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The Labour Experience

Nobody could ever explain to me what it was like to be in labour, nobody could really describe it and nobody could answer my one question 'how will I know when I am in labour?' They just said you will know when it happens. The last thing I expected was a 27 hour labour.

I went into labour on Friday morning at 4am and had a 27 hour labour which may sound shocking but it was a great experience and I was lucky to have a lot of support from Alex.

My first contraction pains were like an upset stomach. I spent a large part of the day running back and forth to the toilet with an upset stomach. I was feeling very confused thinking that it was probably gastric flu or something like that and not sure at all as to whether it was labour. Diarrhea and stomach cramps are very common in the early stages of labour as your body is preparing itself for the birth. I found that paracetamol helped ease the stomach cramps.

During these early hors of labour you may not feel like eating I know I definitely did not but it is advisable to eat as you will need your strength to help get you through the long task ahead of you. I had had very little to eat and by the time I got to the hospital they told me that if I ate anything it would make me sick. The midwife told me to sip sugary drinks like ribena for the energy but not fizzy drinks as these could also bring on sickness.

I found that whilst I was at home standing under the shower with the shower on my back the pains were not as strong and I felt like I could cope with the pain. I also had a bath once I was at the hospital and that also seemed to offer a bit of relief.

It is advisable to time the contractions even when you are at home but don't get freaked out if they are regular you may still have a long time to go. Alex timed my contractions and they seemed to be 5 to 10 minutes apart throughout my whole labour. As time progressed the pain that I was experiencing seemed to come from the lower back, like period pains that you get in the lower back. The pain would then move to the front and then it would feel like a grippe tummy. I was told by quite a few people to relax into the pain but I found this extremely hard to do but once I was at the hospital and knew this was it I was in labour I think I stopped fighting the pain and went with it. A thought that kept going through my head as each contraction came on was that this would only last a few seconds and then it will be gone until the next one.

Before we decided this was it and we were going to the hospital I called my community midwife to have a chat with her and she advised me to call the delivery suite at the hospital. When you call the hospital they ask you lots of different questions and keep you on the phone for about 10 minutes. In this time they are assessing your pain and seeing how many contractions you have whilst talking to them. From this information they tell you whether to come to the hospital or whether you should wait and call back in an hour or two.

At the hospital you are faced with all the options for the birth, natural, pain killers, gas and air, epidural. Once settled in the delivery suite a midwife hooks you up to a monitor to monitor the baby's heart, takes your blood pressure, urine sample and temperature. She then checks on you every 15-20 minutes. She then runs through with you your options for the birth and what you would like to happen. I wanted to go natural, drug free as far as possible.

I used the TENS machine which seemed to work in the early parts of labour but I found that the gas and air was far more effective. I was told by a friend that when taking the gas and air not to be scared of it, inhale a big deep mouth full. I did just that and it seemed to work. It does not smell or taste of anything but for it to work you need to be able to inhale it properly. I found that the gas and air was what got me through. I used the gas and air right up until the last half hour before the baby was born.

Another thing that was offered was a birthing ball, this gave me slight relief to sit on it but I think Alex spent more time on it than I did.

I declined having an epidural so I cannot tell you what it is like. The only thing I can say is that I came home the day Amélie was born and my midwife said to me that if I had had an epidural then I would not have gone home that day.

I ended up having pethidine which I must say was not too pleasant, it made me very sleepy and Alex said I looked extremely ill with it. Not long after having the pethidine I went into the final stage of labour. The pethidine is given to you as an injection in your leg and works pretty quickly. It caused me some problems with the final stages of labour as it made me so drowsy I had no energy to push and the baby was going in and out instead of moving forward down the birthing canal.

I knew when the baby was about to start making her way into the world. It felt like my insides were about to fall through my bottom. When it was time to push the midwife tells you to push. It is weird you have to push from your chest. The midwife will tell you to push and you need to push several times during one contraction not once per contraction as this can cause the baby to move forwards and then backwards. The feeling that I experienced when the baby was on its way out was a deep burning sensation.

I must say it was all worth it the full 27 hours. I would definitely go through it all again without a doubt and that decision I made only hours after our baby daughter was born.