Birth Stories - What 583 Mums Had to Say About Childbirth

Case Studies

Did you know that 48% of first-time mums are in labour for 12 hours or more compared to 14% for mums that have previously had children.

At Cadenshae we surveyed 583 mums about their most recent childbirth experience and compared the results between mums that went through childbirth for the first-time and mums that have had more than one child.

Let’s take a look at the results.

What’s in this case study:

  1. What percentage were first-time mums?
  2. When did they give birth?
  3. What age ranges were they?
  4. How many had premature births?
  5. How many were induced?
  6. What was the sex of the baby?
  7. What was the first sign of going into labour?
  8. Where were they when they went into labour?
  9. When did the “bloody show” occur? (Loss of the mucus plug)
  10. When did their water break?
  11. How long were they in labour for?
  12. Was the “stretch and sweep” used to initiate labour?
  13. What time of day was the baby born?
  14. Did they have any drugs?
  15. What type of deliveries did they have?
  16. Where did they plan on giving birth vs where they actually gave birth.
  17. How many days were they in the hospital/birthing centre for?
  18. Birth stories & advice from first-time mums
  19. Birth stories and advice from mums that have had more than one child.

    1. Of the 583 mums, we surveyed how many were first-time mums and how many have had more than one childbirth?

    • 54% have had one birth.              
    • 46% have had more than one child.


    2. How many mums gave birth before their due date, on their due date or after their due date?

    For first-time mums:

    • 56% gave birth before their due date.
    • 5% gave birth on their due date.
    • 39% gave birth after their due date.

    Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

    • 56% gave birth before their due date.
    • 5% gave birth on their due date.
    • 39% gave birth after their due date.


    3. What were the age ranges of mums that completed the survey?

    Results are from women aged between 16-44 years old.

    For first-time mums:

    • 1% were 15-19 years old when they gave birth.
    • 14% were 20-24 years old when they gave birth.
    • 50% were 25-29% years old when they gave birth.
    • 31% were 30-34 years old when they gave birth.
    • 4% were 35-39 years old when they gave birth.
    • 0% were 40+ years old when they gave birth.

    Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

    • 0% were 15-19 years old when they gave birth last.
    • 11% were 20-24 years old when they gave birth last.
    • 36% were 25-29 years old when they gave birth last.
    • 40% were 30-34 years old when they gave birth last.
    • 12% were 35-39 years old when they gave birth last.
    • 1% were 40+ years old when they gave birth last.

    4. How many had premature births?

    The estimated date of delivery is normally 40 weeks from conception, however, if the birth of a baby is less than 37 weeks gestational age the baby is born prematurely.

    Of the 583 mums we surveyed:

    • 14 first-time mums had premature births.
    • 12 mums that have had more than one child had a premature birth in their last birth.

    5. In their last childbirth how many were induced?

    Inducing labour is the stimulation of contractions during pregnancy before labour begins on its own to achieve a vaginal birth.

    For first-time mums:

    • 60% Yes.
    • 40% No.

    Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

    • 25% Yes.
    • 75% No.


    6. In their last birth what was the sex of the baby?

    For first-time mums:

    • 46% Girl
    • 54% Boy

    Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

    • 42% Girl
    • 58% Boy


    7. In their last birth what was the first sign that they were going into labour?

    For first-time mums:

    • 24% Water broke.
    • 22% Contractions.
    • 17% Being induced.
    • 16% Braxton Hicks (including false labour, pre-labour, irregular contractions, period like pain, cramping or tightening).
    • 8% The show (also known as the bloody show, loss of the mucus plug).
    • 5% Caesarean Section.
    • 4% Back pain or back cramps.
    • 2% Urge to go to the toilet.
    • 1% Change in mood (for example: irritable, restless, lethargic, unwell, vomiting, hungry or head spinning).
    • 0.5% Baby wasn’t moving (much).
    • 0.5% Speculum Swab, internal exam.

    Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

    • 36% Contractions.
    • 17% Water broke.
    • 16% Braxton Hicks (including false labour, pre-labour, irregular contractions, period like pain, cramping or tightening).
    • 13% Being induced.
    • 8% The show (also known as the bloody show, loss of the mucus plug).
    • 6% Caesarean Section.
    • 2% Change in mood (for example: irritable, restless, lethargic, unwell, vomiting, hungry or head spinning).
      • 1% Back pain or back cramps. 
      • 0.5% Urge to go to the toilet. 
      • 0.5% Intuition.

      8. In their last birth where were they when they went into labour?

      For first-time mums:

      • 59% Home.
      • 33% Hospital (Includes those that had a caesarean or were induced).
      • 8% Out and about.

      Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

      • 67% Home.
      • 28% Hospital, (Includes those that had a caesarean or were induced).
      • 5% Out and about.


      9. In their last birth how long before the baby was delivered did the “bloody show” occur?

      For first-time mums:

      • 33% experienced the show less than 24 hours before giving birth.
      • 12% experienced the show 1-4 days before giving birth.
      • 7% experienced the show 5 days or more before birth.
      • 48% were unsure, never had the show, had a c section or were induced.

      Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

      • 36% experienced the show less than 24 hours before giving birth.
      • 14% experienced the show 1-4 days before giving birth.
      • 5% experienced the show 5 days or more before birth.
      • 45% were unsure, never had the show, had a c section or were induced.

      What is the “bloody show”?

      The “bloody show” or “show” refers to a blood-streaked discharge that often occurs after you lose your mucus plug which seals your cervix during pregnancy. As you can see above the bloody show often occurs in the days leading up to labour and is not always noticeable.


      10. In their last birth when did their water break?

      For first-time mums:

      • 51% Early labour phase.
      • 25% Active labour phase.
      • 8% Transition phase.
      • 16% Pushing & birth phase.

      Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

      • 37% Early labour phase.
      • 17% Active labour phase.
      • 12% Transition phase.
      • 34% Pushing & birth phase.


      11. In their last birth, how long were they in labour for?

      For first-time mums:

      • 5%     1 hour or less.
      • 7%     1 - 3 hours.
      • 15%   3 - 6 hours.
      • 11%   6 - 9 hours.
      • 14%   9 - 12 hours.
      • 16%  12 - 15 hours.
      • 32%  15+ hours.

      Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

      • 9%    1 hour or less.
      • 24%  1 - 3 hours.
      • 29%  3 - 6 hours.
      • 15%  6 - 9 hours.
      • 9%    9 - 12 hours.
      • 7%  12 - 15 hours.
      • 7%  15+ hours.


      12. In their last birth was the "stretch and sweep" used to try and initiate labour?

      For first-time mums:

      • 40% Yes.
      • 60% No.

      Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

      • 44% Yes.
      • 56% No.

      What is the “stretch and sweep”?

      Also known as a membrane sweep, membrane stripping or a sweep, this approach involves gently lifting the amniotic sac or fetal membrane from the cervix and lower uterus. Late in pregnancy, a doctor or midwife inserts a gloved finger through the cervical canal and uses a sweeping motion to separate the membrane from the cervix. This “sweep,” releases prostaglandins, chemicals that help to soften and open the cervix for delivery.


      13. In their last birth, what time was the baby born?

      For first-time mums:

      • 14%  12am - 4am.
      • 13%    4am - 8am.
      • 16%    8am - 12pm.
      • 21%  12pm - 4pm.
      • 21%    4pm - 8pm.
      • 15%    8pm - 12pm.

      Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

      • 17%  12am - 4am.
      • 16%    4am - 8am.
      • 22%    8am - 12pm.
      • 15%  12pm - 4pm.
      • 14%    4pm - 8pm.
      • 16%    8pm - 12pm.


      14. During their last birth did they have any drugs?

      For example drugs such as Nitrous oxide, Pethidine and/or Epidural anaesthesia.

      For first-time mums:

      • 67% Yes.
      • 33% No.

      Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

      • 40% Yes.
      • 60% No.


      15. In their last birth, what type of delivery did they have?

      For first-time mums:

      • 51% Natural delivery.
      • 6% Water delivery.
      • 9% Vacuum-assisted delivery.
      • 8% Forceps delivery.
      • 3% Elective caesarean.
      • 23% Unplanned caesarean.

      Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

      • 73% Natural delivery.
      • 9% Water delivery.
      • 3% Vacuum-assisted delivery.
      • 1% Forceps delivery.
      • 5% Elective caesarean.
      • 9% Unplanned caesarean.


      16. In their last birth, where did mums plan on giving birth vs where they actually gave birth.

      For first-time mums:

      Where did they plan on giving birth?

      • 1%   Home.
      • 13% Birthing Centre.
      • 86% Hospital.

      Where did they actually give birth?

      • 1%   Home.
      • 4%   Birthing Centre.
      • 95% Hospital.

      Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

      Where did they plan on giving birth?

      • 7% Home.
      • 12% Birthing Centre.
      • 81% Hospital.

      Where did they actually give birth?

      • 9% Home.
      • 8% Birthing Centre.
      • 83% Hospital.

      17. How many days were they in the hospital/birthing centre for?

      For first-time mums:

      • 11%   0 - 1 day.
      • 19%   1 - 2 days.
      • 26%   2 - 3 days.
      • 13%   3 - 4 days.
      • 17%   4 - 5 days.
      • 14%   5+ days.

      Most recent birth: (Mothers that have given birth to more than one child)

      • 28% 0 - 1 day.
      • 28% 1 - 2 days.
      • 20% 2 - 3 days.
      • 13% 3 - 4 days.
      • 8%   4 - 5 days.
      • 3%   5+ days.


      18. Birth stories and advice from first-time mums.

      Pursed lips and counterpressure were key to getting through the contractions (back labour), it got me through 18 hrs of labour before I needed the epidural due to stalling out. 


      I was in pain for about 10 days before baby came, so by the time I was in labour I wasn’t actually convinced that I was! Which made for super fast labour, as I powered on about my day just thinking I was hungry or needed to poop hahaha as it turns out, it’s not as scary as you imagine. We are made to do this. Something primal takes over, and you get through it. It really is an amazing thing that our bodies do.


      Just be positive and go with what feels right. Don't stick to a birth plan or you might be disappointed.


      A hypnobirthing education definitely helped me stay calm, positive and ready for anything that happened! Plus made me aware of my rights and choices.


      My biggest advice to FTM’s unsure of labour is I always tell them to not put too much pressure or expectations on themselves. Don’t stress about having a set in stone plan because it’s not going to always go that way. Just go with the flow, listen to your body, and ultimately do what’s best for yourself and baby as it comes.


      Wow, this was my first time giving birth and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would be as painful and exhausting as it was. I had a short labour, only 7 hours but I pushed for 2 and it felt like forever! I was really lucky that I didn’t tear or need any stitches - partly thanks to my midwife who rubbed oil around the area as I was giving birth.. not particularly comfortable, but so worth it!


      I gave birth to my first baby a couple months ago, after 11 hours of active labour I ended up having an emergency c section due to him being posterior and his little head being tilted. My advice is to keep an open mind and know that however your baby ends up in your arms is the right way for you.


      Don’t feel pressure to have a drug free birth. If you want and need pain relief then get it. No one will give you a medal at the end for being drug-free despite being in excruciating pain.


      I would love to tell first-time mums to trust your body. It’s amazing! Don’t be scared about an epi or c section. If it’s not in your birth plan I understand how difficult it is so defer from that, but the most important thing is a happy and healthy mum and Bub. If you’re induced, you are your biggest advocate! I didn’t want the extra hormones but my OBGYN insisted, she also said I would be labouring into the afternoon/evening so didn’t bother to check how dilated I was. Long story short - I had the hormones but on the minimal amount, plus I had an epi in fear I’d be labouring into the afternoon (and I was exhausted from being up all day/night beforehand) BUT the hormones were on bare minimum and the epi didn’t even kick in until after I had my bub! I wish I’d gotten someone to check me sooner, I was 8cm dilated when they did the epi at around 9.45am, Bubba arrived at 10.20am!!! Listen to your body ladies and remember you are your biggest advocate. X


      I had not prepared myself at all for the possibility of an emergency cesarean, so I would definitely recommend doing some research even if you plan on natural birth. Things don't always go to plan.


      Remember, childbirth hardly ever goes to plan! I really did not want a cesarean but ended up having an unplanned cesarean. You have to do what's best for your baby. But at the same time, if you feel like you are being forced to make a decision when the baby is healthy, ask for more time! Don't feel pressured to do anything you don't want to do if you and baby are healthy. Although I had to schedule an induction, I still got to practice the skills I learned through hypnobirthing as well as using a tub to relax and ease my contractions. Induction is tough, especially if your cervix just doesn't want to dilate. I refused epidural for 24 hours until I couldn't take it anymore. Don't be a hero! If you want an epidural, get it! If you need a c section, who cares!!! At the end of the day, YOU carried your baby for 9 whole months and you still delivered that baby. The most important thing is delivering a healthy baby. Literally, nothing went according to my birth plan but was so thrilled that we delivered a beautiful healthy baby boy.


      I loved my birth. I know I'm really lucky because lots of people don't have a positive experience but mine really was! I practised hypnobirthing through an online course 'the positive birth company' (highly recommend) and found it incredibly helpful. I was induced at 38 weeks because I had gestational diabetes. My induction was with a bloom catheter which came out while I was on the loo overnight. The next morning at 8.30am they broke my waters and started the oxytocin drip. I started having regular contractions but was able to work through them using my breathing techniques, the swiss ball, standing and swaying with my partner, light touch massage, the tens machine and watching a few light-hearted movies! 10 hours later I had still not progressed past 3 cm dilated (baby girl just was too comfy in there) so with the doctor’s advice we decided to go for a c section. There were a few people in front of me so there was a bit of a wait and we decided to up the oxytocin drip to see if anything would happen. I started contracting every minute so needed to start using the gas and air. 2 hours later no change so went ahead with the c section. Ended up having my beautiful baby girl at 10.39 pm. I loved the whole day and would do it all again in a heartbeat to get to see that beautiful baby girl at the end. 


      First child, no drugs, water birth active labour. 5 hours, pushing 2 hours and at the end a beautiful 10 pound 5-ounce boy. Only a first-degree tear which healed naturally, no stitches required. The body can do amazing things mummas.


      Tried to keep busy for the latent phase (mine was very long). Things don't always go to plan but that's ok! Look after yourself too and stand your ground, make sure you're birthing partner knows what you want and can be your voice if necessary. In saying that, your partner can also be tired too if you've had a long labour (mine was expected to drive with baby in the car after being awake for 36+ hours because no room in the ambulance to take me to the hospital after the birth) have a backup person available if possible for the aftermath! You got this!


      My birthing experience was much smoother than I had expected! I just wish I had gone for a meal before heading to the hospital because I wasn’t allowed to eat and was in labour for 23 hours - I was soooo hungry!


      Childbirth is so hard to explain! During labour, it was the worst pain I have ever experienced, but it only lasts for that short time and afterwards you totally forget that feeling. Labour is the worst part, as soon as I could start pushing it was a game changer! I was ready to push that baby out, bring it on!!  One thing I do remember and I give advice to others, push like you're doing a BIG POOP!!


      Trust your body and those around you. My mindset going into birth was well informed of the options (drugs/types of birth etc) but I kept screaming out "I can do this" and also had in my mind that you can do pretty much anything for 10 seconds, so don't focus on how many hours have passed or may lay ahead just focus on the next 10 seconds (whether that be breathing or taking a sip of water or walking to the loo).


      It’s okay to mourn the birth experience you wanted but didn’t get. That doesn’t make you love your baby or your body any less. All options were taken away from me when they found out my little girl was footling breech at 41+2. I get so sad listening to other people’s “natural” birth stories but I need to remind myself that she probably wouldn’t be here if we tried to have a vaginal delivery.


      I found childbirth a very empowering experience. Due to my waters breaking and a fast transition phase I was already well dilated by the time of getting to the hospital which meant I missed the window to receive any drugs with exception to a little bit of gas. This meant delivering an unknown posterior baby within 5 hrs of actually going into labour, completely naturally. It was brutal and painful but amazing all rolled into one! My body just knew what to do and when it needed to do it. I went into the end of my pregnancy/childbirth with no expectations or perceptions and I surprised myself!


      A tens machine during the early stages of labour was amazing, and was the only pain relief I needed for 6 out of 10 hours, then it got too intense and an epidural was what I went for (I have super low blood pressure which had dropped to the point that there wasn’t any other option for pain relief).


      To remember that it doesn’t always go like the birth plan you plan earlier... and that’s okay don’t beat yourself up about it. Be proud to birth your beautiful baby however it is needed at the time. 


      Be ready for it not to go as planned. I wanted and hoped for a vaginal delivery but my little girl turned her head and got stuck in the left side of my pelvis. We tried as much as we could to get her to cooperate, which was hard with the epidural, but she wouldn't shift. Rest as much as possible between contractions and do whatever is best for a healthy baby and Mum.


      I thought childbirth was the easiest part of pregnancy!! If I didn’t have to be pregnant for 9 months and just had to birth babies I could have 20.


      I was a first-time mum at 43 (IVF) and went with an obstetrician as I was potentially high risk & was not confident that a midwife alone would manage my labour as per my wishes. I had a textbook pregnancy… apart from usual aches and pains and swelling. But baby did not engage and the decision was made to go elective c-section as labour would not start naturally. They also (and I) did not want unnecessary trauma and were conscious of me being an older first-time mum to protect the pelvic floor. Even going elective, it was still tough as the obstetrician had a tough time getting the baby out. I had two days in Auckland hospital and two in Pukekohe hospital.


      Advice would be to keep an open mind and try not to stress about having a birth plan ready or what to wear as it goes out the window when you get there. I planned the position I'd be in and the outfit, right down to the bra and ended up naked in the bath for 4 hours. When I tried to get out, the contraction pain was a lot more intense and more frequent.


      C-sections aren’t necessarily as horrendous as I’d heard. My baby was breech so the only safe way to deliver him was c-section. I had feared the worst but actually recovered quite quickly and the pain was very manageable.


      I was a FTM, with a high-risk pregnancy due to blood clotting issues. I was extremely anxious about what would happen during birth because of all my medical problems as I was on blood thinners throughout the entire pregnancy and beyond. My little man decided to make his arrival spontaneously at 34 weeks, giving us all a shock! But a very quick 4-hour natural labour with only gas to help and a vacuum assisted delivery with episiotomy, Bub was rushed off to the NICU. He was absolutely fine and discharged at 10 days old and my recovery was amazing! I loved my birth despite all the medical interventions required (I had hoped to have a home birth but it’s just too risky for me). Know your body, do a calm birth course if possible and trust your own instincts! You got this Mumma!


      I wish that I had learnt more breathing techniques to help me breathe through the contractions and that not all births are the textbook way they explain it to you. I got to the hospital at 8cm almost ready to push and none of my contractions had been textbook at all right up until the few minutes before she was born.  Pushing the baby out at the time was so painful and I hated the contractions I was so nervous every time I could feel the tingle as it started they were not pleasant but every single contraction means you are 1 contraction closer to meeting your baby. ❤ We all get through it in the end somehow they don’t just stay inside us, just go with it.


      Water births are amazing! I wasn’t planning on having one but if you have the option give it a go! The warm water and weightlessness really helped with the contractions and it allowed for a better position for bubs to be pushed out! It was also incredible to have your partner pouring cold water on you during contractions not to overheat! Ice water is key haha. Was an amazing experience. 


      Staying at home for as long as I could using natural pain relief like warm baths and the Swiss ball helped a lot. Focusing on breathing and not panicking during contractions helped keep me calm.


      My experience was amazing. I practised hypnobirthing by reading up on it myself and just took my kind elsewhere. I had a drug free water birth. I couldn’t believe that it just felt like I had the urge to do a massive poo… no one had prepared me for that overwhelming feeling.


      I went in for a stretch and sweep at 41 weeks. I went home with mild cramps and two hours later I stood up thinking my waters had broken. By the time I had reached the bathroom I was bleeding profusely. We went into active labour a few hours later and learnt that my placenta had ruptured causing the bleeding. I was able to labour naturally until 9.5cm dilated with only gas as pain relief. Due to ongoing bleeding, I had to remain lying down. I stayed at 9.5cm for 2 hours and was still losing blood. I got rushed to emergency for a C-section. My husband and I decided that a general anaesthetic was the safest option as I couldn’t hold still for a spinal block. 3 hours later I met my gorgeous baby girl! I believe all mums need to know that their voice is to be heard. I was able to labour naturally for as long as possible and the midwives and nurses were kind and caring and respectful! Trust your gut! Lastly and most importantly for me was having my husband by my side helping me breathe through the contractions and my mum as a support person!



      19. Birth stories and advice from mums that have had more than one child.


      I have had five children naturally and have had beautiful fast drug free labours except for my first which was an induction and I was under the advice of an obstetrician who was very persuasive on my need to have an epidural. In subsequent labour’s I learnt the power of our body’s own way to relieve pain and learnt how my breathing could be enough to manage the pain. It’s important to have a supportive midwife who is empowering and positive and shares your wishes. Childbirth doesn’t have to be scary and horrific. Fear only holds back the natural process. My last birth was textbook (similar to my third). I had a show (lost my mucus plug), then my waters and then mild contractions started only getting very strong as I was passing 6 cms. I was in active labour for 3 hours. It was calm and natural and nothing like my very medically intervened first birth.


      Don’t get too set on your birth plan. In my experience, things never go to plan and that’s ok. To me, contractions felt like really extreme period cramps. Get up and move around as much as possible. It definitely helps things progress in my experience.


      I was induced with both babies and both times I avoided the syntocinon. For both babies, my active labour phase was no more than 2 hours with no pushing. I know every baby and birth is different, but I totally credit the speed to being upright, walking around, sitting on an exercise ball or swaying in the shower.


      First childbirth was great. Was a week late, induced, and had the epidural. Pushed for an hour and a half but was great the entire time. Had a smooth recovery. Second birth water broke in the night, tried twice to get an epidural but it didn’t work either time. Pushed five times and she was here! Both so different but I wouldn’t have it any other way. :)


      Both were completely different. First induced due to pregnancy-induced hypertension. Second, induced to avoid that same issue. Both boys, born the same day two years apart. Second labour was amazing.


      I’ve had 4 births, my last 2 being water birth which I highly recommend. It helps relieve some of the weight of the body and helps with the pain down south whilst baby is coming early side.


      I have three children. My first two I had epidurals and my third was all natural NO medicine. I totally recommend channelling your inner goddess and saying no to the meds. How I felt after and how differently my baby was is so worth it!!! No waiting for feeling, no extra drowsiness, no needles!!!! It’s worth it and YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!


      I’m still amazed at what our bodies are capable of! Both of my births were natural, but the second time was much easier. My body knew exactly what to do and pushing was a lot quicker.


      I think the fear of unknown took away my focus which made it harder. Both my labours were under 12 hours start to finish. Both times my water broke but both times were different.


      Placement of placenta makes a huge difference. My first the placenta was up front and it was all back labour and the epidural took away all my pain. Second one the placenta was at my back and it was excruciating pain and lots of drugs later it was bearable but I felt a whole lot more than the first.


      It was the most euphoric experience of my life. My first delivery was traumatic, I had an appalling midwife who left me terrified that my baby would not survive the birth, then missed a postpartum haemorrhage. I was treated for PTSD and it took us 4 years to feel ready to try again. This time I hired a private ob who was the most incredible, kind, reassuring man. The midwives were incredible and made me feel safe, supported and respected. I wanted to have a third before we had even left the delivery suite! I learned to always insist on care providers who will listen to you and that you feel safe with. It makes a huge difference in the postpartum period.


      I had two premature babies. My first little girl was born 31+3 and spent 8 weeks in NICU. She is now a very healthy CRAZY beautiful little 2yr old. She is a determined, stubborn and strong-willed. All the characteristics of a premmie bub. My second little girl was born at 30+1 and spent 6 weeks in NICU. She is our feisty tornado. She is already showing the same determination, strong-willed and holy moly she is feisty. She definitely lets herself be known. The NICU life was hard, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. But please know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It may not seem it now, but I promise there is. Take each day as it comes. Some days you’ll go 5 steps forward and the next day you may go 10 backwards. That’s totally normal. Celebrate the milestones and achievements, don’t dwell on the bad things. Keep your chin up, this all will be over and the NICU life will be just a memory. But make sure you look after yourself as well as your husband. NICU is not forgiving, you can’t look after your baby if you are not strong. Be kind to yourself!


      I have had 3 births all completely different - 1st I was in labour for 3 days before heading to the hospital, epidural and ventouse delivery, the second was an induction and birth 4 hours later and my third was a proposed induction abandoned due to an unstable lie/breech baby and c-section. All difficult but I wouldn’t change them for the world. Each one will always be magical in their own way.


      LISTEN TO THE MIDWIVES WHEN PUSHING! Baby #1: I was induced and overdue, was only in labour for 5 hours, was VERY intense but did it drug free! When pushing is when you should listen, I didn’t “control” my pushing very well and was basically torn to shred and she came out too quick in like 3 pushes (both births only pushed for 15/20 mins). When tearing badly recovery is slow and very bloody sore. Birth #2: He came 2 days early was in labour for 7ish hours but labour was ALL in my back it was extremely intense and lost control a fair bit emotionally in this labour because it was so painful.... used gas to take the edge off but when pushing I didn’t push for long but it was much more controlled pushing and actually listened when they said to stop pushing/small push/slow down etc, still tore but not like last time... straight after birth was able to walk around and felt great, unlike last time! Even though his labour was horrific his birth and recovery for me was a hundred times easier! So ladies make sure you listen to your midwives and also please don’t let anyone make you feel bad for asking for pain relief... it’s safe and available. I asked for epidurals both times but always 1 min before pushing so bear that in mind when you think it’s too painful to go on pushing and meeting your baby isn’t too far away. Painful but so amazing and clearly we keep going back for more. 


      I had 3 hospital births and 1 homebirth. All of them natural and magical in their own way, but my last one, my homebirth, was so so calm and beautiful. I wasn’t disturbed during labour to go to the hospital. My beautiful midwife was just a calm presence, and my children were able to be there as they were collected from school early and I birthed at 2.37pm. The best time of day. I used visualisation and breathing techniques and was very in tune with my body with the knowledge of what was happening at each stage. Thus I had the calmest birth and baby is still so calm and happy. I wish I could do it all again!


      I kept really active during my second pregnancy, so much more than my 1st and the delivery I found so much easier the 2nd time! I really felt being fit and strong 2nd time helped me so much.


      No labour is ever the same. I've done it 6 times and not one of them was like the other but my easiest labours were the ones I kept telling myself “my body knows what it's doing, my body is made to do this”. My 1st, 2nd and 5th were all long labours needing assistance to deliver e.g epidurals, forceps and minutes from needing c-sects. My 4th was quicker but equally as painful as my first so I had gas for pain relief, my 3rd and 6th were a lot quicker births with no time for pain relief delivered within an hour of getting to the hospital.  


      Every birth is different and you have to be adaptable as plans can change. My first labour was not as expected. For 14 hours my contractions were 3-4 mins apart, they just gradually increased in intensity. I expected the time between contractions to be long and gradually shorten but nope! My second was born in 1 hour as I needed to be induced for medical reasons at 37 weeks. I resisted the oxytocin as I didn't want to be hooked to a drip but being induced in this way made the labour so quick that I'm grateful! Neither births went how I imagined but I relaxed and went with the flow and I believe that helped.


      I have had four births and each and every one of them were totally different. My first baby, I was induced and once labour started it was very fast and full-on. Being a first-time mum I had nothing to compare it to so my body and my “head” managed. He was born inside his sack 9 pounds 11. My second was a home birth, the most relaxed experience where my waters broke at 6:50 am, contractions didn’t start until 5 pm and she was born at 7:50 pm. My third, they thought she wasn't growing so I had growth scans every two weeks which made me uneasy I guess and I had to birth in the hospital. I struggled with this after having such a great home birth experience. I went into labour the morning I was meant to be induced. I went into false labour so many times so at 4 am when contractions started I thought they would stop... at 9 am my husband put me in the car and my daughter was born an hour later.  My fourth again late... tick tock... labour started at 11 am birthing centre at 5:30 pm the same day. Thought it was going to be an easy fourth birth and I felt something wasn’t right when I couldn’t feel much pressure when I was pushing. The baby was posterior, so she was hard hard work but we had her at 7:50 pm. I had bruises all over after that one! But so worth it! All natural births with no drugs. I always believed that birthing is a natural thing and that you should listen and go with your body. I’m a dairy farmer's daughter so I saw cows giving birth in not so nice surroundings and in my mind I felt so lucky to have what we have and empowered about what our bodies can do! One piece of advice I can share is when it hurts like hell you know it’s nearly over. Give it your all and push and it will be over very soon and you will be THE most happiest person in the world having that baby in your arms. Love like you cannot describe! You can do this first-time mummy’s... your body is the most amazing thing and your body knows what to do! Listen to it and go with it.


      Don’t always listen to other people before giving birth! I am quite a small person (under 50kg) and a few people told me that because I was small I would need extra help, need a cesarean, have an intensely painful and long labour etc etc. My first labour was 3 hours long and completely natural, my second 55 minutes and also completely natural. Trust in yourself and your strength, and don’t let the opinions of others scare you!!


      In my first birth, I was anxious to have her here, it meant I rushed into being induced. This resulted in intervention after intervention. Epidural, forceps, episiotomy, stitches, being stuck in the bed to give birth. I feel like this resulted in a feeling of detachment from my baby. In contrast, I did everything I could to prep my body and mind for a natural birth, with no unnecessary interventions. I found a midwife to support that. That has made all the difference this time. Also! Check check check for lip and tongue tie! A baby that can eat is way more settled!


      My second childbirth experience was totally different from my first. With both, I had practised hypnobirthing techniques. My first son's labour took over 40 hours and I was so tired by the end of it that I had an epidural. The second was about 4 hours from the first sign of a contraction to the birth of my 2nd little boy. I had no medication for the 2nd but it was much more intense. The birth breathing and calm birth techniques helped me feel relatively calm and in control. But more importantly, I felt prepared for anything to happen and had wonderful experiences both times.


      It’s amazing how you instantly feel better once your baby is in your arms. Those hormones are amazing! I went from consoling myself that I didn’t have to do this again, to being like “he’s so worth it, I’d do it again.... and that was 3 sleepless days and nights of labour!!”


      Your body was MADE for giving birth. You won’t believe your own strength. Trust your instincts. Drink water. Eat. You will poop. It’s ok! Squatting helped a lot both times! Wait for the urge to push. Prepare for the birth you want. Train up a support person. Highly recommend Bradley Method classes for those wanting a natural birth.


      All three of my births were so different. The first being an emergency c section for failure to progress (3-day labour), to an assisted birth, ventouse (12-hour labour), to a home birth that was 5 hours from start to finish. I  just kept repeating over & over 'I got this' 'My body was made to do this' in my head. Surrender and trust in the process.


      Fast and less painful, my 1st delivery was 16 hours of active labour. Super exhausting! #2 and #3 were a piece of cake. I would recommend having babies close together because the "road" has already been paved.


      Every labour is different. Just go with the flow. My first was a breeze and not painful at all, the second was posterior and extremely painful that I thought I would need emergency C-section. Do hypnobirthing! Really helps you to manage birth.


      There's no such thing as a silly question, put your mind at ease and ask your midwife or doctor.

      Written by Nikki Clarke.





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