Rebecca hopes her positive hospital birth story can help others birth without fear
We always love receiving positive birth stories here at Fear Free Childbirth and Rebecca has got in touch to share her wonderful positive birth story.
Q. How long was your labour and where did you give birth?
“I was 41 weeks and a day when I went into labour. For me, it was really important to have a water-birth. I have only have one friend who’s had a positive natural birth and she could not have achieved it without the birth pool. Only, where I live there is no real choice about what care you receive. My local hospital has no home-birth or birth centre, you give birth in the antenatal suite with whoever is on duty at that time.
“It was very difficult not to let these things cause me stress, I do a very stressful job as a Mental Health Social Worker and so while I knew this was to be expected, it felt like a mammoth task to have a positive natural birth.
Q. Did you experience ‘pain’ or strong sensations during labour? And how would you describe it?
“Labour started at midnight and progressed naturally at home until my waters broke in the shower at lunchtime the following day. We headed to the hospital as I felt my pain was peaking. Up until this point, the pain was not, as I was lead to believe, unbearable but very manageable. It was slightly more intense than Braxton Hicks or mild period cramps that gradually get stronger.
“This intensified as my waters broke and my five hours of active labour held more challenging pain for me. It is hard to describe or even remember now, but it was the most intense sensation I’ve experienced. It is short-lived pain, lasting only a minute and then I could rest.
“I wouldn’t say I had a transition period, not like what I’ve heard from other mums and my contractions didn’t get any closer together than every three minutes. Although I was told later by my midwife that when I’d arrived at the hospital I was having ‘mild’ contractions that later intensified but I don’t remember them feeling more painful. My midwife explained my endorphins would have raised my pain threshold.
“When I first found out I was pregnant, I always assumed I would have as many drugs as possible and didn’t think much about it. Once I understood more about the birth process I discovered I really wanted a natural birth with as little intervention as possible. I was given gas and air during examinations to stop me leaping off the bed and continued with it for a few contractions but then it was taken away so I could concentrate on pushing.
“I found the second stage of labour far less painful and with contractions further apart at five to seven minutes, I got an urge to push. This stage lasted for three hours and meant that an additional two midwives and a junior doctor were present for the birth. Thankfully, only minimal intervention was needed with an episiotomy, for which I received local anaesthetic. My daughter arrived just after 7 pm and I felt on top of the world.
It was truly one of the most amazing moments of my life.
Q. How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant?
“I was surprised and excited when I found out I was pregnant. It was planned, but only our second month of trying. I was anxious, mostly about miscarriage and took things a day at a time until the 12-week scan. We didn’t tell anyone we were expecting and announced to our family and friends after the scan. My morning sickness was mild and so I was able to hide it.
During the second-trimester things became more real once I felt her movements at around 19 weeks. I didn’t ‘show’ until the third trimester. I had a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy and was very fortunate to have very few symptoms. I didn’t mind what symptoms I did have because I was more focused on how amazing the whole process was. I felt a little more tired but was still very active right up to my due date.
I developed a chest infection in my 40th week and unlike most women, I was praying to NOT go into labour and declined a membrane sweep at 40.4 weeks. It was difficult but I tried to trust my body that labour would start naturally once I recovered, and that’s just what happened!
Q. What fears did you have throughout your pregnancy and how did these change?
“While I only needed a few stitches for the episiotomy, which healed quickly, things started to go awry when I went to shower post-birth. I’d had a post-partum hemorrhage which was something I’d not had any fears about prior to birth but in the moment I was quite scared. It was dealt with really quickly, I was given an IV fluid and oxytocin so did not need a transfusion. I only realised I’d lost so much blood when I read about it on my discharge summary.
“During pregnancy, I knew I needed to manage my fears about birth and interventions. I found it particularly challenging by the time I was six months’ pregnant. This is when I found the Fear-Free Birth podcast. I loved that it included stories from women who’d had all kinds of positive birth experiences. It reminded me that birth is about mindset and while there are things out of my control, I can still be positive.
“As my due date approached, I felt anxious again. I think I had too much time to think after I’d finished working. I found that listening to the podcast, relaxation and prayed helped alleviate these fears. Giving birth is a spiritual experience, bringing a new and unique human into the world. Focusing on this helped in those final weeks and during the birth.
Q. And would you do it all again?
“I would definitely do it all again, although my birth wasn’t completely without complications, I felt very calm and can only hope this will encourage others that it’s possible to manage pain and be without fear.”
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