How I gave birth in 45 minutes
Shannon shares what happens when you hear the dreaded phrase 'too late for an epidural'.
I woke up with cramps and a feeling of anticipation. I was 38 weeks, huge and sick of being pregnant. I spent the morning with my toddler, painting and bouncing on the ball, trying to persuade her to play the “lie down and sleep” game, to no avail. I was having pains; bad enough to stop talking but still wasn’t sure if this was IT. Eventually I called the maternity unit, who suggested that I come in and be checked out, just to be sure.

Predicting the unpredictable

On arrival my husband was sceptical. He didn't believe I was in labour and after the midwife examined me and pronounced me only 2cms, he was triumphant. His famous last words: we are going to be here all weekend! An hour later, we were holding our baby.

We decided not to go home as our toddler was already happily with my mom, and I was having contractions, albeit not very strong ones. So I booked in and got ready for a long night. The midwife advised Pethidine, a few hours of sleep and a review of the situation in the morning. I was terrified; I had an awful first birth experience, but was hopeful that this time would be different. I got my jab, rolled over and settled in for a nap. Next thing I was hit with a huge contraction and my water broke. My husband rushed out to get the midwife and I was 4cms. She went out to call the doctor and as she left another contraction hit. This one was really bad. I screamed for an epidural, I wasn’t going to have a repeat performance of my last birth, I wanted the drugs NOW! The midwife came back in and checked me again. This time she didn’t remove her hand.

The last words you want to hear

The next second I had a gas mask on my face and she said to me ‘Shannon, you’re not going to believe this but you’re 9cms. This baby will be here in half an hour. The doctor won’t get here in time. There is no time for an epidural’.

No time for an epidural. The words echoed in my mind as the gas kicked in. They floated around the room and out the door. Then I lost control. I screamed at my husband. I screamed at the nurses and the midwives and at everyone near me. The room was full of people, none of whom were making this any less painful. I started begging. Please, please, give me an epidural. Please make this stop. I was told not to push, to breathe, to stop screaming, to stop swearing at the nurses.
Finally I had to push, I couldn't wait any longer. On my last push a doctor I didn't know rushed in, and caught the baby.  It was suddenly over. My baby was a screaming mess, healthy and perfect. From 3cms to birth in just 45 minutes. Thank goodness I trusted my gut and got to the hospital in time!

Did you know for sure when you went into labour? Let us know your labour experiences, email

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