Scared About Labor?
Are you expecting your first child and you're scared or nervous about your first birthing experience? I remember those feelings well. I was so scared, nervous, and afraid of the pain before my first baby and I wanted to share with you my first birth experience and all the things I learned from it because I want to speak life and encouragement into that place <3
When I got pregnant, I wanted my baby in my arms, but let's be real...I really didn't want to have to go through labor to have my baby. All I had seen was birth scenes on TV shows and movies where the women were screaming in pain through the whole thing and where things went terribly wrong. I didn't know how else it could look. Well, let me tell you, that's not real life.
I woke up around 1:00am on July 4th with slight contractions. Have you ever been in really bad period pain that has no break? The kind that makes you curl up in a fetal position and makes you want to throw up? Well, let me tell you...if you have gone through those awful period cramps as a high-schooler like I did, beginning of labor is soooo much easier. Sure, you have contractions that come on...BUT you actually get a break between each one! It's glorious! And they really don't last that long! I'm not going to sit here and say it's "easy", but you are one bad-ass mama. Trust your body! It knows EXACTLY what to do!
Alright, back to the story...I didn't trust my body...I was afraid...I was tense...and guess what? All those feelings and emotions cause the labor pains to be more intense than they would normally be. Your body comes equipped with a natural pain reliever...it's called oxytocin...and when you are relaxed and riding the waves of labor...more of this hormone gets released! How amazing is that?!
The hardest thing for me during the beginning labor stage was that instead of back labor, I was having hip labor. No one ever told me that was a thing! Well, it is a thing. It's not THE WORST thing, but it's not super fun. LOL (If only I had known then that were actually natural things I could have used for more pain relief for that!)
Hip labor meant that I couldn't actually lay down because when a contraction hit, I had to move my hips. Boy, I was so happy to be going through this at home! I was able to sit on an exercise ball or kneel by the bed or stand over the bed or be in whatever position was the most comfortable without having any wires or needles in me! My midwife would check the baby's heartbeat every time I moved position to make sure everything was fine. Whenever a contraction would hit, I would moan or make whatever sound I needed to make to get through it but I sure wasn't screaming my head off! Which I was just fine with since we were living in an apartment at the time and I really did not want to be known as the screaming pregnant lady!
Something else that people didn't warn me about was that I might suddenly get weird food allergies during labor! Weird right? I needed to snack on little things to keep up my energy up but things I thought would be good during labor, my throat didn't like! (This only happened with my first labor so just because this happened to me doesn't mean it will happen with you!)
Going Into Transition & Pushing
Since I had been going through hip labor for my entire beginning labor, I had not actually gotten to lay down and rest...so I was tired. I decided I wanted to go into the shower because things were starting to get more intense. The shower helped a LOT! Then my body went into transition...this is where your body is almost ready to start pushing! The contractions come a bit closer together and stronger so you don't have as much of a break which is what makes it more intense. But I still wasn't screaming! Really...you CAN DO this. It's hard...but it's also so incredible to feel your body doing what it needs to do!
Then it was time to push. So far the baby's heart beat had been fine and if it wasn't fine after a position change, my midwife would help me move into a different position and then check the baby's heart beat again. Midwifes are incredibly skilled and knowledgeable about the woman's body and the best position to help the baby move through the birth canal smoothly! Everything was going just fine so I started to push!
This was hard. It was hard because I was actually pushing with my whole body instead of just pushing into my pelvic area. My midwife would try and tell me not to push with my whole body but honestly, it was hard to know what that meant! I mean, it was my first time pushing out a baby and I thought I needed to push really hard! Well, after having 2 more babies, I wish I known to trust my body more. Yes, you do want to concentrate your energy and push when it's time but you don't have to push with your entire body...the uterus does know how to push by itself! You're just helping it and moving the baby down faster when you focus on pushing along with it!
But my baby wasn't coming down. I tried squatting, I tried sitting on the toilet, I tried side-ways on the bed...none of these positions seemed to make a difference. I pushed for over 3 hours...by that point, every muscle in my body ached and I was exhausted...I was close to being in active labor for 18 hours (which is not as long as some women go through but longer than others!) Whenever my midwife checked for the baby's head, I wasn't making any progress. It seemed that she was stuck in my pelvic area and that she wouldn't come down and my husband and I started to wonder if she would come down at all! We decided that it would be best to transfer to a hospital in case I did need a C-section and in case my baby started showing signs of distress.
Transferring To A Hospital
It is very important to choose a midwife who you believe will tell you to transfer to a hospital if things aren't going well... there are MANY bad situations that they are trained for and as long as you trust the competency of your midwife, you are in good hands and they will tell you if things aren't going right and you need to transfer. Just find one you can trust. Transferring to the hospital while in labor is not much different no matter when you decide to go in...you are still going to have contractions in the car. When you are transferring after transition, it just means that you try not to push during those contractions. Just stay calm. That is the best advice I can give you for transferring...the more stressed you are, the more stressed your baby will be. Your midwife will put down sheet protectors and whatever you need in the vehicle so you don't have to worry about ruining anything.
Now, I'll give you a big tip. Make sure your husband and your midwife ride in the car with you...LOL My mom was driving me in one car and my husband and midwife were coming behind after they grabbed a few things which would have been fine...except that we ended up at two different hospitals in the same city! Big OOOPPPSSS!
When we got to the hospital, because we did not end up at the hospital that my midwife had called to tell them we were coming, there was a bit of confusion but they got us up in a room and checked on the baby's position. (My mom also called my husband to let them know where we were). To our surprise, the baby had actually come down during our move to the hospital...something about going down the apartment stairs, getting into the car, trying NOT to push (which is also why I think I was almost pushing too hard!), and getting into the hospital had helped the baby come down! This was wonderful news since it meant I wouldn't need a c-section and could still have the baby vaginally!
The Scary Part
Now, I'll tell you a little bit of a scary part because I want you to know that this can happen but if this happens to you...again, try hard to stay calm...I know that it easier said than done...but if you can, it will be better for the baby.
When we got to the hospital and they were checking for the baby's heartbeat, they couldn't find it. Now, this entire labor process the baby's heart had been perfectly fine and showing no distress at all. In my gut, I didn't feel that anything was wrong AND because my midwife had mentioned that there is a part of the birth canal where you can't actually get the heart beat. I remained calm because I figured that the baby was in that exact position where you just can't get a heart beat! They finally put a monitor on the baby's head and her heartbeat was just fine after all which was very relieving but all the nurses had been freaking out for a good 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, I had a nurse trying to give me saline to hydrate me...she stuck me with a needle a bjillion times instead of finding another nurse to do it when she couldn't get it to work in my veins. And instead of standing up for myself and demanding that another nurse come and try, I just let her do it because I didn't even think about saying something. Just remember...just because you are in the hospital having a baby, doesn't mean you don't have rights! If you don't want something, just say so! You are the patient! The hospital workers are working for you. Don't forget this!
After they found the heartbeat, it was all green-light go. They wanted the baby out as fast as possible since they hadn't been monitoring the baby's heartbeat since the beginning. I was very tired so I too wanted this baby out. I started pushing again...once her head was close enough, they did one vacuum and her head came out. Then they thought that she had shoulder dystocia (which is where a shoulder is stuck above the mother's pubic bone).
When they decided that, I suddenly had 4 or 5 nurses on top of me pushing the baby out. It was awful. I tore a 3rd degree tear because of how fast they made the baby come out. But then she was on my chest. It was a beautiful baby girl...and to me, she looked like a doll.
And then they stitched me up without enough anesthetic. I could feel it...that was not fun but holding my baby helped me focus on other things...she was the sweetest, most precious baby I'd ever seen. And it made all the pain of labor worth it. I know 18 hours seems like a long time...and it is...but it's not ALL the same intensity, thank goodness! And when you are at the end and holding your sweet baby, it all seems like a blink of an eye.
My midwife was watching the birth the entire time and told me the next day that she didn't think the baby had shoulder dystocia and that if they had given me a bit more time to push her out naturally, she would have come out by herself just fine. I wish the nurses had given my body more credit and let her come out a bit more slowly since her heartbeat was completely fine the entire time.
I hope my story helps you feel more prepared for what labor can look like. Everyone's pregnancy and labor story is different and we can learn something from every one of them. I truly believe that believing and trusting in your body will help your birth experience go smoother! There are more things I wish I would have known about before having my first...I wish someone had told me that there were things I could do to make natural childbirth less painful! Check out my guide here with my top 8 things to ease natural childbirth!
If you enjoyed this story of my firstborn's birth, here is the story of my second born!