An honest account of my labour. Leave now if you are not comfortable with terms like “mucus plug” or “diarrhoea”… but if you are pregnant and reading this then please read on, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Before kids were ever on my radar I was terrified of the idea of giving birth, to the point where it was a factor in me even having children! So when I found out I was pregnant I was secretly thinking ‘Oh. My. Gosh. I have to do this now!’
I remember asking my mum early on in my pregnancy what giving birth was like, after all she had been through it 3 times herself. Her response was this: “It’s fine… uncomfortable at worst”.
So I ignored my mum and carried on my merry way, edging closer to L-day as it were.
I’m pretty sure that just the process of being pregnant for 9 months eases you into the idea of labour anyway, but to help with the nerves I decided to try Hypnobirthing. I went with The Positive Birth Company’s digital pack and spent the weeks leading up to my due date watching the videos and learning all about the process our bodies go through during labour. I found it so interesting, and just knowing how our bodies did what they needed to do was amazing.
Today’s the day!
Five days before I was due at around 11.30pm I had a little trickle of waters. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was my waters or if my ever weakening bladder had just given in so I initially didn’t think too much of it. I had no other signs of labour so at around midnight I got ready for bed and nipped to the loo, where I found that I had lost some of my show (“show” is a nice way of saying mucus plug FYI). Still nothing else so thought I’d try and sleep.
I woke up about 2.30am and although I didn’t have any surges (Hypnobirthing term for contractions) or noticeable discomfort, I couldn’t sleep and I thought maybe things would start soon. I think that having had a trickle of waters a small amount of “show” the anticipation was stopping me sleeping. I did feel like I had to empty my bowels and had a bit of diarrhoea and spent a good hour back and from the loo! In hindsight this was my body preparing me for labour, clearing things out to leave way for Gilbert!
At around 3.30am I had my first proper surge, which was pretty uncomfortable but nothing more. Think period pain style. In fact really easily manageable with up breathing…. up breathing is a bit like yogic breathing, a deep breath in through the nose, and a longer breath out through the mouth. Honestly up breathing was the lifesaver of labour for me!! At this point my surges were 2-3 mins apart and lasting between 40 seconds and a minute. I remembered to use the Tens machine from early on so woke Tom and got that on the go and it really helped actually.
So back to my mum and her slight inconvenience to normal life that was her 3 labours. Both her and my Nana (who had 4) had extremely quick labours and very minimal first stage pains so at around 4.30am I called the labour unit to tell them where I was at. They told me as I was first time mum, still 5 days early and sounded fine, that I should wait at home as long as possible. I said ok but told them I doubted I’d be waiting too long.
I think the thought of a quick labour and the midwives being really relaxed about it made me wobble a little and the surges intensified a bit, so more focus on breathing was needed, and the pulse button on the Tens machine was a godsend. I had the urge to push 20 minutes later so at 4.50am so called them back and said I was definitely coming in.
Getting into the car was a mission, and although Tom sorted the dogs out I was a little anxious making sure they were ok and that we had everything we needed, which made me lose sight of the up breathing… which in turn did meant the surges intensified again. I ended up in the back seat, leant up against the seat facing the boot. Head slumped over the seat. I then had a real urge to push and I lost sight of the breathing completely and panicked.
And I felt pain. A lot of pain.
After 2 VERY intense surges I gave myself a mental slap in the face, had a little word with myself and refocused my breathing. Perfect. I was back on track! Again, in hindsight (isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing!) the urge to push was my waters getting ready to go, and hey presto, there went my waters whilst in the car.
The drive was about 25 minutes and by the time we got to the hospital my body was really trying to push. It was taking a lot to hold it back and focusing on breathing was hard, but Tom kept me on track counting my breaths. A midwife happened to be in the entrance and could see (and hear 😂) that I was at pushing stage so got me in a wheelchair and took me up and straight into a pool room. By this point I was literally moo’ing like a cow. I was examined and was told I was 10cm and the head was right there. I was also told that I didn’t have time for the pool, but apparently wouldn’t take no for an answer so they decided to try and fill it and see if we could get in in time.
In the mean time I used gas and air (something I was happy in my preferences that I was going to use) and was on my knees resting on the back of the upright bed. It wasn’t the ideal position for me but I kept with it until the pool was half way filled and they decided to let me get in. I think things were slower than they would have been here as I really wanted that pool… and I was told after that they don’t usually allow you to get into the pool until it is fully filled, but I had already been in established labour with Gilb’s head sat in my birth canal for around half an hour so at this point I think they just made the executive decision to let me get in.
The pool was an instant relief and I ended up finding sat slightly reclined was the best position for me. That’s when the pushing became more pronounced, I was in the position I wanted and in the pool. Ten minutes of intensity later and the head was out. I caught my breath before the next surge and one last almighty push and he was out, at 6.45am, 4 days before my due date and weighing 6lb 14oz. I lifted him to my chest and Tom and I in unison said “he’s a boy!!” which was truly one of the most magical moments in my life.
I had asked for delayed cord clamping and a good amount of skin to skin, which the midwives completely agreed with. It was honestly euphoric. I cannot begin to describe the intense feeling of love, joy, exhaustion, amazement and wonder at what me and this gorgeous little wrinkled baby had done. I passed him to Tom for some skin to skin and had a physiological third stage delivering the placenta.
I almost wish I could have filmed the hilariously clumsy stumble over to the bed to deliver the placenta. My shaky, exhausted (but still on a major high) body, clambering out of the pool, clamped umbilical cord dangling… well it would have been a sight to behold I’m sure! Anyway, delivering the placenta was a breeze after birthing Gilbert, and it was out within a few minutes, about 30 minutes after giving birth to Gilb.
The birth was recorded as 1 hour 43 minutes, which I don’t really understand timing wise, but I’d say all in all it was under 3 hours . Which was incredible, and although it caused slight anxiety (me thinking ‘holy crap I’m going to have this baby in the car!!!’), it really showed me how effective being positive and breathing properly can be.
I didn’t have time for my playlist, aromatherapy, and all of the lovely peace inducing things that Hypnobirthing that recommended, but my preferences were met as much as they could be and everyone involved was completely on board and helped me keep focussed on breathing.
I had a tiny graze and a slight internal tear but didn’t feel a thing during or whilst receiving a couple of stitches. It wasn’t a pleasant experience I’ll be honest, bright lights and legs akimbo, but I can honestly say that I didn’t feel a thing.
From that first twinge at 3.30am, we were back home in bed having a snuggle by just after midday Sunday. It was truly a wonderful, difficult, intense but positive experience.
I know not everyone has had, or will have the experience that I did, but I think it is really important to share positive stories of labour. We so often hear the horror stories and I think your mindset going into it is so important. My one piece of advice is to really focus on that breathing. Get your blood and oxygen flowing around your body to help it do its thing. Our bodies are so amazing, truly magnificent, and I feel privileged to have been able to have experienced such a magical and empowering labour.
I think it’s so important to share our stories, to help others and to talk through and process our own. Another positive birth story that I love is fellow team #clothmadesimple mum Louisa’s, check out her blog over at Clothbummum. I’d love to hear your positive birth stories, even if they weren’t straightforward, we can still take positives from our experiences. Comment below to share your story.