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HerBaby: Bronwen’s birth experience

Bronwen Stead

So we’ve come to the end of Bronwen’s HerBaby pieces (for now!).

If you missed her previous articles you can read about Bronwen realising she was expecting and her first scan here, her 12 week scan here, her 20 week scan here, her second trimester here, her third trimester here and her experience with pregnancy massages here

On Sunday 4 October, around 10am I had a small bleed.

I called the CATCH mobile and spoke to another midwife – my usual midwife was on leave – who advised said it sounded like a “show” and to go about my day as planned as things wouldn’t likely progress for days.

That day Canberra was hosting the INBA Australian Championships (body building) which I attended in support of friends and clients who were competing.

At around 6pm I started to have period type pain, which occurred at regular intervals. I had a shower and went to bed and tried to relax (we put a garbage bag down under the sheets to protect our mattress). I slept on and off throughout the night, needing to get up regularly.

I felt the gush of my hindwaters breaking around 6am.

I woke my husband to let him know and we started to track the frequency of my contractions. We called my midwife around 8am and she said she would come by shortly (CATCH is amazing). My contractions started to increase in frequency, and got to three minute-ly.

When she arrived and observed my contractions my midwife thought I may not be very far along, and was reluctant to do a VE incase I was only 1cm as she was worried I would be disappointed. I told her I didn’t have any expectations and was managing ok so I felt fine her to check.

She did and I was already 4cms along and she was legitimately shocked, and said it was time to go to hospital. I believe my ability to manage so well at this stage is a testament to the things I learnt in my pre-natal yoga class and my ability to stay calm and breathe through the pain!

In the hospital things increased in pain but decreased in frequency.

There was suggestion of sending me home which I was not a fan of. After another check of my waters, and rupturing my remaining waters (this didn’t hurt at all) the intensity really ramped up. I tried the bath, but found the shower was somewhat better for me although the water was not hot enough to soothe like my shower at home.

I tried the gas but did not find it beneficial at all. During this time I used breathing techniques, then the pain overtook me.

I couldn’t help but scream my head off through each contraction – there was no slow build up for my contractions, there was about a 5 second warning and then they hit their peak. I felt unable to manage and was exhausted after 12 hours, and at around 7pm I asked for an epidural.

The anaesthetist was called and I was told it would be another 30 minutes, but time ticked on and she did not arrive. I then began to experience the need to push, but was so fatigued that every position I tried caused such intense cramping pain through my hips that I could not focus on pushing.

In the end I was offered a birthing stool which was much better position, with my husband sitting behind me applying huge amounts of pressure to my hips through each contraction. I was very in the zone and focused on my breathing in between contractions and focusing on relaxing all of my muscles that were tense. My husband applying pressure helped too with the muscle cramps.

My son George was born completely drug free at 9:49pm.

We immediately had skin to skin, my husband cut his cord, and the world has been a very different place ever since.

We are learning more about each other every day and I can truly say that I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the experience.

For the two weeks following my birth I could not talk or even think about my birth without crying. I love George and he made the transition into motherhood really easy, but I found my labour quite traumatic.

It’s painful, you don’t have any control and you have no idea how long it is going to be. My husband and I both being mental health professionals were on the look out for signs of PND. I found that by talking about how I was feeling with my husband and my midwife, these feelings subsided, but I was fully prepared to seek further support.

Birth is an amazing and challenging experience, and there is no shame in finding the whole thing overwhelming.

If you do feel that you are not adjusting, you can contact:

  • PANDSI (Post and Ante Natal Depression Support and Information Inc) via their website or on 02 6288 1936
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Mental Health Crisis Line on 1800 629 354

Feature image of baby George taken by Kelly Gladwin Photography

Bronwen Stead

Bronwen loves to celebrate life and all things Canberra, which is why she is passionate about writing for HerCanberra and promoting the amazing people and activities that Canberra contains. She is a mother, wife and a creative with a passion for wellbeing and health. More about the Author

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