This is me on 8th May, more than two weeks before giving birth. It is possibly my favourite bump photo, just look at the size of me!
Anyway, so here is my labour story, I don’t want to forget it so I’m writing it to keep that moment alive.
In the early hours of May 25th I awoke to back pain, coming and going in spasms. One hot water bottle and two hours later I managed to retun to sleep. I had my 40 week midwife appointment that morning and was 39 weeks, five days pregnant. I told my midwife about the back pain, she advised that it can be an early sign of labour, but it could easily still be days away. She encouraged me to attend my pregnancy circuit excercise class that evening (I had been going to them since February), noting that it might help to move things along.
Around lunch time the back spasms returned, still not overly painful, more uncomfortable. As the afternoon went on I did some crafting to take my mind off them but as the day progressed so did their strength. Looking back it’s clear that labour had started as these were obviously contractions. However, at the time I truly didn’t believe that they were. It was back pain and I had no pain anywhere else.
At 6pm I stood up to change into my excercise clothes and realised I was in too much pain to drive to the class. Dunc then came home from work and within a few minutes, cooked our dinner and helped me relax. Around 8pm he ran me a bath to help ease the spasms which were still getting stronger and I was very much in pain with each one. I tried to time them but there was no pattern to their length or distance apart so again told myself that this wasn’t yet labour. The bath was soothing until a spasm hit and I would jolt upright in pain.
Then after 10pm I asked Dunc to phone the birthing centre as I now really felt that I needed to be in hospital. They just said to keep an eye on things and take some paracetemol. As Dunc got off the phone, my waters broke (a slow trickle that would continue for at least an hour) so he called them back. They asked me to come in to the assessment unit but said they would probably send me home so I should be prepared for that.
Dunc got the bags in the car and off we went at 10.30pm. My contractions were coming thick and fast now with two in the car book ended by one right before and one immeadiately after. The assesment unit could see I was in labour so walked me next door to the birthing centre where I went into an assessment room. This is when I really noticed the constant pain and I just felt so uncomfortable (this feeling would continue until I got into the pool around 45 minutes later). I was assesed and they could see that I was well on my way and moved me into one of the birthing rooms whilst the pool was prepared.
This room was not much fun. There were no windows and had mats (covered with that blue paper) that lined the floor, but they slid around the moment you touched them. The birthing ball brought fleeting moments of relief but I wanted something firm to hold me up. I remember feeling so hot and bothered that I didn’t see the pool as a good option anymore, however, Dunc encouraged me to try it and I am eternally glad that I listened to him!
I got into the pool somewhere around 11.30 to midnight and was introduced to my midwife, Polly-Anna who was just amazing. I instantly felt better once in the pool, my temperature sorted itself out and I was so much more comfortable. I continued with the gas and air that I had started using in the first birthing room, but I wasn’t very good at using it. When I focused it did help but I found it tricky to focus on breathing it in once a contraction hit hard.
The contractions were still causing lower back pain and on we went, each one bringing us closer to our new arrival. Somehow four hours went by. Looking back it doesn’t feel that long but perhaps if you had asked me at the time I would have said I had been there for much longer! The pain is really hard to describe and not anything like what I imagined, it was more of an uncomfortable pain. I’m sure at one point I told Dunc that I couldn’t do it.
At the four hour point in the water, I had to get out to be assessed. This was tricky and upon getting out I knew I had to push. Polly-Anna could see the head and asked me to pop back in. Pushing the head out was so hard and it took some time (although Dunc assures me it was only around ten minutes). I was also totally exhausted by this point. I found I was concentrating so hard on pushing that I no longer felt any pain really.
The first midwife who originally assessed and supported me came back for the birth and within minutes I was sitting on the bottom of the birthing pool holding my baby in my arms. It felt surreal and bloody amazing, I had done it. We decided before, that Dunc would tell me the sex, it took a minute or two to even think about this though! We were both very keen on a boy so the elation when Dunc told me was amazing. Wilf arrived at 4.28am on Thursday 26th May weighing in at 8lb3oz.
The next few hours whizzed by. Dunc got some skin to skin time whilst I got out of the pool, then it was my turn. The room was kept quite dark to help us relax which was great but means our photos aren’t the clearest. We had some quiet time in the room before being moved into the ward at around 6am.
I couldn’t believe how difficult I found moving or doing anything. I was so unsteady and could barely move. I guess I just never thought about how my body would feel.
So that’s it (minus the gory details!). I can honestly say that I found nine months of pregnancy tougher than a few hours of labour. I also believe that keeping fairly fit and active throughout the second half of my pregnancy (I felt too rough in the first half) helped me to have a straightforward, uncomplicated birth and I would recommend finding pregnancy exercise classes near you as well as getting out for walks and doing squats, pelvic floor exercises, etc at home.
I am happy to answer any questions, so do leave a comment if there is something you wish to know. Thanks for reading.