Tuesday, 23 June 2015

I Need Your Help

*** If you're a man, or not yet a mum, you probably don't want to read this post, so you have my permission to skip it and go think about birds and butterflies. ***

*** If you're a pregnant lady and don't want to read horror stories (don't blame you) scroll to the bottom to see how I need your help.***

Funny story time: when I was pregnant with Patapon, my birth plan was 10 words long: "I want an epidural and my husband to be there." For most of my labour, I got neither.

All the laughs!

I know some lucky ladies have great stories of labouring naturally listening to the birds singing in harmony whilst feeling the empowerment wash over them as they spiritually joined with all their sister forbears. Great for you!

Patapon had stopped moving so I was induced, which means I was left in an induction suite with no visitors allowed. I also experienced the barrel of laughs which is a hypertonic uterus. You don't know what it is? Lucky you.

I hope it remains so.

So here I was, completely alone in a mostly empty hospital, trying to not scream too much so as to not terrify the other ladies on the ward, not allowed any other painkillers than paracetamol, because, get this, I wasn't in the labour suite!!!

So my punishment for not having any visitors was not having any painkillers.

When I was finally wheeled into a labour suite and allowed my husband back, I was already more than 6cm (it was a student midwife, she wasn't sure). By that stage, I had been in labour for over 12 hours with a hypertonic uterus (don't look it up if you're pregnant), I was exhausted, angry and desperate for some relief.

But first, we had to go through the protocol, so I was given aroma therapy (which is why the smell of lavender essential oil now makes me want to lash out at people) then gas and air (which I couldn't take, because I'm claustrophobic and was way past reasoning myself). I had to plead for two hours, screaming in agony every two minutes, (whilst they said helpful things such as "are you sure?", "but you've done so much already with nothing!", "oh, don't scream, it'll only exhaust you more!", "do you know the side effects of an epidural?") before they agreed to give me the drug.

Why the NHS thinks bullying pregnant ladies in agony is the right way to save money has not yet been explained to me.

I've got a friend in France who told me the worst pain she ever felt in her life was when they put the needle into her spine for the epidural.

Well, I didn't feel it. It didn't even register. They had to actually tell me it was done, and I was allowed to move again. (The end of the story contains more laughs, including a back-to-back baby with his hand on his head, but it is slightly irrelevant here, apart from the fact that, had I not pushed for an epidural, I may well have had to have a C-section.)

Good job he was worth it.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Why are you telling us all this Isabelle? NOT. A. GOOD. BIRTH. STORY. Little lady!

Well, as it turns out, what I experienced was actually them giving in easily. The NHS strongly discourages giving epidurals after the first baby. So in all probability, I am going to have to do without one for the next baby.

I am terrified. 

And I need your help. Can you give me all the positive thoughts you can find about natural labour? How do you do it? Can you try and convince me I am not going to die in the attempt?

Could you be my BFF+E and reveal that actually, they are totally going to give me my epidural, worry not?

(Oh, and I know all the horror stories about epidurals, my dad's an anaesthetist, it didn't put me off the first time, not going to do it now.)

All sarcasm apart, I really need help. Because I am seriously considering moving in with my parents, in the land where epidurals lead happy profitable lives (that's France), for a month around the time the baby is due. And that won't do any good to anyone.


  1. Sérieux viens a Paris!!! Je viendrais t'apporter des pâtisseries et des viennoiseries!!! Second plus d'être en France .

    1. Oh, man! Une péri ET des vrais croissants avec du vrai beurre dedans... Le NHS a aucune chance... :-D

  2. Well, I don't know how much help I can be with this. I have had all five of mine at home with no drugs whatsoever, mostly because I was completely convinced that no drugs was really the best thing for the baby, and here you have to fight to NOT have an epidural. But last time I begged my midwife to take me to the hospital so I could get an epidural (she refused), and I really think if I have another I will probably go ahead and get one. I think I may lack the mental fortitude to put myself through labour with no drugs again.

    My first baby was born face-up too, after 54 hours of hard labour. He got stuck on my pubic bone for a while. I thought nothing could be worse than that, and I was sort of right. The other labours have been shorter. But labour is pretty much just awful in my experience (can I confess something? Reading Kendra's birth stories sometimes makes me really struggle with depression). Worth it, of course, but not the sort of thing sane people discuss as though it were a nice experience.

    So there's two perspectives. One is, you're unlikely to have such a difficult labour again, it being the second child and all. The other is, what exactly would be wrong with moving in with your parents so you can have an epidural if you want one? Will your husband still be able to be with you? Personally, I refuse to go through labour without my husband - he got me into this mess, he can darn well help me through it! (And he is awesome, credit where it's due.) So if you really want an epidural, and your care provider is giving you a difficult time about it, moving in with your parents for just a bit might be the right choice. Plus then you've got your mom to take care of you after the birth, and that can be very nice.

    1. Sorry, that wasn't really what you asked for. Here's positive thoughts about natural labour: Your body really is made to do this. If you delivered a baby face-up already, you should be totally fine this time. And having a non-sleepy baby is very nice. I love watching them open their eyes and look about, so alert right from the very beginning. It's truly amazing.

      I m sure a big part of what made it horrible last time was being alone. I'm certain I never could have gotten through my labours like that. Is there any way you can make certain your husband is with you the whole time this time? You may find, with his support, you are ok without the epidural. It really does make a difference.

    2. I like your point about no sane people discussing it as if it were a nice experience! :-)
      And yes, the alone part was really the worst, unmitigated by the midwives and nurses of the inducement ward whom I barely saw for the 12 hours I was there. And that's part of the problem with going to France, making sure than Simon CAN be there. He'll have 2 weeks of holidays around Christmas, but that's about it, he can't take a month off studying...
      It's all a bit tricky!
      But thanks for the positive thoughts!

  3. Hey Izzy!I had a rough time during my labour time 5 months ago (I won't share it with you now!!) but a friend of mine did the whole natural labour without an epidrual. She went to a birth centre (which is normally close to a hospital) and had a pool birth. Maybe that's something you can consider? Also I've heard that labour is shorter the more babies you have...hope that helps :)

    1. Julie! Yes, I followed from Facebook, saw you had to stay in hospital for ages, you poor thing! (I suppose I should concentrate on having been luckier than many!) Your little Arjun is gorgeous btw :-)

    2. I've always laboured in a tub. Definitely worth the extra expense - it makes a huge difference!

  4. Err no really useful hints except second babies tend to be quicker so possibly less time to be asking for an epidural......

    1. I let them have their way!? NEVER! ;-) I'm really hoping for a short birth for this one!

  5. Hi Isabelle, I found you through 7 quick takes and have been reading your blog for the last couple of weeks. I'm in the north of England and have had 3 babies in an NHS hospital and have had very positive experiences. The first 2 I laboured at home in the bath and then went to hospital when I needed more pain relief. I laboured there in a birthing pool with gas and air which was ABSOLUTELY MARVELLOUS. I used a tube thing (were you using a mask?) and it honestly made the pain very manageable. Birth 3 was different as there were problems throughout the pregnancy which meant it was safer for me to have a more 'monitored' birth (ie labouring in water not possible). If I'd been induced my obstetrician recommended I have an epidural right at the beginning. In the end I went into labour spontaneously and was well cared for by the midwives but I found the pain much more difficult to cope with because I wasn't in water. I also felt more 'exposed'. My husband was with me throughout and I could have asked for an epidural if I wanted one. (I was begging for one right at the end with number 3 but I'd left it too late). Anyway... you can do it naturally. Ask your friends about their birth experiences, look at different hospitals, ask about water births and mouthpieces for gas and air. Don't be afraid to challenge their policies. Everyone knows that labour progresses more quickly if mum is relaxed. ...and that usually means when her husband is with her! Sorry for the ramble. I will pray for you xxx

    1. Thanks Carrie! The gas and air thing just is not for me, (it was a normal mouthpiece, the problem was breathing through it rather than normally, I really don't like that, even at the best of times - snorkeling is not for me either! -). My sister in law also loved it (and labouring in the tub! I may give that a go!) All prayers VERY welcome! Thanks xx

    2. Hey Izzy!I don't know if you remember meeting my sister when I was in Notts?she's going to start training to be a Gynaecologist in August so if you have any questions about your pregnancy feel free to contact her (she's on my fb) :)

  6. Hello Isabelle,

    Je suis une amie de Meige, la "folle dingue" de France qui veut accoucher sans péri pour son deuxième (oui parce que, comme tu le sais, ici c'est le contraire, tu passes pour une dingue quand tu n'en veux pas !)

    Je ne sais pas ce qu'est un utérus hyper tonique (et j'ai regardé vite fait sur google mais comme il y avait plein d'histoires affreuses d'accouchements, je n'ai pas été très loin. Je ne vais jamais lire de forums sur ce genre de sujet, je suis trop douillette ! Mais j'ai une sœur sage-femme qui répond à toutes mes questions donc c'est facile). En tout cas, ça a pas l'air cool, et peut-être qu'à ta place, je voudrais une péri pour le deuxième.

    En ce qui me concerne, j'ai eu un accouchement très facile pour mon premier, tous les points négatifs ont été dû à la péri. D'où ma décision pour le deuxième. En gros, le travail a été facile, rapide (en 8h), contractions supportables. J'ai demandé la péri juste après avoir perdu les eaux (mon col était déjà bien ouvert), car j'ai flippé. Et j'ai réagit vraiment fortement à la péri : il y a eu un gros moment de panique au moment de la poussée car je ne sentais rien, et pendant les 24h suivante, je n'ai pas pu me lever, j'ai eu des nausées, et j'étais complètement shootée... Pas génial pour mettre en place l'allaitement, et tout le reste. Du coup, ça été un cercle vicieux, et les 10 premiers jours avec mon bébé ont juste été AFFREUX... Quand je vois Kate Middleton qui sort de la clinique 12H après avoir accouché de sa fille en marchant droit dans ses talons, j'hallucine... Et ma sœur m'a dit que c'était le "sans péri" qui fait que tu es en plus en forme après, car le corps sait naturellement récupérer de l'accouchement. La péri bloque cette récupération, et ça reste une anesthésie dont il faut se remettre. J'ai observé cette "pêche" de l'après accouchement sur plusieurs de mes amies qui ont accouché sans. Donc voilà pourquoi je n'en veux pas.

    Mais encore une fois, si j'avais un utérus hyper tonique, je ne réagirai peut-être pas comme ça !
    Bonne réflexion...

    1. C'est gentil de me donner ta perspective! Jusqu'ici, je n'arrivais pas a trouver quelqu'un pour me dire réellement l'interet de pas de péri, mais, clairement, moi j'y est tres bien réagi!
      Je te rassure toute suite, l'utérus hypertonique est une complication du déclenchement, il n'y a aucune raison que tu découvres ce que c'est autremement! En tout cas, tu m'as donné a réfléchir, merci beaucoup!

  7. I was induced both times (my waters break but the babies don't want to leave of their own accord). However, I didn't have an epidural either time.
    I had gas and air in a mask so I could breath through my nose.
    I didn't want an epidural because I wanted to be able to get up and walk away at the end of it all. I don't even know where that need to walk away came from. That thought was what kept me going both times.
    Also, the thought that the second the baby's here, the pain is gone and I have a baby in my arms. I kept telling myself that the pain is not forever, even if it feels like it.
    And the second birth was 24 hours shorter! So that fits the pattern of subsequent labours being quicker!