Monday, 7 January 2019

MOTHERHOOD: Slow Labour vs Quick Labour

MOTHERHOOD: Slow Labour vs Quick Labour
In those final few weeks of pregnancy life is filled with excitement, anticipation and second guessing every twinge; it all becomes quite exhausting. Thoughts turn to labour, writing birth plans and how your little bundle of joy is going to enter the world. I don't know about you, but I found those thoughts terrifying as I just didn't know what to expect first time around. My image of labour had been from the films and One Born Every Minute up until we went to NCT classes. That was a shock. As our teacher told us all about what happens to our bodies during labour, the stretches and strains that happen were enough to make me nervous about what was to come that's for sure.

When it came to writing my birth plan for giving birth the first time around I naively thought that because it was on my plan that meant it would happen. I had a hassle-free pregnancy, so we were aiming for the midwife led unit within our local hospital as its relaxing atmosphere and birthing pools really appealed to us. When my waters broke at 39 weeks those plans seemed to disappear quickly though. I went into the midwife led unit to be examined, where they confirmed my waters had broken and I hadn't just wet myself! However, after 24 hours I still hadn't gone into established labour so I was sent to the pre-labour ward to be induced. A couple of pessaries later, then the drip and I was just about in established labour. A whole three days had passed and a lot of pain had been experienced by this point. My husband had slept on a chair next to my bed in hospital for those days and we were both exhausted. Once I was finally in established labour I was allowed down to the labour word, which is where the drugs were! As soon as I got into the room I requested an epidural, which brought the much needed relief. I then lay around for over 12 hours waiting to be fully dilated, all while still being induced via the drip. My body just didn't seem to want to give birth.
Hours later I was told to start pushing, so I did as I was told. Two hours later and still no baby, by this point I'd been in labour for four days and was well and truly exhausted. My time was up and they said that they would have to intervene, at which point I broke down. I so wanted to be that person that was told they only had five minutes left to push and they pushed out there baby just in time. But that wasn't the path for me, so in came the doctor and about seven other people. I kept my eyes shut the whole time to be honest because I wasn't in a lot of pain (thanks to the epidural) I was very aware of how many people were looking 'down there'. An episiotomy and forceps later and Isabella had finally entered the world. At that point I had no idea what was to come and was just full of love for our first baby. It was a truly magical moment and although I hadn't washed my hair in four days I had managed to put on a face of make-up prior to pushing, so felt good by the time she arrived. I look back at those first minutes so fondly and I'm so grateful that my husband filmed a lot of it too. 
Recovery after my long and slow labour was a lot trickier than the labour itself. Anyone who has had an episiotomy will know the pain and discomfort that comes with recovering from it. It's long and sitting down, getting up, lying down, standing...doing anything, hurt. I could barely walk, but the excitement of having Isabella did get me through those initial weeks. Luckily, it happened with our first because it would have been a whole different challenge had it happened with Poppy. Despite not being in pain when giving birth I then found the recovery a much longer journey. However, the big advantage of not being in pain during the last part of labour was that I could take it all in. I remember our midwives, what the room looked like, what we spoke about, what Isabella looked like, the sound of her first cry etc. Those magical moments that otherwise are easily forgotten.
My labour with Poppy, our second child, was completely different! I got two 2 weeks overdue and they finally sent me into hospital to be induced. No chance of the midwife led unit or the water birth I had so wanted both first and second time. I was given the pessary on the pre-labour ward and went about our day. A lot of it was spent hooked up to the monitoring machine, but eventually by the afternoon we were allowed for a walk about the hospital. We went for a bite to eat and a wander outside, as the hospital was so incredibly hot (thanks to the heatwave of last year). By the time we were back on the ward it was time for dinner, so I lined up to collect a jacket potato with beans and sat down on the pregnancy ball to eat it. Minutes later I started feeling tightening's, but because my labour had been so long last time I didn't think much of it. About 10 minutes later I was struggling to stay sitting on the ball and needed to lean over the table. I was trying so hard to stay in control and not panic, breathing away each contraction. After an hour I told the midwife I thought I was in labour and she offered Pethidine, which I refused as I was sick with it last time. I went to have a bath to try and relieve the pain, which didn't work and I was out straight away.
At this point the midwife decided to examine me and was surprised to find that I was 4cm dilated. I was so relieved as that was my ticket to the labour ward and all the pain relief. Despite the difficult recovery of last time I was still convinced I wanted an epidural because I have such a low pain threshold and I did absolutely love my first labour. As soon as I was down on the labour ward everything became a blur of contraction after contraction after contraction. I requested an epidural, but I was too far gone and it was declined. So it was just me and the gas and air! Then I suddenly started pushing, something I hadn't experienced before and just like that my body took over. That desire to push is seriously intense and there is no stopping it, that's for sure. I was completely high on gas and air, as I just kept taking more and more in. It was all a blur and within 1 hour 45 minutes of being 4cm dilated Poppy had arrived.
My husband once again filmed the birth and I'm there completely out of it asking what had just happened. I just didn't have enough time to process what had happened. I had gone from eating dinner to now having our baby in my arms, which was quite a shock. Luckily this time around my labour was so much smoother with no need for forceps or stitches, which meant my recovery was pretty quick. But thanks to the speed it all happened I really feel like I didn't take it all in like I did with Isabella's labour. We didn't even have the baby bag in from the car when I gave birth to Poppy, so she had to be wrapped in a towel to start with. Her arrival certainly took us by surprise and by 1am that night Tom had gone home and I was left with Poppy who just didn't want to stop feeding. 
Comparing my slow and quick labour I'd have to say that I much preferred the slower labour, despite the length and pain of it. I feel like I was so much more present during that labour and really got to take everything in. When Isabella arrived we were ready, perhaps even over-prepared, yet with Poppy we were the complete opposite. I think we were both shocked when Poppy arrived and that took a few days to get over. After speaking to other mums who also had a quick birth it seems like this is a common thing. One of my friends even ended up giving birth on her bathroom floor with her husband delivering the head, which must have been a complete shock! I know that you can't choose how you give birth or how quickly you progress, but have found it really interesting comparing my two labours. I think prior to children I would have said a quick labour is surely better, but personally I'd have to say I preferred the longer labour or at least being more present when I did finally give birth.


What was your labour like? What are/were your preconceptions when it comes to labour?


Feel free to leave a comment - I love reading every single one :)


Helen x
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24 comments

  1. I've not had children myself but reading this was so interesting. It's lovely that you have a video to look back on!

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  2. I have not had children yet but hope to in the future. This was such an interesting read!

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  3. As I man I have absolutely no view on which labour is better (lol) but this was a really interesting read for sure!

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  4. This entire post scares me! The idea of having kids scares me enough let alone the pain of childbirth! But well done you, haha x

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  5. I have had one natural labour and four inductions and yet each time when I get to five centimetres I have given birth within 2 minutes flat!

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  6. I don’t have kids but my close friend is pregnant so I will be sharing your experience with her!

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  7. Baby 1 was a 7 hr labour and I was discharged 4 hrs after she was born. Baby 2 was at 41 weeks and showing no intention of coming out, so I accepted a C-section ... was so easy (as was the healing, against everything I'd been told).

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  8. Thank you for your sharing your experience, it was so interesting to read! I don't have children but I would love to one day! I think I'm still undecided about the epidural but I'm sure time will tell when I actually give birth! I didn't even know there was such thing as a pre ward! I have to say Poppy looks absolutely adorable :)

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  9. I have one child and almost feel embarrassed at how quick and easy the birth was when I hear other peoples stories of being in labour for days. I was induced, my first contraction was at 10:55 am and my son was born at 16:30.

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  10. I've not had children yet but I've had friends who have experience both quick and long labours x

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  11. The pictures of your babies are super adorable. Labour varies from woman to woman. I had a section so my story is very different.

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  12. Each one is so different, the first is usually the slowest and then they seem to speed up with each child. I must say I prefer the quick labour myself.

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  13. I've had 3 children and each labour was different. There are pros and cons for both. A medium length with pain relief which was what happened the 3rd time was the best for me. I found epidurals really slow everything down.

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  14. It's funny, my first and second birth were similar. First was slow and second was also over due and whilst not an induction went from waters breaking to baby arriving in a 1/4 of the time of his sister. I was actually being prepped to be taking for a section when he decided to arrive and everyone panicked! It's interesting to read other people's stories. Thanks for sharing!

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  15. It’s interesting reading about your two different experiences with labour and that you preferred a slower one. I had to have a c-section due to health issues and most of that day is a blur to be honest.

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  16. it's amazing how different the experience can be each time and what the body is capable of. lovely you have a video to look back on as well xx

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  17. All my labours were different but I had two that were fast and furious at just two hours from start to finish, it was nice to get it over with but it felt too intense at the time. My longest was 36 hours and resulted in an emergency C-Section

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  18. This was such an interesting read. My first labour was 4 hours, and my second was 20 minutes from when we walked through the birthing unit doors! I've heard similar comments from friends who've had quick labours, but although the speed did take me by surprise, I'd known that 'something' was happening the whole morning, so I did feel prepared for it and it was an amazing experience. I'd take the quick labour any day. Like you though, we left the bags in the car - my husband just made it back with them in time for it!

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  19. My first pregnancy I was in labour for 20 minutes the my son was born. I was induced with little J so he took a lot longer

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  20. This was an amazing read. My labour was very long, about four days. At last, I had to be taken in for and emergency Caesarian section xx

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  21. My first labour was 4 hours with no pain relief start to finish and it frightened me so much as I had nothing to build up with, just straight into it! I never thought I would have said I wanted a longer labour!!!

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  22. I had a 14 hour Labour and that was HARD!I'm hoping for a quick one next time. Haha

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  23. Both my pregnancies resulted in slow labour. I'm always super jealous when people talk about how quick and easy their children came into the world LOL

    Louise x

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