If you follow me on Instagram (@Shanie_Ryan) you will know I have just uploaded some of the realist, raw and personal images that I will ever post… They are the images of my birth story.
I decided that I couldn’t share so much of my pregnancy with you all via my social media and blog to then just ignore birth, and not talk about the labour especially when so many of you have reached out to me asking about my birth story…
I also thought it was important to reassure all of the pregnant ‘mummy’s to be’ out there that despite Covid 19 and all of the restrictions that remain in place around birth partners, that the midwives are going above & beyond to ensure your birth experience is not far from the normal experience. I can tell you that my midwives were amazing from start to finish and seemed to think the restrictions still being in place were ridiculous. They we’re very flexible with the “rules” so do try not to worry.
My little boy River was 4 weeks old yesterday, so I decided it was time to watch back my birth video. What an amazing experience to be able to re-live it, to watch it back, and to recall what happened, it really helped me to process my birth story. It helped me to feel proud of myself for getting through it without screaming the entire place down and to enjoy the moment he was born again only this time without the discomfort Lol.
Rivers Birth Story;
Pain Relief: Gas & Air
Birth: Instrumental Ventouse Delivery
Labour Time: 12 Hours.
So firstly, let me just say that I look back on my labour and birth as a positive experience, but that is not to say it wasn’t hard nor did it all go to plan!
I went into labour at 5am. It started when I woke up to a bad tummy ache, (I had a spicy Indian the night before, so my first thought it was just the food) so I emptied my bowels completely. 15 minutes later I needed the bathroom again and noticed that my mucus plug had come out (also known as your bloody show). At that point I then realised my tummy ache was in fact the start of my labour. I started timing my contractions on the Freya App and after an hour bouncing on my birthing ball in the kitchen I woke Tony up to let him know that I was in labour. Within 2 hours of me waking up the app told me it was time to go to the hospital. My contractions definitely became more frequent and much stronger quite quickly and I had started being very sick (which was unexpected and weirdly like a form of pain relief). Once we got to hospital my waters started to trickle as I was walking up the stairs to the birthing suite. As soon as I arrived I was taken straight into the birthing pool and was given gas and air to help with the surges. On arrival at the hospital I was told I was already 5 cm dilated, I couldn’t believe I was in established labour after only 3 hours! A quick 6 hours total labouring and I had gone from 0-10cm. This entire experience was calm, focused, intense and intimate; with my midwife being present but not intrusive. Tony was a constant voice of encouragement, reminding me of my positive affirmations, massaging my back, and keeping me hydrated.
Labouring is intense and you’ve got to dig deep, its important to remain positive and to keep focused on the fact that every surge brings you closer to meeting your baby. If you can do that you get through it positively, it’s mother nature and time evaporates when you are in labour so when people talk about how long there labour was it never actually feels that long when you are living it. Looking back I enjoyed the labour experience it was almost out of body and quite a spiritual experience, the gas and air was so helpful as was the hot water of the birthing pool. Tony put some of my yoga music on in the background and laid out some battery operated candles to create an environment that I would find relaxing.
Once I got to 10cm dilated I felt ready to push, its like a feeling of baring down that can’t be ignored so my midwife told me to go with it. After such a rapid labour, I genuinely thought that I would have delivered him within an hour of pushing maximum (so did my midwife for that matter). However, after 2 hours of pushing he was still not with us which I was beginning to worry about and also to get frustrated with. For a moment I began to doubt myself, maybe I wasn’t pushing correctly? Maybe I wasn’t pushing hard enough? But Tony & my midwife continued to reassure me that I was doing a great job. It turned out that his head was stuck just a couple of cm from the exit. The midwives were concerned that I had been pushing for quite some time and were worried that I was getting exhausted and advised I should accept help getting him out. But as he was absolutely fine in terms of his heart rate and wasn’t in distress I decided to keep going and to try to deliver him naturally! This is where it was good to remind myself and to feel that I was in control of both my body and my baby and no one could force me to accept help if I didn’t want it, it was ultimately my choice. I am a pretty determined person, so my determination to push ended up at a very long 4 hours 40 minutes of pushing (which tells you if you put your mind to it you can literally push your body to its limits). But, after that amount of time I had to admit that I had absolutely had enough, especially after the empty bowls and vomiting situation, I literally had no fuel left in the tank to give me energy to keep going. After four hours of pushing they realised that his head being stuck was now a real problem and was preventing him from being born so the doctor came and tried to manually turn his head straight as I pushed so he could make it past my pelvis. However, his head kept going back (he actually sleeps with his head turned to the right like this so we get it now 🤷🏽♀️) .
In the end, Tony and I agreed that it simply wasn’t fair on me to keep trying. I was utterly spent, I was actually starting to go a little loopy and I was now causing damage to my pelvic floor and bladder from pushing for so long. We eventually agreed to put my wellbeing and physical health first, so we agreed to go ahead with the episiotomy and ventouse suction cup delivery.
Now, I won’t lie this wasn’t pleasant, I cant describe the feeling so I wont try but it was the only time I really let out a scream but, it was in fact over in less than 15 minutes and once they placed him on my chest I didn’t care about anything else but meeting my baby and all was forgotten.
Despite needing stitches once River arrived my care providers quietly slipped away and allowed me my “golden hour” of skin to to skin to bond with my baby. He latched onto my breast within 20 minutes of being born, before having one hour of skin to skin with Tony whilst I had stitches ect.
My labour & birth was a grand total of 12 hours from start to finish, it was a long one but my beautiful boy is here safely so it was totally worth it and we have already decided we will do it again so it couldn’t of been too bad Lol.
- Rest in between surges ie; close your eyes, be quiet almost take mini naps.
- Drink LOADS of water even if you don’t feel like it, I couldn’t eat at all during labour, I vomited 20-30 times but Tony made me drink 4 litres of water in total and a bottle of iced tea for sugar and the midwives were very happy I managed to stay so hydrated despite the sickness.
- Take a handheld electric fan with you, after two hours of pushing I got quite hot and bothered. Tony holding the fan on me was a godsend.
- Say yes to the catheter to drain your bladder during labour if you can’t pee, it doesn’t hurt and it helps create space for baby to move down the birth canal.
- Dextrose tablets helped with energy when I couldn’t eat . During labour move around lots. I got out the pool, I sat on the toilet, I was on all fours, slow dancing with Tony felt good and then being on my back propped up. Just keep changing it up when ever the midwife suggests it.
- Put music on that you like or helps you remain calm. You won’t hear it, but weirdly the background noise helps you zone out. Get yourself a tens machine for early labour!
- Take a pillow from home, hospital pillows suck and when you get into bed following delivery you will want to be comfortable for cuddles.
To put your mind at rest, despite covid I had an incredible team of care providers. They did everything normally with a mask added in. They didn’t make my partner wear a mask in the room and they let him bond with us for 8 hours after delivery. River and I were kept in over night and discharged 10pm the following day but I felt safe and cared for even when my partner left. On that note, I want to say a huge thank you to Jo & Cristy my amazing midwives from East Surrey Hospital for taking incredible care of me and baby River, also to Dr Radwah who delivered him safely and moved the theatre to the birthing suite for the first time in her career for me.
The fourth trimester is feeling a little harder than the birth tbh, mostly as my body is so tired from over 4 hours pushing and the episiotomy and rectal healing from pushing. Recovery has been hard, slow and undignified. But being a new mummy is rewarding and he is breast feeding amazingly despite his little tongue tie which keeps my spirits up. Make sure you check back for my fourth trimester blog post in the near future where I will get into all the ‘post birth stuff’ in more detail.
Mama’s to be… You’ve got this, I promise! My best advice is be prepared, do your pelvic floor exercises and write a detailed birth preferences document for your partner and your midwives and please don’t worry, your going to meet your baby and that is all that matters in the end.
Love Shanie & Baby River xXx