I was very keen to have a natural birth and had
done all the preparation I could. I had a special aromatherapy blend, a CD
player and CDs, hot packs and determination. I had an obstetrician just in
case, but my birth plan was clear, no pain relief, no intervention of any kind.
Then my waters broke but I didn’t go into labour. My obstetrician wanted to
induce and I wanted to wait.
My waters broke… and nothing happened!
Sunday 3.30am my waters broke, or should I say started to leak. I was having a few contractions but not difficult ones, so I called my obstetrician Monday morning. I went in to have a CTG (cardiotocograph) to check baby’s heart rate and my blood pressure etc. at his request. He was keen to induce Tuesday if nothing was happening.
I had other ideas. I had been to a birthing workshop where I learned that the main danger from the waters breaking was infection. If you get a temperature your baby could be in danger, so I took my temperature every time I went to the bathroom, which was at least 10 times a day! My temperature was ok, a little higher than usual which happens during pregnancy. I also tried out the maternity pads and changed them regularly and made sure the leak was clear and not changing in colour or frequency.
I was getting some wave-like contractions at night Sunday when I was mostly asleep and even thought it was going to happen on Monday but the moment passed… By Tuesday everything had settled and I wasn’t getting any contractions at all.
The CTG sessions continued Monday and Tuesday followed by a visit to the obstetrician. He wanted to induce either Wednesday or Thursday. I wanted to wait until Friday but convinced him to at least wait until my baby’s due date, which was Thursday.
I swear I was scared in to labour!
So Thursday came and I swear the threat of being induced scared me in to labour! I walked in to hospital in pre-labour, having started contractions around 6.30am. We got up to the delivery floor and found bedlam. All the delivery suites were full and we were waiting around along with 3 or 4 other women who were scheduled to have inductions or monitoring.
Meanwhile its 8am; my contractions had jumped straight to 60-90 secs duration and were 2 minutes apart. What that means is that I was walking, around in the corridor, using my husband as a support and contracting strongly with breaks of about 30-60 seconds between contractions. Bright light was lessening the contractions but I instinctively wanted darkness. This continued until around 9:30am when a delivery room became available.
Where’s my Delivery Room??
The change to a room slowed the contractions down to around 4 minutes apart. A midwife checked my belly to see how strong the contractions were, which made me writhe, as it was very painful. I found the whole process of lying down on the bed difficult and painful. I think all their CTG units were being used because she didn’t use one. She couldn’t do a vaginal exam because I had requested only my obstetrician perform them, and because my waters had broken there was a risk of infection.
I felt that things were progressing quite quickly and was on the verge of going into the active 1st stage of labour, but she thought I was not very far along as it was my first baby. I was more confident as my mother had her first baby (me) in only 3 hours. After a call to my obstetrician, I was told I could go to a shared ward room to continue until around 1pm, at which stage my obstetrician would check my progress and see if I needed to be induced. I wasn’t happy about this and needed a wheelchair to go to the room. My husband was in a frenzy packing up the aromatherapy, the CD player and the hot packs. It was a long way from the plans I had.
Labouring in Public!
I was sent up to a ward room, arriving around 10am. I went quickly into active labour and soon went into the toilet as there were other antenatal women in the ward and I felt exposed behind a curtain in the shared room. I let the contractions take me and got great comfort from being close to my husband who massaged my head and let me lean on him. He got pillows, rubbed my back and so forth and I shut my eyes tight pretty much for the entire experience. It was all happening quickly, which I was happy about, but without any of the comforts we had planned; no privacy, no music or conducive smells. I got one warm pack to ease the pains but it wasn’t warm for long enough.
About an hour later, at 11am I felt a strong urge to push – in fact I found myself doing the first push without warning. I told my husband in bursts (it was an effort to breathe between contractions and focus on anything else) to get the nurse. When my husband told her I was getting the urge to push apparently her look was something to see. She asked who was looking after us and I said nobody. She wanted to coax me out of the bathroom but I was just focused on my husband being there. I had two thoughts: "go away" and "where is my husband!!" The idea of moving at this stage was inconceivable.
I Never Want Another V.E.
I eventually got back onto the bed and the obstetrician came and did the V.E., which was the most painful thing I had felt to that point. Lucky for me I was 10cm dilated and ready to have the baby – although I didn’t hear him say so immediately as I was busy contracting (oh, ok, yelling). So they debated for a minute or two and I crouched over the pillows in my own world while part of me was still thinking how it wasn’t going to plan.
The good thing was I was out of the ante-natal ward and off to delivery. The ward bed was wheeled quickly down the corridors with me dimly aware of a hand on my back and a sheet being thrown over it. My husband was right there, having abandoned our carefully planned environment so that he could be with me as we went to a public delivery suite – no room still in the private hospital delivery suites.
how can I do this, how can anybody do this?
I got into the delivery suite and had to move on to the bed in there from the ward bed. Another task that was so difficult to accomplish and had to be done in between contractions – I was saying "pillows, quick, quick" and things of that nature. On the bed I was over a beanbag and pushing but letting my body do all the work and yelling / grunting. I felt like it was going a bit slowly and asked the nurse if I was in a good position, which she said I was. In hindsight, I would recommend that you get as upright as possible as soon as possible. I was kneeling and my legs went blue while I kept going. After 1 & ˝ hours I was still pushing and the nurse asked me if I would like the birthing stool and said I would have to get off it when the baby crowned but could use it until then.
I was happy to get on the stool and eventually was told to concentrate on holding my breath to push and to try and get 3 pushes per contraction. Instead of using my voice I was channelling my energy inwards now. I was pretty tired by this stage and went through a few more crisis moments of "how can I do this, how can anybody do this?"
I had heard a lot about the necessity of getting through the first stage of labour, through transition and into the pushing stage. I had sailed through the transition and found myself lacking in courage and preparation for the pain of pushing. In hindsight I needed to channel my energy earlier, to accept the pain and get on with the job. My baby was slipping up inside me after my push as I rested between times. As a first timer of course I had no idea!
One More Push or Else
At 2 hours 15 minutes the doctor and nurse were cheering me on like a football cheer squad; “one more push, keep going, you can do it” and so forth. My baby’s heart beat had started to oscillate between 180 and 60 bpm and vacuum was on the cards soon. Somewhere, somehow I found the strength to push even without a contraction, to stop my baby from sliding back up inside. Without realising it a push finally became an exclamation. “Oh my God” said I as my little man suddenly arrived belly down and horizontal on my belly – he’d come out in one big push. After 7 hours total, from the first contraction, my baby arrived on Thursday at 13:37pm.
He was fine, warmed by a space blanket. I had good-sized tears (1.5 inches and 1 inch) as I didn’t have the luxury of slowing down at the crowning stage. I had no pain relief at all, which very much surprised my obstetrician – he “was very impressed”. I felt fine afterwards due to the hormone high and as I look back now I realise that I was pretty dreamy through the first week.
This account was recorded 3 months after the birth of my firstborn boy. Since then I went on to breast feed him until 19 months, then got pregnant four months later. Now my two boys are 3 and 9 months. Funnily enough, I was scared into my second labour by being booked to be induced as well!