The Giving Birth Series is finally back!!! And, I thought it would be pretty awesome to kick start the series with a positive birth story. Today I share Fiona, the Free Range Chick‘s story. We’ve been discussing it for ages – she got in touch with me a while back when she asked me to read her take on birth stories, Childbirth: it isn’t that bad, and the fact that as mums we can kind of scare the hell out of each other with our tales of terror…also known as our birth stories.
My own labour experience was long, exhausting but on the whole pretty alright. However, I have to admit, the thought of having another baby has become a lot more scary since reading and sharing over 100 giving birth stories. I now know what can go wrong and I honestly think I will need some sort of therapy if and when we decide to have another.
That said, I also strongly believe in women being able to share their stories in all their glory, as childbirth, whichever way it happens is incredible. So, while I agree with Fiona that we do scare each other, I also believe we are grown ups and should pick and chose what we read and when. For example, if we do decide to have another baby, I will be making sure I only read the positive births… which leads me nicely to Fiona’s wonderful Free Range Birth Story!
Fiona’s Free Range Birth Story
Guest post from Fiona Chick
In June 2013 I gave birth to my second child, Fraser. After having a pretty regular birth with my first son Finley (in hospital, failed home birth due to meconium, delivery suite labour with episiotomy, healthy baby, a few stitches, happy days), I was rearing to go. Seriously, I really looked forward to labour again this second time.
I was never worried or frightened about labour the first time round. I saw it as a challenge and figured that that was what my body was designed to do. I had faith in my body and I wasn’t disappointed with how things panned out the first time.
My second pregnancy was a lot tougher than my first one. I had a lot of pelvic pain due to SPD, which was made even harder with a long commute to work three times a week, on top of looking after my toddler, who was barely out of babyhood himself (my kids are 18.5 months different in age). I was signed off work as sick towards the end of my pregnancy due to the pelvic pain, and was more than slightly relieved when I started to feel some shifting (and spied a good old bloody show) the day before I went into labour.
On the afternoon of 11th June, Ian helped me put Finley to bed (roughly translated as I sat ball-like watching Ian putting Finley to bed), before I took to bed myself, just to stretch my legs and watch some TV in comfort. It was baking hot that summer, and the heat was ruthless. I was probably watching Hollyoaks (one of my previous guilty pleasures, before I discovered blogging), when I noticed that I had been getting some fairly regular contractions. I began writing them down, just to make sure that I wasn’t imagining their regularity. Yep, they were definitely happening, definitely regular, and I was in no doubt that I was in labour. Yippee!
My mother had a really slow labour with me but almost delivered my younger brother in the car. I was a little concerned about having the same speed of delivery with my second. We’d made a decision not to attempt home delivery this time, largely because we had Finley in the flat and didn’t think it would be particularly convenient for any of us. After a couple of hours of contractions, I let my parents know that I was in labour, as they’d need to babysit Finley while we were at hospital.
It was 9pm-ish when mum and dad arrived, a couple of hours after I had gone into labour. I hadn’t needed any pain relief, breathing through the contractions. Call me odd, but I welcomed each contraction. It was one less contraction to go through, one more contraction conquered and I felt exhilarated by each one. They were coming steadily, so I made the decision to head into hospital, just to avoid having baby’s head hanging out while I negotiated the external stairs out of the flat.
Upon arrival, which was nearing 11pm, I was found to be 4cm dilated. Cool. I was in established labour. The (absolutely marvellous) midwifery team that were on that night advised that I have a walk around to get things going. Fine. I did this for a bit, but being the neurotic soul I am, I was clock-watching and getting cross that I was going to be up all night pacing the hospital corridors when I should be sleeping (knowing that I was going to have a newborn and toddler to look after from tomorrow).
The midwives spotted me looking a bit moody and asked me how I was doing. I said I was grand, but explained my sleep stance. One of them suggested that I have some pethidine. I told her that I didn’t need pethidine, because the pain was fine. Her response astonished me. She suggested that I could have pethidine (I’d had it before), which would make me sleepy, as well as relieve the pain from contractions. They’d find me a bed, I could have a kip, and then wake up fresh and give birth. Voila!
Really?! They could actually give me pethidine for the purpose of having a doze, get me a bed and I’d be all set for the big birth the next day? I was totally sold.
Since my first son, I had been concerned about not being active enough during labour, and worried that being stationary would inhibit the progression of labour. However, facing a night of pacing and contractions, I just wanted to sleep. So within minutes they’d found me a bed, given me some pethidine, a blanket (a blanket for poor chilly Ian too – we were right underneath the air-conditioning machine!), and I nodded off. My sleep was broken with contractions, but for the most part, I got to lie down, close my eyes and get some sleep.
I have no idea what time it was when one of the midwives came to see me again. It must have been some hours later. She examined me and said some amazing words.
“You’re a very strong lady. You’re 8cm dilated. We can go to the pool now.”
Awesome! I was still a little sleepy from my snooze and the pethidine, but that bit of news certainly woke me up. The midwife went ahead to get one of the pools ready, and before long we were in our warm room and I was stepping into the pool.
It was pretty early in the morning, probably around 7am, as the day shift had just started, and our midwife was lovely Leanne. She was pretty young, had a very calm manner, was cheerful and spoke gently. There were only three of us in the room (not including Fraser).
The warm water was wonderful. My contractions had been pretty steadily increasing in intensity over the night, but once I was in the pool, they were easier to cope with. However, they did slow down.
Although the time in the pool was chilled and relaxed, it was a little dull, if I’m really honest. For a while it was just a sleepy morning for Ian and Leanne, watching me contract every few minutes, and then a bit of conversation in between. Ian was probably desperate for a proper kip and some food. Leanne was probably contemplating the rest of her long day at work! I was fine, puffing on a bit of gas and air from time to time, although I actually found the gas and air more distracting than anything.
I asked Leanne if she was happy with how slow things seemed to be, and she was absolutely fine. She checked baby’s heart-rate every so often, but didn’t examine me. After some time, I had begun to feel rather more uncomfortable than one normally would in the final stages of labour. I felt incredibly heavy in the nethers, literally feeling like I was carrying an enormous weight with my vag. Oh wait, I was.
I decided that I wanted to get out of the water for a bit. I couldn’t even tell you why. I think I thought I would feel more comfortable out of the water, or that I needed to move. I don’t know. Anyway, I got out of the water, got onto a bed and moved around a bit. All sorts of positions. My water hadn’t broken yet, and I was really feeling horribly heavy, so decided that I would try and give a little push to see what happened. I hadn’t yet had urges to push, and thankfully Leanne wasn’t hassling me to get things moving quicker. I was very grateful for her chilled manner.
I gave a little push, then another, and was astonished to then find myself firing my newly-broken waters across the room (I’m giggling at the image of that). And what a relief it was to be rid of the waters, and to hear that they were clear of meconium. My waters breaking relieved a lot of the pressure that I had been feeling, so I felt the desire to return to the pool.
It must have been a bit over an hour since I had got into the pool, and I was getting a bit fed up of not very much happening. My waters breaking a few minutes prior to now was a good thing, and I felt that I had helped that happen by giving some little pushes. I was waiting for this great urge to push to happen, but it wasn’t. My contractions had slowed down and were getting easier to manage. In my head, this wasn’t the way that labour was supposed to go, especially as I’d dilated so well to 8cm.
It was then that I decided to give some more little pushes another try. So I gave a little push, and the craziest thing happened. It was like I had kick started a motor that I couldn’t stop, that I had no control over. The little push had caused my body to do an uncontrollable, huge, unstoppable push of my baby. I’m probably not describing it very well, but there was absolutely nothing active that I was doing in those moments after I gave that little push. All I could do was steady myself and hold on to the side of the pool, as my uterus quite literally gave my baby the most powerful kick in the bum. I could have been asleep or sedated, and my body would have expelled him from me.
I think Leanne got a bit excited at that moment. It was probably the most intense part of my labour. Everything before then had been about riding the contractions, and killing time. That first huge, unstoppable contraction pushed my baby’s head down and out. And my god, that was the hardest bit. I hadn’t had the whole ‘ring of fire’ sensation with my first (above average sized) baby. But this time, I felt everything. Leanne had got her hands into the water by this time to see what on earth was going on. She guided me through that contraction, to the point where his head was delivered. One thing that happened in that moment was that Leanne had a mini-panic and called another midwife into the room (she told me this afterwards). She saw the size of Fraser’s head, and thought that I was going to be delivering a monster.
So the next thing, another midwife was in the room, just in case the ‘monster’ got stuck. Leanne told me to wait until I got another contraction before pushing again. I didn’t have to push again. Another massive, intense, unstoppable contraction started again, pushing my Fraser’s body all the way out, with no problem. I didn’t need to do a thing. And thankfully, although he was a big baby (9lb for my 5’1 frame), he was long and thin with a whopping (off the charts – literally) head.
Leanne assisted, but I was able to fish a newborn Fraser out of the water and into my arms. It was the most amazing moment in my life (other than the birth of Finley). He was perfect and healthy, if not a little bit battered-looking, or ‘mash-up’, as my mum says.
I stayed in the pool with him for a few minutes before I got out with him. He remained attached to me via his cord for ages. I don’t know how long, but it was ages. I’d never really thought about all of these details beforehand. I was just keen to be healthy and have a healthy baby. In the time that I’d got out of the water, got dry, sat down, had a cuddle with Ian and a chat with Leanne on the bed (all the while, with Fraser in my arms) we still had an intact cord.
I was really interested in the cord, as I had not got the chance to see my cord or placenta for my first labour. It probably sounds weird, but I got a chance to touch it, look at it and Leanne showed me the details of it. I found it fascinating, although I understand some people may be a bit grossed-out by it. I also cut the cord, which looking back, seems like such an odd thing to do. The act of a new mum cutting the cord that has attached her baby to her seems so significant. It has to be done, but it is so symbolic.
Leanne asked if I wanted to have the injection to assist the third stage of labour (the delivery of the placenta). I declined this time, especially as everything had gone so blooming well. I soon got a contraction and delivered the placenta, totally naturally. And the final icing on the cake was that I needed no stitches at all, despite having a baby with an enormous head. It was a marvellous experience and was a beautiful way to end my childbearing days (we’re not having anymore).
My inspiration for sharing this story is because I feel passionate that we should avoid scaring each other about childbirth. It isn’t helpful to other women, especially the women who already have anxieties. I sympathise deeply with women who have had a difficult childbirth experience. But if one woman had a tough time, it is not a guarantee that every woman will have a similar experience. I wanted to share a positive birth story, as a point of reference for women who will be going through childbirth for the first time, or who have had a difficult labour and want some positive thoughts.
Otherwise, that was my story of the birth of my second child, Fraser Chick. I really hope you enjoyed it and can take a feeling of positivity from it.
Thank you Fiona!
I can take the feeling of positivity from it!! In fact it’s almost made me excited to go through it all again. Not quite but almost!
What did you think of Fiona’s Free Range Birth Story? Did you find it important to seek out positive stories when you were preparing for labour?
Please do leave your comments below. Also, if you have a positive birth story (or not so positive!), please do get in touch. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re not sure where to start then read of this post: How to write a story for the Giving Birth Series.