Ashleigh’s Birth Story
KEMH Mt Lawley/ Northam
My bub was always measuring in the 70th percentile, so we were expecting a big little man! By week 38, he had jumped to the 95th percentile. At my check up for that week, my obstetrician brought up the option of induction. I had no expectations about giving birth – other than it would be a physical and psychological challenge for me. I had no desire to give birth in any specific way, other than for my baby and I to be safe, healthy and happy at the end of it. I was however, hoping to avoid a C-section if possible, to avoid the longer recovery period. Before falling pregnant, I wasn’t aware of the strong opinions many people hold around how a woman ‘should’ give birth.
I’d done the Positive Birth course during my second trimester as well as a half day face to face birth at my local hospital so I felt reasonably well informed about the various interventions that may occur during labour.
I also live in a rural area and was looking at a 2 hour drive to the major metropolitan hospital that I’d chosen to deliver my baby at. I spoke to my GP obstetrician who talked me through the drive into Perth when labour starts, how to manage pain during that drive and preparing for an early than expected delivery should that happen.
Given that I live far from a major hospital, it was important to me to be prepared to get to Perth safely for the delivery of my baby. Also, many people hate being in hospital but I’m the opposite. I like being looked after and asking questions when they arise. Even though I’d had no expectations about how I’d go during the labour process, I had decided table I did want to be in a hospital to have different options for pain relief and staff support if needed.
After talking to my GP obstetrician about an induction, my personal circumstances and the research for best practice around induction, I’d decided that I would have an induction. My GP obstetrician said that she was 100% supportive of whatever decision I wanted – whether I wanted to go through with the induction or not. I felt in control of the choices and well informed at every step of the way.
I was booked to go into hospital on Sunday 30th May at 5pm. This was 2 days before my due date After check in, I was examined and administered a small amount of prostaglandin gel. During to not having enough midwives on during the evening, the team planned for my delivery to get serious in the morning rather than overnight. I’d also had a stretch and sweep the previous day at my local hospital (I was under a shared care arrangement and my local midwives were wonderful- both during pregnancy and after). By midnight, I was 4cm dilated and having decent contractions. I must have been close to a natural labour by this stage.
During the night I experienced painful contractions which included vomiting, I think from the pain. The pain was significant enough to keep me awake and require active management from me. I’d had several hypnobirthing tracks on my phone, so I popped some headphones in and followed these. I am a big fan of Pilates and exercise in general, so I used deep belly breathing to also help manage the sensations. I played around and found that an exhale from a deep breath that begun just before a contraction started really changed the way my body handled the contraction sensations. I breathed deep and slow and tried to time the exhale to begin first and this helped me a great deal. I’d had some panadine and a sleeping tablet, but I didn’t feel that these helped much. I did have about an hour or two of sleep that night.
By 6.30am, the GP obstetrician broke my waters and this immediately intensified the contractions. By 7.30am, I’d requested an epidural. I had no predetermined expectation as to whether I’d have an epidural or not. By this stage I was exhausted and mentally struggling to manage the increasing pain. After I’d had the epidural, I had a nap and woke up feeling better and stronger – if that makes any sense! Maybe mostly psychologically stronger.
The midwives told me that I was 10cm dilated by 10.30am, which they said was quite quick given my waters had only been broken earlier that morning.
The heart rate monitor of bub showed that baby might be in some a distress. The GP obstetrician explained that this was likely because I had an unusual presentation of a vaginal septum. This was explained to be to be an extra flap of skin within the vagina. Baby’s head was pressing into the septum and he was struggling to make his way out to the world.
The GP obstetrician decided that the septum should be cut out and that baby would be born by ventouse to ensure his health and safety. I was comfortable with this because my priority was a safe and healthy baby delivered.
Baby entered the world at 11.56am on the 31st May and I could not be happier that he made a safe entry. I’d been preparing for birth with am Epi-No device. I’d managed to get to 8.5cm using the device the day before delivery. I ended up tearing a little and I wonder if it was only a minor tear because of my use of the epi-no device. I delivered a decent sized baby – 3.94kg, 51cm long and a head circumstance of 37cm. In preparation for my next labour, I plan to use the epi no device again because I do believe it helped.
The moment my baby was placed on my chest was the best moment of my life to date. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that experience.
My GP obstetrician stitched up my vaginal septum and minor tear. I was surprised at how good the recovery was. I had Panadol and anti-inflammatory medication but only when needed and only for a few days post birth. I’ve been routinely doing my pelvic floor exercises since birth and it feels strong again. At 11 weeks post-partum, I feel so proud of what my body has achieved and despite the vomiting and pain, I remember my labour and delivery experience fondly. It was so exciting to know that my little prince was on his way and that I’d meet him. I’m really happy with my decision to have the induction. It saved a long and painful drive and allowed my baby to enter the world safely and via a vaginal delivery – which were my only priorities for birth. I’m also happy with my decision to have an epidural. I feel that I remained present and alert during the delivery. I didn’t feel distressed or overwhelmed at any stage.
I hope that more women can continue to have birth journeys that they to feel comfortable and happy with despite all the outside chatter about how someone ‘should’ give birth. There are so many things that can happen as a baby can enter this world and I think every woman has a right to feel proud of the choices they made during their birthing experiences.
Thanks for the course- I definitely found it useful in preparing for birth.