About 9am on Good Friday morning 25th March 2016, I noticed I was experiencing cramps, they kind of felt like period cramps but heavier. So I spent the day doing fencing in the yard, as you do, and going about my general business. I had a feeling this may be ‘it’ but wasn’t sure as the pains weren’t too intense or unmanageable. I also hadn’t lost my mucous plug and there were no signs of my waters breaking.
As a first time mum these were the things people told me to look out for as indicators of impending labour. I had my hospital bag packed for weeks, because I’m an organiser, and I also had an induction booked for March 30. I tried everything in the lead up to the induction date to get my labour going naturally (raspberry leaf tea, sex, curry, bouncing on the gym ball) because I wanted to avoid the intervention. Luckily baby had other plans and decided to arrive 4 days prior to his induction, what a good boy!
My Good Friday continued as usual and my cramps really amped up around 5pm and I knew it was the start of labour. The pain is difficult to explain, it really did feel like bad period cramps but more sharp and stabbing pain. I felt my contractions very low in my pelvis and in between my two hip bones and that’s where the pain stayed for the duration of the labour.
I started timing contractions on my app and they were irregular. By about 7pm they became more regular and were beginning to be no more than a few minutes apart. I contacted the hospital around 7.30pm and advised them labour had started. They asked some questions and told me to keep monitoring the contractions and keep them updated. By 8pm the pain was really building but still I stayed on my gym ball bouncing and was able to breathe through the contractions and squeeze the life out of my partner’s hands.
As my hospital is 40 minutes away, and I’m a first time mum, and I was full of anxiety, I called the hospital again at 8pm and decided to go in to birthing suites. We arrived about 9pm. The car ride was fun with contractions 2 minutes apart and lasting between 30-60 seconds each. I was taken to birthing suites and the midwife did an exam and I was 2cm dilated. She recommended I sit in the shower with the hot water on me. This helped.
Every second contraction was the stronger one and I started to get more vocal with each of them. By midnight they did another exam and I was only 3cm. I felt so exhausted and stressed that I had only progressed 1cm in 3 hours. Birth and labour was an experience I avoided over-preparing for. I ignored birth stories, as they gave me anxiety, and I have a sister who has had 2 caesareans with 2 babies and out of my 3 pregnant friends (all due around the same time as me) – all 3 had ended with caesareans too.
My birth plan was ‘I have no birth plan’, I just wanted to go in and let everything take it’s course and make decisions as needed. I wanted to go ‘as natural as possible’ but recognised I’ve never been in labour before, never given birth, and didn’t know how or if I’d be able to handle the experience.
At midnight I asked for an epidural, I didn’t have gas or morphine. I was adamant I didn’t want morphine. After the epidural was inserted I felt like vomiting and boy did I do that! Projectile vomit in fact! All over the floor and my partner who came to soothe me.
The epidural was the best thing ever! I slept bits and pieces for the next 5 hours and because I couldn’t feel contractions, I wasn’t stressed and my body was able to relax and do its thing. At about 5am they examined me and I was 8cm. My obstetrician said she’d return around 6.30am and see how I was going. Well she did and bubs head was visible!
So around 6.45am they were ready for me to start pushing. It was a strange sensation pushing with no feeling below the waist but once I got in to the pattern of how to do it, it was easier. Not easy, but easier to understand, and exhausting!
After 20 minutes of pushing Jett arrived at 7.10am on March 26, weighing 3kg (6 pound 6) and 51cm long – our little Easter baby. He had the cord wrapped around his neck and belly but that was easily removed. He didn’t cry, opened his eyes wide and took in the world around him. And I swear he hasn’t closed them since!
He’s 4 weeks old now and likes to avoid naps like a pro. I’m talking hours between naptime. He’s so interested in the world around him and wants to take it all in, he fears missing anything if he naps.
So moral of my story is going in without a birth plan was actually my best plan and resulted in a happy baby at birth and a relaxed birth. Having my supportive partner there really helped, so choose your labour/ birth partner wisely. Good luck, best wishes to all future mums and dads!