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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 January 2005, 13:32 GMT
Giving birth can be a big shock
By Michelle Roberts
BBC News health reporter

Image of a pregnant woman
96% of the women surveyed gave birth in hospital
A survey shows most mothers' dreams of a natural birth end in hospital shock despite the medical technology that exists today.

Three-quarters of 3,000 new mums said their labour was 'more painful than they ever imagined'.

Only five out of 100 managed to have a completely natural birth, Mother & Baby Magazine found.

Lucy Chandler, 36, is a mother of three.

It is painful and it does hurt and there is no way on earth to describe the pain.
Mother of three Lucy Chandler

She delivered her first baby in hospital, but chose to have home births for her second two.

"I had gone to antenatal classes, but it didn't prepare me for the labour at all. Watching another woman giving birth is nothing like doing it yourself.

"My first was a hospital birth and it was absolutely horrendous.

"It was very, very fast. It was all over in the space of two-and-a-half hours.

"It was very painful. It hurt a lot, and I felt completely out of control with what was happening to me. It was very scary.

"They kept offering me pain relief and I was taking whatever I could get because I was so desperate to get rid of the pain.

"It was a normal vaginal delivery, but they put monitors on me, they put a scalp monitor on the baby and I just did not know what was going on.

Out of control

"People were telling me things and I wasn't really taking it in because I was in so much pain.

"In the end I took off one of the belts from around my stomach that was monitoring my contractions because it was annoying me so much.

"I already knew I was having a contraction.

It can be a positive experience.
Lucy said she would do it all again

"The gas and air just made me sick and the other drugs didn't help.

"My husband felt like a spare part and sat in the corner because he didn't have a clue about what he should have been doing."

But many women do prefer to deliver in hospital.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says every woman, in consultation with her doctor, should have the choice as to where she gives birth - whether that is at home or in hospital.

Dame Karlene Davis, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives said: "Midwives strive to make the birthing experience as positive as possible by providing quality care and promoting choice."

In Lucy's case, she found the home birth experience much more enjoyable.

"I felt totally in control. I don't know whether it was being in my own environment or because I knew what was going to happen to me.

"It was much more relaxed and a far more pleasant experience.

New life

"There was no constant monitoring. There was time to think about what was happening. They were both nice steady labours.

"The midwives didn't do anything without discussing it with me first. They were really supportive.

"I knew the midwife so we had a chance to build up a relationship which did help. I felt completely safe.

"I used a birthing pool for both home births and that made a huge difference. I didn't need any pain relief at all.

"If I become pregnant again I will have a home birth. I wouldn't hesitate. My husband is the same."

She advised mums to be to find out all they can about the various options for giving birth.

"Nothing will completely prepare you for it.

"It is painful and it does hurt and there is no way on earth to describe the pain.

"They don't prepare you for what can go wrong and I think it's helpful to know what can go wrong.

"But it can be a positive experience. It is absolutely worth it.

"It is what life is about and I'd do it again."



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