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Madison’s long and intense birth

Birth Stories

Story by Madison

My labour was extremely long and intense and while it wasn’t my dream birth, I am very proud of how myself, Kane and bub handled each curve ball (and there were plenty).

I went into labour at 8:30pm on the 6/4/24 and my contractions started at 5 minutes apart, but the intensity of the contractions quickly grew stronger and by 1:30am I was having intense contractions every 3minutes. So, we went into hospital, and they checked my cervix, I was only 1cm dilated. They offered me panadeine forte, but I declined and decided to go back home and try getting in the shower and using the TENS machine to manage. I was doing well with managing the pain, and contractions slowed down to every 6-8 minutes after a hot shower and I was able to get rest in bed in between contractions at home until they started amping up again and coming every 2 minutes around 7:30am.

These contractions were STRONG. We thought maybe this time I had reached active labour as I was approaching the 12th hour of labour. We headed back to the birthing unit, and they checked my cervix again – which was still only 1cm. I was getting exhausted with the contractions at this point and accepted the panadeine forte. This meant I had to stay on the monitor for 4 hours after taking the pain relief, which I think possibly at this point bub turned posterior while I was reclined in a chair in the hospital assessment room. But I was able to get some good rest in the assessment room with Kane watching when contractions continued to come every 4-8minutes and pressing the boost button on the TENS machine for me.

After I had reached the 4 hours of monitoring, they checked my cervix again – I was still only 1.5cm. It was midday now on the 7th of April and we decided to go home again, this time with a script for panadeine forte. It was so strange going to Priceline during labour and having contractions in such a public space.

When we got home, I found a comfortable place in our back spare room where I continued to have regular contractions every 4 minutes, resting in between, and getting up on my hands and knees to move and breathe through each contraction with the TENS machine. The whole family was in the back spare room that evening, the cat, the dog, Kane, and my mum. At around 5pm (21hours of labour had past) the pain intensified in my back, and I got to a point where the TENS machine was starting to cause me more pain than relief and I decided to take it off and hop in the shower again. The shower helped me breathe through contractions as I swayed under the hot water with Kane pressing on the pressure points on my back to ease the back pain. Once out of the shower the back pain was now getting stronger and eventually unbearable with contractions coming every 1 – 2 minutes.

I couldn’t hold back my emotions anymore; I was crying hysterically, and my mum pointed out my tone and groaning had changed, and she suggested it might be time to head back to the hospital. I was so scared to return to the hospital and be told I had not dilated any further, but I was not coping at home anymore, so we headed back to the hospital at around 7:30pm (approaching the 24th hour of labour).

The midwife did a vaginal exam and took a long time locating my cervix and said “I actually don’t think I can feel your cervix at all, I think you’re fully dilated. Let’s get you to a birthing room, you’ll be meeting this baby soon”. Omg the relief those words brought me! Labour was really amping up at this point and I was having a hard time getting through each contraction. I tried the gas but didn’t feel it was helping that much. The only thing that provided slight relief was Kane pressing his thumbs into my back on either side of my spine. His poor thumbs got such a workout! We tried sterile water injections into my back to help the pain (these were excruciating to go in but did provide some temporary relief).

Hours passed and I was just so physically and mentally exhausted. We reached 1am on the 8th of April and the midwives checked my cervix again – 6cm dilated! But how!? I was so disheartened; I was meant to be fully dilated. The midwives apologised and explained that because my cervix had completely thinned, which while that was amazing my body did all that work already to thin the cervix, it made checking my cervix quite difficult and they believe the midwife who said I was fully dilated may not have been able to feel it properly.

I had been in labour for 31 hours and I began bawling my eyes out and screaming that I can’t do it anymore. As baby was posterior and I had been labouring for so long with severe back pain and no progress in dilation, I opted for an epidural which was not what I initially wanted but definitely what I needed. This was my choice, and I requested an epidural as I felt like I needed help to relax in order for baby to come out. Getting the epidural was the hardest part of my whole labour as I was required to sit completely still throughout a severe contraction that at this point were basically taking over my body exorcism style. It was the most terrifying minute of my life while the doctor had a needle in my spine, and I forced myself to be a statue against every urge in my body to move through the contraction. As epidural can slow labour, I now required to be on a syntocinon drip.

Within moments after commencing the drip at 3am, I experienced the BIGGEST and most painful contraction despite having no feeling from the epidural. I yelled to my mum; something isn’t right with this drip. Mum spotted on the monitor that bubs heart rate had dropped significantly and ran out to the corridor to grab the midwife. They pressed the staff assist button and within a minute 3 doctors and 4 other midwives rushed into the room. The syntocin drip was stopped immediately, I was given an IV fluid bolus and bubs heart started to stabilise. My cervix was checked again, and I was almost fully dilated – I went from 6 to 9cm in that huge contraction brought on by the syntocin drip. The midwife spent a lot of time with me after this watching bub heart rate while they slowly reintroduced the syntocin drip to dilate that last centimetre.

At 5:40am my cervix was checked for the last time; I was fully dilated! The midwives said they will be back shortly, and I could start pushing in 20minutes, after 35 hours of labour those words were music to my ears. The midwives returned at 6am and it was time to push this baby out. We waited for the next contraction, and I started to push. I had trouble with my leg positioning but was able to do a few good pushes unassisted.

The midwife and Kane assisted the next few pushes by holding my legs. And there was the top of her head! The midwife had me reach down to feel my baby’s head and this gave me overwhelming motivation to get this baby out. In the next contraction and 4 big pushes and to the shock of the midwife, her head was completely out. My mum pressed the staff button for more helping hands, and I was told to wait. The next contraction approached, and I was told to get ready to push. In a total of 20 minutes of pushing, our beautiful little girl was earthside.

Madison’s message to others is: Don’t be too fixated on how you want your birth to be, birth can be surprising and unpredictable so being fluid with your birth plan is important. Because I had done the research about possible interventions used in birth, I was able to go ahead with getting an epidural with no surprises as I understood exactly what that decision meant for me. I think this helped to stay calm while going through all the discomforts that an epidural entailed.

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