping to be one day then my advice to you is not to worry about birth. Don’t listen to the horror stories everyone tells you, because it doesn’t have to be that way. The worst pain I felt was when Paul had left and I was on my own. I let the fear take hold of me and that made those contractions so much more painful. As soon as Paul came back and reminded me about breathing and staying calm I coped with the pain again just fine. Fear is your enemy, don’t let it in!
The other thing that everyone worries about is pooping during the birth…well yup. I pooped. Honestly, I wouldn’t have known though had I not been in the pool. The whole birth experience genuinely feels like you’re doing a massive poo so an actual poo passes unnoticed. Unless you’re in a birthing pool and you witness your midwife playing chase the poop that is! 😂 you’d think I’d have been mortified, but honestly you’re so focused on getting that baby out, and the gas and air just makes it funny anyway that you really don’t care! So, don’t worry about the poop. Nobody in that room cares about it, trust me.