Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Two very different birth stories

Not only were my two pregnancies completely different from each other, but so were my labours. Here's a description of the two, for those of you interested in the finer details:

Miss L (first baby)
Monday 5.30am: I woke up to a contraction, and felt two more before I got up to go to the toilet. As I walked down the hallway my waters broke. Instantly the contractions became more painful and, because Miss L was posterior, each one sent me to my hands and knees.

My contractions were coming every five minutes and painful, so I hopped in the bath to help relieve the pain. However, the bath slowed them down again, so I got out.

Paul made me some toast for breakfast, but I threw that up (onto a towel on my bed since I was kneeling next to it at the time) and continued vomiting until there was nothing left in my stomach.

We went to the birthing centre about 9.30am. Up until a couple of weeks before labour, I had planned to give birth in the hospital. However, I decided there would be less chance of unnecessary intervention if I went to a birthing centre instead.

At the birthing center I spent several hours in the bath, turning over onto my hands and knees for each contraction. The pain in my back was excruciating, so Paul and his Mum alternated holding a hot shower head to my back to help me deal with it. If it slipped even a centimetre, the pain intensified (and they heard about it!).

Several hours into labour, I realised I wasn't wearing my contact lenses. I had forgotten to put them in at home, so Paul had to go home to get them for me. Once they were in and I saw how I looked in the mirror, I wished I wasn't wearing them again.

While labouring, I had two rounds of IV antibiotics to kill off any Group B Strep in my system and prevent it passing on to Miss L. (I had a test at 36-weeks pregnant that confirmed I was a carrier. Although the Group B Strep can't do me any harm, it is potentially fatal to newborns if they contract it.)

My contractions kept on slowing down, so I took the homeopathic remedy Gelsimium to try and strengthen them. I also drank water laced with a couple of drops of rescue remedy to help keep me calm.
Resting in the bath between contractions with Lily.

After a few hours, my contractions were slowing down again so the midwife had me get out of the bath. I spent some time in the shower to continue heat treating my back. By 2.45pm the contractions were changing to the pushing type. I was 9cm dilated, but one side of my cervix was caught on Miss L's head so the midwife had me lie on my side on the bed while she pushed my cervix aside. (Seriously painful!)

To push Miss L out, the midwife had me lie on my back while she held one foot up like it was in a stirrup. Paul's Mum held the other leg, Paul held one shoulder up and the midwife student held the other shoulder up. We placed a hot wheat-pack under my back to help with the pain. I had to do crunches with every contraction and push. I didn't seem to be making much progress so I requested a mirror that meant I could see when my pushes were actually moving bubs out.

My contractions seemed to get weaker and further apart while I was pushing, so the midwife encouraged me to make the most of each one.

4.30pm: After one hour and 45 minutes of pushing (and 11 hours of total labour), I gave birth. Miss L came out facing the right way, so she must have shifted to an anterior position somewhere during labour. The midwife lifted her up onto my chest and covered her in a warm towel.

Ideally I would have liked to wait for the cord to stop pulsing before we cut it, but I was losing too much blood so the midwife clamped the cord and injected me with syntocinon to slow down blood loss. I delivered the placenta a little while later.

Although I had a minor tear, it sat closed by itself so the midwife didn't see any need for stitches.

Miss L breastfed for about half an hour before the midwife took her away for a check over. Paul and my mother-in-law dressed her while I showered. I was pretty weak and woozy in the shower from all the blood loss.
Paul holding our first baby.

Miss S (our second baby)
Thursday night: I felt light contractions every half hour all night long, but they died off again Friday morning. Nothing was happening on Friday so I walked to a friend's house in the afternoon to try and stir things along. In the evening my contractions picked up. When they were coming 10 minutes apart, Paul and I went to the supermarket to get some groceries and encourage the contractions along. (Paul was not keen on this plan, and spent the whole trip looking pale and sickly.)

Miss S was in an anterior position (excellent!) and I felt most comfortable walking through my contractions. During the evening I contracted every ten minutes, but was still able to carry on functioning pretty comfortably at home. We invited some friends around for the evening and had dessert with them while I laboured on. Paul's Mum was with us again, but this time she stayed home to watch Miss L rather than helping out with labour.

I rang the midwife at 9.00pm to let her know what was happening and asked when I should ring again. She said to call when I couldn't stand it any more, and said she would head straight to bed to get some rest in the meantime.

I went to bed at 10.30pm and the contractions immediately died down for a couple of hours. They picked up again at 12.30am, so I got out of bed and walked around the lounge for 45 minutes and folded some washing. I felt very calm and remembered to put my contact lenses in this time. When the contractions were coming two minutes apart, I woke Paul and then rung the midwife.

We got to the hospital at 1.30am. In Wellington your only choices are to give birth in the hospital or at home, and I wasn't keen to deal with all the mess at home. When we got to hospital the midwife checked to see how far along I was, and thought I was somewhere between 5-6cm dilated. I continued walking through my contractions, holding Paul's hands and leaning on him. I didn't feel like I needed any homeopathic remedies with this labour, other than rescue remedy, which I added to my water bottle.

2.40am: The midwife called in a doctor to insert an IV line so I could be given antibiotics for Group B Strep again. The doctor managed to get the needle into my vein, but I was up on my feet and contracting again before he could get it in the right place and connect it to the drip.

And then the contractions didn't stop. They came wave upon wave, back to back and all of a sudden I was crying and feeling like I couldn't cope any more.  The midwife knew this meant I was transitioning into the pushing stage, so she had me hop in the bath. I was worried that the bath would slow down my contractions again, but my midwife said that was OK, as it would give me time to rest.

Not long after hopping into the bath, my waters broke. Suddenly the pain was a lot sharper. Nothing slowed down though. Pushing was so painful and I freaked out, trying to escape from it. The midwife calmed me down though, telling me not to be scared of the pain and to do what I needed to do. I tentatively started pushing, worried that it was going to take as long as it did with Lily, so it was such an amazing feeling when my pushing actually moved Miss S and her head popped out. With the next push I was delivering her body.

2.58am: I delivered Miss S while on my hands and knees, just eight minutes after hopping in the bath. The midwife caught her from behind and passed her to me between my legs. I lifted Miss S onto my chest and was the first person to see her.
Resting in the bath with newborn Miss S.

We waited for the cord to stop pulsing before clamping it, as I wasn't bleeding too much. Then I hopped onto the bed to deliver the placenta, which happened about 20 minutes later.

Miss S fed voraciously for a long time, and then had skin-to-skin time with Paul while the midwife stitched up a minor tear in my nether regions. She said the tear wasn't bad, but would have oozed for days if she had left it alone. I'm actually glad for the stitches, because "down there" seemed to recover a lot more quickly after giving birth to Miss S than it did with Miss L.

In Summary
Giving birth to Miss S seemed a lot easier and less traumatic than giving birth to Miss L was. Pre-labour wasn't too intense, so I was able to carry on normal life, and then active labour was fast and effective.

With my first, the whole 11 hours felt like active labour to me, although progress was slow. I think the fact she was posterior going into it slowed things down. And I think it was more painful because my waters broke first thing so I didn't have a nice water buffer between Miss L and me during contractions.

One fact both deliveries have in common is that I got through them without taking pain medication. I made that  decision prior to birth and am glad I was able to stick to it.


  1. Lovely to read both your birth stories Emma! So glad the labour, particularly that second stage, went so well with Sophie. What a great photo of you and Sophie in the bath!

  2. Great reading, Emma!! It's reminded me to get my notes out for the other two births, to read before going into this next one!! :o)
    I agree with Louise - LOVE the pic of you and Sophie!! Glad it went better overall. My pushing time with Daniel was a 1/3rd of the time of the first and even though more intense I would rather do it that way. Sounds like you would agree!! Good on you for doing it without pain medication. I'm the same but I couldn't do it without my hot towels which we homebirthers call the homebirth epidural!!! :o)

  3. GREAT birth stories! And since your babies have known water from the start, no wonder you'd want them to keep enjoying it! I LOVE showering with my babies, instead of using a baby bath - and I'd LOVE to hear about it, if you try it. At first it can be nerve-racking, but after only 2 or 3 showers, it seems easier, then eventually, EASY-BREEZY! A flannel on your chest can help you feel less slippery...and I like to sit the babe on my arm and wrap my entire hand around their thigh - holding them upright. You can use the other hand to wash them. And you can change positions to cradle to do the other side; still using baby-bath-type-holds. I LOVE it. It does require laying things out for afterwards - I've use the laundry basket full of towels, a big cushion...all sorts, but at some point you'll need to put the baby down while you step out and dry off and put on a robe - UNLESS you can always do it when dad's home. Feel free to email if you want to chat and decide to go for it!


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