I was one of the lucky women who has a really positive birth experience. I was quite nervous about the actual act of giving birth. Being a first time mum I had no idea what to expect and all I had heard was horror stories. I wasn’t scared of the pain as such, but more the likelihood of things going wrong or losing control of the situation. I imagine I had all the same fears as any first time mum who had google at her fingertips.
As I had developed gestational diabetes, I was due to be induced. This is because GD can cause a whole host of issues with your developing baby, especially if you are left to go over 40 weeks. As I understand it, GD is caused by the hormones generated during pregnancy affecting your pancreas’s ability to make insulin, meaning that your body cannot process glucose properly. One of the main problems you can have with GD is a larger than normal baby. They grow bigger due to the increased glucose in your blood. Excessive exposure to the increased glucose can cause your baby’s blood sugar to fluctuate and a host of different health issues for both mother and baby, so its very important to take the diagnosis seriously. I was monitoring my blood sugar 4 times a day and had strict targets to keep it under.
As I mentioned above, I was due to be induced. I had managed to keep my diabetes solely diet controlled so I was allowed to go almost full term. I was going to be induced at 39 weeks but that would have been Christmas Eve so fortunately they were happy to let me carry on to 39+6 days. This takes us to 29th December.
I called the hospital that morning after a somewhat restless nights sleep. I was very nervous as all I had heard about induction was pretty terrifying. Stories of failed pessaries, increased pain and risks of emergency c-sections and interventions had really set me on edge. I was told to arrive at the hospital for 9:30 that morning and spent the time prior to this frantically checking and rechecking my hospital bag until my husband took it out to the car. We live 10 mins from the hospital so really he could come back and get anything I’d forgotten but my nerves were getting the better of me by this point.
Once we arrived at the ward I actually felt much better. Things were moving along now. I was hooked up to a monitor to check the baby’s movements and my contractions. After a while on the ward I was examined and had the 24 hour pessary inserted. At this point I was only 1 cm dilated and my cervix was not favourable to childbirth at all. I settled in for a long stay as induction can take a few days and various drugs to get you going. With it being my first birth I was expecting my body to need maximum cajoling. You have to lie still for an hour after the pessary is inserted, but once that was over my husband and I set off on a jaunt around the hospital. They say walking around can get things started and it certainly worked for me. I began contracting on and off. I can even remember thinking “Wow, this isn’t so bad, I can do this!” but that was just the start!
Fast forward 9 hours or so and I was still contacting irregularly, although they were take-your-breath-away painful by this point. I resigned myself to a sleepless night and sent my husband home to sleep. I thought at least one of us should get a few hours in! However, no sooner had he arrived home with his McDonald’s, I was calling him back. I had stood up to get back onto the birthing ball and bounce for a bit, and blood had started to pour down my legs and my pain had seriously ramped up. I was contracting every 40 seconds so I struggled to get out to the nurses station to ask for help (I have no idea why I didn’t just press the call button, but hindsight is a wonderful thing). They examined me and proclaimed I was 4cm and needed to be transferred to the labour ward right now as this was it! I made the shortest ever call to my husband and just sort of screamed “COME BACK ITS TIME” down the phone.
He arrived back in record time and I was wheeled down the corridor to a labour room. I had requested a water birth and fortunately for me there was a room free. At first I was told I wouldn’t be able to have the water birth as they were concerned about my bleeding. I was examined and they decided with a continuous trace on the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions I could get into the pool. In the half an hour it had taken to get to the room I had dilated another two centimetres so I was well on my way by this point.
My memory gets a bit hazy from this point as I was concentrating and in a lot of pain. I tried the gas and air but I couldn’t get on with it so I ploughed on without. The contractions came thick and fast. The pain is immense, but I was weirdly separate from it. It was a means to an end. It was pain, but it’s positive pain, because it’s your body doing what it’s meant to do. Every single contraction I wondered if I could carry on, or if this was it for me, but then it passed and I was okay for a minute, steeling myself for the next one. By all accounts I was making some very interesting sounds and using very colourful language. My mother tells me I was very rude to my husband which is appallingly cliche!
Two hours passed in this fashion, though I had lost all sense of time by this point and it felt like forever and no time at all at the same time. suddenly the sensation of the contractions changed. The pain stopped and all I could feel was this overwhelming urge to push. It felt to me like if I didn’t push, I would die. That was how strong the urge was. I can remember the midwife telling me to breathe through it as this was all happening very fast but I couldn’t. I HAD to push. So push I did. It was seriously hard work but I was just happy it was going to be over soon. I was pushing for about half an hour apparently. I can remember the exact feeling of his head being born. I have never been so relieved in all my life. Oh my god it was pure elation (followed closely by the searing pain of a second degree tear) but all the pain and the sweat and the tears are nothing compared to the feeling of bringing a new person into the world. A person who up until 9 months ago didn’t even exist. I’d already given this baby everything I had, and I was happy to do it. The feeling is like nothing I’ve ever known.
It was fleeting though, because at this point the midwives started pressuring me to continue pushing as they had lost the trace on his heart rate and were concerned. The contractions had really died off after the head was born, but I pushed some more and there he was! My baby boy was bundled into my arms and I was hurried out of the birthing pool as I was bleeding a lot and they needed to have a look at what was going on. They gave me an injection to get my placenta out sharpish and started pulling on the cord to encourage it, which was a pretty gross feeling. It was even worse when the cord snapped and sprayed us all with blood! But eventually my placenta came out with a little bit of palpating my stomach. That was quite nasty and I really didn’t enjoy that, but I was looking at my baby the whole time and wondering how in the hell I managed to get that out of me.
They stitched me up and put me back together and then they left us to bond. It all felt very surreal to me. I could not believe we had a small human to keep alive, much less that I had just expelled them from my body.
I had a good birth as they go. I was kept informed and in control of my own care. My induction was successful and I can’t imagine it was any more (or less!) painful than a spontaneous birth. I didn’t use any pain relief, but I can totally understand why people do! How ever you have your baby, it’s a damn amazing thing to do. Be proud of the mothers in your life, because they are the reason we are all here.