the differences between my
I remember vividly how I sat anxiously at my computer just a few months ago searching frantically for a trend that can give me a hint as to how my fourth labor might go. I had already gone through three very different labors. Will this fourth birth be as hard as my third? Will it be as easy as my second? Will it take long as long as my first? Will I be able to do it naturally?
Although every woman is different and every labor is different, I want to share with you the differences I experienced in my four labor and births so that you feel equipped with the knowledge of how it went for another mama. I did have all four of my babies naturally with no pain medications, so this might have helped in avoiding additional complications that would have been introduced with other interventions. I had been told that the second labor often tends to be the shortest and easiest and this was absolutely true for me. So given that I had found a trend in the past, I wanted to know if there was a trend for the fourth labor as well.
My fourth pregnancy was my most difficult one. It had taken the longest time to get pregnant with my fourth baby and I miscarried between my third and my fourth child. This made me pretty anxious throughout my fourth pregnancy and I ended up being a lot more worried when anything felt even slightly off. I think that took a lot of enjoyment out of the pregnancy for me.
Thankfully, I’m not one to get super nauseous while pregnant – I mean, I feel a bit sick here and there, especially during the first trimester, but nothing like some other mommies get. This was pretty much the same for all my pregnancies. With my first, I had a lot of trouble taking full breaths starting as early as 22 or 23 weeks. By the end, I felt like I was gasping for air. This was probably the worst of all pregnancy symptoms for me.
For my first labor, I started feeling some pressure or discomfort two days before my son was born. The day before he was born, at about 9pm, I started feeling what I knew must be contractions. These contractions got uncomfortable around midnight, then by 4am were painful enough for me to go to the hospital. I was 5.5cm when I went in.
With my second labor, I woke up in the morning and knew I was going to have the baby some time that day. The contractions were there but were pretty mild all day. They became uncomfortable around 7pm and starting getting closer together around 8pm. By 9pm, they were really close but weren’t as painful as I assumed they’d be. I went in to the hospital and got admitted at 5cm.
My third labor had the trickiest and most frustrating onset. I was 2 weeks overdue when my son was born so I had been waiting for any signs of labor for days. Being overdue is a new kind of psychological torture dude. I hated it. I had false labor several times so the day that true labor started, I didn’t really believe it. I walked all day long starting at around 7am to try to encourage contractions and avoid the need for induction that would have happened the next day. I was getting maybe a contraction every hour, so by 2pm, I felt like nothing is really changing and went home for a nap. I went out again when I woke up and continued walking. At around 6pm, the contractions were still far apart but they got really painful. They didn’t get closer until around 10pm but continued to be super painful – I couldn’t speak or walk through them. I went in to the hospital and was only 4.5cm but still got admitted.
For my fourth labour, I started getting regular mild contractions at 9pm. By midnight, they were uncomfortable but still like 15 minutes apart. I called in to ask if I should go to the hospital because I was feeling quite a bit of pressure in my lower back – almost a slight urge to push. I was told to come in but ended up only being at 4cm. I was admitted anyway.
length of labor
My first labor was definitely the longest. I got to the hospital around 4 or 5am and my son was born just before noon. Also, this was back labor and let me tell ya, back labor is no joke.
My second labor was the shortest and easiest. I went to the hospital around 9pm and she was born before midnight.
In my third labor, I checked into the hospital around 10pm and was told that I might not be in active labor yet. They weren’t really sure if they should admit me yet. My son was born just after midnight, only 2 hours later. I was laboring with an intact membrane for most of the time. They broke my water, and he was born like 10 minutes later.
My fourth labour was the most confusing of all because I was only 4cm dilated when I went in to the hospital. I was given the choice to go back home or just walk around at the hospital. I felt that the contractions were too intense for me to leave so I stayed. They picked up super fast but my stubborn water would just not break. I progressed all the way to 9cm with my water still not breaking. It got to the point where I was pushing against an intact sac which was so uncomfortable. When they came to break my water, apparently, my membrane was super thick. My baby girl was born 5 minutes after my water broke.
intensity of contractions
So, let me tell you what made a big difference in terms of intensity for me – back labor. Three of my four births had at least some back labor. With back labor, the baby’s face is looking at the mommy’s belly as oppose to her spine, so with every contraction, the back of the baby’s head presses into the mom’s back bone and this huuuurts. My second birth was the only where the baby was anterior the whole time. I don’t know if that played a role in how easy that second labor was but I really feel like it must have. For both my first and my fourth deliveries, once the midwife was able to put me in a position that encouraged the baby to turn, the labor changed course completely afterwards. It always went much faster and became a lot less intense.
In terms of trends of contraction intensity, my first had the most intense contractions. Then my third comes next. I remember wondering how it can be this intense even before I got to the hospital. Then it would be my fourth – I wish they broke my water right when I was admitted. Then the easiest is definitely my second. I remember repeatedly asking them when it’s going to get really bad, and I don’t remember it ever getting too crazy.
length of pushing
In all my labors, pushing was pretty fast and smooth. My first one was the longest at maybe 20-30 minutes. The others were all much shorter. I think I pushed for like 10 minutes with my second and like 5 minutes for my third and fourth. The only thing was that, as I mentioned, my fourth labor had the complication of not having my water break. So when I started having the urge to push, it was a really frustrating feeling having to push against that pressure from the bag of water. If those pushes were to count, I would have been pushing for closer to half an hour. But once they broke my water, the baby was born in one or two pushes.
My recoveries were dependent on a couple of things: how well I was sutured and how quickly I was able to go home. My first and second births were easy in terms of recovery because there were no significant complications. For those births, I went home within 24 hours of my baby’s birth and I had lots of help from my husband. My third labor recovery was definitely the hardest. My son was diagnosed with jaundice levels high enough that he needed to be admitted to the NICU. From day 1, I went to the NICU with my baby and asked to be discharged from my room. I slept sitting up in a chair and spent my first week postpartum trying to work through this challenge. Also, my husband was very busy with his work at that time so I had minimal help – especially emotionally. I struggled to walk or nurse and I had the flu – it wasn’t pleasant. This all made the recovery a lot longer and a lot more difficult.
When my fourth baby was born, I was very worried that something like this would happen again. I was more tense than I should have been I think, so I made it a bit harder on myself. Besides that though, the fourth recovery was also pretty smooth. I would say with the first, second and fourth, I was back to my normal self within a week. With my third, it took closer to three weeks to recover and get back to normal completely.
I’d love to know the differences you experienced between your labors. Do you feel like there was a trend? Please comment below and tell me your birth stories.