Anatomy of Birth

Anatomy of birth

Focus for 2017: Thoughtful discussion about pregnancy and birth

No 1. An Ideal Birth

Everyone is different. One person will like one thing, while another person will totally dislike the exact same thing. But let’s imagine a birth as close to ideal as possible (for most people anyway – there will always be those who prefer an interesting, dramatic birth)…

My pregnancy has been smooth sailing. All bloods and ultrasounds plum normal – didn’t even get morning sickness. Worked until 36 weeks, supportive employer, my temporary replacement was easy to train (but not such an ace at it that they could take my job), and paid maternity leave all sorted. I have spent the last few weeks stocking up the freezer with meals, as recommended by friends, family, and my obstetrician, and all preparations for the baby are finished, including the car seat, which was a breeze to install (said no one ever).

I had a strong feeling that I would have the baby on her due date and so was not surprised when I woke up to contractions on that day. They were still irregular so I just knew that it was only early labour. When dear husband woke up, he was calm and reassuring (!) – this was our first but he had read all the books and had attended a men’s antenatal class at the pub. I went about my business as usual while hubby called work to say he would not be in today.

After a few hours, the contractions became regular every few minutes and took my breath away. I rang the hospital and a friendly and helpful midwife listened patiently to me and asked me to come in to be checked. We hopped in the car and hubby drove carefully as usual obeying all speed signs and traffic signals. Then my waters broke – there was a ‘pop’ and then I felt a gush of fluid coming out from down below. This was not a problem as I was sitting on a special absorbent mat in case this happened, as recommended by friends, family, and my obstetrician. It was all caught in the mat and did not stain the car seat at all.

When we reached the hospital, there was a parking space available right outside the entrance. When we stopped, I quickly changed my underwear with a spare one that I keep in the glovebox – there was no problem doing it in the cramped car seat space as I usually do yoga.

We reached the birth suite reception and the receptionist said we were expected and called a midwife, who immediately appeared to escort us to an assessment room. The contractions had become quite painful but I could still breathe through them. She did an examination and said I was in active labour and took us to a birthing room.

I had seen them on the tour during antenatal classes – they were modern, super clean, and spacious. There was a big bath to one side and a comfortable-looking bed with a big screen TV, a kitchenette, large ensuite, and several breathtaking landscape paintings on the walls. There were also two lounge chairs, one of which could convert into a comfortable sofa bed for support people if the labour was long.

A midwife came in and introduced herself as the midwife who would be looking after us today. They had already called my obstetrician and she was on her way. I first wanted to have a shower so went into the ensuite. I didn’t have to worry about wasting water as it was filtered from a rainwater tank and the hospital had an almost limitless supply of it.

My obstetrician arrived and saw that all was going well – the baby’s heart rate was fine, the liquor was clear, and my contractions were strong but I felt like I was coping. She had nothing else to attend to so was going to sit in the Doctor’s room down the corridor to do paperwork in between checking on me. After four hours or so, she did another examination and I had progressed to nearly fully dilated. I got out of the shower as I was getting too wrinkly and decided to try the birth ball instead. This worked well – sitting on the ball did not strain my back at all and I would stand up during a contraction and lean on the bed.

After a couple of hours, the contractions seemed to change. It felt like spasms where I really, really needed to go to the toilet. The obstetrician came in and did an examination – fully dilated! It was time to push. My legs were tired from all that standing so I hopped up onto the bed. The midwife and obstetrician were crystal clear in their instructions on how to push and I got the hang of it in no time (said no one ever).

I first pushed on the left side but my right leg kept getting a cramp so I tried the right side. Finally, I lay on my back and there seemed to be progress as both midwife and obstetrician were saying they could see baby hair. There was a brief excruciating pain down below as something the size of a bowling ball crowned out of an opening that had been nowhere near that size… then relief! The baby’s head was out and the rest of the body just slid out easily and was in my arms in a blink. After a quick cry, she settled and snuggled quietly on my chest. The placenta just slipped out with hardly a tug and there was very little bleeding. The obstetrician checked my perineum and it was intact with no stitching required. They whipped off the dirty sheets with help from my yoga poses and covered me up in a warm blanket. The baby immediately started rooting and attached to the breast like a seasoned pro. It did not hurt at all…

The midwife offered us afternoon tea and when I saw the scones with jam and cream, I felt famished and wolfed it down. The Earl Grey was also very satisfying.

I left the baby with hubby and had a luxurious warm shower. It was the best thing ever. I came out and hubby was confidently holding the baby while texting our parents about the good news. There was no hurry at all to depart the birth suite room but I wanted to get settled into my room on the maternity ward.

The room had a double bed so both of us could sleep comfortably. Dinner arrived and it was delicious. I chose to have a little red wine and it was a great vintage from Marlborough Sounds. After breastfeeding her again, the baby settled into a deep sleep so both of us got into bed. She woke after four hours or so and I fed her and she went straight back to sleep. There was another feed early in the morning but we all slept in until 8am when breakfast arrived.

(To Be Continued…)