Connor James Bradley
11th May 2021
Having a natural birth with as few medical interventions as possible was very important to me, I had researched a lot about how to achieve this and I prepared with a birth class, breathing techniques and Mother Nurture yoga classes to keep my body in good shape for labour.
I chose to birth with my local Midwifery Group Practice as their birth outcomes were very positive towards having a natural birth with minimal interventions, I loved the fact that it was a continuity of care model and you got one midwife to support you through pregnancy and birth.
On the day Connor was born I was 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant and I woke up with cramps just before 5am, I thought it could be the start of labour but they were about 10 mins apart and not very intense so I googled it and thought it was podromol labour which is basically false labour that can go for days so I told my husband Steve he could go to work and I’d let him know if anything ramped up.I had the Midwifery Group Practice 10 year reunion to go to which was a get together for current and former clients, so I went to that and thought it wouldn’t be a bad place to be if it did turn into real labour – surrounded by midwives!I told my midwife Tash I was feeling some cramping and that it might be that something was going to happen today but she was pretty calm about it and basically if it turns into anything more to let her know.
I felt some cramping throughout the get together that I was mostly able to ignore and sometimes needed to breathe through while I was there and at 2pm I called Steve on the way home and said I thought it wasn’t anything much yet but then I had two contractions in the car that were pretty intense, so he said he’d start getting ready to come home, I still thought it might be hours before it turned into anything worth thinking about but within minutes of being home I was having regular contractions, every few minutes that were getting hard to breathe through!
I quickly made myself a smoothie as I hadn’t lunch yet and I thought I would need the energy if it was the real deal.I had to crouch on the floor a couple of times while making it while a contraction hit and I tried to find a comfortable position for the intense bits and nothing felt like it helped which made me a little worried – if this is the beginning and nothing is helping uh oh!I finally found bouncing on the birth ball helped and it seemed to be the only thing that did so I started bouncing and called Steve again and said yeah definitely come home, they’ve picked up!
They were coming really close together already, about 45 seconds each, 3 minutes apart so I called Tash to tell her and she said that was great and basically to keep going – I asked whether it was normal to feel like they were still going at a low intensity after it finished or was that a second small one back to back (I was having a contraction finish but linger or immediately start again at a low intensity) and she said whatever is happening is normal for you, then I started having another one so I said I’d talk to her later!
Steve didn’t arrive home till 3pm which felt like ages and we put the TENS machine on – I’d press the button and the contraction timer and breathe through it but they started to get really intense, I didn’t think the TENS machine was doing anything after a bit but I kept trying with it.
I started having to vocalise loudly as nothing else helped when they hit and I couldn’t just breathe through it, sound would come out no matter what! It’s almost the only way I could breathe. The pain was in my lower abdomen and it was so strong, it was almost unbearable but I knew I could get through it, I just had to keep going.
I tried doing recovery breaths from our birth course after each one but I wasn’t getting a long break, Steve called Tash at 6pm as they were getting even longer and stronger – one minute to a one minute and a half in length and sometimes back to back with no break! It was excruciating but I also knew it had to be progressing with how long and strong they were, that’s what kept me going.
Tash had asked if my mucus plug had come out (a little bit) and if I could feel any pressure in my bum yet, and I couldn’t yet so we kept going, she suggested we jump in the shower and let gravity help, so we did that for a while, I was holding on to Steve and he was pushing pressure points on my shoulders, the water was feeling good, it was still very painful every time one hit but having Steve hold me helped a lot, I felt very supported and cared for which was what I needed. We started thinking it was time to go to the hospital as I was getting some pressure in my bum along with the long and strong contractions so we called Tash and said we think it’s time at 7:30pm, and Steve got the bags ready.I went to the bathroom and noticed the rest of my mucus plug was gone too.
The car ride was really hard, I had three contractions on the way there and I was making a lot of noise as it was very uncomfortable sitting in the car. Thank goodness we don’t live far from the hospital!When we got to the hospital, luckily there was a wheelchair right there for us to use and Steve started wheeling me in while I was making so much noise vocalising with the contractions, it was like labour from the movies which we laughed about later.My water broke right as we arrived at the birth suite which felt very dramatic.
I threw all the clothes off that were now soaked and Tash asked me if I wanted to be checked and I was nervous but said yes and she said she could stretch me to 8cm so I was basically at transition, phew! That was where we wanted to be, to now be in hospital, the idea was to get there when labour was really going strong.
Tash told us to get into the shower and I laboured in there holding onto the wall and Steve. The contractions were so full on and painful by now that making a lot of noise was really quite involuntary.
We got into the bath and it felt good in there, but then I felt like I need to throw up and Steve got me a bag to throw up into and I felt better. That also made me think I was in transition and that we were getting close to pushing! So while most people feel like they can’t do it anymore at transition, I was feeling relieved and buoyed by the thought we were nearly there.I was in the bath for awhile on my knees, holding on to the bar, I would close my eyes and vocalise loudly with each contraction. Steve would stroke my hair and hold my hands and rub my back which made me feel comforted and supported.After some time Tash told me to get onto the toilet to bring him down more.
I did that for a bit and then got back into the bath and soon started feeling like bearing down, so I told Tash and she said to listen to my body and so when the contractions would come I would push hard into my bottom, I was kneeling but then Tash got me to flip onto my back and brace against the side of the tub and hold onto her and push.Also every time she would check his heart rate with the Doppler I would make sure to slow down my breathing and would be nervous to see that his heart rate was ok and every time it was, I was relieved!I kept pushing with the contractions and then my body would give me a break, sometimes for a couple of minutes and I would almost be asleep for those few minutes as I was so exhausted from the contractions. Tash told me to reach down and feel his head and I could feel it and it could be seen right there!I had to push more and more of his head was coming out and I could feel it. I pushed and pushed and screamed and groaned and finally I felt his head come out!
But then it started turning to come out and ouch it hurt! It made my legs go funny along the thighs – like nerves firing. Then I had to push to get the rest of him out but he wasn’t coming out straight away, Steve was over there ready to catch him as Tash got him to put his hands in the water and as our baby came out Tash reached in and helped pull him out and unwrapped the cord which had looped around his neck before they passed him up to me and then I was holding him! He was purple and covered in vernix and he wasn’t crying so she said to blow in his mouth, I thought they meant like mouth to mouth but she said no just blow on his face and he started whimpering and then Tash gave him a good rub and he started crying.
I was talking really softly to him, saying it’s ok as he was now crying and I was holding my son! It was a very surreal feeling – even while feeling his head coming out it was still surreal that we were about to have a baby! But holding him just felt so natural and normal and the feeling was like “of course he’s here” and I felt very calm and connected and happy and like I had done it! But I was also exhausted so those feelings were all floating around in the relieved, exhausted haze.It was 10:13pm so I’d had just over 8hrs of active labour which shorter than what I’d been expecting and a pleasant surprise.The midwives asked if we got what we thought we were getting – I’d seen he was a boy coming out and said yes, but still double checked and yep he’s a boy!
Tash started emptying the bath and I perched on the step which was pretty uncomfortable and I saw a lot of blood in the bath so I was a bit worried I had torn seeing all the blood.
I was feeling heaviness in my uterus and pretty uncomfortable and Tash was asking if something was there (as in the placenta) and I could feel like it was close, Tash asked if I could get him to latch to see if it would bring down the placenta, I put him to the boob and my placenta fell out with a thud! Apparently it was huge but I didn’t get a look at it where it was angled. It was only about 10 minutes or so, which was great as I didn’t want to have the injection if I could avoid it.The cord had stopped pulsing as the placenta was out so Tash clamped it and Steve cut it, then I was moved to the bed and Tash assessed whether I had a tear, with baby on my chest wrapped up.
Unfortunately I had a big tear and ended up going to get stitched up in theatre, but first we got to have skin to skin time and the first breastfeed without being rushed and then they weighed him, and it wasn’t that surprising that I had torn as he was 4.39kg! A lot bigger baby than we had thought! A healthy strong little guy with a big 38cm head and 55cm long.I was really happy I’d been able to have the drug free water birth I’d been hoping for, all the preparation had been worth it and despite being an intense experience it wasn’t at all traumatic and I was really empowered by how I was able to get through it, and most importantly Steve and I are absolutely smitten with our son!
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