The Birth – Part 1

So, I promised you I would give you a full rundown of the birth, all 3 and a half hours of it. It’s funny, whenever I tell people the length of the labour, I get a resounding “you’re so lucky!”, and then when I try to explain that speed doesn’t necessarily improve the experience, I get a “yeah, but better than a 20 hour labour!”. I feel like I’m being ungrateful for feeling like 3.5 hours was far too much, too fast. It was certainly better than enduring the pain for some horrifically long stretch, but when I mention that I wouldn’t have minded another hour or so, just so I could come to terms with what I was going through at the time, I get scoffs and faces full of disbelief. The only people who have given me sympathetic responses are those that have also been through a similar experience.

Now, don’t get me wrong – everything went according to plan in terms of a normal labour, and my beautiful Birdie was born wide eyed and healthy. I am enormously thankful for that. But I do want to take the shine off the short labour a little, because I was in a panic for much of that time. I didn’t know how far progressed I was, couldn’t tell what stage of labour I was in, and everything was moving so fast my contractions were back to back for most of the labour. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.

On Friday night, at around 10pm, I was hanging some pictures in the nursery when I felt a trickle. Mr Nester had a friend over, and they were happily playing video games in the lounge room. I had a moment where I thought “Ooh. I wonder if that’s anything?”. I headed to the toilet to check, and it was a decent amount of liquid, and had a bit of a funky smell (if you’ve read the books, you’ll know that amniotic fluid apparently smells like semen. I can confirm this. Ick.). I thought I’d wait it out, it could be nothing, and I hadn’t been having any contractions yet. About half an hour later, I had another trickle, this time with a pink tinge. By this point, Mr Nester’s friend had gone home, and he wandered over to see what was happening with me. Our actual conversation was:

Mr Nester: “How are you getting on?”

Me: “Good, I think my water just broke…”

Mr Nester: “nfewghwb uono3iqnojq!!!!!”

And so, he suggested I call the hospital. I explained the situation, and they advised to come in to get checked out, at which point they would likely send me home until I was in active labour.

We already had everything packed, so it was just a case of driving the 15 minutes to the hospital. On the way, I had 2 contractions, about 12 minutes apart. We were told to go to Emergency for our check up, and waited about 15 minutes before we were admitted. I had another 3 contractions in this time, now about 8 minutes apart. They weren’t actually all that bad, just a building pressure and a bit of pain at the peak. My main issue was discomfort – I couldn’t stay sitting down, and so I paced around the waiting area.

Once we were in, I had a check up (blood pressure, pulse etc) and they took a sample to check if it was amniotic fluid I was leaking. While we waited for the results, they put us into a room by ourselves, and said they would check on us soon. By now, my contractions were 5 minutes apart, and by the time we’d been at the hospital for 45 minutes, they were 3 minutes apart. By this stage, I was having a lot of difficulty focusing on anything but the contractions, and the nurses were monitoring me with a band across my stomach. I was watching the feed on the monitor, and seeing the contractions spiking higher and higher, sharper and sharper. I was starting to moan through each contraction, and we were still left to ourselves in the room. I think the nurses had assumed that I would be quite some time before anything kicked off, and had actually told us that they wouldn’t take us across to the labour ward until I’d been in active labour for 4 hours.

At this point, I was panicking. I’d only been in labour for 45 minutes, and already I was feeling like I could barely get through the contractions. They were coming thick and fast, and man I was in pain. I was leaning on the bed through each contraction, while Mr Nester timed them, and let me tell you, 3 minutes apart is not much. I barely had time to catch my breath before the next one hit. At the peak of one contraction, my water properly broke. It gushed down my leg, soaking my clothes. I waddled to the toilet to clean up, and what was pouring out of me was bright red. I thought I might be haemorrhaging, and called Mr Nester to find a nurse. He went running down the hall, practically dragging a nurse back with him. The nurse seemed extremely surprised to see the state I was in, and sent for a doctor to check my progress. Unfortunately, this involves a hand right up, well, you know where, and it happened to occur right between my contractions, in my 2-3 minutes of peace. I was not happy, and still fighting the panic that perhaps I couldn’t do this. The doctor had a good feel around, and told me I was 5 centimetres dilated. Shit! OK, maybe I could do this! It was such a relief to hear that the extreme pain I was feeling was due to a quick dilation, and it wasn’t just me not being able to handle it.

To be honest, that was the hardest part of the labour – not knowing how far along I was, not knowing how long I had left to go, not knowing how much more I could handle (most of the time it felt like I was at my limit).

SO that was the first 5 centimetres. I’ll save the second half of the labour (the other hour and a bit) for the next post.

Jane xx

Breastfeeding 101

I thought I’d give you all a rundown of the easy, straightforward, foolproof advice I’ve received about breastfeeding, so that you too can feed your newborn with ease. I promise if you follow these easy steps, you’ll be a master at breastfeeding in no time.

Here we go – follow these to the letter, make sure you don’t skip any steps:

  • It shouldn’t hurt. If it does, you’re doing it wrong.
  • It will hurt at first. It’s natural, don’t think that it means you’re doing it wrong.
  • Lean over the baby and let the breast fall into their mouth.
  • Don’t lean over the baby, let them find the breast.
  • Sit up straight
  • Lean forward
  • Lean back against a pillow
  • Don’t use a pillow
  • Let them feed for as long as they need.
  • Don’t let them feed for more than 15 minutes.
  • If you’re experiencing cracked or grazed nipples, pump on that breast for a day to let it heal
  • Don’t pump and bottle feed, it can cause nipple confusion
  • Keep pumping to continue the level of milk production
  • Be careful of pumping as it can over-stimulate milk production.
  • Pumping has no effect on milk production.
  • Have a hot shower prior to feeding to soften your breasts
  • Don’t use a shower or heat packs – they stimulate more milk production.
  • Always offer both breasts when feeding
  • Offer the same breast twice to make sure your baby gets the hind milk
  • Don’t wake a baby for feeds – they’ll wake if they’re hungry
  • Make sure you feed every 6 hours. Wake the baby if you need to.
  • Feed every 4 hours
  • Feed every 3 hours
  • It’s easy once you get the hang of it…

Let me just say, every one of these pieces of advice came from the midwives at the hospital, or well researched books. These are not just well meaning opinions from the general public.

I want to be truthful here for a minute – breastfeeding is hard. It may be a natural thing, but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally. There is a beautiful connection between you and your child when breastfeeding, and I love being able to provide for Birdie in that way. However, you have to fight your way through the advice, the pain, the doubt, and the 3am desperation to get there. It’s certainly worth it, but give yourself a break if you’re not the instant earth mother that so many people think you’ll be. You’ll get there – with Birdie at 11 days old, I’m only just starting to heal enough to not wince in pain every time she latches on, which is every 3-4 hours. It’s tough. Get someone to give you a big hug, often, just for giving it a go.

Jane xx