Push Against the Pain

Here is Ella’s birth story, as shared by her mum Rebecca.

I had a little show at midmorning on Wed 27th. it was like clear eggwhite. I ran out into the garden to tell DP, very excited that baby was on the way. I had no idea how soon though!

Just some crampy period pain like feelings & backache for the rest of the day. Went to bed & took ages to fall asleep as I was excited! At midnight DP came to bed, & when I went to the toilet there was more eggwhite stuff, so of course I couldn’t go back to sleep again. I finally dozed off at about 1.15, then woke with an enormous start and a gush of fluid… yep my waters broke in bed at 1.40! I woke DP up and told him, he said “are you sure”, I laughed and told him it was like a water balloon! My knickers were soaked. When I made it to the loo, there was eggwhitey stuff and a bit of blood, and heaps of this fluid. So I whacked a pad on, pulled on some trackies & a jumper, we rang the hospital. They said we had to come straight in as after your waters break there’s a risk of infection.

So we got to the hospital a bit before 3am. On the drive in, I practised my calm breathing stuff, had some light contractiony feelings, & dozed! But when I got out of the car at Maternity Unit the fluid exploded again, so I elegantly entered the hospital looking like I’d wet myself… it even went in my shoes, nice.

They checked me into a birth suite, then put the monitors on me. I was hardly contracting at all. They did an internal after a while and I was not even dilated a bit… the cervix was just stretching. I was so disappointed as I knew that meant a long way to go! Also baby, after being in the perfect spot for 8 months, had turned posterior….

They had a rush of babies that night so we were in a ward with 4 other labouring women (even though we were private patients). We settled in & I started having more painful contractions. They would last for about 30 seconds-1 min and came a bout 5 mins apart, then 10 mins apart, then 3 mins apart.

And this continued until lunchtime the next day!!!!

The contractions kept getting more and more painful, but not more regular. I threw up twice after having 3 in a row, couldn’t keep anything down and was starting to feel really stuffed. Not to mention that amniotic fluid continues to renew itself every two hours, even after your membranes have broken!! So I was gushing fluid all day! We went for a walk a couple of times round the maternity ward, with me stopping and leaning on DP or the wall through each contraction. I had a shower in the ward, the best thing about it was the handles on the wall at hip height, I could lean into the contractions then.

They were monitoring me throughout the day, and finally decided I was in real labour at about 1pm. Then off to the birth suite at about 3. So I had a shower, which was awful as the shower head was tiny, birth suite was really cold & I couldn’t get warm enough to put the water just on my back without the rest of me shivering, and poor DP was freezing in the spray! I tried walking around but could barely stand through the contractions. By then I was so tired and feeling the pain. Imagine my disappointment when after an examination I was only 2-3cm dilated! They also decided I was dehydrated, and I needed an antibiotic as my waters had broken so early. So I had a drip put in with some rehydration stuff and the antibiotic.

Also, as my labour was moving slowly and I was getting so exhausted, the syntocinon drip was recommended. I also started using the gas then. The gas was great as it took out the pain of the backache, and I could concentrate on breathing through the contractions. So DP and I did that for another couple of hours, with him doing the most amazing job of talking me through the breathing and visualization. We thought we were doing really well, then another internal…. 5cm. I started crying and said I couldn’t do it any more. It had been 19 hours and I hadn’t slept or been able to keep anything down. The obstetrician gave me a few options, and, as I was so worn out, recommended an epidural and bumping up the drip, so I could rest and be ready to push when the time came. DP and I talked about it a bit but I was so ready for some help. Within minutes of the epi kicking in, I was fast asleep. DP tells me he was too excited to sleep, particularly as he was watching the contractions on the monitor, seeing how regular and strong they were getting!

I woke up after about an hour and a half, as the epi was wearing off and I could feel the contractions and this other weird pain. The midwife checked, then exclaimed that I only had a lip left of the cervix, and told me that was the pressure of my babies head moving down that I could feel! She started explaining that although I wouldn’t be able to push til the epi wore off more, I could start imagining where to focus on pushing. She said that although it hadn’t been the labour we were hoping for, now was our chance to use our visualization and focus and really get it happening in a good way. I told her I thought I could push then, so she said sure, wait for another contraction and have a go. So I did… and she said, great job! I can see the baby moving down!

From then on I felt this big surge of positive power – finally, something was going right and I knew what to do to make it work! So I took a quick breath with each contraction, then pushed where I could feel the pressure. After half an hour, the midwife said “you’re doing so well, I can see the head!” She put a mirror down there for me to see but I was too focused on the pushing. I had enough time between contractions to rest, smile at DP and gather my strength. DP was such terrific encouragement, telling me how great I was doing and to keep going, she was so close to coming out! DP originally didn’t want to look down the “business end” at all, but he got so caught up, helping to hold my legs and encourage me, that he got to see her coming out after all!

The obstetrician came in, had a look and said “you’ll have this baby in the next three contractions”. The midwife told me it’s instinct to stop pushing when it hurts, but that I had to push “against” the pain and through it. That image really worked for me. After two more pushes, the OB said “stop pushing & pant”, so I did, then one more push and they said “open your eyes, quick, reach down!” So I did, and felt my little girl slither out and straight into my hands.

(I’m getting teary writing this!)

She didn’t cry, just made a few noises and looked at DP & I, and all around. She was so perfect, with little fingernails and eyelashes and hair. She was absolutely covered in vernix too, but her skin was pink and she was so alert. I delivered the placenta without really noticing and also got one stitch – but we were so rapt in our little girl it was all “in the background”!

So, 23hrs and 50 mins after my waters broke, Ella finally appeared. She had an Apgar of 9. It was quite a different labour to what I was expecting, but the fact that it all went so well at the end really made a difference. (She turned round the right way just before the 2nd stage kicked in!) The midwives at the hospital were terrific, and DP was the best birth partner you could possibly imagine (there go those tears again!) Our breathing etc that we learnt at Calmbirth really got us through, I can’t imagine how I would have coped otherwise. I never felt like I was pushed into any intervention, and I was so happy when I had her in my arms and DP had his arms around us both.

Hope our story will encourage some mums to be to realize that even if things don’t go according to “plan”, you can still have a really positive birth experience.

Introducing Ella:  7 pounds 8 and 50.5cm long.