The first time I was pregnant with Rory, I was so breezy. I certainly wasn’t afraid of birth. More accepting; its going to hurt, it’s going to be long but it’s going to happen. In a way I still would prefer to be of this mindset instead of scared but what I didn’t know was that there was a different option. An option to be excited, for it to be pain-free, to look forward to birth and to feel confident in my knowledge of what was going to get me a positive birth and what wasn’t.
My plan was basically no firm plan. I was low risk, young and healthy and not afraid, so I had some vague birth preferences but my main mind set was to be ‘open-minded’. Now I know that to me that means a bit naive and a bit vulnerable. I knew that I didn’t want an epidural (mainly because despite having piercings and tattoos I HATE needles), I knew that I wanted the experience to be as natural as possible but I obviously wasn’t tied too firmly to the term as pethidine was an option for pain relief in my birth preference (one that I will always regret). I also knew that I would like to give birth in the water if possible but had heard so many stories of how it never happens, so you know, just be ‘open-minded’ I kept thinking. Here are some of the factors of my birth that I strongly feel would have had a different effect on my experience of my first birth if I had been a bit more educated…
1- I had pethidine:
During my one day new parents course with the hospital we learnt, from what I can remember, all about the different types of pain relief that would be available to us and how many people would be in a room should you need a caesarean. That in itself is mad to me that I can’t remember being told about anything else! I’ll give credit to them in that the side effects of every drug were explained but it would have been brilliant to have learnt about natural pain relief methods that I now know about- endorphins, breathing, light touch massage, and to maybe even be told- birth doesn’t HAVE to be painful!!! On my open minded birth preference I decided on pethidine. I didn’t necessarily want to use it but you know I didn’t want to be a martyr or anything so better put something down. And so of course it was administered, at a time which was what I think was me transitioning. Had I known that it was going to block my oxcytocin, or even how important oxcytocin was, or that actually it was a horrible and useless drug I definitely would have said NO!
2- I actively pushed:
As the pethidine started to wear off I had a bearing down urge. Had I been further educated I would have breathed through this rather than ‘actively pushing’. This ‘pushing’ lasted 2 and a half hours and exhausted me when I could have been conserving energy for when I needed it. But according to One Born Every Minute and any other TV programme, thats the way all babies are born right? Wrong. (For further info take a look at this)
3- My contractions slowed down:
After 2 hours in the pool my contractions slowed down and became weaker. So much so that I fell asleep in-between them and the tapping on my arm that I though was some birthing medical procedure, was actually the midwife waking me up. Firstly this was could have been partly the effects of the pethidine, secondly I was told I only had 2 hours in the pool (now I know that’s rubbish) and thirdly I have since been given and researched some really interesting information about this ‘resting’ period. I learnt that it’s known to some in the birthing world as the “Rest and be thankful” stage and what sense that makes! This blog talks about how in most hospital births where this happens immediate intervention such as a syntocinon drip is administered to speed up the contractions again. This is exactly what I was taken to the labour ward for! Actually what if that is mother natures VERY clever way of saying “You’re about to give birth and you need all the energy you can get for the very last bit and for when your baby is here”!
4- I had an episiotomy:
An interesting one was that I really didn’t want to have an episiotomy. Again I had vaguely read somewhere that they didn’t really do them as routine anymore but did I read up further and educate myself on it…no. And did I therefore have a voice when the registrar walked in took one look at my vagina and declared “Do an episiotomy”…no. My lovely midwife didn’t actually want to do it she told my mum afterwards but Mr-Birth-Medical-Procedure had dominated the room and the situation so apparently no one had a voice! I didn’t have any meconium, babies heartbeat wasn’t compromised so now I know that I probably didn’t need it. Yes he was a ‘there’ for quite a long time not quite coming round the bend but I was ON MY BACK!
5- I gave birth on my back:
Cue another of my breezy birth preferences- ‘I’d like an active labour’ (which I was for about 29 hours) but again I was ‘open minded’ and if I had done a little more research and had a bit more of a voice I would have known to get back onto my feet. I didn’t actually lie down for 29 hours. I can manage surges way better when standing or moving but the minute they decided to take me up to the labour ward I was on a trolley on my back. I was exhausted true and so at that point you do tend to go with whatever you’re being told to do. BUT perhaps if I had made my opinions clearer to my birthing partners and made it clear for them to speak up for me, they may have said- lets walk up!
Overall the memories of Rory’s labour are fond and 25 hours of it are positive. We spent the morning having brunch with the family, went walking in the park, chilled out at my flat altogether, watched x-factor in the evening. BUT the minute I got to hospital I realise that my loose birthing preferences doomed me. I don’t think everyone should have a strict plan, I think thats a different thing altogether. But you should be absolutely sure about what you are putting as your preferences and mostly have done your research. We wouldn’t sit a major exam without revising so why go into labour not having explored your options to make it the most amazing birth possible? RESEARCH, REVISE and EDUCATE.