By Anita - Instagram @comfyse
I was pregnant with my second baby and I could not believe it. There had only been 4.5 months since I'd given birth to my first daughter and which I was still experiencing physical pain from, both perineal and coccyx pain. I was instantly worried that this was all too soon and my body hadn't had time to recover from the first pregnancy. However, I was pragmatic and thought I'm going to roll with it. To be honest having a new-born to look after meant that I didn't actually have much time to "be pregnant", which will sound strange, however I was so busy and tired because I was a new mom that the pregnancy didn't become such a major thing in my life like my first pregnancy had been.
As my birthing plan with my first baby had gone out of the window, so to speak, during the birth, I wrote a birthing plan for my second baby but I wasn't actually expecting to be able to experience what I wanted due to the unknowns of birth. I had not wanted a huge amount during my baby's birth. However, as I had for my first baby's birth, I wanted my second baby to be born in hospital in the birthing pool. I didn't get the opportunity to have a birthing pool experience with my first born.
When the day came and the contractions started, well, it was in the early morning, they were far stronger than the contractions I'd had with my first baby. They were strong and quite long. I could tell things were moving far quicker than they had with the previous birth, which I was glad about because my first labour was 39 hours in total and was exhausting. However having a 14 month old fast asleep and knowing I had not got time to hang around, my husband called the grandparents at 3am to come over to look after our daughter. They thankfully sped round. As soon as my mother-in-law saw me she said you need to get to hospital straight away.
I called the hospital twice to tell them I was coming, but there was no answer. So my husband defrosted the car -it was December- and off we went to the hospital. I arrived at the hospital, to the surprise of the midwives. Thankfully there was a birthing suite available. After struggling to walk due to the severity of the increasingly strong, long and frequent contractions, I got into the room and onto the bed. The midwife was desperately trying to get my details onto the computer but she could tell there wasn't much time before my baby was coming. She quickly read my birthing plan and saw that I wanted a birthing pool birth. I had said that I didn't think there was time to get the pool organised. My midwife said she was going to get the water running as she wanted me to at least have a chance of delivering my baby in the pool as I wished.
Thanks to the two midwives who organised the birthing pool, I managed to get into the pool, which given how strong my contractions were at this stage was a miracle. I wasn't in the pool five minutes and I had a huge urge to push my baby out. The midwives told me to go with my body and pant so not to push too hard. Before I knew it my baby had arrived all on her own. These minutes were so special and serene. The drama of labour had suddenly stilled. My baby had come out of me and floated into the water in the pool and for those seconds she was not inside of me nor in my arms, but she was in the world and was fine. It was amazing then to bend over and scoop her up in my arms and place her on my chest. To be the first person she had contact with in the world was very special to me.
I felt far more relaxed, in less pain and I was happily emotional about the birth compared to my first baby's birth. The first birth was on a bed, I was exhausted, I had a horrible perineal tear that the Doctor had to stitch up and the pain relief had not worked whilst she undertook the procedure and the atmosphere in the room was awful. It was not the experience I ever wished for. I couldn't relax and bond with my baby skin to skin as I had to be treated medically which felt like forever, whilst my husband sat next to me cuddling our baby, whilst he was in shock. I remember after the first birth telling my husband that I felt like a piece of meat being butchered, and to remind me if I ever was to say that I could not do something in my life, to remind me of this moment. If I could cope with what was happening that evening, I could cope with anything.
I cannot tell you just how different my second birthing experience was compared to my first. It was a quicker birth (six hours in total from the first contraction to the delivery) and I had minimal perineal pain as I'd only torn slightly. I had aggravated my coccyx, but that was fine as I knew how to manage that pain because of the learnings I had gained after the first birth. The birthing pool experience, albeit brief, was great as the warm water relaxed my muscles which reduced the intensity of the pain that I felt during the contractions. I barely had time to use the gas and air during my second baby's birth, and that was okay as the speed of the delivery meant there was no time for it and the natural muscle relaxing benefits I felt in the water helped me to manage the pain. Also, knowing that contractions are not permanent and come in waves, I understood that my body could cope with them, that they are there to do a job and that they were going to come to an end soon (as I knew my baby was going to be delivered very soon).
After my second baby's delivery I definitely felt far more relaxed compared to my first baby's birth. Don't get me wrong, I was shattered but you've got to expect that after labour and because I hadn't slept properly for the 14 months previously due to having had a baby the year before. I was able to rest and relax to feed my second baby far sooner than I had with my first born, and I believe this had a positive impact on my breastfeeding. I absolutely think that my second birthing experience was a positive one and I only wish that I could have given birth with my first baby in the birthing pool too.