I had an easy pregnancy, working two jobs up until 37 weeks, no swelling, perfect blood pressure, and all other tests came back with flying colours; so I had anticipated a fairly easy birth experience. I had eagerly awaited a spontaneous birth; I have been described as a control freak so I was excited by the prospect of not being in control and the surprise of it all.
As my due date drew closer, it was obvious that the prospect of a spontaneous birth was growing more unlikely; I had no pre labour signs at all.
We tried natural methods of induction first.
In the weeks before I was due I had acupuncture, ate pineapple, went for lots of long walks…..you name it I tried it, anything to help the process along.
At the obstetricians appointment the Monday before my due date we tried a stretch and sweep. As I didn’t even have ½ finger tip dilation it was advised this was not likely to be successful (even though my cervix was ‘soft and ripe’).
My due date came and went and I grew more anxious that our little girl would never make her move; we had to isolate ourselves from social media and telephone calls from excited friends and family as the “has the baby come” yet inquiries was causing a lot of distress.
We tried another stretch & sweep on the Monday after my due date but the conditions were the same, so discussion turned to chemical induction and we were booked in for the Thursday evening.
The following day (Tuesday) I had another acupuncture session and ramped things up a bit in the hope the chemical induction would not be needed. That night whilst out at dinner I felt some movement, but it only lasted a few minutes.
Our only option now was the chemical induction.
I was to have the gel inserted on the Thursday evening and membrane rupture on the Friday morning with a syntocinon drip.
On the day of induction (Thursday), My husband and I spent the day together…..our last day as just us. As we now had plans set in place, it was a strange feeling to know that this was our last day of our old life and the beginning of our new life. I remember saying to My husband that I did in a way prefer the set plan as it was more within my comfort zone than the spontaneous labour.
We arrived at the hospital just before 7pm and were escorted down to the delivery ward where I was hooked up to monitors. The gel was due to be inserted at 8pm however due to the evening being particularly (and unexpectedly) busy the gel was not inserted until 10pm. At this stage I was still not dilated (but the cervix was still soft and favourable). I continued to be monitored for an hour and had commenced contractions, even though at this stage I could not feel anything.
My husband and I were escorted to our room at 11pm where we immediately tried to get some rest. At 12:30am I felt a slight gush and went to the toilet to change. I noticed some fluid however I didn’t think anything of it and tried to get some further sleep. By 3am I noticed that the pain was regular and consistent so I called a midwife who hooked me up and confirmed that I was in fact in labour. Just as she was leaving I had the urge to go to the toilet again. I got out of bed and suddenly a gush and it was confirmed that my waters had broken.
I had a restless night up in the maternity ward and just before 7am we were escorted down to the delivery ward to begin the rest of the induction. Good news was that I was now 3cm dilated and as my waters broke naturally I did not need to have an ARM (artificial rupture of the membrane). The medical staff only needed to insert a drip to supply fluids and the drug to induce further contractions and let the fun begin.
The birth plan I had written was about an active, drug and intervention free labour and delivery. I had planned to give birth squatting or on all fours, with the use of the exercise ball and the shower. Whilst this was the plan the ultimate goal was to have a happy healthy baby and mum, by any means necessary. Whilst I would have loved my active birth, my focus was always on the destination rather than the journey and I was not going to let my birthing experience hinder or cloud my experience with my newborn.
As I was artificially starting labour I was hooked up to monitors again. By 9am I was still coping well with no pain relief and had progressed to 4cm. Unfortunately, I was unable to have an active birth as movement was very limited with the drip in place. I managed to cope with contractions by breathing through and counting the pressure. I knew that I didn’t want the gas or injections and I just trusted my body. It was exhausting as my contractions were very regular and close together from the beginning (4 to 5 contractions every 10 minutes lasting up to 60 seconds each), thanks to the drip.
I had been told to expect a very quick labour as I was responding extremely well to the drugs. As I was hooked up I could not have the active birth I wanted, however I was still able to have no pain relief and was proud of what I was accomplishing. I reassured myself that it would be over soon so no need to worry about drugs.
At 11am another internal check to see how I was progressing, still only 4cm…..I was devastated!!
In antenatal class, they advised that during active labour you are meant to progress 1cm per hour, I had only progressed 1cm in a few hours and was totally exhausted. I was only getting a very short break between contractions and I let my mind take over rather than trusting my body. I started counting the hours in my head and knew that I would not be able to go on for hours and hours without pain relief so I insisted on an epidural. When making this decision, I was also thinking ahead and took comfort in the knowledge that if there was an emergency situation due to the longevity of the labour, I was already anesthetised and it would assist in getting her out in a more safe and quick manner.
The epidural was put in around lunch time and it was great, complete instant relief. I still had some movement so I could lift my legs, turn to my side and lift my bum but couldn’t feel any pain. Despite having some movement due to my right side taking to the drugs very well I was unable to hold any weight, therefore throwing any idea of birthing on all fours or squatting. I was going to be forced to give birth on my back.
During the contractions I knew they were happening but it didn’t hurt, just a very slight tight feeling. I was feeling so great that I even ate lunch. I did have to be told to remember I was in active labour and to slow down on the food intake.
I was checked at 2pm, only 2 hours after my epidural…..I was FULLY dilated!!! I was shocked! I did have a quick thought to myself if I had known I was going to go from 4-10cm that quick I wouldn’t have had the epi at all.
The bed was put in an upright position for an hour to let gravity do its thing before pushing began.
At 3pm I began to push, things were going well at first; however I could not get My daughters head past the peaking stage. All that could be seen was a lump of hair. We tried several different positions, but I just couldn’t get her to fully crown on my own pushing.
Then the monitors started to show signs of foetal distress and my blood pressure began to climb.
After an hour and a half of pushing the option of vacuumed extraction was discussed. Since the goal was a happy mum and a healthy baby, we had no hesitations in taking the extra assistance. If we had not accepted the intervention and something had happened I would have never forgiven myself. The vacuumed was placed on My daughters head and I pushed a few more times and she popped out at 5:17pm.
Despite signs of distress during labour, My daughter was immediately placed on my chest and responded well enough that she stayed there until required for the necessary weights and measures. We had a beautiful little girl, 51cm 3.58kg (7lb 13oz). We didn’t pick her name until a few days later; we wanted to get to know our little girl first before deciding. My daughter was not even on our list of names originally, but looking at our little girl she as just a My daughter and didn’t suit any other name
During the birth I did suffer a 2nd degree tear. I was also unlucky enough to have swelling afterwards so I was a sook for a few days. The after-birth recovery has been up and down. I have a few minor issues that I am now seeing a physio for, but nothing that cannot be fixed over time.
My journey was not what I had originally planned, however the destination is more than I could ever have imagined. It has taken several months to find the time to write this but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I hope to have my active, drug free birth next time around however I know that no matter what, I’d still do what was right at that particular moment. If it means another chemical induction, laying in bed, hooked up, with the use of intervention and drugs to ensure a safe delivery…..then that’s what I will do.
Posted anonymously, 6th May 2014