Can you believe it was nearly a year ago when I gave birth to Nyla? This is a long post so I hope you are comfortable with a cup of tea…
I remember the time when first pregnant I laid my eyes on those double lines on the test. Trembling, I was both excited beyond belief but fearful of the unknown – that unknown frontier with being a parent for the first time but for me more so about giving birth. And for a scaredy cat like me, going through birth was definitely going to be beyond anything I had ever experienced before.
So is it painful? Yes, probably the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life but certainly not a horrific experience like in the movies. With the right preparation and support network, the pain is manageable; and just to give you an example of my pain threshold, I’m holding to dear life and demanding for aesthetic for a simple scale and clean at the dentist – I’m a total wimp! The key for me was not hiding my head in the sand; instead I chose to preparing myself with knowledge with a ‘can do’ attitude rather than not believing that my mind and body could handle it.
The first part of the pain are the contractions. They don’t last longer than a minute and you have a couple of minutes between each contraction. The contractions feel like a real intense stomach cramp but the pain intensifies as time goes by to the point that you are gripping on to the bed, grinding your teeth and then howling like a wild animal as each contraction thunders through your body like a huge wave.
The second part of pain is the pushing. This is where it can get a bit gory and embarrassing (well to someone who hasn’t given birth before) and the whole tearing and crowning aspect used to scare me to death but on two occasions I’ve been fortunate to not have any major tearing (second time I actually had none!) or an episiotomy. So even though it’s certainly not a walk in the park, the pain is definitely manageable and in most cases when it’s all over you don’t remember how much it hurt.
For my first labour, Lily was positioned posterior which meant for a more painful labour as you feel the pain all over your back as well as the usual tummy area. After 20+ hours lets just say ‘feeling absolutely exhausted’ was an understatement and when I had to be hooked up I opted for the epidural and all the pain was lifted instantly. The contractions disappeared and I didn’t even feel the pushing as she was ‘vacuumed’ out. All I could feel was that something slippery was being dragged out of me.
With Nyla I went total natural…yeap totally drug free. There was a point when I suddenly started to lose confidence in myself (a phase called ‘transition’) and was at the point of breaking down. So when the hospital told me I was at the last stage and ready to push, all that emotion lifted and I was determined to get through it with positive energy again. That adrenalin helped and afterwards I didn’t even remember the pain of pushing to be that different to doing a a number two. Seriously!
Here is the advice I usually give to my girlfriends about giving birth:
- Prepare for childbirth - The hospital runs antenatal classes but I learnt a lot more through classes run at the community midwifery group. I also wanted to go natural but didn’t know how to achieve this so took up hypnobirthing (highly recommended) which helped me immensely with breathing techniques, self relaxation techniques and a positive belief.
- Birth your own way - You might want a natural birth or choose the epidural or have an elective caesarean or have a home birth. Everyone is different but make sure your decisions are well informed. At the end of the day it is your birthing experience and your body. For a natural birth, investigate different birthing positions.
- Write down and communicate your birth preferences - Communicate with your doctor/midwive regularly with the type of birth you would prefer. Write down the preferences you have if things don’t go to plan and show it to them. It’s important to feel like you are part of the birthing process and to keep positive no matter the outcome.
- Choose your birthing centre wisely - If you are in Australia book the Obstetrician AND a birthing centre as soon as you can. The Obstetrician and birthing centres book really early so you just need to get on the list and then after doing research choose if you want to go down the private hospital route or natural at a birthing centre. The private hospitals have strict protocols so it is more likely to be more medical intervention at your birth (i.e. emergency caesarean, episiotomy etc) and at a birthing centre you will have to prepared that if you can’t go natural or if intervention is needed, you will be transported to the nearest public hospital. Basically choose the birthing support which runs true with your birthing preferences.
- Have a Doula/birth partner - If I was to give birth again for the first time, I would have chosen a doula because a lot of the time my husband and I were pretty much alone in the birthing suite and would have been useful to have someone experienced with the birthing process to encourage us through and provide us support. My husband was my birth partner for both births (he even did the hypnobirthing course with me) and I also signed up for a student midwife for my second birth (but sadly she missed it!).
- Avoid listening to horror birth stories - People love sharing the drama rather than something that went smooth sailing right? And even though it’s useful to know that things don’t always go to plan and you aren’t 100% control of the situation, it’s not helpful when you are pregnant and most likely already shit scared. So hard as it is, try not listen too intently to these stories as they do nothing to help you keep in a positive mindset or gain any confidence.
So you will hurt, get the shakes, make animal noises, cry out for your mother and it’s bloody; but the emotion and energy is more powerful than I could have ever imagined – it’s exhilarating, full of adrenaline and your heart explodes with all the love in the world once your baby is delivered safely in your arms. And cliche as it sounds, that is why it is worth it.
Click here for Lily’s birth story.
Click here for Nyla’s birth story.
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