A laidback hospital birth story from Sweden

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Gemma
By: FICG.mxCC BY 2.0
Ponyo (codename for our baby), was originally due on the 24th August 2011, though that changed at the 20 week ultrasound to the 4th September. Of course the fourth rolled happily by. Come the 10th I was pretty much convinced that it would take an induction to get me going, and so after BBQ kebab and a relaxing day at the in-laws we headed home for another night of gaming.

When I started with contractions in the evening, I figured a bath might be nice to soothe and it was — but the contractions soon ramped up to every five minutes. This meant no Kindle reading for me (I had such pleasant ideas for early labour like watching a movie together and reading in bed), so we went for a walk around the block. By the time we were back to our house I was feeling so nauseous with every fourth minute wave that we decided to call the hospital (got the hubster to do it as I have serious speaking Swedish nerves), and we went in.

Laying on my back for the 20 minute trace was possibly the most evil thing ever, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on gas and air. An internal exam put me at four centimeters and in active labour and so I was admitted. At this point I wish I'd taken them up on the offer of showering in the intake room, as the main labour suites had shared bathrooms. When they settled us into the labour suite, the first thing my partner did was change the radio channel from smooth Dido (probably not called that) FM to Sweden Rock Radio, which was quite awesomely relaxing in a strange way.

With the tone set, I ended up stripping completely off (I was warm, it made sense to me at the time, labour it does strange things) and enjoying the gas and air for some pain relief. Which continued for a few hours of cervical checks, occasional monitoring and all that jazz.

No-one mentioned to me that 10 centimeters does not always equal time to push, and so when at 5AM the midwife announced that I was fully dilated, I was expecting baby pretty sharpish — only to be disappointed when she explained that the baby was still high up and it was going to be a little while longer. This translated to a frustrating two hours while longer, during which my husband slept and I tripped out (at one point believing I was back in a club I frequented in my youth dancing to Red Hot Chilli Peppers).

After a few hours of limbo and the early morning shift change, the midwife explained that we needed to get things moving along. The baby was starting to get distressed, contractions were less powerful and generally it was time to get moving. So with waters broken, pee removed (I tried, it didn't work, so they helped out), and at the end the power of suction, a very wrinkly and grumpy baby girl entered the world.

She was fine despite initial concerns, though a little smaller than anticipated at 2.8kg. We spent a couple of extra nights in the hospital (which awesomely allows partners to stay) as she was a bit jaundiced, and had some issues feeding.

The thing that really got me was that at the end, her birth was really quite medicalised. When I read some of my unmedicated childbirth links afterwards I did have a hard time processing this birth that I'd had. Not so much the pain relief choice I made, but the catheter, electrode monitoring, ventrose, all of it depending on what I read was bad, bad, bad.

But both at the time (thanks to excellent staff who explained everything clearly even if perhaps my Swedish wasn't that great at the time and were professional), directly after (before browsing the internet), and now — I really feel that I had a great birthing experience, and am looking forwards to doing it again soon.

  1. I had to google "gas and air". I guess we just don't use it here in the US. Weird. they have it at the dentist's office to relax people, but not for labor.

    Congratulations! Overly medical, or not, as long as you felt that you had a great experience, that's what matters.

  2. I think the idea of it being "overly-medical" is kindof judgemental. I feel bad that anyone has made you feel badly about needing medical help. The goal of birth is to have a healthy and happy baby; not to find out who won the natural mother olympics. your birth was just medical enough to get your clearly distressd child into the world in a healthy way, and anyone who gives you flack for needing intervention seriously has thier priorities backwards.

    • The hardest/harshest judgement always comes from ones self, even if as you say the goal of birth is to have a happy and healthy baby.

      Thank you

  3. Can I just tell you how much I love your baby codename? My two year old is currently completely obsessed with Ponyo – as in, watching it once a day obsessed, calling himself Sosuke, quoting the film, and asking constantly for a goldfish (we're getting him a Beta) – so it was nice to see.

  4. "medicalised" i like this term! this is how my labor was as well, and you know what? i'd do ALL of it all over again! overall i had a good experience and my daughter… absolutely perfect and healthy!

  5. Whatever and however it happened the most important thing is you feel good about it.
    A lot of people say as long as baby is healthy that is all that matters but that removes the importance of a healthy and happy mum.
    So glad you feel good about your experience.

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