I was so grateful to have found the Positive Birth Company’s course. I’m not one for reading explanatory books, especially baby ones, I find them boring, but I knew a natural birth was important to me. My Mum had all her children naturally and my sisters had also done natural, unmedicated births. These women paved the way for me and I knew I could do it too, but I also wanted to know what to expect, and to maintain my cool. Compared to other courses I thought the PBC one was really well priced, and because of COVID the regular prenatal classes here in Sweden weren’t running, but honestly doing a course online with my husband from the comfort of home and at our own pace was our perfect style anyways. I am SO grateful my husband did the course with me, he was such a crucial player in me getting the birth experience that I wanted when I didn’t have the clarity to remember things myself.
Sweden on the whole is quite progressive and understanding of everyone’s individual wishes, I had the “bad luck” to be assigned a midwife for my prenatal checkups that didn’t really gel with me, but I never asked to change because I didn’t Want to hurt her feelings and these prenatal midwives aren’t present for the birth so I wasn’t too fussed, we got along fine enough for those types of visits. But I knew our views really didn’t align when she asked about my birth preferences to send to the maternity ward ahead of the birth, and when I said it was quite simple I just wanted natural and drug-free she said quite abruptly, “ why? You know you don’t get an extra medal for that? A lot of women are surprised by the shock of the pressure when the baby descends. Make sure you look at the website and know the pain relieving options available.” I’m 33, I’ve been around the block and had done the PBC course so I wasn’t put off by her statement, but I did think it was unfortunate that someone younger and more nervous than me would at this point have been scared into second-guessing their choices. However, the support we received from the midwives who helped us deliver at the hospital was entirely different, and for that I am so grateful.
I wasn’t super fond of pregnancy actually, I work in a vet clinic and dealt with extreme nausea and vomiting nearly the entire time. The best period for me was the last month when I finished work and could rest my feet and the vomiting had finally subsided. During this time I re-watched some PBC videos and did a bit of nesting and lots of walking. My husband is my positive affirmation, whenever we talked about birth he always said he knew it would go perfectly because I’m amazing and strong, that’s the kind of person he is.
At exactly 40 weeks, the due date, I noticed a bit of bloody discharge and some mucous plug. I told my husband and then it started feeling real for him that the baby was coming, but I reminded him that it can still be a long time away as I had only had some minor Braxton Hicks from time to time. Well that night I woke up at midnight and felt like something might be different. I suspected that the beginning stages of real surges were coming on but managed to fall back asleep for a couple hours despite my anticipation. At 3 am I woke up and was damp, so I went to the bathroom to check and felt myself leaking all the way there, the waters had broken. Now I knew we would be meeting our baby soon!!
I woke up my husband and he went into brief panic mode, then found his cool and took charge of the phone. Letting them know at the maternity ward that my waters has broken but were clear/pink and only minor surges so far. I started timing surges with the Freya app and at 4:30 am they actually felt, to me, pretty strong and fairly close so he called the hospital again and let them know. Because they knew we wanted a natural birth they advised me to try to sleep, that the first baby takes a long time, and that I should stay at home as long as possible. Good advice except that I definitely could not sleep. I walked and walked and walked around our cottage wearing a hole in the floor, when I tried to lie down I immediately felt intensely nauseous.
At 6 am the Freya app said the surges were close enough that we should start making our way to the hospital! My husband called again, and again they advised to wait as long as possible and that the first baby takes time, and to call again in a few hours. So I labored at home, and I am glad I did. I had actually wanted a home birth but at-home support wasn’t offered in our particular region, and my husband and I didn’t want to do it alone. Anyways this is where it was invaluable to have him, the surges were very strong but he reminded me to breathe and relax in the pauses, to drink fluids, and even though I really didn’t want to eat anything he got a banana into me that I ate very unwillingly between surges on the bathroom floor (I also needed to sit on the toilet a LOT). What did help was to stand in a hot shower, I did this so much that the hot water ran out 🙁 but it helped for a while. The midwives on the phone had suggested I take a paracetamol but I really wanted to go completely drug free so just kept saying I would wait a bit longer and a bit longer, until I knew there was no point because it wouldn’t have time to kick in anyways.
At 9 am I asked my husband to call again as the surges were so strong and those few hours were now up. Again, because it was the first baby we were advised to wait at home because these things take time, at this point my husband asked them what exactly we were waiting for because the surges were so close (is the baby supposed to come at home he said), the midwife asked to talk to me (I was not in the mood but complied) probably to try and judge if it was urgent by how well I was coping, but I was very calm, and just stopped talking to her when a surge came on, she just said that we would “know” when it was time but said we could come in whenever we wanted, but again reiterated that these things do take time and to wait as long as possible. During the next hour and a half it felt like the pressure grew and the surges changed in feel, then I told my husband we were going in because things felt close and I was already not looking forward to sitting on my butt in the car.
The whole time he was driving he was reminding me of my breathing as I was quite uncomfortable sitting down in the car. He had packed up bags with all the things to make the room cozy but when we got there I said just bring the bag with the bare essentials and the room spray, there wasn’t time to make it cozy. When we arrived at the hospital at 11:30 we were shown into a room to be examined and the pressure in the surges felt very intense in a downward fashion, and were pushing out even more water so I left puddles wherever I went and my trousers were soaked.
Eventually a midwife arrived with a student midwife and asked if it was ok for the student to be there, at this point I really didn’t care about anything going on around me and I quickly agreed that was fine. They asked my husband questions about when things had started and then examined me and were amazed that I was already open 8 cm. Then all of a sudden things happened quickly on their end. We were ushered straight into a room, they asked about pain relief and my spokesperson husband said I wanted to do things naturally, I was so grateful I didn’t have to talk. They were wonderful and said ok we won’t talk anymore about that then. I immediately dropped to the floor on my knees and rested against the bed that was lowered to ground level, the midwives attempted to attach a monitor to my belly but it was too difficult to get a good reading in my position on the floor, but the reading they got was good and I did not like the feeling of the strap on my belly, I pulled it off after they got a reading and since all was well they just held it on my belly from time to time to check in on the baby . They asked if I could maintain that position on all fours but climb onto the bed instead so they could raise me up and help me better and I was able to crawl in with my husband’s help as he spritzed me constantly with our clary sage/lavender mix we had made.
The intense pressure I had been feeling was our baby’s head making its way down the birth canal and after a very short time of being on the bed my husband informed me he could see the head. The feeling was intense, but again he reminded me to rest and breathe in the pauses, he gave me sips of water and spritzed around my face. I thought at this stage that the baby would come out quickly but the head came out just a little then went back up, and then again, a little more each time, but from the course I knew that this was exactly what you wanted to happen so even though it was hard I didn’t despair. I remember asking my husband once if I could really do this, I knew I could, and that I had to, but I was just fishing for him to pep me and he didn’t disappoint. I just waited on each surge and as the head came out more he asked the midwives if he would be able to catch the baby (we hadn’t had time to go over our other preferences) and they were happy to oblige. Eventually our baby came out up to the shoulders and that surge ended, I was preparing to rest again but the midwife told me to push regardless, I didn’t hear her because they were all wearing masks and visors due to COVID but my husband shouted , “PUSH Amanda!”, and I was so surprised I gave a huge last push without the help of a surge and my husband caught our beautiful perfect baby, “it’s a girl”, he said as he passed her to me and lay her on my chest.