I was going to walk through my entire birth/labour experience – but to be honest as I was typing all I thought was, this is so long winded and do people need to know I threw up my entire dinner in between contractions? You can read about my First Trimester here, Second and third here.
Instead, I thought I would answer the questions I wondered about leading up to the birth of my son. Based on my experience, because every pregnancy, labour and birth are never the same, here are the questions I wondered about and how it went down for me.
Feel free to comment with other questions or email me email@example.com I am happy to share other information and symptoms I had with you.
Also, if you don’t feel like going through all the questions, please skip down to the wrap up, I include words of strength my dear friend sent me a week or two before giving birth and it was so incredibly empowering – I wanted to share my strong (Room reference).
Will I know the difference between Braxton Hicks and Contractions?
Yes. I remember asking my friend, will I know when I go into labour? She answered with an undeviating “You’ll know.” Of course I have heard of certain women not knowing it does happen, and I wouldn’t even say they were lucky – because giving birth without warning, no thanks!
I however, knew. It started as a dull but sharp back pain. It then started to radiate and come in waves. Then Contractions started. It felt completely different from Braxton Hicks, it wasn’t the same kind of tightening.
What do contractions feel like?
It started out feeling similar to a mild period cramp, then it grew. It grew with my journey through labour, getting a bit more intense wave. It sort of started out as a conversation piece, you have it, you breath through it then you look up at your partner and say “huh, that wasn’t too bad” or “that one was pretty intense.” Then when you get to Active Labour you start asking where are the drugs?? I laboured at home all night long and as I stood in my shower I kept thinking “you’ll have relief soon, you’ll get the drugs” I never got those drugs, I got to the hospital pushing and fully dilated. But telling yourself you will have that relief helped a lot.
Will my water break like in the movies?
Mine broke in the car with an involuntary push as my husband Mike paid for parking. I luckily was sitting on a retirement home pee pad — not joking. I was also wearing a super pad, which absorbed I think the majority. It however, was the least of my worries and I barely remember it happening. I was too concentrated on not having my baby in the car.
How will I know when to go to the hospital?
I think I should have headed to the hospital a lot sooner, as I mentioned I was involuntarily pushing on the car ride there. It was a scary drive – we luckily only live about 8 minutes away.
I should have gone in when the contractions started to get really bad, 1min 20 seconds in between each ( the hospital told me I could still hold off on coming in when Mike called – my contractions started really close together). We waited a bit and eventually I couldn’t speak during my contractions and my breathing started to get thrown off, and I felt like there was a geared up chainsaw inside of me. I got there fully dialed and Ben was almost born in the wheelchair on the way to the birthing suite.
Side note: When I was in very active labour my dog Sammie instinctively curled up behind me in between and tried to comfort me in a way. Mike snapped a pic, and I’m going to share it here—in all my exhausted glory – because why not?
Will I feel constant pain?
It all depends on how you look at it. For me, I kept remembering that each surge or contraction wouldn’t last forever – it wasn’t infinite. Birth isn’t infinite and relief is in sight for contractions and for labour. When the contractions got stronger I would remind myself that I as much as it hurt, its one step closer to being done. I had an extremely fast labour, and I have friends who were in labour for days–like I said, everyone is so different. I would suggest listen to yourself and your body, go as far as you can then a little bit further, and then look for other options for relief. Counter-pressure saved me at home, that and a hot shower. Remember that women are actually made for this, physically made for this. No matter what happens, you are a warrior for bringing life into this world!
Does induction always mean Pitocin? Does it lead to other interventions?
Due to my high blood pressure, my doctor wanted to get that baby out of my belly before it got worse. I was given a single dose of a gel induction. I researched the induction type, and it was a step before Pitocin. Results seemed to vary, some had no change in their dilation and had to go back for second and sometimes third doses. For me, it worked incredibly quick. My OB administered the gel and I laid flat for an hour then I was allowed to go home. They told me that I would get my second dose the next morning at 8am. It wasn’t two hours before I started to feel a dull ache in my back.
As I had mentioned my labour was extremely fast, I laboured at home from 7pm until 6am and left right when I started pushing. I got to the hospital, as I said, JUST in time. So for me, I guess the gel induction worked like draino on my cervix. I didn’t have time for additional interventions aside from the use of a vacuum to apply counter pressure for my son who would get sucked back in after each push.
What does pushing a baby out feel like?
In all honesty, after contractions pushing a baby out was a fraction of pain. It may be the fact that you know it’s the end of your labouring journey, or the fact that you are numb to the pain at that point. I felt everything, and it was amazing. I can still remember feeling my son’s shoulders and arms enter into this world and it was nothing short of miraculous. They kind of just slid out swiftly, which just ended all the pain. I said it before and I’ll say it again, the moment you bring a human into this world you feel empowered like a warrior on top of the world. We as women are so incredible for having the ability to bring life into this world.
Does the pain continue after giving birth?
The second I pushed my son all the way out, the contractions stopped. No pain, just relief, sweet relief, joy, and exhaustion. Mike said that after the final push I flung my head back, closed my eyes, and took a giant breath in. Before I knew it the nurse who caught Ben put him on my chest.
The only discomfort that I felt right after was the stitching up part – not comfortable, but just sort of a stinging feeling. They conveniently do that while you are completely preoccupied with your tiny miracle – so its done before you know it.
Wrapping it up
I should say that, all the pain, discomfort, worry, the marathon of contractions and uncertainty are all worth it the second you get to hold your tiny little human. The moment they put Ben on my chest, I was overwhelmed. A stranger I’ve known his whole life, my little growing sidekick for the past nine months, and he’s here in my arms. I had no idea then, how much my life would change. How the world as I knew it would be completely different and how I would suddenly see the world with a new set of eyes. In that moment, all I thought about was how soft he was, and how could he possibly be ours.
I want to leave you with something that brought me strength the weeks leading up to giving birth. I was ready to give birth, but at the same time I was incredibly apprehensive and nervous. There was no turning back, but there was no way to be certain about what was ahead. On the day I went on maternity leave, I came home to a card in my mailbox from a dear friend.
On the front it said:
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matter compared to what lies within us – Emerson”
In the card was an excerpt from Hello, My Name is Mommy by Sheri Lynch – this is exactly how I felt and still feel about the first moments with my son. This excerpt gave me a new kind of empowerment.
“Then it is time for your very first snuggle with your very own baby.
Savour that moment. It’s one of the most magical moments you’ll ever know, and once it passes, its gone, never to be duplicated.
You may be weary and shaking or wired and floating as you gaze for the first time into the eyes of this tiny stranger whose heart has been beating in concert with your own for the past nine months.
Your baby knows you, your voice, your smell and wants nothing more than to be cradles close in your arms, held snugly to your breast. Lying with your newborn, there is no pressure to perform, while, this too – brief moment, you can finally rest and allow yourself to simply be.
The person you were, the woman who didn’t know her own strength and doubted her capacity for love is slipping away now, though it may be a while before you truly believe that she’s gone. Try to catch her eye s she leaves, and thank her for taking you this far. Everything you’d dreamed and all that you feared is behind you and in front of you.
You’re a mommy for real now. You’re a warrior. And this is what it means to be reborn.”
You got this,