I am so happy to announce on Friday 6th July 2012 at 08:32 am, I gave birth to our beautiful baby boy - Jenson!
He was born weighing 7lb 1oz (3280g) and is absolutely adorable...
Jenson decided to make an early entrance, arriving exactly two weeks prior to his due date and he took quite a few of us by surprise. In fact, only 5 hours before my contractions started, I was taking a boot camp session! Unbelievable!
To take you back a couple of steps, I want to give you some insight into my pregnancy. I made a point of staying reasonably active throughout my pregnancy. I was running up until 23 weeks, then continued with strength training for the remainder - particularly exercises like squats and lunges to keep my legs strong to cope with the extra weight of my growing belly. As I approached the tail end, as with most pregnancies, moving my body became much more difficult and things like breathing weren't as easy because everything was squished. Instead of 'working out' or making a concerted effort to exercise each day, I incorporated more incidental exercise - particularly walking up and down stairs...
I live in a two story house, so I was walking up and down those stairs at least 50 times a day - great for the legs and my cardiovascular system. I would also do various strength exercises with the girls in my boot camp class, such as the warmup, pushups (on my knees), squats, plank and core exercises that didn't require my belly to be in the way...
I would also ensure that I stretched everyday. This made my whole body feel so much better...
What was the benefit in staying 'active' during my pregnancy?
I had a fantastic labour and birthing - pretty much as good as it gets I believe. Here's how the whole thing went down....
Approximately 5 hours after that last boot camp session (around midnight), my waters broke (actually they began leaking - there was no huge gush of water), then around an hour later my contractions started.
Being a first time mum, I wasn't sure if this was really IT yet... The contractions were mild but definitely constant (I thought they may have just been Braxton Hicks) and they started at around five minutes apart. After everything I had read and been told, I expected contractions to start around 20-30 minutes apart, so I was a little confused. After an hour of self-monitoring (around 2am) I decided that this MUST be it and woke up my fiancee, 'I think it's happening now...'
I love his initial response to me, 'Try and get some sleep and wake me up if things get worse'. Five minutes later, it finally sunk in what I was telling him and he was up and moving. Within the following hour, my contractions were stronger and only around 3 minutes apart. I rang the hospital and they told us to come in. I showered, packed the rest of my bags and had Jimmy help me attach a TENS machine unit I had hired.
A TENS machine sends small electrical signals into the body via electrodes which are placed onto the skin (either side of your spine). The stimulus helps relieve pain by blocking pain messages from reaching the brain, stimulating the body's natural release of endorphins (the same way exercise does) and by providing a distraction to the pain of contractions. By using one of these machines, you may not need any pain relieving drugs to assist in the labour process. For more information visit the Tens Australia website.
This machine was absolutely brilliant and I can't sing it's praises highly enough. It really helped take the edge off my contractions!
We arrived at the hospital around 5am. The midwife initially stated they we may end up being sent home for a few hours depending how far along I was. I think due to how calm I was, she didn't think I was very far along yet... Once they got me into a room and monitored my contractions and the baby's heartbeat, they were more than satisfied that I was well and truly in the midst of labour. Our midwife at the time told us she was so impressed by how well I was coping she couldn't believe how close my contractions were already. I got up and walked around the corridors of the hospital for a while to help my baby drop into position (movement and gravity is fantastic for this). Then my obstetrician was called and arrived by 6.30am, where he checked my progress. I was 9cm dilated already! Considering I had only had contractions for around 5 hours, this was fast (for a first baby anyway)! They moved me into a birthing suite almost immediately where I sat and rocked on a stability ball (so many great uses for this nifty piece of exercise equipment) and before you know it, little baby Jenson was ready to come out.
My second phase (pushing) lasted a whole 28 minutes and baby Jenson arrived into the world at 8.32am, weighing a healthy 3.28kg (7lb 1 oz). No drugs used at all! I have to say, I was pretty proud of myself. It really was a very empowering experience.
The midwife that looked after me initially was due to finish her shift at 7.00am, but she was so impressed by the way my labour was progressing and the fact that it was all natural and drug free, she stayed around the extra hour and a half just to see our beautiful boy being born. She, along with the other midwives that assisted with Jenson's birth were so impressed that I had delivered without any drugs that they can't wait to have me back for a second child. According to them, they don't see many births any more that don't use pain relieving drugs. Isn't it amazing that something that is as natural as childbirth rarely occurs naturally anymore...?
I have one other secret to share about my amazing birth experience. Initially, when I became pregnant I was so scared of going into labour! I was all for 'Give me the drugs!', but once I started to learn more about this type of pain relief and how it can prolong/stall labour and often lead to more interventions, I started to research natural child birth and those women with 'good' birthing stories rather than 'scary' ones. I came across the idea of self-hypnosis and got myself the Hypnobabies Home Study Course. In a nutshell, it more or less teaches you to relax through self-hypnosis and prepares you for an easy, relatively pain free birth (it's all about pressure, not pain). And, like the TENS machine, I cannot sing it's praises highly enough. Although I didn't follow the program exactly as intended, I used it in a way that I was comfortable with and it made such a huge difference. Although it is a bit of a blur to me, my fiancee and the midwives tell me that I was in such a zone during my contractions and didn't make any noise or appear to be in any pain at all. As far as I can remember, I was just concentrating on breathing and relaxing my body as much as possible.
I honestly believe that my fitness allowed me to get through the pushing stage a lot quicker because I didn't tire as quickly and also because my abdominal muscles were strong and able to push harder. And more than anything learning to totally relax my body and mind were the reasons why my labour was short, manageable and drug free. I recommend to anyone who is pregnant or looking to conceive to keep these tips in mind and implement them. I'm not saying that if you do these things then you will definitely have a labour like mine, but it all goes a long way to helping.
Pregnancy and childbirth have certainly been one of the biggest tests I have faced physically and I'm so proud to have gotten through it the way I did and now have such a wonderful little boy that makes it all so worthwhile. I wish the same for all expectant mothers.
Now comes the fun part in Getting Back My Body After Baby! Stay tuned for my upcoming blog posts where I will be more or less journalling how I eat and exercise in order to get back my pre-baby body, so you can do the same!
Please feel free to comment or ask me any further questions about my experience. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org