Stanley's Birth Story
Throughout my pregnancy I was aware that there were women who had positive birth experiences and from what I understood these tended to be the ones who had natural births. I was determined to follow a similar path and I was fairly sure my body was built to do exactly that. Phil and I decided that a Midwife Led Unit (MLU) would be our best option. I was drawn to the safety of all the medical equipment being just next door but also felt that it would best support my hopes for a drug free birth.
My first inkling that anything was happening was after an afternoon out with my in-laws. I suddenly had a very strong urge to be at home and asked Phil to take me back straight away. That night at 3am I woke up thinking I’d wet myself. But once I got to the toilet I looked at the water trail that I’d left behind and realised by the pinky tinge that it was actually my waters that were beginning to leak. I made it back upstairs to the bedroom just before my waters broke in a spectacular style (I was sat down and they sprayed all over the wall!).I started to feel surges straight away. I tried to lay back down but found the surges overwhelming when I did so we decided to come downstairs. I think at this stage my fears of what was to come began to overwhelm me. My surges which had been coming steadily began to slow down from every 5 to every 10 minutes. We called the MLU who asked us to come in as they wanted to check my progress due to my waters breaking. We headed in at 7.30am and my contractions slowed from every 10 to every 30 minutes. Looking back I willed them to stop – which seems odd considering my hopes for a drug free birth – but I had very little idea of the strength my mind was having on my body, and I was uncomfortable during the car journey so I focused on slowing them down.
Once we arrived at the MLU I was given an internal examination and told I was only 2cms. I was so disheartened. We were told to go home and if I hadn’t progressed ‘enough’ (eg given birth) I was to return to the hospital at 7.30 the next morning to be induced. We returned home, where my surges were further slowed by the car journey, they were now coming every 45 minutes. Once we were home everything began to head back in the right direction. We watched every episode of Spaced and The Inbetweeners ever broadcast and started to find ourselves getting into a rhythm. Phil kept an eye on my contractions and I found a way to manage them using breathing techniques and the Tens Machine (I became addicted to my Tens Machine!). Looking back this was my favourite part of being in labour, at home with my husband, feeling our way and anticipating the arrival of our baby. The surges continued all night, coming every 2-3 minutes. But by 7.30am the next day I had in no way given birth so we were back in the car driving towards the hospital. Again I found myself successfully willing my contractions to slow, this was furthered in the car park where I felt very exposed and embarrassed that everyone could see me in labour.
Once in the hospital I was checked and to my surprise found I was 5cms and therefore the midwife advised that there was no need for me to be induced at this point. I was left to continue and once again Phil and I found our rhythm as we were largely left alone. I had another internal examination and was told I was now 7cm. However, by my next check I hadn’t progressed at all and my midwife was keen to induce me. I wasn’t aware that I had a choice in the matter so deferred to my midwife’s judgement. I decided to have the induction but, still keen to keep the interventions to a minimum, decided against any further pain relief other than gas and air.
The midwife I had been with all day went off shift and a new person started. She upped my Syntocinin drip every 30 minutes (as I believe is the protocol for induction) but I found myself utterly overwhelmed by the amount of contractions I was having. My midwife called someone in for a second opinion, who urged her to slow down the Syntocinon but, really, by this time I had lost control. I was tired (my waters had broken 40 hours ago and my surges had been up and down since then) and my resolve was broken. I decided to have an epidural in the hope I could calm down and get some rest.
Having chosen the epidural, for the first time in the entirety of my labour I was able to lay on my back on the bed. I continued to labour (sorry this is a bit long and repetitive! It was a long experience). After a few more hours had passed I was once again given an internal examination and finally told I was fully dilated. This was very quickly followed by the urge to push. The epidural had mainly worn off by now (something I didn’t realise until afterwards). So I could feel all of the pushing and it felt so amazing to finally reach the end – I can honestly say I loved this part of labour. I felt powerful and amazing. 48.5 hours after my waters had broken, Stanley was delivered and put straight onto my chest.
My labour was long and not what I had imagined. It was not the natural, drug free experience I had wanted but it was also one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Will I do it differently this time? 100%. Do I wish I’d researched more? Yes. But I did the best with the information I had at the time and I look forward to arming parents with more information and strategies than Phil and I had. I’m excited about telling you all my hypnobirthing story in the summer too – once baby number 2 is here.