For anyone preparing for a birth, I would highly recommend:
Ø Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Ø Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin
Ø Mind over Labor: A Breakthrough Guide to Giving Birth by Carl Jones
Ø Movie “The Business of Being Born”
My last post covered the fear-based model of medicine and how it can interfere with natural, reduced intervention childbirth. These books and information along with the hypnosis (www.hypnomammas.com) all contribute to creating confidence and empowerment in women before and during the birthing process.
In other exciting news, a hospital in Arizona has decided to ban elective ce-sections and labour inductions. YES!
My baby girl arrived on Monday February 28th at 2:26 am, weighing 6 pounds 11 oz and 52 cm’s long.
To prepare for childbirth, I did a considerable amount of reading and chose to take a very informative and intensive prenatal class that taught self-hypnosis for childbirth. I also talked to my belly on a regular basis. I asked my baby to have a smallish head, not grow too big, arrive about a week before her due date, and for my waters to break during the labor and not before. My little girl is a very good listener! She was an average size baby and came a few days early. My due date was March 4, 2011. I asked her to arrive on Friday February 25th. As you can see from above, she didn’t quite make it on the 25th, but she had her reasons. I found out a couple of days after her birth that my midwife was sick with the Norwalk virus on the 25th and couldn’t make it to any of her births that day. That would have included me! Sometimes things don’t go the way you want them but if you trust in the process you end up finding out why. In the end I was so thankful that my midwife could be there because I think my trust in her helped facilitate in the beautiful birth that I had.
After planning for a home birth, I ended up having to birth in the hospital.
My water broke (well, leaked) on Saturday Feb 26th, and when I called my midwife to tell her this she told me that if I were to go into labor that weekend, I would have to come to the hospital because her two colleagues were away for the weekend. As you may know, you need two midwives in attendance to birth at home. One for mom, one for baby. Also, it was snowing quite hard, so my midwife said she couldn’t come to my home as I live too far away from the hospital and have some pretty crazy hills near my home. So, the universe was clearly telling me where I was going to be birthing.
When I went to the hospital Saturday evening to get checked out, it was confirmed that my waters had broken. I was told that I would have to be administered antibiotics due to being Strep B positive, then induced by noon the next day if nothing happened. I was very sad when I heard this. I was sad about the antibiotic drugs and the possible induction. I knew that the rate of further intervention was greatly increased when you start with an induction. There was one glimmer of hope though, three days prior I had asked for a re-screen of the Strep B. Doing the screen more than once isn’t common practice, but I learned that the presence of Strep B is cyclical. It inhabits the genital area off and on in approximately 5 week cycles, so if you test positive at 36 weeks of pregnancy, you may not be positive come your due date. Hmm, good to know.
Since it had only been three days since the re-screen I assumed that the results wouldn’t be in or accessible yet. I asked if my midwife would be willing to check or if there was even any point. She went to check, and when she came back she said, “Your not going to believe this, but your last screen was negative”. So, I was allowed to go home antibiotic free and was told due to decreased risk of infection, I had up to 72 hours to wait and see if labor started on it’s own.
It did. Around noon or mid afternoon the next day the signs started. It began with what felt like strong menstrual cramps that only hurt if I moved. Um, no one told me about that. As long as I stayed still, I wouldn’t get a wave of discomfort. But by mid afternoon, these waves of discomfort were happening a bit more frequently and not all were movement induced.
At this point I thought I was still in pre-labor, which I may have been, it wasn’t very clear. When learning about using hypnosis, I was told to start as soon as the labor begins, which I intended to do but I was having trouble knowing if it had really started. But after about 6pm it became clearer. Between 6pm and 9pm the birthing waves became more consistent and increasingly less comfortable. During this time I decided to lie on my bed listening to hypnosis recordings just in case. The hypnosis helped keep me relaxed, calm and kept my frame of mind positive and not afraid. All of these components help labor progress with less chances of stalling.
So I was just lying there minding my own business when at around 9:00pm the waves were all of a sudden about 5 minutes apart, and this continued for about 30 minutes. It was then that I felt nervous about being too far away from my midwife and at my request my husband called her to report our progress. She told me that because my baby was positioned posterior, the labor was going to be up and down and not to jump the gun in terms of going to the hospital. I wasn’t convinced that she was right until while taking a shower to prepare for the journey to the hospital, my contractions stopped and the next one was 25 minutes later.
So, I lay back down on my bed, put my headphones back in and chilled out. I think it was shortly after this that I began complaining about the waves getting pretty painful and my husband suggested the TENS machine. That really helped. I remember thinking to myself around this time that I should try to do some of the ‘moves’ that can help turn a posterior baby to a more ideal birthing position, including the “simple” option of hanging out on all fours. Um, yeah, that wasn’t going to happen! It hurt way too much. Now, I think my tolerance for this kind of thing is pretty good and I really really wanted my baby to come out the right way (it makes labor and childbirth soooo much easier) but you weren’t going to catch my on all fours, no way, ouch. And you know it was painful if it was going to improve my experience, yet I wasn’t willing to do it.
At around 11pm, my husband had completed filling the birthing tub. He thought although I couldn’t birth in it as planned, I could hang out in there to support the labor. As I climbed into the warm tub I had a pretty substantial contraction, then I sank into the warm tub and immediately had another, and as this was happening my body temperature was rising due to the pain and the warm tub. So, I hung my body over the edge to try and get cooler, and then had another contraction. My husband said they were all of a sudden 4 minutes apart, and I was asking him to help me out of the tub. I don’t know about you, but when I experience pain I often break out into a sweat or feel really hot, so I guess the warm tub wasn’t the right option for me at that time.
As I got dressed, very slowly I might add, I had a visual image flash across my mind. I saw a baby’s head coming down and out, soon.
So, we called the midwife again.
It was about 11:45pm. My husband told her that it felt like that if it progressed too much more without a care provider present, I might be “in trouble”. Once again, she told me not to get too excited. She reminded me that this labor would most likely continue to go up and down; this could be another false alarm. She then asked me if I wanted to come to the hospital for pain medication or to be near her. Although at the time, the pain meds were starting to sound very attractive I told her I thought I could manage for the time being, it is just that I wanted to be close to her. I would feel safer that way.
It only took me about 20 minutes to get from my bedroom to the car. I was really struggling to walk by this point. While we traveled to the hospital, I listened very intently to another hypnosis track. I knew that being on a bumpy car ride while being in labor wasn’t going to be the best of times, so I wanted anything I could to help me. It did help, although I was thinking to myself “well, I’m going to be at the hospital anyway…. Maybe I will ask for some meds” It was getting that bad. On route we stopped and picked up my sister who was invited to be there for the birth.
We arrived at the hospital around 12:30 or so. At this point I couldn’t really walk anymore and had the TENS machine on full blast. I was beginning to feel like the discomfort was becoming unbearable. I was put in a wheelchair and pushed up to the Labor and delivery ward. I felt like I was in a movie, you always see the pregnant lady in the wheelchair. It felt so cliché. Mind you, at that moment all I managed to mutter was “I am so thankful for this wheelchair”
When I got there my midwife was already there waiting for me. She checked me and said with a surprised little smile on her face said that I was 9 cm’s dilated! She was shocked, I was shocked and I we were all pleasantly surprised.
SO, I had a whole new rush of confidence, and thought to myself, if I can make it this far without drugs, I am going the distance. At around 2:00am I was told that I could start pushing, this was the first moment where I felt afraid. I was afraid of what it would feel like to push a baby out. I am sure you are surprised. So, I asked my sister to play the “pushing baby out” hypnosis track, and as it played I regained my confidence and felt ready to take the next step in the process.
As my midwife reported the progress, I think I misunderstood exactly how far along the baby was in the birth canal. So, thinking she was further along than she truly was, I began to think, “I keep pushing with all of my might and she isn’t out yet? Well, that’s enough of that!” About 8 enthusiastic pushes later, Jayla came very quickly out into the world. The speed at which she popped out surprised everyone in the room especially the midwife. She said “Oh my god, baby!” and didn’t quite manage to catch her.
Due to her swift arrival, I did have some third degree tearing and other complications following the birth, but I was well taken care of. The complications were never a state of emergency, but as the post birth unfolded it became clearer as to why the universe wanted me at a hospital for this birth. That isn’t to say that I couldn’t have given birth and then made my way there safely. It was just more ideal that I was already there.
I am currently working on my next blog post; I will do a quick run down on being a new mom. But one thing at a time.