This weekend gone marked 8 weeks with our little man. I literally can’t believe that he’s been with us that long. It’s gone by very quickly but also feels like he’s been here forever…
I saw somewhere that having your baby is like going on a blind date but knowing you’ll meet the love of your life ❤️ The amount of love I feel for this little guy is out of this world.
My birth was a mixture of highs and lows and some parts were fairly traumatic. I think it’s important for positive birth stories to be shared especially for pregnant women so I’ll leave out the traumatic bits. Instead I thought I’d share some reflections from Rory’s birth instead. I learnt a lot from the experience and want to get it written down so I don’t forget it. If it helps someone else that really is a bonus! (Do remember when reading that this is my experience and everyones is different.)
- Birth definitely shouldn’t be feared as in the end you get a bundle of joy which makes everything worth it. Although traumatic at points I’d do it all over again for my little boy Rory. There literally isn’t anything like meeting your baby for the first time. It’s very surreal thinking back to it. My labour progressed quicker than expected and I’ve now learnt that if we were to have another baby to say how painful the contractions were, how far apart and make sure I’m listened to. COVID didn’t help with short staffing so I had to wait for a doctor to examine me before going from triage to the delivery suite which took a couple hours. If you’re pre-37 weeks you have to go onto the delivery suite rather than the midwife led area and are hocked up on anti-biotics and have to be examined by a doctor to see how dilated you are. Now I know!
- When your waters break it isn’t just one gush. Saturday morning I woke up randomly at 5am feeling a bit odd. I got ready to get out of bed, stood up and all of a sudden there was a gush! My waters had broken! I woke up Tim straight away and we couldn’t believe it! Because of the polyhydramnios and being 36 weeks, I’d been told I had to go into hospital straight away so I called up triage and was told to go in. I hadn’t expected my waters to break as our NCT leader had said only 1 in 10 women experience their waters breaking before they go into labour. The gushing then continued for a good few hours… I couldn’t believe the amount of amniotic fluid I had!
- The contractions built up fairly quickly for me and started within 20 mins of my waters breaking. I had been worried that I wouldn’t know the difference between Braxton Hicks and contractions but I definitely could – there was no denying the feeling of contractions. I found it really helpful to use hypnobirthing breathing to get through the contractions. It’s also breathing you’ll have used if you suffer from anxiety – you breath in for 4 and out for 8 – I find it helps me calm down and in this situation get through the uncomfortableness. I also just thought each contraction would last 40 seconds tops so would be over after 3-4 lots of breathing. My midwife during labour also gave me the tip to breath in the gas as the contraction was building so that when it hit I’d have the full benefit.
- I didn’t really know what to think about affirmations before labour but during labour I kept thinking each contraction is bringing me closer to meeting our little man. Affirmations help but find those that work for you. I found some a bit ‘woo-woo’ but there were some that resonated with me. These were a few that I liked:
I trust my body to know what to do.
Each surge of my body brings my baby closer to me.
I am prepared to meet whatever turns my birthing takes.
The more you say/ think them the more you’ll believe it.
- During labour you want as much oxytocin as possible. Hypnobirthing teaches that you need to be as relaxed as possible and oxytocin reduces stress, calms you down and helps with pain during labour. Although uncomfortable I tried to do deep breaths to get through the contractions as they built up and then in between them return to my ‘green’ calm zone. I remember we spoke about holidays and cocktails! Keep that adrenaline at bay as it can slow down labour!
- The transition stage is a killer! Everyone says this and it is… I remember running out of energy and saying I didn’t want to do it anymore and telling Tim that I was sorry I wouldn’t be having any more children and 1 would be fine. It’s hard not to have tunnel vision at this point but remember that when you get to this point your baby is oh so close to arriving!
- Bring a bottle with a straw and fill it up with icy water and ice. I hadn’t realised that the hospital had ice but get that stuff to cool you down! The straw is so handy! I got this one from amazon. It’s also perfect for breast feeding when you’re stuck under your baby on the sofa and can’t move.
- Have snacks packed in your hospital bag. I wasn’t allowed my snacks during labour (so sad!) – all I wanted were my haribo! But I demolished them in recovery, so remember to have snacks for afterwards because you’ll be knackered and need a sugar boost.
- Use your BRAIN (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, Nothing). We had spoken through all the different labour options pre-labour so knew what I wanted/ didn’t. So when we were told a forceps delivery would be needed we said yes. I had no energy and was struggling to push so a helping hand was needed. I do wish that I had insisted on hand expressing colostrum when breast feeding didn’t work before I went into surgery as the little guy didn’t get any milk for the first 3.5 hrs but that’s a lesson for next time. A lovely midwife later hand expressed some colostrum as Rory couldn’t get the hang of breast feeding. As soon as he tasted that liquid gold he sucked it all down!
- Somehow I only managed to use gas and air during labour. For me it wasn’t until the final hour that everything ramped up and became really uncomfortable. By this point I was into transition and it was too late for other pain relief not that I remembered! I still can’t believe I got through with gas and air but I found it helpful. It did make me nauseous at points though so be aware you’ll probably get sick. I also had to have a spinal block for surgery and it really wasn’t as bad as I thought. I HATE needles but knew I needed this to be able to see my little man again. It lasted for most of the rest of the day and I had to get a catheter but that was quite handy as it meant I didn’t need to move from my bed.
- Because it was during COVID, Tim wasn’t allowed in until I was in active labour. Thank goodness there was signal so I had Tim to keep me company on the phone as I had to wait for a doctor for a couple hours (the midwife couldn’t examine me as I was premature…) and was by myself in the triage room. The downside was that I couldn’t move from the bed (due to the polyhydramosis) so wasn’t able to call for the midwife for help and relied on them coming in when they remembered I was there. As soon as I had been examined I asked if Tim could come in and they said yes. I’d 100% recommend reading ‘Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better‘ as it goes through all the stages of labour so I knew what was happening and when active labour had started.
- As I had to go into surgery after giving birth to sort my episiotomy and 3rd degree stitches, I was moved onto the recovery ward afterwards. This meant that Tim could stay until I went up onto the postnatal ward which ended up being 9 hours after surgery. So he got to spend time with us and help me before he had to go home. It was sad that he couldn’t come back until he collected us 2 days later but being on recovery meant he had extra time with us that I’m so thankful for.
- Finally, next time we’d remember to take a picture of the baby weight. Unfortunately, the midwife didn’t write the weight down at the time and mixed up the numbers so when the 5 day weigh in happened he was noted as losing 17% of his birth weight when it should have only been 11%. This meant we had a trip into hospital for 4 nights where I was made feed, top up and pump every 3 hrs. It was the most intense, all-encompassing and exhausting process and I didn’t realise I had a choice. It wasn’t until I got back home that we realised I had an oversupply and that I had a choice in what we did. When I had gotten to the hospital I was sleep deprived and broken so I just did what they said. Back home, I was barely sleeping between all of it and dropped several of the pump sessions and actually slept which meant I felt more alive. On reflection, my milk came in late on day 5 (the day of the midwife visit) and after that we would have been fine. So a couple lessons for us there… take a picture of the weight in case of mix ups and trust in our instincts.
At the end of the day we have the most precious boy and have learnt so much over the past 8 weeks with the biggest takeaway being to trust our instincts. My pregnancy and labour, although not perfect, gave us Rory <3
If we decide to try for another I will try to remember the above (why its so good to write these things down) and be kinder to myself and just trust ourselves. What others say is advice and it is just that… you have the ultimate say so – remember that. I definitely will!