Difficult, long, but worth it natural birth of Connor Print
Birth Stories - Hospital Birth Stories
Sunday, 17 January 2010 23:03

While I was pregnant, I read everything I could get my hands on about childbirth and decided that I wanted to have as natural a birth as possible in a hospital setting, with a few exceptions.

When I hit 37 weeks, I started to feel a lot of strong but irregular contractions that felt like menstrual cramps. That went on for several days. My next regular appointment was early Monday morning, right as I hit 38 weeks. To my shock, I was already dilated to 2 cm and 50% effaced! She told me to go home and just keep an eye on the contractions, get as much rest as possible, and try to walk as much as I could when I was awake. I started to get excited because I thought for sure labor would be starting soon....

... and then it didn't. All day Monday I kept having contractions. Some friends started urging me to go to the hospital and have them "help me along" into full labor, but I figured that if my body were ready for that, it would be happening on its own. My mother and husband were both with me the whole time, and were very supportive. I was a little bit uncomfortable but really not in any pain. Walking definitely made the contractions stronger, but I was worried about exhausting myself before true labor even started, so I tried to balance walking and resting. I also tried to eat a lot of nutritious food so I would be energized for the labor that (I was sure) would start that night....

... and then it didn't. By Tuesday morning my contractions had gotten regular and stronger, starting around 8 minutes apart and gradually getting closer together as they day went on, but they still weren't very painful. Midday Tuesday I called my doctor to get her advice. She told me to go with my instinct, if my contractions weren't five minutes apart or very painful, I was fine to stay at home as long as I wanted. I had planned to stay at home as long as possible, but I hadn't really expected prelabor to last two days. However, the last thing I wanted was to go to the hospital early and end up having my labor stall or interventions pushed.

Tuesday around dinner time, my contractions reached five minutes apart and stayed that way for an hour. They still weren't painful, but I didn't want to hold off too long, so I went ahead to the hospital. The nurse checked me and found that I was dilated a little bit lopsided--I was at a 4 lengthwise, but width-wise I was still only at a 2. She reassured me that this is normal. I called my doctor, and she said I had the option to stay at the hospital or to go home and wait awhile longer, so home I trekked. Finally, around 11 pm, six hours after I got home (and after I'd been having regular contractions for 18 hours), I felt like it was time to go back to the hospital. The contractions were about four minutes apart, and I'd felt a definite change in how intense they were.

At the hospital, they checked me and found that I was 6 cm dilated. The nurses and my doctor were both shocked by how little pain I was feeling for how far into labor I was. I wasn't having to do any visualization or pain management techniques, it just didn't hurt much. They hooked me up to the fetal monitor to get a baseline reading and the I.V. to give me the antibiotics (I was GBS-positive and had decided earlier that I did want the antibiotics). After that, they left me off both the monitor and the I.V., at my request.

After this I think, in hindsight, I made a mistake. I knew that walking was great to help labor along, but since I knew I was at 6 cm and was in true labor, I let myself relax in the water bath. My goal was to rest my body in preparation for the harder part of labor, but I think I relaxed too much when I should have been on my feet helping labor along, because I started to stall. By 2 am, when I was still at 6 cm, my doctor suggested that I let her break my water. She knew that I wanted to be careful with interventions, but she said that doing this would help my body naturally speed things along.

One of the disadvantages of this hospital was their policy of requiring a C-section after twenty-four hours of active labor in the hospital, and she was concerned that I might run up against this if we didn't do something, so we went ahead with breaking the water, and I have no regrets about that. It definitely caused a change in my contractions. Over the next hour or so as my contractions intensified and things really started to move along, I used all the pain management techniques and tried a lot of different positions. It hurt but I was energized and focused and doing fine.

One of the things I was expecting to use a lot was the birthing ball. However, once my contractions started getting really painful, I found that I got much more extreme pain from any pressure on my belly, even from my knees in the squatting or seated position. I ended up just standing for most of it and leaning against my husband during the contractions.

As I had been told, transition was by far the worst part. When I went from 8 to 9 cm dilated, the pain was the most intense I had ever felt. I planned to use a focus item, but that didn't help at all. What I finally settled on was closing my eyes and counting silently through the contractions. That was an absolute life saver!! I willed everything out of my mind except the numbers, and it helped me remember that every contraction had an end and as the numbers got higher I could think about the fact that the higher they got, the more likely that number was to be the last one.

Near the end of transition, I made my second mistake, and this was a big one. I started feeling a lot of pressure, as if I had to poop. From my reading, I knew this was a good signal! I told the doctor what I felt and that I thought it was time to push. She checked me and said that there was still a teeny sliver of cervix, but that it was ok to go ahead and push if that's what my body was telling me to do and if it was still there as the baby descended, she would guide his head over it.

I pushed as hard as I could for over an hour in all different positions. Unfortunately, all that I pushed out was poop. Now that I look back, I think the pushing urge that I was feeling really was just a bowel movement, ugh! Because of the intensity of the pain and because things had dragged on so long, I started trying to rush things and when I felt the slightest pushing urge, I convinced myself that it was time to push much too early.

Unfortunately, at that point, I was completely exhausted after pushing so hard, and the contractions were only getting more and more painful. I felt like I was at my breaking point, and the baby had barely descended at all. I broke down and asked my doctor what my options were if I couldn't keep going on my own. She said that if I really did not think I could cope without some help, I could get a low-dose epidural to help me cope with the pain enough that I could use my energy for pushing. By then it was 5 am, the time of day I am usually at my lowest energy level anyway. I felt very defeated, and because of the fatigue I was losing my ability to cope with the pain, so I asked for the epidural.

The nurse let me know that because I had just been drinking for hydration and hadn't been hooked up to the IV, they could not give the epidural until I had two full bags of saline. I started crying because I knew that would take so long and I didn't know if I could make it. They went ahead and hooked me up, and I rested back against the bed in a semi-sitting position, which was the least painful for me.

For some reason, the first IV bag just wouldn't go. The nurses came in and fiddled with it, but it was running very slowly and kept stopping, and it took almost two hours just for the first bag. That time was a complete blur. The pain was incredibly intense, but I was so tired that I was actually dropping into sleep between the contractions. I just kept clutching my husband's hand and counting and counting during the contractions. Looking back on it, I almost felt like I had dissociated my mind from my body, I just kept my eyes closed and clutched my husband's hand and counted through every contraction.

As they were starting the second saline bag, all of a sudden my body started pushing on its own. I had zoned my mind so far away that I didn't even notice it at first, my mother saw what was happening and got the doctor while my husband talked to me and brought me back to reality. I realized that the pain was much less intense now, and I actually felt refreshed and rested.

The doctor told me that I was almost to the point where I could get the epidural, but said that she thought I could do it without it now. I realized that the pain really was going away, and I couldn't keep myself from pushing in the middle of each contraction, so I gathered up my energy and really started pushing. I stayed in the semi-sitting reclined position I was in, with my mom and husband each holding on to one of my feet so I could push.

In each contraction, I could feel the waves of the contraction build until it triggered my body to push on my own, so I tried to wait and time the most intense part my own pushing with the point where I could feel my body pushing on it's own. I could tell when I had timed it just right, and every time I did, the doctor commented that it was a good push and she felt the baby move down. One of the nurses started counting with me and wanted me to push on her count, but I ignored her because I could feel that what I was doing was working.

For the next half hour, I used every bit of energy I had but I could just feel my baby moving along. My eyes stayed closed the whole time and my whole world was push, then relax my whole body, then push, over and over. My husband said that people tried to talk to me, but I didn't seem to hear anything.

When I finally felt my baby start to crown, I wanted to cry and shout and scream all at once. It was painful, but the pain was mixed with joy because I knew I was about to give birth. He got a little bit stuck right at the end. I kept talking to him, telling him that I was trying so hard and to just hang in there, but he still kept getting stuck with his head coming partly out with each contraction, but going back in afterwards. My doctor coached me through it and told me that I had to push just a little bit harder and I would get the widest part of his head out, and then it would all be downhill from there. I didn't think it was possible to push harder, but I did.

My husband said that was the only time I made a noise or cried out during the whole labor, I gave one last hard push and put everything I had into it, and he shot all the way out! Connor was born at 11:23 am, after I had been in labor for over two days and in the transition/pushing stage for almost six.

After his birth, I felt like I was on cloud nine. I had never experienced such pure euphoria. I barely noticed when the doctor stitched me up, even though she didn't use anesthesia. I'm pretty sure they could have cut off my arm without anesthesia and I wouldn't have felt a thing. I felt drained, but joyful and healthy. And hungry!! I was able to sit up and eat a full meal almost immediately. Aside from the discomfort of the small tears and all my parts going back into their proper places, I felt fantastic the very next day and was able to enjoy my time with my new baby boy.

Looking back on the birth, I can tell I made some mistakes. I should have walked more as labor was intensifying, and I definitely started pushing much too early, when I was still in transition. My doctor was very supportive of natural birthing, but had attended very few natural births. I think having a midwife there would have been very helpful because she might have understood and recognized what was going on and could have guided me better. However, even without a midwife, I am glad I did a natural birth and I would do it again.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 August 2010 12:49