What is childbirth like? : Hello everyone, I’m 33 weeks... - NCT


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What is childbirth like?

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Hello everyone, I’m 33 weeks pregnant with my first and so far low risk so I am being booked into a local Maternity Led Unit for my birth. I’ve just discovered they don’t offer epidural at a MLU. I think I’m ok with this but it has led me to wonder what childbirth will really be like. I understand each birth is different and can sprout off in many unexpected directions but can anyone lend any advice re pain management with gas and air alone? Thank you for anyone who is willing to share! X

14 Replies

Hi there, I gave birth with gas & air (not by choice, the anaesthetist wasn’t available in time).

Prior to labour I had done a hypnobirthing course, and I really believe that that was key in getting me through. Learning breathing techniques, positive affirmations, visualisations and knowing what’s happening with your body at each stage. The combination of breathing and using the gas & air got me through each contraction.

The support of my birthing partner was also vital. Holding my hand, giving me water (gas & air made my mouth really dry) and encouraging me throughout.

Hope this helps :)

I was also low risk and booked into my local mlu. It didn’t happen! My baby has other ideas, I was induced because baby was very comfortable where he was. Once induced you have to be hospital led unfortunately (I had all the checks and a risk assessment at about 32 weeks). I watched a fair few births etc on you tube. That helped me...the channel mum stuff is very good.

Best of luck


I had my first in a maternity led unit and my second at home. I did a hypnobirthing course which really helped. I didn't get on with gas and air made me vomit. But I really didn't need it with the hypnobirthing and both times has been an amazing experience. I found the environment at the maternity led unit lovely and not very hospital like which made it easier to relax which is needed in labour.

Hard. But the end makes it all worth it. And it’s true what they say about forgetting the pain afterwards (I don’t mean to minimise birth trauma with this however) focus on your breathing (hypno birth etc), be prepared but don’t be so wedded to a particular birth plan that you get upset if it changes. Discuss and be very clear with your birth partner about you wishes and needs and when you expect them to take over decision making. Remember that you can say no to treatment options or ask for more time to think (although this depends on the situation) Trust your instincts. Try to relax 🤨 when I first went into labour, I was so convinced that they would send me home to let labour progress that I really wasn’t that bothered about it, I was more excited that I could come home and have a bath and shave my legs...I am convinced that this is was got me through those early stages of labour and meant it only lasted 4 hours start to finish. And try not to shout at a consultant to ‘get out of you’ when she is turning your daughters head to save you from a section 😬 (that last one is just a reminder for me!😂)

I’ve had both of mine at the MLU using gas and air. For me moving around and breathing were the main things that helped. I did a whole lot of hip swinging and had my second on all 4s. They have both been really positive experiences and would do it again there. It definitely does still hurt though. The good thing is that you get breaks between contractions so it’s not constant pain. It is definitely mind over matter though. Is the MLU attached to a delivery suite? I had the option to move up to more medicated birth if I wanted to. Maybe talk it through with your midwife again so you understand your options fully. Good luck. It is a pretty amazing experience.

I had an epidural because I had to have a CT scan on my heart whilst in labour (chest pain and previous surgery), I was dead set against pain relief other than gas and air, until they told me I’d have to stay still for 2-3 minutes for the scan. The midwife said try and stay still without your gas and air and I’ll time you. I didn’t even last a minute and she rubbed my back and said “you don’t get a medal for not talking pain relief offered” and that was it, that decided it for me, modern medicine has come so far. Why was I purposely putting myself through more pain 😂 the gas and air is fantastic but given my circumstances I needed a bit more help

Like you said every birth is different. My first baby I was in labour 36 hours, water broke went up hospital stayed there until he was born. I had pethidine and gas and air, my placenta never come away so had to go to surgery, had a spinal after giving birth so they could remove the placenta. 2nd pregnancy laboured at home I never even realised how close I was to giving birth until I got to the hospital and felt like I needed to push, was no time for any medication apart from the gas and air and gave birth to my daughter who weighed 9lb 11.5 oz! I’m not sure how I did it. I guess what I am trying to say is, yes it’s hard and it’s very painful, I never realised you still get contractions after birth as well as your uterus shrinks backs, also painful but your body knows what to do and you will get through it. Some people breeze through childbirth others have a harder time but I would say try not to worry about it because in all honesty there is not much you can do, when you baby is ready it’s coming and no matter how much preparation you do, your never really truly prepared. You will be absolutely fine. Good luck and wishing you all the best x

Definitely every birth is different, but I think it really helped me to prepare for all situations. At our NCT group we looked at all our preferred outcomes and what the opposites were of those. So if you're ideal thing was to be able to move around, how would you deal with being static in bed.

If your ideal was minimal monitoring how would your deal with having to have lots of monitoring.

I found it really helped me to be prepared to just go with the flow and accept that sometimes my ideals would have to change depending on how my labour or pregnancy was going.

I ended up having nearly everything that I wouldn't have chosen for my ideal. Induction, epidural, monitoring, hospital unit.

I think because I was prepared for all the alternatives I kept quite calm and was able to help feel good about the choices and decisions I made.

If I could choose my birth, it would definitely be MLU, minimal monitoring, birth pool and just gas and air ( I loved the gas and air, I was like a giggly tipsy person on it, but it goes seconds after you take a few normal breaths). Unfortunately for I have gestational diabetes again and I'm likely to be induced, but I feel prepared for it again.

Good luck and hope you're birth goes amazingly 😁

I absolutely loved giving birth it was a surreal experience. I was having contractions the whole day before but they wasn’t getting closer together or stronger, didn’t sleep that night because I was to excited/ nervous haha! Contractions started getting stronger and went to the hospital at 5am 3cm dilated they was going to send me home but because she hadn’t grown since my last midwife they kept me. Finally went to labour ward my midwife was absolutely amazing, they broke my waters and as soon as they done that I was pushing and she was born at 17.59pm I only had gas and air. My placenta didn’t detach though so I did end up having to have a spinal block and go to theatre for them to remove it 🙄 all in all it was such a great feeling.

Every birth is different though I tried not to have an actual “plan” and just took everything how it happened and I think that definitely helped.

Good luck for a great birth with no complications xx

Every labour is different, so it’s hard to predict what it will be like! I had my baby two months ago, and despite having done all the classes, nothing prepared me for how intense contractions are. To be fair, mine started very fast and hard rather than ramping up slowly, and I’d been mentally stressing more about the birth itself, so it took me by surprise. The plan was to move around lots, then go into the birth pool for the birth; using gas and air and pethidine if needed. It started out as planned, I was given pethidine to help me sleep early as I’d been awake all night, and this made things very tough to handle. Unfortunately the midwife grew worried about baby’s heart rate and I was moved to the doctor-led rooms, as this was in hospital. Strongly recommend you chat with your midwife about options - in an emergency they would have to move you, so you should be able to find out what those arrangements would be. I ended up requesting an epidural due to the intensity of the pain once I had to lie down for monitoring and couldn’t move. It was the right decision for me, no shame in making sure you know how to have the option if you need it!

I remember getting to 3cm and thinking if it gets any worse than this am f**ked 😂😂 but I did manage on just gas and air. The birth was bit complicated he got stuck and I had to have ventouse and I was cut and I had a tear. Just to top things off I retained some of the placenta and started to hemorrhage and had to be put to sleep to but after all that I would of done it again the same day to have my baby boy. Not everyone has the same experience my sister had her boy and when she got to the hospital she literally just pushed him out. The best thing I did (for me) was I didn’t have a birth plan, I didn’t have any expectations I just wanted my baby to arrival safely. I know some women prefer to plan so you feel you have some control ( that’s fine everyone different ☺️) I was just more go with the flow. Xx

My little boy is 2 years 3 months, first and only baby. I had a water birth with nothing. It was fine, painful but manageable.

It's really difficult as everyone's experience is different.

I had a water birth with both my kids, didnt have nothing, the pain it was manageable I was in labour 3 hours with both of them , I would highly recommend a water if you can have one xx

I had an awful 1st birth my baby was back to back, I had pethedine & gas n air although the midwife suggested an epidural first after 6 hours in pain but the anaesthetis talked me out of it and suggested theyd gave me the pethedine etc. Also I was terrified of having an epidural needles in my back was frightening. So for another 6 hours had gas n air and pethedine didnt even touch the sides I should of had the epidural or a section I had ventouse I cut and torn inside and out stitches everywhere. Next baby I had to go to Midwife led as my hospital was full at the time, only thing when I got there said the only thing they dont have is epidural if I needed one I'd have to be transfered to another hospital to my horror lol I had gas n air then pethedine again and it was wonderful 3 hour labour 2 mins pushing no stitches felt super afterwards. Both were classed as low risk pregnancies it can go either way.

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