What's it Like to Give Birth with no Pain Relief?


Posted: Wed 17th Sep 2014 20:34

I always wondered... for our first baby girl, I had planned on a home-birth, to breathe my babe out a la Hypnobirthing and to love the entire process. Well, something different happened! I experienced light contractions, I felt blissful. I put Kate Bush's Aerial album on and breathed through the night to soft, warm candle light as my husband slept upstairs. Three days later...! Still in labour (although not recognised medically!) It was me in the end who said to my midwife (who was poorly) that I was totally happy to go to hospital. For some reason, all the roads were blocked so we had to call an ambulance, literally just to clear the traffic. Baby at this point was in a posterior position so all contractions were very painful and in my legs. But I still kept calm and breathed (still in Hypnobirthing mode!) The nice midwife at the hospital remarked how calm I was, considering the scale of the pain. I just closed my eyes and breathed through each contraction and didn't make a single sound. Someone down the corridor was screaming blue murder. I continued to be calm and zen like. I needed drugs though! I had my waters broken, hooked up to several bits and pieces (bit of a blur now!) A doctor came in and announced I need a C-section. My midwife argued with him that I didn't need one at all. They continued to argue whilst I waved a hand up... 'I'm not actually having a C-section...'

I was then given a spinal block which was amazing. Just to not feel that pain, which is weird as I cannot describe it! But then it was all gone, almost instantly. I started shaking, profusely, which another midwife said was normal and she held my hand. That is the first time she showed any sense of humanity in hours as before she had been cold and off-hand. She started to shave my nether regions without asking and didn't smile. That pissed me off! This is a spiritual amazing time for me! Hold my hand! Be nice! Don't shave before asking permission! Say lovely things... please?:)

I had no urge to push which worried everyone. I told them that I had been taught to breathe the baby out. Hmmm... they were not impressed with that. When I had my legs up in stirrups, I felt pretty chirpy considering this was exactly the opposite of what I had planned! But that is what Hypnobirthing teaches you... to be relaxed, to breathe, to get inside of yourself and focus. I highly recommend doing the classes before you have a baby! Read the book. Listen to the CD. Honestly, WELL worth it, no matter what the outcome x

Again it was all a blur and happened very fast. I had to be cut (obviously didn't feel a thing) and the doc got out the forceps. I think babe had to be turned the right way first then they told me I absolutely HAD to push - this was it. It sounded urgent. I couldn't feel anything though (whose leg is that? Oh! It's mine! SO weird!) but I did what I thought must be pushing and three supposed pushes later, Hello Babe! Oh and then they whipped her away so quickly and all I wanted to do was cuddle her. I was flooded with happy hormones - very grateful for that! I felt amazing and on a high. My baby girl was gorgeous. I wish they hadn't cleaned her up and cut the cord so quick. It was 'IN' and 'OUT'! Oh well...happy, healthy girl! So that is story number one in a nutshell.

Now forward wind to baby girl number two. When I got pregnant I was living and working in an international school in China. I was SO happy...we all were. I got sick for a few weeks then it passed and just like the first pregnancy, I felt great. My friends threw me a rocking baby shower! When I was seven months we flew home and I still felt wonderful. But I had a little prayer... and I said it a lot. I really, really wanted to experience, in comparison, natural childbirth. Not to get a medal (hey, however your baby is born into this world, or even if you didn't physically birth your baby, you deserve a million diamond-encrusted medals!) But there was something inside me that kept thinking... I know the birth I want. You are not promised a pain-free birth in Hypnobirthing but I do know it's possible. And I know it's possible to have a gentle birth with no doctors arguing in front of you or cold midwives shaving you when you have no idea what is going on! I just wanted to experience it basically, so I could write about it and share the experience with other women.

Every time I said this little prayer, I felt a knowing feeling inside... you will get the birth you want. In my head, I listed everything I wanted. I wanted to birth this baby in a birthing centre. I wanted the midwife to be kind and loving. I wanted to leave, with my baby and husband, feeling empowered. I wanted them to play our music on repeat. I wanted them to not cut the cord until I said so. I didn't want to feel hurried and rushed and out of control. I wanted to be ASKED. I wanted respect. Do you think I was asking too much? Well... I didn't even write this plan down on paper but God was listening because every single thing I asked for was answered! Every SINGLE thing!

Mama-Baba-Do Reading Hypnobirthing Manual

In early stages of labour in our friend's apartment where we were living temporarily when we got back from China.

I even wanted to feel what it felt like to have my waters break this time. I didn't know what it felt like and wanted to! I wanted to FEEL everything! So at about 3am I woke up to feel a bit wet... but it wasn't like how water felt. It almost felt like velvet water! A bit slimy! I managed to get to the bathroom and it wasn't much... but enough to think my waters had broken. I had a course of adrenaline running through my body. I said prayers... I checked in on my 7 year old who was fast asleep. I tried to go back to sleep but was way too excited! OMG!! Seriously.... Oh My God! Thank you! I tried not to wake my husband but had to tell him of course. Then he went back to sleep whilst I started to get ready. I started to feel a slight contraction - no pain at all - just a feeling of my tummy tightening and lifting, then releasing again. It felt amazing! I started to feel in awe of my body, of my baby inside me, of the millions of women before me who had birthed their babies. I kept my prayer of a natural birth in my mind. I also tried to detach from it at the same time but I also felt an intense knowing that it would work out the way I had wished for!

At about 5:30 am I couldn't help myself - I had to call my parents! My Dad came to pick our daughter up at about 7am. When I woke her and told her I was in labour, she was SO excited. She hugged me and said some amazing things! The pic of me and her at the top of this post is just after this time. She went off happily with my Dad - I was really glad she was going to go but also missed her! I wanted her to be at the birth and at one point she had said yes... then she said it would be too gross, so no! I was glad she didn't come in the end.. more of that later!

We kept ringing the birthing centre in Northampton (AMAZING place! A real gift to the town!) and they assured me that I didn't need to come in yet. I had my little contractions about every 7 - 10 minutes for quite a while, with no pain. It all felt really good! A part of me thought... wow! I am going to actually experience a pain-free birth! I am going to be 'one of those women'! Then all of a sudden, my contractions stopped. Hm! I wondered why. I then thought, perhaps I need to release a couple of fears. I told Tom (husband) a few things I was worried about. He then did some light touch massage, and as suggested by Ina May, I did a little nipple stimulation (!) and hey presto! Back came the contractions! (we were taught to call them surges and actually, that is a better name I feel to describe them as they are like waves in the sea, coming back and forth, getting stronger each time.)

Still no pain! Still feeling great! I was eating bits and bobs. Some chocolate covered mulberries from the Raw Chocolate Company! A banana! A Bliss Bar! I drank coconut water.A far cry from before when I was told to eat nothing in labour! No wonder I had no energy last time! The surges were then coming every 6 minutes or so. The midwife at the birthing centre said I could come in to be assessed so off we went, and then the surges stopped again as soon as we got there.

Now for a slight deviation. A few weeks back when we had come to look around the birthing centre, we'd met a really lovely midwife who we instantly connected with. She was from Italy, had an awesome smile and was kind to my 7 year old daughter. I really wanted her to be my midwife so I had added that to my prayer wish list. And guess what! She had just come back from a ten day holiday and it was her turn to be on duty, just as we turned up! Wow! She asked me how I felt about an internal exam. Let me repeat that. She asked me. She didn't say I had to have it... she was calm and said if I didn't feel comfortable I didn't need to have it. But I felt I could trust her and felt totally relaxed in her presence so she did the exam. Little tip here ladies... just relax! Breath! If you resist, a hand going up your vagina will hurt! But if you totally relax... no pain whatsoever.

Our midwife then said we could both help ourselves to tea, coffee etc. There was a mini fridge in our massive room in the birthing centre, a big pool, a double bed, that was folded into the wall, space to walk around, a birthing ball and a double mattress on the floor should I want to birth my baby there!

In the assessment room, just before we went for our walk!

Still no surges however so the midwife suggested we go for a walk. So Tom and I started to walk around the campus of Northamton General hospital and I reminisced about how I used to clean here every evening for two and a half hours whilst I was training to be teacher. Suddenly... Boom! The surges started and they were strong this time. Every time I had one, I had to rest on a wall or Tom, but still no pain... just very intense. I focused on the breathing techniques and felt calm and happy. Then they started to come very two minutes or so and walking was becoming a bit more of a challenge! We started to head back and this time, the surges were starting to feel more than intense. But still manageable through breathing. We got back to the birthing centre and had to walk up the stairs - wow did that seem like an effort!

It was almost as if my body was now on some kind of auto pilot. In my head, I was thinking, this is happening! I am getting the birth I wanted! I am not being rushed into theatre! I'll be able to feel it and write about it! Yay! When we got back into the room, suddenly I felt as if my body was falling out of my body! That is the only way to describe it! It didn't hurt, there was just a huge feeling inside of me like a pop! And then the rest of the waters came gushing out (shame that didn't happen in Waitrose, as I hear they give you a year's free shopping! GLAD it didn't happen anywhere in public!) I hobbled to the bathroom where I took off my velvety wet/slimy water clothes and then I decided at this point that it might just be better if I didn't wear anything. Really... there was no point!

Now the surges were no longer like soft rushing waves in an ocean of calm... they were coming every 30 seconds or so and were strong and powerful. But! The more I relaxed, the better I could manage the feeling of great intensity. Yes, pain! But it was unlike any other pain. Pain IS the word and yet it is not the word. It comes then bam! It's gone! I started to make moaning noises even though I had swore to myself I wouldn't make any noise! It felt good to moan... I kept it low as that seemed to help. I suddenly felt like I was aware of everything but also my birthing body had just completely taken over. Tom was there by my side rubbing my back and saying affirmations in a soft, but strong low voice. Our midwive hovered, not intervening until she felt she could assist, like at one point when I wanted to get into the pool and then she helped me in. Oh it felt so good to get in but OMG here came another surge! And now all I could do was pray, and for some reason, repeat Tom's name over and over... except surprise! I found myself calling him Thomas! This made me laugh inside my mind as I could hear myself saying 'Thomas... Thomas!!' and bless him, he just went with it! I don't know how long I was in the pool for. I was in established labour for six hours but really, that time distortion kicks in really soon and it just went past like a fast blur.

There is a prayer I say - more like an invocation. I am a Baha'i and my whole life is centred around prayer. I started to feel the need to say this invocation now, over and over with each contraction. I shook my head from side to side... nooooo! NoooooooO! Then the prayer then more noooooos! It felt SO blissful when the pain passed then it would build up again. I kept thinking... this is meant to be happening. Tom kept saying I could do it. I told him at one point that I couldn't go on... I felt drowsy, full of adrenaline, full of power and OHHHH! The pain! Wow! SO unlike anything I had ever felt. It was off the scale. I remember even thinking those words... this is OFF the scale! But it was also all manageable. I could do it. I asked the midwife at one point how much longer? Will I give birth soon I asked with pitiful eyes? She just smiled and said, 'I don't know! Maybe!' Honestly... she was amazing. An angel from heaven! She was there the whole time, just smiling, keeping out of the way or at one point, when the pain was really intense in my back she rubbed it really hard and that helped massively.

I had read stories about women just instinctively knowing what to do and what position to be in. And here I was, experiencing the very same thing. And suddenly, it felt like my insides were going to totally spill out onto the floor which scared me. I resisted and the midwive assured me... just let go! Don't worry! 'But what if I do a massive poo' (as that is exactly what it feels like!) 'It's ok if you do' she said... 'Let go...' - And even though I resisted that bit for a while, my God! It was amazing! My body was pushing the baby out and I wasn't doing any work!! It came with every contraction... and once I got my head round the weird feeling of it all, it started to make sense. The pain made sense. The contractions made sense. I went over to the floor bed and knew that it was going to happen fast now. The midwife called her colleague in so that there were two to deliver the baby. I was on all fours and had my head down. With each contraction now, my body was literally pushing this baby out. And when I went with it, it worked. And then... I remember that feeling of the head of my baby girl coming down... it burned! But it wasn't an all encompassing pain. At first I felt scared of the new sensation then again, it made sense. I marveled at how my body was doing this!! A baby is going to come OUT of my body! Oh my freaking goodness! How amazing am I?!! I could feel the head coming out and the midwives got excited. I was making all sorts of noises now and couldn't help a single darn one of them! Then I felt the baby's head retract...that was a weird one! Nooooo! Come out the other way! I said to Tom to repeat a prayer over and over (Is there any Remover of Difficulties save God? Say, praised be God! He is God! All are His servants and all abide by His bidding) which he did. He midwife told me to push now at certain points. It was an incredible feeling to feel the baby's head come out! That literally was total relief and really, a total miracle that a baby can come out from down there! The midwife remarked at how much hair she had! I felt joyous! I knew it was just around the corner. Then the other midwife said those incredible words... one more push Victoria and your baby will be with you. When it was time, I pushed (literally feels as if you are doing the biggest poo of your life as you are using the same muscles!) and then HELLO BABY! Feeling little baby slide out of my body was the most ecstatic feeling ever. I wanted to do that bit again! Just amazing! I was stuck on all fours and couldn't get round to lay on my back. I had been in this position for so long and suddenly I felt weak but I also couldn't wait to have my precious bundle on my body to feel her skin next to mine. The midwife helped me to turn round and she put my baby girl on me. Willow was small and smelt incredible! I kept smelling her head and felt over the moon! She had my blood all over her tiny body and she was waxy and greasy. What a miracle. To think we all, every single one of us, start out this way. I told the midwife that I had a special prayer to whisper into baby's right ear. Tom retrieved the prayer from my bag and I did this... such a special moment. They left the cord attached until it stopped pulsating. It was so long! I couldn't believe it - like something from an alien planet! And beautiful!

Tom then took baby and cuddled her for an hour and a half as NOW was the time to get some drugs - gas and air! I had torn where I'd had the episiotomy seven years ago and after being assessed, the midwife said I would need stitches. I had an injection to 'numb the area' and then I started to breathe in the gas and air, which sent me doolally for an hour and I wished someone had recorded me as I was saying the funniest things! I thought I was being extremely hilarious and at one point had a laughing fit! It was just such a joyous time being in that room in those precious moments after. We'd had our Steve Halpern CD playing on repeat for the entire birth and the lighting was low and could be changed to different colours! I started mumbling to the midwife about how amazing she was... I meant every word I said but I probably sounded like a raving mad woman! The weird effects of the gas and air passed after the hour and then I was handed my baby again!

The midwife asked us to guess the weight of our baby and we were all wrong! She was a lovely big 8 lbs 11 oz! She didn't clean the baby... I loved that! Everything felt right and in its place. I needed to deliver the placenta... blimey those things are massive! She put it in a bowl so I could see just how big it was! I was then in even more awe of my body... just how incredible are we to be able to do this? What an immensely perfect design. Baby came straight into bed with me and then I was straight onto Facebook! I was made hot chocolate and toast by the midwife... I didn't want to leave! Tom went home to get sleep and I stayed in bed, just feeling amazing and SO empowered. I know, having had two very different birthing stories that this scenario might not always happen. But... not matter what... enjoy the process. Try not to fear the pain because it's the pain and feeling it all that contributed to me feeling like a lion RAWWRR!!!! I left that birthing centre feeling on top of the world and that I could now achieve anything! Because what I had just experienced was the most intense and amazing and painful and incredible things ever!

Thank you for reading x I hope it is inspiring to those who are on their journey to giving birth:) PLEASE feel free to share your birth stories here... it is actually very wonderful and cathartic to share - after the big experience you have just had, whether it's natural, with pain relief, without, C-Section... whatever! Birthing a baby into the world is incredible! x

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