Childbirth and labor is a wonderful thing, but it's also extremely hard work so be prepared. Saying that some Mothers find it easier than others, and some pregnancy's will have a different birth to others.
With my first baby, I was in labour for 27 hours. I had stated all the way through my pregnancy that I intended to have an epidural, when I got into hospital I was 4 cm dilated and not feeling too bad, so I carried on with the tens pain relief that I had been using all day, informing the midwife that I would like an epidural soon.
My midwife (lovely lady that she was!) told me that if I didn't have an epidural, then I would have my baby safely delivered into my arms before midnight, this was at about 8.30pm. I agreed, thinking surely it wasn't going to get much worse, How wrong I was! I went onto using gas & air, which at first was wonderful, myself and my husband were in fits of laughter, I mean how bad could the birth be really!, by 10pm I was starting to get very fed up, and the pain was unbelievable!
Seeing as I was 8cm dilated and my waters hadn't broken, the midwife decided to do it for me, so out came the huge crochet hook! (it's true what people say, you loose all dignity during the birth of your baby!) after several attempts it finally worked and this was when things really started to get extra painful. I was offered a pethidine injection, which I gratefully accepted (all this did was made me feel sick and totally out of control!) This is where my memory went fuzzy and I don't actually remember too much, only screaming at the midwife at around 2.30am that she'd broken her promise of my baby being born by midnight (the language I used may have been a little stronger than that!)My son was born at 3.29am, and I instantly adored him. That case of childbirth and labor wasn't a good one, but...
With my daughter, I got to hospital at 5 cm dilated. I instructed the midwife that I wanted an epidural for the birth, I wasn't going to be talked out of it like last time. The midwife went off to find the anasthesist. She returned to let me know he was busy at the moment in theatre with a caesarean birth, but he'd get down asap. Good I wasn't going to suffer like last time. It was about half an hour later that things really started to speed up. The midwife checked and said I was now too late for an epidural (oh no, not again!) half an hour later I was told I could start pushing, 6 minutes after that my daughter was born! I'd only been in the hospital for an hour and a half! I'd only used gas & air and felt wonderful!This just goes to show how one birth is different from another.
Take a quick look at what pain relief is available to you during childbirth and labor.
When you arrive at the hospital you will meet your midwife, who will gather some information from you, how often are your contractions, how long have you been in labour for, show her your birth plan if you have made one. If you have any worries or questions about childbirth and labor, do not be afraid to ask. Your midwife will do an internal examination to find out how many centimetres dilated you are, you have to reach 10cm before you can start pushing. You may have a belt like device attached to your bump, with this the midwife can see how strong your contractions are, and also monitor the baby's heartbeat. Don't be surprised if you feel your contractions have stopped, I got this with the birth of my first baby, the midwife assured me that they hadn't stopped, it was just the excitement of everything happening... sure enough ten minutes later the contractions were back!
You midwife may leave you alone for a while now, and let things progress naturally until it's time to move you to a delivery suite if you're not already in one. once you are in the delivery suite you may notice alot of technical equipment, don't worry, this is all there to keep you and baby safe during childbirth and labor. Most of the equipment is a matter of 'Just in case'.You may feel better if you move around, this will help progress your labour too. A warm bath can be very good and ease these early contraction pains, some hospitals may advise having a bath, others will leave you to your own devices.
Your contractions will progress, getting stronger and with less time in between them. Leading up to the actual birth can be very tiring, so try to rest between contractions, this is easier said than done if you're going for a natural delivery with no pain relief, but if you have an epidural then you can even rest through the contractions :-)
The midwife will continue to monitor your progress, towards the end of this first stage of labour your contractions can be as little as one minute apart, don't try to push the baby out until the midwife tells you that you are ready, your cervix must be fully dilated (10cm) before you can start to push.
The second stage of childbirth and labor doesn't end until your baby is born. Don't think that this is any less painful. While you are pushing your baby out, you will feel the baby stretching your vagina, which is a very strange sensation. Push down into your bottom as hard as can during a contraction, and then rest in between and gather your strength for the next one.
You don't have to lie on your back for your baby's birth, you may be more comfortable in another position. Try being on your hands and knees, rocking back and forth is way to ease the pain. You could squat down, get your partner to support you if squatting. You could stand, or lie on your side, you may find that you want to keep changing positions. Do what feels right for you.
When baby's head starts to crown (this is where it can be seen at the vaginal opening) the midwife may tell you to stop pushing or push gently. This is so the skin and muscles around your perineum have time to stretch and accommodate the birth of your baby's head. If you push your baby's head out too fast and the skin of the perineum hasn't stretched, it could tear.If it doesn't stretch enough, the midwife may cut the skin to make the birth easier. She will ask for your permission to do this first. while your baby's head is crowning, your midwife may ask if you want to lean down and touch it. Once the baby's head is out, that's most of the hard work over, the rest of the body will slide out with a gentle push.
You can ask for your baby to placed onto your tummy as soon as he is born, before the cord is cut, this way you could try to breast feed your baby straight the way. Maybe Dad would like to cut the cord? Baby could be quite messy, so after a couple of minutes the midwife will take him and dry him off, and carry out simple checks on him, this is done with every baby so don't worry.You could find yourself quite emotional now, I cried on the birth of both of my babies. Childbirth and labor is an altogether emotional time, and you may experience a rush of different feelings.
You are now into the third stage of childbirth and labor, where you push out the placenta. Normally the midwife will give you an injection in your thigh to help this along and stop any heavy bleeding afterwards. If you don't want this injection do tell your midwife.
In some cases the placenta doesn't come away, or it leaves membranes behind, if this happens you will more than likely be taken down to theatre so they can clear up this problem. This happened to me with my son, and it can be quite upsetting as you will have to leave your baby for a while.
Childbirth and labor in my opinion is one of the most amazing things that can happen in your lifetime. Not all women will bond with their baby instantly, it may take time. For others the bond will just be there instantly. The pain can be unbearable, but you just have to remember what you will get at the end, it is most definitely worth it ;-)
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