Parenting with less stress {Labor and Delivery}

Today I decided to share my birth stories. In them are many of the things that worked for me for Labor and Delivery, that doesn't mean however that they will work for you. The more I talk to others the more I realize how different we all are. What one appreciates during birth another might find completely bothersome. One thing I think it good is to just do a lot of research, find out as much as you can and then be flexible.

Going into all of my children's births my biggest goal was that a healthy baby would arrive. After my research I was convicted that the best way for that to happen was to have a delivery without drugs so that was a big goal for me. Here are my stories:

Ken, Mara and I, home, a few days after her birth.

    When Mara was born (Sept, 1999) we were living in Iowa attending Bible College and both of us were working part-time. I had told my employer that the day she was born I was done working but I did work up to that day. My labor started while at work but it was basically just low back pain and some easy contractions. That evening Ken and I took a long walk and the contractions continued to come steadily but didn't get very hard. We started to time the contractions and found they were coming regularly less than 5 minutes apart. They still were easy but Ken got pretty nervous (He was not of the mind set to deliver a baby on his own!) so we headed to the hospital at 11:30 pm.

    When we got to the hospital they wanted me to be in bed so they could monitor me. That made my contractions slow way down. Ken and I took that opportunity to play a card game (Rook, I believe) just pausing whenever I would have a contraction.  At around 3 am they broke my water which did get things moving. I was having back labor so the contractions were rather painful in my lower back. I worked at relaxing, deep breathing and just letting the contraction do its job of pushing when they would come. I also really appreciated being able to take a hot shower. Ken was incredibly helpful as back massager. During each contraction he would apply pressure on my lower back (Though when I would direct him where to push he had his doubts as to whether it was really my back, it seemed more like my behind where I wanted the pressure.

  At around 7 am they moved me to the delivery room. After this they checked me and I was dilated to 7cm. At this point I was feeling weary and afraid I couldn't make it much farther (What I know now to be the transition stage) and I asked how much longer they thought it would be. Since I was only at 7 the nurse figured it would be a few more hours. They wondered if I wanted any drugs. When I heard that it would be that long I agreed to have Staydol. Right after I got that (which was right after they had checked me and I was at 7 cm) I started wanting to push. The nurse was like, "Don't push!" she wanted to check me again and the doctor wasn't there yet. There was no way that I could stop pushing so she called the Dr. and started getting things ready as fast as she could.

  Pushing went pretty fast and the Dr. barely made it. During this time I remember Ken trying to coach me to breath like we had learned in the Lamaze class (If you aren't familiar with it, it is really weird!) and I ended up feeling like I was going to hyperventilate. I ended up just sticking with the deep slow breathing that the Bradley method recommends.  I did have to have an episiotomy which about caused Ken to faint. Mara arrived at 9:13am completely healthy and we were incredibly happy. We had chosen not to find out her gender with the ultrasounds and so it was a complete surprise. She was 8 lbs, 11 1/2 oz and 22 inches long.

Some things I learned from this labor:
  • Having Ken right there for support and back rubbing was completely necessary!
  • I got thirsty (and possibly hungry) and all they would give me was a tiny cup of ice chips. I was not happy about that and planned to make sure that never happened again!
  • I very much appreciated being able to spend time in hot water (shower in this case) during labor.
  • It takes quite a long while to heal from an episiotomy.
  • That I can go quite fast from 7 to 10 cm and that drugs would not have been at all necessary.
  • I don't like to stay in a hospital any longer than I have too, especially when I don't feel at all sick.
  • Having a beautiful newborn baby is completely wonderful!

At the time of Jonathan's birth we were living in Wichita, KS. He was born in August, 2001. For this pregnancy I had a very nice female doctor but Jonathan arrived a week late, while she was on vacation. After some of the things that happened during Mara's birth (Not being allowed to drink and being offered drugs frequently) I decided it would be a good idea to write out a birth plan and discuss it with the doctor in advance. This was on my plan:
  • I want to be able to drink water or juice.
  • I would like to be free to walk around and use the shower & whirlpool and not have to be constantly attached to a monitor. (They did have a policy however that I had to have the monitor on about 10 min of every hour or so.)
  • I do not want to use pain medication.
  • No enemas or catheterizing.
  • No IV in early labor, to make it easier to move around. (I did have to have an IV later because I had group B strep.)
  • I would like to use the squatting position.
  • I do not want the use of an episiotomy, forceps or cesarean unless deemed extremely necessary.
Thankfully everything went according to plan except for the episiotomy, I had to have one again.

Labor was in many ways similar to Mara's birth. I started with easy labor the day before, we finally went to the hospital at 12:30 am. At this point I was having regular but not hard contractions. I had tried to talk Ken into waiting a little bit but he was concerned because as soon as my contractions got really hard with Mara then I was practically ready to push. Again after getting to the hospital my labor slowed down. They broke my water at 8:14 am when I was 4.5 cm dilated.  I was able to use the whirlpool during this labor which was very nice!

Again with the labor once I reached 7 cm my body just took off and went to 10 right away. We were in a huge hospital (Via Christi) and when they realized that I was ready to deliver they called the doctor that was supposed to deliver (an associate of my doctor who was on vacation) and then the room just started filling up with people. At that hospital they had the policy that the anesthesiologist had to be there even though I didn't want anything also there were nurses, 3 resident doctors and I am not sure who all else, I am pretty sure there where at least 10 people in there. One thing that was kind of cool was they had a mirror set up so I could watch the baby coming out. Jonathan came out with just 8 pushes, before the Doctor arrived. Thank-fully one of the resident Dr's. was able to catch him! The other Dr did arrive in time to stitch up my episiotomy.

Jonathan was a very healthy and beautiful little baby boy. He weighed 8 lbs and 6 oz. and was 19 1/2 inches long. I checked out of the hospital as soon as possible (and against the doctors recommendations) as I wanted to be home with Mara too. Less than 2 weeks later we headed north to live in my hometown in Northern, MN.

This picture is of my sister Anna and I and our new babies, however she is holding Aaron and I am holding my niece Beatrice. Beatrice is 13 days older than Aaron.

Aaron was born October,25 in 2003. He was my only baby to arrive early as he was actually due on Nov. 1st. When I look back I think I was actually in false labor and if things hadn't been done at the hospital (such as breaking my water)I would have ended coming home and he probably would have been overdue like the others were.

I honestly don't remember much of the labor while I was still at home. I was probably quite busy taking care of my other 2 who were then 2 and 4 years old. We did end up going to the hospital fairly early and I labored a whole day and night before Aaron was born.

The night that I went in it was a full moon and the nurses told me that a bunch of women had come in only to be sent home again as they were in false labor, for some reason they didn't send me home. Ken and I ended up walking the halls over and over again trying to get the labor to progress. We got bored with the hallways on the floor we were on so they gave me permission to roam the hospital, we went to the gift shop and all over the place. They had decided to break my water too which then of course made it so that I couldn't go home, the baby had to come. After that experience I decided it was better not to have the water broken.

Eventually they decided that labor wasn't happening as fast as it should so they decided I would need pitocin. I was pretty concerned about that. I had heard horror stories that pitocin would make your labor so fast that you wouldn't be able to handle the pain. That didn't happen thankfully but I would still rather have not had that intervention. Oh well, things happen and we can't live life over again.

From there on labor progressed well. I had a very nice female doctor. She lived a ways from the hospital but since we had told her that I have a tendency to progress fast at the end she told us to make sure that the nurses called her in time. You can be sure that Ken did! :-) She made it in plenty of time and was able to work with stretching the birth canal and just patiently wait during labor and there was no episiotomy! Yea!

Aaron was born at 7:29 am weighing 8 lbs 2 0z. and was 21 1/4 inches long. He was an adorable little boy with tons of black hair and very red skin. Some people that saw him wondered if we had gotten a Native American baby by mistake. :-)

 The doctor wasn't so patient with waiting for the placenta to come out and I wonder if that contributed to the large amount of hemorrhaging that I did. I don't know, it could have been something else completely. I lost a lot of blood and the nurses began to get pretty concerned and so they gave me some medicine to stop that. Shortly after she had given the medicine my Mom, sisters, children, and a few others came to visit. I love visitors when I am in the hospital and was delighted to have them but right after they came in the room I started to feel very flushed and then before long I was majorly vomiting. The medicine made me feel pretty sick for a time.

  This was my hardest stay in the hospital. I didn't feel good, I was lonely and I ended up having to be in there a while.(Mostly because we came so early.) I am a very social person and I knew that my siblings and families were all over at my parents for the weekend and I found it very hard to be stuck in the hospital. Ken had some responsibilities that he had to take care of so he wasn't able to be there all of the time either. I worked as hard as I could to get out of there as fast as I could and decided that I would never have a baby in the hospital again if at all possible.

   Because of the loss of blood I wasn't able to feel good right away afterwards like I did with the other births. I was tired for weeks but the result of a beautiful baby boy was totally worth it!

Megan's birth experience was overall by far my favorite. The reason was that she was born at home. I had long been interested in that (I had checked into it when I was expected Mara) but this was the first time it worked out. We had some concerns because of the hemorrhaging that I had with Aaron and also we weren't sure that our insurance would pay for it because the only midwives in our area were lay midwives but everything worked out fine. (And we were able to use our health savings account to pay the nominal amount that the midwife asked for.)

Megan was born in April of 2006. I started having regular contractions on Friday evening. They continued through the night keeping me awake quite a bit. Saturday they kept on coming but were slow and not terribly hard. I was able to just do stuff around the house, you know those last minute preparations- making sure all the dishes are done and floors are swept, etc. That evening Ken took the kids out to my parents and picked up my sister Keren (who was going to be around just in case another helping hand was needed during delivery). I was able to put some raisin bread in the bread maker set to get done in time for breakfast on Sunday morning.

 The midwife came late Saturday night (just after she got done delivering another baby.) We had a bed set up for her and she rested while I labored, sometimes in bed (and I was able to sleep a bit), sometimes in the shower/tub and other times just wandering around the house or on the couch. The midwife had recommended a honey lemonade which was really nice for giving me energy and also the lemon juice helps prevent bleeding. I would drink that from time to time and I really enjoyed that.

 Labor got serious around 3 am. I did have back labor again (I did on all of them), Ken's hand were getting so tired from rubbing and the midwife showed him how to use other things (I think it was a glass jar with warm water in it and then wrapped in a towel but I can't remember for sure) to use to apply pressure to my back as well as providing comforting warmth.

Pushing was a little more awkward with this delivery, I had liked the beds at the hospital where they can make them up into the sitting position and then the pull away the bottom part of the bed and provide a place to rest your feet and then I was just pull my legs up to my chest and push. That worked very well for me but of course we didn't have that at home. Also when it came time to push my water still hadn't broken and I had more trouble determining when to push as the urge wasn't very great.

 We tried the sit squat position (up on top of the bed) with pillows propped up behind me but I was frustrated with that so we decided I would try going to the floor and try it on my hands and knees. While I was standing up to move (with Ken and the midwife supporting) out Megan came, landing on the bed. It was rather interesting!

Right after she came out the midwife had me drink a 1/4 of a cup or so of straight lemon juice to help prevent bleeding and then I got more honey lemonade. I had also been taking chlorophyll before birth (for a few months)to help with my iron levels and to prevent bleeding. She also let the placenta come out in its own time while I nursed Megan. It all worked well with no hemorrhaging.

Megan was 8 lbs. 10 oz and 23 inches long. She was an incredibly sweet baby girl! She was born Easter morning at 6:07 am.

After the birth Ken work up Keren who had slept through everything but she was pretty excited to see she had a new niece. Ken, Keren and the midwife got Megan and the room cleaned up while I took a shower and got dressed (In normal clothes- no more gappy hospital gowns!). Then we all sat down together to eat a breakfast of the raisin bread fresh out of the bread maker and scrambled eggs made by Ken.

 Shortly afterwards my parents and our kids and my sister Martha and her kids came by to see Megan on their way to church. It was fun to be able to just sit out in the living room and enjoy the new miracle of life together. Ken and Megan and I spend a relaxing day at home but then that evening I decided I felt fine and we headed off to church. Others at church were rather astounded to see us arrive but it was kind of a statement on my part. With every other birth I had felt trapped in the hospital and this time I was able to go and do whatever I wanted and I felt great so why not?

Well this has gotten to be v-e-r-y   l-o-n-g and if you have made it this far congratulations!

Here are some of the things that really worked for me in labor and birth:
  • Having Ken for my labor coach.
  • Lots of back rubbing.
  • Spending time in hot water (shower, whirlpool, tub).
  • Being able to drink -Honey Lemonade was great!
  • Births with no drugs.
  • Having a quiet relaxing labor.
  • Having a birth plan for hospital births.
  • Birthing at home!
  • Being able to move around during labor.
  • Having visitors after giving birth. I know this is where I differ from some other new moms but I really loved all of the company that I got, I loved being able to share with them the new miracle in our lives.
I would love to hear your favorite things for labor and delivery! Please share!