my birth stories
These are shared here if anyone wants to read them, really to highlight the contrast that there can be. I do have to give a trigger warning in relation to my first story which mentions medical interventions, baby in distress, episiotomy and blood loss, the second story mentions stitches (but in a positive light).
Chloe, August 2016
The birth of my daughter in 2016 was 'fine', but very medicalised, and although it was ok, it was not what I had expected or hoped for and afterwards realised that I could have done so much more, if I had known more (I had done absolutely no preparation at all!). I was 40 weeks and a couple of days when I accepted a membrane sweep, although on inspection my cervix was not 'favourable' so it didn't go ahead. I was booked in for induction in 3 days time (I had no idea what that meant by the way). In the middle of the night following, at 2 am, my waters broke like a tidal wave, but nothing else happened. A trip to the hospital the next day and I was told that if nothing happened by that night I would be induced. Thankfully things did start and we went back to hospital that evening. By then I was in established labour but totally disheartened to be told I was 'only' 4cms and would be inspected in another 4 hours time. That sounded like an impossibly long amount of time to wait so I asked what pain relief I could have (again, I had no idea what my choices were or the implications of any). I accepted pethadine which did take the edge of a bit, but a later 2nd dose gave me vivid hallucinations of two children in Victorian clothes watching me from the end of my bed (spooky!). Due to my waters having gone earlier I was hooked up to continuous monitoring which meant that my movement was hugely restricted and as the night wore on I requested an epidural (which took an age to set up and get working), and at last I slept. The next day I was 10cms, and with guidance I commenced pushing, but I didn't feel as though I was doing anything, as the epidural removed all sensation. After a while the baby started to show signs of distress, so a Dr rushed in and commanded the midwives to prep for forceps (note he didn't actually talk to me) the midwives were brilliant and while the Dr left the room to prepare they told me to get on with it and we could do it before he got ready, and we did! I had an episiotomy, which had been one of my biggest anxieties, but was actually absolutely fine and the recovery relatively quick, especially considering I lost 1.3 litres of blood. So, it was fine, but just not what I had thought it would be like, but I'm not sure what I was expecting without preparing!
Henry, September 2019
Following my experience with Chloe I began to read everything I could on birth and knew that next time it could and would be different. Cue 2019 and pregnant with my son I took a hypnobirthing course with my husband (more for his benefit than mine!) and I began to prepare for the big day. I was initially told that I would not be elligible for the birth centre due to my previous blood loss. However, armed with more knowledge I met with a senior midwife who gave me the all clear to go to the beautiful birth centre in Warwick. For me, this is one of the best things that hypnobirthing taught me - the ability to question what I was being told as policy set in stone, and I'm convinced that this is one of the biggest differences I made to this birth.
At 39 + 5 I thought my waters may have started to go, so at a growth scan that day (I was told he was going to be BIG!), I mentioned this and a test was done to check. I was told they had not, but I think that this test inadvertantly acted as a membrane sweep as I began to have contractions almost as soon as I left the building to drive home. As the evening went on I realised this definitely was happening, and my waters broke to confirm this! At this point things started to speed up, and became a lot more intense. The drive back to the hospital was the hardest part, but the relief on entering the birth pool was indescribable. No exams needed, just get on with it! I laboured with gas and air for about 3-4 hours and my son was born in the water, all 9lb 11 oz of him! The birth was fantastic - hard work, yes, but fantastic nonetheless and I have very happy memories of that experience. I needed a couple of stitches, but nothing major, blood loss not even worth recording, and we stayed in the hospital for one night of monitoring for gestational diabetes due to his size (he was just big!).
The contrast between my two birth stories is something that I often hear, I was unprepared first time around but the knowledge I had by the second time made all the difference. Preparation really is key.