Ethan's Birth Story Part 1 - Back Labour + the Epidural

As most birth stories are.. it's a long one so please grab a cuppa and put your feet up..

I've split this into two posts because it appears that I like to talk and so it's kind of got a tad bit too long for just the one post.. also I don't want to completely bore you all in one go!

Ethan was due on Monday, 15th August 2013 and on this day I had my 40 week appointment with the midwife. Up until this appointment I didn't know that I was in fact already in labour. Sure, I had lost quite a fair bit of mucus plug, but I'd been losing parts of it since I was around 37 weeks pregnant. I'd been having Braxton Hicks, loose bowels, 'lightining' and lower back ache since 38 weeks, so I knew my body was definitely gearing up for labour, but I just felt how probably every other woman feels around the end of their pregnancies - impatient and unsure, unsure about what was real in regards to 'true labour' symptoms.

When the midwife told me on my due date that I was already 3cms and fully effaced it's fair to say that I was shocked {but oh so very pleased and also kind of proud of myself}. Here I was.. 'in labour', this was it!
I'd always imagined that I would know as soon as labour started, I thought that I would have had to felt at least some contractions to be able to get to 3cms dilated, but there I was at 3cms and I hadn't felt a thing.. I was confused by this but was definitely not about to start complaining!

I rang Adam as soon as I was able to, it was an exciting phone call to make! He wanted to come straight home from work, but I told him not to as I wasn't feeling anything and I knew it could be a while longer. He came home anyway.. and nothing happened. Nothing happened that evening whatsoever, no contractions and no sign of baby.. I told Adam that I thought it was best he went back to work in the morning -  but he didn't. So we decided on the Tuesday to go for a long walk. We walked and we walked {oh and also stopped for some yummy chips along the way}, but I felt nothing {except for very sore feet}. And that evening at home I still felt nothing, no sign of any contraction whatsoever!

That was until around midnight I started to experience lower back pain that was sort of coming in waves. I told Adam and I laid awake for a while just feeling them come and go but I must have fallen asleep, because I next woke up next around 4am realising that the back pain waves were back! I knew something was happening, but I didn't believe they were contractions because I hadn't felt a single thing in my stomach just purely in my lower back and 'down below'. I'd expected that contractions were felt like stomach tightenings.

By 5:40am Adam had decided that the pain I was having had to be contractions and though I still wasn't sure, we started timing the pain waves on an iPhone app and it looked like this:

We timed them as much as we could from then on until around 9am, which was when the pain got too intense and we decided to go in to the labour ward. I knew by 9am that I was definitely experiencing contractions, it was just not the type that I'd expected.. I wasn't feeling contractions in my stomach, I was experiencing 'back labour'.

Above is the last lot of timing that we did before we left for the Hospital. You're typically told to wait until contractions are closer together than mine were, but when we arrived at the Hospital I was checked and told to stay as I was 4cm, fully effaced and in a LOT of pain.

In triage waiting to move to our labour room. One of the last pictures of me with 'the bump'.

I'd love to say that I remember all of the little details of being in hospital whilst in labour but the truth is I don't. I don't know the specific times of when particular things happened. So I'll write about as much as I do remember. 

I remember moving to the room where I gave birth to Ethan from triage. It was room 9. I remember that I wanted to try the birthing pool but there wasn't a pump available. I remember meeting the first midwife to look after me, she was so lovely. She was the one who was honest with me about pain relief when it came to back labour, she told me that the only sort of relief I'd get from the type of labour I was experiencing was either to use the birthing pool as much as I could or think about an epidural. I would like to make it clear that she did not tell me to have the epidural, or try and convince me to, I asked her over and over again to tell me what the epidural was like, because quite honestly I wasn't clued up on it at all. I'd actually thought it was a lot worse than it  was. In reality it was the best decision that I could have made in regards to pain relief! 

Yep, I'm even sharing this extremely unflattering photo of me. Pretty sure this was pre-epidural. 
Look how HUGE my stomach was!

From what I remember the Epidural didn't really hurt much at all, in fact I don't remember if there was actually any pain. My contractions hurt so much that I just got to the point where I didn't care about a needle {and trust me I'm a HUGE baby when it comes to needles}.. the anaesthetist was absolutely brilliant, he was just such a lovely guy and I totally get now why people say that their anaesthetists become their new best friends. The Epidural worked fantastically for me, it pretty much took all of the pain away. I was aware of my contractions when they came, but I went from screaming and swearing to casually chatting with the midwife about cats, weddings, jobs... you name it. I was even laughing and smiling whilst watching my contractions get more and more intense on the monitor. It was simply amazing. 

After I had had the epidural - all smiles! So different to how I had been pre-epidural.

And Adam was able to relax a bit after I stopped screaming in pain!

The midwife I had finished her shift a couple of hours later which was quite sad to be honest because we were getting on so well. I'd had no idea that the midwife would stay in the room with Adam and I the whole time, some people probably wouldn't have wanted this but I actually liked it. The midwife that came on next had a student midwife with her. The new midwife was a lot more blunt, not so much towards me but very much towards the student. I don't think she was purposely being un-kind, I think this was just her personality and I'm pretty sure that the student knew this. They were {apart from the occasional bluntness} both lovely and I just sat back watching the midwife teach the student most of the time whilst they poked and prodded me from time to time and wrote up a whole lot of notes about my labour, which I didn't envy them for. 

I guess hours passed by, but I don't know how many because it was around this point that things started to become a blur. The contractions had got stronger and stronger as I dilated further, and with each contraction I was feeling pain.. intense and just such awful pain. I used the gas and air much more than I probably should have, at first it had had no affect on me but the more I took it in the more I realised that it was definitely working, I felt almost completely drunk. I had the epidural topped up and I was by now beginning to start shouting again quite a bit. I squeezed Adams hand as he watched my contractions on the monitor, which at this point where getting quite strong! The midwife informed me that I'd dilated a lot faster than they'd expected me to have done being that I had had the epidural. I was in agony and by now I had no idea of time or my surroundings. I felt like I wanted to push but they wanted me to wait for an hour before I began to push. I don't remember much about the next hour as I was in so much pain that I kind of felt like I was looking down at myself {as crazy as that sounds}.. I even went back to my wedding day in my mind because it was a happy place for me to go and I was beginning to feel incredibly scared. 

Time was just slipping through my fingers, because that hour as long as it probably should have felt, didn't feel long at all. It felt like minutes had passed but the time had come.. they wanted me to push... 


  1. your birth sounds sooo like my first i was 3cm easily and then had a 3 day back labour no stomach pains but didn't have the epidural (i wish, it was like being tortured slowly i thought lol) I had the no sense of time and looking down at myself experience, i thought i was dieing or something at the time in my gas and air induced stupor lol! With my second i was induced and had an epidural before i got any contractions i felt the need to push but no pain what so ever, it was the most amazing experience ever compared to my first birth i got to have a normal labour and want to push but without any pain involved! xx

    1. Glad to know it's not just me who experienced the 'looking down at myself', it's pretty weird isn't it?! xx

    2. I actually red up on it after, apparently loads of women have reported it, like an outer body experience! Mine was when my waters broke when i was in proper labour, my mum, my partner and the midwife were talking to me and i wasn't responding,i could hear then but it was like the sounds you hear when you're under water! Really strange lol Yea glad i'm not alone though! :) xx

  2. I didnt have one stomach pain when i was in labour...they actually sent me home and i got the urge to push in bed....such a horrible pain :) but i was lucky to have such an amazing birth..looking forward to reading the rest.
    WTPP - The little lady with a baby!

  3. Wow, thank you for sharing your story with us, and leaving it on such a cliff-hanger too, I will be back tomorrow for Part 2...

    Lyndsay xx

  4. Ahhhh, I had back labour with my son and it was horrendous. My waters went first so my contractions started off really intense and just got worse from there. I ended up with an epidural too (after about 26 hours of agony) and it was the best decision that I made. I think I would have married my anaesthetist if he had asked me!!!

    Right, off to read part 2. x

  5. So interesting reading other people's birth stories! I have it all to come with my bump :-)