Child Birth: A Positive Story

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Before I start, I just want to let you know that I'm afraid of pain, I hate needles, blood tests and I am even scared to use a tampon. However, let me tell you that I recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and thought the whole experience was wonderful. 
Everything that I was afraid of didn't happen.  I gave birth naturally and in water.  It wasn't a walk in the park but it was one beautiful and amazing episodes of my life.
I want to share my birthing experience because pregnant women tend to hear negative stories causing fear and anxiety and, I believe,  this can effect a woman's confidence and expectations as they approach the birth of their child. However,  I hope that my positive birthing experience can encourage someone that giving birth doesn't have to be that bad.

I was 11 days late and had mixed emotions. I couldn't wait to have my baby in my arms but I was very nervous of the process. I was waiting for an event and I didn't know what that event would do to my body. However, I chose to steer my thoughts away from the negative stories and hope for the best.

At 4am Sunday morning I started to feel mild contractions like Braxton hicks. I was hoping this was the start of labour but I had had these feelings for weeks so didn't want to get my hopes up. Normally when I stood up they would go, but this time they didn't. At 8.30am I decided to get ready to go to church and so every 15 minutes at church I would experience a mild contraction. After church I went to the supermarket and still experienced these mild contractions but by the end of the shopping trip on my way out the door, I had to pause and wait until the contraction ended. They were still mild in the grand scheme of it all though.

My parents came over to visit and the contractions started to get stronger. By 6pm they were frequent and really strong. For me contractions feel like really strong period pains. I called the hospital to ask when I could come over and I was told that I needed to have 3 contractions in ten minutes for 2 hours.  By 7.15pm I couldn't take it anymore.  Even though my contractions were every 7-12 minutes and not frequent enough to go to hospital I had had enough and told my husband to take me there.

The plan was to exaggerate the amount of contractions I was having so they could admit me. However they slowed down when I was in the 20 minute ride in the car.  The hospital had a consultant led unit but I was scheduled for the midwife led unit.  Shortly after I entered the hospital and told them I was having frequent contractions I was given a room.  I felt a little nervous wondering how this night was going to pan out. I was asked what my birth plan was and I had planned a water birth and thankfully a birthing pool was available and the midwife began to run the water which took 45 minutes,  I was given gas and air and it reduced the intensity and made the pain more manageable.

Having contractions in the water and consuming gas and air helped me a lot. Contractions last for about 60 seconds. A single contraction starts mild, gradually intensifies and peaks, then returns to a mild state before leaving the body.  Knowing this I was able to accept the pain, I kept calm and allowed my body to do what it needed to do to get my baby girl out. I didn't enjoy it but I knew this was the only way I was going get through this. After 2 hours in the pool I gave birth.  Around 15 minutes before I gave birth I felt like I wanted to poo.  The midwife kept saying " You're not going to poo. You're going to have a baby. " At one point, I could feel my baby's head in my birth canal but there was not enough time in the contraction to push her out.  The midwife said I needed to push only when I had a contraction to minimise tearing.  So I used my pelvic floor muscles and held her and waited for a contraction to arrive which didn't take long.  During the contraction or straight after, the midwife said  "The head is out " which I swear, I didn't even feel (no epidural, just gas and air).  Because I didn't feel her head come out I wasn't sure what she meant until I heard the midwife say "Time of birth: 10.46pm".  She then stated that in the next contraction my baby's body will come out and then it dawned on me that I had done the hardest part. The next contraction she was out, it happened so quickly that when she appeared in the water I was quite shocked,  I opted out for an injection to release the placenta and 10 minutes after I left the Pool I pushed it out,  When I pushed out the placenta, I sat down on the loo seat (with a bed pan under the seat) I pretended I was constipated and relaxed to allow the placenta to descend and pushed it out (sorry if being graphic offends you). Once everything was out I felt great to have my body back.

Giving birth was wonderful and I look at the event fondly and wish I could do it again. I am amazed what my body did, I truly believe the female body is a beautiful and mighty machine.

Things that helped me have a positive birth

  • Think about birth as a positive experience.  Consider staying away horror stories.  Bad birth experiences happen and women who have experienced them need to be respected.  However I believe being told a horrific birth story before you are about to give birth is not a good idea.  Some mums like to tell you the bad experience they had in detail,  Stay away. How do you stay away? Tell them you don't want to hear it,  stop them mid sentence.  If a group of mums start a mini group therapy session walk away from the group.  
  • Research how contractions work.  They last for a minute max, start mild, increase in intensity, peak for like 10-20 seconds and then the pain reduces until it's gone.  When you know that the pain will end its much easier to accept as the pain intensifies the closer you are to  giving birth.  It's good to know what is happening so you don't get overwhelmed. 
  • Breathe through the pain, I took slow deep breaths to keep me calm.  Being calm helps with the pain and the whole labour experience.
  • Try not to freak out, you have muscles in your uterus pushing the baby down and around.  Allow the uterus to do its job, rather than tensing your muscles by freaking out about the pain.  Your body can get through labour. 
  • Create Oxytocin. It helps you cope with the pain, breastfeed after labour and bond with your baby. During my contractions my husband hugged me and rubbed my back. Surprisingly it was a natural drug that helped me cope.
  • Get to know your vagina before you give birth. Have a feel how it works and what is going on down there.
  • If you can, exercise to increase your fitness as you will need stamina during labour.  During pregnancy my four year old son made me pull him up a hill on his scooter everyday and I'm so glad I developed the strength as it came in handy during the birth of my daughter.
  • Watch videos on birth and what is happening to your body and baby during labour, I'm not talking about watching women freak out while giving birth. Go on YouTube and watch animated videos which will show how your body works when you give  birth.
  • Recognise the only way is out,  this is such a small portion of your life in the grand scheme. It's not a walk in the park, it's work! But it can be a positive experience.

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