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My Birth Story

Updated: Feb 10


csection delivery

A year on, I'm finally getting around to sharing my birth story - it's been on my mind to share for a while! Birth stories come in all shapes and sizes and every person's is unique to them. Mine's no exception.


Of course, as a women's health physio I took notes about my labour and birth, as I wanted to be able to remember some of the details of my birth... so just a little heads up that this is a longer read! Get a cup of tea, and get yourself comfy...


The lead up to my labour and birth: I'd always been the sort of person who had absolutely loved keeping myself busy. I had originally thought that I wouldn't have much to do and would be bored in my maternity leave - I'd actually initially organised to finish work at 38 weeks! Throughout my pregnancy, I'd had a couple of mum friends encourage me to take more time off, so I changed my maternity leave to start at 36 weeks.


As it turned out, the decision to take the extra time off was the best decision I made. Contrary to what I had thought, I actually really enjoyed having some time off! Of course, I was busy for quite a bit of it, organising things for life with baby. Those who like to be very organised will be completely horrified that I did so many things last minute - we picked up our pram and quite a few bits and bobs for the baby in those last few weeks. I also packed my hospital bag a lot later than I would have liked or recommend anyone else doing. In addition, I got some general life admin tasks done; I got my car serviced, completed a CPR course (at 38 weeks!!), cooked meals for post-partum, and got my hair and brows done.


Amongst the busy-ness, I did have my fair share of self care time. I took myself to the movies, went out for lunch, exercised gently, slept in, cooked myself breakfast, and had some really lovely outings with my husband (Carlos) and friends. Between 36-38 weeks of my pregnancy, I was definitely NOT ready for baby to come out, as I was too busy enjoying myself and preparing!


At around 38 weeks, I was at peace with whenever baby decided to come. I'd had a pretty good run with being able to move well throughout pregnancy, but it was hard to keep up - I was very slow, and my hips were providing me with some discomfort. I was definitely happy to keep enjoying my "me time", but wouldn't be complaining if baby decided it was time, either!


39+3: I was able to harvest my first bit of colostrum. I had been trying to get some colostrum in the weeks prior, however was unable to until this time. I pretty was ecstatic! Little did I know that I was very close to my labour. Looking back on it, it was interesting that colostrum came through JUST before my labour. Perhaps a telling sign for my body?


39+4: I had my weekly appointment with my midwife. Everything was tracking well, baby had dropped a bit and was in a good position. During the appointment, she'd literally joked with me that I might go into labour the very next day! I was very much looking forward to meeting baby, and secretly hoped that maybe she was right!


39+5: I woke up at 6am with my waters broken. I honestly thought that I had wet my pants! I contacted my midwife, who instructed me to put a pad on, get some more rest and report back in an hour as to whether the pad had been soaked through,and if so, it was likely that my waters had in fact broken! An hour and one very wet "overnight" pad later, I confirmed to my midwife that yes, my waters had broken. In the hour that I was resting, I noted that I was getting some irregular contractions, every 15-20mins. It was also very strange to feel like I was leaking all the time!


Next steps were to gather my things and visit hospital to be monitored to ensure that all was progressing well. We took a taxi to the hospital. I'd previousy received the recommendation to bring a big plastic bag to sit on in the car, the advice of which I absolutely took up. My "waters" were continuing to leak, and this continued throughout the day. Disclaimer: my "breaking of waters" was NOT like in the movies. No gushing! Just a slow and steady leaking of fluid over the day. I ended up needing to go and get an entire pack of libra maternity pads from a convenience store to account for this!


At the hospital, baby was monitored, and they verified that my waters had in fact broken. A swab was taken to check any potential infection due to my waters breaking. We were there for quite a while - most of the morning in fact! The obstetrician on the ward suggested an induction, which I declined, and I requested to return home as baby was going well. I was allowed to go home, however I was asked to come back in the following morning for a check up, as well as book in for an induction the the day after.


Carlos and I made our way back home to rest as much as I could. I set up a bit of a birth space, and had the diffuser going. I sorted out some baby clothes, baked some "lactation cookies" and had a HUGE nap in between my afternoon activities and dinner. Well worth it! After waking up, my contractions really started to become more frequent and intense (though still somewhat erratic in terms of timing), so I started noting my contraction timings. It seemed like a very long night - I was finding it hard to sleep, and ended up going out to sleep on the couch for some of it as I didn't want to wake Carlos! My pain management strategies at this point were a combination of the TENS machine, different positions, hot showers and heat packs.


39+6: After a pretty decent breakfast (how good are eggs?), I gathered up my birth bag, and went into the hospital to be monitored at 9am. One mistake that I made here was failing to bring in my food bag. A rookie error! Things really don't go "to plan", and I do know the true sense of the phrase now. I was convinced that I was going to be going back home afterwards... but since when did birth plans ever go exactly to plan? Definitely a big disappointment in not bringing my food in - though it did serve as a great emergency snack stash for when I was breastfeeding later down the track!


After another taxi ride to the hospital sitting on a big plastic bag, I was set up for monitoring. Carlos wasn't allowed into the appointment, due to the COVID rules at the time. It definitely would have been nice to have him there to discuss what was going on! During monitoring, it was discovered that baby was in distress and had reduced heart rate with contractions. At this stage, I was 3cm dilated. The medical team discussed options with me - they chatted about a possible initial induction, and further caesarean section if baby continued reducing heart rate with contractions.


I was pretty determined to try without induction first. The hospital I was at had a birth centre, which was one of my preferences, however due to the need for monitoring, I needed to be transferred to the delivery ward. I was transferred to the delivery ward at around 11am to continue my labour. At this point, Carlos was allowed to join me in the delivery room. I was attached to a saline drip to maintain hydration, as well as a heart rate monitor for baby attached vaginally. I was also instructed not to eat due to the potential of needing a c-section. My stomach was not pleased! At this stage, my contractions were maintaining at around 2-3 times per 10mins, and I was dilated to 4cm. All my attachments did make moving around harder, and I was confined to a pretty small space within the room around my bed. This was a bit of a hindrance on my pain management strategies, though I did manage. I would have LOVED to trial a birth bath!


I knew that I might have a long road ahead of me, so I tried to have a bit of a rest (as much you can with contractions!), and then moved around a bit. I found a few different positions on and around the bed useful, as well as breathing and my heatpack to be most useful in terms of pain management. I did try my labour TENS but it was no longer providing me any relief so I ended up not using it for long!


At 2:30pm, I was STILL dilated at 4cm, and contractions were maintaining at a rate of ~2-3 every 10mins. Baby's heart rate was still reducing with some contractions. We revisited the idea of induction using synthetic oxytocin to assist with the labour process, with continued monitoring of baby's heart rate to assess for further distress. I agreed, and induction was started at around 3pm.


It was incredible how much more intense the contractions with synthetic oxytocin was! I was experiencing much of my pain in my back, and occasionally around the front. Fair to say that Carlos was my number one for re-heating my heat pack.... he still likes to remind me of this to this day. I found deep squats, lunges, and leaning on a birth ball useful positions to help manage my pain. I also found squeezing a comb in my hand useful for pain management, particularly later in the afternoon. I still wasn't allowed to eat due to risk of potentially needing a caesarean, so I did get Carlos to do some cordial runs a couple of times as I was ravenous and needing some kind of energy! My midwife arrived later in the afternoon, and I was pretty incredibly grateful to see her...There's definitely something to be said about having a familiar face and some sort of consistency in your medical team, especially in those more intense times.


At 6pm, the synthetic oxytocin was stopped, and baby was monitored. Baby's heart rate dropped pretty dramatically and stayed like that for a while. I was still 4cm dilated, and my contractions were not going more than 3 in 10mins! After a review with the obstetrician and many discussions, we addressed the need to have a c-section... which we ultimately made the decision to do.


One of my birth preferences had been to not be asked about pain relief, rather I wanted to be the one to request pain relief if I wanted it. I'd done pretty well until this point, though secretly, I had never been so relieved to have some sort of pain relief when I went into theatre (and I can also tell you that Carlos has never been so relieved to never be asked to fetch a heatpack again!). The anaesthetist had mentioned that the best way to describe the feeling of having your baby taken out via c-section is like having an elephant sitting on your chest. This seemed pretty accurate at the time!


At 8:42pm, our little one came out into the world. Throughout pregnancy, Carlos and I had made the decision to leave the gender as a surprise, as it's one of the only true surprises we'd ever get. I'd had a sneaking suspicion that we were having a boy. Not sure if it was a mother's intuition or fluke, but when the obstetrician revealed the gender to us, it turns out that I was right! After our baby boy was stabilised due to low oxygen levels, I was allowed to have some skin-to-skin time with him before leaving theatre.


After being transferred to my room, I finally got to have dinner sometime between 10-11pm. It was the best cheese sandwich and yoghurt I'd ever had!


My birth was far from what I had originally planned. I had planned a birth in the birth centre with no intervention. Instead, I had an induced labour, with quite a bit of monitoring, and then an emergency c-section. Reflecting on my birth now, I do truly believe that we made the right choices at the right time for my body and baby. We recieved absolutely phenomenal care from the hospital staff. I felt heard and respected in my wishes, even though things didn't go the way I wanted. Most importantly, I was able to talk through the events of my birth with relevant medical staff and close family and friends after - an important part of any birth!


- Kelly







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