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Talk to MNHQ about the practicalities of labour – £50 voucher prize draw

(157 Posts)
MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 08-Aug-14 16:33:36

In the run up to BumpFest (which we’re VERY excited about we’re looking to get a better understanding of the experiences Mumsnetters have had around different issues surrounding childbirth.

You can read every book under the sun, attend every class going, but nothing every quite matches up to experiencing labour for yourself. That’s why we’d be interested to hear from Mumsnetters who have been there, done that and bought the t-shirt (after getting meconium on it, obviously)

Following on from another thread we ran, we’d like to ask you about the practicalities of labour.
How did it compare with what you expected? Did you feel you knew how to push during labour? Did your natural instict take over, or did your natural instinct have to be coaxed out by a midwife?

As they say, hind sight is 20/20 - so is there anything you wish you would have known in advance which would have helped you know how to deal with the practicalities of being in labour?

We know that everyone’s birthing experience is different, but we would love to hear your story to uncover what the different misconceptions and struggles are around labour.

Everyone who shares their thoughts on this thread will be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 John Lewis voucher.



Poofus Fri 08-Aug-14 16:53:47

I had hoped I'd have abundant natural instinct and my body would just know what to do. I did hypnobirthing and was convinced it would all be natural and straightforward. Unfortunately I found the pain far worse than I had expected, couldn't seem to do the breathing exercises at all, and had a difficult and long (50 hours!) labour. I seemed to have no natural instinct at all and relied on very specific instructions from the midwife, who was a godsend.

I don't know what I wish I'd known in advance really - I don't think ANYTHING could have prepared me for how much labour hurt and how difficult it all was.

shanewayne Fri 08-Aug-14 17:02:35

with my first child I had read about the signs of labour (a million times), but at 37 weeks I was in total denial and didn't get to the hospital until I was 9cm dilated shock
In all three labours, instinct totally took over, I expected it to be really painful (which it was) and managed with just gas and air. I think I was realistic about the amount of pain I would expect and this helped me overcome it. With my third child, I just relaxed and went with it, I practically delivered him myself as the midwife wasn't in the room.

missorinoco Fri 08-Aug-14 17:28:00

I knew what to expect from as much as ante natal classes can teach you, but it wasn't what I expected. I was not bothered about vaginal examinations, the thought og which pre labour had filled me with dread. I also didn't cate what I was wearing, quite rapidly nothing

The urge to push was misplaced due to back to back babies

I expected the pain to be worse than I imagined
I was right.

My plan was to go with it and see how it progressed. I'm glad for that, or I think an emergency c s would have made me feel cheated.

My very sensible midwife told mr all first labours are really a trial of labour. That wad very helpful in stopping me from having unrealistic expectations.

fuzzycheese Fri 08-Aug-14 17:38:35

The antenatal classes I attended didn't cover breathing techniques which I feel would have been helpful. I held my breath and tensed up during contractions and felt I couldn't cope. I couldn't get the hang of breathing the gas and air either! Labour was pretty much how I expected, but my midwife wasn't as supportive as I'd hoped considering it was my first labour, I felt she underestimated how much pain I was in (she was surprised when she examined me and I was already 10cm dilated!). I'm hoping to have another baby soon and will be looking into hypnobirthing and will be more willing to ask for pain relief if/when I need it instead of waiting for the midwife to suggest it. I found a tens machine helpful in the early stages so would use that again. I would also liked to have known how long recovery would take after the birth - I thought I'd be ok after a week but in reality I didn't feel anywhere near normal for about 6 weeks!

Fizzyplonk Fri 08-Aug-14 18:59:41

I didn't feel an urge to push with either. Even though I arrived 10cm with bulging membranes. I just pushed during the contractions and had no difficulty- but certainly didn't feel the urge to do so!
I also needed the lights dimming and no-one to move. I didn't have time for any pain relief with DS2 and told everyone not to move. I was in 'the zone' and people bustling around would have dragged me back to reality.
The only way I can describe it to DH is if you were having sex and people started walking around it would keep you grounded in the room and stop you entering a different head space. Hope that makes sense!

DrinkBelliniFallDown Fri 08-Aug-14 19:02:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bardette Fri 08-Aug-14 19:10:59

Labour was far more painful than I expected, and no-one told me that it would hurt in my back and legs as well as stomach. However the thing I was least prepared for was after delivering the baby all the faff and pain involved in delivering the placenta and being stitched. I had a retained placenta and ragged membranes with dc 1 and 2 and needed to be catheterised. With dc2 and 3 I had a lot of bleeding and wasn't allowed to eat or get up. And stitching really hurt. The births were fine but afterwards was a bit of a nightmare and everything I had read plus classes skipped over that part of giving birth!

littlesupersparks Fri 08-Aug-14 19:30:08

What surprised me was when labour didn't follow my eaters breaking. I had a big gush, but it was days later labour started... I didn't know that could happen and wore myself out pacing trying to bring on contractions!

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Fri 08-Aug-14 19:31:10

We hadn't made it to ante-natal classes before DD1 was born, so I felt very unprepared and was expecting labour to feel like stomach cramps rather than bad back ache. I also wasn't expecting it to go so quickly. I was induced by having my membranes ruptured at 36 weeks and was in labour for under 2 & 1/2 hours - not at all what I was expecting. I felt very out of control because I didn't know what was going on. I think if I'd known more about what to expect I would have been a lot more relaxed.

With DD2 I felt much more relaxed an in control and I think that helped me have a much easier and more enjoyable labour.

SweetPeaPods Fri 08-Aug-14 19:59:07

I was really worried about struggling with the pain. I have a really small pain threshold and wasn't able to have a water birth due to high bp.
As it was I was strapped to a monitor.
However my body seemed to take over. I managed to get to pushing stage on just paracetamol and a codeine tablet. I seemed to just breathe through each contraction without really noticing.
Ended up in theatre for forceps for stuck ds so had a spinal in end but I really surprised myself with what I expected and what actually happened.

CheeseEMouse Fri 08-Aug-14 20:03:44

I had no idea what the signs of labour were and spent a lot of the night on mumsnet and Google trying to work out what the signs of labour were.... As it was it was like period pains but in my head I was expecting my waters or the plug to be the first thing I noticed. It took me ages to work out what was happening.

Also having basic painkillers at home helped. Though if you have a tens machine I would also recommend working out how to use it before labour starts..

I was lucky as I didn't find it too bad, but I had no idea really and only arrived in hospital 40mins before giving birth. In hindsight I must have been pushing in the car, but I was so focussed on dealing with the waves of pain that I hadn't't realised. I found the whole thing a bit like interval training!

museumum Fri 08-Aug-14 20:05:26

I was told that mws these days aren't supposed to tell you how to breathe but a mw in triage told me on the phone not to tense my jaw but breathe in through my nose and out gently through pursed lips like blowing birthday candles and it transformed my whole experience, dramatically!

When we called after nearly 24hrs I thought I maybe couldn't do it and would end up exhausted, broken, epidural etc. after that advice everything changed and I was fine at home another four hours then went in, was 8cm and gave birth in the mlu 4hrs later, no real pushing. Using pool and g&a.

CMOTDibbler Fri 08-Aug-14 21:03:35

I just wanted to be left alone, in the dark with someone rubbing my back really hard. No music, no talking.

I hadn't expected to be vomiting along with contractions, but then it was all ok really. Didn't quite appreciate how much blood there would be afterwards tbh

Pinter Fri 08-Aug-14 21:09:30

We did hypnobirthing. My DP was not into it at all. I was & really needed him to go along with it. He didn't. I only found out how much that mattered during a crappy induction. Wish I'd gone through with my idea to get an additional birthing partner.
If I could do it again, that's what I'd do

MarianneSolong Fri 08-Aug-14 21:15:25

I found labour scary. My waters broke, but I didn't have contractions. I went to hospital and after about 12 hours of doing nothing ended up in the ward toilet emptying my bowels at 11pm. Then what felt like bad period pains. Then repeated vomiting. And that was just the start.

The staff were great, but once they had given me pethidine they wanted me on a monitor and on my back. I think I would have felt better on all fours, but you don't argue when you're in agony. (I'd have liked my husband there but he'd gone home - again I didn't argue or insist. They called him several hours later when I was about 4 or 5 cm dilated.

I didn't find the classes I'd been too particularly useful. I think it might have helped not to have given birth on such a busy night. What really would be useful would be more resources - not less - for the NHS.

sharond101 Fri 08-Aug-14 21:26:31

I forgot all I learned in the parenting classes and wish I had remembered to breathe. I had SPD and couldn't manage staying mobile throughout labour as the classes told me was the best thing. This upset me. Noone warned me about the sickness, that was the worst part it was non stop for me and how exhausted I was afterwards was unbelievable. I have a photograph where I look like I am trying to smile at the camera but my eyes are closed like I am sleeping!

beanandspud Fri 08-Aug-14 21:36:14

I went to the NHS antenatal classes and a private Natural Birthing class. I read loads of books and thought I was fairly well prepared with my (laminated) birthing plan when I went into labour. I honestly thought I was going to have whale music, exercise ball, lots of movement, back massages and an easy labour with no drugs.

How wrong I was.

10 hours later, gas & air, a lot of vomiting and having had my waters broken I ended up with an EMCS.

I remember a friend saying to me that it doesn't matter how you give birth, we all go out of the same door and there isn't a different exit for those who had a CS. Wise words, but no one prepares you for the fact that it might be you.

Dolallytats Fri 08-Aug-14 21:51:31

With DC1 I had an epidural so had no idea of when to push. My baby had the cord round her neck and was taken to SCBU for a few days for antibiotics because she had pooed before she was born and swallowed some (I'm sure there is a technical term for this, but I still have baby brain from DC3!) It hadn't occurred to me that anything could go wrong and it was a bit scary.

With DC2, I had loads of bleeding throughout the pregnancy and was hospitalised for most of it. I was convinced we would lose him, not least because it had taken us 15years to conceive again.

With DC3 the pregnancy itself was ok, apart from SPD and a really weird thing where I was convinced I was going to die giving birth. I have no idea why, but I said silent goodbyes to my other children in my head. I had never experienced that before and the feeling that it WAS going to happen was really strong.

As it was, although she was bigger than expected, got stuck, had her collar bone broken to get her out and bore an unfortunate resemblance to Heather Trott off Eastenders when she was first born, we are all ok!!

Pregnancy and birth are scary and unpredictable and I will not be having any more children probably because of my experiences (I always wanted a huge family)....and would never consider a homebirth even though I really like the idea of them.

MissRee Fri 08-Aug-14 22:04:15

I'd read lots and thought I did until I was actually in labour and then it all went out the window grin

In terms of pushing, there was no way on God's green earth that I was going to stop pushing. My body just took over and I couldn't stop, even though the midwife was telling me I couldn't possibly need to push (I did. I really really did).

BeanyIsPregnant Fri 08-Aug-14 22:25:08

Goodness, I gave birth to dc2 2 days ago... And honestly the labour wasn't as bad as expected, but the stitches afterwards was the most traumatic experience I've ever been through and I've been having nightmare about it since
Dd I was induced and felt very young and patronised (I was 20), this time I was more assertive in what i wanted (water birth, and don't offer me bloody gas and air as it makes me so so sick.. Not helpful!) and I managed an entirely natural labour. It's also made a huge difference in my ability to bond, with dd I had pnd which was undiagnosed until 6 months... Just feeling like someone is listening to you in labour makes you feel more in control!

One last thing.. No one tells you that the stitches afterwards can be completely pain free with some paracetamol.. But the piles? Bloody painful!!

Keepcalmanddrinkwine Fri 08-Aug-14 22:47:02

If you can be active and move around, do it. I didn't really with DD1 and it didn't help me at all. With DD2 I ended up on all fours and it was so much easier.

Purplehonesty Sat 09-Aug-14 08:22:19

I wasn't prepared at all. For the pain or the length of time it took.
I was in active labour for 24 hours roughly and ended up with a c section. Ds was back to back and I never dilated past 6cm.
The pain was unbelievable - worse than I had ever imagined. Like someone was ripping my spine out.
I hated gas and air it made me feel really drunk and spaced out and so I panicked. The diamorphone made me really sick.
And I was terrified of having a section so when the foreign doctor examined me and said 'we have to cut her now' I threw up immediately and was shaking all the way through.
In reality the section wasn't too bad and I had another one with dd after the same thing happened again.

Spirael Sat 09-Aug-14 09:13:32

I wish I'd figured out I was in labour a bit quicker and that the midwives had realised how quickly I was progressing. I had home water births taking about 5 hours each time. First time around the G&A didn't arrive in time. Second time I only got the G&A for the final five minutes.

I go very quiet during labour, I didn't scream or shout at all - contrary to how labour is described and portrayed. I just go into my zone and silently get on with it. Because of that, I think the Midwives misjudged my progress and didn't order the G&A until a bit late!

For pushing, both times I reached a point where something in my brain just snapped "To hell with this, baby is coming out. Now!" at which point I started pushing. Might have been transition? I did tear both times though, so may have been pushing a bit prematurely!

ImATotJeSuisUneTot Sat 09-Aug-14 09:37:58

I was very lucky with both my labours. I do feel as though my natural instincts took over.

I was also very pragmatic about it - it needed to be done, no point doing anything to make it take longer!

I remember watching a birth programme when I was much younger, where the lady in question ignored all advice, kept repeating over and over 'I don't want to do it' - like you have any choice at that point! grin I didn't want to be that lady!

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