I promised to do an account of my experiences of giving birth, in all its gory detail. I jest, it’s not that bad, but I wanted it to be a very honest account, rather than a rose tinted ‘it was a wonderful day’ type story – it was ultimately wonderful, but it sure didn’t feel like that for a lot of the time!
So my birth story starts off with my waters breaking, which isn’t how they all do, apparently, but that was the order I had in my head – waters break, contractions start, baby is born. A lot of people I’ve spoken to said their waters broke some time during the contraction stage, or didn’t go at all and had to be done manually.
I woke up around 6:30ish on Sunday 28th February because I could feel something trickling down there. I wasn’t sure at first – there’s a lot of discharge and things going on during pregnancy, so I thought it was just that at first, but then it began to go a bit faster and I just knew.
Not everyone has the movie style gush of waters breaking, but I certainly did! I sat up a bit, thinking I’d try get it on the duvet rather than letting it soak through the mattress, and then the flood gates really opened. I woke Nathan and just sat there as it kept coming out – I probably could have dashed to the bathroom but I didn’t want to get any fluid on the carpet!
We stayed pretty calm – we’re both just like that really. I got myself in the shower as soon as it slowed down and Nathan rang the hospital, who asked us to come in so they could check my waters really had gone.
To the Hospital
Our first trip to the hospital was a pretty quick one. On the phone, the midwife asked me to bring in a sanitary pad with some fluid on, so they could test it, and that was the first thing they did. She said she was happy that was my membranes ruptured and that was pretty much that. We were sent home to wait until the contractions had started and we were dilated nicely. We were told that it might not happen by itself, and she booked us in for 6:30 the next day to move things along if nothing had happened by then.
By the time we got home, the contractions had started. I’d compare them to period pains – it’s a pretty similar feeling, but a bit more concentrated around your back. They weren’t pleasant to start with, but bearable, and I knew it was only going to get worse.
I went back to bed as we’d not had much sleep and we knew we’d need to keep our strength up, but I found it impossible to sleep: each time I thought I was dropping off, another contraction would start and I’d be wide awake.
One thing I didn’t know was that the whole ‘waters breaking’ thing doesn’t just stop with that one gush – it can carry on throughout the day, which is what happened to me. I had to have frequent toilet trips to change pads/change pants if it had been really bad.
I spent most of the day in bed, while Nathan went out to get me food (soft pretzels are my new favourite thing so he got me a couple to make me feel better) and generally did useful things around the house/looked after me.
I timed the contractions using the Pregnancy + App on my phone, which was really useful – it times the length of them, and the length between them, and advises which stage of labour you’re in, so I knew when I’d have to go to the hospital.
We ate dinner and watched TV for most of the night, and I eventually convinced Nathan to get some sleep. I think he wanted to show solidarity and stay up with me, which is lovely, but I reminded him that he had to drive us to the hospital and definitely needed to be rested.
I used breathing to get me through the contractions, which was really helpful once I got into a good rhythm. It didn’t stop the pain but it helped me stay calm and work my way through them, unpleasant as they were.
At around 3am the contractions were very intense, lasting around a minute and were 2-3 minutes apart, and we decided it was time to head to the hospital.
Back to the Hospital
The journey was pretty unpleasant – moving around during contractions was really hard, and every bump in the round seemed to make things worse. Luckily we’re only about 15 minutes away from the hospital, but it did feel like it lasted a lot longer that time!
I have some vague memories of walking through the hospital to an examination room, with frequent stops on the way to breathe through the contractions. Once in the room, the midwife did an internal examination, which was one of the most unpleasant bits. I had been worried before about exposing myself – it’s not something I’ve had to do before – but I got over it pretty quickly and was focussed on the pain!
She poked around up there a bit, checking how dilated I was and that the cervix was thinned, or something like that. She was happy with the progress and said I was 4cm dilated, so I think we went in at the right time.
After that I finally got some pain relief – gas and air, which took a while to get used to but did help take the edge off. It’s a bit like being mildly drunk and made my limbs feel all tingly. I also tried sitting on a birthing ball but found it super uncomfortable and got off during the first contraction.
To the Birthing Pool
Our hospital has an amazing looking birth centre which we could have gone to, but we decided not to. We would only have been able to stay there for a few hours, since it had been almost 24 hours since my waters broke, and I didn’t fancy moving part way through labour.
Luckily the birth pool was available so we headed there next. I’ve always wanted a water birth, and after this experience I would definitely do it again.
The lovely birthing pool (after all the mess had been cleaned up!)
I changed into my bikini top – no bottoms, for obvious reasons! – and got settled in the pool. It was super warm, as it has to be around body temperature for the baby, and I did find it really relaxing. It was also easier to find more comfortable positions for contractions when you’re weightless.
The midwife said there was something in my urine which meant I was low on energy – I can’t remember the technical terms – and made me some tea and toast to keep my strength up. I knew I was exhausted and starving but I only managed a couple of bites. It was really hard to eat and breathe through the contractions.
The Pushing Stage
We were probably there for a couple of hours, just breathing through contractions, with Nathan holding my hand and giving me gas and air and water when I asked for it. And then we finally got to the pushing stage.
I started feeling the urge to push and wasn’t sure if I was meant to yet, but it honestly felt impossible not to. You might have heard it before, but I can now confirm it as true – pushing is just like you’re having a big poo. Crude but true! I thought there would be a difference between vagina pushing and poo pushing but it really felt the same.
And while we’re on the subject of poo, yes, I totally pooed in the pool. It was one of the things I was worried about, being a bit prudish, but for anyone with similar fears, trust me, you just don’t care. You’re so much more focussed on the pain and the pushing, and the midwives have seen it all before.
The pushing stage for me lasted around 1:45 minutes, but felt a lot longer to be honest. The frsutrating thing is feeling the head coming further and further out each time, and then going back in when you have to stop pushing. It just felt like 1 step forward 2 steps backwards.
Nathan peeked down there and said there was a lot of hair on the little head he could see coming out, which was exciting. I think I slacked off during this stage a bit to be honest: I was so exhausted I didn’t push every contraction, so I probably could have sped things up a bit myself if I’d tried harder! The actually pushing wasn’t so painful for the first one, but once I had to take a breath and keep pushing it sent pain across my back and was really hard to sustain.
Out of the Pool
Eventually, the midwife said the baby’s heartbeat was getting faster and we should try and speed things along with an episiotomy (basically a cut along the perineum – the bit between your vagina and your bum). I’d originally wanted to have everything happen naturally, but by that point I was willing to do anything to get it out, and I thought this was what was best for baby.
We struggled out of the pool and to the bed in the adjoining room, and the midwife used some anesthetic to numb things down there ready for the cut. She told me that she’d cut on the next push, which would get the head out, and then after that it’d be one more push and it’d all be over. I think that was the thing that kept me going!
I was numbed up so didn’t feel the cut, plus there was the usual pushing pain so I wasn’t really thinking about it. But as she promised, on that push the head came out, and I did feel some small relief. I’d heard the next bit was easier, but I actually found this the worst bit: pushing out the shoulders and the rest of the body was very painful. There was quite a burning sensation and then it kind of felt like everything was exploding. I screamed at that point – I’d been pretty noisy throughout but that was a proper animal cry – and then it came out and everything immediately felt much better.
Straight After Birth
As soon as the baby came out the midwife brought it up to lie on my chest. She got Nathan to say the sex, which was when I found out we had a little boy. He also got to cut the cord. We had skin-to-skin contact for about an hour and then I passed him to Nathan while I got stitched up.
This was the first time I’d had stitches, but I got all numbed up again so couldn’t feel anything (that pain would come later!) The student midwife commented that the stitches were very neat, and my midwife said she did crocheting in her spare time, so it’s nice to know I was in good hands!
The little one was making sucking motions in Nathan’s arms, so after I was fixed up I took him back and we had our first breast feed, for about 20 minutes, which was really special.
Me and the Little Moore, soon after birth.
So there we have it – my experience of the birth of my first child, written soon after the event so I can’t rose tint it too much! It was painful, extremely so, but your body is built for this, and you’re rewarded so much afterwards when you get to hold the baby you’ve been growing for 9 months.
I will continue this story with our first few days after birth in another post – I know this once has been a bit of an epic so well done if you’ve made it this far!
I’d love to hear other people’s experiences of giving birth if you’d like to leave a comment of link me to your post 🙂