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:
Abbie Cullen, 24
31st October 2018
Cravings during pregnancy:
Maltesers, liquorice and peanut butter.
Reflux from start to finish, heightened sense of smell (bad smells made me vomit during the first trimester). Towards the end achey hips, poor sleep and a weak bladder.
Biggest concern about birth was:
The pain, emergency C-section and the postpartum recovery.
Ideal birth plan was:
As natural as possible, and a water birth. I had loaned a labor TENS machine which I planned to use as pain relief. My husband and my mum would be my support people in the labor room.
Hours in labour:
11 hours, 4 hours active labour and 20minutes pushing.
How we went from wombmate to roommate:
At 9:30 pm on the 25th of October I picked my husband up from the airport after his last work trip before the baby was born. I was feeling so big and uncomfortable, I was well and truly ready to have the baby. Little did we realise we’d have our baby 24 hours later (I was convinced I’d go well over my due date!).
On the morning of the 26th I woke up feeling normal but by late morning I started to notice some pain, but put it down to Braxton Hicks. By midday my contractions were regular and consistent and I was definitely in labor. I gave the hospital a ring and let them know we would be in at some stage that day. I spent most of the afternoon on the couch watching TV and resting. My dog stayed by my side the whole time (even though he’d paid no attention to the growing bump previously).
By 4pm my contractions were getting more regular so I decided to have a shower and I made the call to head into hospital not long after that. We arrived at the hospital at about 5.30pm and I was admitted. At this point I began to cry – all of a sudden it was really happening and I was feeling a lot of emotions, mainly nervous! My contractions were getting very intense at this point, my midwife (who is also my beautiful Aunty) confirmed I was 8cm dilated, soon after that my waters broke and from this point things progressed quite fast. I had wanted a water birth but was feeling comfortable in my labor room so this is where I stayed. From this point I mostly laboured on my knees – this felt the most comfortable and natural to me. My husband would rub my back and held a cool face washer on my forehead. Between contractions I would drift off to sleep until the next one. I vaguely remember yelling at my midwife that I couldn’t do it anymore – “just cut the baby out!” She reminded me that I was so close. Then the time came to push. I pushed for around 20 minutes before he was out. On the last push at 9.23pm he flew out, very fast and leaving me quite torn! But our baby was finally here and nothing else mattered. We also had the surprise of finding out the gender, a boy!
Most vivid memory during labour:
Reaching down in between my contractions and feeling my baby’s head – I knew then that we were close!
Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth:
My husband had packed his laptop and a bag full of snacks thinking we might have some time to eat and chill out while we wait for baby, he also nearly missed the birth because he was getting his camera out to take a photo (my request), and baby came out very fast! The Pringles made a great post delivery snack though!
During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect:
I did not expect to feel such a relief once baby was born, the instant he was out the pain seemed to disappear!
A myth/misconception I believed prior that I now don’t is:
Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to baby or mother – it takes time and practice for both. I also didn’t realise just how long each feeding session took, for such a small amount for milk initially!
Baby’s name, birth weight and date:
George William Cullen, 3.6kg, 26th October 2018
Baby’s name was almost:
We didn’t find out the gender and only had a boys name picked. It was always George William for a boy, we never decided on a girls name that we both loved.
Time spent in hospital post birth:
Best tip/trick you received for those early days:
Ice packs for boobs! And a laxative for that first poo after labor!
Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn:
Baby carrier for those clingy days, swaddle, dummy and white noise.
If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say?
You are ready, everything is organised, take some time to rest. I’d also thank me for being super organised and preparing and freezing so much food!
If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say?
You’re doing so well, you are made to do this. Breathe! The moment you think you’re ready to give up is the moment right before your baby is in your arms!
If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say?
Your boobs will stop getting bigger and they won’t always feel like rocks! Rest and enjoy all the sleepy newborn cuddles, everything else can wait.
Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth?
Birth is amazing, how ever it happens. The female body is incredibly strong and resilient. It is designed to give birth! I found it to be the most empowering thing I’ve ever done. I never appreciated my body as much as what I do now that I have carried, birthed and breastfed my baby!
If you have a birth story you’d like to share, then please get in touch and let’s start the conversation and continue celebrating this incredible life changing event!