Thanks for joining us for my next installment of my Love Your Labour series. Having just had my vbac appoinment for my second pregnancy, I am feeling very positive about this pregnancy, and why things went wrong in my last labour. It really does help to talk to a professional to understand more about what didn’t go to plan with a particular labour. This month, we have the lovely Emma joining us to tell her story.
Hi, I’m Emma-Louise and I blog over at Even Angels Fall . I have three children and am marrying my partner Ed in September this year in Santorini. We live in Bournemouth and I’m a wedding and events organiser by day, blogger by night.
1.How did you prepare for your labour? Did you have a birth plan or an idea of what you wanted to happen? (eg water birth, drugs, home birth, hospital birth)
For each of my pregnancies I have had a birth plan. The first I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but with the other two I was more confident with the type of labour I wanted. After being induced for my first, I very much wanted a more natural labour second time round and I planned a water birth in the midwife led unit attached to the maternity hospital where I live. For my third I decided I wanted to try and give birth at home. Gas & air and pethidine worked well for me with the first two, so I was a little sad I wouldn’t be able to have it for my third but I came to terms with it.
2. Did you find reading labour stories helped you in the lead up to your labour in preparing yourself for birth?
I was more of a fan of one born every minute with my first two, but by the third I was very into the blogging world and I found as many bloggers’ birth stories as possible to read. I was especially interested in reading about water births, home births in particular as that was my ‘dream’ birth for Benjamin.
3. What happened during your labour that meant it didn’t go to plan?
Focusing on my third, and most recent birth, to cut a long story short, I didn’t get my home birth. I had a couple of episodes of reduced movement towards the end of my pregnancy, and they did a scan to check everything was ok, saw baby didn’t seem to have grown much in the past week or so and decided they wanted him out asap. That was the day before my due date, and they booked me in for an induction the very next day. Suddenly my home birth in my hired birth pool was snatched away from me, but all I was focused on at the time was getting Benjamin out safely and finally meeting my baby boy. With my second baby I ended up in the midwife led unit like I planned, but when Carly decided to fall asleep during labour (so lazy!) I had to get out of the pool to be monitored and then I didn’t fancy getting back in (something I regret now).
4. How did you feel immediately after the birth? Did you struggle to come to terms with the labour or did you accept that it had happened?
After giving birth to Benjamin I struggled a lot with regret of not having the home birth I had planned. Financially it was frustrating as well as we had hired a pool which cost almost £100, money we couldn’t really afford at the time, and it was upsetting to have it there when we returned from the hospital, unused, and a reminder that I didn’t get the birth I planned. A few days afterwards it really hit home that my labour had not been how I wanted it, and I did struggle, especially as Benjamin is almost certainly our last baby so I’ll never get the chance for a home birth again. Not only was I induced, meaning I again didn’t get a water birth, I was also unable to move off of my back during what turned out to be a very fast labour, as Benjamin’s heart rate was worrying the midwife so she wanted me to be constantly monitored. It was excruciating lying down and I was so upset and frustrated with how things had gone.
5. How do you feel about it now? Have your feelings towards your labour changed as time has gone on?
I’m still feeling upset about it. I try not to dwell on it but when I think back to it I feel a lot of sadness and regret rather than the happiness I should feel. I’m annoyed at myself for still feeling this way, but I do think it’s exacerbated due to Benjamin being my last baby.
6. Do you find talking about your labour helpful or have you struggled with this? (either in person or through writing about it)
I think, as with most things, it definitely helps to talk/write about my experience. It helps to get my thoughts down, and to come to terms with how things happened. Despite everything I wouldn’t change the fact that I was induced, as Benjamin was born at a very small 6lb4oz on his due date, and as a third baby, I do think maybe something had stopped working inside and things could have gone very differently if the hospital hadn’t of erred on the side of caution and pushed to get things started.
7. Did you seek any professional help to guide you through your experience, either by speaking to your midwife or doctor, or an organisation such as Birth Reflections? If so, did you find this helped? If not, do you think this would have helped?
I spoke to my home birth midwife after the birth, when she came to see me for my postnatal checks. I explained I was disappointed, but at the time I didn’t really feel I could discuss anything in further detail. At the time I hadn’t heard of birth reflections, although now I have and it’s definitely a worthwhile service to have out there for people like me who struggle to come to terms with how things panned out.
8. Have there been any long lasting impact due to your experience, e.g. has it affected your decision to have more children?
I do think the fact I didn’t get the birth I wanted has made it harder to come to terms with Benjamin being my last baby. There’s still a small part of me that would love another baby, even though logistically I know it wouldn’t work for us as a family, and I do think that if I had of got my home water birth I would feel a little bit more complete. I suffer from depression and anxiety, so this comes into play with my emotions and feelings surrounding the birth as well.
9. Would you change your approach for future births eg by not having a birth plan or by doing more research into types of births and options if things don’t go as planned.
If I were to have another baby I would definitely plan for a home water birth again, but this time I would perhaps talk openly and honestly with my midwife about things not going to plan more and prepare myself for this being a possibility. At the end of the day, nobody can prepare fully for labour as each one is different, and I think if I went into it with a more realistic expectation I would have found things easier to cope with. I would definitely be stronger with midwives though and explain that I need to be active during labour, even if being monitored, as I find it hard to be confined when in pain and this definitely made my labour a lot worse than it would have been had I been able to move a little.
10. What advice would you give to someone who has been through a similar experience?
I would say still write a birth plan, research the birth you would like, but just see it as guidelines rather than a concrete mission statement. It’s worth discussing every eventuality in the plan and with your midwife and birth partner(s) as they will be your voice if you’re unable to speak for yourself when the time comes.