Information & Advice
No two births are ever the same, but that still won't stop you wondering what it's going to be like and what will happen when the big day finally arrives. We thought that the people best qualified to tell you are the people who've been through it, so we've asked some of our mums to share their stories. We've gathered stories from women who all have a different story to tell. Some of our mums had pain relief, others didn't, some gave birth at home, others in the birthing pool - we've tried to find as many stories as possible so whatever kind of birth you think you're planning, you can read first-hand what it was like.
My natural birth: Angela's story
I had always known from the beginning of my pregnancy that I wanted a natural birth with no pain relief but still wanted to have the security of being in a hospital should anything go wrong.
When my labour started at home, I didn't really believe I was in labour, despite already being a week overdue! My contractions were irregular so I was managing to breathe through them, convinced they were Braxton Hicks! After a few hours, it was obvious that this was 'it' and I used my TENS machine to help with the pain, which, by now, was getting uncomfortable. I wanted to spend as much of my labour time at home as possible so I paced the bedroom trying to breathe deeply and be calm.
After around four hours of labour, the contractions felt much stronger. I decided to have a bath, but when I got into the water it intensified my contractions so much I lasted about five minutes before having to get out. My waters promptly broke and we decided now was maybe a good time to go into hospital!
On arrival at hospital, the midwife didn't even need to examine me - I needed to start pushing straight away and so, after trying out a few birthing positions I settled for kneeling on the bed and started to push. My TENS machine was fantastic for the contractions and I was able to cope just using that. After 30 minutes my daughter was born and it was all over! It had hurt, yes, but my body had done what it was supposed to do and I was now blessed with a beautiful little girl.
My long labour: Louise's story
I was overdue, had been for a 'sweep' and was booked in to be induced when my waters broke at 6am. I rang the hospital who suggested that I pop down for an examination where I was monitored for most of the morning because my blood pressure was high. I was eventually allowed to go home later in the afternoon.
At lunchtime I was sent home to wait for the contractions to kick in but it wasn't until early evening that my contractions started and I went to hospital. I had gas and air to help, however a 2am examination revealed I was only 2cm dilated so I was sent home again. The four hours that followed at home were the hardest of all because I was in a lot of pain and I didn't have the gas and air to help me. When we arrived back at hospital at 6am, I was sick so I asked for some stronger pain relief, which arrived a few hours later. I had a shot of morphine and then later in the day I had an epidural, which definitely helped me.
Towards late afternoon I was given medication to move the labour along because I still wasn't dilated enough to push and there were concerns that my blood pressure was too high. After a very long and tiring 36 hours (for me and my husband!) I started pushing at 7.30pm. After an hour of pushing my beautiful daughter finally arrived! My husband cut the umbilical cord and there were smiles and tears all round.
My water birth: Carrie's story
As soon as I heard of the idea of a water birth, I knew that it appealed to me. I'm not sure why, although I always remembered how soothing a warm bath was when I had terrible period pains as a teen, so perhaps I felt that it would be a good, natural pain reliever. When it came to the day, I went into labour at about 2am and the contractions were really hard and painful right from the word go, coming every five minutes to start with. I lasted at home until around 7 or 8am and then we went to the hospital. I had already stated on my birth plan that I'd like a water birth, so was really relieved when the pool at the hospital was free for me.
I found the water really helped relax me, I could move around, and had a sense of weightlessness, all of which was great especially as my son was positioned with his spine against mine, which meant my contraction pains felt concentrated in my lower back. I had some gas and air to help with the pain, and my husband, Matt could be close by my side and spent a lot of time rubbing my back!
Charlie was eventually born at 3pm in the water (which I know not all hospitals practise) and it really was an amazing experience. So much so, that when my second son came I wanted to do it in exactly the same way and was disappointed when I couldn't, because he came so quickly!
My unexpected birth: Helen's story
At about a week overdue, my contractions started late one evening and on arrival at hospital I was only 2cm dilated so was sent home. I was expecting a long drawn out labour like I'd had with my first baby but on the car journey home the pain felt really difficult to manage – how was it going to feel when I was fully dilated if this is what 2cm felt like?
However back at home, I could feel something scarily like a head pushing out! Yelling for my husband to come quickly, he managed to get me into a lying down position and indeed could see the top of the baby's head! He rang the emergency services who began guiding him through the birth and fortunately, after about 10 minutes of pushing, a paramedic screeched into the drive (they knew which house it was as they could hear the screams from down the road!), raced into the house and, with one final push, our beautiful daughter was born into the world onto the hallway carpet!
After the cord had been cut, we all sat on the hallway stairs drinking a cup of tea, feeling rather bemused and shell-shocked by the whole experience. It was certainly a birthing story to remember!
My home birth: Andy's story
I wanted a home birth but unfortunately my first child's labour was very long and difficult in hospital and left me feeling that giving birth was a traumatic experience. So with my second pregnancy, I opted to try for a home birth again and was genuinely surprised to find it a deeply empowering experience.
I woke early morning with very strong, but erratic, contractions and, convinced they were just Braxton Hicks contractions, I decided to just ignore the pain. However, a few hours later, my groans woke my husband up and, as I was feeling less settled, we decided to go downstairs for a change of scenery. By now, my contractions were very regular and only two minutes apart. My midwife was called and she arrived at speed!
My labour seem to come fast and furiously and by this time I was having very strong, 'leave me alone' contractions. My midwife was fantastic. She knew what I wanted as we'd met and chatted about my hopes and dreams for this birthing.
Finally, a few hours later, just as the sun was coming up, my daughter was born. Her umbilical cord was wrapped around her chest so I unwound it and brought her up to me. I couldn't have wished for a better experience and I feel extremely blessed that I had such a competent midwife with so much insight and wisdom.
My C-Section: Claire's story
After complications with my first birth I was advised to have a C-section for the delivery of my second baby. At 33 weeks I went for a final scan and my consultant set the date for the day after my first daughter's birthday! Following a fairly sleepless night, the big day arrived. We had been told to get to the delivery suite by 9am. A good friend came too as support for my rather squeamish husband. We were shown to a room to get gowned up and introduced to the midwife and surgical team. Then I was taken into theatre for the epidural. I sat leaning forward while the needle was inserted into my spine. I was worried I would jump but it was uncomfortable rather than painful and all went to plan.
Soon the theatre was full of staff, drips were set up, a screen put in place and last checks done on the epidural. I was very nervous but the anaesthetist and my friend chatted away to me and kept me calm while the surgeons did what felt like washing up in my tummy. Meanwhile my favourite tunes played on the theatre iPod. In what seemed like no time my husband was shown in for the birth itself. He sat by my head and held my hand. Suddenly there was the unmistakable cry of a newborn and our beautiful daughter was passed straight over the screen and laid on my chest. We both wept with delight and relief – the best feeling in the world.
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