I was able to manage them using my breathing exercises while sitting on my exercise ball,
I felt in control of these surges and was not afraid of them as I knew they would pass and that each surge brought me closer to my baby being born. I told the midwife that my surges were very strong but she said it was too early to examine me as I could still (just about) talk through the pain and was only feeling pain in my back. I was offered Pethidine which I refused as I felt the pain was manageable for me. I also used a TENS machine (but on its lowest setting as the midwife told me that labour hadn't really started yet!!).
After being told by the senior midwife that labour was probably only starting, a very supportive student midwife stayed by my side and urged me to request an examination as she thought I might be in active labour as my contractions were so frequent and regular. When I was examined I was told I was 4cm dilated, the student midwife was right. I was then rushed off to the delivery ward by wheelchair, where I was told I was actually 10cm and the baby was on its way and it would be too late for an epidural. At that point I screamed, not out of pain but because I had lost control of the situation. I was offered gas and air and used it to steady my breathing, taking deep breaths as we learned in class.
I again felt in control of the situation and after only 10 minutes in the delivery ward, my baby was born.
I never did perineal massage as I found it too difficult, Instead, I used a device similar to the Epi-No (called Aniball) which I think helped me avoid tears. It helps you to practice pushing and breathing while using it and I'm certain it helped make the pushing stage very easy for me. While I'd definitely recommend the Aniball, a small word of warning! I would advise women not to inflate it beyond 20cm as it caused a tiny amount of spotting on one occasion after I used it. I then visited Holles St A&E who said it had caused a small bruise so they recommended not to inflate it too much.
Although it had its ups and downs due to my pre-eclampsia diagnosis, I had a positive birth experience and would be happy for you to share my story with any mums to be. Sue & Pete and baby Ross