The birth stories series has taken a bit of a back seat recently as I’ve been extremely busy working on a couple of projects behind the scenes for the last couple of months, but this weekend I’m delighted to share with you Sarra’s birth story below – she has some excellent recommendations on how you can prepare yourself emotionally for birth. You can also check out her blog at http://somuchtolove.net/
SARRA | THE BIRTH OF GENEVIEVE
Preparing to give birth was such an interesting time. I had loved being pregnant and was feeling positive about birthing my baby, however I found that a lot of people were really happy to share their horror stories and many women I spoke to had experiences that left them feeling disappointed or unhappy about their birth. All of this left me feeling that I wanted to prepare myself but that I also needed to be realistic. There are plenty of amazing and inspiring stories out there too, they just seem a little harder to come by unless you look!
I got hooked on listening to the Australian Birth Stories podcast and was given some great books from my sister-in-law, who is a midwife and mother of 2. My favourite was ‘A Modern Woman’s guide to a Natural Empowering Birth’ by Katrina Zaslavsky. I found it was full of inspiring birth stories and practical ideas. We also decided to enroll in a calm birth course to further prepare myself but I also felt that it would be good for my husband, my birthing partner, Nathan to have some idea of what was ahead and I wanted him to feel prepared to support me and to understand my thoughts around the birth. I prepared some birth intentions and discussed these with him. Lots of people feel that there is no point with having a ‘plan’ because that can lead to disappointment if the labour and birth doesn’t follow that plan, however I felt that knowing my options, having an idea of what I thought Plan A, Plan B and potentially Plan C might look like, was the best way for me. I wanted to know my options but be realistic and flexible if needed.
My due date (17th April) came and went. At 41 weeks (24th April) I had an appointment with the midwife and an internal examination. Everything seemed fine from her point of view but I had been concerned that I had not felt the baby moving as much as normal that morning and a few nights earlier, so I went in to hospital for some fetal monitoring. The baby’s heart rate and movements were tracked and everything looked healthy and well. I was due to go for more monitoring at 41 weeks and 3 days, but they decided to bring it forward to the next day – 41 weeks and 1 day. Again, everything looked healthy and well. After a conversation with the sonographer I decided to contact my midwife, Trish, the following day for another stretch and sweep internal, rather than just waiting for my induction date to arrive.
On Thursday 26th I went to hospital to see my midwife who performed another internal examination and we made the decision to push my induction back another few days. Following the internal examination I started feeling some contractions throughout the day and evening, but was very unsure if it was a false start or not. I went to bed that night, hoping that maybe things were starting and excited that maybe we would get to meet our baby soon.
I barely slept once I got into bed, hoping that things might pick up soon. At about 3am I noticed that the contractions seemed to be getting closer together and seemed to be roughly 10 minutes apart. Then at about 4am I felt something strange start to leak and I was certain that my membranes had broken, even though it was only a slight leak. I woke Nathan up super excited and called my midwife. She met us at the hospital, checked that the baby was not in distress, checked there was no meconium in the waters, checked my blood pressure and then being happy with everything, sent us back home to wait to see if things would kick off. We are home before 6am. We got our things ready in case and I had a shower, and at about 7.30am I got Nathan to hook me up with the TENS machine as the contractions had started to get a bit more intense. We kept timing contractions, and used the TENS machine while constantly changing positions and pacing the house until I felt like I wanted to go into hospital. My contractions were still quite irregular – some 3 or 4 minutes apart but then sometimes 7 or 8 minutes apart, but I was starting to feel worried about having to sit in the car to get to the hospital and I wanted some reassurance that something was actually happening. So at around 2pm, we jumped in the car and drove to the hospital.
Just around the corner I had to get Nathan to pull over as I was so uncomfortable in the front seat and needed to move into the back where I could spread out more! Once in the room, I was checked and I was 4 cm dilated. I moved around trying to find comfortable positions and testing out where I wanted to be. After a short while (maybe an hour and a half) I asked if it would be too soon to get in the bath and they agreed that I could. At first I got in and laid down and it was so warm and relaxing but as soon as a contraction came I almost jumped out of my skin and had to spin around onto my knees– there was no way I could be on my back!
I then spent the next 6 hours kneeling in the bath, working through contractions and eventually fighting hamstring and calf cramps. My husband was incredible helping to top up the bath water, keeping cool face washers on my forehead or neck, massaging my cramping muscles and giving me sips of water not to mention being supportive and encouraging. At one point (I think maybe around 8pm) my midwife checked to see how dilated I was and told me “You’re doing really well, everything is happening”. I had been hoping she would tell me I was fully dilated and ready to push (as some contractions had started to feel like I was wanting to push already) and her comment made me fear the worst! She never told me and I didn’t dare ask, but I found out later I was 7cm at that point.
I managed to pull myself together but after another few hours I was feeling like I could no longer stay in that position in the bath. Eventually they suggested getting out of the bath anyway as they needed to administer some antibiotics for the baby, as it had been 18 hours since my waters had broken.
From then on things moved pretty fast. I somehow got across the hall and into the room, found a high bench that I could stand at and that is where I stayed. Nathan had been massaging my back and he continued to do that through the warm blanket that was draped over my shoulders. The IV with the antibiotics was organised and administered through my hand. By this stage I was so exhausted and really starting to wonder how much longer this could possibly last! Eventually (after what felt like ages of begging) I was handed the mouth piece to access the gas and air.
I had started feeling like I needed to push almost as soon as we were back in the room and so that is where I stayed while I birthed my baby. I have no idea how long I pushed for but it seemed that getting up and working with gravity definitely helped. Once her head was born, I reached down to feel her head and Nathan even took a sneak peek (something he thought he would never do!) The next contraction that came, the rest of the baby was born and a slippery, warm body was passed up in front so that I could hold it. I was holding our baby! I immediately started crying and repeating “oh my god, oh my god!” while Nathan and I stared at each other and at this baby in disbelief. After being prompted by the midwives we checked and discovered that she was a girl!! Our beautiful daughter, Genevieve Isabel, was born at 11.13pm on Friday 27th April.
It truly was such an incredible experience and I was so elated at what I, and my body had achieved!
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