You would think being a midwife gives you a sort of special pass or ‘access all areas’ into what your own birth is going to be like. Well in some ways yes it did, but in many ways it really didn’t prepare me at all. After all I was just a woman giving birth. Here’s some things I learnt from giving birth and how it changed my practice as a midwife and what I tell women.
I wish I had stayed at home longer…..This is such a classic mistake all first time mums do in early labour. My husband was making the house all cosy with candles and music but for some reason I just wanted to get to the birthing centre. It’s like I felt I needed to be there surrounded by the midwives I love and trusted and to be given the permission to know I was in actual labour. Even though I knew an examination might not always tell me how long my labour was, I had to know. In fact I was 5 cm which in theory is established labour but my contractions were crap, 2 in 10 and never got closer together all day. The examination isn’t always representative of how long your labour will be.
I wish I’d known that having your waters broken isn’t such a bad thing…….I held off having my water’s broken because I wanted as little intervention as possible, but after 8 hours of still only being 5cm I was tired and frustrated so I asked them to be broken and what a change that was! The contractions very quickly became 4 in 10 bang bang bang! Like a huge hammer was being smashed against my back, I thought ‘oh no the baby is in the back to back position and I’m going to need an epidural’. The contractions were so full on like nothing I had expected and then all of a sudden one felt different, more expulsive and I felt the pain in my back move further down into my sacrum and pelvis like my pelvis was widening. All the time my midwife head was thinking ‘the baby is OP and I’m going to want to push way before it’s time’…… Time was so apparent throughout this labour, at one point my midwife took the clock off the wall as I was becoming obsessed with the time which was preventing me from ‘letting go’.
Listening to my body and having a sleep at 10cm……..Waiting and letting my body rest when the contractions went off a bit in transition was brilliant, my body was tired and was preparing me for the next big part of labour, pushing! I laid on my side on a bean bag and mat I slept for a 15 minutes. There was no rush to get me mobilising, I now really listen to what women say to me at this point of their labour. Always trust the woman; she will know her body better than anyone else.
Howling and screaming is not a sign that I wasn’t coping……..Hearing women make noises was something I was use to as a midwife but hearing the animal sounds coming from my own lungs was quite empowering, like a lioness I roared as the urge to push became overwhelming. It wasn’t a case of ‘oh she’s not coping that’s why she’s so vocal’ it was a case of this baby is coming no matter what! My midwives said to me ‘your body will push your baby out you don’t even need to think about it’. They were so right, I had no control over my body and each contraction pushed her further and further down. The sensation didn’t feel like I needed a poo at all (which is something I use to say a lot to women) but like a brick was being pushed against my pelvic floor.
Pushing a melon out of an opening the size of an orange is totally fine…….The pushing bit is definitely easier than the contractions, your body takes over at this point and even when you can feel the head rocking back and forth just before it crowns and you think ‘oh my god if I have to do one more push I’m going to die’ and suddenly the head is out! And the burning and stretching wasn’t so bad. I was so impatient I couldn’t wait for another contraction so I pushed and her shoulders rotated then the rest of her wet slippery body followed! It was amazing, totally unreal and so empowering. ‘I did it’ I kept saying over and over as I looked down at this dark haired pink squidgy baby.