You think you want a natural drug-free birth, but sometimes the way your baby arrives couldn’t be further from how you imagined as this mum found out
Donna Hollands, 29, a parenting blogger, lives in London with partner Jesse, 29, and son William, 16 weeks
'I hadn’t bothered reading about c-sections, I was so fixed on the idea of a natural water birth – I loved the idea of having a calm, drug-free delivery.
At four days overdue, I felt the first tightenings in my stomach. The sensations were manageable and I was able to get some sleep that night. When I went to the loo in the morning, there was a gush of liquid. The hospital suggested I come in, but they sent me home again because I hadn’t started dilating.
If my labour didn’t progress, I was told I’d be induced that evening I was hoping the contractions would ramp up, but after several hours of mild aches I had to accept that I’d be going back in. The midwives didn’t want to risk me developing an infection since some of my waters had gone.
'My contractions went through the roof'
Back on the ward, everything happened fast. A prostin gel was inserted into my cervix and I was hooked up to a syntocinon drip – I felt confused about what it meant, partly because I’d avoided reading up about induction. After 20 minutes, my contractions went through the roof.
The pain was like nothing I’d ever experienced I was barely able to speak or breathe. I’d told the midwife earlier I didn’t want pain relief so she left me alone. But the contractions were coming one on top of the other. ‘I need drugs,’ I finally announced. I started with gas and air but it didn’t help much.
After eight hours, I had hardly reached 1cm. I felt really disappointed. Suddenly my plan for a natural birth didn’t seem like an option. I needed an epidural. When the anaesthetist arrived, I was so relieved to see him. Finally the pain ebbed away.
My baby’s heart rate dropped, so a team of doctors rushed into the room. They decided the baby needed to come out fast because his heart rate kept dropping. They couldn’t use forceps because I wasn’t fully dilated. I was too exhausted to push anyway.
'Please, just give me a c-section'
At this point I started thinking, ‘Please, just give me a c-section.’ To my relief, it was finally recommended. I’d been completely against going into theatre, yet here I was willing the doctors to cut me open. As I lay back, Jesse by my side and a screen shielding my stomach, I felt a painless pulling sensation at the top of my bump. A sense of calm overtook me.
When my son let out his first yell, I cried with relief. Meeting him was the best moment in the world. It’s hard to believe how dramatically and quickly my views on c-sections changed. I surprised myself at how much I wanted one in the end.'
What I would tell my friends
Consider pain relief
Especially if you have to be induced, which can be much more painful than normal labour.
Take an essential oil water spray
Even when I was in theatre, I found it calming and refreshing to spray it on my face.
Rest while you can
During early labour, it's so exciting that your baby’s on his way, but it’s a mistake to use up too much energy – believe me, you'll need it later.