“Labour pain will humble you” – Marcy Dolapo Oni.
Sooo, I am very late to the party – the instagram clip on her page has 31k views, but I finally caught up with Marcy Dolapo Oni’s video series.
She is an actor, presenter and producer. I will always remember her from a fun & interactive play she acted in called “Iya -Ile“(you can click this link, when you hover with your mouse it goes orange), back in 2009. The play was held in London but the vibe, the laughs and the audience dancing (yes they encouraged us), meant we were all transported back to Lagos. It was a great great night of fun.
Anyway, bringing it back to 2017. Marcy has shared a series of videos on her pregnancy and is now keeping us up-to-date on life as a new mum, starting with (you can click this link, when you hover with your mouse) baby’s birth video.
The video is from the heart, hella funny and has many moments mums would recognise! It reminded me of some long forgotten details from my first born’s birth, I even took notes, lol.
I loved it so much I had an Instagram live video to talk about it. Don’t know if I’ll ever do one of those again *coversface, but I wanted to share the key points we discussed.
– I’m so passionate about POSITIVE birth experiences for all Mums.
-I feel like there’s still so much that comes as a surprise to us during the birth experience. It’s impossible to know everything but, the more we talk and share, the more we close that gap of lack of information!
-If you are informed, you can be confident asking questions and being an advocate for yourself (alongside your birth partners). That just means speaking up clearly about your wishes and being part of the decision-making process alongside the medical team (within reason, obviously).
Oh, and I’m about to do it again, myself – woo hoo.
Right, lets get into.
If you haven’t yet, watch the video, and then run back here to read the points below:
We talked about:
Reasons why one might need to be induced:
- Big baby /diabetic mum
- Overdue 42 weeks or more
- Carrying twins
- Bleeding at late stage in pregnancy
- Fears about baby not growing/small baby
- High blood pressure.
And below are typical Induction steps (I didn’t actually cover this in the discussion):
- Usually you start with a sweep – literarily put their fingers in your cervix and move around between the membrane and your uterus.
- ,Then the give you the prostaglandin pessary (goes inside you) or gel
- Then they might break your waters if they haven’t broken yet – ‘rupturing your membranes’.
- Then they may give you the syntocinon drip to speed things up if contractions slow, or you’re not dilating. The contractions from the drip can be very strong.
Usually if you start with the sweep, they send you home to then see if your body responds to it and starts contracting by itself. If it doesn’t you might go back into hospital and then be given the pessary or gel. Experiences vary based on whether they send you home after you get the pessary or not – I guess if you are a few cm’s dilated, the ward isn’t too full or you live far, you may be allowed to stay.
Induction and c-section link
Now, lots of people (medical staff included) accept that if you are induced, you may find yourself, I don’t want to say fast-tracked, but you may end up having a c-section. I think it’s because you’re forcing the body to expel baby. If the body was already getting ready, your induction may be a ‘success’ – vaginal birth, but if your body wasn’t ready at all, it may not respond as well to the drugs and you may need to get an emergency c-section.
When I was told an induction was likely for me, the first time round, I immediately started going on long walks – 1hour plus. I got the sweep, and continued on my walks. I wanted to jump start my body getting ready as much as possible, before we got to the hospital and drugs stage. I don’t know if it helped, but I had started getting some very early labour signs – contractions that started while I was sleeping, but in the morning of the induction day, they had stopped. I was about 2cm dilated when I got the pessary.
I think if I were in that position, I would do the same again. Try to get things going naturally before going in for the pessary or gel.
Baby’s size and position
I feel like every pregnant woman, who is hoping for a natural birth, should be reminded before labour that there are so many factors that need to be aligned to get that vaginal birth. Baby’s position and condition and mums condition too. If Mums pelvis is small in relation to size of baby, mums pelvis is shaped differently to the norm, baby is breech, baby’s hand is up by head, baby poos in the womb, baby’s heart rate slows – any one of these could signal change of plan from vaginal to CS.
So have a birth plan, hold on to it, but let your mind be open to – healthy mum, healthy baby being the goal. It then allows you to adjust your expectations should anything unexpected arise on labour day.
Now I knew exactly what that experience was like of going from labouring in a quiet-ish room with dimmed lights to a room that is bright, lights everywhere and full of people. It is scary. And I wish they would take 2 minutes to tell a Mum to prepare herself before they wheel her into the theatre. I understand in the grand scheme, if its an emergency, there’s no time for that, but I feel these little snippets of information can be big enough to change a woman’s perspective on her birth experience from ‘wo-wo’ or negative to positive. And all it took was a little heads -up here and there.
Pain relief options
I never tried the tens machine so I can’t speak on that. It’s four electrodes fastened to your back and they send low voltage currents into your skin, stimulating endorphins to make you feel good and preventing you from feeling the pain being sent to your brain from your womb.
I had to agree with Marcy that gas & air is ‘for the birds’ aka rubbish, aka a scam, aka does.not.work. I noticed that there seemed to be a technique to using it – you have to suck deeply. I found that whole sucking process, annoying for the fact that you got almost nothing in return for that effort, by way of actual pain relief. All the while contractions are hitting you. Hitting you with almost no breaks in between, usually if you got induced.
I have no experience with pethidine so I can’t speak on it. It is a pain killer which is injected into your thigh. It takes about 20 minutes to kick in, but let’s you relax and sleep.
Epidural experience & after effects
The epidural segment Marcy covered was again ‘the truth’. That part where they’re giving you the injection and you have to lie still, back arched, feels a bit scary and almost impossible. You’re being told to be very still, but you’re in active labour, you’re contracting so your body is feeling all the aches and they make you want to move. I was told some women just ask to have the epidural from early onset of labour and I guess I can understand that choice!
I remember holding and squeezing the Anaesthetist’s hand and she sternly tells me, do not hold my hand please. I thought she was rude. Later my friend explained that I would want the hand of the person who is sticking a needle in my spine to be as fully functioning and pain free as possible. Ah, point taken.
Side effects of epidural as it wears off include shivering and itching – both of which I suffered. It also works for 93% of people but you could be in that 7% it does not work for. Some people report tingling in one side of their body for life. I remember feeling some strange tingles, but they passed days/weeks after birth.
I was saying that when you think about all that is entailed with the epidural, you might hesitate to go for it, but it feels so nice to have it! You go from I’m in so much pain, to being like, goodnight and going for a sleep. The relief is amazing.
Seeing your baby for the first time just makes it so worth it. Whether it was a CS or vaginal birth, that feeling is indescribable!
I wish for every woman to to know her options and have a say in her birth experience. I also believe ‘healthy mum, healthy baby’, should be the number one goal and kept in mind for all those who have a detailed/elaborate birth plan! Finally, you can use the BRAN – U model when making medical decisions. For big and difficult medical decision put forward by the medical team, Mum and Dad can ask themselves the questions below before committing to a decision:
B – what are the benefits?
R – what are the risks?
A – what are the alternatives?
N – what if we do nothing, is this an option?
U – how quickly do we need to make a decision, is it urgent?
The bran model was devised by Dr Sarah J Buckely. I added the U part as I believe it’s worth considering too. Maybe even the first question to ask!
The conversation is still up on Instagram along with comments from Mums, if you want to see.
Mums, I would love to hear what stood out for you personally, from watching the birth video. Anything you don’t agree with, completely agreed with/found yourself nodding to? Are there parts you didn’t really understand? Please share your views below.