I went into my birth with clear preferences – go into labour spontaneously at home, labour at home for as long as possible using Hypnobirthing techniques, transfer to Parnell Birth Care at 7cm dilated, have the baby in the birth pool with no drugs. Like many people, it didn't quite go to 'plan'.
I was overdue and over it, and had been experiencing prodromal labour for weeks. On the Friday, at 41 weeks + 3 days, as I was post dates and the hospital policy was to induce me, I went into North Shore Hospital for fetal monitoring. I politely declined the induction but was happy to have extra monitoring to ensure baby was still healthy, which she was. My midwife told me that if I didn't go into labour over the weekend, I wouldn't be able to birth at Birth Care as they don't 'allow' people to birth there after 42 weeks. I had my third stretch and sweep after the monitoring and my midwife said she hoped to see me have my baby in the weekend.
That night, I started to have some tightenings again and slept on and off. By the Saturday morning, I was having very mild surges every hour or so. That day, my partner and I just hung out at home, watched comedy shows on Netflix, went for walks and anticipated the intensity of labour to increase. In hindsight, I should have had a nap and focused on resting but I was determined to get things going so when we went to bed that night I managed only an hour of sleep. I laboured all Saturday night and all day Sunday with infrequent contractions. Again, should have rested but I didn't want labour to stop. Things eventually picked up on Sunday evening so my partner called my midwife to let her know I was having three contractions in 10 minutes. She came to my house to check me – I asked her to tell my partner the number to let him decide if I should know how far along I was. Needless to say, at 1cm dilated after almost 48 hours of early labour, he chose not to tell me.
I started feeling the contractions in my back and knew that the baby had turned posterior so the only place I felt some relief was in the shower. I continued labouring in the shower all night and by 5am was so tired (remember I hadn't slept since Friday and it was Monday morning by now). I was falling asleep between contractions, then I started vomiting from exhaustion. Part of me hoped I was in transition but deep down I knew I wasn't so I asked to transfer to North Shore Hospital to have pain relief. My midwife met us there and knowing I really wanted to birth without an epidural, suggested I try pethidine. I was only 5cm by this point (almost 12 hours since she'd checked me last) so still had a while to go and she thought that might be enough to take the edge off. I accepted her suggestion and continued labouring in the shower in the birth suite (still experiencing back labour) for a couple of hours. The pethidine was awful, I felt nauseous and high but not in a fun way! With excruciating back pain and sciatic nerve pain going down my legs from baby being posterior still, I couldn't do it any longer and requested the epidural. As much as I had wanted to have a drug-free labour, I was happy with my choice (and so was my birth support team) as I knew I made the decision from a place of being informed and empowered.
Once that was in, I managed to have a much-needed sleep. Although the anaesthetist did need to adjust the epidural for me as I was still feeling contractions on one side. I was placed on the monitors and my contractions slowed so my midwife hooked me up to syntocinon (the drug they use for induction) to ensure I kept dilating.
I asked her to check me before she topped up my epidural each time as I wanted to have some sensation for pushing (again, something I was informed about being able to ask for). By around 3pm on Monday, I was due for an epidural top-up and felt pressure to push. I'll be honest, it felt like I needed to poo! My midwife confirmed that I was fully dilated and we got ready to give birth! Baby had thankfully turned into the anterior position so there was no longer concern about her being posterior. After letting baby descend on her own, I started pushing and 40 minutes or so later our healthy baby girl was born in compound presentation (with her left arm up by her head). Amazingly, I didn't tear but just had an internal graze – it helped that my midwife applied pressure to my perineum with warm compresses and told me when to push, pant and breathe to minimise my risk of tearing.
We had delayed cord clamping, found out we'd had a girl, and felt immensely proud about how birth had gone, despite the marathon that it was and having interventions I'd originally hoped to avoid.
I'm now almost full-term with our next baby and can't wait to give birth again.