While it's important to have a birth plan, it's best to keep an open mind as sometimes things don't go as expected. Here Michelle shares her story...
Did you have an expectation of what the birth might be like?
My husband and I had decided that we would like a natural birth and would like to avoid any pain relief if at all possible. I bought a tens machine and the plan was to use this at home in the latent phase and also in hospital during labour. I did keep an open mind however, so if the pain got too bad I was prepared to have some pain relief if I needed it.
The tens machine was great and really helped me to manage the pain at home, but when the pain got worse in hospital I decided to try the gas and air. Unfortunately this made me feel really sick so I ended up asking for an epidural – which worked a treat! I'm glad I kept an open mind.
When did you first realise that things weren't going to plan?
The midwife I had was fantastic and when things weren't going right she very calmly explained what was happening to me. My baby had passed some meconium which meant he needed to be delivered immediately. I was offered the choice of a caesarean or let them try to deliver the baby by forceps. I chose the forceps delivery, but had to agree to a caesarean if it didn't work after two attempts.
What happened next?
I got prepped and taken into the operating theatre, and my husband Mike got dressed into an operating grown so that he could come in with me.
After the second pull Joshua was born, but he wasn't breathing as he had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck four times so he was rushed over to the table and resuscitated. Thankfully he started breathing, but apparently it took seven minutes before they were able to show him to me before they rushed him off to the special baby unit for the night. I had to stay in theatre to be stitched up, but was still unaware of my injuries at this point.
What had happened to you?
I found out that I had a 4th degree tear in the recovery room, but didn't really understand what this meant at the time. I had learnt about 1st and 2nd degree tears from my antenatal classes so I could guess what a 3rd degree tear might be like, but couldn't imagine what to expect with a 4th degree tear. It wasn't until the morning that one of the nurse's explained what a 4th degree tear entailed and outlined my recovery plan.
How have you coped with the recovery afterwards?
Mike took two weeks holiday when Joshua was born which was a great help to have him at home with me. I could barely walk and things were tough at the beginning but I am lucky to have had a lot of help from my family and friends. And as a new mum you are so overjoyed with your new baby that you do just get on with it.
I made sure that I washed my tear and did my exercises to ensure that I healed quickly. Mentally I had to recover too, but when I was finally ready to look at my tear a few weeks later, I was pleased to see that I was healing well.
Would you do it again?
I love my little boy to bits and would love to give him a little brother or sister, but I need to get my head around a caesarean delivery first. But yes, I would love another baby in a couple of years. I certainly don't have any regrets.
Do you have any advice for anyone else in the same situation?
Keep an open mind about everything to do with the birth. Not all births go to plan but as long as you make sure both you and your partner know and understand what is best for you and your baby in the long run you'll be fine.