Birth. It is the most incredible, indescribable, unpredictable and miraculous occurrence. Bringing life into the world is an experience that is personal and precious beyond belief. Each delivery is different to the next, and yet I feel that despite the varying differences it is something so special it can actually bring us altogether. I’m pulling together a range of real birth stories to share in the hope of expanding our knowledge and expectations of birth, and to dwell in the wonder that is the gift of life, in the countless forms it may arrive in!
Name & age at birth:
Cravings during pregnancy:
Bad varicose veins.
Biggest concern about birth was:
Having another 2 hour push and episiotomy like with my first baby.
Ideal birth plan was:
A water birth.
Hours in labour:
12 hours from the first twinge, about 3 hours in fully active labour.
How we went from wombmate to roommate:
It was my due date and I was feeling very ready for things to start happening. I’d spent the last week eating pineapples and curries, doing big walks, pumping my boobs and all the other things they suggest to do, but with no luck. I went for a short walk in the morning with my toddler in the pram, then put him down for a nap. I decided to try and have a nap myself as I had read you go into labour when you’re relaxed. I also decided to try a crazy theory and imagine my cervix opening, in hope that it actually would! So after googling what a cervix looked like (to me a pink donut) I laid down for my nap and got to work imagining.
Fluke or not- within an hour I felt a familiar twinge in my back! I couldn’t believe it and didn’t move, but imagined even harder. (Disclaimer – this imagining theory did not work with my third haha) The twinges came back about every fifteen minutes and after an hour and a half I got up to do laps around the backyard to try and actually get things going. They continued and started getting more noticeable. About 3pm I told my sister-in-law Fiona who was coming to the birth and also rang my hubby. I told him I was still managing just fine but thought things were starting to happen.
I wasn’t sure if things were going to progress much tonight (these mild contractions went all night before a 20 hour labour began with my first) but decided to send Flynn (my toddler) to my mum’s for tea and a sleepover just in case they did. Andrew dropped him off and on the way home I asked him to buy me crumpets and waterproof mascara. I was hoping for a waterbirth and didn’t want streaky eyes haha! I ate a few Vegemite crumpets for tea as I couldn’t stomach anything else and tried to stay hydrated. I then had a shower and shaved my legs.
The contractions were slowly getting closer and slightly more intense but still only uncomfortable, not intense or painful. I was madly trying to get things to progress, doing lap after lap around our tiny house until I was dizzy! They hung around 5-6 minutes apart for what seemed like forever. At 9pm Andrew wanted to go to the hospital as we live a bit out of town and the road we live on has no street lights and is very long and bendy. It was terrible, foggy and drizzly weather and he was nervous about driving me at any later stage in the labour than the mild – medium contractions I was having now. He had seen full blown labour with our first baby and did not want to drive into town with me like that. I was fighting him as I knew sometimes getting to the hospital too early can stall your labour, but eventually gave in and we got there just after 11pm.
By now I couldn’t talk through the contractions but they were still manageable. I knew I wasn’t that far along but at least we were in the right place and explained we wanted to get here a little earlier because of the drive. I asked the midwife to check me to give me some idea of where I was at, after having bubs heartbeat monitored for a bit. She told me I was only 3cm which I had probably been for a few weeks as this was baby number two, and I could go home or if we really wanted to stay we could hang out in the assessment room. Hubby said we weren’t going anywhere so assessment room it was, which was fine as we had it to ourselves.
I texted Fiona and said I’m only 3cm so try get some sleep, then I asked for a fit ball – they brought me the biggest friggin fit ball I’ve ever seen and I could not get my fat pregnant arse on the middle of it before it rolled away! I soon gave up on that and by now I was starting to hurt. I tried different things, including Andrew putting counter pressure on my back during a contraction, but I hated it. I walked around for a few hours trying to speed things along, but I soon got so exhausted from all the walking I had to just lie down on my side on the bed. Andrew gave me soft back tickles and I got him to give me holiday scenarios to think about to try and mentally remove myself from the pain. It really helped even though everything he came up with was camping related! The laying down slowed things down a little. I was breathing heavily through them now and trying to focus my out breath to help push baby further down.
Eventually I got my energy back and hopped up to do more laps. Not long after that things changed quite suddenly and I felt the coldest I’ve ever felt in my life. I started shaking and told Andrew I wanted a hot shower. Thinking I was still quite far away from the end I said to him I’ll wait until the midwife comes back to check on me to ask for a shower, but straight after saying that I said ‘no push the call button I really need that shower!’ I was starting to struggle to keep it together now, the contractions were getting intense, gripping me like firm fingers around my hips and thighs, reaching a climax then taking forever to fade back down. (In hindsight, I had hit transition here) The midwife came in and seemed surprised by the change in me and quickly lead us to the labour room.
I stripped down to just my bra and sat on the shower chair and turned the shower on as hot as it would go, turned the fan off and the heat light on. I was freezing. Andrew said surely that water is burning your skin, and my skin was bright red where it hit it but if it were possible I would have had it even hotter! I had Andrew point the shower head to my chest and belly between contractions and when one came on I’d say ‘back’ and he would aim it at my back for pain relief. We were still coming up with places to imagine myself to distract me from the pain; beaches, sunshine, the ocean, campfires. It helped so much as the pain was savage. I was breathing extremely heavily and my eyes were shut through the entirety of each contraction which seemed to take forever in building up and coming back down.
The midwife came back and said I think I’ll call your midwife now (I was doing group midwifery which means two midwives see you through your pregnancy and it’s one of them that gets called to your birth, so you have someone you know and feel comfortable with, which I loved) I asked Andrew to ring Fiona. He said ‘are you sure? You don’t want her to have to stand around for too long’ and although I thought she may end up just watching me labour for hours yet I said no I think you need to call. I think it was about 1:45 am, I thought I was perhaps approaching the last 2-3 hours so I told him to tell her not to rush and she said I’ll mozey on down.
A few minutes after this I asked to hop in the bath. I’d been told if I wanted a water birth it was best not to hop in until the last two or three hours and although I wasn’t sure if it was too early or not I was still cold and needed a change and was hoping it might help a bit with the pain. I hopped in while it was still running. Note – I hadn’t lost my mucous plug yet, my waters hadn’t broken and I was not bleeding at all. I asked for the gas and my mind was starting to think about other pain relief. The gas did nothing but make me slightly light headed in between contractions, I sucked on it for a while still because I was desperate. Fiona and my midwife Sheree arrived at the same time, around 20mins after we called them. We talked a little and Sheree went to organise a cold pack. She instructed Andrew to use a bowl to tip water over my belly, for the calming sound. Minutes after she left the room I suddenly felt an overwhelming pressure on my bowel and in a slight panic asked if she was coming back. Fiona poked her head out and asked for her to come back because I was feeling pressure.
Now it is at about this point I proceed to talk about poo for a solid two minutes. I’m saying I might do a poo, joking to Fiona not to take a photo of my poo, what happens if I do a poo? Well, they use a sieve. So now everyone is looking for a sieve. No one can find the sieve! Another contraction hits and the screaming starts. I did a tiny poo and was like oh no I did one didn’t I but Andrew made me feel better when he said if he had done a poo that small he wouldn’t be embarrassed! My waters broke around this time which Fiona got an awesome photo of. A bit of calm before the next contraction and after the last 12 hours of being silent I was getting very loud, I felt like the noise wasn’t even coming from me but it was and I had this crazy urge to push that I couldn’t resist. This is something I didn’t really have with Flynn – which didn’t seem to just happen naturally and uncontrollably like this time.
It was the same feeling you get when you have diahherea and you’re running to the toilet because there’s no stopping it. I had no control over the pushing, my body was doing its own thing and I had to just ride the (intensely painful) wave. With this one the baby started crowning and this is when everyone realised shit just got real. Sheree quickly dimmed the lights and slapped some gloves on, the ice pack and sieve were abandoned. The baby went back in when that contraction ended but I wasn’t discouraged as I was excited and very suprised to be so close to the end already. It took two hours of pushing to get to this stage last time. Andrew and Sheree said they could see the hair. Sheree had the doppler on and told me I’d need to really push with the next one as bub was very tight. The next contraction was huge and long and completely took over me, as I squeezed bubs head out with a show of blood. I felt huge relief when the head was out and I asked Sheree if the next bit would hurt that much and she said ‘no, feel your babies head!’ So I reached down and touched it and Andrew joked I was going to rip his head off. I asked how he knows it’s a boy and he said just a guess.
The next bit of squealing starts and I feel his body emerging and Sheree gently guided bub out then asked me to reach down and pull bub up, which was something I’d talked about wanting to do but moments before had said I don’t think I can do it. She wisely ignored my worry and I got to pull my baby up and out of the water myself – something I had really really wanted, and was so special. Bub cried straight away which was a great sign. It was 2:54 am, just over an hour since I’d called Fiona and my midwife. I laid there cuddling my baby when Fiona asked what we had because we hadn’t even checked! It was a boy, perfect. I had been hoping for another boy as they are very close in age so are going to have so much fun as brothers. I said his name is Jack.
We all chatted for a bit, 4 minutes had passed between my waters breaking and Jacks arrival . Sheree asked me to give a little push for the placenta but I asked to get out of the bath as I’d had enough of that. She put a bucket in the toilet and I was gently helped out, sat down and my placenta seriously just fell out. Nothing since has been weirder than that.. I was then wrapped in warm towels and wheeled back in a wheel chair to my room with my healthy 8 pound 3 ounce baby boy. I had a tiny tear that didn’t need stitches and a couple of grazes. I was so grateful for such a painful but easy, straightforward birth, especially because straight after I could just walk around, have a shower, carry my baby, etc.
My hubby was a loving calm presence as he always is. It was awesome having Fiona there not only to take photos but to have another woman in my life who fully understood the whole thing and will be an extra special aunty to Jack. Sheree was so lovely and she really encouraged my water birth plans. All these things contributed to an amazing birth experience I’ll always cherish. Praise be to God for the safe arrival of Jack.
Most vivid memory during labour:
The uncontrollable urge to push.
Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth:
Poor Andrew trying to come up with creative scenarios for me to imagine. Did not come naturally to my very logical, mechanic husband but he did try.
During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect:
To have my body naturally push.
A myth I believed prior that I now don’t is:
I used to think a water birth would be gross, but it was awesome!
Baby’s name, birth weight and date:
Jack Phillip, 8 pound 3, 6.6.17
Baby’s name was almost:
Reuben. Hubby didn’t agree, he chose Jack, but I got it with my third, yay!
Time spent in hospital post birth:
Best tip/trick you received for those early days:
Put your fresh pad in your clean undies BEFORE you get in the shower!
Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn:
Swaddles, nipple cream, baby carrier/wrap.
If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say?
Just because my second was also a boy and even though it wasn’t that long since I’d had a newborn, does NOT mean you will know what you’re doing (at all) because each baby is so different!
If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say?
In early labour – to warn my husband to think up good holiday scenes to distract me, so he was prepared.
If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say?
If this crazy bad sleep doesn’t stop get help earlier rather than putting up with it for over a year before heading to baby sleep classes, getting expert help, etc.
Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth?
Trust your body.
If you have a birth story you’d like to share then please get in touch and let’s start the conversation!