My First Birth Story: A Hospital Birth in 2011

Back in 2011 when my first baby was born I had a different blog, it's no longer online, but all the posts are still there for me to look back on. On my eldest daughter's 9th birthday I thought I would look back and find my first birth story. The one where it all began. It's very tempting to edit this, but I am leaving it as originally written. There are parts I had forgotten over time and other bits that have stayed with me. It's also interesting for me to see how some of my beliefs have changed over the last 9 years, but even back then I strongly believed you should trust your body.

Me aged 29 on a hospital bed holding my newborn baby to me
My first child was born in hospital in 2011

My First Birth Story, written (and originally published) in November 2011

Warning: due to the nature of childbirth this post may contain too much information.  

My last post before I went AWOL from this blog was the morning of Saturday 24th September.  In it I complained that I was still without child so obviously I went into labour later that day.

Saturday morning I went for a looonnnnnggggg walk and baked chocolate cakes.  Around lunchtime I got a stomach cramp (similar to period pain or constipation).  The pain was pretty constant and got worse through out the afternoon.  At 6pm I was having dinner (slow roast lamb and potato gratin, very yummy) and I noticed that the pain was in waves about a minute apart.  

After dinner I went to lie down with a hot water bottle, but it didn't help much so I had a bath. Tip: don't use a pink bath bomb at this time as I did, even if it's designed for pregnant mumma's, as it makes your Mum a little worried that you've had major blood loss.  I continued to time the waves whilst in the bath and they slowed down to about 3 minutes apart.  By this point I had decided it probably was real labour. 

When I got out of the bath my Other Half put the TENS machine on me and I tried to relax expecting a long night and day ahead.  
The pain continued to get stronger though and I began to need to focus to get through each wave.  Around 9.30pm I called the labour ward and explained what was going on and asked when I should go in given that the gap between my contractions varied in length, but was never more than 3 minutes.  The midwife said I could be checked in triage if I was worried, but they would probably send me home again afterwards.  So I headed in to hospital.

In triage the incredibly lovely midwife said I was 1cm dilated and that the baby sounded fine.  She gave me co-codamol and suggested I waited around for half an hour for it to kick in. Over the next 20 minutes I paced the corridors with frequent contractions.  I had to push against the wall to get through them and was struggling to stand.  The lovely midwife approached us and said she had got me a bed on the ward as she thought I was in too much pain to go home.

I was put in a room with 3 mum's and their newborn babies all trying to sleep (it was now about 10.30pm).  I continued to use the TENS machine, but I was really struggling with each contraction.  In the end I approached the nurses?/midwives? on the ward and said I needed something for the pain.  They were really unhelpful.  They made it clear that they thought I should be at home.  I told them I was struggling and they eventually offered me some morphine based drugs or a hot shower.  I told them I didn't want the drugs as morphine makes me feel sick.  They told me I had to have them and I would also need an epidural when the time came as I was so bad at managing the pain.  I said I wanted to avoid an epidural if possible and asked if they could give me gas and air and I would have a shower whilst they got it ready. At this point I began to doubt my ability to get through labour with minimal drugs as I was clearly pathetic.

The shower helped, but I couldn't stay there forever so I headed back to the ward with the TENS machine back on.  They still hadn't set up the gas and air so my OH went to chase it up whilst I grunted and swore through each contraction (sorry sleeping new mums).  Soon I was begrudgingly supplied with the gas and air, but I can't say I noticed any benefit from it other than it encouraging me to take long slow breaths. Where was the lovely light headedness that I was meant to be experiencing?  

The pain increased and I started to need to push.  On one of the contractions I felt myself push out liquid and was worried that I had wet myself so I went to the loo to check.  In the toilet I saw that I had a lot of bloody discharge which worried me so I showed my mum.  She went to get the midwife and told her I had had "the show".  The midwife insisted I put a sanitary towel on so she could see what the discharge was like.  5 minutes later she came back and asked to see it.  I advised that I hadn't had long enough between contractions to be able to put one on, and that my gas and air had run out.  She told me to breathe into the thing any way (trying to suck air out of a vacuum was not going to happen, physics clearly wasn't a strong point for her).  

Eventually the midwife told me to get on the bed so she could examine me.  When she looked the change in her approach was comical.  She became slightly panicked and advised that I was 8cm dilated and I would give birth as soon as my waters' broke.  She called another midwife and rushed me quickly down to the delivery rooms.

Things then happened quickly.  My waters broke (all over a midwife) and there was meconium in them (which can be a sign that the baby is in distress).  The baby's heart rate was ok, but they decided I needed to give birth quickly so strongly advised I had an episiotomy.  I agreed as I wanted to avoid an assisted delivery.  I was then told I had to push and I wasn't allowed to make any noise (apparently if I grunted etc I wasn't focussing all my energy on pushing the baby out, but I really didn't appreciate this as I found screaming was helping me manage my drug free state nicely).  At 1.44am Sunday morning my daughter slithered out.

She was taken away to be checked by a paediatrician because of the meconium in the waters, but was quickly brought back having been given the all clear allowing me to have skin to skin.  Once my placenta had been delivered we were left for ages allowing myself and my partner to bond with my daughter and I managed to breastfeed her (I had been unsure whether I would be able to so this was a huge relief). 

After an hour or so the midwife came back to measure and weigh my daughter (7lb 12ozs) and to stitch me up.  She used a local anaesthetic for this but I had to use a lot of visualisation of a beach on a sunny day to get me through it.  The cut was small, but as they have to stitch through 3 layers of skin it took a while.  The good thing about this though was it allowed my OH to hold his daughter and I think they really bonded in this time.

At about 6am we were wheeled back up to a ward and my mum and partner had to go home leaving me to enjoy my beautiful and amazing daughter (well I could hardly sleep could I?).

It all happened so quickly I had no choice about birth position or water birth etc, but in the end the important thing was that my daughter was fine and there were no problems.  First definite contraction to delivery of placenta was 8 hours.  Short and intense, but managed basically drug free.  

I will be eternally grateful to the wonderful triage midwife who didn't send me home (I'm not sure what would have happened if she had).   She came and said hello after the birth as well so I had the opportunity to thank her.

I strongly believe that you have to trust your instincts about what is happening to you during labour.  The midwives on the ward had their expectations about how long it should take and how much pain I should be feeling and I (and my birth partners) really had to push to get them to listen.  I still find it funny thinking about the panic in the midwife's voice when she realised she was wrong :-)

Oh and I didn't poo during labour.  Yay!

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