Labour and birth: Theory vs reality

As the postpartum pains finally become a thing of the past and we start to get into more of a routine with our baby girl, I wanted to share my birthing experience.

Note: I’m writing this 5 weeks after the baby arrived but have dated it as the arrival of Lady P so that it fits with the journey of my blogs.

We attended NCT classes around week 36 of my pregnancy, where I discovered that my due date was the first of the group. Little did I know I’d actually end up being induced at 41+5 weeks making Lady P the 4th baby to arrive.

NCT was a great learning curve helping us to understand the ins and outs of the decisions we would have to make during labour, and from an information perspective actually prepared me pretty well for labour. But as I found, nothing could have actually prepared me for it in reality!

As I said, I had to be induced at 12 days late but was lucky enough to have a pessary fitted as an outpatient so that I could go home. The following is my timeline of events:

  • 9.15am Pessary is fitted and we were able to go home.
  • 10am I begin to feel a little unwell and ‘periody’ whilst watching ‘Homes Under The Hammer’.
  • 12.45pm My waters break so we called triage and were told to come in to Barnet Birth Centre.
  • 1.15pm I was assessed and admitted to the labour ward where I was surrounded by other M2Bs waiting for c-sections. My contractions were every 4 minutes lasting around 20 seconds but with some already reaching 100% on the monitor.
  • 5pm I requested some pain relief and was offered cocodymol or pethidine. I chose cocodymol.
  • 6pm I asked for pethadine but didn’t feel it did much more than made me feel drunk!
  • By 8.30pm I asked my husband to get me some more help as the pain is unbearable. I was assessed and found to be 4cm dilated so was to be moved to the birthing suite for established labour.
  • 9.15pm In the process of moving, I was already 8cm dilated! The midwives prepared the birthing pool and I was in it within 10 minutes. At this point, I felt the urge to push and the pain was beyond words. I tried gas and air for pain relief but again felt it wasn’t working for me.
  • By 11.14pm my baby was born to Emeli Sandé’s ‘Clown’ that was playing on the radio.

All in all I had a fairly quick and straightforward birth but I could never ever have prepared for the experience!  In reality, the pain was a lot worse than I imagined, I wanted more drugs than I expected to, and I didn’t expect to deliver in water.

So it just goes to show that you can do all you can to understand the process, but until you’re in it, you can’t make any assumptions about how you’ll feel or what you do and don’t want.

My advice:

  • Have an open mind when it comes to your birth plan and try not to be too fixed on how you want to deliver as your baby might have different ideas!
  • Trust your instincts and listen to your body when it comes to making decisions – it’s amazing what you and your baby will just do naturally.
  • Try to relax – a calm Mummy will hopefully lead to a calm birth and calm baby!
  • Use your partner – they know you better than anyone so make sure they are getting you advice and support when you need it, are reminding you to breathe (you’ll be surprised that you forget!), and are generally there to help you through.

I wish you all the very best with your experiences and would love to hear about your births and babies.

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