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Labour Without Pain?! A Silent Labour and Birthing During the Pandemic

**PHILIPPINES EDITION**

@shantawoolley shares her birth story which was during the pandemic. Shanta had a slient labour – she felt NO PAIN at all. English is like her 4th language but I love the way she describes things! "I must first say that I was terrified of giving birth. I still am, actually. I was so scared of it that when I was younger, I didn’t want to get married because I didn’t want to get pregnant and deliver a person. Few years later and here I am! I have my own birth story! My birth is like something out of a fairytale book for women who are scared of giving birth. I feel lucky! I gave birth on May 9, 2020. Yes, I gave birth during a pandemic! What a way to start a fairytale lol! May 8th seemed like a normal day. While doing a vlog in the afternoon I actually joked and said what if I go into labor tonight! My due date was on the 24th so when I woke up around 11pm to pee and saw a tinge of blood I thought it was just part of my mucus plug. I wasn’t feeling anything so Dwaine told me to just rest or go back to sleep. I went back to bed but wasn’t really able to sleep. I was lying there eyes closed when suddenly I heard this really loud SNAP! It was like rubber snapping! I heard it in my head and knew it wasn’t from outside. I stood up because I wanted to pee and didn’t find anything unusual about my trip to the toilet except that, again, there was fresh blood on my pad. I woke Dwaine up and told him again about the blood and asked him to clip my toenails because I didn’t want to go to the hospital with ugly feet. I sat on the edge of the bed and just when he was about to start clipping I felt and heard this gush of water coming out and knew right away that it was my bag of water!..


I realized that the snap I heard was actually my bag of water breaking! In Filipino we call it “pag putok ng panubigan” The word putok means burst and it really sounded like something did burst instead of just “breaking”. When that happened I told Dwaine and we immediately called the lobby of our building (we live in a condo in Manila) to ask for an ambulance. We were told they can’t let us use the building’s ambulance without getting a confirmation from the hospital that “yes, the hospital is ready to receive me!” I was so lucky that I wasn’t feeling any pain that time because the whole ordeal took as more than an hour! I was actually 5cm then but didn’t know it because there was no pain. Thank goodness! So because we needed confirmation from the hospital we called them and surprise surprise! as with many services we were directed to an automated receiver and was told to dial this and that before we finally reached somebody to talk to about the ambulance. That somebody, however, also told us to call another extension number to ask! When we called that extension the person on the other end just casually said “we don’t have an ambulance. We haven’t had one since last month.” In my head I was thinking “well, do we walk there?” (Oh! Maybe I haven’t mentioned yet. We don’t have a car because we never needed one because everything we need is close by and when we have to go somewhere far, there’s always the App called Grab. Plus! Who wants to drive a car when traffic is always bad in Manila?) So, yes, walk, because Grab was suspended during extreme community quarantine. I could see Dwaine was already annoyed and frustrated so it was a relief when, after calling the lobby again, the person said we can use their ambulance and it was already there. I don’t remember exactly what time it was but I think it took us almost 2 hours to arrange the ambulance and for me to get to the hospital. I just remember it was 2:30ish when they finally put a monitor on my tummy and also did a chest xray (for covid19 I guess) it was also then that I learned I was already 5cm dilated and was having regular contractions..

..but wasn’t feeling anything! I have read and watched vlogs where they said it was very painful but I was happy it wasn’t painful for me. I just did what my doctor said and that is to relax and not tense up. The nurse and another doctor were there and they were really nice to me. I know the incident with the ambulance showed incompetence but all I can say about the doctors and the nurses who helped me is that THEY WERE AMAZING AND KIND. They really helped me a lot specially because Dwaine couldn’t be with me during labor and delivery because of Covid19 protocols. After finding out from them that I was 5cm dilated I suddenly felt the contractions but I was still in no pain. It only felt like a tightening in my abdomen. They transferred me to the labor area and was told to relax or sleep until my doctor comes back. I think it was around 4:30am when she came to do a second IE and I was surprised when she said that I was 9cm dilated! I went from 5-9cm really quick and I was still just feeling the tightening that comes and goes. With my experience, when it comes, it squeezes you really really hard that you would think you can’t breathe (but of course you can. It’s not your lungs that’s contracting.) Everytime the contraction comes I would breathe and try to relax and tell myself that the tightness would go away. I say tightness because at 9cm I still wasn’t sure if I was feeling pain or just feeling out of breath. At 9cm I was still not sure when to ask for the epidural because I still wasn’t feeling pain! I knew from the very beginning of my pregnancy that I wanted an epidural so I couldn’t stop thinking about it. When I finally asked the nurse when to get the epidural she said it was up to me. She said they would give it now if I wanted it. At 9cm I was thinking “should I get it? Should I get it?” and because I was thinking what if I suddenly start hurting at 10cm and couldn’t ask for it anymore because I said no at 9cm, I finally asked for it. I think it was 5am when they took me to get the epidural, then to the delivery room and started pushing..


The anesthesiologist administered the epidural in small dosages, for me to still feel the contractions so I’d know when to push. I had a good delivery. I chatted with the doctors and nurses when I wasn’t pushing and would push every time I felt my contractions come. We did that for, maybe, about 30min. For me delivering a baby feels like doing number two while having very bad menstrual cramps. I gave birth to my baby at 6:22am on May 9, 2020. My doctor did an incision while a male nurse helped me push my baby out by pushing on my belly, or abdomen. It felt like slimy rocks coming out! While with the placenta, it felt like a very very wet sponge! The first thing that came to my mind when I felt he was out was “OMG! Thank goodness I did it!” It was that and a prayer! I was so grateful that He helped me get through childbirth! I was so grateful that I was very calm all through out the ordeal. The first time I saw Nitro, he was already crying and he looked so tiny but at the same time I thought he was long. I couldn’t believe something that size came out of me! You know how people say you fall in love with your baby even when they’re still in your tummy? I really felt that way when I felt his face on my cheek. He felt so warm and so soft! I can still remember the exact feeling. It was very comforting. Like everything was right in the world. But it was so brief because they had to take him away again."


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