MAYD to Birth: At Your Doorstep

Promoting gentle, empowering mother journies…

Natural Childbirth & The Bible – Apr 28,2011

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Host, Susan Fierro-Baig, presents a Bible-based case for natural childbirth. What is Gods will for childbirth? How does He want us to deal with the pain of childbearing? Can we overcome the curse of Eve? Where should women give birth: hospital, birth center or at home? Listen to this episode and learn answers to these questions. Then share the good news with your friends!

Natural Childbirth | Bible | Pregnancy | Inspiration | Susan Fierro-Baig

I saw my midwife in chains

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Seeing a loved one shackled is probably the worst nightmare of many and something I had hoped never to see.  Isn't it enough to shoulder the burden of awareness that women, men and children are unjustly hauled off to jail on a regular basis in the U.S. and worldwide?

And then it happened.  I stood in the courtroom and watched my beloved midwife enter in a pink jumpsuit.  I don't know why I expected them to make an exception for her…  I suppose that is what every parent/friend thinks as they watch a loved one enter in shackles, not my baby/friend/lover…  But there she was, handcuffs around her wrists, ankles, and a rope of chain around her waist…  Hands that had helped so many babies safely enter this world, hands that reassuringly stroked and held women in the throws of doubt during a long labor, a waist often seen from behind as Karen kneeled next to an emerging baby, feet that slipped quietly out of bed in the middle of the night, on their way in service to women…

My midwife is being prosecuted for manslaughter. A disheartening investigation ensued after the tragic death of a client’s baby. Karen is being charged with involuntary manslaughter and other felonies for her role as a homebirth midwife.  She will be on trial for these charges beginning June 7th and is facing up to 30 years in jail.

Did you know that charges are regularly brought against midwives in the United States?  Charges are often brought because it is illegal for them to practice the profession they are thoroughly trained to practice (see The Big Push, an organization working to change this).  I have noticed that charges are also brought when, instead of following the medical model, the midwife honors the informed choice of a family (even when the informed choice is evidence based). If you have ever been urged to be induced or scared into a c-section for a "big baby" or heard of court-ordered cesarean-section (see National Advocates for Pregnant Women, for example), you know that the medical community is not always a strong supporter of informed choice in practice, even when it is evidence-based.  

In 2005, I was pregnant with my second and hungering for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).  I was told that if I gave birth in a hospital, I would need to be hooked up to a continuous fetal monitor.  As someone who believes firmly that hospitals are only for the sick and is a do it myself/on my own terms kind of girl when it comes to birth, I knew that being tethered to a monitor in an unfamiliar, rather then intimate, environment, would mostly likely lead to a second cesarean.  I was told I was not a birth center candidate since I had had a cesarean with my first baby and a recent insurance change prohibited birth centers from attending VBAC clients.  

I had done the research and understood the evidence concluded that a vaginal birth after cesarean was safer then a repeat cesarean, especially if more children were planned (see, for example, Childbirth Connection).  As an informed consumer, I chose my best chance for a vaginal birth, a home birth with Karen Carr.  Karen put her neck out there for me and as a result, I found my full power as a woman and as a mother. As a result of that VBAC, I had a much higher chance of a healthy pregnancy and safe birth when I found out that I was pregnant with my third and now, with my fourth.

Karen needs your help.  Please visit In Service to Women and donate what you can, even if it is only $5. Please, join your local midwifery organization, if your state has one, or join Citizen's for Midwifery or the MAMA Campaign or…  Midwifery needs you.

 

Understanding The Help Of The Earth: Revelations 12:16 – Apr 11,2011

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Host, Susan Fierro-Baig, discusses the meaning of Revelations 12:16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

Bible | Inspiration | Pregnancy | Childbirth | Susan Fierro-Baig

Judging Birth

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This post is a little different to my usual posts (I apologise to those wanting some physiology and links to research). Instead, I have written about something that keeps cropping up in my conversations with mothers and birth workers. I would be interested in other perspectives and opinions – so, please comment and let me know your thoughts. The post is basically my  own thoughts about how we judge ourselves and birth.

Birthing Behaviour

Artwork by Amanda Greavette: http://amandagreavette.com

Women’s behaviour has been judged and controlled throughout history. We are supposed to be ‘good girls’ – do as we are told and not create any problems for others. However, the act of giving birth is primal and ‘wild’. Our birthing behaviour originates in the limbic system, the area of the brain shared by all mammals. To labour well we need to shut down our neo-cortex – the thinking human part of the brain. The result is instinctive ‘animalistic’ birthing behaviour. Because we are individuals, our birthing behaviour is also individual. Some women become quiet, withdrawn and ‘in control’. Others become loud, wild and ‘out of control’. For many it is somewhere in-between, or both, at different times during labour. Just like behaviour during sex (also controlled by the limbic system) there are similarities between humans, but we all behave slightly differently.

The idea that there is a ‘right’ way to behave or worse, a ‘wrong’ way to behave is unhelpful and judgemental. It seems that being quiet and ‘controlled’ is considered to be the best way to birth. How many times have you heard a woman’s labour described in a positive way because she was ‘so in control and quietly breathed her baby out’? In contrast, the loud woman is encouraged to breath (ie. stop screaming/shouting) and focus. This happens often in the hospital setting where midwives attempt to keep a woman quiet so as not to ‘frighten the other women’. These women are often described as ‘not coping’ – when in fact they are coping just fine… but loudly. It is those around them who are not coping. Michel Odent suggests that the intense fear and sense of ‘losing it’ often experienced near the end of labour facilitates the fetal ejection reflex. Not many women experience this because midwives (or others) intervene to calm the woman and help her gain control of herself.

It’s not just midwives, but also mothers who judge themselves for ‘losing control’ and making noise. I find it sad to hear a birthing woman apologise for her instinctive behaviour – but they do. Indeed there are childbirth preparation programs aimed at learning how to be quiet and in control during birth. Unfortunately, some women who have undergone this training feel like failures when their instincts take over and they become vocal. Perhaps we (society/culture) are afraid of the primal power expressed during birth – here is a woman connected to, and expressing the immense power and strength of woman. The response is to shut her up and encourage her to act like a ‘good girl’ so as not to upset anyone (including herself).

Here is a beautiful example of a mother birthing instinctively and loudly:

So, lets honour our birthing behaviour whatever it may be. Whether you are a quiet, breathing birther, or a loud and wild birther – you are equally, but differently amazing. Midwives need to learn to distinguish between a woman who is expressing her wild birthing instincts, from a woman who genuinely needs reassurance and calming. Talking with her before birth about what she will say if she really does need ‘help’ can be useful. In addition make sure she knows that you will not judge anything she says or does during labour. It is also important that women hear and see birth stories that show a range of birthing behaviours – not just the quiet and in control types.

Birthing Choices and Experiences

Artwork by Amy Swagman: http://themandalajourney.com

Women are also judged (and judge themselves) on their birth choices. Here, you really can’t win. If you choose an elective c-section for no medical reason – you will be judged. If you choose to freebirth your baby – you will be judged. And for every birth choice in-between others will have an opinion and judgement about what you do, or don’t do. There is no right way to birth. For healthy women and babies a physiological, undisturbed birth is probably the safest option in terms of outcomes. However, some women don’t want this – or are unable to have this. Any birth choice a woman makes based on an assessment of the benefits/risks and her own situation/needs should be respected. The focus should be on ensuring women have access to adequate information on which to base their choice – not on the choice itself.

How the birth looks on paper may be very different to how it was perceived by the mother. I learned quickly as a community midwife doing postnatal visits that the ‘birth report’ had no connection to the woman’s perceptions of her birth. Women who had experiences such as ‘failed forceps’ and then a c-section could emerge feeling empowered and more than happy with their experience. On the other hand, women who had experienced ‘normal’ vaginal births without intervention could be traumatised. I find it is best to ask a woman how she feels about her birth rather than making assumptions based on the events. Often feelings centre around the care and respect, or lack of that was given during the birth journey rather than what happened.

Every birth experience is valuable – even those that don’t go as expected or planned. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and we often look back and wish we’d known X because we wouldn’t have made the choice Y and ended up with Z. Many women choose homebirth based on a previous birth experience that with hindsight could have been very different. It is only because of that previous experience that they have explored and learned about birth and themselves. That previously disappointing (and in some cases traumatic) experience has provided the foundation for self-growth.

Sometimes birth does not go as planned because if left to unfold as nature intended the result would be a poor outcome. Appropriate intervention can, and does save women and babies. However, women are often left doubting their body and can then judge themselves and their birth experience as a ‘failure’. I have recently been discussing this issue lots with my lovely Doula friend Pernille. Her insights into this matter are interesting and I would like to share them (please let me know P if I’ve mis-interpreted you). For these women, the choice of intervention can represent the ultimate expression of motherhood. For example, allowing your own body to be cut open to save your baby is surely the epitome of mothering.

Summary

There is no correct way to birth, or to behave during birth. As women and mothers we are subjected to more than enough judgement from others and ourselves. Perhaps it is time to start nurturing and supporting ourselves and others instead.

Sorrow During Birth: Final Remarks – Apr 08,2011

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Host, Susan Fierro-Baig, offers concluding thought about Gen. 3:16, the Curse of Eve in childbirth.

Pregnancy | Childbirth | Inspiration | Bible | Susan Fierro-Baig

Ispiration For Pregnancy & Birth – Apr 08,2011

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Inspiration For Pregnancy & Birth is a 10 minute long show. The purpose of this program is to inspire expectant women and couples through God's word and insights from host, Susan Fierro-Baig.  Susan, aka MamaBaig, is the  mother of 7 children.  Music played on the program is by Jonathan Lee, from his cd, A Thousand Moods. Enjoy My Song or A Thousand Moods, peaceful and inspiring piano music, used with permission.

Visit the Biblical Pregnancy Inspiration blog.



Inspiration | Pregnancy | Birth | Motherhood | Fatherhood | Children

Saige

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Angela – age 27
2010


June 16th I started to have consistent contractions every 20-30min for over 4 hours. I wondered if labor may be beginning but also knew it could be like it was with Ethan, having contractions off and on for over two weeks before he was born. So I didn’t get my hopes up too much. Friday, June 18th at my prenatal visit I learned that those contractions were doing something. I was dilated to a 3 and 75% effaced, so labor was close. All throughout this pregnancy my midwife talked about how I big Ethan was (10.4 lbs.) and how they would do things to naturally induce labor before my due date. I had a whole list of things to do. My midwife also began to suspect that my uterus was tilted. This may have been the case with Ethan but not to the extent that she could tell at that time. Now it was very difficult for her to check dilation because the uterus was tilted so far. This also may be the cause of my contractions starting and stopping. Because the baby is not pushing in the right spot to help labor really get going.


At the June 18th appointment the plan was that my midwife would strip the membranes and if I went another week they would discuss starting me with Pitocin or break my water so that I would have a baby under 10 lbs. They said they would let me go up to my due date but did not want me to go over like I had previously. Well I arrived at the appointment and after feeling my belly and taking measurements my midwife just didn’t think size was a worry yet. She decided not to strip my membranes and sent me home. I was disappointed at the change in plans and for the first time I realized how worried I was of another big baby and problems at delivery. I trusted my midwife and decided to put labor out of my mind, it will happen when it happens. Baby has to come out sometime…right?


Four days passed uneventfully and then Sunday evening it hit. Not labor, unfortunately, but this sent me over the edge to “I’m done being pregnant!” What sent me over the edge was the worst heartburn I have ever experienced. It was terrible. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. I’ve gone through natural labor and delivery twice (and still wanted to do it again). I can handle a little pain. But this was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. My whole chest burned and at the same time I felt overwhelmingly nauseated and began to throw up for 2 hours. First thing in the morning I called my midwife and told her what had happened. She advised to come right in. My symptoms could mean my blood pressure had significantly dropped. When I arrived at the clinic my blood pressure was lower than normal but not so low she was worried. She said this is sometimes a sign labor is close. My due date was 4 days away. I asked if she was still thinking of inducing. She said in her opinion the baby was not as large as my son was. She felt it would be better to let labor happen on its own unless I went a week over, then we will talk about inducing. I couldn’t understand the change in what she was telling me. This whole pregnancy the midwives (all four of them at that clinic) talked about not letting me get to my due date. They talked about not wanting to let me have a 10 lb baby again and now they were totally changing. Yes they said the baby was smaller. But I was still very worried. How did they know for sure. We didn’t do another ultrasound, but they were just so confident. She did say she would strip my membranes now. She checked me and I had progressed since my appointment only 5 days before.
She could tell the baby had dropped, I was dilated to a 4. Before leaving Gloria, the midwife seeing me that day, said that if I had not had the baby by the next morning she was on call at the hospital for deliveries and I could come into the hospital between 10-11am and she would induce me. I was grateful for that but really hoped my body would get going on its own.


My sister had come with me to this appointment. I was very grateful for her to be there. Contractions did start almost immediately after stripping the membranes. They were about 10 min apart and I was grateful my sister was there to drive home. She also kept my spirits high and helped me stay positive and we laughed the whole way home. I was so ready to have this baby and not be pregnant anymore.


That night came and went, with lots of heartburn, no contractions and no baby. When I got up in the morning while I got kids breakfast and dressed I started to have contractions again. But they were not regular and did not hurt at all. I figured they where Braxton Hicks. I called Gina, our doula, to ask her opinion and just to talk through my options. Option one: stay home and wait it out. Option two: go to the hospital get checked again and from there decide to go back home or stay and be induced. I really wanted labor to start on its own but was also nervous of going another week and having another huge baby. If I didn’t go in when Gloria was on call that meant waiting till my next appointment. I decided to go to the hospital. I was in constant turmoil. Was I making the right decision?


Gina said she would meet us at the hospital in a few hours. We dropped off the kids at my sisters, and headed for the Hospital. I felt silly going to the hospital not really even in labor. What was I doing? My midwife said she was confident the baby was smaller. But could I take another night of that heartburn? My throat all the way down my chest ached. I was willing to go through that if baby wasn’t ready to come. I was only two days from the due date now. She should be fully developed. All the signs were there, my body was just not taking that last step. If I waited I know things would eventually happen but…but…but. Mark my poor husband had to listen to all this on our way. I was so nervous. Was I really doing the best thing for the baby? The end of pregnancy is so emotionally and physically draining! I can see why scheduled deliveries are nice in that way. It takes the waiting guessing game out of it. My emotions kept going back and forth from “let’s do this” to “let’s go home and just wait it out” Ugh! If I could go back I would have just made up my mind and stop torturing myself (and Mark) with guilt and indecision.


We were checked into observation just after 11:00am and they hooked me up to a monitor to track contractions. Gina was already there and waiting. Gloria came in to see if I was in labor or there to be induced. I told her how the night and morning had gone. I wondered if she could strip my membranes again and let me walk for a while. If things didn’t pick up then we would start Pit or break my water. Gloria finally checked my progress and though dilation was still at a 5 she said I had progressed in other ways. The baby had dropped more (now at -2 station) and I was more effaced and the water sack was bulging (which it had not been the day before). Gloria then checked the monitor and was a bit shocked that I was having contractions every 2 1/2 minutes. I was also surprised to hear that because I was only feeling them every 5 to 10 min. Gloria then said she did not think I needed Pitocin. She suggested to go walk around for a bit and then she would come check on me in an hour. I started to feel kind of silly again. What if this really was labor but just the beginning. I really didn’t want to be at the hospital for 10+ hours laboring. I would rather be at home. Why had I been so crazy to come this morning to be induced. I was at the end of the pregnancy the baby would come soon. Maybe I should just go home. But then again what if I went another week like this. The baby could grow another pound in that time, and I was not looking forward to another major heart burn night. A few minutes after Gloria had left the room I felt fluid. I wondered if my water had broke put it was not enough for that. I then felt like I had to go to the bathroom so I stood up. More escaped. I’d read about the mucus plug (oh that even sounds gross to say) but never noticed anything like that with my other pregnancies. But for sure I had lost it, the plug that is. Then after going to the bathroom I had the strongest contraction yet. I decided to stay at the hospital.


12:45pm We were finally checked into a delivery room. We put our bags down and hit the halls for walking and marching. The baby march looks funny but is sure effective for getting things going. We walked the halls for about an hour then went back to the room for baby to be monitored for 10 min. and for me to get my I.V. stent in. I love that this hospital is fine with me not having an I.V. because that gets annoying to have to lug around when walking the halls or getting in the tub. We then returned to marching the hallways. 2:00pm Gloria came in to check progression. She said I was now a good 6. She suggested breaking my water and said in her opinion the baby would come fast after that. I was extremely nervous to make that decision. If I really would have the baby fast I was all for it. But if it turned out to be like the horror stories I’d heard and I ended up laboring for hours and hours and hours with horrible contractions…well I didn’t want that so much. I took a moment, said a prayer and asked if this would be a good thing for me and especially for baby. I felt a positive confirmation that this was okay and gave Gloria the okay.


For thirty minutes or so we sat around and talked and laughed. Gina recalled fun stories of my previous deliveries. Mark got the music playing in the background. We have put a list of a couple hundred songs together for our first child’s labor and delivery and have used this same CD (with a few new songs added each time) for each delivery. It really helps me relax and I love the calming fun atmosphere the music brings to the room. Contractions were still not hurting at all. It felt slightly uncomfortable to sit while I was having a contraction so whenever one began I would stand up. But once standing I could barely feel it. At 3:00pm my body finally decided to pick up the pace. For the first time I had to concentrate a bit and remind myself to relax during a contraction. Then the next one came and I asked Mark to push on my hips (like Gina had taught him at my second child’s birth). A few more stronger contractions came and went and suddenly I felt very tired. In between contractions I was so relaxed that I felt as though I could fall over into a deep sleep. I leaned over the bed for a minute, then sat on the birthing ball for a few minutes, squatted with the squat bar and circled my hips for a bit, then finally tried leaning on Mark but I was just so tired. I said out loud to Mark and Gina, “Oh man I’m so tired, I just want to sleep.” Gina started to chuckle and said it must be getting close. Gina commented that she was noticing a pattern with me. When I get close to transition I get sleepy. At the time I was kind of upset with her for saying that because I in no way thought I was close. How could she say something like that and get my hopes up. I was sure I had at least hours to go. I’d only had a dozen strong contractions, I was NO where near delivery much less transition.


The nurse came in the room and said she wanted to monitor baby for a minute. I decided to lay down while she did that and try to sleep. I was just so tired! As I lay there I felt like I would fall asleep at any second. But before I could really drift off into a relaxing slumber contractions kicked up a notch. Before breaking my water I could feel contractions but they were not at all painful. Maybe slightly uncomfortable but that was all. After breaking my water I didn’t even have a contraction for 15 min. Those 15 min were very nice to have a break and to rest for a few minutes, however every minute that passed without a contraction I got more and more worried. I had thought, “what have I done!” I practically had myself convinced that this was going to be a long long labor. I had them break my water before my body was truly ready and when labor gets going it’s going to be long and hard. While laying in the bed trying to sleep and being monitored another 5 min passed and then contractions again picked up the intensity. I almost jumped out of the bed. Mark saw I was trying to get up and quickly helped me to my feet. I rocked back and forth with my arms around Mark’s neck as he supported my weight through the 90 second contraction. After that one I really started to panic. What have I done! Surprisingly Mark and Gina remember this part very differently. They said I was so quiet and focused. Gina said she could tell the contractions were hard but by my reaction to them she thought they were still on the mild side. Later when I told them inside I was totally freaking out they both said they never would have guessed because I was so quiet and focused. Next I felt like walking, and I still felt soooooo sleepy. I could hardly keep my eyes open. It was almost just like Ethan’s birth at this point. I paced the room back and forth, back and forth while leaning on Mark’s shoulder with his arm around my waist guiding me around the room while I kept my eyes shut. 


 In the background I could hear Gina filling up the bathtub and Gloria was getting some things ready for delivery. I was slightly annoyed at them for doing those things. We had talked about waiting for me to get into the tub until I was close to delivery. With Ethan I think I got in too soon and then the water got cold after an hour and I got uncomfortable and wanted out so I missed a water birth with him. Which was fine, but if I really wanted a water birth this time we had decided it was best to wait until I was close to delivery. So I was frustrated that they were getting things ready. Didn’t they realize labor was hard because my water had been broken. NOT because I was close. I was convinced I had hours and hours of this left to go. Gina came and said the bath was ready I could get in anytime. I thought to myself that getting in the warm water did sound nice and maybe I’d just try it out for a while and then I could get out and walk again. I was mentally preparing myself for hours of this.
3:30pm I got into the water. Almost immediately my contractions felt even stronger, longer, and closer together. I felt like they were coming right on top of each other. But the water did feel good in between contractions and really soothed my muscles. For a while I was doing great breathing through each contraction and relaxing until 3:57pm I started to feel a lot of pressure. I was still totally in denial that delivery was close. Contractions started to almost melt one into another. They would come so fast I couldn’t get in a comfortable position. Mark kept trying to help me but I was basically just crawling around the tub. I really started to panic and was NOT coping well. At 4:20pm I said out loud, “I don’t think I can do this.” Still thinking I had a long road ahead of me I had decided to ask for something to help with the pain. Gina called out my name. A couple times I think before I actually registered she was talking to me. I looked her straight in the eyes with a pleading to HELP ME! She locked eyes with me and said, “Angela this is it, you’re almost done.” I searched her face wanting so much to believe her and said, “how do you know?!!!” Gina later told me she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry right then. My pleading eyes and her having naturally delivered her children, she knew what I was going through, but also wanting to laugh at my stubbornness to not except this was it. She said when I looked at her she could tell I really had convinced myself I had a while to go.


Our midwife Gloria then gave the go-ahead that I could do a water birth. Before breaking my water she had talked to us about not doing a water birth. Because of how my last delivery went, with my son getting shoulder dystocia, she wanted me by the bed again so I could move around if that became an issue. Mark had not heard Gloria say I could stay in the water and was getting very nervous. He kept asking “do we need to get her out now?!” He tried to help me stand up a few times but another contraction would come and I would sink back down into the water. His face looked stressed and worried to me. Not calm and supportive and reassuring like the other deliveries. I knew he was worried for me and worried I may hemorrhage again. I thought to myself I would get out for him, so he didn’t have to worry so much. He just looked so scared and that was scaring me.


 Just as I was about to ask for help out a very hard contraction came. I felt like I was crawling all around in circles trying to get comfortable, or trying to crawl away from whatever was hurting me. Then suddenly I was pushing. I don’t recall this but later Gina told me that I yelled out “I’m Pushing!” Gloria told me to reach down and feel the baby’s head. My first thought was “I can do that?” For some reason that felt so empowering. I felt her head and finally I realized THIS IS IT. I don’t have hours to go. All at once I relaxed, I felt my tense body almost melt into the pain and I felt in control. The next contraction came and I pushed with everything I had. I so wanted the pain to stop and as I pushed the pain just melted away. This has happened with all three of my deliveries. When I can finally push everything disappears. I feel so far away and cannot hear or really comprehend anyone around me. I am just slightly aware of peoples presents but they seem so distant. Especially this time more than the other two. I felt as though there was a bubble around me and only I and the new child exist
4:31pm With only one long push I delivered a beautiful baby girl. Gloria said, reach down and get your baby. I remember seeing the baby almost just flouting in the water. She looked so peaceful. I reached down into the water and was the first person to touch her. I have to say that was an amazing feeling. I did that! I was about to bring baby Saige up out of the water when Gloria reached out quickly and stopped me. She held Saige just below the surface and said in the most calm voice, “oh wait, the cord is wrapped around her neck.” For a second I was scared, when you hear that it usually means trouble. Gloria calmly unwrapped the cord three times and then let me proceed to bring Saige up to my chest.
Oh the relief. I was done. Here was my baby. I laid back in the tub, relaxing, holding Saige. No suctioning the baby, no whisking her away (like they did with my first child). Everyone just seemed to let me be with her. I noticed something very different in the few minutes after this delivery. With my first two deliveries within seconds after birth I would start to shake. My whole body would quiver and within a minute or two I would be very cold and achey. I’m not sure if it was the water or something else but that did not happen this time. I felt wonderful. Saige and I just laid in the water for 20 minutes while the cord stopped pulsing and I nursed her. She was so awake and alert and so beautiful. She weighed 8.5 lbs and 19 3/4 inches long. Jet black hair, big round eyes, and red lips. Mark said she looked like a little baby Snow White. My heart sang with gratitude as I said a prayer thanking Heavenly Father for another precious child.


To view a photo montage of Saige’s birth go here.


3. What did you do to prepare for natural childbirth? (midwife, classes, methods, books, etc.)
I did not do much to prepare this time. I didn’t re-read my books. My doula Gina came to my house and talked to me but I felt confident at that time and didn’t really discuss even the basics with her. I think if I have another child I will make sure to always do a refresher course. I believe I had forgotten the stages of labor and the cues to look for and that is one of the reasons I just was not convinced I was at the end. Looking back now it seems silly I felt that way. So next time I will take a class or re-read my birthing books and talk more extensively with Gina.


4. What was the hardest part of your experience – before, during, or after childbirth?
Mentally the hardest part was deciding what to do, and if I was making good choices. I unnecessarily put myself through a lot of grief. Hopefully after this I’ve learned to just calm down. Physically: well this labor was so different. I really had it great. Before my water was broke I was in labor I guess but it did not hurt at all. After my water broke it was more what I expected but still relatively undemanding. Only the last 30 min was challenging and when I got to the point that I thought I could not take it any longer, I was ready to push and it was over within minutes.


5. What was most helpful to you during labor to help make pain from contractions manageable?
Walking again was my best way of getting through transition (though I didn’t realize this time I was that far progressed). I learned this time that my mental state is very important. If I’m not able to focus on something then I don’t relax well.


6. What do you wish you would have known going into delivery?
After two natural births I thought I had it down. But with this delivery I think the most valuable lesson I learned is my mental state has a huge impact on how I well I can handle laboring. I wish I would have known to have patience and just wait for baby to come on her own time. I realize now how much of my previous delivery I was holding onto. I should have trusted my midwife when she said she was sure the baby was not too big. It all turned out wonderfully but I do wish I would have just calmed down and enjoyed the process more.


7. Is there anything you would have done differently?
Yes, I would have waited for labor to start itself and not have worried about it so much. Easy to say in hindsight but that is what I will do next time (if there is one :0)


8. What did you feel were the positive benefits to your natural childbirth – were the benefits what you expected?
It was a lot of pain but really for less than two hours. So for me the benefit was a fast delivery, and then I felt amazing afterwards. The next morning I was up and not just walking around but walking around with little to no discomfort. And baby Saige was so alert. All my babies have been great nursers from really the second they are born. I’ve read that can be a benefit of natural deliveries, and if so I am grateful for that.


10. What advice do you have for other mothers interested in natural childbirth?
If you are at all considering it Just do it! You won’t regret it! Well I hope not anyway :0)

Ethan

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Angela, age 25
2008


Only fourteen months after giving birth to our first child, Lia, I was pregnant again. At 19 weeks along we learned a little boy would be joining our family. At a prenatal visit two weeks before his due date I was already dilated to a 4. My midwife was sure I would have the baby before my next visit. We scheduled the next appointment, just in case, but I left laughing with excitement that I would have a baby well before then.


To back up a bit. With my first pregnancy and delivery I went to an OBGYN. I delivered at a hospital that has a high rate for epidurals and over a 17% C-section rate (one of the highest in my state). My doctor seemed very supportive of my desire to attempt a natural birth. But when the time came she was not the doctor on call and I was not supported by hospital staff. If not for my wonderful husband Mark and doula Gina, I believe that delivery would have gone very different (i.e. I would have had a lot more meds!) After my first delivery I now had the confidence that I am capable of a natural delivery and desired to have a positive support team around me. I looked into Midwives, home deliveries, birth centers. My husband was supportive of a natural delivery. He thought it was amazing. However he did not feel comfortable being away from a hospital. I was getting quite discouraged until I learned that a hospital near me had a midwife group that delivered at the hospital. Hurray a compromise, we both win. I personally still wanted a birth center or home birth but did not want to worry my husband and understood his concerns (even if I did not share them). 


 I met with the midwife group at the hospital and loved them! I was pleased that there were only 4 midwives and I would get to know all of them throughout my prenatal care. So when delivery time came I would know the person there to deliver my baby. Unlike the OB I went to who had 18 different OBs in her office. I had never met the doctor that actually attended the delivery of my first child. I would prefer to have the same midwife the whole time but at least this was a big step in the right direction.


Back to labor. Well the next appointment came and went. I was now six days past my due date. For three weeks I had thought, “any day now!” I did not go through this with my first pregnancy. My daughter had surprised us and came a week early. I had not gotten to that point of “I Can’t Take this Anymore!” I felt an overwhelming urgency to get this baby out. I had seen my sister like this with one of her pregnancies and remember thinking “calm down girl, and chill out!” Oh I am so sorry for ever thinking that and now understood what she felt. Yet another appointment day had arrived and I told my husband to take the day off of work and come with me with bags packed because I was not coming home without a baby in my arms. I was going to have this baby today whatever it took!


11:15am we arrived at the midwife clinic. Tonya, a midwife, was shocked I had not had the baby yet. She asked me how I was doing and if there had been any progression or contractions. I was very emotional and started to cry. I told her I can’t take it anymore. I had not had sleep in days. She checked me and stripped my membranes, again. Good news I was a solid 5cm and 100% effaced. She said that is far enough progressed to check me into the hospital. I pointed out one problem. I was not exactly in active labor, I had been dilated to a 5 for a week already and had not had a contraction since the last time she had stripped the membranes a week ago. As Tonya felt my belly she noticed that they baby seemed sideways, like he was not straight up and down like he should be. She explained that if his head was not in the right spot that could be a reason for contractions to start and stop like they had been. She massaged my abdomen a bit and had me roll over on my other side. She said she was trying to encourage baby to move so he would be pushing on the cervix better. I then asked her if I should go home or get checked into the hospital. I could scarcely bear the thought of going home. But I was worried to be induced with Pitocin or have my water broken. Tonya recommended we go out for lunch and power walk around the mall or hospital. I wiped my tears and said okay.


We drove a few blocks from the hospital and stopped to eat at a little cafe. I walked around as we waited for our food and nothing. Not one contraction. My heart sank. I sat down to eat. Nothing. We finished up and headed out to the car. Nothing. Mark waited while I decided what to do. Go home and wait it out or go back to the hospital to be induced. Finally I wanted to call my sister. I knew what I wanted to do, have the baby, but I really wanted someone else to tell me it would all be okay. That inducing was not so bad… I called my sister (who was taking care of Lia) and went over everything with her. She listened and asked a few questions but still I knew it was my decision. No one was going to tell me what to do. Next I called Gina, our doula, who was waiting to hear from us if she needed to head to the hospital or not. I told her all that had happened (or not happened) after the appointment. She asked me a bunch of questions but like everyone else made it clear it was my choice how to proceed. I look back at this and just have to laugh at myself. I was so distraught. Well after having my hopes up to have the baby early for weeks and now be a week late it is very emotional. I wish I could have just calmed down. The baby eventually has to come out but really I had this unnerving feeling it had to be that day. That it just could not wait any longer. So I finally made a decision to go back to the hospital and begin Pitocin.
1:30pm While walking through the hospital toward the maternity ward I had a contraction. A fairly strong one. I let my hopes sore for just a moment. Maybe I’ll start on my own. 30 min later and nothing. We got checked right into a room. Since I had just had an appointment and Tonya had checked me they took me straight to a delivery room. While our nurse was busying herself about the room I had another contraction and it is pretty intense. I ask her if she can wait on the Pitocin for a while. I wanted to see if these contractions would pick up. If I don’t have Pit then I don’t need an IV, which I really didn’t want.
3:00pm Gina arrives. Mark, Gina and I go walking. After our first lap around the maternity ward contractions really pick up. I felt exhilarated. Labor was progressing on its own! Contractions were 2 1/2 min apart and good and hard. 4:00pm nurse asks me to come back to delivery room to be monitored for a few minutes. Baby was doing great, and I was fantastic. I felt like I could run a hundred miles with the adrenaline coursing through my body.


4:15pm Gloria, my favorite midwife from the midwife group, comes in to check my progression. 7cm, 100% effaced, -1 station. Gina suggests getting into the bath. I thought that sounded great. 4:27pm in bath tub. Mark rubbed my feet. My favorite songs played softly in the background. Gina turned out the lights and sets up a handful of lights that look like candles (hospital doesn’t allow open flames of course) and I felt so peaceful and wonderful. Gina showed Mark an awesome trick. She gave him a plastic cup and told him to pour the hot bath water over my tummy. It felt so good.


5:05pm contractions become stronger and closer together. I felt like I was drifting off into my own world. Gina and Mark where amazing at keeping me clam, relaxed and letting me know if I was tensing at all. At first they would tell me to loosen my shoulders, or take a deep breath. Then it got to the point that one of them would softly touch a tight muscle and not have to say anything, just by their touch I instantly focused on relaxing that muscle. In between contractions I would sink into the water but when I felt a contraction coming on I would get up onto my knees or stand up so Mark could squeeze my hips with his hands. That helped tremendously during a contraction (another invaluable tip from Gina).


5:40pm All at once the bath was not the place I wanted to be. I had the urge to walk. In my fuzzy state of mind I somehow communicated to Mark to help me out. As I stepped out of the tub I remember focusing on the length of the room and knowing I had to cover that distance NOW. Before Gina could even get a towel around me I was dragging Mark across the room. We paced the room for a few minutes. It felt so good to walk, and walk fast. The nurse asked me to come to the bed side to monitor baby for a minute. I desperately wanted to walk and the whole time I had to stay by the bed was not pleasant. As soon as she was finished monitoring baby I wanted to walk. At the same time I felt incredibly sleepy and could not keep my eyes open. I closed my eyes, laid my head on Marks shoulder and clung to his arm as we walked back and forth, back and forth. It felt like one big contraction. It would flare up to be very intense and then lesson a bit but would not go away completely. Mark later told me I was practically running across the room. He was having a hard time holding me up and keeping up with me. I just remember feeling like the more I moved the better the pain felt. I know that is a strange way to describe it but the pain really did feel good at times. I would swing between “I can’t do this” to “wow that feels strangely gratifying”.


6:05pm Baby gets hiccups. Everyone, including me, found it cute and comical that a baby would get hiccups minutes before being born. Silly guy. His hiccups where so strong you could see my whole belly move.


6:15pm Still pacing the room I suddenly felt pushy. We began discussing where I wanted to push. Getting on the hospital bed seemed awful to me. I wanted to keep moving. My nurse put up the squat bar on the bed (I didn’t even know they had those) and Gina showed me how to squat next to the bed. Gloria the Midwife checked me one last time. The bag of water was still intact, and she suggested to break it. I was apprehensive and asked Gina what she thought. Gloria and Gina both explain if my water is broke I’ll have the baby right then. I say, “Wait, you mean I’m ready to push? But it hasn’t gotten hard enough yet. This is it!” I couldn’t believe I was there. Delivery was minutes away. This was so different from my first delivery. I had prepared myself for the long haul of pain I experienced with Lia.


6:24pm Gloria the midwife says I still have a little rim of the cervix left and I’ll need to push past that. She instructed me to bare down on the next contraction and push. She says it may take a couple of pushes to do this. I felt another contraction coming and I push. Oh the relief. Once again, like with my first delivery, I felt the incredible sensation of pushing. Yes it hurts, but it’s like my body is getting a much needed breath of air. Like I’ve been building up to this moment to push all my life. All at once during that first push I heard my husband (who is supporting me while sitting on the floor next to me) say, “BABY BABY, I see a HEAD!” I then saw Gloria fly across the room and just as she reaches me I deliver his head. I hear her chuckle and say something like “so much for pushing past the cervix, he is here.” My contraction was still going so I took a deep breath to bare down and push. Gloria calmly says, “Angela please stop pushing, I need you to get onto the bed on your hands and knees.” There was no alarm in her voice, she was her calm cool collected self she always is, but somewhere in me I knew something was wrong. I literally jumped up (with a baby head hanging out) and landed on my hands and knees on the bed waiting for further instructions. I thought at the time Mark, Gina or Gloria had helped me up. I can vividly remember the feeling of hands under my arms lifting me. But later they all said I got up before any of them could reach out to touch me. I know someone helped me, an angel perhaps, I know I did not do that on my own.


6:25pm Gloria, again very calmly, explains that the baby is stuck. Shoulder dystocia. She explains that I need to listen to her very carefully. She will guide me on how to push, when to push, to move positions and so on. I later found out what she had me do is called the Gaskin maneuver. And it worked beautifully. At 6:26pm I fully delivered his shoulders and body. Gloria helped baby as he slid out and then gently laid him on the bed directly under me. I then sat back and scooped up my new baby boy into my arms. Someone wrapped a blanket around us and I had my little guy all to myself. At that moment I looked up and for the first time noticed the crowd of people in the room. When Gloria had realized there was shoulder dystocia she had called in the NICU and as I lay there holding my baby I realized many people still had a very worried look on their face. Gloria calmly told me to just keep holding him while she finished with me and the nursed checked out little Ethan while he lay on my chest. I remember how awful all the after labor stuff was from Lia’s birth and I had mentally prepared myself for it this time. Gloria announced that I had not torn one bit. Amazing, I tore like crazy with my 8 lb. baby but not one bit with a 10 lb baby. But I could still tell something was wrong. Finally taking my gaze away from the sweet baby I was nursing I asked what was wrong. Gloria coolly told me I was hemorrhaging and she was a little worried. For the next 25min things were a bit intense. I could see the strain of worry on Mark’s face. I started to feel very weak and asked if someone could take the baby. He had stopped nursing and I didn’t feel like I could hold him any longer.


A nurse took him to weight him and do another baby check to make sure all was well with him. We all found out why he got stuck. He was HUGE. Weighing 10.4 pounds and 21 inches long (a full two pounds large than my first baby) he had a huge head and very broad shoulders. The nurse checking him also noticed he was not breathing great and a burse was forming on his shoulders. The next day x-rays confirmed that both collar bones had been broken during this fast delivery. Poor little guy. But the pediatrician reassured us that, “those bones are meant to be broken in birth, and in two weeks it will be totally healed. You’ll never even know they had broken.” But for over a week after birth I could tell he was in pain and uncomfortable.


Finally my bleeding slowed and the atmosphere in the room relaxed. I was okay, baby was hurting, but going to be just fine. That was the first time I realized why I may have had that urgent feeling that he needed to come that day. Any longer and he would have been too big. Gina stayed for hours after the birth, rubbing my feet, talking with us. We all talked about how different this birth would have been if I would have had an epidural. I would have been flat on my back pushing which makes the cervix smaller, and not able to feel how hard or where I was pushing, and most important not able to move around as I did to deliver him. Now that it was all done I was grateful to have a healthy baby boy. The first few days with Ethan in the hospital where also a bit scary. He had aspirated some fluid during delivery so was put on a feeding tube and oxygen. But being a big baby he bounced back fast and we finally got to come home.
As we came home I thanked my Heavenly Father for all the people who had assisted us in bringing another child into the world. God had given us another child to bring into our family. Truly a miracle. Again I learned some new lessons that I will take to my next pregnancy and delivery (if there is one that is).


If you would like to see a photo montage (my doula made) of Ethan’s birth go here.


1. When did you decide you wanted to deliver your baby naturally?
After giving birth almost naturally (I had had some IV pain meds) with my first child, I decided this time I could do it totally naturally. The most frightening thing about first time delivery is just not knowing. Not knowing exactly what it is going to feel like, not knowing how long it is going to last, if I could endure. But once I had gone through it once I know this time I would succeed in natural birth.


2. What reasons or factors went into your decision?
The first time I delivered naturally it was because of a fear of epidurals (possible side effects and such). But this time it was because I knew I was capable of natural labor and delivery and I wanted the best for myself and my baby. It is hard to describe just why I desire unmedicated births. It just feels right for me and my children.


3. What did you do to prepare for natural childbirth? (midwife, classes, methods, books, etc.)
With Ethan I did not take classes again, but I did re-read all the books I had with my first pregnancy and a few more. My favorite new book I found was “Birthing from within” and one about Home Birth (but I can’t remember the name of that one.) The best preparation I did was again having Gina for my doula. about a month before delivery she came to my home and spent a few hours with me talking about my first birth experience. What I liked, what I would change. And she showed me some wonderful videos about natural birth. One being “The business of being born” and another one that discussed and showed water births.


4. What was the hardest part of your experience – before, during, or after childbirth?
The hardest part was the 24 hours after birth. I lost a lot of blood and felt awful for about 24 hours. But once my body recovered its loss I bounced back fast. Especially since I did not tear.


5. What was most helpful to you during labor to help make pain from contractions manageable?
Meditation to stay calm and relaxed, the bath was wonderful, and walking was what got me through transition. Something I learned this time, that is so very important, is the people you have around you. It is amazing what a negative feeling coming from someone can affect you. And the opposite, a positive calm coming from people makes ALL the difference.


6. What do you wish you would have known going into delivery?
I wish I would have been more open to a water birth. I had just heard about them but was not convinced they were safe. Well it just sounded weird to me and I was getting used to the idea. Now that I know the water is my epidural I would love to attempt a water birth. I am definitely more open to that next time.


7. Is there anything you would have done differently?
I still would have loved to be at a birthing center or at home. Given the complications I had it was nice to be in a hospital where a blood transfusion was right there (I almost needed one, but in the end did not) and a NICU was down the hall (they did monitor Ethan but he never went there). I know my husband would have been even more worried once complications started happening if we had not been in a hospital. But when all was said and done my midwife and doula could have done all they did at a birthing center or at my home.


8. What did you feel were the positive benefits to your natural childbirth – were the benefits what you expected?
Where do I begin with the benefits? I believe things would have or could have been much worse if I had had an epidural. And after losing so much blood and to recover so quickly I believe it was largely due to a natural delivery. I am not a medical specialist and am not going to attempt to explain all the things that happen in a woman’s body when giving natural birth (all the hormones that are released etc.) But I have read a lot about that in my research and encourage any pregnant woman to read books and talk to an OB or midwife or doula about that.


9. Is natural childbirth something you recommend to other mothers, or something you’d do again?
Yes and yes!


10. What advice do you have for other mothers interested in natural childbirth?
If it is truly something you want to do it is a must to surround yourself with people who not only support you but will help you accomplish it. And even if natural childbirth is not for you, know your options, know the risks you are taking with any decision you make. And be flexible in your plan. Going into my first delivery I knew I wanted to try natural delivery but if I would have had an awful labor, or been pushing for three hours I would have changed my plan. That is why it is so important to know your options. And the last advice I have is to have a midwife. OBGYN’s are wonderful when things go wrong. But they are trained surgeons and that is what they do well. From my experience they are not trained in unmedicated deliveries. They may be supportive of you if you want to try that, but when it comes down to it they do not help you accomplish it. This has been my experience and I have heard a few stories otherwise. Hopefully things are starting to change.

Lia

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Angela – age 23
2006


A month before my due date my mother told me she would be unable to come for my labor and delivery because my father had fallen very ill. When she told me that I become unsettled about the upcoming delivery. I really wanted to have a natural birth but suddenly was very nervous. I had no idea what to expect and now my mom (who had delivered 7 children naturally) was not going to be there to coach me through it. All the reading and classes I had done suddenly seemed distant and I feared that in the moment I would panic and forget everything. I wondered if I really could do this without medicine. Sure women did it all the time, but the only image I personally had of labor was from the movies of women screaming in pain. Also I had attended and filmed my older sister’s birth of her son. But she had an epidural and throughout my entire pregnancy had tried convincing me that was the way to go.


One day in expressing my growing worry to my husband Mark he for the first time told me he was unsure he would be able to tolerate being in the room while I delivered. He reassured me he would be at the door, but not right by me, after seeing the birth video’s they showed at our birthing class he was genuinely worried about fainting. I looked him in the eyes and said “If I have to be there, you have to be there.” But he planted a seed of doubt in my mind that this just might be as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Mark then suggested hiring a doula. We had heard about them in our Lamaze class. I started calling around right away. But with only two weeks’ notice all the douals already had clients at that time. After a dozen calls I started to feel very discouraged. Then the last doula I called said she had a student doula that had never done a birth on her own but she was confident in her abilities and gave me Gina’s number. I decided to call her, and then meet her. Gina came to our home, asked me a bunch of questions, I asked her a bunch of questions. She knew just wat to say to a first time mom who was scared, very excited, and in need of encouragement. She then helped me develop a birth plan. For the first time I felt calm and in control.


Ten days after meeting Gina I woke up at 12:30am with extreme back pain. It was a constant stinging, burning, throbbing sensation and hurt like the dickens. I was not sure what was happening and decided to take a warm bath in an attempt to calm my spasming muscles. After an hour in the tub I felt much better and decided to go back to bed. Just as I drifted off to sleep the back pain came back with a vengeance, but this time only lasted 30 seconds. At this point I wondered if it could be labor. The dull back pain was always there but every 10 min. it would flair up for 30 seconds and then calm down, but never left completely. Finally at 2:45am I woke Mark up. I had not planned on waking him yet but when a particularly strong contraction hit I suddenly did not want to go through the pain alone. Mark grabbed his watch and a piece of paper and started timing. For about an hour the contractions where consistently 10 min. apart. Mark recommended I call Gina and tell her what was going on. At 3:30am I could tell I wasn’t going to fall back asleep and I could no longer stand just lying in bed so I got up and started to walk around the house. To keep myself occupied I started doing light cleaning. Mark reminded me not to wear myself out and to take it easy, but I just had too much adrenalin and my back only felt better if I was moving around. At 6am I felt tired again and thought if this is really labor I should try to sleep while I can. I woke up with contractions a few times but after 30 mins. of lying there they either stopped for a while or I was so tiered I slept right through them.


All that morning, from 2:45 to 6:30am Mark had stayed awake with me, timing contractions, talking to me and helping clean a bit. His leg was in a lot of pain, from his ankle reconstructive surgery and a recent pulled muscle. It was difficult for him to stand for any length of time. He was concerned how he was going to help me through labor without being able to stand. He had a physical therapy appointment at 7am and since I was tired and going to attempt a nap he decided to go hoping they could do something to help him. While I slept he went to PT. His Physical Therapist was able to give him a prescription for the pain. We joke that Mark needed more pain meds to get through labor than I did.


At 11am I was pulled out of my deep slumber by a strong contraction. They were back and slightly closer, now 5 to 7 minutes apart and they felt much stronger. We called Gina to give her an update and she decided to head our direction since she lived almost an hour away. Labor went on much the same from that time on. The back pain had lessened earlier but began to pick up again. In talking with my sister Janae that morning she suggested an enema. She told me that back labor can be caused by constipation. It is common for women to become constipated during labor because the body basically shuts down any functions except labor. I decided to take Janae’s advice and do an enema, not the most pleasant thing but was willing to try it if it had any chance of relieving the back pain. A very short while after I felt a noticeable change. The contractions were no longer in my back but completely up front. Who knows if the enema did the trick but either way I was grateful!


By 4:00pm we had finally hit the “5.1.1.” meaning contractions where five minutes or less apart, one minute long and had been that way for one hour. I was sure it was time to go to the hospital. In retrospect I wish I would have waited longer before going to the hospital. Laboring at home was much more comfortable. I’m not sure what my urgency for getting there was. A lesson learned for next time. We called Gina and she came to our house. She rubbed my feet while Mark loaded up the car and at 4:30pm we were ready to go. I sat on the couch and started to cry. An overwhelming feeling of excitement came over me. I began to silently cry. Tears streamed down my face. I think I scared Mark, he probably thought I was losing it, but really I was sooo excited and labor really had not been bad at all. Uncomfortable yes but I realized “I CAN DO THIS!”


As we drove to the hospital I was completely confident they would admit me. I was proud of myself that I had waited long enough. I’d heard stories how a laboring mom gets to the hospital and they send her home because she is not progressed far enough. I think I would have cried if they had said I had to go home. We got into observation and I was dilated to a 5. Hurray I could stay, or so I thought until it seemed like it was an eternity there in triage and they wanted me to stay in our 4×6 foot area and hooked up to a monitor. They said it was taking so long because there was a lot of women in labor and they didn’t have enough nurses. They told me I could not walk around because they needed to keep the monitor on me and they did not have a cordless monitor in observation. It was awful just laying there. I got really sick and threw up and really just lost all my energy there laying flat in a bed. Gina suggested to get up and walk around. She said they are only suggesting you stay here, but do what you need to do. I was too trained to do as doctor/nurse says and wanted to follow the people that I thought knew what was best for me. I learned a good lesson there that as long as I’m not putting my baby in danger I should listen to my body. If it says get up and walk, get up and walk!


Finally after 90 minutes of waiting we got our own room. The contractions were very hard and only 2-3 minutes apart. I began to break down. I started to worry if I could do this. I told myself to talk positively so every time I wanted to say “I can’t do this” I would say out loud “I’m doing this, I’m doing great!” Mark caught on and started telling me I was doing great and encouraging me. Gina suggested taking a bath. We went into the bathroom and to our dismay found only a shower there, no tub. I asked the nurse what was going on, on the tour I know I saw a tub in the delivery room. She said only a few rooms have tubs and those are taken. I was pretty disappointed. I got in the shower, Gina brought in a birthing ball for me to sit on but the water hitting me annoyed me, the echo of people talking in the bathroom annoyed me, standing, sitting….everything was awful. So my relaxing shower just got me all wound up and after 10 min. I decided to get out. Gina tried to get me to walk around but all I wanted to do was crawl into the bed, I was so sleepy. Contractions where coming so fast I wasn’t getting a break. I really began to doubt my abilities. While lying in the bed Mark rubbed my lower back, which helped a lot, and Gina rubbed my feet. My nurse who had been busying herself around the room while I tried the whole shower thing, finally came over to introduce herself. She asked if Gina was my sister. I said “No, she is our doula.”  A cold breeze swept through the room and my nurse made it very clear that Gina was to stay out of the way and she did not like having her there. Mark then gave the nurse our birth plan we had typed up and asked for her to read it and post it up so that any other nurse or doctor coming would know what we were trying to accomplish. She flat out refused to read it. A few minutes later she came in. She could tell I was not coping well and asked if I wanted some pain medication. I told her no thank you and please don’t ask again. I know my options and if I decide I need something I will let you know. If she would have read my short birth plan that was the first sentence!


At 7:00pm the doctor came in. I was sad to find out it was not my normal OB. She had been there earlier but her shift ended and this new doc was now on call. She checked me and I was dilated to a 7 and recommended breaking my water. She said if she did so I would probably have the baby soon after that. She did warn me that contractions would get stronger and I might want an epidural. I said I wanted to do this naturally (in hindsight I should have not had my water broken and made myself get up and walk. Oh well, next time.) I tried to make a decision but everything was getting so unclear and the only words I really heard where “this will make the baby come sooner” I said okay and before I knew it my water was broke. I don’t even recall what that felt like. Seconds after she broke my water a contraction hit and hit hard. I did not do a very good job of breathing through it and started to panic. The next two contractions were even worse. I was getting warn out and truly started to doubt my ability in finishing the task. I got scared! My goal for birth was to go natural. I was very set on NOT having an epidural. The thought of that big needle in my back and even worse losing the ability to control my body freaks me out. So epidural was not an option. I would have preferred to not have any medication, but I got to a point where I just wasn’t coping well. My unsupportive nurse came up to me and said, “If you want an epidural or any other medication you better get it now or it will be too late.” Then she leaned into me and whispered just to me, “You’re not a hero for going through the pain.” I wonder if she thought this was Mark’s idea or my doula’s idea to have no meds. NO it was my idea, but at a point when I’m in the worst pain I’ve ever experienced you give me an out, I’m going to take it.


Now that I have been through this experience once and talked to other women I’m pretty sure I was at the end, I was almost done. I bet I would have pushed the baby out within 30 min, but at the time I just didn’t know how much more I could take, and I got to a point where I honestly believed this was my life, I was doomed to hurt like this forever and this baby was stuck in me for good. I had made up my mind no epidural but pain meds yes. Please give me something!!! Somehow in my fuzzy state of mind I decided to take some Stadol. Our nurse told me the Stadol would last about 2 hours and if I had not delivered by then it would be too late to have any more meds, so this was my last chance for an epidural. I was very annoyed that she AGAIN mentioned it. I told myself the pain reliever would be enough and I could do this! And when she said for the second time “it will be too late” I realized it will be too late because baby will be here. I’m close to the end and I CAN do this.
Pain meds always react very strongly with my body. They make me drowsy and nauseated. For this reason I have rarely used them in my life. I asked to only have a half dose. The nurse laughed and said that would not do a thing. I insisted on only a half dose and said if that is not enough then we will do more, but I don’t want to be knocked out when it comes time to push. Here Gina again was wonderful. I don’t think that Mark or myself would have stood up to the nurse. She would have railroaded us and we would have caved. Gina looked at me and asked, “do you only want a half of a dose” I said “Yes.”  Gina then turned to the nurse and instructed her to only do a half. The nurse rolled her eyes and went along. Well half a dose was still too much. Mark said the meds went in my IV and he literally saw my eyes roll to the back of my head. I was out cold. For two hours I slept. I have very fuzzy memory of this time. My knowledge of what happened these two hours comes from Mark and Gina. They said when a contraction would hit my eyes would fly open, they would talk me through it. I apparently responded very well to their promptings of breathe, relax, look at my eyes, focus…and so on. As soon as the contraction started to fade out my eyes would roll to the back of my head and I would again fall fast asleep. I do vaguely remember my CD of music playing in the background when I would wake up for a contraction. The music was great for me to focus on and kind of zone out, or zone into I should say, during the contraction.
Before taking the meds I was in full swing of labor. After the meds my very next contraction, according to the monitor, was weaker and they went from every 2-3 minutes to every 5-7 minutes. I believe that the pain medication slowed down my labor. However, being able to sleep did allow me to build up strength again. At 9:15 pm I woke up and felt the drowsiness lifting. I could tell the Stadol was wearing off. My mind felt more clear and now that I had rested I was coping much better. In a strange way I almost felt as though I was watching myself go through the pain. When a contraction would start I felt like my brain split in two. One half was dealing with the pain and the other half was watching saying “this isn’t so bad, I can do this.”


I started to feel like I wanted to push and told everyone that. During a contraction I yelled out “I’ve got to push, I’VE GOT TO PUSH.” The nurse responded to my plea by saying “the doctor will be here soon. You’ll just have to wait.” At first I was okay with waiting thinking it would be soon now but after 15 min of her telling me to WAIT I started to get frustrated. I remember feeling very disoriented and confused why I couldn’t push. I have to say not pushing was the HARDEST thing I have ever done. Mark was trying to stay calm but later told me he was getting very angry at watching me in so much anguish and pain just because the doctor wasn’t there. Finally after 20 minutes more (which felt like much much longer) the doctor came in. Later we found out that another woman had been giving birth at the same time and I had to wait for her to finish. That made me even angrier, why didn’t I just get someone else. I will NOT again wait to push. Mark even said he is willing to catch the baby if ever that situation arises.


I was finally able to push. Mark held my hand the whole time and in between contractions would stroke my face and my hair and tell me I was doing and amazing job, he talked about Lia and how she was almost here and I would be holding her in my arms very soon. He was absolutely amazing! The excitement and love I saw in his face would calm me down and gave me just what I needed to get through the next push. Only after 10 minutes (just 5 contractions) Lia entered into the world. Lia was out and the doctor held her up for me to see. I reached out and touched her perfect hands. I cannot even begin to describe the happiness and joy I felt looking at my daughter. She was absolutely beautiful. She wasn’t crying but was breathing well and making sounds and moving her arms and legs like crazy. The doctor then clamped of the umbilical cord and let Mark cut it. That was fun to watch. I thought about just days before when Mark said he might not be able to stay in the room for delivery and here he was cutting the cord. I was amazed at how alert and awake I felt. I kind of expected to crash as soon as she was out, but instead I felt a huge surge of energy while I was pushing and it lasted for quite a while after giving birth. Just the absence of pain was plenty to make me feel great! And I found myself starving for food. It took almost an hour before they brought me a sandwich. Next time I will bring my own food so I don’t have to wait.


The after labor stuff was quite unpleasant. No one had ever mentioned that. I guess I thought once the baby was out it was downhill from there. Not so. The after stuff was not as bad as labor of course, but now I know to mentally be prepared for that it next time. They took Lia across the room for a few minutes. I very much disliked being away from her. After nine months of being together it felt very odd to even be a room length apart. Mark was still standing next to me and I asked him to go be with Lia. They weighed her at 8 lbs 8 oz. and 20 3/4 inches long. As the Nurse brought Lia over to me she commented that Lia was the most alert newborn she had ever seen. Gina asked if this was the first delivery she had attended without the use of an epidural. Her answer was yes. Before leaving she came over to me and gave me a small hug and said, “you were amazing.”


As I breastfed Lia for the first time she knew just what to do. It felt so natural and the bond I had been making with this new being strengthened tenfold. I think that was the first time it really hit me “I’m a MOM!” At that moment I started to cry just a little and thanked Heavenly Father for this wonderful experience. I said a prayer of thanks for Mark, an amazing husband and now for a healthy baby girl. I had had a wonderful labor with no complications. It was by far the hardest thing I have done in my life, but also the most rewarding. Realizing I was capable of what I just did I looked forward to taking this labor and delivery experience and building on it for our next child.


1. When did you decide you wanted to deliver your baby naturally?
Once I found out I was pregnant I started talking to my sisters about their experiences. I was truly freaked out about an epidural and knew I wanted to avoid that, but unsure if I could go totally unmediated. But the more I learned of natural labor and its benefits to mom and baby I set my mind on that more and more. However, going into my first delivery I was not totally committed. I know I would have not been able to accomplish what I did without Gina, our doula, there to coach my husband and myself.


2. What reasons or factors went into your decision?
At first it was just that I did not want an epidural. As a teenager I had sustained a back injury that caused me to temporarily loose feeling in my legs. It was terrifying. Now with facing labor and delivery to willing ask someone to take away the feeling and control of the lower half of my body was not an option for me. I also do not tolerate medication very well. An aspirin, or Motrin makes me sleepy and sick to my stomach almost immediately. I’ve never liked pain meds and rarely use them. So that left me with facing natural child birth. And the more I talked to other women that had experienced it, and read as much as I could, th e idea because more and more what I wanted to do.


3. What did you do to prepare for natural childbirth? (midwife, classes, methods, books, etc.)
Mostly I talked to my sisters and my mom. I have both extremes. I have one sister that swears by the epidural and tried to convince me my entire pregnancy that it is the best! Then I have two other sister that between the two of them have birthed 14 children medication free. My husband and I took a Lamaze class offered by the hospital. I found that to be very informative of procedures, & the basics of what to expect, but overall it was not focused on natural birthing. Besides reading all I could and becoming well informed, the best thing I did was hire Gina our doula.


4. What was the hardest part of your experience – before, during, or after childbirth?
By far the worst part was being asked NOT to push until doc could get there. That is like telling someone not to breathe when their body is screaming for a breath of air, or not to vomit when you know it is going to happen. When your body is ready to do push, it just does it. It is the most ridiculous thing to tell a woman to wait!


5. What was most helpful to you during labor to help make pain from contractions manageable?
We did lots of things. I had compiled a CD of my favorite calming songs and that played in the background while at home and at the hospital. When things would get difficult I could focus on the song, the words or different instruments I could hear and the contraction would seem to go by faster. I also found myself moaning a lot. Not even loud enough for anyone more than two feet from me to hear (until the very end that is) but just a low tone deep in my head helped me stay focused and just felt calming to me. Near the end the only thing that could keep me calm was looking straight into my husband’s eyes. He became my focal point.


6. What do you wish you would have known going into delivery?
That it wasn’t so scary as the movies make it out to be. In my experience the majority of labor is relatively painless. In the beginning the contractions where uncomfortable but only lasted a minute and then I would take the time in between them to relax and get focused for the next one. I guess I really wished I would have been more confident. Our society tells women they just can’t do this on their own. That they NEED intervention. I think it is fine if women want an epidural, pain meds or C-section. That is their right. I just wish the medical field was more supportive of a woman who do not wish to have those things, for whatever reason. I felt as though I was the crazy one, that I had to prove that my body was capable. And to be honest until my baby came out I questioned myself the whole time if I could do it.


7. Is there anything you would have done differently?
In retrospect, I wish I would have labored at home longer. It was much more comfortable there! Also I wish I would have trusted my body more, listened to its queues and PUSHED when I felt the need to.


8. What did you feel were the positive benefits to your natural childbirth – were the benefits what you expected?
I did not know what to expect. But I did feel benefits. I was able to get up and take a shower only 1 hour after giving birth. That felt soooo good. The next morning I felt great. I was up and walking around. I saw other women on the recovery floor walking around with their babies like it hurt to walk. It felt great for me to walk and was not uncomfortable at all. It did hurt to sit (those hospital beds are awful!) I was just amazed at how great I felt.


9. Is natural childbirth something you recommend to other mothers, or something you’d do again?
Yes and YES. It is a decision for every women to make individually. I really encourage women to find out all their options, to be well informed so that they are making their decision not someone making it for them. I will most definitely do natural delivery again. Hopefully totally medication free next time. However with that said I will always stay open and know my options.
10. What advice do you have for other mothers interested in natural childbirth?
I learned that the people you have around you are so important. It is a must to have supportive people with you. I am grateful for the Nurse and doctor that attended Lia’s birth. I know they only had the best of intentions for me. However, I more importantly learned that I need to listen to my body and most delivery nurses and OBGYN’s are not trained for natural labor, nor do they (at least at my labor) know how to fully support it. Next time I want to build a support team that doesn’t just tolerate my natural labor but encourages it.

Sorrow During Birth Continued – Apr 05,2011

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Host, Susan Fierro-Baig, presents an alternate stance for the meaning of Gen. 3:16 than was discussed in the preceding episode entitled, Sorrow During Birth. Check out http://pregnancyinspiration.blogspot.com for related links and recommended reading.

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