It was a complete mix of emotions being at the birth of Ivy, I was merely a helpless bystander, but what an experience it was! I’ve found that discussing the labour and the difference in our experiences has been amazing, eye opening and given me a completely new insight into our incredible day! For those out there interested in the details of labour from someone who has been through it first hand, I sat down with my fiance Meg and asked her a few of the all important questions.
What were your plans for your delivery?
I was never really bothered about having a set plan for birth. I’d decided I wanted to try a water birth as I always found if I was ever ill or in pain, a bath would help me hugely. I wanted to be flexible on the day so nothing came as too much of a shock. I’m glad we learnt about all the pain relief methods and the options we had, so when it got stressful it was easy to make a decision.
What surprised you most about labour?
“Do bullet points, I’ve got a few here”:
- My epidural didn’t take as much pain away as I thought. It gave me some time to rest in preparation for the labour and helped ease contractions but not as much as I thought.
- Pressure in my arse. During delivery it felt like she was coming out my bum. Side note: She wasn’t.
- The level of pain of a contraction. I’ve never thought they’d be easy, but when you’re getting them back to back and you can’t talk through them, it was eye opening.
- How relaxed I became about being naked in front of the hospital staff. It was always a bit awkward at appointments, but that awkwardness quickly left the room, especially as they’re in control of the pain relief!
- That I’d want an egg sandwich mid-labour. I knew it was important to stay topped up on food and drink but really, an egg sandwich?!
How would you describe contractions?
Ah, the million dollar question… they start off like bad period pains, then times those pains by a million and they come on without warning and then leave. Basically a wave of pain. Sorry ladies, I feel like honesty is the best policy :S
What pain relief did you use?
- Hot Water Bottle
- Gas & Air
What is your opinion on these methods, would you recommend?
- Hot Water Bottle – Helped with back ache
- Bath – Has always helped with pain relief. My first bath was nice and helped slightly. Second bath at 3cm dilated did nothing for me!
- Tens – I put this on as soon as contractions started and was useful early on, but not when things stepped up a notch and became really painful.
- Paracetemol – No harm in having it, but only useful in the early stages.
- Codeine – Contractions were too strong but was worth a go.
- Gas & Air – It helped in the early stages but I found it difficult to breathe long and deep when I was in so much pain.
- Diamorphine – 100% recommend if you’re not in the later stages. This really helped me calm down, I couldn’t get my breath between contractions and this helped me relax to do that.
- Epidural – YUP! Not as numbing as I thought it would be, but it took away contraction pain and allowed me to doze and build energy for delivery (and also eat my egg sandwich).
What has the recovery process been like for you?
It’s not been great. For starters I had to stay longer in hospital than anticipated due to risk of deep vein thrombosis, excessive blood loss from hemorrhaging and the general checks they had to make on Ivy. Then I had the delights of stitches, low iron levels and mastitis (excruciating boobs!). All of that has required antibiotics, tablets and regular pain relief! I know labour can vary from “straight forward” to very complicated, unfortunately I ended up leaning towards the more complicated side of labour.
What would your advice be for mums to be out there?
100% educate yourself. Through antenatal classes and my own research we learnt so much about delivery methods, labour and pain relief. You don’t want to be making uneducated decisions in such a stressful situation, and I felt confident when requesting the pain relief I did. I do understand why women have a strict birth plan but having been through it, I have seen how quickly things can change and how you and the people around you have to adapt to make the best situation for both you and your baby.