I can only say that I was extremely lucky (perhaps a bit of good management too) and had an excellent labour experience considering it was baby number one. The first sign of action was when I awoke to a show on Sunday morning. I let my midwife know and the rest of the day continued uneventfully… Except for some concentrated nesting activity! Then at five to 11pm that night, my waters broke. I called my midwife again as knew I had to go in for IV antibiotics as soon this happened. However because I’d had no contractions to speak of, it was agreed we’d meet at the hospital at 6am the next morning. I managed to get about four hours sleep with just five or six mild pangs and into the hospital we went.
At that time discussions turned toward possibly needing to give things a nudge along since there were still no contractions to speak of. I really wanted to avoid having to augment things as I knew this would mean a more intense labour and almost certainly an epidural (although I didn’t have an issue with the latter as such). We agreed to reconvene at 12.30pm and re-evaluate then when we came back for the next lot of antibiotics. I went home, rested and went for a walk during which there were a couple of decent ‘tightenings’. At 12.30pm we returned to hospital and my midwife had spoken to the specialist who said we’d be OK to go home for another six hours, enjoy the afternoon, have dinner and come back at 7pm. This decision bought us more time and certainly resulted in us achieving the seven-hour, drug and intervention-free labour that followed. Thank goodness!
We had no sooner got home at around 1.30pm than contractions started in earnest, five minutes apart.. It was on with the TENS machine and I coped my way through them by rocking side to side leaning on a swiss ball, humming, using rescue remedy and having Mark do hip squeezes… After two hours, things were getting intense and it was time for the dreaded car trip to hospital which went, thankfully, much more quickly than I’d anticipated… Even though we had to change route when we struck the Labour Day traffic on the motorway! Then it was into the hospital, a contraction on all fours in main reception, then up two flights of stairs to maternity (no time to waste waiting for the lifts!)
After a quick check on baby and a couple of contractions on the bed (I was 2-3 cms dilated at this point), we moved to the birth pool. This was bliss and I’d highly recommend it… Warm, dim, quiet, upright support and definitely offers pain relief… Although you realise that more in hindsight! My biggest allies were breathing, locking eyes with Mark and having him breathe with me in the pool, and visualisation. I imagined with each out-breath that I was blowing the sail of a boat and helping propel it toward a finish line… Which was the rest at the end of the contraction. The pain during the breathing wasn’t pleasant, but if I lost control of my breath and started to cry or ‘give in’ to it, it was a lot worse. After about two hours in the pool baby’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction and in between the last three contractions I was starting to ask for an epidural so it was time to get out and reassess. Back on the bed, my midwife was surprised to find I was already at 10cm, and after an hour of pushing, Archie had arrived! Afterwards the midwife said she was amazed that I’d dilated to 10cm and although she thought an epidural would be the next step, she didn’t really think I was as far along as I was as I’d asked for the pain relief so calmly in the pool! I can tell you, I didn’t feel that calm!
I still can’t believe that I had such a short and ‘straightforward’ labour as I was fully expecting a marathon. I’m very lucky and proud of what my body managed to achieve. I had great support people in Mark and my mum who both brought different strengths and would fully recommend having two ‘right-hand men/women’… As long as you know they’re the right people for you. Ten days on and we’re getting sleep patterns sorted and Archie is gaining weight just as he should… Go the ‘booby juice’! We’re settling into a new way of life and looking forward to mum and baby yoga…
Good luck to all the girls.