First-time mum Megan shares how she prepared for birth and the super speedy arrival of her little man River.
Leading up to my birth I watched lots of hypnobirthing videos and practised breathing techniques that would help me calm down and hopefully also work as a natural pain relief. I researched the stages of labour and knew around 8cm would be the hardest with the ‘transition’ so I was prepared for that. I also made sure that my partner knew my wants and didn’t wants for pain relief just incase I couldn’t speak for myself. I was desperate for a water birth so got clued up on all the requirements to make sure I fit them before I went in to labour and that I signed all the water birth consent forms.
My labour was super fast. I woke up on the morning of the August 20 at 5:30am to my waters breaking. I had no prior contractions or signs I was in labour at all. I heard the pop, let my partner know and when I stood up to go to the bathroom the waters just gushed. I called the hospital to let them know and they told me to come in so they could check me over and then they’d give me 24 hours to go in to labour on my own. Once I got off the phone the contractions started, they were one in 20 and we left for the hospital at 6am so I only really had two before we got to hospital. We arrived at hospital at 6:15, 45 minutes after my waters broke and I got out of the car, all of a sudden I was pummelled with contractions one after the other not even a minute apart and they were super painful. Once we got to labour ward they checked me and I was already 8cm! I would say it’s because of how fast my labour was going and because of the fact my contractions basically started at me being dead on 8cm that my brain threw the hypnobirthing and breathing techniques out the window! There was no build up to the super painful 8cm contractions, they just basically started at 8cm and because of how fast my labour was already going I wasn’t allowed a water birth as they wouldn’t be able to fill the pool in time. I was taken around to delivery suite, and I was there for an hour just copping the contractions on the chin with gas and air until my body lead the way and started pushing. During the time I was pushing, baby boy’s heart rate dropped from 141 to 54 and they had to get him out ASAP so I had to have a suction cap popped on his head and an episiotomy to ensure he was earthside quickly and safely. I was amazed at how much force they use with pulling while I pushed! I was anxious at this time, but my partner was my literal rock through the entire thing. He helped me cope and kept me grounded the whole time.
When he was delivered and placed on my chest, the relief I felt was immense. Due to his fast delivery, I wasn’t allowed skin to skin and they whipped him away and put him straight under the light to check him over which also meant I couldn’t delay his cord clamping which I also wanted. At the time though I was just so grateful to have my baby boy here finally and I was so excited to meet him - nothing else mattered!
All in all my labour was three hours and 12 minutes. Started at 5:30am and River George was born at 8:42am. Although I didn’t get my water birth, the labour I was gifted left me feeling empowered and so strong. I honestly felt like I could take on the world after. My advice for any anxious first time mums would be the best plan, is no plan, have your preferences but just follow your body’s cues and know that everything will be forgotten once your bundle is safe in your arms. Labour for me was empowering, once I was in labour I wasn’t scared anymore and that was a big thing for me. The key is to trust your body knows what it’s doing and all your worry just melts away in the moment.
The best thing for me in the days that followed labour were ice packs! My stitches were sore and ice packs were my saviour for about two weeks! Also it’s so cliche, everyone always says it and I always had it said to me and I used to think “yeah whatever” but seriously sleep when baby sleeps is the best advice for the early days. Once baby is delivered it’s all go go go and there’s no break, especially if you choose to breastfeed which in itself was a lot harder than I imagined. Sleeping when baby boy slept was amazing and gave me much needed energy overnight during cluster feeding periods and unsettled nights.
One thing I wish I did differently was to see a lactation consultant before birth that I could also see and consult once baby was here and you’re given so much contradicting advice at the hospital which made it all a bit confusing. Breastfeeding is a hard journey in itself when you’re new to it all and I wish I had a professional to ask questions and to seek help from when I needed. So far we’re still going strong but the extra support from someone like that would have made it all a lot easier in the beginning as I nearly gave up so many times and I’m so glad I persisted.