Birth Stories with Babytalk
Welcome to this brand new segment of the blog!
My plan is to post women’s birth stories and then add in labour and birth information from myself wherever it’s relevant. I find a lot of women have unresolved issues with their experiences and my goal is to clarify some of them, using my L&D and postpartum nursing experience. I also want to use my knowledge to empower other women to take control of their own experiences, and I believe birth stories will do just that.
Women can benefit a great deal from reading other women’s birth stories. It helps them be prepared for the big day by learning what other women have gone through. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like to submit your own story. I’d really love to spark some discussion on this topic.
Haley was so wonderful to send me her birth story along with some pictures of her son. Thank you, Haley, for sharing your experience with us. The story is written in the first person by Haley herself, and my input can be found in the comment boxes where relevant.
Don’t forget, I am not your health care provider, do not use this blog as medical advice, it is for information purposes only! I advise you to speak to your own health care provider if you have any questions about your own pregnancy or birth.
Haley’s Birth Story
Like every other woman out there, it doesn’t take much for me to tell just about anyone this story!
I had a fantastic pregnancy, although I wish someone would have given me all the information about what comes with labour and delivery and postpartum.
This is exactly the purpose of Babytalk. I want as much useful information about labour and birth to be available, so that new parents can know what to expect during pregnancy and BEFORE labour starts.
Adventures at Wal-Mart: Labour Starts
I went into labour early Tuesday morning around 1 am. The contractions started and they were about 10-15 minutes apart. I thought “well this is it, I’ll be at the hospital in no time!” Surprisingly enough they stopped and then started again about 15-20 minutes apart around 3 am. So I tried my best to go back to sleep. Sleeping in and out of the contractions, luckily they weren’t awful at this moment. I woke up around 9 that morning, still having contractions but they weren’t progressing any at this point.
It is so crucial to try to rest in the beginning stages of labour. Relaxing will help get your body into better labour. Plus, you might have a long labour ahead of you, so you don’t want to get exhausted. Once your contractions are 5 minutes apart lasting 1 minute for a full hour, then it’s time to head to the hospital. Check with your care provider if this is the norm where you’ll be delivering.
More from Babytalk: The Best Way to Cope With Contractions During Labour
So, I decided to get on with my day. I spent the day with my aunt and cousin. We went running errands and our last one was Wal-Mart. Looking back I can only imagine what people thought while watching me, once we got to Wal-Mart I started having contractions like crazy and they were hard. I couldn’t even walk. Every contraction made me stop in my tracks. It went from every 10 minutes stopping, holding my belly, letting out a moan of discomfort, breathing super hard, then to just keep on walking like nothing happened. I was at 10 minutes till about 6 in the afternoon when my aunt came up with this great idea to go see my grandma before the baby came. If you could see the eye roll.
It’s a great idea to walk around in early labour. It can intensify your contractions and bring them closer together. Being upright is great because you are using gravity to help baby to get into a good position. Don’t walk around all day though, try to balance walking with some rest. And keep yourself hydrated throughout.
The drive was about 30 minutes from Wal-Mart. I was already having contractions at this point at 7 minutes apart. We literally pulled into my grandma’s driveway and I looked my aunt dead in her eye and said “Hospital! Now!”
At The Hospital: Not Dilated At All!
So, we drove to the hospital and my contractions were at about 5 minutes apart. I went to the ER and they sent me to triage. Which no one told me I’d have to do while about to pop out a child. Like, couldn’t they tell already without having to do all this extra that I was about to have a baby? But I digress.
Most bigger obstetrical units have a separate triage for pregnant women. It depends on the hospital, but usually you can go there for any obstetrical concern after 20 weeks. If you can, do a tour of the hospital before your due date. It’s great to get familiarized with the set up so you don’t have any major surprises on the big day. Check with you health care provider to find out the procedures at your hospital.
They put me in my room finally, for my doctor to come in to tell me I’m 90% effaced but not dilated at the slightest. The look on my face when he told me that my son’s head was literally right in between my legs but they couldn’t do anything because I wasn’t dilated was a pure annoyance. My doctor continued to tell me that he could see the hairs on my son’s head. That’s literally how close he was. At this point, my water still had not broken and I was just miserable.
It’s totally normal for your cervix to efface first and then dilate, especially for first time moms. To be able to dilate fully, your cervix needs to thin out. It frustrating, but totally necessary! Once your cervix has thinned out, it dilates much more quickly. Think of your cervix like a tube with a tiny hole. First the tube gets shorter and shorter until almost nothing is left of it. It’s basically as thin as a sheet of paper. Then the tube starts to open up, or as we know it, dilate. Haley was probably experiencing a lot of pressure, if her baby was that low.
Finally, I asked for medicine after 24 hours of labour. They gave me a drip and all I remember is passing out and coming to every now and then. And honestly, I’m not mad about it. I went in thinking “I can do this without anything, to give me meds before I snap!”
My body was just so exhausted from everything honestly, without the sleep the meds gave me, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to do it. After the drip wore off I remember waking up screaming because the pain was so intense. My family got the nurse in before I realized and I remembered screaming in her face by accident for more medicine.
I bet Haley was exhausted at this point. Lack of sleep can make it so much harder to cope with the pain. In some cases pain medications are actually a great way to get your body relaxed. If you’re tired and in a lot of pain, you might be tensing up. This can stall your labour because your cervix is not relaxed. Pain medication can do two things. Relax your body and help you sleep so that you body can continue to dilate.
The Epidural Can Stop Working
I finally got my epidural and I literally felt nothing. The pain was so intense from contractions that’s all I could focus on, by the time he was done I had no clue. I felt instant relief. Funny enough it only lasted enough to get me to the 32-hour mark before it decided to stop working.
Like, excuse me?? No one told me:
1. You get uncontrollable shakes and
2. IT CAN STOP WORKING.
1.The shakes are totally normal in labour. Labour is very tough on your body, it’s like running a marathon. Usually when you feel the shakes, it’s caused by all the adrenaline rushing through your system.
2.Yes, the epidural can stop working. The anesthesiologist does everything they can to make it work, but like anything else in medicine, it’s not an exact science. Sometimes, as your labour progresses, the meds you get through the epidural aren’t enough. Often times the nurse will call the anesthetist to come back if the epidural stops working. If possible they can re-site the epidural, or give you extra medication to help with the pain.
So here I am freaking the hell out because I can feel everything! I’m at like 2 cm, I still haven’t had my water break and I’m freaking out. I can’t 100% recall what they did but I think it was a spinal tap. Unfortunately, I was not in the mood to listen. All I remember is they put something on my back with a little pad looking thing next to me that shot out meds every now and then that I could feel coldly running down my spine.
I actually don’t remember much about the doctors and nurses other than them coming in to reach inside of me and play with my baby’s hair and to talk about how low he was. I know. Gross. Tons of nurses and doctors I had never met too. Super weird, looking back.
Once you’re in hospital, you’ll be introduced to a lot of different health care providers. Unfortunately the nature of the beast is having to have vaginal exams while you are in labour. That being said, you can say no to them! Be an advocate for your body, if you can. None one should touch you without your consent. Sometimes it’s really hard to talk during intense labour. This is where a doula can be very helpful. Doulas get to know you on a personal level and can be an advocate for your wishes.
More from Babytalk: Top Ten Questions to Ask Your Doula
I do remember shift change the next morning at almost 36 hours when my nurse came in and my family was asleep. She looked at me and she had just this look of empathy on her face.
My Water Breaks…..With Some Help
The nurse reached inside me and told me she was going to “check my water” and she did and it popped. Come to find out later she was trying to help further me along even though they are not supposed to do that but 2 hours later my doctor came in, they checked my temperature and the baby. He was really high and so was I.
When your water breaks, things can start to happen very quickly and your labour might intensify. Your water can break on its own, or your doctor might do it artificially (called artificial rupture of membranes or AROM). Every now and again, your water might break during a vaginal exam. It might even happen “accidentally,” although not encouraged.
I remember her face looked so concerned and she whispered to a nurse beside her and the nurse left as quickly as she returned, with 5-6 other nurses in tow. My doctor just looked at me and said: “it’s time.” The cut off my pump to which I asked the nurse “what the hell was she doing and asked her why she wanted me to feel this pain.” I kind of giggle now at the remark.
Typically it’s not ideal to shut off the epidural for pushing, but it’s still common practice at some facilities. If you want it to stay on, let your nurses and doctors know! Don’t forget to advocate for yourself.
Pushing is HARD
I pushed for what seemed like forever but it was about 10 minutes give or take. Before the instant relief fell to my body. No one tells you how amazing it feels to have all the tension and pressure off your body.
Ten minutes are not long at all for a first time mom! It’s normal to push for up to 2 hours when you’re delivering vaginally for the first time.
They took my son and I remember looking around the room wondering why he wasn’t crying. I kept asking what going on and my family reassured me that everything was fine.
They then handed me a dark coloured baby put him on my chest and I remember him trying to get air in but he couldn’t. They thought maybe some skin to skin would help but eventually had to take him to the NICU.
Sometimes, after a long labour and delivery, babies can have a hard time transitioning. Most newborns are very resilient and will respond quickly to any resuscitation efforts. Some babies have to be taken to the NICU or special care nursery for more intensive care, but that is not common. Skin-to-skin is a great way to help them transition, if possible.
Postpartum Recovery. I Wouldn’t Change A Thing!
Of course, I didn’t get much chance to understand what was going on before they started pushing down on my stomach trying to get the placenta and any remaining goop out.
Nobody tells you either that it’s no picnic.
The first hour after delivery is the most crucial time. That is when you are most likely to suffer from a postpartum hemorrhage. Your nurses and doctors will be pressing on your belly quite frequently in the beginning. This is to feel the top of your uterus, called the fundus. If it is nice and firm, your bleeding will be ok. If it’s boggy, we might start to worry that you could be hemorrhaging.
More from Babytalk: Postpartum Care: Everything You Need To Know!
My doctor then sewed me up and they changed my clothes and sheets. They made me get up right after and pee. It was awful. Every step was painful. They made me sit in a hard ass chair for a while before I could get back into bed. I remember them calling and asking what I wanted to eat and all I said was “pizza and something alcoholic to wash it down” I heard every nurse over the intercom burst out laughing.
Apparently, I was not getting my drink.
It’s very normal to be starving after birth. Not only has your body just gone through an extreme feat, but most hospitals do not let you eat while in labour. As long as your well and not nauseous you can have something light to eat after birth. Start slow! You’re body has been through a lot.
They moved me to another room and finally my little one was able to come back to the room. He was doing great and actually looked healthy. I was just happy to have him there with me finally.
It’s a long story, but 40 hours of labour is a long time. I had to cope with a lot after the birth of my son. From the not sleeping to the ice diaper I was wearing. Not to forget the postpartum depression I experienced without even knowing.
One in 5 women suffer from postpartum mental health issues after birth. Women of every culture, age, income level and race can develop these disorders. Nobody is immune. It’s very important to talk to someone about your feelings. Get help if you are struggling with day-to-day tasks or if you are having a hard time bonding with your baby.
More from Babytalk: Postpartum Mental Health – Reducing the Stigma
All I can say 2 years later is, I wouldn’t change any of it. My son is amazing and I went through hell to get him here and he was worth it.