Get me back into the water… Get me back into the water…
This is what I kept repeating mentally while I was in labour, my partner driving me to the hospital, out of my comfy, warm bath at home. For my first born, my plan to birth at home didn’t quite go to plan. I had been in labour for a few hours and the only place I wanted to be was in the bath – nowhere else. I didn’t even want to leave home, but things didn’t quite work out with the midwives whom I’d arranged to support me with the birthing process. One did not turn up and lived two hours away, while the other was not confident enough to support the birthing process at my home on her own.
I had arranged a natural birth, without any drugs, as I wanted the birthing process to include the least amount of intervention possible. My first born was a couple of weeks premature, so my plans to rent a birthing pool didn’t happen in time.
The primary midwife I had arranged also worked at the local hospital. She offered me oxygen prior to the labour to manage pain but didn’t provide it when the time came. I was disappointed about this as I believe it would have aided with pain management whilst in labour. But despite this, I was determined to pull through to the end without drugs.
I felt both scared and excited.
Scared from the beginning, especially since this was a first-time experience and the pains related to contractions were nothing like I had experienced before. The contractions felt as though I had really intense period pains that would last for a little while and then stop.
Excited, because I would finally be able to meet the baby I’d been carrying for many months. Through morning sickness, crazy cravings for chocolate and ice blocks, dealing with emotional ups and downs and life’s stresses, needing to pee many times during the night, feeling heartburn and reflux and, of course, feeling the baby kick often… now the time had finally arrived to meet the little person. Because I had decided not to have any interventions, I didn’t know the sex of the baby, so this also added to the excitement.
The pain was intense, and it felt like it went on and on without end. Despite these feelings I kept my mind focused, relaxing as much as possible between each contraction to prepare myself mentally for the next one. This kept me motivated – ‘I can do it!’ I told myself before the next wave hit.
I had tested whether lying on the bed would help ease the pain of contractions, but it felt like concrete to me in comparison to the bath. It actually did the opposite – it made me feel every contraction more intensely. I needed to get back into the bath at any cost.
I was reluctant to leave home, but the midwife was persistent enough to advise us to drive to the hospital and birth there for legal reasons regarding our contract with her. She assured me that I would be comfortable at the hospital.
When I arrived at the hospital the midwife provided me a room with a spa bath, and once again I was relieved when it was finally filled and I was back in the water. I must admit, I preferred my own bath at home, not just because I was more comfortable in my own environment but also because its smaller size made it easier to grasp/grip the side with each contraction. I found that to have something to hold on to, a tether or handle – really, really helped. I generally don’t like to be in hospitals, but the room that was provided for us was comfortable and provided an adequate amount of privacy.
Six hours later, during the second stage of labour, the final moments came when the contractions were happening more frequently. I could see the head of my son showing through, and with each contraction more and more was exposed. I was relieved that I had almost arrived. Finally, after twelve hours, it was over and my beautiful son was born. This was about the time I had an out of body experience. You can read more about it here (also featured in Expose Magazine, edition 2).
I felt a sense of pride that I had birthed my child without any drugs or interventions. It was tough, but I’d made it all the way through.
Breastfeeding went smoothly enough. After a bit of trial and error working through swollen breasts and sore nipples, I got the hang of it. Nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming feeling of love as your own child nurses from your breast. It’s something that words can’t describe.
I wanted to plan a smoother home birth for my second child. The only major hiccup was that our midwife couldn’t arrive on time because she lived a fair distance away from us. In fact, she could not be present throughout the entire labour. Although this did add stress to the situation, it wasn’t too much of an issue because of my previous experience with my first. My partner and I felt more confident and comfortable in our ability to handle the labour and birth without the midwife present. This time I did have an oxygen/hydrogen machine available, which really helped with pain management, thank goodness! It made me more relaxed and a little drowsy. Other than this, there were no other drugs used. This time, the labour lasted five hours and went much more smoothly in comparison.
Once again, I never wanted to be anywhere other than the bath while I was in labour. I preferred the bath small because, once again, I felt like I had something to hold on to. Being at home was so much better than being in the hospital. I had nowhere I needed to travel to. I felt much more relaxed in a familiar environment.
I did feel brave as I was birthing my second child without the midwife present, but I also felt confident enough to go through with it. My partner was there to pull her out from the water, a beautiful little baby girl. Once again without interventions, I didn’t know what the sex of the baby was, so I was pleasantly surprised. We waited at least twenty minutes before her dad cut the cord, and she was successfully breastfeeding soon after. It really was a beautiful and rewarding experience.
I believe there is too much fear or complicated thinking when it comes to giving birth. The world wants us to move away from what is natural, to make things more complicated than they need to be, making us more dependent on hospitals and their procedures to give birth. In most cases, I believe women can give birth the natural way, without problems.
If you’re thinking about a natural birth, you can read The Home Birth and Natural Water Birth here for more information. If you’re planning a hospital birth, it’s possible to organise one with less intervention. Stay informed by reading Risks and Considerations of a Hospital Birth here.
Do you have your own natural birthing story to share? We would love to hear from you. Feel free to comment below, or send us an email through Contact Us.
This article appears in the third edition of Expose Magazine