my drug-free home-birth to drugged up hospital experience

33 Hours of Agony

My Experience

Every pregnancy and birth is different for every person and every baby – this is my story which will be unique to me but hopefully my experience will help other women understand what can happen and make their own choices.

My due date was Thursday September 17 – my water broke 12:30am Friday September 18th.  My lower back had been aching all day like I had my period.  I spoke to my college roommate late that night and she told me she went into labor the day she had lower back pain.  We got off the phone at 11:30pm I laid down in bed on my side and an hour later I felt like I was peeing my pants. I cupped in between my legs to block the flow and then water gushed out behind me – it was like a water balloon exploded in my pants.

This was bad – what you see in the movies and on TV isn’t real life when a women’s water breaks first and then they go into labor.

Most women’s waters break towards the end of their first stage of labour. Though labour often starts with contractions, sometimes waters break before labour. This happens for about one in 10 women and is called prelabour rupture of membranes at term (PROM).

I called the birthing center and they advised me to come in and get checked out.  When your water breaks before labor begins it’s like a ticking time bomb.  I was given a maximum of 24 hours before the risks of infection (sepsis) were too high because without water there is no protection.

Luckily my contractions started at 2am – but the baby needed to be out before 24 hours. At first the contractions were uncomfortable twinges on the underneath of my bump – I was able to just lay there and zone out in between and tried to sleep.  But they quickly became stronger, longer and much quicker – by 5:30am I had to get up and start pacing.  I kept track of them in a free pregnancy app – by 7am they were painful to the point I was groaning and my app tracked them at 1.5 minutes long and 2.5 minutes apart so I woke my husband and we called the birthing center.  I thought I was well on my way because they tell you not to go to the hospital until they are 2 minutes apart.

I was scheduled for a home birth so the midwife came to check on me around 9am – after 7 hours I had only dilated 1cm.  My doula also arrived around 9am and with her support and knowledge I was able to continue drug free at home even though my first stage of labor was intense with two and three contractions back to back.  Around 4pm I had another internal and dilated to 4cm – 3cm more in 7 hours not good.  I finally was able to get into the birthing pool which was more tolerable.

Then I got to 7cm  – because my water broke first I was recommended to have antibiotics to prevent sepsis infection after 18 hrs had passed. We went past the 18 hour warning because I was at 7cm and thought the end was near and I could get the last 3cm in the next 6 hours.  Well that didn’t happen.  At 11pm – 23 hours since my water broke – I was declared a failure to progress and extremely high risk of infection.  I was exhausted in the pool and had to get out, dried, dressed and frantically pack a hospital bag.  I was in agony as the contractions are more intense out of the pool and I had no more energy to battle them without drugs.  I started gas and air (laughing gas) in the ambulance to cope. 

At the hospital I had to have an epidural because of exhaustion – there was just no way I could do it anymore.  I hadn’t eaten much since Thursday dinner and it was now Saturday early morning.  My body was stiff and I ached all over my neck and shoulders I was a zombie.  The epidural gave me some relief but I still had some strong contractions that I needed to use the gas and air with.  But with an epidural you can’t eat and it didn’t do anything for the pain in my upper body.  I was also given penicillin to hopefully prevent any infection in me or the baby,

After 6 hrs of the epidural I was still at 7cm – 12 hrs in total.

The doctor wanted to induce me to get to 10cm and then have to push for an hour before she would make me stop.  I knew I had no energy to push and that first babies usually take longer then 1 hour of pushing and induction makes the contractions even stronger and longer and can put babies into distress causing emergency c-sections.  So already knowing all of that I concluded that induction would be bad for me and potentially dangerous for us both (my friend had told me her co-workers baby died in the birth canal because it got stuck and suffocated) I didn’t want her to get stuck because I had no energy to push.

The alternative was a c-section, there are three types – 1. elective/scheduled 2. emergency with an epidural 3. life or death emergency fully under anesthesia and bigger cut.  I was number 2.  The c-section went fine but I had a fever and needed to be put on rounds of IV medication and my baby had to have medicine as well as a precaution so she had IV’s as well which was so sad.  Especially because I tried everything to have no drugs and a natural birth to end up here with all the drugs and sick but next to me lay my perfect little girl.

How I Coped

It wasn’t easy – I don’t honestly know.  It was probably because I never had the time to stop and think while it was all happening.  However what I did before and during below really helped me manage to stay calm at all times and allow me to keep my stress and heart level steady so in turn my baby’s cortisol level and heart rate remained steady and normal.

What I did:

TENS MACHINE – I wore the Tens machine to help with the pain while I was drug free.

BIRTHING POOL- this was very relaxing and would have been a wonderful way to give birth but sadly that didn’t happen

DOULA– I hired a doula to help be my cheerleader and get me through this as I wasn’t sure how stressful it would be on myself or my husband so an experienced women there to help encourage me who’d done it before was a good choice.  I could never have gone almost 24 hours without drugs without her. If you want more info about doula’s – Why I Hired A Doula

PRENATAL CLASS – we took a prenatal class beforehand so while all these big decisions were needing to be made regarding drugs and medications I was confident in what questions I needed to ask and I knew the risks.

PREGNANCY BOOK– I read Expecting Better by Emily Oster.  It’s fantastic I highly recommend everyone read it when they become pregnant whether it’s your first baby or not.  For more detailed info about books I recommend reading – Books I Highly Recommend Reading While You’re Pregnant


What was your birth experience like?  Do you have any other things that you did or used to cope with the pain?  Let me know below . . .


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