In my antenatal classes we always discuss what birth might be like, how it feels and what can be expected? It is so hard to try to explain because no two birth stories are ever the same. Even after having three babies myself (the unplanned home birth, the planned home birth, that ended up in hospital and finally my long awaited waterbirth) I still cannot tell you what is waiting for you on the day you meet your little one. I have been incredibly lucky to have been present at so many births and welcomed so many babes into the world and because of this I know only too well how unpredictable birth can be. So we discuss everything and try not to leave any stone unturned. The gentle, calm home birth, the water-birth, the one in the car on the way to the hospital (don’t You Tube it as I stupidly did!!), the assisted delivery in a bright loud room or the emergency caesarean section with what seems to be an army of health care professionals eagerly waiting for that first cry to be heard. They are all possibilities and they are all someone’s birth story.
I asked some wonderful mothers I know to pass on some of their experiences and feelings with you so that you may understand how birth can be and feel. I want to thank them for sharing their honest and personal experiences of joining the tribe of motherhood…….
Helen, Mum to Ted and Bertie
“Labour was simultaneously the most overwhelming and exhilarating moment of my life. Although I didn’t enjoy every aspect of it, I was amazed by what my body was capable of and didn’t know I had the inner strength I drew upon at the most challenging points.
With my first I had a meticulous birth plan and a very set idea of how I imagined the experience would be. With my second, I learnt from experience and accepted birth is an unpredictable experience and you have to have a very flexible approach. A strong birth partner who can be your advocate is essential.”
Laura, Mum to George and Alexander
“I was dreading it the second time round but it immediately felt more natural than I had expected, the progression was quicker than I had imagined it would be and I soon realised each contraction was taking me one step closer to meeting my baby. I wanted to do it again.”
Beth, Mum to Elliott
“Even though nothing went as planned, I trusted the medical staff and knew every decision they made was right for me and my baby. I never even considered I would have a c section but following a very concerning heartbeat trace I had to have a one. Strangely the c section was actually the most relaxed part of all. Once we had all the information and the decision was made they took me into theatre and there was a very calm atmosphere as my son entered the world.”
Lindsay, Mum to Harry
“Giving birth was the most intense, rewarding, exhausting and incredible experience of my life. I was totally amazed by what my body did. There was pain of course, but it was manageable, especially with the gas and air, some vigorous back rubbing and deep breathing. It was the pushing I found the hardest after being up all night with contractions. When the midwives handed me my little boy, well, words can’t describe the elation. Everything else floated away, it was the happiest moment in my life.”
Laura, Mum to Joshua
“Your labour is your story. People will ask you about it and you will re live it over and over again. For me it marked the hugely personal, momentous and life changing moment from woman to mother and something I do actually look back on with happiness.
I will never forget the midwife adding more warm water to the birthing pool to prepare it for the baby’s birth. She said there were only about 3 more contractions until I would meet my baby. I could have kissed her there and then.”
Laura, Mum to Alexander
“I was induced at 40+12 and then sent home. My contractions started 2 hours later. My waters broke 8 hours after that and I went back into hospital and had an epidural asap at 4 cm dilated. The pain was manageable whilst I was at home and the gas and air was amazing and kept me going while I waited for my epidural. The Drip was started (syntocinon) as I stopped dilating. They kept upping the drip every 4 hours. I got to 7 cm (24 hours after I was induced) then I developed an infection which caused my sons heart rate to increase enough for the doctors to decide a c-section would be best. It was frightening but I completely trusted the doctors call and it all happened very quickly. The recovery was hard but once your up and about it does get better, just take it very, very easy.”