My mom once told me that you give birth in a similar way your mom did, and since my mom had quite easy labour experiences, I was never concerned about the whole process. My midwife and friend, Margreet, said during an ante natal class that for a first pregnancy, it can take up to six hours for your baby to finally greet the world, from when you are about five centimeters dilated….so I was super relaxed.
We live in Jeffreys Bay, about an hours drive to hospital, and my husband works up to three hours drive away from home, but with six hours to kill, that would give him enough time to get home, have a shower and get us to hospital in time to meet our new baby, or that’s what I thought.
Another friend of mine asked me after her son’s birth (about three years ago), what I thought contractions felt like, and we both agreed that it must be quite an intense tightening sensation around your abdomen, as the movies always portray. And she then said that she experienced it as rather gentle cramps (in the beginning though). We had this discussion again in my last week of pregnancy, and I remember feeling rather excited about the birthing process when I went to bed that night.
I woke up around 03:30 am, feeling gentle cramps, and started timing them while I messaged my sister in law in New Zealand (since she has three boys and would be awake this time of day), trying to find out whether this was Braxton hicks or the real deal. An hour later, we figured I am still okay and that I probably might be needing my rest. The contractions were about 4 – 6 minutes apart, lasting about 90 seconds. But I was rather chilled, because it wasn’t painful at all, so I went back to sleep again.
We were also advised in our antenatal class to find something to distract you from labour once it starts, like bake a cake, or go for a walk. Well, my husband read an article on superfoods eirlier the week, so my distraction was making superfood-cookies for him to take to work. (This ended up being my breastfeeding snacks a week later.) By 11:30 I finally finished the cookies, and was rather exhausted, with the odd gentle cramp as I discribed earlier. So I had a lie down on the couch, once again keeping tract of my contractions and its intensity.
An hour later, I asked Margreet whether she would be able to come see me around 13:00. I felt rather relaxed and wanted to have lunch first. In the meantime, my contractions were getting more intense, and getting to an uncomfortable state. By 12:45, just before Margreet arrived, I told my husband: ‘I think this is it, we should probably start heading to hospital sometime soon’. When Margreet arrived, she was more interested in our dog (her very cool surf buddy) and our new house (which we moved into only two weeks before), since I seemed way too chilled for someone in labour. On examination, I was already 5 centimeters dilated. In a very relaxed manner, Margreet tried to tell me to maybe start heading towards the hospital, and that she will notify the labour ward that we are on our way. To my husband she said quietly ‘Get to hospital NOW!’.
We arrived in the labour ward at around 14:00. Then it was documentation time, and checking my contractions and baby’s heartbeat, but both mommy and baby were super relaxed. By 15:00 I was 7cms dilated and the hospital nurse called for a delivery cart to be prepared. I found it quite comfortable bouncing on a big exercise ball, and ‘blewing my contractions away’ as Margreet told me to do. The contractions weren’t nearly as painful as I expected it to be. It was definitely uncomfortable though, to such an extent that I had to pause my sentences and blow the contraction away first. The hospital midwife showed me a position to try out, by standing with my elbows resting on the bed, and my back bent forward, knees slightly bent and hip width apart. So I tried it, and that’s when my water broke. Immediately I felt an intense pressure, and that was pretty much when I realized again what exactly was happening here. Why I was in hospital, because for a very short period of time, I sort of forgot exactly what I was in for.
I was asked to get onto the bed for the birthing process, but with the pressure I felt, i couldn’t imagine it being comfortable at all sitting down, and the bed was still very high. I managed to get onto the bed on my hands and knees. As I tried to find a way to lay down, I had two more contractions. I was still standing on my knees hugging my husband who was standing on the opposite side of the bed, when my baby ‘fell out’. The midwife barely had enough time to put her gloves on, that’s how quickly it happened. Our baby girl was born at 15:45. To me, giving birth was really easy, and a rather pleasant experience. I would definitely do it again, but next time, I might have to skip the baking…