birthing baggage

I think I'm pretty realistic about my birthing experience with the beautiful boy.
It was scary, it was painful and not at all what I thought I wanted or expected.
But it was his birth
and it gave me him
and for that I will be eternally grateful.

At my booking in appointment at ten weeks
I had mentioned that I felt things went a bit out of control with my last labour.
I explained that hours and hours of my labour seem to have been completely erased,
and not just by time passing,
I'm pretty sure I never remembered them
and that I had no clue what was going on.
I was amazed when she had offered to give me a double appointment at my sixteen week appointment
so that we could talk through my previous notes
and help me to make sense of my labour.
She said that she actually thinks it should be part of the service really
as often mums have feelings and fears which are wrongly grounded
and based on the natural emotions and fears of labour
rather than the actual medical truth.

I'm so incredibly glad I got that chance to chat through my labour with a professional.
She went though the notes page by page,
highlighting when and why things happened.
Despite there being 32 hours between my waters breaking and my beautiful boy entering the world,
my labour is recorded as 12 hours
which is from 4cm dilation to third stage (or the placenta being delivered).
She said this is an average labour for a first timer,
the difficulty with my labour was that they had recorded my contractions right from the very beginning at 4 in 10 minutes,
which is very frequent for early labour
but very common with back-to-back babies.

By the time they admitted me to hospital at 1am on the day of the little guy's birth
I had already had 19 hours of contractions.
At this point apparently there were already keytones in my urine
so I was already showing signs of getting tired and running out of energy stores.
Most women aren't this run down before they've even really started.

I don't remember his back-to-back position being confirmed until about 8am
but according to my notes
the midwife recorded feeling it at 2am.
Shows how much I remember!?!?
Apparently his position accounts for the fact that my waters broke first
and for the fact I wanted to push at only 4cm.
It also partly accounts for the ventouse delivery we ended up with.

It turns out that the ventouse was used for two reasons;
one because they needed to get the baby out quickly 
because the heart rate kept dropping and was struggling to pick up,
but also when the consultant examined me to discover I was 10cm
she could also feel that he was transverse.
He was neither back-to-back as he had been earlier,
not back-to-front as they should be ideally.
Nope my little guy decided to come out facing sideways,
which means that the widest possible part of the head 
comes through at the narrowest possible part of the opening.
The consultant was concerned that he would be stuck
as this is very often the case with babies who try coming out this way
and apparently the majority end up being born by a c-section.
That'll be why they all suddenly started talking c-section then
and why there were so many people there.

Overall the midwife said that from a medical perspective
it was a pretty average first labour.
She said that I did progress quite slowly in regards to how quickly I dilated
but this is common with first babies
and that they would expect it to be quicker this time around.
And it's funny how despite all the emotions I have surrounding my birth story,
it actually felt really good to hear that;
to me it felt absolutely ground-breaking and pretty terrifying at times
but for the professionals it was just another day at the office.
And while I wasn't so scared of my previous experience that I was dreading this time around,
I do think I will now approach it with a little less fear.

Birth is an unknown entity that first time around.
And yes it was scary.
And yes it was painful.
But I think the thing that was haunting me the most was that I felt out of control
and that I didn't know whether things were going well or not,
whether I was doing things right, or not,
and whether this was all normal or not.

Doing it all a second time around
it isn't as scary because it isn't unknown anymore.
I know it hurts
but I also know what works for me.
I know that what I felt was normal.
I also know that I would go through the whole 32 hours all over again, and more
to have the same perfect result that came at the end.
In many ways
I'd almost quite like it to be exactly the same again
as I know that that turned out okay.

The reality is that this labour will be different
but I also hope that we will deal with it differently;
with less fear and more control.
I won't be using our (very) local low-risk maternity unit
and will instead do the longer drive to the next town
to use their maternity unit where I felt so safe and well looked after last time.
I will go for an epidural again despite being so anti them before,
in fact I think what terrifies me most is that I won't get to have one for whatever reason.
And I will be braver,
I will tell people if I'm worried or in more pain than I can bear.
I won't try to be a hero
because once the baby is here no one really cares how that happened,
and there are no awards or medals for going without pain relief.

It's my body
and my baby
so I will do it my way.


  1. That is really good that you got to read the notes- I bet they helped you make sense of what happened. Birth is so different each time, but as long as you are prepared and ready for anything you will be fine. The fact that you realise that you have choices is the main thing.

    I can't believe you have a maternity unit near you. Mine is the hospital...end of. Unless you have a home birth. Not likely for me...I am too much of a wuss! x

    1. It makes me feel so ungrateful that I won't use the really local maternity unit for my labour. I know I'm so lucky to have one so close. It just wasn't the right place for me last time and I'd rather go straight to the main hospital, which is still only 20/25 minutes away.
      And home birth is sooooo not up my street at all. I want to be in the hands of the professionals. Besides, I'd only scare the cats... and the neighbours! x

  2. wow i wish i could have read my notes from both of my births because it is amazing to know how your birth is views from the other end so to speak!! i had long labours with both of mine but Burton was the longest (46 hours from start to finish) and i hd the ventouse with him because i was tired and they feared his heart rate was slowing down too. its all so interesting, i love hearing about other peoples birthing experiences.
    i think you are so right about your thoughts, fears and feelings about your next labour - as you say it is YOUR body and YOUR decision what you want done with regards to pain relief. just go with the flow is my advice as each both is different and you never know how you are going to feel until you are in that labour 'zone'!!
    this was a really interesting read, thanks for sharing Lucy xx

    1. You should ask to read your notes. It really was such a valuable experience and I'm so glad I did. They hold all maternity notes at the hospital where the birth takes place and you can write and ask for an appointment to read through them. While reading them hasn't changed my experience, I do feel better about it all for having read through it all after the event without all the emotions flying.
      I'm just glad it's made me feel braver, I suppose it could so easily have gone the other way and made me feel scared. But the midwife said that so often women have memories of terrible labours that in medical terms were completely normal.

  3. I would love to talk through my labour notes with a midwife. they are so busy round here though that I can's see any chance of that happening next time. I am so pleased it has helped you look at it in a more positive way and I hope it goes more smoothly next time! x

    1. It really was great, I'm so glad I got the chance. You have a right to see your notes if you want to. You might not get a midwife to talk through them but asking to see them and having a read through might help. There was more detail in my notes than I expected there to be and I'm pretty sure just reading through them would have been beneficial, the midwife explaining them was a huge bonus. You can always ask when you have number two, our midwives are very busy but she felt it was important to make the time to talk them through. X


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