After each surge, there was no pain and the whole birth continued like that

Angela’s Birth Story

Mum holding new born baby on chest Sydney, Australia
Sebastian, 2.875kg

The week leading up to birth was hardest. Not knowing when baby would come. Worried about being forced into an induction I didn’t want. But worried about putting baby in danger if I didn’t go into spontaneous labour. Combined with dealing with extreme pelvic, hip and knee pain.

I was trying everything I was able to to induce labour naturally – raspberry leaf tea, dates, bouncing on fit ball, clary sage, labour prep massage, oxytocin release… and felt like nothing was happening. I was very nervous that we would be approaching our last appt with the obstetrician and would be forced to make a decision on stretch and sweep and/or induction of birth.

I decided to ask baby to work with me to bring on labour. I listened to “come out baby” track and envisioned what I wanted my birth to be like. I asked baby to come to me and told them it was safe and time to come now.

I went to bed that night feeling like I was getting some period pain cramps in my lower back and stomach. I wasn’t ready to think anything more into it though as I had been feeling a bit funny in the week leading up and yet nothing had happened yet to show labour was nearing. I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

I found it quite difficult to get to sleep that night. The cramps felt like they were increasing but not changing to a “tightening” feeling at all. I used the bathroom a few times as my bladder felt very much under pressure and stomach cramps almost felt like food poisoning. Around midnight, I decided to wake my husband and let him know I was experiencing discomfort in case we should go to hospital to check on bub. We decided to stay home a bit longer but called the hospital to ask anyway. The midwife suggested I take Panadol and see what happened. She said it may be start of labour but very early stages and if the pains got worse to start timing and call back in a few hours.

The cramps seemed to increase quickly. Even though it wasn’t following a consistent pattern I could tell things were starting to progress. The cramps would build and reach a peak and then subside again. I felt most comfortable during this early stage to be on the toilet as the discomfort mostly came from an intense feeling of needing to wee and poo at the same time.

This is when I had my bloody show. I tried to move around as much as possible in between surges and my husband started to pack the car for the move to hospital. When the cramps got worse, I managed in the shower. As the surges got closer and more consistent I used a TENS machine to manage and tried to rest as much as possible between surges. I didn’t want to go to the hospital too early as I knew I would feel deflated if I hadn’t progressed as far as I thought I was or stopped progressing because of the move to hospital.

When the discomfort became a bit more intense and I started to feel like I would not be able to make the walk from the hospital car park to the birth unit we decided to make our way to the hospital. We had the nod of approval from the midwives at the hospital after our 3rd update call to them too. The surges continued in the car to hospital but was manageable with the tens boost feature and breathing and groaning through the surges with constant reassurance from my husband.

We made our way to the birth unit, stopping to lean against walls to breathe through tough surges. Once we made it to the birth unit the groans through the peaks were real. A midwife took us to a room and asked if it would be okay to check baby using CTG. Unfortunately this was strapped to the bed and all I wanted to do was go into the shower. I still had the constant discomfort feeling of needing to wee and poo at the same time and that thought became all consuming at times.

I decided I wanted to make sure my baby was coping okay and agreed to the CTG after asking how long it would take and advising her I wanted to use the shower straight after. She also offered an internal check to see my progress which my birth preference initially stated I didn’t want, however when asked I agreed because I felt that this first check would allow me to know how far I had progressed and be able to let me plan if I could continue to manage or need to change my plan to cope. Thankfully the midwife advised I was 6cm dilated already and things were progressing well. This gave me the confidence that I was almost there and would be able to continue how I had envisaged with my birth.

I moved to the shower with my husband close by. The hot water helped to manage the surges and distracted me a bit while my husband played the surge hypnotrack in the background. I continued to breathe through my surges which were getting closer and closer together by now and much more intense peaks. I kept my eyes closed through the majority of my birth which I felt helped distort the sensation of time as well and made me feel like only minutes had passed when it was, in fact, hours.

The midwife and my husband encouraged me to breathe through my surges in the background. I always envisioned my birth to be calm which I thought meant quiet but I was all but that during transition. It was intense, however all I can describe it as is discomfort not pain. And the most incredible part was that after each surge, there was no pain at all and the whole birth continued like that, even when it came to pushing and crowning.

There was a moment I decided I had to stand in the shower after sitting on the chair for a long time. This managed to encourage my waters to break and I felt 2 gushes flow down my legs with the next surge. I let my husband know I thought I would need to push soon and the midwife brought in another midwife to assist. I decided to ask for gas to manage, however when I was told I would need to leave the shower I declined. I was just simply too focussed and too dazed to make a move anywhere and didn’t want to leave the comfort of the water.

Soon after I felt my body convulse with the next surge and a pushing sensation starting almost like needing to make a bowel movement but from deeper within. I screamed even though I knew I would need to try and conserve energy, it just felt like the best way to cope for me. I pushed down as I had practiced with each surge. I moved from the shower to a birth stool placed in the bathroom. I then felt the need to try kneeling instead and leant against the toilet.

My obstetrician arrived as I was pushing and asked me to return to the birth stool to save my knees which I managed to do with some help. I was able to use the handles on the stool and my husband to support myself and bear down with each surge. The midwives were trying to monitor baby’s heart rate with a Doppler during this time which I found quite annoying especially during surges.

At some point, the obstetrician informed me baby was starting to struggle and asked me to move to the bed so she could check the position and correct it if needed. Again, I refused to move as I just couldn’t begin to think of how I would get myself up and out of the bathroom. I decided now was the time to really push with every surge and despite not wanted to do purple pushing, I felt I had to to get baby to come faster and for it to all be over quickly for us both. I held my breath occasionally through surge to get baby down further, I screamed and I cried but I knew my baby was almost here.

The obstetrician instructed me that I would need to push hard with the next surge and then listen to her when she asked me to stop. Later I realised it was because the cord was around my baby’s neck and she needed me to stop pushing to get it unwrapped as his head came through. I dont actually recall the intensity of a “ring of fire” during crowning at all (I can only put this down to getting used to the sensations through perineal massage in late pregnancy). The obstetrician told me to open my eyes and grab my baby as I gave one final hard push and pulled it out and onto my chest. It was the most surreal experience ever and the intensity immediately ceased. My baby passed meconium on me when I pulled him out. We had a son!

I was in shock and awe at what I had just accomplished and amazed that my baby was finally in my arms.

My husband advocated for me to have a physiological management of the placenta delivery as we had discussed in our birth plan. I remember feeling another urge to push and didn’t comprehend why and with one body convulsion expelled my placenta very quickly after birth.

We were moved from the bathroom to the bed and baby was taken to be checked quickly with my husband while my obstetrician gave me 3 stitches for a first-degree tear. I didn’t even feel the local anaesthetic but recall myself breathing through the process to calm my nerves regardless.

P.S – Worst part about transition was being super annoyed at my husband for breathing on me he was trying to help me through the surges.

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