My First Time Giving Birth Without the Epidural!

If you follow me on Instagram, then you probably know I couldn’t wait to give birth. I was waiting for this big day since last September when I finally saw this beautiful (+) on my pregnancy test. Since then, I read every single book on the subject to get ready for birth-giving. I also took hypnobirthing classes since I wished to give birth naturally.   

Many told me I was over-preparing and that this moment couldn’t be controlled. And I totally understand their point of view, but I found it impossible not “binge” through all of this information and just “go with the flow.” The way I see things is as for a marathon, you have to prepare, so why not do it for the most significant moment of your life, which is delivering a new life into this world?!

And so, this is what I have done, and I am far from regretting doing so. Also, as I learned and memorized all of this new information, here is how I got ready physically to give birth naturally.

A SUCCESSFUL STRIPPING!

Then, the big day came. I had an appointment with my midwife at 40+3 weeks. I knew she would go for membrane stripping, and I wasn’t entirely enthusiastic about it. I had heard so many horror stories about the procedure… a bit like when Léa gave birth to Ély. And all of the books I read told me that even though it was an option, I might not even need it to induce childbirth. The process would follow a natural course within the next few days (with our without stripping). So the question remained, to strip or not to strip?

And then I decided to lay the matter into my midwife’s hands. I told myself that if my cervix were to be slightly dilated, I would let her do membrane stripping. After analysis, she saw very well that my cervix dilated around 2cm and that stripping was possible. So that’s what we did! 

I honestly had no expectations, especially after knowing Léa’s story… I was actually pretty scared it would go wrong. It was 2 p.m. on May 27th when she stripped me. Once back home, I had a few blood leaks, but nothing more. So that night, hubby and I went for a long walk along the water to activate my body, putting the odds on our side. While we were walking, I had a lot of fake contractions like Braxton Hicks’s, but a little stronger and only while I walked. When we got back home, I took a shower, and the pain remained. At that moment, I thought I would be giving birth at night, but since I love sleeping, I took dimenhydrinate tablets as my midwife suggested and had a long well-rested night of sleep. I woke up the next morning without contractions. So I sent hubby to work and began my daily routine. 

MY BODY WAS GETTING READY FOR WHAT WAS COMING NEXT… 

Around 10 a.m., light contractions came back. I started getting ahead on work to be sure not to fall behind for the next week. I went along with my day until 2 p.m. when the contractions grew stronger. At that moment, I chose to take a bath to relax and also to make sure they were persistent contractions. That’s when my brother-in-law came knocking at the door to offer me homemade bread… I can tell you I wasn’t quite in a state to open the door! ?

Following my hypnobirthing class, I downloaded the Freya app on my phone. It was mainly to listen to the relaxing playlists, but also to count contractions. At 2:30 p.m., the app confirms that labor has begun. Since it’s my first pregnancy, I didn’t think it necessary to keep my husband up to date with my contractions. I let him go on with his workday since I was scared my labor would stop at any moment. Finally, around 4:30 p.m., he came home to find me lying in bed, trying to manage my contractions every three minutes. At that time, I still couldn’t believe it just yet. So I told him not to sweat it, and to chill out, because there was still a chance it wouldn’t happen that day. 

AND I BROKE MY WATERS!

Only thirty minutes after he came home, I suddenly felt a big “boom” down there. That’s when I started shouting that my waters had broke. I ran to the bathroom while yelling at my husband to call the midwife. Since I had reported positive to B streptococcus, I knew I only had 24 hours after breaking my waters to give birth. I had to contact my midwife as soon as possible! She advised us to head to the hospital immediately to get an antibiotic preventing any complication related to B streptococcus. But before leaving, she also suggested we ate something since we were heading towards a long night! That’s when my husband showed off his culinary skills and whipped us up a good ol’Kraft Dinner. Yes, you did read that right; it was our last meal before becoming parents! Haha!

So we headed to the hospital around 6 p.m. The midwife tested my cervix to see if there were any progress. I was dilated around 4cm by that time. We were brought to our hospital room, where my husband began cozying up the room. We dimmed the lights and lit up the fake candles. Then I continued managing my contractions using the Freya app and my breathing techniques. An hour later, the contractions started to grow stronger and stronger. So I hopped in the shower. My waters already broken, we wanted to keep the bath for the last stage of labor. The shower did me a great deal of good; I think I stayed there for a little longer than an hour. It wasn’t the time to think sustainable!

Then, I switched between the ball and the bed, where a peanut ball was set between my legs to help with the baby’s position. There’s was an indication that it wasn’t quite right since my contractions came from my back. Then, I got back on the large ball, where the nurse and my husband where taking turns in giving me back massages during and in between contractions. It felt really nice!

And I finally got the “OK” to get in the tub. I had high hopes that it would take all of my pain away… but I was too far ahead in my labor, and I didn’t feel any difference. I was beginning to feel a little hopeless. So I asked my hubby to open up my belly and to take the baby out on the spot. I also let out a “tabarnack” at that moment—the sole one of the whole night. The midwife suggested injecting saltwater in my back to reduce pain. She poked me at 4 different spots, and my contractions faded for an hour. However, since the bath was hot, the baby’s heartbeat began to slow down… so I had to choose between a cold bath or to get out to give my baby a better chance. 

WHEN IT BECAME HARD TO DEAL WITH EVERYTHING 

I chose to get out of the tub around 10:30 p.m. when the second examination of my cervix took place. I was up to 7cm by then! Phew, we were almost there. Contractions were very intense at that moment. There were very hard to bear. That’s when I would’ve liked to be granted access to laughing gas, but with the Covid-19, it was no option. So I was advised to take fentanyl. It didn’t reduce pain related to contractions, but it allows lightening of the mind in between them. That way, I could regain control in between contractions. What they won’t tell you is that it only lasts for 15 minutes, and you are only allowed 6 doses. So I had to take 30 minutes in between injections since I had no idea how much longer it would take me to reach a 10cm dilation! 

It took 2 hours… and 4 doses of fentanyl… and a few cow mooings later, I had finally reached 10cm. 

 

THEN A SURPRISE CAME OUT

But before getting confirmation, I shouted: “it’s pushing, it’s pushing.” The midwife was out, so we were alone with the nurse that kept telling me not to push. Yet, it was stronger than me. After a few spontaneous pushes, I gave birth to a big water pouch the size of a grapefruit. Hahahah!

The nurse didn’t understand what had just happened, and she didn’t want to touch it. She immediately called for my midwife. Upon arrival, they both exclaimed: “Oh! How interesting!” What you don’t want to hear in between 2 contractions, dilated at 10cm. Then I got the “OK” to start pushing. It was 12:30 a.m.

THE BABY’S CARDIAC RHYTHM WAS COMPROMISED

 I was hoping to give birth in an upright position or at least crouching because I didn’t want to be lying. The midwife and the nurse insisted I pushed while lying down, which I did for 15 minutes, but it wasn’t really going as fast as I wanted. So they took out a tool to allow me to crouch while staying on the hospital bed. I could push my baby that way until his head appeared. Then, I had to go back to a lying position since the baby’s cardiac rhythm was compromised while I was in a crouching position. 

20 minutes later, after feeling this beautiful and powerful circle of fire, I gave birth to my beautiful baby at 1:39 a.m. 

AND THE CHERRY ON TOP: DISCOVERING THE BABY’S GENDER

They promptly set him on my chest. Through my tears and cries of joy, I realized it was a baby boy that I nursed in my tummy. It was such a special moment. 

Then I had 1 hour and a half of skin-to-skin with my baby, crying tears of joy, sinking in every single detail of his lovely little self—a compelling feeling. We also shared his first breastfeeding as I pushed out the placenta! No, but seriously, how great does it feel when that thing’s finally out!

Then they took the baby for its official weighing! A good 7lbs and 9oz, and 53cm tall! Then it was daddy’s time with Baby, while I took the leisure to gobble all the snacks we had brought! The best chips I have ever eaten! Haha!

We fell asleep around 4:30 a.m., and we were already heading back home around 3:30 p.m.!

SUMMARY

From the beginning of my contractions to my baby’s birth, I estimate I was in labor for 12 hours total, including a 1-hour push. I genuinely am happy everything went according to plan… so much that when the midwife came to my home to visit us and asked me: “Would you do it again?” my answer was a fat YES! Without hesitation! I guess it’s a good sign. 

I have no regrets regarding my lectures, classes, and extra information-reading since, after all, it was to equip myself with the necessary tools to reach my goal. I also consider myself very lucky that there were no complications because it’s true; we can’t entirely control our little ones’ births. After all, there’s nothing like simply knowing them healthy in our arms.

Did you give birth as you hoped? 

This post was translated from French to English by:

Sophie Dumais
My name is Sophie, a passionate language learner, and a full-time dog mom. Long walks, soothing cups of tea, Japanese learning and the search for beauty are my everyday life. Slowly but surely is how I do things, contemplating the peaceful ways of time and the enchanting notion of living the moment.

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