Steph's empowered birth of little Finlay using TENS

✨ Finlay Paul - Birth Story ✨

It was around 7:30 in the morning of the 14/3 and I was walking Maggie at the local dog park when I started experiencing, what I would describe as lower back “period pain”

I had had a particularly sleepless night and I was walking very slowly, occasionally stopping to take a break - not what I was used to (even though I was very uncomfortable at this stage). I remember saying to some of the other dog parents that I was feeling particularly unusual. It’s also worth noting that I had been losing mucus for a couple of days, which was abnormal - a sign that the mucus plug was coming away.

Once I got home, I noticed that the pain would start at the middle of my lower back and then sweep around into my hips, so I decided to time them. At 9:30 in the morning these pains were occurring every 3:00 and lasting for 0:45. According to my app, I was already in labour, but the pain was very mild.

I called my student midwife who advised me to call the hospital. The midwife at the hospital was convinced that I was in early labour and needed to come in because I was, in terms of hospital policy, pre-term (I was technically 36+6 weeks, but I have always felt that he was further along than our dating scan).

I had in my birth preferences that I wanted to stay home until contractions were 5:00 apart so there was no reason for me to object. I called Karl but told him not to rush back from the gym (luckily it was a public holiday) and once home we grabbed the last bits we needed. I had already packed my hospital bags weeks earlier.

Once at the hospital they immediately knew that I was what they described as “working” - my contractions were obvious and they took me straight up to a birth suite.

Once here they confirmed that my contractions were 3:00 apart and regular but they wanted to do a speculum exam to check that my cervix was opening. This is slightly less invasive than a vaginal exam so I agreed even though I knew I was in labour at this point.

Unfortunately my cervix was still closed, so the doctor offered Panadene Forte and if nothing progressed in 1 hour, they would send me home. I was in two minds about this.

My 1st stage was 5h 30m - I used a tens machine and with every contraction Karl would push my hips together. (I think he got just as much of a workout as me for those 5 hours 😂) and my pose of choice was standing and leaning over the bed. At some stage during this time, my midwives switched and my beautiful midwife’s name was Robyn.

At 11:30pm my waters finally broke (they had been waiting for it) in super Hollywood style. Full force and water went absolutely everywhere.

2nd stage was 1h 52m and this was done on all fours on the bed, again using the tens machine to help with the pain and time contractions/rest. If I remember right contractions were 90 seconds with 30-40s rest.

2nd stage started at roughly 12:00 and this meant that all the pre-term policy was null and void and we could just get on with it.

I’ll never forget at the end of this stage, Robyn grabbed both of my hands and said to me “I really thought I was going to meet your baby. You’re so powerful, you absolutely can do this and I’m so proud of you” - I will never ever forget that moment, what an amazing gift to leave a labouring woman.

This (next part) is the only part of the story that didn’t go as well as it could have. Poor little man came out so fast he copped a mouthful of mucus and so was quiet when he finally arrived. I was facing the wrong way so I couldn’t see but I knew something wasn’t right when I didn’t hear him cry. All of a sudden he found his voice and I could breathe again. I remember desparately looking at my student midwife for reassurance, I just wanted him on me.

Unfortunately this also meant that the chord had to be cut immediately and he was taken to the resus table to ensure his airways were clear.

I was able to walk away with one second degree tear (thankfully not into the perineum) and a graze.
I knew they were trying to slow me down so that I could be “full term” when I birthed but my mind was already in labour. I wanted to stay and I think I knew that this was happening - he was coming

I asked my midwife and she said that if baby wanted out Panadene Forte wasn’t going to make any difference. Well, she was right - it made no difference, and in fact, my contractions moved to 2:30 apart and by the time they checked again, I was 3cm dialated. We were on!

Being *just* before 37 weeks there was hospital policy to contend with. I did feel the pressure, I did experience the scare tactics but I trusted that we were going to be ok. I declined continuous monitoring (unless there was any reason to believe that he was stressed), I also declined 4 hourly antibiotics because I was so close to being full-term it was just protocol at that point. Knowing that I didn’t have to was powerful because it meant I could make my own decisions. But, I had to decline it 4 times to 4 different people which isn’t easy. Karl and I made these decisions together, each time it came up, but I was confident in my body and our baby.
No one really ever tells you this but birthing the placenta after your baby is the worst thing ever and basically feels like a cruel joke.

Overall, I could not have asked for a better birthing team and I was able to stick to my birth preferences. Delayed chord clamping the only one that couldn’t be met. I am so thrilled with my story and when anyone asks me how my labour was, it brings a smile to my face! I know that the research I did in the lead up helped me to stay in control of the situation but even more so than that, I trusted birth and I trusted my body.
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