Welcome to the second instalment of my Reflections series, I’ve already taken a look at my pregnancy experience (read it here) and this time I want to talk about birth. More specifically, I want to talk about everything that happened from getting to hospital to leaving hospital with my baby girl.
Everyone’s birth story is so different and I am pretty sure that everyone’s is worse than mine but there are still things about it that I would change given the chance.
According to my midwife I was in active labour for only 2 and a half hours even though my contractions started much earlier than that. I think you have to be a certain number of cms dilated before you are considered to be in active labour and in the grand scheme of things mine was very short before they called for emergency surgery.
So, given the chance to do it all again, what would I like to go differently:
- Sod the bad back – this is the biggest regret I have over my labour. After hours lying in a hospital bed being asked to lie still on the side of my back and hip that was suffering with sciatica I felt unable to lie in that position any longer once my active labour started. What I didn’t know at the time was that by not being in that position I sent my unborn baby into distress causing us to need an emergency C-section. On reflection, what I thought was back pain at the time was absolutely nothing compared to the pain of the recovery and on-going discomfort of surgery. If only I had pushed through the back ache and been able to have a natural birth; that what if will haunt me for a long time.
- Take better hospital clothes – I’m not really sure what I expected in terms of packing for the hospital stay. I bought big baggy pjs and breast feeding friendly nighties but the reality turned out to be me wearing the nighty rolled up so as not to touch my surgery wound whilst wandering around the ward with my bed sheets wrapped around my waist like a bloody toga because I couldn’t wear trousers.
- Ask for the drugs – I had no idea what contractions felt like before they started, I didn’t know what was a low one or how much worse they were likely to get so I tried to hold off on asking for any pain relief in case I took it too early and left myself short. In hind-sight taking pain relief earlier on may have helped to ease my back pain giving me a chance to see it through to a natural birth.
- Take food – I did pack food as I expected to be in for a long wait with the induction but I barely touched any of it. I was too nervous and just didn’t fancy all the pregnancy snacks I had been enjoying for last 9 months. After Amelia was born however I was faced with NHS ward meals and I’m not going to lie they were not appetising. Most days I ended up having to ask family to bring food in or go to the shop in the hospital to get me something to eat. When you’re recovering from birth (in any capacity) and looking after a new born the last thing you want to worry about is having a decent dinner.
- Ask for help, all of it – Being stuck in bed following surgery meant I did need to call on the hospital staff quite often, asking them to help me get the baby in and out of her cot, help getting to the bathroom, help getting dressed. What I really needed to do though was tell them that I absolutely did not have the breast feeding thing down. My boobs were bleeding before we left the hospital so it’s really no wonder I didn’t get on well with it at home. I should have pushed for more assistance, more practice, more guidance. I should have told them that it hurt and I couldn’t get the position right and I didn’t know how to hold her correctly especially with a huge seeping wound and pipes coming out of my tummy. Instead I smiled when they said I was doing ok and I convinced myself I knew what I was doing. Only to get home and have a complete breakdown because I had no clue what I was doing.
Those are the things that I would differently based on my experience the first time. Essentially I pray I won’t have to have another C-section if we have another baby but I’ve not asked yet and I might be told that there is no other choice. If this is the case I will take steps to make it easier for myself to recover.
If a natural birth is a possibility then you better believe I want to do everything possible to achieve it, I’ll be applying all the oils, creams and magic potions to help ‘down there’, I’ll be eating everything under the sun recommended for starting labour so that I don’t have to face induction again and I’ll be damned if a bit of back pain is going to be the cause of another surgery.
What have you have learnt from your natural birth experiences?