Help me understand my traumatic labour. Any midwives on here?(39 Posts)
Before I begin, I just want to say that I know my labour was nowhere near as traumatic as many others. It has been playing on my mind and I just want to understand what happened.
I arrived at the hospital early, this was planned because the hospital is an hours drive away so I went with the logic that I'd rather be too early than too late.
I was 3cm at 8am and was having regular contractions that were very mild in terms of pain.
They carried on like this, minimal pain until just before 10am when I asked for some paracetamol. The pains went from naught to a million in moments. By the time they brought the paracetamol, i needed gas & air. The pain was in my back as well as stomach. By around 10.30 I was begging to be examined. They refused. They told me they were the experts and knew when the time was right. I became very emotional, cried actually. They came over to check the babies heartbeat but they couldn't find it and called for the senior midwife. They helped me onto the bed for her to check what was going on and at that moment my waters broke and my daughter was born 6 minutes (2 pushes) later.
This was my second labour so I have a comparison and I understand every labour is different and the pain is immense, but the pain this time was like nothing I could have prepared for. That 40 minutes were like hell and to be told that the midwives knew best made me feel like I had no control over the situation.
This is coming from someone who got to 8cm at home with my first labour and when I walked into the labour ward they told me to prepare to go home before examining me and being in shock at how far into labour I was. I know I have a good pain threshold and that's why this all took me by surprise so much.
Could the severe pain have been a result of the fact my waters hadn't broken but my baby was right there, ready to be born? If they had broken my waters half an hour before, could that have all been avoided?
I would love to have a 3rd child and I've always been anxious about taking any more pain relief than g&a but there is no way I could go through that pain ever again.
Please help. Thank you.
Fast quick labours can often be more painful, intense, no real time for endorphins to kick on. Very common to feel the pain was too much and overwhelmed. Membranes being intact have nothing to do with it, they might have caused you to feel more pressure in your vagina/rectum but wouldn't make it more painful. And even if your were examined slightly earlier it wouldn't have changed anything with regards to your waters breaking.
Sounds like a typical 2nd baby labour. Midwives often do have a good idea about stage of labour after seeing Massive amounts of labouring women, but do get it wrong, plus things can change in a matter of minutes.. however I obviously can't comment on your exact situation having not been there. You could have been examined and found to be 4cm and a baby's head between your legs 5mins later. Other thing is baby's position may have caused more intense pain. It's all very variable.
Good luck in whatever you decide to do x
There is no time
Restriction in PALS which is very
Much worth doing. Also the take note from your feedback not to repeat it again for your next labour and this is prioritised.
Sorry - it sounds very stressful for you . I would have been very scared.
Thank you both so much for your replies. Very helpful
mainly - what is PALS?
just from what.you said and other experiences i have read was baby back to back? could that explain the intense pains?
I don't know if this helps or not but I had a similar experience with ds3. I arrived at hospital at 42 weeks, 3cm dilated (I'd been like that for days) and was desperate to get in the labour ward. They said they'd been watching me and I was showing no real signs of being in labour. My son was born 13 minutes later. Fast labours are not easier.
You OK now?
My third baby was born, with membranes intact, approximately 20 mins after I was examined and found to be 2cm. I'd been induced 6 hours previously and having harmless little on-and-off contractions, and was very frustrated to only be 2cm. I left the ward with dh for a walk to try and get things moving. Didn't even make it to the lift before we had to turn back. I staggered into the labour room I had been in and fell down by the side of the bed as it hurt too much to get onto it. Shouted for help. Doctor came running, heaved me onto the bed together with dh and didn't even have time to get gloves on before baby was born. She was visibly shocked - more shocked than I was, actually. She couldn't have predicted that at all. Your labour sounds similar, and things clearly moved much more quickly than the people caring for you are used to seeing. That said, they should have listened to you. I think you would have found what followed more bearable if they had. I remember when the pain ramped up, as well as being in agony, I was upset and despondent because I was at 2cm so was clearly in for hours of this and struggling to bear it already. I had no idea things could move so fast - dc2 was also quick, born half an hour after arriving at the hospital, but I'd been upright and walking through gradually strengthening contractions for a few hours so it was quite logical to me that I'd be fairly far on.
I am guessing your labour will count as precipitate. If you do go for a third child, you can explain this history and have it in your notes and so everyoned can be prepared for it potentially happening again and have a plan to support you in place.
I'm a midwife.
Firstly I'm sorry you had a traumatic time.
When the pain level ramped up so,quickly it sounds like you were in transition. This is the stage just before being ready to push and it's the worst stage for most women. It's the part of labour where a lot of people say they can't do it, want an epidural, want to go home, etc.
Routinely we don't like examining women more frequently than every four hours due to the risk of infection, though this infection risk is lessened when your waters haven't gone. However if a woman was begging me to examine her and it was early I would do it after explaining why I was reluctant to and checking she still wanted to be examined. Maybe some units are stricter? Some midwives may be less confident about moving away from policy. I know our boss moans about too frequent VEs but I always think if I can justify what I did and it's not dangerous then I would do it.
I don't think the pain would have been caused by the waters not been broken and baby been there. I'm always very reluctant to break waters unless there is a reason to. Yes maybe if they'd been broken things would have been done and dusted quicker but it can also cause problems. Babies will be able to rotate into decent positions a lot easier in a bag of waters. So if you break them early there's a risk that the baby may not be in the best position and take longer to get to that position or even get stuck.
I feel like when I've spoken to people irl, they don't really seem to understand that I had a fast labour. They think that because I arrived at hospital at 8am and gave birth at 10.45 that it was normal, but I know it wasn't. The facts are, the pains were mild and I'd been having them for hours before getting to the hospital yet I was only 3cm. I'm pretty certain that over the course of the following 2 hours I don't think I dilated much, if anything at all. It feels like I went from 3/4cm to holding the baby in not much more than 30 minutes.
I'm okay now, I just found it distressing at the time that it felt the midwives weren't taking me seriously at all. It has really made me feel that I can't go through that experience again. It sounds silly but I felt afraid, like no one believed me and no one was taking seriously the pain that I was in.
It is so sad that almost 30 years later this still happens. I told the midwife I wanted to push and she said (without examining me) 'Oh no, its too soon for that.' Within 15 minutes I was holding my son!
Good advice from the others on this thread though.
I'm really sorry you had a traumatic experience first of all.
Fast labours can happen, especially when it's not your first. The increased pain does sound like you had entered transition which is the stage between being full dilated and starting to push.
Your waters being present shouldn't affect the pain you feel, in fact waters being intact is actually associated with less pain during labour.
In terms of examining you, midwives don't like to do this often. Firstly as it doesn't really tell us that much, only how you're doing at that moment in time which can change very quickly. It's quite an invasive act and the more examinations you have the more risk of infection there is. Saying that most midwives would examine a woman begging to know how she was progressing and you shouldn't have felt disbelieved at all.
OP, precipitate (rapidly progressing) labours can be a real shock. In terms of your waters, I would say their presence was very possibly a mitigating factor in actually slowing things, if that sounds possible to you in your case. So, to look at it another way, had the midwife examined you earlier and broken your waters during this internal (it can happen), things could've been even more intense and quicker.
From what you say, in terms of not feeling you were listened to, I think a debrief with your notes with a senior midwife, such as a supervisor of midwives or consultant midwife might be really helpful for you, and possibly any birth partner who was with you too? A plan could then be put in place for any future births.
I hope that helps shed some light and gives you some options going forward.
Honestly, you have no idea how much reading your comments is helping. It's nice to talk to others who understand. The problem is, people who haven't experienced this type of labour think that ladies who have fast labours are lucky. I had an episiotomy and venteuse delivery first time round right at the last minute due to fetal bradycardia and required a huge amount of stitches afterwards but this was far more painful. Like on a completely different level.
I just wish I'd been more mentally prepared. I suppose I'm lucky I live further from the hospital now because if I lived closer, I would have laboured at home a lot longer and could have been at risk of having the baby at home.
Precipitate labours are hard and very intense, certainly not easy!
My own three children I had labours of 2 hours, 24 minutes and then finally 16 minutes. It was scary, painful and certainly not easy! I was induced with all three so I was already in the hospital when the labour began luckily.
I'm a bit surprised by all the people saying that the waters not having gone wouldn't have added to pain - with DS2 (went from 1cm to 8cm in an hour, then he was born 40 minutes later), my waters going was a massive relief and the pain much more manageable immediately afterwards.
Fast labours definitely have downsides. Poor you - I was lucky to have a brilliant midwife who really listened and supported after a rubbish dismissive one in triage. I think a good midwife makes such a difference. Mine was called Sue and I think she should be cloned.
My labouring experiences were all quite different.
DS1 18 hours
DS2 2 hours
DS3 13 MINUTES
Please don't let your labouring experience put you off having a third child. I wouldn't swap my boys for all of the tea in China. And, fwiw, there is a year and 38 minutes between DS 2 and DS3!
I basically was feeling a lot of pressure down below for quite some time (the intense pain started at 10am, the pressure started at around 10.15 which made the pain even worse and then DD arrived at 10.45) which I had told the midwives but they seemed so dismissive of. My waters obviously hadn't gone so it's not like I could just push. That was part of my reasoning for wondering if the waters being broken could have prevented a lot of the pain. I wondered if my baby was basically ready and waiting to be born but the waters were preventing me from actually just delivering her.
It does sound like you were labouring fairly slowly/ normally/ progressively from when it started at home (and arrived at hospital at 8am) until around 10/10.15am when suddenly it ramped up and you went through transition and gave birth. The head fuck for you was that no one believed you
How long do you think you were labouring at home for?
My second labour was similar: started at home with very mild labour pains which very gradually increased over five hours. I was at home, planned home birth. But I mean verrrrry gradually increased. It was totally manageable, no pain relief needed, I was laughing and relaxed. At 10.15pm the MWs examined me but I didn't want to know what I was. I got in the pool. Then nothing for ten minutes and then BOOM - wave after wave of contraction, transition and birth at 10.55pm. The MWs told me later I was four cm when they examined me and I got in the pool. So not quite as short as you but similar at around 45 mins. The difference being, everyone beleieved me, everyone was on hand for me and let me go through the process supported.
I think if you decide to have another baby, talk this through with the MWs and explain it left you feeling like this. I had had an awful birth with DC1 and it had overshadowed my pregnancy with DC2 but it was all over my notes that I had to be treated very differently this time.
Poor you. It can be a shock and I can't imagine going through transition with those around you saying it's not happening.
Thanks Redcrab yes, it does sound similar to yours. My pains started at 3am and woke me up but just continued to be mild. So that was 7 hours of mild but regular contractions and then all of a sudden, it was just hell! The midwives has been joking about how I was going to be in there all day. I think they made their minds up how my labour was going to go and then when it didn't go the way they had expected, they just put it down to me not being able to handle the pain, rather than that the pain was literally unbearable because of the speed at which things were happening.
It's similar to how my labours go. I really caught the Labour ward out with dd2 with how quickly I go from niggles to baby - to quote the very experienced midwife "it's not often I'm caught out but you really do just go bang"
Feeling like you're not being listened to, particularly when you're in such a vulnerable position, can be really undermining and upsetting. The one thing that could have been easily rectified in this situation is how you were listened to and treated. I would suggest giving feedback via PALS so that the midwives can understand and learn from your experience. You could also arrange a birth debrief consultation. I did this and found it really cathartic and helpful. Good luck.
Oh also I've no idea when my waters broke but it wasn't before I got in the pool. It obviously happened at some point between being 4cm and getting in the pool and giving birth but being in the water, I couldnt tell and I didn't feel them go. Transition was kind of distracting me.
I just asked my husband and he said it was more half an hour from getting in the pool to giving birth.
Yes to cinnamon's post - the awful thing for you was that what you were going through was dismissed. Leaving you probably feeling frightened, unsupported, out of control and more than a little disturbed? When you needed calm support and emotional security. It must have been so difficult for you. The difference that talking to MWs makes really does help. I had completely different problems with DC1 but was left with a similar mistrust. I knew going into DC2's labour that I needed to trust them and so spent a lot of time explaining this. To their credit, though they were not the same actual MWs, they were dismayed I felt this way and certainly went to great length to build a relationship with me that enabled some trust.
Immediately before dd was born I could feel bulging (had been lifted onto bed on all fours and asked to turn round but refused as felt I needed to stay in that position) and just about thought 'waters haven't gone, maybe if I push it'll break them' and in that push she was born.
When I told dh I needed to get back into the ward and collapsed by the bed he was making 'come on' sort of comments and I was pretty cross because I felt he was implying it couldn't be that bad and I was being a wimp about the pain, but at the same time I was doubting myself and thinking I was being a wimp - headfuck is about right In that sense the fast birth was a vindication. It's rather dispiriting to think that many professionals who are used to accompanying births will give priority to their idea of how a birth goes rather than what a woman is telling them. Guess we're still not taken entirely seriously
Your hospital will probably offer a post labour de-briefing service so you could contact them & go through your notes with them. That will, you can find out what their perspective was which may help set your mind at rest.
It did for me. DC1's birth was bad, I thought I was fine with it afterwards as, after all, she was alive (there were several minutes when we weren't sure she'd make it) & healthy and it was only when pregnant with DC2 that I began to get really worried about going through labour again. The review of my notes really set my mind at rest & made me realise that set of circumstances was unlikely to arise again.
When I did go into labour with DC2, I went from not knowing if I was in labour but set off for hospital as it is 50mins away, I just couldn't get comfortable & they were quiet so said they'd examine me, to realise during the journey that I was in labour & getting DH to do the journey as fast as possible to delivering 29mins after we arrived. The first 10 mins were quite calm & were me being hooked up to various monitors, chatting through my notes etc, to a MW going to examine me just as my waters broke so she went off to change & sent another MW in to examine me but I started throwing up & puked all over her so she went off. The pain seriously ramped up and I was writhing in pain & screaming (and still puking) so sent DH off to get another MW, MW1 re-appeared took one look at me, shouted not to push whilst she shot across the room & pressed the emergency button & then caught DS as the staff raced in.
I do always think that if I had known that that level of pain was going to be for such a short period, I may have been able to control it better. As it was, everything felt out of control. My body was just doing its own thing and I didn't know what it was. I was in complete shock afterwards - and I don't just mean emotionally but physically too. They got DH to do immediate skin to skin rather than me as they thought my heart rate was too high to settle DS and had to wait 45 mins to do my stitches as I was still shaking. They told me they could discharge me after 3hrs but would like to keep me in overnight & monitor me in because of the shock levels.
Yes, quick labours can be hard!
Join the discussion
Please login first.