When you watch a woman go into labour in a film or TV programme there is always a catalogue of high drama that goes with it. Their waters break in the middle of an argument. They are unable to get to the hospital on time, or if they do, then their partner is delayed at getting to their bedside. During the birth some exciting thing happens – high blood pressure (the woman), low heart beat (the baby) or an unexpected extra baby or two.
During your own pregnancy you get bombarded with birth horror stories. Family members, friends, work colleagues, the stranger in the supermarket queue. They all want to tell you about the 36 hours of labour, the blood loss, the excruciating pain, the emergency C-section or the unexpected home birth.
Its no wonder that pregnant woman have a ridiculous amount of worry about what their own labour and birth will be like.
The Myth of the Exciting Birth
However, a number of mums I had contact with never told me their birth story. They were conspicuous by their absence. Why hadn’t I heard their stories? When I asked these women, most said either something like “Oh, you don’t want to hear my birth story, it was so long ago”, or “Oh, I went to hospital and then the baby came”.
I now realise that the only birth stories that are shared and retold are ones that are horrific, exciting or full of drama. However, there must be millions of labours and births that are straightforward. And isn’t that what we actually want? The boring birth story is completely underrated.
Don’t Yawn Too Much
So I have decided to share details of my labour and birth of my daughter, Eloise. I figure that this may help alleviate some worries of a mum-to-be, or at the very least, be so very dull that it helps them feel sleepy and so relaxes them a bit.
At one week past my due date I woke up about 6am when my three-year old, Dylan, came bounding into our bedroom. It was then I noticed some uncomfortableness and cramping feelings. By about 9am, there was definitely some regular activity happening so I decided to have a nice long shower and eat some breakfast as I wasn’t sure if I would manage such basic tasks later. I told my husband to stick around and we arranged for family members to take care of Dylan.
Then I called my sister (who was to be an additional birth support person) and casually informed her that I was indeed finally in labour and she should meet us at the hospital a bit later. At the time, she was painting her fence and decided to come over to our house straight away. I guess hanging out with a woman in labour is more exciting than painting a fence, but only very slightly.
I had decided to call my midwife at lunchtime because by then I would be definitely sure that I was in labour. My midwife actually called me at 10am to discuss the results of the late pregnancy scan I had had the day before. From the scan measurements it was estimated that baby’s birth weight would be about 4.8kg (10 pounds 5 ounces). I had read the report the day before but put it to the back of my mind as the very thought of getting a baby that size out of me filled me with a panicky terror that was not helpful to the task ahead. My midwife said that she would like to see me to talk about bringing the induction forward. I said that wouldn’t be necessary as I was in labour and I would meet her at the hospital later in the day.
Hopefully You Are Still Awake
After lunch, things started revving up; contractions were getting more regular and strong. I was still able to have a good chat with my sister between times, but during them I would bounce on the Swiss ball or lean on a wall at our house.
We decided to go to the hospital about 3.30pm so we didn’t get stuck in rush hour traffic. As soon as I got to the hospital, I was checked by the midwife. At 5cm dilated, things were happening. So no car or travel issues and labour was progressing just fine. Dull dull dull.
Between 4pm and 7pm, labour advanced at a glacial pace in the hospital room. I answered my midwife’s questions, made sure the camera was working properly and even listened to some hypno-birthing CDs. I started to use the gas at about 5.30pm. When the midwife checked me just before 7pm I was only 6cm dilated. I must have got a bit too relaxed! We decided to break my waters.
A Little Less Boring
I don’t know what you were doing between 7 and 8pm on Friday 1st of May 2015, but it was not as horrible and painful as what was going on with me! In that hour I went from 6cm to 10cm (fully) dilated. It was NOT a pleasant hour of my life, but it was only one hour.
By 8pm it was decided I could start pushing. This was the bit I was dreading, as during Dylan’s birth I had a lot of trouble with it which lead to a lengthy pushing stage of over 2 ½ hours. I did not want to repeat that! I blame the hypno-birthday CDs that promised me I could ‘breathe’ the baby out. Bollocks.
During this time, there were a few comments from me along the lines of “I can’t do this”. My husband stoically letting me crush his hand and my sister being my cheer squad (“Yes you can! Keep going!”) helped enormously. Then my midwife started getting blunt (“Push now or we will have to get the forceps” – which almost sounded appealing, but not really) and the pushing stage took just over an hour. Longer than necessary but not a record attempt like last time.
It Gets A Bit More Exciting Now
Just after baby’s head was visible, my midwife pressed a button and yelled “Shoulder!”. Three extra people raced into the room and the bed was flipped back so it was horizontal. I was told not to push and there was some talking and movement and then I was told to push and then my baby girl was out. I said “I can’t hear her” (with everything going on, I think I had my eyes closed). There were some more shuffling and then Eloise was placed on my chest and gave me a sweet baby cry.
I found out afterwards that Eloise’s shoulder had gotten stuck and also the cord was wrapped twice (but loosely) around her neck. She was taken away and rubbed with a towel, as she was all blue.
My Wish For You
OK, the last part was not as boring as it could have been, but I don’t want it to alarm mums-to-be. Honestly, everything happened so quickly that the danger was over before I realised there was any. I am grateful to live in a first world country in the 21st century with caring, experienced and professional staff on hand to help out when things get a little less boring.
For pregnant women out there, my wish for you is that you have a mundane birth story. My wish for you is that you don’t want to tell people about your birth as it will not live up to the dramatic standards that many expect. My wish for you is that you can say that your labour really was like watching paint dry.
Date of Birth: Friday 1st May
Labour started: 6am
Labour established: 12pm
Birth time: 9.08pm
Weight: 4.265 kgs or 9 pound, 6 ounce
Head circumference: 36cm
Outcome: A gorgeous, bonny bundle of amazing perfection