Recently, another pregnant friend and I were sipping a cup of tea while discussing what we thought we could handle during labour. 15 hours of labour= yes, 25 hours= questionable, 45 hours= daunting. Needles frighten me to death, while they give my friend warm fuzzy feelings. She's scared of vomiting, I'm scared of sleep deprivation. We are both confidant we can handle back labour. However, both of us were left stumped when thinking how long we could handle pushing. We don't know what it's like to push. From attending many births, I understand that pushing is a very rewarding task but extremely tiring. Then I recalled the story of a brave mother- the third birth I ever attended as a doula back in 2009.
Her name was Lily (I love that name by the way.) It was Lily's first birth and she was confidant she wanted and would have a natural birth. She was well researched; she researched midwives, doulas, hospitals, cord blood banks and breathing techniques. She was in labour 10 hours before I joined her, and we laboured another 10 hours together. Everything was progressing great until she reached 10 centimetres and it was time to push. After 2.5 hours of pushing, we could finally see the head of the baby but then everything came to a hault. The midwife asked the doctor-on-call to consult at 3 hours, but Lily demanded she was okay to keep pushing. At 3.5 hours the doctor returned to consult and suggested forceps, but again Lily refused to allow him to freeze her for the procedure and kept pushing. At 4.5 hours pushing this mamma was still valiantly giving it her all. Trust me, we were all amazed and inspired! In the end the baby would not come down any further, so the doctor and midwife agreed to give an episiotomy to help after 24 hours of labour and nearly 5 hours of pushing.
So while I hope I never have to learn my pushing limit, hopefully I (and you) can be inspired by this brave mamma in our hour of need.