Why only your birth matters.

2 March 2022

What's in a birth?

I was induced at 38+1 weeks pregnant. It appeared my placenta had decided that our daughter, Genevieve, was all good and ready - as her growth had started to plateau. This meant she was heading towards below the 10th centile of weight, classifying her as a likely IUGR, or 'inter-uterine growth restriction', were we to continue to full term. I was admitted on the Tuesday evening insertion of cervidil - a prostaglandin "tampon" that is designed to 'ripen' your cervix. I woke pretty consistently overnight with a cramping, period-like pain, but otherwise nothing too special happened. 

At 8am on Wednesday morning we went downstairs to the birthing suite. A CTG was placed on my belly to get a trace of bub's heartrate to a) get a baseline and b) establish that she hadn't had any adverse reactions to the cervidil. My Obstetrican arrived at 9:30am, ruptures my waters, and put up a synotocinon infusion - synthetic oxytocin. Within 5 minutes of this all happening I was having contractions every 2 minutes. 

I worked through my contractions with breathing, distraction techniques, movement, and counting, until around 11am when I thought "h'okay, yeah, this is getting a bit uncomfortable" and requested the gas and air (nitrous oxide) -- I was a bit nervous about trying it, as I knew it could make you feel nauseated, but luckily I didn't feel unwell although I also didn't feel much relief. 

After around 30 minutes I asked to be examined, and for the gas and air to be turned up (increasing the ratio of nitrous to that of oxygen). The VE (vaginal examination) revealed I was 4cm - technically "established labour". 

I continued to labour with the gas + air to help with the intensity of the contractions, waiting for my Obstetrician to pop back over. At 12:30 I started experiencing the most intense and demanding urge to do a poo, as my contractions ramped up yet again. I requested to be assessed again, and was fully effaced but still sitting around 4cm. 

Around 12:50pm, Genevieve's heart rate was not recovering as quickly from the normal expected decelerations (drops), and it was taking all my strength and butt-clenching power to resist my body's desire to bear down and push. VE again - 6cm. 

I tried to breathe through my contractions, but by 1:05pm it was becoming a real case of "I have to push or I am going to break something trying not to" - so I tried a big push. Genevieve wasn't fully descended, and her heart rate was again not loving the pressure from my contractions, so my Obstetrician asked if I was okay with a ventouse (vacuum) to help. We tried once, but it was ineffective. 

At this point, I had stopped using the gas and air to make sure I was clear-headed and focused. So I had no pain relief in my system. 

It was becoming clear that Genevieve needed to be born, so my Obstetrician asked if I was happy for her to use forceps, with an episiotomy. It was unfortunately too late for an epidural, so I had the local anaesthetic for the episiotomy but nothing for the insertion of the forceps. 

I pushed twice, and at 1:10pm Genevieve was born.

Now. Why am I telling you this? Because on paper, that's a pretty hectic experience.  There are plenty of people who walk away from that type of quick, instrumental-assisted labour, and think "far out, I am not okay with what happened". 

But I am not one of them. 

I have no birth trauma. I have no associated disappointment or emotional upheaval. Why? Because that's me. I felt informed, supported, included in my birth. I did not feel coerced, pushed, scared, or bullied into any decisions. 

And this is where "ask everyone, but listen to no-one" comes into play. If you ask all of your friends for their birth stories, and if you listen to all of your aunts and sisters and birthing friends as they regale you with their own experience - you will be hearing that, their own experience. It doesn't mean their experience was not valid, or their trauma is not valid; what it does mean is this -- What was theirs, is not guaranteed to be yours. 

So ask, bear witness, learn. But don't take on someone else's fear or negative experience as your own.

And if you're anxious? Book in a birth preparation session with me 💛