The Birthing Plan
I always think that it’s quite ironic that they call it a Birthing PLAN. I have learned that one thing you cannot plan for is child birth. When I had my first baby I wanted to do it all as natural as possible, no drugs just gas and air. So I thought I’ll give myself the best start by taking care of my body throughout pregnancy; eating all the right things, going to pregnancy yoga, using my yoga ball and learning all the breathing techniques and birthing positions I could. I was prepared, or so I thought.
I first started getting contractions at 4am on the Monday morning, 3 days past my due date. I didn’t have my little boy until the Wednesday at 10.10am!
At 4am on the Monday morning I thought my waters had gone so I called the hospital and they said come in for an examination. Turned out it wasn’t and I went off to my already scheduled midwife appointment at 10am that morning. The midwife informed me that I was 2cm dilated, I was delighted that things had started to progress, and that a weekend of walking on the beach and eating spicy curries had paid off. We returned home and I spent most of the day on my yoga ball while my husband, M, timed my contractions. Around lunch time they were 3 mins apart so we were told to come in for another examination… how could I only still be 2cm dilated! Back home and more yoga ball action, while putting those yoga breathing techniques to use. Contractions were still 3 minutes apart so we kept calling the hospital, we went back in that evening and I was STILL only 2cms. Back home contractions kept coming, another call and another trip to the hospital. I was in pain so I accepted a painkiller from the midwife. We were sent home to try and get some sleep as this was now 3am on Tuesday morning. A highlight from that evening was listening to one of the ladies on the other side of the curtain berating her partner for breathing “Stop breathing like that…I’m going to kill you Brian”, we had a chuckle but you say all sorts of things when you’re in labour.
Tuesday- Ward 1
With a night of no sleep, we ventured back to the hospital at 6am on Tuesday morning and were told, “you’re still only 2cm dilated” but we can put you in a ward upstairs. I accepted as I thought this would get me closer to the gas and air that I was desperate for. The painkiller given to me earlier had kicked in and I had relief from the pain but this was because my contractions had stopped… I was so upset and cried to the midwife that I shouldn’t have taken the pain killer as it had stopped my contractions. She advised me ways to get my contractions going again. M brought my trusty yoga ball to the hospital and I bounced on it like my life depended on it and paced the ward for hours to start my contractions again. Tuesday lunch time passed and after, what felt like, a thousand laps of the ward the contractions were back but baby wasn’t moving much. I informed the midwife and she immediately got me strapped up to monitors, to monitor baby’s heartbeat. Anyone who has been through labour will know that lying on your back on a bed is not the most pleasant way to experience a contraction. The consultant came in to review my stats from the monitor I was hooked up to, he deemed it all normal and was happy for me to go home and by that point I wanted to go home. My midwife however was not so happy. She said “I’m listening to what you’re saying and you have had a very active baby throughout your pregnancy”. She told us to go for a walk outside, get a coffee and a chocolate biscuit to get this sleepy baby moving again. I was exhausted and contractions were coming strong but we followed her orders then went back to the ward for more monitoring.
Tuesday- Ward 2
At around 8pm they moved me to another ward, a ward where people go when they are brought in to be induced. I was in a lot of pain by this point but would not take any pain killers as I didn’t want my contractions to vanish again. At 9.15pm I couldn’t take the pain any longer and said to M to get the midwife as I needed some gas and air. I was focusing on the gas and air as being my saviour for some reason. The midwife came and I said to her “I feel like I have to…” and in tandem we said “push” and then my waters broke. My breathing techniques came in handy up until this point!
Tuesday- Labour Suite
I was whisked off to the labour suite, as a room had SUDDENLY become available AND with a birthing pool that I had requested in my “Birthing Plan”. I “jumped” into the birthing pool and sucked down on the miracle gas and air. I was in heaven…pain relief! After 10 minutes of bliss the midwife said to me “you’ll need to come out of the pool as I have in your notes that baby isn’t moving much so we need to put some monitors on you”. NOT MORE MONITORS, but I was happy to go along with what was best for baby. I’ll remind you at this point that after all of this I was still only 2cm dilated, another concern the midwife had. I laboured with the gas and air until the early hours until it wasn’t working anymore on my pain. At one point I remember sucking on the gas and air so hard that everything went white. The midwife slowly took it off me and said “right I think that’s enough now”. She suggested an epidural…I took it. An epidural was something I had put in my birthing plan that I didn’t want to do but would as a last resort. The epidural was fantastic actually, don’t rule it out if you are planning on a natural birth just because you want to be a strong woman, child birth is hard enough and if there are tools in modern medicine to help then use them. Also, due to the fact I was not dilating past those 2cms, I was put on a hormone drip. The epidural meant the midwife could monitor my contractions and M and I dosed in and out of sleep while we waited for the hormone drip to work its magic.
7am arrived and it was time for Melanie, my wonderful midwife, to go home for the night. Before she left me she said that I had only progressed to 3cms and that I’d have to get a caesarean section. This was another point I had put on the “Birthing Plan” as a big NO NO. I signed the papers without even blinking. I was supposed to go to theatre at 8am for my surgery but an emergency case was taken first. I lay in the birthing suite dropping in and out of sleep half way through conversations M was having with the new midwife. Exhaustion doesn’t even cover it, there is another level of tiredness when you get baby home but I will bore you with that topic in a later blog. It was 9.30am before I was taken to theatre, my epidural was topped up and I was fully numb for my operation. At 10.10am we got to meet the little person we had been waiting so long to meet and he was beautiful. It was a very emotional moment for us both.
When I got home I was slightly traumatised from my 3-day ordeal and I almost felt robbed that M and I did not get to see our baby being born or get to cut the cord and did I truly birth my baby? That had been taken from us. It was only when I caught the end of “One Born Every Minute” one evening that I realised that your baby is born blue then the oxygen turns the skin pink……we never saw that behind the blue screen. Although I felt robbed I know it was the safest way for S to be born and my immense feelings of gratitude at having this little person in my life overshadow those other feelings now.
So for me “The Birthing Plan” went out the window. Your baby will decide how and when it’s going to be born and no amount of planning will change that. Just make sure you are aware of all the options available to you and as my mummy always says “forewarned is forearmed”.
Here’s a little list of items that I would recommend for your hospital bag, there may be a few that you haven’t thought of:
Mummy’s Hospital Bag Essentials
- 6 x Vests
- 6 x Sleep suits
- 6 x Baby grows
- 6 x Bibs
- 6 x Muslins
- Mittens- or get sleep suits and baby grows with fold down hand flaps
- Hat- for journey home
- Going home outfit
- Jacket for going home
- Nappies- Tiny Baby & Size 1’s
- 1 x pack of Water Wipes
- Nappy Cream
- Hospital notes
- Lip balm- gas and air makes your lips dry
- Slippers- to walk around the ward
- Flip Flop- for the shower
- Shower gel
- Face wash
- Toothbrush/ Toothpaste
- Body Lotion/ Oil
- Shampoo & Conditioner- if you manage to get time to wash your hair- I just waited until I got home
- Hair bobble
- Hair brush
- Sanitary pads
- Nightie for the birth
- PJ’s for after birth
- Dressing Gown
- 1 x box of Lansinoh Disposable Breast Pads- in my opinion these are the best on the market
- 1 x Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream- again in my opinion, the best on the market
- Phone charger
- Going home outfit- make sure your trousers are a size up from what you usually wear as you’ll still have a tummy, especially if you have an unexpected section
- 2 x nursing bras
- 4 x pairs of comfortable pants
Mummy’s Hospital Bag Additions
I had an emergency section and realised I needed a few more items
- Nightie- instead of PJ’s as you’ll have a catheter in for a while after your op so can’t wear bottoms
- Pillow- to put on your wound to muffle the bumps on the drive home
- Snacks & Drinks
- Mobile phone charger
- iPad/ Book
- Change of clothes
- The car seat- already installed in car before due date