Everybody asks me, how long was your labour? I’m not really sure exactly. There was definitely 3 different stages to my labour. Regular contractions lasted 2 days, the intense contractions 7 hours and the pushing was around 1hr.
You can’t really explain what labour feels like. Every woman has completely different experiences. But here is my story, my experience and my feelings.
Tuesday night I started having regular contractions, I would describe them kind-of like period pain cramps (my theory- our bodies have been conditioning us for labour ever since our first menstrual cycle by familiarising us with labour surges). The period pain cramps though, are not your regular period pain cramps, these pains make you stop in your tracks and your only focus can be on the current surges of cramping and your stomach tightens up. These last around 30s to 1min, and for me, they started 30 mins apart on Tuesday night. I also noticed some pink discharge, which I assumed was my mucus plug. I couldn’t really sleep through the pains, so I called the hospital to ask for advice, they suggested I wait at home a little longer, and just take some panadol, try to sleep tonight. So I downed some panadol, and tried to sleep between surges of contractions. Wednesday I woke, still have contractions around 20-30mins apart, I told Brodie he better stay home from work just in case. As the morning went on, the contractions started spacing further and further apart. I was kinda disappointed, because by this time, I was over having surges, and was ready to meet our baby! But! As the evening approached, the surges became more intense, and closer together. These surges were toe-curling, butt-clenching and very uncomfortable gripping of the stomach. There were 2-3 surges every 10 minutes. I decided to call the hospital again, it was around 11pm at night, and they told me to come in and get checked out. I was SURE this was the intense labour pain and I was ready to go. We packed our bags and drove in to the hospital, on the way, I texted my Placenta Encapsulating Lady and told her we were heading in, so that she could be ready to collect my placenta upon birth to be made into capsules. I didn’t tell any family just yet, in case it was a false alarm, and sometimes labour can go for days!!
Once we got into hospital, a midwife brought me into a waiting bed area, it was a busy night full of labouring women, she mentioned it was a full moon tonight, which seems to always bring on labour!
Between surges, she checked to see how far dilated I was, but couldn’t really tell. Although she noticed my waters were leaking, and probably had been since that first pink discharge I noticed the day before. You shouldn’t let your waters leak longer than 24hrs, so the midwife told me I’d have to have this baby out sooner rather than later. She mentioned that if I don’t naturally go deeper into labour, they will need to induce me. She said I need to come back to hospital by 7am if my labour does not progress.
We decided to head back home at 2am Thursday morning so that I could relax and labour longer at home. By 4am, I realised was labour really felt like. WOW. The amount of screaming/moaning/swearing/wailing/sobbing I was doing, I reckon the neighbours either thought we were having a mad sex orgy or a mass murder at our place! It was time to go back to hospital. This was definitely labour now. The walk from the car to the birthing suite was the worst. It was around a 200m walk, I needed to stop at least 5 times on the way to lean on Brodie, or on the wall, or on anything to let the surges pass. Numerous hospital staff stopped us to ask if i needed a wheelchair, but I was impatient and knew by the time they brought the wheelchair over, I could have walked into the hospital myself. As soon as we got inside, the head midwife rushed us into a birthing suite and told me to jump in the shower. It was around 6am. Time flew by. The midwifes were asking me questions but I struggled to get words out. I am glad Brodie and I had talked about my birth preferences so that he could speak on my behalf. Unfortunately because my waters had broken so early, I needed to be on an antibiotic drip and Julian had to be constantly monitored, so my preference for a water birth went out the window.
Around 8am, my midwife did an internal check to see how dilated I was, and as soon as she put her fingers inside, she exclaimed “oh, that’s his head! We are about to have a baby!” She said to go with my urges, and started to feel my body start to push with each contraction. The midwives had given me gas to use for each contraction surge, but after a while I felt like the gas was pointless and wasn’t working at all. i remember throwing the gas to the floor in frustration. Each surge was around 5-8 minutes apart, each contraction i felt i had to grip onto Brodie or the bed, my biceps were so sore the next day from the gripping!! I even bit Brodie at one point, when my head was on his chest, I couldn’t help it! I ended up birthing Julian in side lying position. I felt everything. The burn and stretching, his head moving closer and closer. I remember being so exhausted, my legs were shaking, i asked how close he was, the midwife said she could see his hair! i promised myself just 2 more surges, you can do this. The next big surge was after a long 8 minute break, my body was preparing, and i felt his head come out, but then go back in. I knew i would have him on the next surge. The pushing is so involuntary, your body just does it, and the midwife coached me through it. I assisted by focusing my breath down into the anus. The head came out, and the next push, his body, it was SUCH A RELIEF when his body slides out!! my baby is swiftly placed onto my chest, and I glance at Brodie, we are both in tears. We made it!!!! Our little man was finally earth-side. He was perfect.
We got him on the boob, to get his first feed of colostrum, which stimulates my uterus to give me a few more surges so that i can birth my placenta. While we were waiting, Brodie got to cut the cord (i wanted delayed cord clamping, but some science-based, older, bossy midwife convinced my nurturing midwife not to wait that long, so maybe the cord was cut after 10 minutes). Half an hour later, i birthed my placenta on the toilet with a pillowcase placed over the seat to catch it. We bagged it up, put it in my esky ready to be picked up. The doctors came in and checked out the “damage”, 3rd degree tears. They wheeled me away to be stitched up, and the rest is history!