Birth is a different experience for everyone. Even for those who have had multiple children, each birth will have been different. With this idea of sharing experiences in mind, I want to share my own birth story. I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the lovely Midwives at Salford Royal Birth Centre who got me through it. Their support was amazing!
Everything was very last minute. It was two days after my due date and although I had dropped dramatically there had been no show, no breaking waters. Nothing. I didn't really fancy my pregnancy yoga class, as I was feeling very heavy and woddley, so instead I just went for a walk in town and bought a fresh pineapple (the midwife's suggested snack to get things moving). It was a pretty uneventful Thursday. Then at 2.15am I woke up with mild 'period pain'. It went after 30 seconds or so, but I wondered whether this could be it. I didn't want to keep my hopes up, as I had been kept awake for half of Wednesday night with regular Braxton-Hicks. But they carried on every 10 minutes like clockwork, no getting much worse, but carrying on. They stopped at about 5.00am, in time for me to get some more kip before it was time to get up. Friday was, again, uneventful. I stayed at home just in case the pains came back and cleaned and pottered about.
At about 5.00pm the pains returned, again mild. But this time they decided to hang about. Throughout the remainder of Friday and throughout Saturday the pains continued every 10 minutes or less, getting gradually worse. This meant I didn't get much sleep on the Friday night, which wasn't great, as I knew I had to stockpile it for what was to come. Throughout Saturday the pain got closer together, at between 5 and 10 minutes apart and much worse. This was where I made my first mistake; I wasn't active. Getting up seemed to bring on contractions, so I stayed sat down. This made me tense and made the pain worse. I know now (and from the hospital later) that moving about and changing position would have helped and probably made things move along quicker than they did.
I was snacking rather than eating meals by this point, mostly things like Coco Pops to keep my energy up. I tried to go to bed, but found the pain much sharper when I was lying down. It gradually got worse, until at 7pm, I couldn't take any more and asked Mike to drive me to the birth centre. The pain was a shock, and I know I didn't handle it well - all of the techniques that I leant went out of the window. Apart from the breathing - if you forget everything else, remember the breathing! It helps so much. I know that next time I will try to be more relaxed about things and use hypnobirthing, but this time around was an epic learning curve. We rocked up to the birth centre to find I was 1cm dilated. Soul destroying! The midwife assured me that I would probably be back by the morning and to try and get some sleep. She also offered me a sweep before I left to see if it helped things along.
The sleep obviously didn't happen once we were home, but the bleeding started. The mid-wife had told me that the sweep could cause this and not to worry, but I wasn't convinced. It was getting heavy - could it be the legendary show that I had heard so much about finally making an appearance? By this point I also had a great deal of pelvic pressure and had to keep going to he toilet. The contractions were now about 4 minutes apart and I was shaking so much that I could hardly stand up. Maybe this was finally it.
We got to the birth centre at 6am and I was ... 4cm dilated. Bugger! At least this time I was allowed to stay at the centre. They took some blood and gave me gas and air (as I had stated on my birth plan that this was all I wanted for pain relief.) I also found standing and leaning on the bed helped with the pain. Why hadn't I done this earlier? Lesson learnt. Although I was handling the pain better (despite the gas and air not doing much) I was finding it difficult to stand due to my legs shaking, so the midwife advised that I get in the pool. I had requested to labour and have the baby in the water, so it seemed like as good a time as any.
Things were very different once I was in the water. Everything relaxed and the pain, although still there seemed to lessen. There was a lull in the action. Now that I have birthed in water, I will never do things differently. It made such a difference. At about 7.30am things started to move along again. The contractions got worse and worse, without much of a break in between them. I felt like I couldn't carry on. I could have had the pain relief injection, but did not want to leave the pool, so I carried on regardless (I am glad I made this decision now.) Things happened very quickly with active labour only lasting for 2 hours and 20 minutes. Most of it is a blur. I remember that at one point I felt very isolated and in my own bubble as labour progressed. This is another lesson that I have learnt and I will do what I can to not feel this way next time, even if I just have some music on in the background I know it will make things calmer and I will feel more connected to my surroundings. My waters broke as I was getting to the pushing stage and I don't remember what this was like at all.
At 10.06am, Bobby came out into the water and was given to me straight away. I have never known relief like it. The pain was over and I had my baby boy. He looked up at me and licked his lips alot. He was very alert. His dad couldn't speak. The cord wasn't clamped until it had finished pumping, as I requested in my birth plan. I was examined and needed stitches, but nothing else mattered - it was over. My baby was here and I would never have to go through this again! Until next time...