A Brutal but Beautiful, Unmedicated Birth Story

This is the story of how Zak Eden Morgan came into this world, on Saturday 29/5/21 7.23pm AEST.

I was relaxing on the couch watching morning TV while Andrew mixed up pancakes, looking forward to some time off on maternity leave after finishing up the day before. After all, I had 11 days till my due date and my first baby would surely not come early…

Early Spontaneous Labour

However, at around 11.20am I heard and felt a ‘pop’ down in my pelvis… like a knuckle cracking. I knew it had to be my waters. Andy and I got super excited! I got in the shower and started feeling mild contractions, 30 seconds long and 3-4 minutes apart.

By 12.30 we were at the hospital and in the waiting room. Contractions were now more like 1 minute long and 2-3 minutes apart. We were told all the birth suites were full and there were 3 women in labour ahead of me waiting to be seen, so it might be a while. I was further held back because I mentioned baby hadn’t moved a lot that morning. Big mistake…

Delayed and Progressing Fast

They had me in for monitoring by 1.30, and I had to lie on a bed with belts and monitors strapped to me for about an hour or more. It was absolute agony. I couldn’t do it for long and kicked off a bit… ended up getting on my knees and leaning against the bed for contractions.

The pain was unbearable and in the end, the nurse asked to see my knickers – the bloody show was there – and decided she had enough monitoring evidence bub was ok. She got someone to move me to another room to assess the progress of my labour. Well. They found I was 10cm dilated with the baby’s head fully engaged and ready to descent the birth canal.

I’d gone through all this with no pain relief whatsoever and to be honest was pretty annoyed that they hadn’t taken me too seriously. The more time goes on the more pissed off I feel. I kept being asked if it was my first baby as if it meant my labour wouldn’t be progressing fast. Also I’d been feeling the urge to push since the monitoring room and the triage nurse kept telling me to hold off…

Finally in a Birth Suite

From the assessment room, I was put on a standing wheelchair to be taken up to the birth suites because I could no longer walk. Finally! I whipped all my clothes off and got on the bed on all fours. The pain was now 10/10 but – how can I put it – it felt natural, animalistic, and like I could handle it. Credit to myself, 10+ years of yoga breathing practice, and birth classes with Jo Terry. Still, I sucked on the gas with all my might – and it did a good job.

I couldn’t believe how far I’d come and I was actually so close to meeting my baby. I was going to stick to my birth plan of no pain relief (except gas) and went for it. The nurses and midwives told me NOT to push yet so with every contraction I wailed like a wild animal in pain.

However, I really wanted to push! And in hindsight, I really wish I was offered birthing positions with proven positive outcomes for pelvis positioning and unassisted delivery. For example, standing, squatting, sitting on a birthing stool or toilet. Instead, I was put on my back. In my state, I couldn’t think straight and the midwives were so lovely so I trusted them… also perhaps they didn’t have those options available at the time, I don’t know.

How to Push Out a Baby

Andrew was amazing throughout the whole event rubbing my back, just doing everything he could and being right by my side. I could not have got through it like I did, with strength, surrender and positivity, without him.

So back to the birth suite. I was there for 3 hours pushing, tried the bath, tried some different positions including lying on my side and lying on my back. By the time I’d been pushing for 2, 2.5 hours my legs were shaking and body numb from labouring on all fours for many hours (my preferred position). I tried side and back again and actually felt relieved just to be lying down. But it was not the best choice to push out a baby without interventions.

It hadn’t wanted to push on my back as I’d learned it closes off the pelvis. This is probably a contributing factor to why I just could not get that baby’s head out on my own. Also because I had been told to resist the urge to push for so long, this probably impacted my chances of all-natural delivery.

Deciding on Interventions

I pushed for about 3 hours total and the baby was crowning for a good hour, so eventually, we got an obstetrician in to discuss interventions. In truth I wanted none at all, but I needed help. We couldn’t have a ventouse (suction cup) delivery because our little one had a popped blood vessel – now blood blister – formed on the back of the head. So our option was forceps with recommended accompanying episiotomy.

As a precaution, I agreed to have some local anaesthetic injected into the perineum. But I really didn’t want to be cut. The OB said I could tear badly, but Andrew had been helping me with perineal massage for weeks prior specifically to avoid an episiotomy or tearing… the midwife agreed with me that we could try without, so I decided against it.

As far as my preferences went, I wanted as least interference as possible. Yet I ended up feeling pretty interfered with. Nothing could prepare me for the feeling of forceps going in, one giant salad pincher at a time, scraping against my pelvis through my vagina and the side of my baby’s head to clamp it. With no local pain relief. With this medieval contraption, the doctor pulled out my baby during my following contraction, and we finally met our baby… Andy told me it was a BOY to our great surprise! And delight. What a cutie he was, even straight from my tummy.

The Best and Worst Part

The feeling of suturing (stitching) was the worst pain of the whole experience and it lasted at least 20 minutes. I had a lot of superficial cuts internally from the forceps. Nothing structural/integral, nothing around the perineum and nothing external. Perineal massage had paid off.

They placed my newborn baby on my chest while stitching me up inside and dabbing me with gauze – I was in immense agony, and I couldn’t get into a happy headspace to enjoy my moment. So I was glad they left him on me, unwashed, unweighed and unmeasured, for 5 hours straight. This allowed us to truly bond and I got to shed my first happy tears. Andrew and I named him Zak Eden Morgan.

Around 11.30pm/midnight they finally weighed Zak, Andrew dressed him and I showered before moving to the maternity ward.

Reflecting on My Birth Experience

Zak’s birth, my childbirth experience, was alright. It was as much to my plan and preferences as possible at the time, and it is enough. I am disappointed he came into the world with added violence.

At the time, I felt like my experience from the birth suite to going home 2.5 days later was actually quite good – like I was taken care of, listened to and respected. It’s evolved from that a little to me having a few questions about why certain decisions and recommendations were made.

A month on, he is well, I am well, and I can reflect on the experience as a warrior superwoman who brought a beautiful, curious, incredibly loved little boy into the world.

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Deni Kirkova
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