Girlfriends guide to labour and birth.

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* Note that this is only my experience. Everyone has a different birth story and all of them are miraculous and beautiful and unforgettable. 

For anyone nervous about birth, whether it ends up being vaginal or via c-section, you can just see my smile in this photo and the way my baby is staring at me and realise that it can’t be that bad because I don’t look too horribly scarred right?

I mean, yes, I was completely off my face on drugs thanks to the wonders of modern medicine and the beautiful, beautiful spinal I had been given not long before. I was also so bloody relieved that it was all over after being two weeks overdue, having been given drugs to soften my cervix, ten hours of posterior contractions (imagine being stabbed in the lower back repeatedly), multiple nurses checking my daughters stats by going elbow deep up my previously private area, and eventually having an emergency c-section because after all of that I was still only three centimetres dilated and my little girl was in distress.

My contractions came two in a row, one wave immediately followed by another before a very short break and so, let me tell you, the moment that massive needle was inserted into my spine and the drugs took effect….I don’t think I will ever again experience a high like it. I just had a massive grin on my face and so, that may explain why I look so relaxed in this photo.

Anyway, I digress. This lovely moment was unforgettable. I finally had my baby in my arms and she was perfect. Teeny, tiny at only 2.7 kg but healthy and beautiful.

I thought I would share some of the things that took me by surprise during the labour. Not all are bad, I got some lovely surprises too but those things are spoken about all the time. I want to make sure you are prepared for the less than magical things….just remember that you aren’t alone and I went back and did it all again so it can’t have been that bad right?

  • You might not go into labour without medical assistance. I was pretty excited about the whole waters breaking, labouring at home until it was time to go in to hospital part of it all. In the end, after going well past my due date then having a cervical sweep, I ended up getting induced.
  • Speaking of the cervical sweep. The name makes it sound like a light, feathery dusting across your cervix. Perhaps if the broom was made from steel wool? I don’t want to frighten anyone but just prepare for it to be at best, uncomfortable like a pap smear, and at worst, sort of like someone scraping your insides. Oh wait, that is exactly what it is.
  • Midwives can be lovely and caring and understanding but while this is the biggest day of your life, it is quite possibly the fifth birth she has assisted with that day. When I looked back on my labour, I remember being incredibly pissed off when I finally started having contractions and I was left to pace up and down the tea room trying to stay quiet because it was the middle of the night and I didn’t want to disturb anyone. No one seemed to care that I was in labour and surely my contractions were the worst they had ever seen??? It’s strange, but in the early stages, I remember they kept bringing me jam on toast and cups of tea. I managed a weak smile and accepted the offering, every time letting both go cold because how the hell was I supposed to eat or drink when it felt like my insides were being stabbed and squeezed? I really, really wanted to scream at the poor midwife who brought in tea number three  “fuck off with your tea, give me some fucking drugs” but, I didn’t of course. Just smiled and said thanks.
  • This is probably the only time in your life that you will be allowed to swear and seethe at everyone and get away with it. Just try not to act on the physical violence you will consider. For example, when, after several hours of excruciating contractions I suggested weakly to the midwife that we call my husband and tell him to come in to the hospital (he had dropped me there the evening before because we assumed it would take a while for labour to start) and her response was to let him sleep a little longer, “he will need his energy and strength”, I know I thought some pretty awful things, I can’t be sure if I actually said any of them but it’s quite possible. Later, when I begged for an epidural, the same midwife tilted her head and asked “are you sure?” I wanted to punch her in the face. Even later still, when the anesthetist was waiting for me to sign the waiver form for my emergency c-section and was getting impatient with me, I couldn’t move out of the foetal position as I was in the middle of a massive contraction. When he pushed the pen closer to me, I wanted to stab him in the ear with it. In hindsight, I can see that he was only rushing me because he was trying to save mine and my babies life, but at the time it came across as pushy and very rude. They must love it when drugs kick in. I remember so clearly once my spinal had taken effect, the midwife saying “oh look, there’s a big smile from mum” Sorry.
  • There is no better moment in your life than when you first hear and/or see your baby. I can’t describe it, I won’t even try to convey the emotions involved but it is magical. No matter what your pregnancy was like, how you ended up getting your precious miracle out into the world, that moment is beautiful.

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