Posts Tagged ‘labor’

Managing Birth Expectations

Monday, July 25th, 2016

DSCN1032The birth plan … I took a twelve (twelve!!) week class on natural childbirth (and infant care) before the birth of my first son. Part of the class was, after educating everyone on different options (including passing around an epidural needle set to terrify everybody by the sheer size of the thing), crafting the birth plan, using a multi-page checklist as the starter point.

My birth plan was pretty laid back, and mine included no epidural, but still, the head nurse checking me in snickered and told me that I should get an epidural right then at check-in, as there was no guarantee the anesthesiologist could ever get back in time again (assuming that I would inevitably ask for one).

After all of this, guess what? Nothing really went according to plan. And even though I thought I was super laid back about my expectations (you know, the old, “I want a natural birth if possible, but as long as my baby is healthy it’s good”), I was massively disappointed in how my birth story played out. I ended up with an emergency c-section, the only non-natural birth from our class.

Moral of the Story: I think it’s very important to be educated on the birth process and the different options out there, and to know beforehand what you personally are comfortable with. It’s also important to remember that while there are many options out there concerning birth, they will not all necessarily be an option for you. You may want an epidural, but your labor may progress so quickly it’s not possible. You may want a home birth, but likewise your individual circumstances may not allow it.

If you are concerned about your birth plan, hiring a doula is a good way to make sure that your voice is heard in the delivery room and that you are supported the whole way by an educated and experienced third party.

Finally, moms and dads, we need to stop judging the birth plans of everybody else. Using scare tactics against pain relief methods, snickering at patients’ pain relief plans, and bashing each other all on choices made during pregnancy and labor/delivery over the Internet–this helps none of us. No matter the events leading up to the birth, ultimately, that’s a healthy baby is the goal, and everyone of us that has been blessed with a healthy birth should be able to celebrate that, without a cloud of guilt or disappointment over our heads.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to two little boys, both born healthy, despite how their birth plans turned out. 

My Birth Story: 41 Weeks

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

IMG_20120531_113708My pregnancy with my daughter was blissful. Honestly. I never had any morning sickness. I was comfortable for most of my pregnancy, my energy levels (after the first few exhausting weeks) were great, and I generally just enjoyed every minute of it. I planned on a natural childbirth in my local hospital and had every reason to think I’d get it…until I began to show signs of pre-eclampsia. Around my thirty-seventh week my blood pressure began to climb and my feet looked like tree trunks. I underwent a Non-Stress Test (NST) and a urine analysis for protein. Both tests went well and my blood pressure dropped a bit, so I was placed on reduced activity and a plan to continue NSTs every other day or so. I knew this could completely change my plans, but the fact that I was already 3cm dilated and 50 percent effaced at 37 weeks helped ease my mind.

At 38 weeks, knowing that I was growing tired of the NSTs, my OB recommended an induction. We scheduled it for the next day (Wednesday). Then I went home, spoke with my husband, listened to my heart, and canceled the induction. By then I was 80 to 90 percent effaced, walking around at 4cm dilated, and not feeling a single contraction (although the NSTs showed that I was having them). Instead of induction, I agreed to continue the NSTs every other day and they moved the induction to the end of the week, just in case any issues popped up.

Since Tuesday of that week I’d been doing all the things they say to try for natural induction of labor, hoping to avoid being induced. I ate spicy things, walked, did bedroom activities, ate Chinese food. My NSTs on Wednesday and Friday went well, showing that baby was healthy, but didn’t indicate impending labor. Since the NST on Friday morning looked so good, my Dr. felt comfortable enough with my slightly increased BP to cancel the Saturday induction and allow me to continue on with monitoring. I left the clinic and treated myself to a large iced chai tea, feeling happy and very indulgent. I then decided to treat myself to a pedicure, since I really needed one and since massaging the feet was also one of those things that might help bring on labor. My nurses later commented on my cute toenails!

Unfortunately, my parents mistakenly had taken the Saturday induction for a sure thing, so they bought plane tickets and were due to arrive Sunday. All I could do was hope that my girl would show up at some point during the week they’d be there. That morning I had posted what was to be my last pregnancy photo on Facebook, with the caption “39 weeks! You can come out now baby!” Little did I know how well she would listen.

pizza before laborMy husband got home from work that afternoon and we intended to pick up the house, mow the lawn, and finish some other chores before my mom and dad arrived. We were going to do inside house things that evening, so we ordered a pizza and were goofing around. At 6:45 I performed a ridiculous “Come out baby” dance (which my husband caught on video). At 7pm we decided to hang the curtains in the nursery. I got up off the couch, walked 10 steps to the nursery door, and felt a small “pop” followed by a release of some warm fluid. It wasn’t much, but we were certain that my water had broken. The dance worked! We called the hospital, let our parents know, put the few lingering things into the hospital bag and waited for the pizza guy. My mother was adamant that I not eat, since I could get sick during labor, but I wanted that pizza!

By 8pm we were at the hospital and that’s when the fun began. While checking in I began to really feel contractions and thought I needed to use the bathroom. They let me, and although it helped a bit, the feeling that I needed to go “#2” got stronger and stronger, which was initially mortifying. The strength of the contractions also went from 0-60, pretty much instantly. For a split second, I contemplated asking for an epidural. Looking back, I only did that because I had skipped the easier contractions and went straight to strong ones, so I was scared about how much stronger they had the potential to get. Both my husband and my nurse urged me to stick to my birth plan, which set my head back into a better place.


The urge to push was so strong that I begged to be checked. My first check showed 7-8cm dilated and 100 percent effaced. One more contraction, and I was up to 8-9cm, and just one more brought me to 9.5. My fantastic nurse was making sure I didn’t push, to make sure I didn’t cause swelling that would slow the process. With her on one side and my husband with oxygen for me (the most wonderful thing they gave me!!) at the other, my doctor arrived and helped me gently push past the 9.5cm lip. Once we’d done that, it was go time. They gave me full permission to push and the urge pretty much overwhelmed me. I had my eyes closed through most of the process, lost in the crazy sensations and lost in my own head. I very much remember wondering how in the world people go through labor again and again. My daughter tended to yo-yo, so I’d push, my husband would see her and encourage me that she was coming, and then she’d slip back into her cozy world. Frustrating child, I just wanted to meet you!

Ready to leave the hospital-2

After an hour or two of pushing, my daughter was ready to join us. My amazing doctor brought me through the final pushes and then she was here. The whole process was incredible and overwhelming and I was shocked at how fast labor amnesia set in! Just minutes before I was willing her backwards, and then she was there on my chest and the memories of the pain were already hazy! She weighed 7 lbs 9 oz., was 19.5 inches long, and arrived at 11:32pm. From water break to birth, I was in labor for just 4.5 hours. In the end, I had the unmedicated labor that I had hoped for, along with fairly uninterrupted bonding time immediately following delivery.

While the day after her birth was a crazy one in its own right (a story for another time!), I honestly look back on theday my daughter was born with such love and happiness. With all of that uncertainty, all of the stress in the two weeks before her arrival, she chose to arrive on a sunny day when her momma was happy, daddy was close at hand, and family were soon to arrive to celebrate her. She chose a good day.

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW with her husband and daughter. She is a strong believer in birthing without fear and hopes every woman can have a positive and supported labor experience.



My Birth Story: A Christmas Baby

Friday, August 14th, 2015

My Birth StoryEditor’s Note: We are starting to include the birth stories of bloggers here as a way to show a variety of birth experiences. These stories may be graphic in description.

The holiday season will always have heightened meaning for me as a mom of an end-of-year first baby. Granted, any time of year for any mother of any baby will likely have heightened meaning. Still, the season of anticipation, joy, and reception of a gift holds new meaning for me as soon as we heard the due date of 12/25. Christmas music and the twinkle of tree lights in the dark of midnight grace my memory as I sat up nursing in a daze that first month.

We opted to stay home for Thanksgiving instead of driving across state to our traditional family meal. Aside from the discomfort of traveling long distance, I’m most happy to have skipped out because of the quiet, lazy Thanksgiving we had together as a family of two. December ushered in what I termed the “Christmas waddle” and we also experienced due day, Christmas day, as a family of two.

I’d been a patient lady up until that point. I’m not one to fall for gimmicks, but I never ate so much spicy food or went for such long drives on bumpy roads, among other things. At 41 weeks my blood pressure continued to cause concern. In addition to the protein found in my urine at my checkup, this was enough to be admitted for observation.

I had the birth plan, the anticipation of natural childbirth. Several hours later, in lengthy consultation with my doctor, we heard that the small but present protein, continued high blood pressure, and my full term status all made her comfortable with induction. I’d read thoroughly about induction and preeclampsia. When she returned once more, we made the decision for induction while I was eating dinner. She quickly encouraged me to limit my intake of food, to which I gingerly popped a few more grapes into my mouth with a smirk.

My husband went home to get some sleep, as we weren’t going to start Pitocin until 6 am. Just before midnight they applied cervidil to encourage the softening of my cervix. Almost immediately, and for the next six hours, I had intense muscle cramping in my abdomen, hips, and thighs. Contractions caused some of this pain, but the intense throbbing of my hips and thighs proved by far more excruciating and distracting than anything I anticipated. I have some sense and ability to tolerate pain. I’ve practiced yoga for years and trained for a marathon—I know a thing or two about breathing, pain, and endurance. Six hours into those “labor” pains, I asked for an epidural. Due to extenuating circumstances, it did not come for another two hours. Ouch.

I put quotation marks around labor because I never reached active labor throughout the entire 19-hour process that ended in our baby’s birth. With the epidural I found some relief and rest. My epidural caused continued frustration as one side of my body regained sensation. What an odd feeling to have no feeling on one side of your body and only slightly-numb pain on the other side. It was uncomfortable but manageable.

Throughout the day we were playing the waiting game. As the baby had not dropped at all, my cervix barely responded to any of the induction, and my blood pressure remained cautiously high, so at 12 hours my doctor introduced the idea of a C-section. She offered the option gently and without force. I appreciated her offer but wanted to wait it out. About 15 hours in, the anesthesiologist adjusted my epidural and the doctor again checked in. My temperature was rising just a bit, and I was otherwise still the same. I opted to continue forward and wait to see if my body would respond. She obliged and offered support.

Three hours later I developed a fever and fetal movements remained present but slowing. I knew it was time to lean into immediate action. We swiftly moved into the operating room where nurses—a flurry of nurses—draped and prepared me for surgery. Within minutes, just shy of 19 hours after the first labor pain, our baby boy was born. I was able to share a few moments with him but, due to the fever, they scurried him off to the NICU. My husband stayed with him along the way. Though he remained in the NICU for the first day for antibiotics, he was able to come to my room for milk and cuddles numerous times.

The C-section, on the one hand, was not ideal in that I wanted a natural childbirth. Later, I wondered if my choice to induce sealed the fate of a C-section. I don’t know, but given my preeclampsia, I’m willing to say my C-section was ideal and possibly inevitable—possibly a life saver. I made thoughtful, informed decisions along the way for my medical care. I birthed a beautiful baby with the aid of a support system around me that I trusted. That is what matters.

Happy New Year to us, indeed.

Lyn, mommy of two and counting…

Pregnancy Week 26: Music!

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Pregnancy Week 26: Music!

It seem like this baby is growing at turbo speed–next week begins the third trimester. I’ve been focusing on music this week: new music for my labor playlist, music for the nursery, music for the boys to share with their new baby brother. I used music during labor for my first two labors and found it to be very helpful in keeping my mind in the right place. Nothing makes the mind at ease quite like a great song.

During labor, music can help shift the mood as the contractions progress. Sometimes the songs can get you out of your own head when the going get tough, sometimes they can give you the needed energy to get through transition and finish the task at hand. I find my mental clarity of the moment is really affected by what is playing – with silence really occasionally being just what I need when things are hectic. With my previous births I have used this cd as inspiration.  I dream of this baby being born into a lively, music-filled room.

On my playlist is some easy, soft music from Elizabeth Mitchell – kids songs that I find soothing and calming, some fun pop songs to get energy going such as a bit of Michael Jackson and Michelle Trainor, a bit of country or blues for soul and some calming tunes from Jack Johnson and Mumford and Sons. I’ve always found the voice of Ella Fitzgerald to be extremely soothing and relaxing.

I like to use music for background noise as my babies sleep, too. We live in a small house, so the white noise in the nursery is great for keeping the babies asleep as the bigger boys play. My bigger boys also enjoy sharing their favorite songs with the baby. As this pregnancy has progressed, they have shared many tunes with the baby by playing the radio near my belly, with headphones, or by singing him a tune. My eldest son loves music and likes to play his keyboard or ukelele for the younger ones.

Even as birth is still 14 weeks away I figure it can’t be too early to start preparing for what comes next – a special tune for a special boy as he is welcomed into our family.

Pia Watzig is a stay at home mom and music lover who lives in Portland, Oregon.

Pregnancy Week 39: Five Signs You’re About to Have a Baby

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Pregnancy Week 39: Five Signs You're about to Have a BabyAs every pregnant woman approaches the last few weeks of pregnancy, she begins to get anxious and impatient. If only we knew exactly when we would be meeting our little ones!  Doctors give us due dates and our bodies give us signs, but what are the real signs that you’re about to have a baby? Here are some medical and not so medical labor signs to look for.

Braxton-Hicks Contractions: These practice contractions can start to occur as often as every 20 minutes when baby is getting closer to making his or her arrival. With my first pregnancy, I never noticed these. This time around, I can tell you when they occur. My belly becomes tight and almost numb for just a few seconds. These contractions may feel like menstrual cramps, as well, but remember unless they become regular, well-organized and closer together, you’re not in labor yet.

Bye-Bye Mucous Plug and Hello Bloody Show: Our bodies are amazing, don’t get me wrong. But, I just have to say….yuck. As your body prepares for labor, you may notice a large amount of discharge. Many women lose their mucous plug gradually and others lose it mostly at once. If you notice any blood-tinged discharge, this is likely your bloody show. These are actually great signs! Your cervix is beginning to dilate and efface. Labor isn’t too far away! I’ve noticed one of these already.

Your Water Breaks: With my daughter, I was clueless with most of this. I happened to be at home in the restroom when my water decided to break. It wasn’t anything like I had seen in the movies. There was no giant gush. It was more like a trickle. Your water breaking signifies that the fluid in the amniotic sac has ruptured. Contractions are usually coming, if they haven’t started by this point. It’s time to call your midwife or doctor!

Fussiness: In my opinion, you just get kind of fussy the last few weeks of pregnancy. I don’t think we mean to. All of a sudden, the slightest thing could bother you or you may be just a little moody. You may cry easily. It’s normal. It’s okay. You’re about to experience a life changing event! Just apologize to those you love. They’ll understand.

Lack of Motivation: If you’re like me, the last few weeks of pregnancy are much more tiring. A few weeks ago, I had lists prepared of things to do. I needed to prep my cloth diapers, assemble baby gear, buy last minute things. Now, all I want to do is nap. I yearn for sleep and it doesn’t come easily at night. I have decided that my son’s nursery is as good as it’s getting, and I’m okay with that. Take a break, momma. It’s okay to get in some rest now.

Well, ladies, one more week until my due date. Pregnancy is an amazing miracle and I am so blessed to get to experience it, but I’m ready to get this baby out!

Here’s a little humor:  What’s the difference between a woman who’s 9 months pregnant and a supermodel?

Nothing, if her husband knows what’s good for him!

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of one and one almost here!  She can’t wait to meet her little man.