I couldn’t believe I’d actually done it!
Monday 7th December I was 40+6. I had been getting pretty impatient and really wanted my baby to come as my first baby was born at 38+5 so I was getting a lot of anxiety as to why this bub hadn’t been born yet. I was booked in for the next day to have an appointment and possibly a stretch and sweep but luckily on this morning, I woke up at 5 am with contractions. I started timing them and by 5.30 realized they were about 5-6mins apart, but still quite irregular... by 7 am I called my midwife to let her know what was going on...she said someone else was covering her for that day and would call me back. In the meantime I was just walking around the house, having to stand up or lean over for each contraction. I had my hypnobirthing music on and was just doing my breathing through each contraction.
My first labour was supppper long (over 27 hours from first contractions to birth) so I wasn’t expecting things to ramp up too quickly. They were a lot more painful but still bearable. I was having a lot of pain in my lower back and pelvis and I already knew my baby was posterior as I was getting all the kicks at the front. Thanks to hypnobirthing, Matt and I knew about the counter-pressure technique, so Matt was pushing on my pelvis/hips/lower back for each contraction which was pain relief in itself - wow it helped a lot! I’m so thankful for that technique, and it only became more helpful as things ramped up!
I was on all fours in the lounge room, leaning over the table of the bed, swaying side to side and trying to spend time with my toddler. 8 am I received the call from my midwife for the day (unfortunately my MGP midwife and her entire team were unavailable for my labour due to a funeral.. so I had another midwife who was new to MGP who I hadn’t met before)... by this time, my contractions were about 3mins apart. She said to stay at home for a bit longer and because I was a second-time mum, I’d know when I needed to come in and to call her back when I was ready. I then hopped in the shower and began putting myself into a bit more of a hypnobirthing “trance”.
Meanwhile, my mum and sister had come over as they were going to take care of our two-year-old, and my partner was running around the house packing last minute things in between my contractions. The water in the shower helped heaps and Matt was giving me back tickles between contractions, and then putting pressure on my pelvis for each one to relieve my back pain. We were using an app to time my contractions and whilst I was in the shower my sister realized the app was counting from the start of each contraction, so we soon realized they weren’t 3mins apart but actually only about 1min apart! So at 10 am I called the midwife back and said we were going to leave very soon. I got dressed and put the tense machine back on... (I had also used it earlier and just put it on boost mode for each contraction) it took us about another half hour to be able to get in the car because I just didn’t want to leave and my contractions were so close together I kept having to stop moving and have Matt do the “hip thing” again. I was so worried about how I would cope in the car, but it turned out being in a sitting position actually helped because it put more pressure on my sit bones which helped relieve the pain.
We turned on the positive birth affirmations and I listened to that and did my deep breathing the entire way to the hospital. I started having to “moan” through each contraction in the car! We arrived at the hospital at about 11.10 am but it took about 15-20mins to get the car park! Those speed bumps were a killer at GCUH, I wish they had a specially designated park for women in labour! I used the tens machine and cranked it up for the walk from the car to the ward, we had to stop about 8-10times for me to breathe through the contractions. We saw so many random people on the way in - quite embarrassing as I work at that hospital! We finally made it to the Birth suite at 11.30 am. My midwife had filled the pool. She did a quick examination of my tummy to make sure the head was down and skimmed over my birth plan - I’m so glad I wrote this up as I didn’t end up with my allocated midwife. I hopped in the shower and continued the same techniques with the gentle touch in between. I was leaning on the wall swaying my hips and on my hands and knees at times.
The midwife was listening to the babies heartbeat with the Doppler which I didn’t mind her doing. I then jumped in the pool to change things up a bit. We have video footage of me in the pool and when watching it back I was soooo surprised at how “chilled” I looked! I feel like the hypnobirthing breathing helped so much. The pain was quite severe and I yelled out at times but overall I couldn’t believe how calm I really was. I went through the transition stage in the pool and had a period of “I can’t do this anymore”, but knowing this was a sign I was close to birth, it gave me the motivation to keep going! The midwife suggested I have a few contractions in the pool with my leg up to the side in kind of a lunge position, so I did this maybe 3-4 times swapping legs which I think helped reposition the baby. After a while, I wasn’t finding the pool too comfy because I felt like I needed to stand or squat so decided to get out and hop back in the shower. I felt like getting out and walking down the stairs moved the baby into a much better position again. Once back in the shower, I only had a couple of contractions and then my water broke! This was such a relief. The midwife then wanted to listen to the heartbeat again, but this time couldn’t get a great reading on the Doppler. She strongly encouraged me to hop on the bed so she could examine me and listen to the heartbeat. I SOOOO didn’t want to do this as I had quite a traumatic first birth where I was on the bed with people yelling at me to push and holding my legs up etc... but the midwife kept saying it was for the baby’s well-being so I eventually agreed.
I had already started pushing a few times in the shower whilst doing some pretty deep squats so it took a while to get on the bed. She eventually got the heartbeat but said it was a bit low / the same as my heartbeat or something so they were a bit concerned. She called another midwife in to help. They then asked if they could put the monitor on that hooks onto the babies head but I refused. They also asked if they could have consent for an episiotomy, which I was confused by... I asked why they wanted to do this and they said it would just help the baby come out faster... I felt like I was close to giving birth and that it wasn’t necessary so I declined the episiotomy as well. They attached the CTG instead. They also did a vaginal examination which I consented to (I’m not sure of the reason) but I think they could feel I was fully dilated. I rolled onto my left side and had the urge to start pushing. I actually cannot believe how much different the pushing phase was. For me it was total relief from the rest of my labour and so empowering to actually feel the baby coming down! (For my first birth, the pushing phase was horrible and lasted 3 ½ hours before I was rushed to theatre for an emergency forceps delivery... so this was a completely different experience.) I started pushing at about 11.15 am on my left side and the baby was crowning! I felt her head with my hand and got to see it in the mirror. The midwife seemed to be in a rush to get the baby out and asked if she could do an episiotomy to “speed things up”.
I felt like everything was going pretty fast already and so I really questioned her about it. She didn’t seem to have a legitimate reason, other than the heart rate was a bit low. I thought I’d be able to get her out just as efficiently as if they were to do an episiotomy, so I refused again. Also, I’d already had an episiotomy with my first birth that was out of my control, so I wasn’t keen on having one again.) After that conversation, I had another contraction and managed to push her head halfway out... my partner Matt was absolutely amazed at what was going on and there was so much excitement in the room. On the next contraction, I got the rest of her head out - I couldn’t believe I’d actually done it! In my head, the hard part was over. I didn’t know at the time but when her head came out, the midwives could see the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. They said I needed to get her out quickly on the next contraction so I really focused and did the longest, strongest push I could. The only pain I felt was the stretching and burning feeling, other than that I felt super empowered and excited. I didn’t realize at the time but while I was pushing her body out, they actually started to try and pull her out at the same time I think because they were worried about her. I didn’t know they were doing this until I saw the video. I pushed and got her whole body out in one go! The cord ended up being wrapped around the baby’s neck twice! They quickly unwrapped the cord but didn’t put her on my chest because she was quite grey and not responding when she was born. She was down near my legs, they were rubbing her and trying to wake her without response, so they asked my partner to cut the cord quickly so they could take her over for resuscitation. Once they got to the resus table, they suctioned in her mouth and were about to put oxygen on but thankfully she started crying and breathing on her own! They brought her over to me and put her on my chest.
We had our surprise gender, baby girl! I started breastfeeding her as soon as I could and was just crying with happiness that I’d achieved my goal of having an all-natural vaginal birth with no pain relief whatsoever - not even gas! The midwives asked me if I wanted the medication to deliver the placenta, but I said no. About 10mins after this, I felt as though I needed to push again. In one push, the placenta was born - along with a LOT of blood which my partner said splashed all over the floor and up everyone’s legs. Unfortunately, I then began having a postpartum hemorrhage. The midwife had to check inside and I had a 2nd-degree “gutter” internal tear and some internal grazes. The doctor then got called in and they said I’d need sutures. The midwife also kept pushing on my belly and each time she did this blood would gush out of my vagina. This was by far the most painful experience and I felt like I was being tortured - there was no reward at the end of this as I’d already had my baby! As I was having a PPH the midwife said I needed a catheter and a cannula as per protocol. As I also needed suturing, she offered me the gas. I breathed with that thing like there was no tomorrow as they put in the catheter and the doctor did internal examinations.
I had my legs up in stirrups for about 2 hours while she sutured me up (with a local anesthetic) and tried to find the source of the bleeding. I had extremely restless legs throughout all of this and couldn’t stop moving around due to pelvic, lower back and tailbone pain. They gave me two different intramuscular injections in each of my thighs, hung syntocin or oxytocin in the drip and gave me another IV medication to try and help contract my uterus up to stop the bleeding. All up, I lost about a litre of blood. They were talking about maybe taking me to theatre to further investigate and repair inside, but eventually, the bleeding calmed down and they decided it was no longer necessary. At one point, I was in so much pain with them doing all this to me I almost thought I’d be better off just being taken to theatre to get it over and done with.
All in all, I had an amazing labour experience and am so proud of how I managed to give birth vaginally without any pain relief. It was unfortunate I didn’t have my planned midwife with me as I felt like I was being constantly asked to do things I didn’t want to do, and my allocated MGP midwife was aware of my wishes and probably wouldn’t have mentioned these things at all, and instead let my body do what it needed to do. It really sucked that I had to go through so many interventions after having such a natural birth experience due to bleeding as it really took away from the “newborn bubble” experience I would have had with our baby and my partner.
Baby Heidi Mohanna Vagg weighed 3.8kg at birth and was 55cm long! She is the most adorable thing and such a good little baby - we are so in love.
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