As I’m writing this, it’s been a little over a week since the delivery of my baby girl. While it’s still fresh in my memory, I thought I should get this penned down now…
…at least the crux of what I remember on what went down.
But let’s rewind a little.
I had chosen to be with Dr. Seri Suniza, a very reputable gynae at Prince Court Medical Centre (PCMC) who’s highly sought after. It took a while for me to see her for the first appointment after making a booking, but the wait was worth it. She is simply amazing. She’s a super friendly doctor who not only acts as your gynae but makes it a point to get to know you and your spouse. Apart from having the needed medical skills and knowledge, Dr. Seri puts your mind in a positive place, is always reassuring and gets you pumped up for THE day. She will quickly fend off any baseless notions of pregnancy and childbirth out there to be replaced with legitimate medical advice. I looked forward to each consultation with her and Alhamdulillah, my pregnancy was smooth sailing and uneventful.
PCMC conducts prenatal classes for couples once every two months. Running from morning til afternoon, the itinerary involved talks on topics like diet, labour, pain management and baby care. The talks were brief (about an hour each), but served as a good eye-opener, especially for those in it for the first time.
Labour Prep Session
Nearing your due date, you may also have a private session for labour prep. Again, being first-time parents, this was a must! We were introduced to Neng, a physiotherapist at PCMC’s Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine Department.
The session, which lasted for two hours, started in the labour room — an unoccupied one of course. I was at my 38th week when we had the session, a stage where I could have already gone into labour! I had already seen one of the labour rooms, upon request during our last check-up. You know, to get the ‘feel’. The labour room looks just like any other room in the maternity ward, with a television, bathroom, sofa bed, etc. but added with the necessary medical equipment for labour and for the baby.
Neng explained what labour is and touched a little on hypnobirthing which involves the psychological ‘warfare’ of the mother. I’ve termed it ‘warfare’ because, if you look it up, it means the employment of a weapon to influence the mind of the enemy.
Got some cool jargons there.
In this context, the enemy is the fear of going into labour and the weapon is the mother’s state of mind. The state of mind can affect the outcome of labour and childbirth. Personally, I really do think hypnobirthing can help ease and in some way reduce labour pain. Pain is inevitable, but there’s a way to handle it.
She told us what the labour process would entail and the different types of pain relief available. With all the ongoing debate about the pros and cons of the epidural, Neng emphasised that instead of pre-opting to avoid it at all costs because of its presumed side effects, the mother should first take into account the welfare of the baby. Yes, mothers who do not take epidural are given the salute, but if the administration of epidural would help the mother bring the baby safely into this world, what more is there to consider?
My birth plan consisted of my openness of taking the epidural, if necessary. I could not say for sure at the time, since I had no clue as to how labour pain would feel like.
She also taught us pre-labour exercises and the correct breathing techniques for labour.
The session was absolutely helpful, giving me a clearer picture of what was to happen. Thank you, Neng!
One Calm Night
I experienced one of the signs of labour – slight bleeding. It was like the start of Aunty P’s monthly cycle.
It’s not a definitive sign of labour as compared to having your water break or having regular, consistent contractions. I was already feeling contractions prior, but in an irregular pattern, which is normal hence no need for alarm. While water breaking indicates that labour is imminent within a certain amount of hours, bleeding or having bloody show indicate that the cervix is preparing itself for the birth of the baby (cervix effacement) but labour does not necessarily happen immediately after that. It could take days even.
I remember our physiotherapist telling us that if my water breaks, there is no need to rush but it was definitely time to make a trip to the hospital. Once it breaks, going back to sleep is a no-no, at least until you are in the care of the hospital.
As it was during the night, I had already showered and was ready to go. Took my time to do some last-minute things (even though I was so nervous), in the event that I had to be admitted that night. At this time, I was not feeling a regular pattern of contractions but the surges were getting stronger.
Bleeding at 39 weeks, I became a ‘fast lane’ or priority patient upon arriving at the Emergency Department. I was wheeled into the labour room not long after for the nurses to strap me to the CTG machine. The machine monitors the baby’s heartbeat as well as the mother’s pattern and level of contractions. Each time I experienced a contraction, the numbers went up.
So how does contractions feel like?
That was a big question mark throughout my pregnancy, until I felt it myself. People have described it as amplified period cramps, which is true. I would also illustrate it as heightened diarrhea but coupled with a strong compression of the muscles in the stomach area. For me, my stomach literally lifted itself up during a strong contraction, or at least it seemed that way. If you’re reading this, don’t be terrified! It’s nothing you can’t bear. Your body was designed for this. It’s a natural process.
*Cue hynobirthing thoughts!*
Upon checking the readings of the CTG machine, the nurse could see that the baby’s heartbeat was fine and that my contractions were regular! So next, she had to conduct a vaginal examination (VE) or internal pelvic exam to check whether there’s any dilation.
“Okay, takde laluan lagi,” the nurse said.
“Boleh balik rumah, tapi kalau ada sakit-sakit lagi, datang je terus ke hospital.”
There was no dilation yet which meant I was not in labour! Back home we went.
That Night Still…
We reached home at about 1:00am.
My contractions became stronger and more regular. I thought it would only last through the night and subside in the morning as how it did at times before.
But it kept going.
I could not sleep through the whole night.
The Next Day
“Okay Nadia, pushhhhhh!”
Again, with the help of my gynae and nurses, I was able to breath and push correctly.
“Assalamualaikum, little one,” we said.
Alhamdulillah again, I managed to troop through the
first stage of labour – dilation period; and
second stage of labour – crowning and birth of baby.
The [final] third stage of labour is the delivery of the placenta and stitching (episiotomy). At this stage, I did feel what the doctor was doing but there was no pain.
Still drowsy, I was relieved and grateful everything went fine. It was so surreal. I realised we are strong enough to endure labour. That it does not have to be traumatic at all.
Next, major exhaustion kicked in……