Natural Pain Relief Techiniques and Determination in VBAC Hospital Birth

It was a Friday. Baby hadn’t moved well in the morning and I got a really strange dizzy spell at lunch time, so we went in to the hospital for monitoring in the afternoon as I’d only felt a few very tentative movements.True to form, as soon as we got on the monitor she started kicking away so we went home, tired but reassured. She wasn’t due for another 9 days, so I had no reason to suspect anything any time soon as my other daughter had been bang on time.

Again, true to form, I had a shocking night’s sleep. I had the same the night before I went into labour with DD#1, I remember it well. I was just lying there wide awake for ages, staring at the ceiling plus I got up more to pee than usual, which is saying something! Lying there at 7:15am on Saturday I was debating just giving up on sleep when I felt a little gush. Luckily I managed to leap out of bed just in time for a little trickle of waters to go. Not much but clearly waters.

I managed to grab a couple of towels (one for the floor, one for me) and it just kept coming! I know it’s a cliché but my god I never realised quite how much was in there! Maternity towels were useless so I used the baby’s nappies instead which helped a bit.

I was a bit scared at this point. Once the initial excitement of, “Oh my gosh, this is it!” had worn off I realized, “Oh my gosh, this is it…” and the task ahead seemed hugely daunting; Contractions, pain, pushing, tears, and the unknown.

I was basically bricking it (and I think I said as much on the forum!), but I forced it from my mind and concentrated on the matter at hand so as not to overwhelm myself. DH and I had a few hugs saying, “Hey, we’re having a baby!” and the usual soppy stuff and I went downstairs to dig out my maternity notes. I rang the delivery ward around 7:30am just to tell them, they said to come in and if things hadn’t kicked off properly in 24hrs I was to be induced (did they have to go there QUITE so quickly in the conversation I wonder?).

Anyway, we waited for DD to get up, milled around, tried to get organised (went online, obviously!), etc, and finally got out the door about 11:00am. I’d had one mini contraction-ette at that point, but lots of twinges and crampy feelings. It was a guessing game though as some would last a minute and others wouldn’t but none really hurt.

 We went into town to get some sandwiches and Tena lady. (THAT was embarrassing: heavily pregnant woman in hugely busy chemist buying incontinence pads. Nice.) Which were so much better than the nappies I had been using, and we made our way to the hospital. Luckily, there were no flat tires this time as there had been with DD!

We got there about 11:30am and they hooked me up to the CTG. We had brought DD’s booster chair with us so she sat and watched a DVD and played, bless her, while DH did some ringing around. The people who we had arranged to take DD were, of course, out of the county for the day picking up a new puppy and wouldn’t be home till 7pm!!!

At this point, we were still hoping to be let go as, even though I was having some mild pains, they were irregular and not very strong (although not FUN lying on my back on a bed, exactly where I didn’t want to be).

She gave me an internal and told me she could fit a fingertip in so I was 1cm dilated and my cervix was “soft” and posterior. It was fun her finding that!

So that was reassuring at least that maybe we wouldn’t need the induction. See the clock was already ticking away in my head there!

The midwife was happy for me to go, but because I was a VBAC she had to ring the doc, who was in theatre. When they eventually got hold of the doc, she or he (I never saw them!), said they wanted me to stay in as my “pains were getting worse”.

They weren’t.

I was admitted to the ward and, true to form, as soon as I was allowed upright the pains stopped all together. T he 3 of us went outside for a walk and DH decided it was best to get DD home for a nap (it was about 2:30pm by this point) and try to disrupt her as little as possible. It was the first time I have ever left her overnight and I was really quite weepy when she left, but tried to put her out of my mind as it would just set me off again and I needed to save my energy as I was in for a long day.

And that’s how it stayed for the next 6 hours. I was admitted to the antenatal ward, where I was surrounded by two pregnant women – one with suspected preeclampsia and the other woman who had been bleeding at 23 weeks. I was the only one in labour there and was just tired by this point. I’d had a crap night’s sleep, I hate being in hospitals and I was in an unfamiliar environment on my own. But I had a dull backache and was never going to get to sleep.

I can’t remember when the pains got to the point where I knew they were “proper” contractions exactly, but at some point during the afternoon I had to breathe through them. I’d taken my ‘birth skills’ book with me for a bit and was trying out a few of the techniques in there. I took my stress balls/juggling balls with me and was squeezing one of them every time I got a pain, as well as rubbing my feet together.

The book was really big on using your legs during a contraction (to get rid of the adrenaline produced and stop it building up and inhibiting the endorphins) and it went on and on about ‘blocking’ the pain. Well, I couldn’t block the pain at all and was a bit worried that I wouldn’t find anything that would stop the pain! It wasn’t unbearable pain, but it worried me a bit that the book basically had given me hundreds of anecdotes from women who managed to “not notice” the pain and some even block it totally and I couldn’t manage even half of that!

Anyway, as the midwives had told me she was slightly posterior (her spine was sticking out of my side, bless her), I was trying to spend time on all fours. The best position I found early on was on the bed, laying my head on the pillow and basically sticking my arse in the air as high as I could, arching my back. When I got a contraction I’d squeeze my ball and rub my feet and breathe calmly in and out and then I’d rest like that in between. It was surprisingly effective for a while as it helped with my tiredness in between as I could just crash out on the pillow and zone out!

To be honest I was pretty sure things would be moving along slowly at that point and was hoping it would be slow as I wanted DH there for the hard part and knew he wouldn’t be there till 7:00 or 8:00pm. It’s also worth mentioning at this point that I have never had to pee so much in my entire life! I was up and down to the loo so often, it was irritating. And, of course, every time I relaxed to pee I would get a contraction, so I’d have to pull my pants up again, lean forwards, and deal with it, then go back to weeing. Otherwise, waters would go everywhere! Annoying and most undignified, god only knows what the other ladies on the ward must have thought of me!

Dinner was at 5:30pm, I believe (I’m piecing the timings together from texts), and I didn’t really realise the procedure but went into the little dining room anyway. Got myself a jacket potato and beans and sat down opposite a lady who I assumed had had her baby (but I didn’t want to ask, just in case… how stupid is that?!). I had 3 pains through dinner (stress ball rubbed on forehead may have looked ridiculous, but helped a treat!) and looked up after one to find the lady looking a little concerned. She asked if she should get someone and I giggled and said it was ok, it had been like this all afternoon! She wished me luck and I went back to my bed.

By this point I was wanting to get off the bed as I needed to move a bit more, so I put the pillow on the floor and basically knelt on it, draped over the bed (remember that position for later!) and braced my feet against the wall behind me. I squeezed the ball, rubbed my feet together and breathed.

It was impossible to hide the “I’m obviously in labour here” breathing from the other girls by this point and I was beyond caring anyway. I was breathing very deeply in and out rather than just keeping as quiet as I could. I did try visualisation techniques, but couldn’t keep an image in my head long enough for it to distract me, so gave up on that too. I did sniff on a tissue with some essential oils on it (clary sage, lavender, and jasmine) for a while but it didn’t really do anything except, well, smell nice.

So much for those techniques! The hippy stuff was NOT working for me. Even so, I was never worried. I was just focused on each contraction as it came and hoping DH would be there in time to be of some help!

The drug lady came around once and asked if I’d like anything. I didn’t really understand. It turned out she was the woman who goes around every bed and gives you your ibuprofen for the stitches, etc. But anyway I said I was fine without thanks.

She looked at my area: sheets screwed up, pillow on floor bed shifted over to one side so I could brace against the wall, stress ball in hand, and wild, flyaway hair) and asked if I was sure I was okay. I told her I was fine, I’d just been on the floor is all. She asked if I’d fallen and looked terrified, but once she realised I was in labour she kept well away, bless her!

I did realise at some point during the afternoon though that when I was having a contraction I would tense my lower abdomen. I suppose it’s only natural when you’re in pain to clench that part of the body until the pain subsides, but I could feel my cervix and the muscles around it and thought, “Well, if I’m clenching THAT, then we’re never going to get anywhere.”

So from then on every time I had a contraction I made a huge effort NOT to tense, to make sure my cervix was relaxed. I know you probably can’t consciously relax your cervix, but I stopped tensing anything even vaguely in that area, just in case. The sensation was so utterly different!

Instead of just a “pain” I had to “cope with,” I could almost feel the head pushing down on my cervix and I felt like I was really working with my body. I was imagining that in my head anyway; her head pushing down on my cervix and my cervix, a nice flat muscle by this point, opening perfectly for her. That was the only visualisation I ever managed and it was all I needed. I think it made a big difference to my coping actually, as I wasn’t feeling so fed up with being alone, in pain, and unchecked by this point.

By 7:30pm I got put back on the monitor again. They’d been talking about it for a good couple of hours and I was keen to do it as they’d said if things were moving along then they would move me down to the delivery ward. I was keen to get off the maternity ward, too, as it was awkward with the poor other ladies there. I heard one of them whisper to her DH, “The girl next to me is in labour,” and giggle at one point. I’m glad she was amused, as I was really struggling not to disturb everyone.

DH FINALLY got there at 8:30pm, bless him. He had been texting me almost in tears, worried that he wasn’t there for me. He was so upset that I was in pain and he couldn’t help. Bless him. He’s not a soppy one, but he also said that leaving DD was very, very hard!

Visiting hours ended at 9:00pm, but the midwife who had been dealing with me didn’t go off shift till 9:30pm, so she said she could stay until then. They checked my CTG. I was fascinated by all the peaks to be honest and how the baby’s little heart rate responded to them. I never realised it was so variable!

Anyway the pains were probably 3 within 10 minutes, then a break for 5 minutes, then another 2 or 3 pains. So, not regular as clockwork, but they were hurting. I needed DH to rub my back in between as it was quite sore and I was basically fed up with not being on the right ward, hardly seeing anyone all day, and not feeling comfortable making any noise! Obviously I know they were very busy and short staffed and I completely understand and am not bothered by it at all now, but I was tired at the time and getting frustrated.

Anyway, along with her checking the CTG at 9:00pm, I also got a delightful internal exam. Lo and behold, cervix was 3cm dilated and 1cm long (apparently it’s normally 2.5cm long), so things were progressing! It wasn’t posterior anymore either. I can’t remember the technical term, but I remember reading my notes and seeing it there thinking, “Yay!”

To be honest I was a little disappointed at the 3cm, as for some reason I had 4cm in my head. Probably because that’s classified as “established” labour, and I would have been allowed down to delivery then. But at least things were moving.

There was a fair bit of blood in the waters when she took her hand away so she said she’d want to keep an eye on that, but that it was probably just from her prodding and poking me. It was at this point where I decided to pick things up. DH was here, we could both focus and we were determined to get this baby out without any inductions!

I decided that standing next to the bed and leaning on that little wheel-able table thingy was the way to go. Obviously the wheel-able table moved when I leaned too hard on it but DH lodged it against something, I threw my pillow on it, and went to town squeezing the stress ball while breathing.

I tried stamping my legs, but I couldn’t really do it without it hurting, so I tried rocking and swaying. I really didn’t find lower body movement all that effective as a pain relief, but it distracted me, I suppose, so it must have helped.

When we’d been in for monitoring the day before, we had been watching the toco (tocometer) measure my Braxton Hicks – the little green numbers going up and down as I had one – so DH was amused to see the numbers a lot higher when I had a contraction this time. He actually read them out to me at one point and said, “@#$% me, that was a strong one!” Which made me laugh, when it had passed, obviously, as clearly I KNEW it was a strong one, you idiot.

He told me it got up to 127 or something, so he read out the numbers for the next one, as I wasn’t looking at the machine with my head in a pillow. I realised as he was doing it that I was picturing those numbers quite well in my head. Probably from staring at that sodding machine for half of the afternoon!

So from then on whenever I had a contraction, he would read out the numbers and I would picture them, green on black, in my mind.

The peak of the contraction didn’t actually coincide with the highest number because there was a bit of a time lag, but it didn’t matter! By the time he had reached the highest number, I was on the way back down again and that made it easier; knowing it was over and tapering off. By the time we got to 10:30pm I was just saying to him “NUMBERS!” every time I felt one starting and he would read them off to me. The other ladies must have thought we were insane!

It was time for another check of the CTG readings and an internal. Oh. My. GOD that woman was evil! All the other ladies who I had granted entry to my lady parts had been very gentle and waited for a few seconds after the initial “ooh, there’s a finger there” before proceeding inwards and fiddling about.

Not this lady. She decided to roll her sleeves up and just dive in there!!! Holy hell, by the time she got to my cervix to begin prodding about, I was gripping the back of the bed and rolling all over the shop! She announced that I was “4-5cm and stretchy,” so she wasn’t sure if I was actually 5cm or not because she might have just been stretching it that far with her fingers. Would not surprise me!

There was no more blood loss from my waters, so we were told to expect to go down to delivery soon. Hurrah! Unfortunately, “soon” turned out to be “not soon enough”.

They were hugely busy, bless them, and there was no room for lil’ old me. So we went back to our numbers game with me draped over the wheely trolley, squeezing my ball, and kicking my legs back up towards my arse. Yes, like a cow. Don’t ask, it helped.

I was still hooked up to the monitor at this point (sausage fingers insisted!), but I was struggling to keep quiet during the contractions and was starting to go “hmmmmm” during them a little. So I sent DH off at about 11:00pm to ask them if it was okay to wander the corridors a bit.

He went back again at about 11:20pm to TELL them I was coming off the monitors and we walked into the dining room. I fancied some toast, so it was the logical place to be, plus it was deserted. I figured we were in for a long night and wanted to stock up on some energy before we got down to the labour ward and got this show on the road.

Finally I could make some noise and relax into it a little without worrying about waking people! I discovered that going “Ohh” helped. The first 2 contractions I felt mildly silly saying “Ohh” and “Mmm” but after those two, I was literally making sex noises.

I couldn’t walk during them, but I needed to pace and sway in between for some reason, so I walked up and down in front of DH (who was busy with the toaster), then would grab his shoulders, barking “NUMBERS!” whilst the moaning got louder and louder.

I remembered a friend of mine saying that her DH told her she moaned like a porn star during labour. DH and I had a giggle at a possible career change for me on the horizon!

At one point I was amazed at just how long I could exhale for, I was just wailing out “Ohhhhhhhhhh….” for what seemed like an eternity. It was certainly well over the peak of a contraction and beyond what I thought was the capacity of my lungs! It was actually quite amazing that not only was my body producing these contractions with no involvement from me to get my little baby out, but it was also taking over the way I was handling the pain they produced. My body was taking over everything so after that initial, “Ohhh,” it just kicked in and made me louder and stronger. It was really quite empowering, making such noise and having no inhibitions about it, because there was, quite literally, nothing I could do to stop it.

Anyway, the midwives’ station was just outside the dining room, and they must have heard my porn repertoire, so they decided that it was probably time to push for a room downstairs for me. So a lovely, new midwife called Emma came to introduce herself and told us she’d be taking us down. I had to stop every now and again to contract, “Sorry, excuse me for one moment, Oooooooooooohhhhhh Mmmmmmmmm!” Etc, etc… “Right, sorry about that. What were you saying?”. And I also wanted to scoff down my toast, so by about 11:30pm we started “the descent” to the delivery ward.

There was a clock in the dining room and I remember thinking, “Damn, she’ll be a 19th baby. 18th was a nicer number.”

I decided after having 2 strong ones on the way to the stairs that the lift was a better option, and thank God I did, or I think I’d have had her in the stairwell! I had a whopper-sized contraction straight out of the lift and felt something shift. It literally felt like she ratcheted down twice, almost like my cervix was a gate holding her head up that had suddenly disappeared; that’s the only way I can describe it and I told them so once it was over.

I think because I was totally normal in between them that they didn’t realise quite how imminent her arrival was, but we ended up standing at the desk for a few minutes.

There was a pool available but the telemetry CTG for it had broken. As I was a VBAC I needed constant monitoring and the other telemetry was in use with the other pool, so we decided to just go to a room and wait on the pool to see if it would free up. I asked if there was a bath or shower down here as I was, “…in quite a lot of pain…” and would, “…quite like to get some hot water on my back…” (I’d only been waiting all day for it…) I was given a very stern look by their head midwife and told that it would be totally against medical advice and is not recommended.

I told her I wasn’t unreasonable, I was happy to be monitored before and afterward, I just wanted a bit of a shower for relief then would get back on it, etc.
Not an unreasonable request but she was absolutely against it. I was just about to try again to convince her (it was just a shower, for God’s sake!), when our conversation was cut short by another contraction; which I don’t remember at all, but must have been pretty intense as the next thing I remember hearing was, “Right, this is your room. Get on the bed, quick, so we can get the monitors on you.”

DD#2 had other ideas.

I made it to the bed, clung to it and things kicked off. She was coming, I could feel it! It was the strangest thing in the entire world and, even now, I can’t quite remember what it felt like, but even for a novice like me it was obvious that her head was no longer in my uterus! I turned from moaning and groaning to, quite literally, shouting the house down.

I never realised I could make noises like that, or that I could be that loud. I have NO idea where they came from (not me, certainly!) and couldn’t make them again if I tried, but I sounded like a combination of a wild beast, bellowing cave woman, the exorcist, and a melodramatic porn star all at once. Even now I giggle thinking about the ridiculous noise I was making. It was just flowing out of me and God only knows what the other poor ladies on the labour ward must have thought.

I’m quite sure I terrified them.

It was strange though. I wasn’t screaming because I was in pain; my body was forcing me to scream to deal with the pain and I was just along for the ride. I know it hurt, but as so many women say, it was a “good pain” because I could feel what was happening. I knew we were getting closer and closer to meeting our little girl. The noises were just what my body needed to do for me to deal with it. Of course, in spite of all the noise, I still knew what was going on and I just couldn’t do anything about it.

Emma, bless her, said to DH, “Ooh, it won’t be long now!” (I think me screaming, “The baby’s coming!!” might have tipped her off). He asked, “What? Minutes away, something like that?” And she said, “No, no, not that quickly. It’ll be a little while yet.” DH had seen the huge change in me and we both knew she was wrong. I think she realised it too when I had another one after about a 1 second break and was moaning out again about the baby coming.

Apparently Emma ran into the hall and called for help, because I sensed two more people standing behind me then and someone was holding the CTG pads onto my belly. They had realised by this point that their feeble attempts at, “Can you just get on the bed, so we can monitor you, please?” were falling on deaf, screaming ears.

Someone said, “Helen, this in Angela,” and I remember saying, “I’m sure it’s lovely to meet you, Angela, but I don’t @#$%ing care right now!” Honestly, why on earth did they think I cared who was in the room right at that moment?! They could have had the entire Liverpool football team in there, with TV cameras broadcasting live, and I’d probably have had just the same response.

The two new arrivals must have got a sight.

Emma shoved the Entonox that I hadn’t asked for, or wanted, (but, bless her, no one had had a chance to look at my notes and birth plan!) into my hand and told me to suck on it, so, like a good girl, I did. Once. It was s**t!

The timing for my breathing was just all wrong and I felt hugely dizzy. I was already shaking from supporting myself by leaning on this bed and I just threw it across the bed, telling her just how helpful I thought that particular suggestion was (the air was turning blue around me, basically). Then I decided that I’d actually quite like to hold onto the little handle, so I barked some orders to people telling them to, “Give me that @#$%ing thing back, quickly!” All whilst roaring, moaning, bellowing, and shouting my lungs out.

I basically turned into a weathered, old drill sergeant but there was no time for pleasantries; I only had limited breath between my roars! I told them that I felt dizzy and sick, so there was a sick bowl plunked under my face. Poor Emma, bless her, I then barked at her, “No, I’m not going to BE sick I just FEEL sick. Let me kneel down!”

I didn’t wait. I knelt down and I’m afraid it was up to them to pick my knees up, put them on pillows, and readjust the bed so I could continue to lean on it. I couldn’t have cared less at this point, as her head was about to crown and I knew it. She was SO low!

Somebody had removed my trousers and they all had a delightful view, I’m sure, but I could feel a poo. I also felt it very important at the time that everyone else knew that a poo was coming, so I kept shouting, “I’m going to crap myself!” over and over during the roaring, etc. Everyone assured me that, no, I was not about to crap myself, but I was, I could feel it, it was clearly just not crowning yet!

Anyway, lo and behold said turd appeared and was swiftly moved out of the way. DH said that Emma caught it in a tissue and shoved it on the floor so she could deal with me. He asked if he should get rid of it and she said not to bother and just brushed it away further. It rolled off the tissue onto the floor. Birth is so glamorous.

I was convinced that she was crowning at this point (she wasn’t, but DH had a look, for the poo you understand, and said that I was stretched “like a rugby ball,” so she was clearly right there under the surface) and I reached down for a feel. I could only feel me so gave up on that and concentrated on the contractions instead. It’s so strange that I was so aware of everything that was happening.

I knew it was hurting but, as everyone always says, it was a totally different kind of pain. I didn’t have to “cope” through it. I wasn’t doing anything, actually. My body had totally taken over. It was incredible. I wasn’t pushing, I was just along for the ride. The same with the noises. I was literally shouting, roaring, and bellowing at the top of my lungs and there was nothing that I could have done to change that fact.

All this time DH was leaned over the bed with his face right in front of mine and was telling me how amazing I was doing, relaying messages from the midwives (I couldn’t hear them over my own noise!), and just generally being right there for me. Just like he had for the spinal that freaked me out so much with DD#1. He is the reason I did this. There is no way that I could have done it without him and I well up every time I think of what a team we made together!

At one point he got his hand too close to my face and I tried to bite his finger, but I realised what I was doing and he put my finger there in its place so I bit on that instead.
Some husband eh? Won’t even let me bite him!

I was bellowing that the baby was coming and she truly was this time. One massive contraction later and half of her head was out. The crowning stung a little (I was saying, “Ow, it stings! She’s @#$%ing crowning!” Stating the obvious or what, eh? They have a better view that me!), but nothing like what I thought. Honestly, I barely noticed the stinging because I was just in this mindset of, “Narrate everything that’s happening, peppered with swears.” So that’s what I did.

Now, from what I’ve seen of birth, often the head is born then there’s a little break before the contractions start up again to deliver the body. My body had other ideas and DD’s head was half born. She was basically born down to the eyebrows when my contractions stopped. Probably only for one minute at the most, but it was enough for me to hear Emma tell me to do some little pushes.

I did try, honest, but having not pushed before, and without a contraction, I couldn’t make any headway. I could feel her nose inside me, it was the weirdest thing and I remember briefly thinking, “That’s going to hurt coming out.” The next contraction came along quickly enough and her head was born. What relief getting over the widest part and just feeling the rest sort of pop out! I vaguely remember thinking, “Yay! I can have a break now before the body,” but nope. No break for me.

One shoulder, then another (accompanied by wild screams of, “@#$%ing shoulder, there’s a-@#$%ing-nother one!!!!” Roar, scream, etc.), and she was out! I couldn’t believe it. I was instantly back to “me” again and I was just amazed.

I think I kept saying to DH, “I’ve done it! She’s here! We’ve done it!”

She cried a little straight away and I was just laughing and laughing. Then I heard someone say to me, “I’m just going to give you a quick injection of Syntocin,” or whatever it’s called, and the Wild Woman of Borneo was back again!

I jerked away from the voice and said, “NONONONONONONO!!!!” and was still convinced I’d feel that little prick in my bum (wahey!). But she leapt out of her skin, bless her.
It turns out it was head midwife from before; the scary, stern looking one who had told me off for the monitoring malarkey. Everyone wet themselves about it afterwards, as she’s apparently not one to scare easy, but I’d certainly made her jump when I did that.

I apologised and explained that I wanted a natural 3rd stage, so she buggered off and I made sure they left the cord alone. Someone tried to pass her between my legs to me for skin to skin (I was still kneeling next to the bed at this point), but the cord was so short that she only got her head about level with my tummy.

So I didn’t really get skin to skin immediately as my top was still on (they barely got my trousers off in time!), but I held her there for a little while and someone supported her bum so she didn’t fall. Somehow they got me on the bed and got my top off so we had skin to skin cuddles for ages under a towel while we both just looked at this amazing little person who had practically flown out of me.

I know it sounded really long winded (Me? Never!), but from getting into that delivery room to her being born was about 8 minutes, ten minutes max.
It happened SO quickly and we were lucky to make it in the door (Thank you, raspberry leaf tea!). We were hanging around for ages waiting for the cord to stop pulsing and when it did, DH cut through it, and we could finally have proper cuddles.

I looked to my left and saw the bloodbath that was her birthplace and we got a few photos while I put her to the breast. She had a few sucks but wasn’t really interested.  She was just lying there looking around, it was incredible.

The placenta took a good 45 minutes to come out. I felt a few contractions and tried pushing with them but nothing was happening and they were getting a bit twitchy about it so they got me to stand up over a bedpan and lo and behold out it flopped. I remember as it was coming down, randomly thinking, “That’s HUGE! It’ll never fit out of me,” then giggle to myself considering what I’d just been through! Idiot…

All done and dusted, Emma needed to have a look for any tears. I felt great. A little sore but no sharpness, no stinging; I hadn’t felt anything give when she was born, so I was quite surprised when she said there was a tear there.  She told me to suck on the Entonox while she examined me, but it was horrible stuff. I felt really dizzy, head-rolling drunk, and I hated it.

So, I just let her get on with it. She was telling me I’d need “a couple of stitches,” so I went instantly into needle-phobe mode and asked if it was only a couple couldn’t they just let it heal please? She said it was actually a 2nd degree tear and they really would recommend I get them, so I conceded. 2nd degree tear needs stitches, Helen, suck it up.

Eventually a lovely midwife came along with her evil kit of sutures and sharp things (all hidden away luckily), and it was time to have my foo stitched! Poor Amy was put in the cot, as I knew I’d tense up, and didn’t want to squash her. DH’s hand was the target and my legs were put up in the lithotomic poles and strapped down.

I will admit to being a total wimp at this point. There are no two ways about it – I am very, very scared of sharp things, pain, and the thought of someone doing that in such a sensitive area scared the crap out of me (not literally). I was grabbing DH’s hand, grabbing the stress ball with the other hand, and shaking my feet up and down in the stirrups whilst wailing quietly.


Louise, the lovely stitch-er, was SO nice about everything. She literally talked me through everything before she did it (Even, “I’m just going to dribble the cold water on you now” stuff.), and was exactly what I needed. I had it in my head for some reason that, “local anesthetics really, really hurt,” so I was bricking it, but it wasn’t so bad at all. A tiny prick and a little bit of pain as she pushed the plunger, then another on the other side, but it was literally nothing compared to what I had expected. We waited for the drugs to kick in and she cleaned up my legs.

I wish I’d got a photo as I looked like a war victim (appropriate considering the warzone on the floor next to me!), but she flannelled me off then got to stitching. I took probably 45 minutes and I could only feel tugging. Which made me feel queasy, frankly, but it didn’t hurt. She said later that there were 4 muscle layers, 5 stitches in each and in the skin on top, but she seemed very reluctant to tell me the exact number; maybe because she thought it would scare me. After probably 4 stitches, when I realised I couldn’t in fact feel anything, I decided that I wanted to see what was going on.

A mirror was useless so DH took some photos for me (I will NOT be sharing those). All I can say is, oh my gosh! I think I was expecting a lot worse from a post-natal foo, but it was still a rather gory sight. Anyway, Louise did a fab job and even a week later they didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought they would. Plus, I sound, well, hard with the whole “20 stitches” thing.

Little Amy was born at 23:55 on the 18th of June, at 38 weeks and 6 days, weighing 7 lb 5oz. Who knew she’d be such a tiddler? She was perfect. Her APGARS were 9 and 10, just like her big sister and she is just wonderful! Labour was recorded at 2 hours and 45 minutes, from 3 centimeters to birth, and 3rd stage lasted 45 minutes. I apparently lost 350mls of blood (I only lost 150mls with Clauds, and that was a c-section), and they were a little worried before my placenta was delivered, but the bleeding stopped and everything went perfectly.

I still can’t believe that I managed it.

Thinking about it now it feels like it happened to a different person, but I am just so proud of myself and DH. I felt invincible after that birth and, even though I didn’t even get near the water, I couldn’t have cared less. It was absolutely perfect and so is she; it was just the most incredible, empowering experience to have my body take over so completely and do what it was built to do. I feel so, so lucky that it all went so well and all my demons about DD#1’s birth have been totally exorcised.

I still can’t believe I did it!


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