The Perfect Way To Give Birth!
You have achieved the unimaginable! You have defied levels of pain you never thought possible to reach! You have succeeded where no man ever could!
You have brought another human being into this world from your very own body, you are officially a wonder women!
But did it go how you thought it would? Did the most amazing thing you have ever done tick every box on your checklist of how you wanted it to be? A small percentage of you may answer yes to this and I am thrilled for you if it was everything you hoped it would be. But, for most of us, things don’t go to plan.
I remember when I was pregnant with my first son. There was a huge emphasis on creating your birth plan. I knew instantly the type of birth that I wanted. At the time I thought motherhood would come naturally to me and wanted the birth to be as natural as possible too. I didn’t want any drugs for the pain and wanted to have a water birth whilst listening to relaxing music with my husband holding onto my hand.
The reality however was far from this idyllic picture I had conjured up in my head. At nearly two weeks overdue I gave in to the old wives tale of eating a curry as I tried my hardest to go into labour naturally to avoid a much feared induction. It would appear that the old wives tale is in fact true as twenty minutes into the curry I felt a trickle of water that let me know my waters had broken and things were going to get moving! If only I had known then of the embarrassing downside of having a curry before giving birth – Mum’s you will know what I am talking about. Men who don’t, then please just don’t ask!
I could write a ten page essay for you now on my whole experience of my labour but let’s face it, as much as we love to tell the step by step tale of how many minutes apart our contractions were and blahdy blahdy blah, it does get a little boring after you have heard your first few friends birth stories. You just want the nitty gritty! So here it is!
I went through most of the labour at home upon discovering that my pain threshold is pretty damn high. I arrived at the hospital ten centimetres dilated and pushed for over two hours. The water birth pool was not available as there were not enough staff on the night shift (why do babies always seem to decide to come at night?!?!) but I did have the privilege of an extra member of staff in my room in the form of a trainee paramedic who needed to notch up another birth on his sheet in order to qualify as a fully fledged paramedic. Now normally I would probably argue against another person, and a man at that, being in the room looking up my lady bits but as we all know ladies, all our dignity and prudishness has long since left the building by the time we are ten centimetres dilated!
Anyway, given that it was my first time giving birth I was utterly clueless as to what I was meant to be doing and put my faith into the midwives. It turned out that my son was back to back and after attempting to push for what I now know was far too long, my son got distressed. His heart rate dropped and I was prepped for a c-section. I remember deliriously begging them not to do a caesarean as I was so determined to push my baby out myself. It didn’t occur to me at the time that I was just minutes from losing my baby. I was rushed to theatre, given a spinal block and my son was pulled out with ventouse as we didn’t have time to do a caesarean at that point. My son was whisked away from me for cardiac massage as I lay there agonising over whether or not my son was alive. Amazingly for us, he made it, we had our son. It didn’t matter how he got there, we were both bruised and battered but we had survived.
Seventeen months later I gave birth to my second son. My birth plan was pure and simple this time. “Do whatever you need to do to make my baby arrive safely”. I knew that no matter what kind of birth I wanted there are certain things that are beyond our control. My birth experience this time round was very straight forward apart from my son almost being born within the amniotic sac. The midwife nicked it to make it burst just before he came out and then regretted doing it as an ocean of water flew out covering both her and the wall!
Two years, three weeks after that I gave birth to my third son. I was in and out of labour for a week with him as he couldn’t get himself moving which pretty much sums up his laid back attitude today! It was my most straightforward birth yet though and I was home eating take away pizza by 10pm that night!
Two years, nine months after that though I was about to face another difficult birth. Struggling with ICP from just five months into my pregnancy I felt that at 36 weeks gestation myself and my baby just could not go on any more. I felt that my baby was not going to survive another day inside my body. I was lucky enough to have an amazing consultant who listened to my mothers instinct and induced me there and then when I told her my fears. It was an epic three day journey which, although tough, resulted in me having another gorgeous baby boy. He was rushed to ICU but he was alive. Just five days later I was able to hold my tiny bundle of joy in my arms.
So there we are, four completely different births, all with the same amazing outcome. Yes we may have all these ideals about how we would like our birth experience to be and that is great as long as we accept that it is just an ideal and things don’t always go to plan. Every birth experience is different and how your baby comes into this world is a miracle whichever way it works.
I will never forget going to see a friend who had just had a baby and her husband telling me in his proudest voice “She did so well, she pushed exactly how she should and she didn’t need any stitches, not a single one”. He was telling this to the lady who got so badly torn having her first child that the doctors lost count of her stitches. (Forget having a designer vagina ladies, just have a ventouse ripped out of you and let the surgeon do the handy work afterwards!) She was no better or worse at giving birth than I was. Her circumstances were different and I am so pleased for her that it did go so well. But if her baby had decided to have a little wriggle the day she was due to give birth and she ended up back to back then maybe they would be counting her stitches instead of gloating how she had none!
Natural vaginal delivery, forceps, ventouse or caesarean. It really doesn’t matter as long as your baby arrives safe and sound into this world. Have drugs to help with the pain, don’t have drugs, it doesn’t matter. It is entirely your decision and you may not even know whether or not you want them until the actual day. I loved having a little float around on gas and air (until it made me sick!) and then my husband thought he would have a big woozy headed go, just for fun! I never imagined myself having a spinal block but had I not, then my first baby boy would not be with us today. Just because your friend chose a particular method of pain relief and told you it was the best thing ever, that doesn’t mean that it will be right for you. Just as you may have a friend who is very pro a home birth with no pain relief. What is right for one person may not be right for another.
So if you are reading this preparing for your first birth, please don’t be scared. If it was that terrible I wouldn’t have gone on to have my second, third or fourth sons! I would do it again at the drop of a hat if it meant having the four amazing boys I do today. What will be, will be, and the second you hold your baby in your arms you won’t care about the way in which you got them there, just as long as they are there. And that in itself means that you had the perfect birth!
(Although I will say, do worry about your husband or partner putting the most unflattering pictures of you on facebook moments after giving birth. I have never forgiven my husband for posting a photo of his “clever wife and amazing baby boy” whilst I was sitting there with my saggy belly hanging out of my pyjama top whilst I lay back on blood stained pillows! Some things really need to be kept within the confines of the family album!)