My first daughter’s Birth Story.
As a brand new expectant Mum and student Naturopath I thought I was well prepared for labour.
I had been doing special hypnobirthing classes, and meditations as well as the hospital provided pre-natal classes. On top of this I was also doing aqua aerobics classes twice a week, which was a wonderful low impact way to stay fit leading up to birth. These preparations all ultimately helped with my endurance and stamina throughout my 30hr long labour, without which, I have no doubt medical intervention in the form of vacuum or c-section would have been a more likely outcome. The experience certainly taught me what not to do in pregnancy, and also how much more I could do to prepare my body for labour. My second daughter’s birth consequently became an unexpected home birth and was an entirely different experience to my first.
The lesson learnt of what not to do is – DON’T LIFT heavy items in pregnancy. Even from as early on as 4 months or better yet from as soon as you find out your pregnant. I was 19 weeks and still felt fit and able, (even though I was well aware of the hormone relaxin in my body and what it is designed to do), I thought helping to pack up from a camping trip was more important and that, really, it couldn’t do too much damage right? Ahhh wrong! After lifting the 3rd item, I felt something misalign in my hip, which made me uncomfortable but wasn’t hugely painful and although the ramifications were felt throughout the rest of my pregnancy, most significantly I feel it contributed to my difficult labour.
During pregnancy I practiced daily hypnobirthing meditations. I also experienced sciatica and leg cramps and was seeing a chiropractor regularly. I also tried acupuncture in the last trimester to help correct the problem, but due to the relaxin in my body, any corrections made, would just, not hold.
My due date came and went, followed by another 9 days. I was going on long daily walks and eating spicy foods to try and initiate labour. I was lucky I had a midwife who trusted in the process and was not overly concerned with being overdue. Finally one morning, I was trying nipple stimulation to try and get things started. I was sitting outside by myself whilst my Husband was at work and after about 10 minutes of nipple stimulation, lo and behold my waters broke! It wasn’t a big gush, just a steady leaking. I felt a shot of adrenaline run through me (not helpful I know), but this is it, I thought, I’ll be holding my baby in my arms before tomorrow morning… Little did I know.
My waters broke at about 11 am and my contractions started at about 2pm. By 5 pm they were steady and regular and becoming quite uncomfortable. They were uncomfortable enough that I couldn’t eat anything for dinner that night and by 11pm, they were 2min apart, so we headed into the hospital. We settled into to our birthing suite, with candles, our selected music playing and essential oils burning. I spent most of the night in the birthing pool. I was in and out of the birthing pool throughout my labour, especially in the first 15hrs, it was a great place to make the most of the hypnobirthing techniques I’d learnt and although I was hoping for a water birth, it wasn’t the right place for me when it came to the final stages.
As morning approached I remember feeling apprehensive, because I thought I’d be holding my baby in my arms by now. About mid morning I asked to check how far dilated I was, to be told I was only 4 cm! I had developed severe reflux which meant I couldn’t drink any water and hadn’t had anything to drink since arriving. I was becoming severely dehydrated, though unfortunately nobody was picking up on this and the effect it was having on my labour. I developed a pattern of a fever, where I would go extremely cold and need to have lots of blankets, followed by extremely hot and needing to be fanned, where I would sweat and lose further fluids. I remember nurses and doctors coming in every half hour and measuring my temperature concerned that I was developing an infection. Especially as it had now been close to 24 hours since my water had broken. This was more likely just my body’s way of coping through the labour, as no infection ever developed.
Contributing to the marathon of my labour, was that bub had decided to (or had no choice) but to go the long way around to descend into the birth canal. This was likely due to the misalignment of my hips, caused by lifting those heavy items during pregnancy. Night time was approaching which meant I’d been in labour for over 24 hours, with no food or water in this time. All I’d managed was a little bit of honey. I asked the doctors to set me up with a drip to help rehydrate me, I was really thirsty though a little preoccupied. Hospital records show, as it turns out, I was only given synctocinon to help strengthen my contractions. I was feeling pretty desperate at this stage, wondering if this ordeal would ever end. We were trying accupressure points and homeopathics, but because I was so completely dehydrated nothing was working. My midwife suggested in the early evening to gently start pushing, before I was 10 cm dilated to see if that would help speed things up. Lol I think it just helped give me haemorrhoids, though there was some relief experienced in pushing.
To further test my endurance and determination of a natural birth was that in the final stages of pushing I experienced a tearing ligament, which meant that I was in more pain in-between contractions then I was during contractions. I have quite a high pain threshold, but that tearing ligament was the most long lasting (4 hrs) of excruciating pain I have ever felt. It took 3 months for my ligament to heal and repair. In that time, I had reduced strength in my leg. If I put my weight on it, particularly when getting out of the car, my leg would buckle, unable to support me.
In the last 30 minutes before bub was born, her heart rate was starting to drop in-between contractions, she was as tuckered out as I was. I had doctors trying to have me sign a consent form for medical intervention of an epidural, so they could try vacuuming her out, or if that didn’t work then ultimately a c-section.
Somehow in between me pushing with contractions and screaming from the tearing ligament, they managed to tell me, it would also involve having to put a catheter in. That thought seemed to terrify me more than what I was going through. I was too preoccupied to sign; I was going to get that baby out on my own!
On all fours, I finally managed to push my baby out. I was so grateful to finally hold my healthy baby in my arms, born at 1:10 am on the 11th of February. We were so delirious that she’d actually finally arrived, that for the 1st minute we forgot to check if she was a boy or a girl! The shape of my poor darling girl’s head, really told a tale of how difficult it was for her to make her entrance into the world. She had a big dint on her forehead, plus an impressive cone head. Thanks to the design of a newborn baby’s scull though, within a few hours, any sign of the difficult labour had miraculously disappeared!