I was searching my blog and realised I hadn't posted Emm's birth story before! Thankfully I still had it saved in an email, so here it is!
This is the story of my 4 hour labour, using TENS and 'gas and air', no epidural. During pregnancy I listened to a relaxation CD, did antenatal yoga and generally tried to stay as positive as possible! one of the things I kept telling myself was that I was going to go a few days early and have a quick and easy labour, and it worked!
The last week before my due date I was getting quite fed up with being pregnant, and started to go for long walks, and to 'hang' over my gym ball while watching DVDs. 5 days before the due date I got a pedicure, cheery bright pink toenails. I went for a walk, had a green thai curry, a small glass of red wine and a relaxing bath and went to bed really relaxed, although i didn't sleep well as thoughts of my whole life changing soon went through my head.
I woke up at 3.30am with wet knickers, but there wasn't a big puddle or anything, so i wasn't on high alert, i went to the bathroom for a wee and at that point i realised that maybe this was really it! deciding not to panic just yet i went back to bed, but soon felt another little bit of liquid, so got up again and put in a sanitary pad. i woke my husband, who sleepily said that i might want to call the midwives, which i did. we called them around 4, i think, they asked did i have contractions and when i said no i was advised to come in at 8 in the morning to get checked out. my husband went back to sleep, and i tried to do the same, but was too excited. after a while i started to notice contractions. i went for a shower and they were getting stronger. i found the hot shower really good for the contractions.
When i came out i phoned the midwives again, and they said to come in at eight unless i found the contractions hard to cope with or they come regularly for about 2 hours. i asked my husband to get the TENS machine, which unfortunately we hadn't looked at before! there were quite a few different modes and levels on it, but after a while we figured out the two for contractions and in between contractions, and i used them at level one.
At some point i got sick, but i didn't bring up any food, just liquid. i found sitting on the toilet to be comfortable, i actually thought i needed to go, but in hindsight that was probably the pressure from the baby's head! the other position i liked was on my knees, i knelt in front of the bed and also on an armchair. my husband offered me the relaxation CDs but i didn't want them, i was too busy breathing deeply and staying calm! i tried to remember as much as i could from my antenatal yoga classes, while reciting some of the affirmations from the CD in my head.
I don't remember actual times, but i know by half 6 i found it harder to cope with the contractions. i tried to find a comfortable position and found on my knees, rocking my pelvis, to be good, i spent some time kneeling on one of the armchairs, holding on to the back of it. i also tried hanging onto my husband, the smell of his jumper really calmed me down and made me feel safe, but i was too conscious of being heavy and didn't want to lean on him too much. i sent him around the house to throw the last few things into my hospital bag, get a towel for the car seat and to hurry. we phoned the hospital to say we were coming in and finally were ready to go at 7.
Luckily we were going against morning traffic! i don't remember much about the drive, except, a morcheeba CD playing, using the TENS machine and an unplanned stop. after hearing all the stories of people arriving in hospital being told that those pains were nothing yet, i didn't want to go too high up on the TENS settings, i stuck to 1 and 2 while we were in the car. on the motorway my husband started asking about exits, but i was kind of busy breathing through my contractions, so i couldn't help him! he took one exit too early, but that was OK, as the pressure was getting so strong, i had to get off the seat! i got him to pull over and i got on my knees in front of the passenger seat, leaning with my arms on the seat. the urge to push was getting really strong but i remembered about panting, thank god, and got busy doing that, while my husband made his way through the town. i was getting a little worried about how strong the contractions were but felt quite calm and sure that everything was going OK.
We got to the hospital and my husband drove right up to the hospital entrance, in between two contractions i got out of the car and he went off to park it (thankfully they let him park only a few meters away). I got just about through the double doors and the next contraction hit and i was on my hands and knees panting and groaning. it was about half 7 and some midwives were arriving for their shift, they asked 'are you all right?' and i said 'i need to get to the maternity ward!' they were really quick and got me a wheelchair and i was being whisked away to the elevators. At this point I was using the 3rd out of the 5 TENS machine settings. we got out at the normal delivery ward and when i saw the sign on the door i shouted 'sorry, no, MLU please!' back we went to the elevator, where my husband had now arrived as well.
In the MLU i got out of the wheelchair and onto the bed, again on my hands and knees (lying on my back just didn't occur to me!), and a midwife examined me. She declared me 9 cm and i was just so glad that this was really labour! She also listened to the baby's heart beat, which was going strong. There was no time to fill the lovely big bath tub. The midwives got a birthing mat and a bean bag out, and i leaned on the bean bag rotating my hips like i'd learned in yoga class, and keeping my voice in the lower registers, again a tip from my yoga teacher and from the book 'ina may's guide to childbirth'. I asked for gas and air, and loved it! especially as the TENS machine stopped working when one ofthe patches came loose on my back! instead of relief it was delivering little shocks! i don't know how many more contractions there were, but it all happened quite fast. a midwive said 'we're gonna see this baby real soon'. The pushing lasted about 20 minutes, i think that's what it said in my notes. It wasn't so much that I was pushing, it was more my womb pushing the baby out, there was nothing i could do to stop it and nothing i could have done to make the pushing stronger, i was just doing my groaning and lowing and breathing the gas and air! i felt a burning sensation and the head was born, a full head of dark hair. with the next push (i don't know exactly, to be honest, but it all went very fast) she was coming out kicking and screaming and she was bright pink (apgar scores 10)! She was 6 pounds 7 ounces (2.920 kg) and born at 8.20 am.
my little one was rubbed dry and i turned around and she was put on my chest. I had requested to let the cord stop pulsating before cutting it (even reminded the midwife about 'expectently managed third stage' in between pushes) but there was some confusion because of my negative rhesus factor and I got the injection! I wasn't too happy about this, but I probably would have needed the injection anyways, as I had a little bleed. The placenta was delivered soon after. I had a 2nd degree tear and a doctor (the first gynae i saw during the whole pregnancy!) came to do the stitches. I was on the bed for those, with a blanket over me and my little girl, to keep us warm, and a midwife helped me put her to my breast. I held on to the gas and air for the stitches, and i got a second injection because the bleed hadn't quite stopped.
When the gynae was finished with the stitches, I got some lovely tea and toast, and then, while my husband held our daughter, i went for a nice hot shower and after that my husband and i spent the next few hours looking at our gorgeous daughter in wonder!
these are the things that i think worked for me:
- antenatal yoga
- relaxation CD ('gentlebirth')
- staying calm and relaxed during labour
- staying leaning forward during labour
- hot shower
- gas and air
- being on my hands and knees for the pushing stage
- making all the sounds i felt i needed to make, no matter how silly they might sound
- trusting my body to do its thing