I met the beautiful Erin, and her partner, Mario, when they attended one of my group classes to work towards a positive birth. Throughout her pregnancy, Erin moved through feeling fearful and overwhelmed to feeling empowered and trusting her body and her baby.
Read on to hear Erin’s experience of a quick, and empowered hospital birth with a labour that started with her waters breaking!
Here is her story…
I got pregnant quickly and easily and felt so happy and grateful. I was surprised by how difficult I found pregnancy, I thought wanting it so badly would protect me.
I had a straightforward pregnancy but struggled with low iron, pelvis pain, insomnia and some really big feelings.
When I started my antenatal appointments at the hospital at 20 weeks I immediately started doubting my body. I was told I was having a big baby, at risk of pre-eclampsia. I was told being overweight was a risk factor for early induction. I left every appointment feeling ashamed and incompetent.
By 34 weeks I was really struggling emotionally. I wasn’t sleeping, I was in pain and I felt overwhelmed with fear about the possibility of medical interventions. I was fearful and fixated on the prospect of induction.
I finished up work at 36 weeks and tried to rest. I couldn’t sit still and felt so uneasy all week.
On Monday I had an antenatal appointment, my blood pressure was slightly high and I was told I would likely be induced that Friday, my worst nightmare.
That night I slept for 12 hours, I woke feeling well. I had no pain and felt like myself again. I cleaned the house, went grocery shopping and made soup. I went for a walk with my husband that night and told him I thought the baby would come in the next few days.
At 8pm that night, while folding baby clothes and watching twilight (embarrassing) I started to feel a bit sore in my stomach. I got up to go to the toilet and my waters broke. I went to the toilet and more came out. I came out of the bathroom and while standing in front of my husband they burst so dramatically.
I’ve never seen my husband move so fast. I got super calm immediately, it was like I was in a dream.
I had a shower, listened to music and walked around the house. My husband meanwhile was panicking, packing my bag, calling the hospital etc. He was in such a panic that he packed a whole bag of random food from the pantry including microwaveable rice cups and cans on tuna.
We got to the hospital and parked about a kilometre away. I wanted to walk and enjoy the night air, I felt really happy. I took photos at the entrance of the hospital and was making jokes. I felt sure (and hoped) I would be sent home.
In the assessment ward I had to lie down so they could monitor baby’s heart. Baby kept moving, his heart wasn’t accelerating. I didn’t feel worried, I could feel him moving and I knew he was okay.
I started to feel increasingly uncomfortable and wanted to move around. I was pacing the corridor of the assessment ward and thinking to myself that labour might be beginning.
As it turns out, I was already 5cms.
We were admitted into the labour ward and the midwife insisted on continuing to monitor the baby’s heart rate. I was getting increasingly irritable and uncomfortable. I knew my baby was okay, I needed to get off the bed and into the shower.
The midwife offered us tea and I remember looking at her like she was absolutely crazy.
I went into the shower and our midwife left for her tea break. My husband poured water on my back and I leaned into the corner of the shower. The contractions were coming on back to back, I couldn’t catch my breathe.
I felt overwhelmed and hopeless – how could I do this for 12 hours? I moved from the shower to the toilet to the birthing ball. I couldn’t get comfortable, I was sure I could feel his head descending low into my pelvis.
I started to think that I’d like to go home and have a rest. I begged my husband to go get the car and take me home for a quick sleep. I was then overwhelmed by a contraction. I was startled by my own screaming. I was out of my body looking down.
Two midwives ran in and moved me to the bed. They tried to examine me but I couldn’t stop twisting and writhing and screaming – I was pushing involuntarily.
The midwives cut my undies off and said “this baby is coming right now”.
It had been two hours since arriving at the hospital. I jumped off the bed (probably didn’t jump but that’s how it felt!).
Squatting next to the bed and leaning against the bed I continued to push. The midwives kept telling me the baby was just around the corner so I imagined a road in the mountains with twisty corners. I reached down and could feel his head covered in hair.
I screamed “I can’t” over and over, not the mantra I expected but it seemed to help me focus. The midwives told me to stop screaming, I told them to F off.
I moved to my knees and three contractions later I pushed my baby out straight into my arms and up onto my chest.
He looked exactly how I imagined. I felt overwhelming relief and strength. Even immediately after birth I felt better than I had in the whole third trimester of pregnancy. I felt so proud of my body and so strong. I brought my baby here. I did this. 4 hours of labour, no drugs and no tears.
The midwives told me I should have had a home birth and I agree with them. I wanted a home birth but during my pregnancy every medical person made me feel afraid and doubtful. All the midwives in the maternity ward came in to tell me they had heard what an amazing birth i’d had and that I should be proud.
I wonder why that kind of encouragement wasn’t around while I was pregnant and needed it the most?