The comparison between my first and second labour’s and births and what I learnt. I have written this down for myself so I will always be able to look back over my birth stories, but I also wanted to share my experiences in the hope that someone will be able to take something away from it. My first birth I was induced at 40+7 days, and my second birth was a natural water birth at 40+3 days. Both births were completely different births, at completely different times in my life. Reflecting on both my births the main thing that stood out for me was the power of your mindset, and how for me it played a very big role in how my births went. I think it is also important to know that I was very lucky both times in the fact that I had no problems or complications throughout my pregnancies or births. Again this is just my experience, you take from it what you will.
My first birth:
My first birth I was 20 years old, I had an uncomplicated pregnancy with no problems or complications. I was in the midst of a very stressful situation where my partner was undergoing chemotherapy and battling cancer. I worked all the way up until 2 weeks before my due date and overall gained 17kgs. I had the mindset that “I was eating for two” and would often come home after a long day at work and gorge down dinner followed by a pack of Tim-Tams (DEFS DON’T RECOMMEND). Although I lost over half of that weight in the birth suit (fluid, baby-8p13oz, placenta), I still had approx. 9 kilos to lose. One thing I very quickly learnt is that it was very difficult to lose weight post baby and I think it took me almost 6-7 months to be back to my pre pregnancy weight.
As my partner was undergoing treatment in Brisbane, he was only able to come home for about 10 days between treatments for the birth of his son. Due to this strict timeline, it was decided that we would be induced so that he wouldn’t miss the birth, or meeting his son before returning to Brisbane for the last 8 weeks of treatment.
At 40+6 we went to the hospital to be induced. At 4pm in the afternoon when we were finally taken in it was discovered that I was 2cm dilated. As I couldn’t feel the contractions the machine was saying I was having I had the gel inserted in order to get this baby moving along. I don’t really recall too much happening until 9pm that night when the contractions were starting to cause some discomfort. I tried having a bath in order to ‘lose gravity’, however felt more like a whale in a bath tub and couldn’t fully submerge (Lucky the Cairns Base has new birthing suits now). As much as I was set on having no pain relief, by about 1am I had decided that I wanted a pethidine injection as the contractions were extremely painful and I wasn’t getting much of a break between contractions, I was also only 4cm dilated and felt super defeated. Unlucky for me my body didn’t respond well to the pethidine and I spent the next 45mins throwing my guts up (yep, there was the pizza I had devoured at about 6pm that night). The good thing about the pethidine, I believe, is that even though I was throwing up, I wasn’t feeling the pain and my body was relaxed enough to dialate to about 8cm. This was great, however once that pethidine wore off, contractions were back twice as painful as before. From then I labored until approx. 3.30am when I had the urge to push. So up I got on the hospital bed. I can remember constantly looking up at the clock above my head as I wanted to know what time my baby was born (probs should have been focusing at the task on hand but anywho). Well, it took a whole hour of pushing my sons head out (yeah, was not expecting that), and his body popped out straight after his head was finally out. Born 4.25am on 04/10/12. Injection to have the placenta come out and 2 stitches later we were done in that birthing suit. The midwife I had was amazing; she stayed throughout the whole birth and was super lovely. The midwives down on the ward (for the 1 night I stayed in) were pretty awful. So after a pretty stressful birth (as we had to make sure my partner didn’t over do it and had to have frequent rests) I then was even more stressed out in the hospital with the ladies tending to my son and I with their shitty attitudes and just being plain old rude.
All in all, after this experience I didn’t sum it up as a horrible birth, I was actually quite grateful that I was able to have no complications or problems, I was just super petrified of contractions as they were more painful than actually pushing the baby out.
Unfortunately just over a year later my partner passed away after the cancer returned to his body. I'm not going to extend on this in this blog as i just want to focus on speaking about my births, however i felt the need to say this so it makes sense as to why the next birth is with another man.
Birth one: 7 hours Active Labour
My Second Birth:
My second birth I was 25 years old, I had an uncomplicated pregnancy with no problems or complications. My life is as close to stress free as it gets, I am married to an amazing man, and we live on a beautiful property in the middle of the bush with our darling 5 year old. We built a house on our property just over a year ago and have 100 glorious acres to explore. Again I worked up until 2 weeks before my due date and gained a total of 7 Kilos. This time I was extremely cautious about not gaining unnecessary weight and maintained a predominantly healthy pregnancy whilst going for a walk most afternoons. I weighed myself for the first time 3 weeks post baby and was thrilled to see that I was already back to my pre pregnancy weight. This was super exciting for me as I did not expect my body to bounce back so quickly, especially considering this was my second pregnancy, but it just goes to show that if you eat healthy and exercise a little bit, you wont have much work to do after the baby is born.
At 40+1 I went to the hospital for my checkup with my midwife (This time I went through the Mareeba hospital and had the same midwife the whole way through – absolutely amazing care throughout my pregnancy, birth and after). As my baby was sitting back to back with me I had been having a lot of ‘pre-labour’ contractions. These contractions were not painful at all and would go away usually when I sat down or went to bed. As I had been having these contractions I wanted to know if they were doing anything in regards to dilating my cervix. When I found out that my cervix was showing absolutely no signs of going into labour and being induced being discussed if I made it to 40+10 days I went home feeling extremely defeated. There was absolutely no way I wanted to be induced again and my husband knew that so first thing Saturday morning at 40+3 my husband said “C’mon get up, we’re getting this baby out today”. For the morning we headed over to the shed to finish tidying it up and move a few things around ready for the next lot of work that needed to be done. After that we went swimming at Lake Eacham; as I needed to float in water in order to tilt my pelvis to give the baby more room to spin around (basically a noodle under my arms and a noodle under my ankles with my belly hanging in the water). After this we headed home and I said to my husband that I felt something was happening and suggested we go for a walk. We walked about 4km before returning home at around 6pm. I could definitely still feel as if something was happening so I kept active and did washing, folding and all kinds of housework whilst my husband cooked dinner. Should probably also mention that the old wives tale of ‘how the baby got I there is how you get the baby out of there’, is also another way to help soften your cervix and get it to dilate ;). At around 8 pm I said to my husband that I thought I was in labour as I was having contractions but they were only very mild and I wasn’t sure if they were the pre labour contractions or real contractions. After a few more and seeing that they were coming at 5 minutes apart, and a tad of pain with them I rang my midwife to see what she thought. As our plan all along was that I would go to hospital at 5 minutes apart (as we live a fair way from the hospital), we decided that we would head into the hospital. Upon arrival we did many checks and I was certainly in labour, the contractions just weren’t very painful at all. We decided to stay at the hospital just to be safe and labour there, as we weren’t sure if it was going to be quick or not and didn’t want to take any chances.
As I was afraid of my contractions going away I kept walking around and bouncing on the yoga ball. At 11pm I started to feel pain with my contractions and decided to go jump in the shower so the hot water would ease some of the discomfort. From 11pm-3am I labored in the shower with the contractions increasing in pain and going from 5 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart. I had my husband hitting the ‘lap’ button on the IPhone timer, as I wanted to know exactly how far apart my contractions were. When a contraction would be a little bit further apart I would start to stress, and my husband could see it on my face as he would straight away remind me to breath and relax. I definitely believe this was one extremely beneficial component of my birth because the more I would go to stress, the more my body would tense and the more painful the contraction would be. The more I relaxed and breathed, the easier it was to get through a contraction. At 3am the midwife let us know that the birthing spa was filled and ready when I was. I said I’d see how the next few contractions were as I didn’t want to get in to early. At 3.30am I asked the midwife if she could check to see how dilated I was. I wanted to know so I could make the decision if I was going to continue the labour in the shower, or if I were close to birthing, then I would hop in the birthing spa. As I walked out into the room I had another contraction where the midwife said, “I don’t need to check, I can see you’re ready to go”. I walked over to the spa when another contraction came. After that passed I stepped into the spa and submerged myself. Straight away I said “I need to push, pass me the gas”. The first two contractions I breathed through and resisted the urge to push, how, I’m not sure, but I could still remember being told not to push until fully dilated or you’ll tear internally- so I guess that’s what I was focused on. At the beginning of my pregnancy, my husband was quite disappointed when he was informed it was the midwife who delivers the baby, not the father (crazy I know). So when my first push happened the midwife said to my husband “it’s all yours if you want to deliver your baby Ben”. Ben slid straight into the spa behind me (as I was on my knees resting my arms on the edge of the spa), and followed the instructions of the midwife. Please note we were previously informed he would be able to do this providing there were absolutely no complications. The midwife was next to Ben watching everything with a mirror. She explained which way the head would turn and that on the next push the rest of baby would be born. Next push came and out popped baby straight into Ben’s hands. He got to pass him straight to me and we lifted our son up out of the water at 4.05am on 15/04/2018. Ben got to clamp and cut the umbilical cord, which he was super stoked about. The midwives at Mareeba hospital were nothing short of freaking amazing. The care that we received was incredible. Our midwife was with us from the very beginning to the very end. She was informative, listened to what we wanted and seriously made it possible for us to have the perfect birth we were after.
I walked away from this birth feeling extremely empowered and grateful for how amazing the female body is. My body did everything it was supposed to and was a textbook perfect water birth. I had no stitches and my body was nowhere near as sore as it was the first time around. I found that a natural birth is sooo much easier than being induced. Something I never knew was when you are induced contractions and pains are constant, however when you go naturally you get the breaks to relax between contractions- yeeeha!
Birth two: 5 hours Active Labour
Stomach muscles- Something I didn’t know about until after my first birth and something really important – take care of your stomach muscles! It wasn’t something I was even made aware of until about a month after having my first son. I was having a lot of back pain and was unsure as to why, so I booked an appointment with a physiotherapist. It was there that I discovered that my stomach muscles were 2 cm separated and I was given many exercises to try and get them back together-or as close to back together as they would go. I spent around 6 months going to physiotherapy every fortnight and doing daily exercises in order to strengthen my core and get these muscles back together.
My second pregnancy – as I was now aware that this was even a thing, I did everything I could to help support these muscles. My midwife checked my stomach muscles at approx. 24 weeks to which we discovered that they were already quite separated. I went for one physio appointment and discussed all the things to avoid whilst pregnant in order to take as much pressure off as I could. I also invested in a pregnancy support band, which I wore 5 days a week (at work). On the weekends I would just wear a light compression band around my belly. I also did many light exercises for my core and avoided engaging these muscles as much as I could. Basically when going from a laying down position to a sitting position, don’t just sit up (using your stomach muscles as you usually would) roll to your side and use your arms to push yourself up). I was extremely conscious of this, as I knew how hard it was to get them back together after birth. Luckily for me after my second son my stomach muscles were 3 cm apart straight after birth, but went down to 1cm within two weeks. Another reason why I can now see just how important it is to take care of your body, then it will take care of you.
I also did a lot pelvic floor exercises pre, during and post pregnancy. One way I guarantee you will do these daily is to simply Google a prolapse… #youarewelcome
Well, I think that’s about all I have to write about. Obviously I am not trained or qualified in anything that I have spoken about, and all of this information is my experiences, what I learned, and what I believe. If something resonates with you, then do your own research or speak to someone who is qualified. My experiences could and probably are very different to a lot of people. I absolutely love reading birth stories and learnt a lot of little tips from reading so many of them, feel free to do the same J
Over and out