I experienced a fantastic and (almost) drug-free birth of my daughter (my only child) despite being induced, continuously monitored and having a vacuum extraction, none of which I had planned for. I still consider my daughter’s birth to be the high point of my life to this date, and I am extremely proud of myself and the process.
The situation was that I was booked in to the Birth centre, and during my pregnancy prepared for a natural birth by meditating, reading about natural birth and listening to the Hypnobirthing cds regularly, to take away my (many) fears about birth, fears that I believe our culture encourages and even cultivates.
At 37 weeks, my waters broke. Although I wasn’t having severe contractions yet, I went in to be checked the next morning and nothing much was happening, although I had a ’show’. I was experiencing very tiring and (to me) strong contractions, but they weren’t intense enough that I wasn’t considered to be in active labour yet. These continued for another day, night, and then most of the next day, by which stage I was becoming physically and mentally exhausted. That night, I decided that I would stay a night in hospital, eat a meal and get a good nights sleep, and then decide in the morning whether to be induced (at that stage I would be 68 hours after my waters broke). The hospital suggested it because of the risk of infection, and my husband and I agreed, not so much because I was worried about infection, but more because I was becoming psychologically tired and needed to make a change.
In the morning, as i still wasn’t considered to be in “active” labour, I opted to be induced, and that meant I went to the delivery suite. The hospital policy was that I would need continuous monitoring, both of my contractions and the baby’s heart rate. The problem was that the cable to the machine wasn’t long enough so that I could stand under the shower, and there was no power source in the bathroom. My dear husband solved this problem by asking for an extension cord and then stretching every cord to the limit, keeping the door open so he could check the cords were all still connected and the belts hadn’t slipped off while I was under the shower.
I concentrated on counting my breaths, as I had practised many times in meditation before, and it was an intense 3 hours before I was ready to push. Although it was the most intense experience of my life, it wasn’t painful in the way I have previously experienced pain. At the pushing stage, 2 midwives were coaching me while I was sitting on a birth stool. I was pushing so hard I had calluses on my hands from the handles on the birth stool. This went on for 2 hours, by which time I was once again exhausted. The dr suggested a vacuum extraction, and I agreed. This time I was on the bed, and it happened very quickly. She was ‘talking’, making little noises, when she was only half way out, and the vacuum extraction was timed with my contraction. She was perfect, and was placed straight onto my belly. It was the proudest and strangest moment of my life. My husband and I were on a ‘high’ for about 4 days after that. So the only drugs in the end were the syntocin and the sleeping pill the night before.
If I was to have another child, the only thing I would plan to do differently would be that I wouldn’t actively push during the 2nd stage. I believe the active pushing actually held up the process, as I had no idea ‘what’ to push and I was probably simply tensing up the muscles that needed to be released and relaxed. This then led to the exhaustion and the vacuum extraction. Still, I do not regret anything. The midwives were generally wonderful, my husband was there with me constantly and the hospital did its best, as far as it knew. The outcome was fantastic and I felt proud and empowered during the process.