Birth Stories

Kelly's Birth Plan Helped Her Make Informed Decisions

  • When did you realize you were really in labor?

    I had a stop and start labour for about 3 days so it was really frustrating. I'd be around 10 minutes apart, then fall asleep and they'd go back to 15 minutes apart. It was when they were finally 3 minutes apart that we went into the hospital. None of it was really painful and I don't think it really felt like 'labour' until I was in the birthing pool and the big body shaking pushes happened. I used to think that you had to try to push, but realise now that your body does the pushing for you when you're having a natural birth.

  • What was the most challenging thing about going natural?

    Unfortunately while I was managing the pain well on my own in the birthing centre, between my TENS, the birthing pool's warm water, the aromatherapy, my own music choices, my wonderful midwife who was also a massage therapist and the calm private room we were in (all for free, thank you National Health Service), the 'larger than average' circumference of my baby's head which had been pointed out to us during our last scan was now becoming a problem. And she was stuck. And I was stuck at 9 cm. I spent 24 hours in this birthing centre with all the support I could have needed for a natural birth and it just didn't happen. While physically I could have held out the discomfort of labour a lot longer, if I felt it could have happened naturally, my midwife was concerned that my baby was going into distress and for me that was my bottom line - the safety of my baby. I was quickly transferred to an obstetrics unit where I was given an epidural and pitocin and my baby had a twice failed ventouse forceps birth. I guess I'm saying the most challenging thing about going natural, is when you can't go natural.

  • What was the most helpful thing you did to prepare for childbirth?

    There were several things I did, including going on lots of long, long walks every day leading up to the birth, rotations on my birthing ball, and I enjoyed the support of my National Childbirth Trust group of friends. We all gave birth around the same time and having the shared experience of seeing all these babies being born and hearing the different birth stories really helped me get mentally in the right place for when my time came. But practically, I would really recommend doing a birth plan (or a birth preferences list). In my case, it was a bit ridiculous by the end, as nearly everything on my list didn't happen, but I don't regret making the list because in each instance, my midwife and then later when I was transferred, my obstetrician, took the time to explain to me their recommendations about why we might need to go against my birth plan's preferences and involved me (or sometimes my husband) in the decision making process. Although it was a scary time and I was just concerned for the safety of my baby, I appreciated being able to make an informed decision at every point. My friends who didn't make birth plans weren't treated in this same way and the midwife and/or obstetrician made all their decisions for them.

  • What surprised you about your birth?

    There were some negative no one tells you that all the perineal massage in the world does diddly squat to prevent tearage and no one tells you about the incontinence that can happen for weeks after the birth as your muscles which have been ripped apart try to weave themselves back together again.

    But on a more positive note and what was the most immediate surprise was how suddenly one moment I was just a woman and then suddenly this little precious bundle was held up in the air, my husband announced that we'd had a little girl and she was placed on my stomach and she crawled her way up for her first feed, staring up at me with unusually perfect eye contact right from the beginning. And I became Mommy. Instantly. Just like that. Nothing in my life has ever felt so right and I suspect nothing ever will again.

  • While physically I could have held out the discomfort of labour a lot longer, if I felt it could have happened naturally, my midwife was concerned that my baby was going into distress and for me that was my bottom line - the safety of my baby.
  • What pain relief strategies worked best?

    The TENS machine worked really well for a long time, as did rotations on the Pilates ball. I was disappointed by the birthing pool as it took such a long time to fill it that it was only tepid to get into and I found it wasn't warm enough to help as a pain relief method.

  • What position did you end up delivering in?

    I ended up in the theatre, on my back, with my feet in stirrups. This was after hours and hours on my hands and knees in the birthing pool, being rocked by mega contractions.

  • How did it feel to hold your baby for the first time?

    Like this was the only thing I was born to do.

  • What advice can you give to other mamas who want to go natural?

    Please plan to go natural, but also do your research on medical interventions and medications. Its not being defeatist to educate yourself. If something does happen that you need to go into hospital and/or the operating theatre, you want to know what the different kinds of pain relief methods are and what they do. For instance, did you know that pethidine, which is casually given for pain relief actually has far more negative impact than a full on epidural? I did my homework and made sure my husband was aware and my birth plan included instructions that if I did become too overwhelmed by pain, to go straight to epidural so that I would be awake and clear headed for the birth and my baby wouldn't be listless and groggy, as can happen when pethidine is given to the mother.

    Its only when you know what interventions you're rejecting and why you're rejecting them that you can make an informed decision. Its your body and your baby. So planning for the risks is your decision...and responsibility...too.

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