Members birth stories

Benji's Birth Story

I was 10 days overdue when I went into labour. Since my due date, I’d been getting runs of Braxton Hicks around 5 minutes apart, each run lasting a few hours. So when I started getting them every 3-4 minutes at lunchtime I didn’t think much of it. But after 4 hours of them coming regularly I started to get a slight cramping with each one and I realised that the Braxton Hicks were actually contractions and the baby was on its way! I put on my TENS machine as I’d heard the earlier you start using it, the more effective it is.

Hubby and I had dinner as normal as I felt fine and quite excited that things were finally happening, and also relieved that I was going to avoid being induced. By the time we’d finished (about 8pm) the contractions were still coming every 3-4 minutes and lasting nearly a minute, and the pain during them was like a medium period pain. I went to the toilet and had a show and it was a lot bloodier than I’d expected. As I’d also expected the contractions to start much further apart and then become closer, I rang the labour ward to let them know what was happening and make sure everything was okay. They said the bloody show was normal and that despite my frequent contractions, I would have many hours to go before I needed to go in to hospital with it being my first, so to take a couple of paracetamol and have a bath.

As soon as I put the phone down, the contractions got a lot stronger, probably because I’d moved around to use the loo and the phone. I did take a couple of paracetamol but surprisingly enough, they didn’t make any difference! It wasn’t much longer before I was having to concentrate on my breathing to get through the contractions. A couple of hours later when the intensity of them had moved up even more, I rang the labour ward to tell them I was going in. I felt I was still just about coping with the pain, but I thought if I left it much longer I wouldn’t actually be able to move as I was starting to cut out the world around me more and more to deal with the contractions, and already didn’t feel like being moved anywhere. I also liked the idea of being nearer to strong pain relief if things got a lot more intense! Hubby was also quite keen to get me in as with the contractions being so close, I think he was worried I was about to give birth in the bedroom! When I rang the labour ward, they did seem to think I’d have a long, long time to go before I was going to give birth, but they were happy for me to go in if I felt I wanted to.

We got to the hospital at about 11pm and I used a wheelchair to get to the labour ward. I’d been completely exhausted towards the end of my pregnancy, and and had suffered with SPD which meant walking and distance wouldn’t have been comfortable. Also with the contractions being so close it would have taken me a long time to walk anywhere!

We went to an assessment ward where there were a couple of other women in the early stages of labour, all curtained off, and I was wired up to a monitor which showed I was having strong and regular contractions (as if I needed a machine to tell me that!). The midwife assigned to me examined me and found I was 3cm dilated. She said it was very good that I’d lasted that long at home, but I was actually quite disappointed I wasn’t further along. I’d quite liked the idea of a having a water birth and was told the room was free, but was that they preferred women not to get in the water until they were about 5cm (incase it slowed down labour) so they’d check me in a couple of hours to see if I could get in.

We discussed pain relief, but at this stage I felt like I was coping and didn’t want anything that would mean I couldn’t have a water birth, so the midwife left me and hubby to it, using a combination of breathing and the TENS machine to cope with contractions. The TENS machine definitely did help distract me from focusing on the pain, although I’m not sure how much of it was the physical effect and how much was because I was thinking about telling hubby to turn it up when I could feel a contraction coming! The midwife said going on averages I probably had another 7 hours to go before I was ready to push. As the contractions got stronger and stronger and the spaces between them seemed to be closing up, I was increasingly open to the idea of pain relief further down the line. I can remember feeling envious of the two other women in the room who from what I could hear, were only having contractions every 15 minutes or so.

About an hour and a half after being examined I went to use the toilet and as soon as I sat down on the toilet, I had another massive bloody show and my contractions suddenly became extremely intense. At this point they were lasting a minute and coming every 2-3 minutes so there wasn’t much let up! I think this is when I went in transition as I told hubby I wasn’t moving under any circumstances and was going to have to have the baby in the bathroom! He finally convinced me (staggering and moaning) to move and we were taken to one of the delivery rooms. At this point I was saying I couldn’t do it and that I thought I wanted an epidural, as I imagined I’d only be 4-5cm. But I’d started feeling a sort of weight between my legs since I stood up, and when I started muttering about ‘the pressure’ between my legs the midwife asked if she could do another internal examination and found I was now 8-9cm dilated. As soon as she said that, I suddenly felt much more able to cope with the pain and focused back on dealing with the contractions, rather than being overwhelmed by their strength. I also found that making a moaning noise with contractions helped, which was much easier once we were in our own room!

It was at this point I started using the gas and air which helped me a lot. It gave me something to concentrate on (breathing and listening to the whistly noises) and in my exhausted state, just allowed me to float away from it a bit. It did make me a bit sick after a while, but I didn’t feel bad with it at all as I normally would if I were sick, I just decorated my hubby’s shoes a couple of times (apparently he did hold out a sick bowl but I wasn’t interested!)!

I liked the midwife we had, but as hubby was helping me through it really well, she didn’t get that involved which was actually very relaxing. She was still in the room all the time if we had wanted support and kept us updated on how things were going, but wasn’t fussing about or telling us what to do. Less than an hour after we’d gone in the room I started bearing down with contractions completely naturally. It was so instinctive that if they’d told me not to push for whatever reason, I’m not sure I’d have been able to stop myself! The midwife noticed I’d started bearing down and said just to go with my body and push when I felt I wanted to, and once I was pushing the contractions no longer seemed painful, just intense. She used the monitor around my stomach for a little bit at some point to make sure the baby was okay, but I don’t remember feeling at all irritated or constricted by it. A second midwife was called in, in preparation for the birth. She was very nice too, I can remember them always making it clear to us what was going on, but pretty much leaving me to do what I wanted in terms of how I was positioned (I think I spent most of my labour propped up on my side despite meaning to do all that ‘stay upright’ stuff) and when I was pushing.

After half an hour of pushing (and a little after 2am) Benjamin was born weighing 9lb 2oz, and delivered on to my chest. Hubby cut the cord. The midwives had asked me about the 3rd stage and I’d said I wanted to try to deliver the placenta naturally which they were happy about. After 20 minutes or so the midwife said she could see my placenta had detatched and fallen down, so to give a little push and it should come out, which it did although I wasn’t really aware of it. She asked if we wanted to see it and talked us through her examination of it! It was quite interesting and it didn’t look like I’d expected (I think I was expecting it to look like an inflated whoopee cushion!).

Benji didn’t suckle straight away, but he had cuddles from us both. A few hours later he had his first breastfeed and took to it very well from then on.

The only negative thing about the labour was I did tear rather badly (3rd degree), although I hadn’t felt it while I was giving birth. But it all healed up very well, and having a gorgeous little baby was a very effective distraction from focusing on it too much!