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'You Can Do Anything for a Minute' By Faye

'You Can Do Anything for a Minute' By Faye

Posted by Faye on 14th Nov 2023

When first pregnant I knew that I wanted to give natural birth “a go”. After being accepted into the Flinders Midwifery Group Practice, and through mine and my partners own learning during pregnancy, it became clear that a home birth in water was our ideal choice.

Early labour was, if I’m completely honest, a long and arduous process. After experiencing period pain cramps on Saturday 4th November, at approximately 3am on Sunday 5th November the sensation increased to regular contractions. My partner set up the birth space and by the time he had finished the contractions were coming thick and fast. I was using breathing techniques and a hired TENS machine to manage the contractions. We called the triage and asked a midwife to come check on our progress as at one stage contractions were regularly one minute long every minute. The midwife was able to confirm that labour had started however I was only 1cm dilated. By this stage the contractions had lessened off, something which is quite common in early labour for a first-time mother. She recommended I use some painkillers and try to get some sleep as the contractions could come and go like this for a while. I didn’t sleep well and spent all of Sunday managing minute long contractions ranging from every 2 minutes to once an hour. My partner was with me for every contraction and breath, I don’t think I had ever felt more connected to him that during this time! We contacted the triage line on Sunday eveningto get advice on what to do, they again recommended I try to get some sleep. This night, I expect due to already being exhausted, I was able to sleep and woke to breathe through my contractions which had reduced again to approximately once every 45 minutes.

Contractions continued to be intense yet sporadic on Monday 6th November and I continued to use my TENS machine and breathing techniques with my partner to manage them. The midwife came to check on us at about 3pm on Monday 6th; baby and I were managing physically however it was recommended we go to hospital just to get a full check on baby to be certain. We went to the hospital, with our student midwife who had been working with me throughout my pregnancy, to be reassured that the baby was fine. We gratefully returned home – I was nervous that doctors would have recommended induction procedures to speed things up and I knew that this was not what I wanted. Contractions remained consistent during our trip to the hospital and began to escalate in intensity at approximately 8pmleading me to ask my partner to call a midwife back as I was beginning to struggle to cope. She arrived at about 9pm and after a check informed us that I was finally in active labour at 5cm. I was relieved however was beginning to doubt myself that I could continue. The midwife was able to suggest various positions which would help the baby turn, as it was thought she still was not in an optimal position and this is what was making the process slow. These positions were painful, but after a while I was able to labour on my side on my sofa and sleep during the break from contractions. At this stage I was in “the zone” so my memory is vague other than working through each contraction with my partner as we had done for all the hours before, but now also with the assistance of the midwife and our student. I was asking when we could use the pool as I knew the water would help however they did not want to use it too early. At approximately 2330 another check confirmed I was 9cm dilated and we could fill the pool. I jumped in close after midnight and instantly felt my body relax with the water. I don’t know if it was a physical or psychological impact but either way, the contractions remained intense but the water was the place I needed to be.

I began to feel the intense urge to push and simply went with my body. I continued to relax during the breaks but being able to push felt empowering and I knew that my baby was on her way! It was a slow process again however my supports were reminding me that a slow descend down the canal was better for both baby and myself. I felt my waters break not long before Riley May was born at exactly 3am on her due date, 7th November. Looking back at the feeling of her birth I wouldn’t describe it as painful, I felt completely empowered to be able to bring her earthside and being able to push with my contractions rather than only breathing through them felt more like relief than pain. Feeling every movement that she made on her way was a privilege and one that I am so grateful I was able to experience.

My experience of birth has highlighted to me the importance of having the right people around you and I am so grateful to have had the most amazing amount of support. My partner Dan who literally breathed through every single contraction during active labour and the vast majority of early labour with me, the student midwife Alice and the midwife’s who were present at the birth, Tatiana and Sasha, and Emma who was my assigned midwife throughout pregnancy. Through their support I was able to manage the exhaustion of contracting for almost exactly 48 hours and bring our little girl into the world in the most magical experience. I will be forever grateful.

There were definitely times I felt like giving up and transferring to hospital to access pain relief, something that was not on my birth plan. In those times I leant heavily on the supports mentioned above who encouraged me to not think about the finish line, but to just get through the next contraction. You can do anything for one minute.