If you are trying for a baby or are pregnant, then you are bound to be curious about what the labour and birth might be like. We are currently collating stories from our customers so if you would like to share your story with us, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I was a 'hypnobirthing' student, which was a fantastic way to prepare for the birth of my son. It involves the idea that all our lives we have been bombarded with images and stories that birth is painful, which leads us to fear birth, making us tense up and resist what our bodies are trying to do, which in turn causes the pain that we have been told about again and again. It uses a mixture of in depth knowledge of the birthing process, and hypnosis, to remove the fear, and then gives you breathing exercises which help your body to birth your baby.
Charlie is my first baby and it is difficult to imagine giving birth until you actually experience it. I was induced with a pessary, and felt short, sharp contractions very low down, within an hour of it being given to me. This took me by surprise and I found it hard to relax and let my body do the work. I had some gas and air at this stage, and an omnipom injection.
The contractions came every 40 seconds to a minute, and I thought I was surely on my way, but when I was checked I was only 2cm dilated. As the pessary uses a chemical to soften the neck of the cervix, it was this that I was feeling, and not proper contractions. I was then worried that I would be in it for the long haul, but only 2 hours later, I was with my husband and using a birthing ball to remain comfortable, when all of a sudden I felt the urge to push!
My husband called the midwife, who looked a bit shocked when she checked me and said that the baby was on his way! I was wheeled into delivery still with the ball on my bed and in the delivery suite they put mats on the floor and I went on my knees, leaning over the bed, with my husband beside me the whole time. My waters didn't break until just before Charlie was born, and the whole thing was very quick. My husband tells me that he put my music on and asked for the lights to be dimmed as per my birth plan, but at the time I wouldn't have cared if I was in the middle of a shopping centre! It was a very intense experience but I can honestly say that it was the most beautiful experience of my life, and that it wasn't painful at all.
Once Charlie was born I lifted him and held him close while the midwives helped me on to the bed. The placenta was delivered naturally and then Charlie cuddled and fed from me while my stitches were completed, which I hardly felt as I was concentrating on the wonderful baby in my arms.
My whole labour lasted only 4 1/2 hours and the only thing I will do differently next time is to listen to the midwives when at the very end they ask you to stop pushing so that you can let the head come out gradually so that you don't tear, but this time I was just too excited to meet my little miracle!
Gemma and Charlie (now 7 months)
Last year I gave birth to my second child in October. It was certainly a different experience to having my first! It just goes to show that they all vary so much.
I was two weeks early and through the night I felt my waters break. They had broken when I had my son so I knew what it felt like - you couldn't miss it! I have Strep B so if my waters break and I don't go into labour quite soon after, they have to induce the birth. So the neighbours rushed over and I went to hospital. When I got there I needed the loo but was so desperate to be told the good news that I was about to have my baby (believe me, I was ready!) that I didn't go. When they did the speculum I weed slightly and was told to go home as my waters hadn't broken, I had just wet myself. As you can imagine, I was distraught. Not only was I convinced my waters had broken but now they were telling me I was incontinent!
For the next 2 days there was a steady trickle of fluid and the odd gush, but each time I was told to go home as they thought I had wet myself. On the 3rd day I began to bleed quite heavily and went straight in .They kept me there for the night as they thought I had had a heavy show and the midwife on duty finally believed me about my waters. My husband went home and I stayed up on the ward. Very early the next morning I felt the awful dull ache of my first contractions. They were getting quite strong by the time my husband could come back onto the ward and one of the auxiliary nurses asked a midwife to examine me. I was trying to keep as upright and as mobile as possible as I had remembered from the birth of my son that lying down slowed everything up (42 hours I was in labour with him!) The midwife did the dreaded internal and told me that I was 3cm dilated and because of that I was in 'established' labour and could go to the delivery rooms. This was at 12 noon. I was wheeled down and told my husband to go to the car to get all the bags out. But as he went to leave my contractions got worse. The midwife gave me pethidine, which had worked wonderfully for my first birth but didn't make a dent in this one. Shortly later I was on gas and air. At 2pm she examined me again and said that I was still only 3cm and she could feel some 'digits' protruding through my cervix. The doctor came in and gave me a portable ultrasound to see if the baby was breech but thankfully it wasn't and only had its arm above its head.
We were told to settle in as I was still only 3cm but my contractions were getting stronger and there was no break between them. I was delirious with the gas and air and screaming for an epidural. They tried to insert the catheter ready to give me an epidural but at that moment only 22 minutes later I started to push. I had gone from 3cm to fully dilated in 22 minutes and the midwives didn't even have time to get their towels out! Within 4 pushes my baby girl was born weighing in at 6lb 3oz. She lay on my chest and opened one sticky eye to have a look. She began to shiver so the midwife put a towel over her. I didn't even notice the placenta being delivered. We were left alone to cuddle and get to know each other and my husband and I were quite emotional. I think he was in as much shock as I was. We couldn't believe we had a daughter to add to our family.
Gill Roberts, Skipton
My birth was a wonderful experience. I believe the key word to my enjoyment of it and of my husband's support was this: epidural.
Having been duly frightened by NCT associations of epidural with forceps and ventouse, I had momentarily hesitated and dreamed of attempting a natural birth. However, my friends had all eventually had an epidural, and most had told me that it was not painful to let it wear out at the end in order to push.
I was fortunate to have a consultant and an anesthetist who accepted my wishes and my birthplan, which included avoiding oxytocin unless strictly necessary.( I was given oxytocin with my consent when I was 10 cm and the contractions started to slow down( I could see it in the chart). They restarted immediately after that.
I broke my waters at home in the night, and waited until my contractions were coming every minute to go to the hospital. I had lasted through the night by taking a bath at home, and by the time I got to the hospital I was 4 cm already. After that I was given an epidural within the hour. The contrast of this blissful feeling with the pain until then was indescribable. I felt high. The only surprise effect of the epidural was itching in my legs, as a result of the morphine component. It was nothing, however, compared to the contractions.
I had a button in my hand that allowed me to add more anesthetic throughout my 11 hour labour( poor hubby was very bored, while I blissfully dozed away) every so often. When I was 9 cm I tried to see how it felt not to press the button anymore. I definitely felt the contractions, but they did not hurt.
As soon as I felt pressure on my lower back I was told I was ready to push. The midwife and the consultant told me how to use the contractions in order to help me push. This was the hardest part of the birth. I thought I would not make it. I am pretty fit but this was a big effort. It helped that I had rested until then. The baby was out in about 10 minutes and the doctor put her on my chest before even cutting the cord. I felt the highest sense of achievement I could remember.
Having had such a long labour, my baby came out with a long head and a very swollen set of eyes. It was all gone within a week and she was beautiful (although I expect every Mum says that!)
My recommendation to anyone is: be clear about what you want from the start and get a low dose epidural. An epidural will not take away from the experience: you will still feel the terrible contractions until it is administered. All the epidural will do is let you enjoy the experience.
I had a lovely birth experience and would gladly share my story I have a very good friend who is a midwife and so I had plenty of support throughout my whole pregnancy. She had suggested a home birth which at first I was dubious about especially as it was my first pregnancy but after discussing it with my husband we decided it was the best option for us. I went into labour on the 18th December at home and my mum and husband were there supporting me until my friend and the other midwife came in the early hours of the morning. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and they just let me do what felt natural to me. I did a lot of moving around and my breathing technique helped me a lot. There was hardly any intervention at all and at 9.15 am on the 19th December 2007 our beautiful daughter Charlotte Grace was born she was as bright as a button weighing 7lb 7oz and she came on her due date!! I was very proud of myself as I used the TENS machine which was fantastic and a bit of gas and air. I would recommend a home birth to anyone.
My consultant decided I needed to be induced, so my husband and I went to the hospital all ready to have our baby! I was given a pessary, and a couple of hours later my contractions started - much faster than anticipated. I strapped on my tens machine and ended up using it through the whole labour. I don't know if it actually helped with the pain, but it certainly distracted me from it.
I had back labour, which I found to be very painful, much more painful than I had anticipated. There wasn't a free delivery suite as I had started labour much earlier than anticipated, so had no access to any pain relief (gas and air didn't work although my husband quite like it!). So I ended up taking a warm bath, and accidentally electrocuted my husband as I didn't think to turn off my tens machine when he took the pads off to get me ready for the bath. He didn't say much about that at the time, and seemed to understand that I was a little too distracted to think about something like that...
Four hours after I was induced I moved up to the delivery suite. At that point I was only 2 cm dilated, so was put on the drip. I was given an epidural first as I had been warned that being induced with the drip could be very painful but could move things so quickly that there would be no time for an epidural, so I made sure I got an epidural first.
My contractions continued to be irregular and very painful, and I found I was still experiencing a lot of pain even though my epidural was being topped up every 30 minutes. I was told this was because I was having back labour due to my baby being back-to-back, and that there was nothing more they could do for me as the pain would go away once the baby had turned.
Six hours later my waters were broken and and soon after I started to push as I was fully dilated. But my baby's heart rate dropped every time I pushed, and then stayed down, so we waited the requisite 10 minutes to see if it would recover. My husband and I watched the monitor the whole time to see of the heart rate would get better, as we were told that if it didn't I would have an immediate caesarian. At nine minutes the heart rate went back to normal, but then dropped again a minute later. My husband and I were terrified as we didn't know what was wrong with our baby. I was whisked into an operating theater while my husband went to change into scrubs. I was given a full spinal block (and then felt no pain at all) and my consultant told me she would give me two chances to push my baby out or they would do a c-section.
So with 14 people standing around, my husband holding my hand, I pushed with everything I had, but couldn't really feel anything and so don't think I was pushing the right way... I tried again but nothing... I was then given an episiotomy and my consultant used the forceps and pulled out our baby girl! She was perfect, but I couldn't hold her for very long as I was shaking so hard, and couldn't stop crying. I think my relief at her being okay just overwhelmed me... My husband got to hold her for about an hour while I was sewn up, and today says that those 60 minutes holding his daughter is one of his best memories.
My delivery didn't follow my birth plan at all, but at the end of the day the only thing we wanted was to have a healthy baby, and 14 hours after I was induced we had a beautiful baby girl. You can't ask for more than that!
Amy Thompson, Surrey
I was six days overdue and had some acupuncture to speed things up (and avoid intervention if possible). After two treatments, my waters broke at 6a.m., and in fact seemed to continue to break throughout the day. My husbandand I went to the hospital which they first broke (as requested) who checked that all was ok, and then sent us home asking us to let them know of any progress. At about 6pm that day my contractions started and they got steadily closer together as the evening went on. i used a birthing ball and carried out yoga breathing during the contractions which really helped. We phoned the hospital, when contractions were more frequent. They told me to rest between contractions which amazingly managed to do by lying in bed and listening to relaxing music. When the contractions were more intense (and I felt that I almost wanted to push) , my husband called the hospital. they felt that it was still too early for us to go it given that it was a first child and labort is normally longer. However on insistence they said that we could go in and they would monitor us... after a rather speedy journey to the hospital at about 4 a.m. , we arrived and i was told that I was 9 3/4 cm dilated and could begin to push ...the staff were fantastic, looked after us so well and an hour later our gorgeous baby boy arrived!
It was 2 weeks before my due date and couldn't walk due to the swelling in my legs & feet (it was the end of August and very, very hot). I woke up on the morning of Aug 23 around 9am and when I rolled over I felt a little gush of water like I had wet myself a little bit. I called the hospital who told me to come right in. I made sure to have a shower & shave my legs before I went, though! When I got there they found out that I wasn't dilated at all so they hooked me up to the petocin (sp?) to induce labour. I was terrified of what the pain would be like so I asked for an epidural immediately but they told me I had to have a contraction before I could have one. Before long I started having severe contractions that didn't stop at all. I tried breathing exercises and the nurse gave me a shot of demeral but neither did ANYTHING for the pain. After about two hours of labouring they gave me an epidural and within a few minutes I felt terrific. I didn't feel any pain at all and was able to sleep on and off throughout the night. They kept checking me with an ice cube to see how frozen I was and any time I started feeling any contractions they gave me more epidural. At about 4am the next morning the nurse checked and said I was close to 10 cm dilated so they started preparing the room for delivery. I was lucky to be in a beautiful birthing room and didn't have to leave at any time. When it was time to push they said that they wanted to turn down the epidural but I protested so much that they let me try pushing with the epidural at full strength. I pushed so hard for fear that they would take away the epidural that I cracked my tailbone although I didn't feel anything at the time. They gave me a mirror to watch the delivery and I ended up pushing for about an hour before Charlie was born at a health lbs. 10oz. I remember feeling exhausted and it seemed very surreal to be holding our baby. I nursed her for the first time but spent more time just holding her & looking at her while they finished up down below!
My second baby was due on Dec 30, 08 and I went for a routing check up on Dec 21st. The resident who examined me seemed concerned about the babies position and the doctor soon confirmed that the baby had moved into a breech position. I'm not sure when this happened as all my checkups throughout my pregnancy had shown the baby to be head down. The doctor told me that they had to do a C-section as soon as possible. They tried to get me into an operating room that night but nothing was available so the doctor booked me in for Dec 23 at am. We arrived at the hospital and checked into the birthing centre early on the 23rd and was examined again to check the baby's heartbeat, position, etc. I wasn't dilated at all at this point. They started preparing me for surgery and soon I was sitting in the operating room wearing a hospital gown and a lovely head cover. I was given a spinal tap which was only slightly painful and my legs immediately went numb. I was soon lying down with an intravenous and heart monitor (I was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in both of my pregnancies) and given oxygen & gravol to help with the nausea. They told me that I might feel some pressure but I didn't feel anything at all and before I knew it they had brought our baby around the curtain to meet us. Owen was born weighing 7lbs 12 oz. I felt fantastic after delivery (must have been the drugs) and remember feeling so peaceful and happy as Owen and I laid together and I nursed him for the first time.