How my hospitalised, medicated, induced birth experience healed me

March 6 | Guest post by Alisa Holmes
By: MIKI YoshihitoCC BY 2.0
My first pregnancy was a breeze — my son's arrival was not. I was scared, over-medicated and left alone in agony for most of his birth. I had a bad injury from birth and was not allowed food from the time of my admittance and throughout the duration of my stay, and I was roomed with three other women and babies in a short-staffed maternity ward. My husband was kicked out an hour after my son's birth and told to come back during visiting hours. I was left crying in the dark with a baby who wouldn't feed and was given formula without my consent to silence him by matronly midwives.

I was traumatised, uninformed, and they discharged us as soon as they were allowed the following day. I became one of those women that had an awful, worst-case scenario story you hear about when pregnant and choose to ignore as people only tell you the bad things …right?

When I fell pregnant with my second child, I was terrified of the same experience. I suddenly understood why women would choose to birth at home over a hospital, although this wasn't an option for me. I did everything in my power to gain knowledge and make decisions about my birth before choices could be made for me. Even though I was birthing in the hospital again, I hoped for this to be the birth I wanted with the elements that were important to me, to be in control and labour the way I wanted, to have my own room and space bonding with my new baby and my husband-to-be at my side.

However, my baby had other plans.

My second son was crushing my ureter causing hydronephrosis of my right kidney. Basically, it was swelling up with fluid and causing excruciating pain with a risk of it completely dying. My doctor informed me that he wanted to induce me at 38 weeks to save my kidney. All my fears came back but with greater force — more medication, more intervention before labour even started. I took a few days to process, and I mourned the birth I wasn't going to have. I was scared that the induction would lead to further complications. Then I decided this wasn't going to stop me having an amazing experience.

I ended up in hospital two days prior to my induction date with bleeding. My doctor informed me that I wouldn't be going home and would be having a baby the next morning, which was a surreal feeling. He suggested an epidural to be put in prior to induction, as he wanted to really amp up the Pitocin. I took this in my stride and agreed. There was still an awesome birth to be had!

The next morning I was taken into the birthing suite and the anaesthetist came and placed the epidural line, but no epidural as yet — I wanted to be able to decide when and if I needed pain relief. My waters were ruptured and I was given breakfast. My midwife was lovely and explained all the procedures being conducted. The atmosphere was happy and calm. We were so ready to meet our new person.

The Pitocin was started and despite being attached to various drips, a catheter and monitor I still was free to walk around best I could and bounce about on the birthing ball. After an hour of solid one minute long contractions every two minutes with baby spine on spine, I had the walking epidural topped up. I was once again happy and calm and my husband and I joked, laughed, and sucked on barley sugars, discussing names and missing our big boy.

About an hour later I told the midwife I had a strange sensation — the contractions were different, so she went to check my progress only to find a baby there! I was told not to push and didn't, however my body breathed all 6lb 11oz of baby Milo into the world whether I liked it or not. He arrived at 12:22pm — some two and a bit hours after the start of induction. As I held my newborn son and nursed him for the first time I decided right then I wanted to do this again.

Milo's birth was simply amazing, it was the birth I had dreamed of. Despite all the obstacles, all the uncertainty and intervention, I had felt in control and my body had done what it needed to do. No post-birth injuries either!

I was so incredibly empowered by my birth — my hospitalised induction with an epidural. Rather than the journey of labour being the focus, the destination and end resulting baby was. I have pride in my medicated, intervened birth. I felt accomplished and in awe of myself creating this person and bringing them into the world, even if it wasn't the way nature had intended.

Milo's birth healed much of the anger and disappointment from my first experience. I am really looking forward to having a third child in a hospital environment and knowing that if all doesn't go to plan, I can still have the birth I want.

  1. I'm expecting a little girl in the next few days, and reading this has had a much more calming effect on me. Thank you for sharing that things can go right, even if things happen that aren't ideal.

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    • Thankyou! I had hoped by sharing to ease at least one person's anxieties, goodluck with your birth!

  2. I had a fantastic medically induced birth as well. It's so great to hear other's induction stories because I had yet to hear that I was anything other than a total anomoly! While my induction took much longer (3 days) and I had no pain medication, our stories of feeling empowered and having beautiful births are very similar! Good on ya!

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  3. I had an unmedicated homebirth- and it was still great to read this experience. I was really worried I'd have to be induced, and this story shows that it is possible to have a good birth experience even with induction. Seems like they were pretty good about setting up the pain medication but letting you control the levels, which is awesome. Thanks for sharing your story

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  4. At two weeks overdue I had an induced, medicated birth and it was wonderful.

    We were very close to C-section. I kept telling Doc just please try everything but surgery first. We had a Foley bulb, then pain medication, then epidural, then pitocin, then they broke my water, and then oxygen, and finally she came out.

    It was beautiful and natural even if there were a zillion interventions.

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  5. This is a great story, thank you. I too had a very positive birth experience mostly thanks to an epidural. My labor was 42 hours overall, and my daughter decided to go sunny side up on her journey out (back labor, or spine to spine) and by the time we decided on the epidural I was nearly incoherent with pain. I know, sounds terrible…but with the meds I was able to focus back on the experience and the amazing thing that was about to happen. I could still feel the contractions so wasn't *totally* numb (which was a good thing for me) and I was able to be much more present than I would have been able to without meds.

    I think every woman should decide what's best for HER even if it might seem counter-intuitive to others. Kudos to you for empowering yourself and keeping such a great attitude!

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    • This is exactly why I chose to have the epidural topped up! I couldn't have said it better. My first was also posterior and with a cocktail of drugs and intense pain, the epidural let me go back to enjoying the moment and focusing on my birth.

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  6. I'm a nurse and I'm so scared of hospital births and inductions and all of that. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this great story. It's very reassuring and I really appreciate it.

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  7. This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and congratulations on your son!

    Positive birth experiences tend to happen when the person giving birth feels comfortable in their environment, trusts their caregivers, and has control over the decisions made during the process. It sounds like you had all of those factors and more.

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  8. Kudos to you! This story has left me with a big smile on my face, because despite medical issues you had choices, your wishes were respected, and you're happy to remember it.

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    • Your comment sums it up perfectly! Thanks for the lovely feedback :)

  9. I "planned" (I scoff at that word now!) to give birth at a birth center but at 41 weeks and 3 days with no signs of labor and low amniotic fluid, my midwives transferred me to the hospital for an induction. Although the birth center cnms still oversaw and delivered my care, I was devastated. I felt robbed and was certain I'd end up with a csection (this after successfully turning my breech babe weeks prior). I got cervadil twice to ripen my cervix, was hooked up to monitors the whole time, got Pitocin, and then an epidural. I also needed internal monitoring of my contractions and the fetal heartrate after awhile. There were some scary moments. But my midwife the morning my daughter was born is also a good friend. I pushed my sunny side up/posterior daughter out in an hour and a half and even with an epidural, I was working HARD. My birth was real and "natural" (another despised, useless term) and mine no matter what anyone says. My daughter is here in my arms and we're both healthy. Although my birth was not as I pictured it, it was a good birth. Just like yours. Thank you for sharing,

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    • Thankyou for sharing your story also :)

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  10. When I found out that I was pregnant with my second son I had the same reaction as you – my first birth was traumatic – I didnt' realize the full extent of the trauma until I had panic attacks after finding out I was pregnant (oops) and turned to homebirth. It was soothing to learn all I could about a homebirth and occupy my time with that. I wish I could say that I had a lovely and soothing homebirth, but reality was that I became sick with preeclampsia at 28 weeks and was put into the hospital from 31-35 weeks, when I was induced because my kidneys and liver were shutting down. The birth could not have been more healing! I was induced, and it was super medical – but I did get as close to natural and WHAT I WANTED/NEEDED was great. Four years later I feel absolutely wonderful and healed by the perfectly imperfect experience. I am so happy for you!

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    • Thankyou for sharing also, I am really enjoying hearing other people having the same experience I did, I was in ultimate post birth bliss, despite all odds.

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  11. Love it! Thank you for sharing.

    My second birth was healing for me too, after feeling ripped off by an "emergency" c-section with my first. Same thing, she wouldn't latch, the midwives were pushy, and I was forced out of hospital after 2 days (after a c-section!).

    Luckily, my son was born naturally with an epidural, and if I hadn't had that, he would have been a c-section too.

    I'm not going for a third though 😉

    • I am in awe of those that have vaginal deliveries after a caesarean! Well done you! I would actually like 4, still trying to get my husband on board though and maybe have number 3 first 😉

  12. Here in Mexico home birthing is not common yet (mostly unheard), most women go to the hospital to have their babies there and I still have to find one who had a scary experience. Well I do know two women who had scary experiences, but it was all because of health issues. Maybe because we don't expect to be pampered at all by nurses and doctors I think we are ready for everything when we finally go into labor. The truth is that most health services are not friendly so we might be used to that.

    I will be giving birth in a private hospital that is run by a charity so is very cheap and the attention is excellent, I am being pampered and I feel confident to ask questions and decline some services. They are all into "natural" birthing (I don't really understand that term) and they provide courses and information about it, but you still have the option to decide if that is what you want or if you want a c-section, if you want pain meds or not… YOU have the power in this hospital. And it is quite famous, they are setting a precedent fot other hospitals and that is awesome. But this is the exception, not the rule.

    I don't want pain meds, but only because I'm scared of anesthesia, and I will have a "natural" birth because I see it as something magical worth living even if it does hurt as hell, I can go home the next day and I'm scared of surgery… I want my baby to be as healthy as possible and that is why I'm taking care of myself right now and do all my check-ups to be sure that everything is going fine.

    Honestly I roll my eyes when I hear "natural birth", it sounds silly to me. I mean, if you felt that baby grow in your belly for about 40 weeks, instead of an essay tube the it is natural, and if the baby comes trough your vagina is natural enough, it doesn't matter if you need some meds or not or if you are at home, a cave, a pool, your backyard or the most expensive hospital you could find. I mean, if you can do something to feel better and make sure the baby is alright, what is so wrong about it? C-section or not your baby is still yours and very natural to me.

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  13. Wonderful story! I had planned for a homebirth, but when my midwives found meconium in the waters protocol dictated that we go to the hospital. The hospital wasn't what I wanted but it also wasn't what I expected, as the majority of the nurses were incredibly supportive and caring, and the resident OB was sympathetic to the fact that I didn't really want to be there. Long story short, we had a great delivery of a beautiful girl!

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  14. Thank you! I had hydronephrosis with my first pregnancy, and my labor and delivery were difficult and frightening. I've found it a challenge to get excited about my second pregnancy because of all I went through with my first. At 31 weeks in pregnancy #2 I was diagnosed AGAIN with hydronephrosis brought on by kidney stones. I've tried to play it cool, I've done this so many times now (I've had a total of 5 kidney stents placed to help drain the fluid), but as my due date approaches, I've been so nervous. I wanted a home birth, I know a hospital birth is what is best. I want to be unmedicated as possible, but I'm also trying to be realistic. I cannot thank you enough for posting your story. When I got to the word "hydronephrosis", I burst into tears. Finally, someone who knows! I really, really needed to read that your experience was such a healing one. I'm so thrilled for you, and also grateful. You've helped me to remember that I can chose some of what happens, but not all– but I can also choose to remain positive in the face of any deviation to my plan. Congratulations for overcoming the trauma from your first experience, and finding a way to move past it! And on your growing family!

    • Thankyou. I am so glad I could give you something positive, this makes me so happy ^_^

  15. Aussie public hospitals – gotta love 'em. I was induced at 40+2 after 10 days of contractions, and went 20 hours of hellish pitocin labour with inco-ordinate (disproportionately painful, and useless) contractions and a baby who no-one had picked up had turned posterior. I was virtually incoherent with pain but had steadfastly stated that I did not want an epidural, and my husband ended up begging for me to be given one. Once that was in (I vaguely remember groaning 'give me the drugs') I slept for 2 hours before my daughters heartbeat started rising and her head swelling. Emergency c-section after nearly 2 weeks of labour that never hit stage 2 and got my cervix to just 5 cms. Then, while they were stitching me up, the epidural started rising and breathing got more and more difficult. I remember thinking 'I could die right now'. 40 minutes after her birth my daughter was latched on by a lovely midwife (our only point of sanity in the ordeal, and at that point I couldn't move anything below my chin), but I then promptly begged for them to remove her as the drugs trying to get the epidural under control made me start vomiting. Certainly not the calm beautiful birth I had envisaged. My birth plan, which I had thought was achievable and realistic, was to have delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin and baby initiated breastfeeding. Not one of those things happened.
    My husband then, understandably, developed PTSD and my loving, faithful husband turned into a secretive, evasive mess. We're working at it and coming out the other side stronger. Our hope is that our second child's birth (not yet on the way, we're still working at healing first!) is as positive as yours.

    • I am so sorry nothing went to plan. I must admit I had fears about the Australian public system before having my 1st, although have heard plenty of positive stories also… I really hope you are able to overcome the anxiety, I know it did take me a while and even while pregnant it was there. I am wishing you a positive wonderful experience!

  16. "I have pride in my medicated, intervened birth." Me, too! Thanks for sharing yours. It's cool for prospective moms to get the skinny on our little secret: you don't have to give birth in a pool full of rose petals, on your own homestead, with a team of beautiful fairy nymph midwives, and an angel playing the harp, in order to have a beautiful birth. (Although that is sounding QUITE nice. I would throw in a few unicorns, too, next time.)

    1 agrees
  17. I had a rather traumatic home birth with my second child so reading about your birth is kind of weird. I almost died in my bed and could not walk for weeks due to blood loss. So much for home birth being better than hospital births. :)

    I'm really glad you had such a positive experience.

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