After a wonderful pregnancy, Shan Chatoo was disappointed to experience a difficult birth. Here she tells us what it was like...
When did you realise you were in labour?
I was sitting on the sofa, five days overdue, watching the Weakest Link. I was thinking how rude Anne Robinson was when all of a sudden I experienced the most unbelievably agonising pain in my baby bump – it was so bad I thought it couldn't possibly be labour (little did I know). I was worried so phoned the hospital. The midwife gave a knowing chuckle and confirmed that my labour had begun. She advised me to stay at home until the contractions got to six minutes apart, which took 24 hours!
And what happened when you arrived?
I was put onto a maternity assessment ward for two hours, and then moved to the labour ward. We were lucky enough to be given an active birth room which had an exercise ball and beanbag, both of which I found really helpful. There was also a birthing pool but I decided I didn't want to use that.
What did you pack to take with you?
I packed quite a few bits and pieces as this was my first baby and I wasn't sure what I needed. The most useful thing I packed was a hot water bottle which really helped when things started to get really uncomfortable.
What pain relief did you have during labour?
I was given paracetamol when I arrived at the hospital and I also tried gas and air. Eventually I requested an epidural but unfortunately was unable to have one as the hospital didn't have the correct drugs!
How was the actual birth?
The birth itself was long and difficult. My contractions would reach a certain point and then stop. After 12 hours in hospital (and 24 hours at home), still nothing was really happening. At this point my waters were broken and I was induced using the Syntocinon drip. I was told it would stimulate labour very quickly and was used when all else fails. However, even that failed! So they gave me a second dose at 2pm.
I finally started to push at 4pm. By 5pm my baby was in distress and an obstetrician was called. He discovered that she had turned sideways and there was just no way I was going to be able to deliver her naturally. So it was quickly decided that I needed an emergency caesarean which, at that point, came as a relief. Sofia was finally born at 6pm.
How did you feel afterwards?
Once the c-section was over, I felt both elated and extremely disappointed. I was overjoyed to finally meet my daughter and become a mother, but so frustrated at how the birth had gone. To labour for all those very painful hours and end up with an emergency c-section was very upsetting. I felt I'd lost out on reaching the pinnacle of pregnancy and birth, and for a long time wondered why it had to happen to me.
How was it to finally meet your baby?
Despite the difficult birth, seeing my daughter for the first time was amazing. I just felt euphoric! She was so small and perfect and I couldn't believe something so beautiful had come from my belly. And just a day before she had looked exactly the same, but inside me instead. We lay together all night as I wouldn't put her down...in fact, I squeezed a little too hard and she got quite annoyed!
If I am honest, Sofia's birth was very traumatic and I wouldn't want to go through that again. However, I have been told by my doctor that my next baby will need to be delivered by an elective c-section, and I find it reassuring to know that I won't have another difficult birth. So I do plan on becoming a mum again.