It’s impossible to guess how long your labour will last, as this mum discovered
Rebecca Watts, 25, a PA, lives in Norfolk with husband James, 22, and son mylo, two
Were you expecting a short labour?
‘No, the opposite. I’d spoken to friends who had long labours with their first baby. I was expecting similar, which was why I decided to have a home birth, so I could be in a relaxed environment, however long it took.’
How did things start?
‘One evening, at four days overdue, I was watching TV when I felt a massive kick inside my bump, followed by a gush of fluid between my legs. I jumped up, startled. Within seconds, an intense ache spread across my stomach, which took my breath away.’
'Within seconds, an intense ache spread across my stomach'
Did you stay calm?
‘No, James and I flapped about like headless chickens! I couldn’t believe how intense and painful the contractions were already – they were coming every three minutes. Where were the warning signs, such as mild period pain, that labour was imminent? Where was the gradual build-up? I felt I’d missed a step and gone straight in at the full-blown labour stage.’
What about your birth plan?
‘Once I felt the contractions, the home birth idea went out the window – I wanted to go to hospital. James spoke to a midwife who told me to take paracetamol and call again in two hours. But the painkiller did nothing to ease the searing pains.’
READ THIS: HOW TO MAKE A BIRTH PLAN AND WHY YOU NEED ONE
Why did you decide to go to hospital?
‘Less than an hour after my first contraction, I had a gut feeling that I needed to be checked by someone. We live an hour’s drive from the hospital and I was frightened that if I left it too late, our baby would be born in the car, so off we went. Lying on the back seat, I tried to breathe through the pain, but winced at every bump.’
What happened when you arrived?
‘I spent 20 minutes on the waiting room floor, on all fours, panting through contractions. The pain was too intense to care about people around me, but I kept asking for an epidural. When I was finally examined, the midwife said there was good and bad news. The bad? There was no time for an epidural. “The good news is that your baby is coming right now,” she said. I couldn’t believe I was fully dilated and ready to push.’
'The good news is that your baby is coming right now'
How was the pushing stage?
‘Longer than I expected, but not as painful as the earlier contractions. After an hour, I gave one final, enormous push and the baby shot out into the midwife’s waiting hands. I heard a loud cry, and relief flooded through me. The midwife placed Mylo on my chest. As I felt his skin against mine, and kissed his perfect face, it was the best moment of my life.’
When did you go home?
‘Just a few hours later. My entire labour lasted just three hours. It was painful, but it was over quickly. I couldn’t have asked for a better birth.’
What I would tell my friends
Go with your instinct If you feel something’s wrong or that you should be in hospital, don’t ignore it.
Use perineum massage gel Use daily to prepare your body for stretching during delivery. I wish I’d used it more as I had to have stitches.
Prioritise skin-to-skin with your baby Mylo was handed straight to me, before he was wrapped up, and I’ll never forget that special moment.