Natural labour in Hospital de Mar, August 2013.
When we were first allocated Hospital del Mar for the birth of our first baby, we had some doubts, we had heard some stories about the hospital not being very good or some mishaps that had happened there. However, after talking with our midwife we were reassured and spurred on by the new natural birthing room decided to stick with it. On Tuesday 14th August, I knew I was in slow labour when I was having frequent contractions that lasted a short time, about 20 seconds and then passed. This carried on through Tuesday, slowing down for some periods of time. I had a pretty sleepless night, and woke on Wednesday to the third bloody show. During Wednesday I tried to keep myself busy, went for a walk in the morning and did some shopping. I was getting contractions every 15 minutes or so but just thought it was like the day before and they would slow down. So around 3pm I set off for my favorite tea shop (when in fact I should have been trying to get some sleep!). I had 3 contractions on the walk there, which takes about 25 minutes. Whilst sipping my chai I experienced another 3 contractions and suddenly thought, hmmm maybe this is it, they are getting bit stronger and more frequent. It was then that I called my boyfriend and summoned him home from work. From 5 to 8 we timed some of the contractions they were coming around every 6 mins and lasting for 45 seconds, we had time to go still. I managed the discomfort of them by breathing, walking around the flat and trying to concentrate on watching TV. By 10.45 pm the contractions were stronger and getting more frequent so we made the move to the hospital. Hospital del Mar is a 15 min walk from our flat, so we set off on foot and arrived 25 minutes later after enduring 3 contractions on the walk there! When we presented ourselves at the birth centre, the midwives asked how often etc the contractions were and if it was the first baby, with a knowing look in their eyes they thought they would examine me and then send me home or to walk around some more, to their surprise I was already 3cm dilated, it took 2 people to confirm this as they were shocked we had waited it out at home. I was promptly admitted. I had to spend 15 minutes on a bed in the corridor as they got my room ready for me, the midwife was brilliant and explained everything to me. On being moved into our dilation room, I was asked for my birth plan, which both midwives looked over and commented on. My request for no anesthetic was met with ease and they explained all the other ways of helping me through my labour, including gas and air. My labour progressed quickly and I was soon 5cm dilated. I used the corridor to walk up and down and ease the pain of the contractions. The gas and air was bought to my room to be ready when I needed it. The next phase of labour seemed to last a long time, it took a while to go from 5cm to 7cm, I was aided by the midwife bringing me a mat so I could sit on all fours and lean against a chair and my boyfriend was shown how to ease the pain in my back with massage. I also alternated between this and the birthing ball. When I reached 7 cm the pain was getting stronger and the midwife suggested I had a warm shower, which really eased the pain, I stayed in the shower for about 5 contractions and felt relaxed for the first time in hours. Other pain relief aids included hot compress for my back and belly, a birth chair to sit on and a bar at the end of the bed to grab hold of. I resisted the gas and air until after 7cm dilation, at which point I took my first breath of it and felt immediately sick and dizzy, I used it a few times and then decided I was better off without it. My labour had progressed well but now it started to slow down, the babies heart rate was dropping and my heart rate was increasing due to tiredness and stress. For the next 4 or 5 contractions I was told not to push, so everyone would have some space to recover. This is the hardest thing, to not do what your body is telling you to and to feel this immense pressure and try to resist it, I managed for 4 contractions and then said I had to push. My waters had still not broken by this point and as I had requested on my birth plan for them not to be broken artificially, the midwives had respected it up to this point, when they explained to me that this was slowing my labour down and if they were broken it would speed up the process, or course I agreed. In the end there was no need, the next contraction bought with it a big pop and release of pressure and my waters broke. It seemed to take forever for the pushing stage, the head was crowning for about an hour when finally at 7.40 Effie was born and placed directly on me for skin to skin contact for about 30 mins while they sewed up 2 small stitches (care was taken to avoid an episiotomy with hot compresses applied to the area and massage). The placenta was delivered about 5 minutes later after the midwife spent some time massaging my belly. The midwives throughout the whole process were amazing, they gave us privacy in our room, suggested many different ways for pain relief, offered support, respected my birth plan and respected the fact that I requested a natural birth and my boyfriend was with me the entire time. The aftercare in the hospital was great, I was offered help for breastfeeding on numerous occasions. The downside I can think of is that the baby is taken away 3 times a day for tests etc and these are not really explained to you, but after asking one time the nurse happily told us what she had been tested for. There are not restricted visiting hours so people can come and go as they please and it is not a problem for your partner to stay the night if they don’t mind sleeping on a chair! My birth in Hospital Del Mar was nothing but a positive experience.