The surges were intense, however I found vocalising really helped, working and relaxing as much as I could for each one.
May 23 at 1:00am
3.8kg / 52cm
Natural, vaginal birth
We welcomed our sweet boy Finnegan after what I would call an extremely positive birth experience, minus some physical trauma discovered post-birth.
My entire pregnancy was considered low-risk, so I was lucky enough to be considered for the Family Birth Centre at KEMH. Everything was very straight forward, I had a very active and happy babe in my belly! At the end of my pregnancy, I had an appointment with my midwife at the 38 week mark, where my fundal height had increased more than what was expected. An ultrasound was arranged for the following Friday, and I was ready for the “big baby induction” chat. I had the ultrasound and the sonographer advised that his size was perfect, but my fluid levels were very high. I was whisked up to the Maternal Fetal Assessment Unit where a Dr spoke to me about my options.
After waiting hours by myself (this was during WA COVID restrictions so I wasn’t allowed a support person) I was advised to book in an induction the following Tuesday based on my increased risk of cord prolapse. I felt extremely prepared in the lead up to this, feeling very educated on my options, but this all went out the window when I felt as though I had no choice but to go along with the Dr’s recommendation. My chances of a water birth and birthing at the FBC were slim which made this quite difficult for me at the time.
I was then sent on my way to digest all the information I had received and to come up with a plan. The following Monday I had arranged to meet with my midwife who did a VE to check dilation and see baby’s position. I was 1cm and baby was head down. The motif for this was that if the baby was in a good position, my chances of cord prolapse were no different to anybody else. My midwife advocated for this and we cancelled the induction that was scheduled for the next day (I hadn’t even reached my due date of 13/5 yet). The compromise was an appointment with the clinic Dr for a second opinion and frequent CTG monitoring which I was happy to go along with as the last thing I wanted was to be induced in an overly controlled environment.
The GP supported and agreed with my decision to cancel the induction saying it was not necessary and if my fluid levels were stable at the next ultrasound I’d be able to birth at the birth centre. An ultrasound was then arranged when I was 41+1, confirming that my fluid levels had stabilised and baby was still very well. I attended MFAU afterward where I had to have the induction chat again. Nothing was booked this time, however I agreed to a stretch and sweep down at the FBC that afternoon.
After the stretch and sweep I went home and had this overwhelming feeling of tiredness, so went to bed at about 8:30pm. I woke up at 11:30pm that night and started having surges consistently every 10 minutes, until about 8am where they started to ramp up. I used my TENS machine which I found to be quite helpful as I focused on the tingling sensation. The surges were intense, however I found vocalising really helped, working and relaxing as much as I could for each one. I had this visualisation of a white line across my belly that would appear when a surge was coming. This helped me identify and work through them. I didn’t know I was doing this until after the birth. I was still able to talk in between surges, but at about 3:30pm we contacted the midwife as I wasn’t comfortable being at home anymore. As expected the car ride was crappy, but we are only 15 minutes from the centre so it was over very quickly.
I arrived at the FBC at about 4pm where I was checked (I didn’t want to know how dilated I was, just whether I was far enough along to stay and not be sent home). I found out later that at this point I was 6cm, but my midwife couldn’t believe I was still comfortable having a conversation and was expecting to send me home. We were told to stay and perhaps we jump straight in the shower first before heading in the bath. My partner held the shower head on my lower back. I used the bars in the shower to lean on and vocalised through each contraction.
I felt very much in control, but not in my own head. Everything I was doing was instinctual and relaxed. After 3.5 hours standing in the shower we moved to the bath where I was able to hang over the side of the bath and continue to work through the surges. I liked the bath, but felt quite warm and missed the feeling of running water on my back. The midwife came in because my vocalisations had become more guttural and performed a VE which confirmed I was ready to push and to go with what I was feeling. My only sign of transition was vomiting.
I started working with the urges to bear down at about 9pm, but nothing was progressing and the midwives thought it was best if they coached me through them and I hopped out of the bath and back to the room. This was the most intense part of my birth as no matter what position I was in, I felt like he wasn’t moving down. We tried squatting in the shower, laying on the bed, lunging, using a blanket to pull on and bear down but to still no avail.
After trying for what was about 3 hours I was on the clock. The midwives suggested I feel around to see if I could feel the head and I could. This definitely gave me more of a second wind and we went back to the lunge squat position. I remember roaring the entire time and internalising the urge to push to make the most of each surge, but at this point the advice was to get a trolley and be transferred to the hospital. While the other midwife was arranging a trolley, I was able to push his head out, and with one more push he was born. I had a complete cheer squad during this time, everyone was yelling and cheering me on while I mustered up the strength to keep pushing as hard as I could. It was an amazing feeling and the sensation of birth was something I did not find painful or scary. I was saved by the bell and gave birth to my little boy at 1:00am at 41+3. We didn’t know what we were having, and my partner was the one to tell us of our little boy which was very special.
After the birth we had immediate skin to skin and delayed cord clamping. I was also able to have my first feed with him. After we were able to relax a little bit and birthed the placenta, I was examined and I was told I had to go to theatre to be stitched up as I had suffered a 3b tear. Finn and my partner were taken to the ward, where they would wait for me to get out of theatre/recovery. I was told after theatre that they had drained 1.6L of urine initially through a catheter and then another litre. I had suffered severe bladder trauma through an overstretched bladder. I think this may have been why I was having so much trouble pushing and keeping his head down. Bladder vs head!
I was reunited with my partner and Finn at 8am and I stayed in hospital that night, discharged the next afternoon. My tear is healing well, but I still require the catheter for another week due to the severity of the bladder stretch. I would do all of this again in a heartbeat.