When Jackie Greenwood wrote her birth plan, she was pleased she took on board the advice to expect the unexpected! Here she shares with us her birth experience.
What had you planned for your birth?
The plan was for a water birth at home without pain relief, although none of this happened in the end!
When did you go into labour?
I was eight days overdue. At 6am on a Wednesday morning I woke up in quite a lot of pain. I wasn't sure if I was in a labour or not as I wouldn't say the pain was particularly bad, but with hindsight it was definitely the beginning.
How long did this pain continue?
For the rest of Wednesday and all of Thursday. The contractions were coming every 30 minutes and were too painful to sleep through, but not unbearable. I phoned my midwife a few times but, because the contractions were 30 minutes apart and I was able to cope, she advised that I needed to stay put and let her know if anything changed.
When did things really start to happen?
By 1am on Friday morning, I was in enough pain to warrant another phone call. The midwife arrived and examined me and confirmed I was in labour, and that I was 3cms dilated.
She advised me to get into my home birthing pool, which I did do. I stayed there for eight hours before getting back out.
Was the pool effective?
Very - I found the water soothing and calming and it really eased the pain of the contractions. I only got out because the midwives were changing shifts and the new midwife wanted to examine me.
What happened next?
Well, this is where my dream of a home water birth fell by the wayside! The new midwife confirmed I had only reached 4cms and she also believed the baby had flipped over and was in the back to back position. Additionally, by this point, I had been in labour for more than two days.
So you grabbed your hospital bag and made a dash for it?
No – I hadn't packed a hospital bag! I was so sure I was going to have a home birth, I hadn't even planned for the alternative! My midwife looked a bit miffed but she took it all in good spirit. My partner Matthew had to pack a bag with me shouting instructions in between contractions while we waited for an ambulance to arrive.
What happened when you got to the hospital?
They put me into a 'home from home' room and broke my waters as I still wasn't dilating. Within thirty minutes of this, my contractions had become totally unbearable and I asked for an epidural. After two and a half days of labour, I had finally had enough and just wanted some relief from the pain.
How long did it take for the epidural to arrive?
I had to move rooms as the home from home room wasn't equipped for an epidural. Unfortunately, this took 45 minutes as the new room was being cleaned – by the midwife! By this point, I was in agony, tired, emotional and drained. But once I was in the new room, the epidural was up and running within 15 minutes.
Was it effective?
Very – it worked really quickly and completely took the pain away. It was a strange sensation and I could still feel the clenching of the contractions, but there was no pain. I did feel disappointed with myself, but I knew I couldn't have gone on.
Additionally, I was hooked up to an oxytocin drip to stimulate my labour, so the epidural was definitely the right decision.
After the marathon labour, waters being broken, an epidural and the oxytocin drip, when was the baby finally born?
At 8.45pm on the Friday evening, I was finally ready to push. By this point I was absolutely exhausted and felt I had nothing left. It was only the support of my partner and my wonderful midwife who kept me going. Our daughter Georgia was finally born at 10.01pm.
And after such a difficult labour, how was it to meet your baby for the first time?
It was just a beautiful moment. I cried and my partner was tearful too...I just couldn't believe how beautiful she was. She was undoubtedly worth every second of the 64-hour labour.
And would you attempt a home water birth again?