Posts Tagged ‘natural birth’

Natural Mama: Week-by-Week Pregnancy Updates for the Crunchy Mom

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

natural mama pregnancy updatesThis is my third pregnancy, and let’s be honest. I have days where I forget I am pregnant. With my first, I was addicted to Babycenter and all of their weekly updates. There was so much information online that I felt like I needed to know.  I wanted to know what vegetable was comparable for the week and what I should and shouldn’t be feeling. This time around, I have been elated to have discovered Mama Natural.

Genevieve is Mama Natural. She shares her story, personal experience, and wisdom on her website. Recently, they started a week by week guide to pregnancy as Genevieve is going through pregnancy as well. Let’s just say this will rock your world.

Each week, you get a text delivered to your phone. Hello! How easy is that! The text has a little greeting, reminds you where you are in your pregnancy, and provides a link to view more information that is relevant for you. It’s basically a week-by-week email and web series that gives you updates.

This week, I am just past 20 weeks pregnant. My weekly update provided:

  • Information on what baby is like at 20 weeks
  • A nice pep talk for how momma is at 20 weeks pregnant
  • A video of Genevieve at 20 weeks pregnant (So nice to see another momma with a growing tummy like mine)
  • A spotlight article on how to sleep safely while pregnant
  • Additional links about pregnancy (Love the Doula Interview!)
  • Things to do at 20 weeks

This update is practical but also creative and different. I even received another text this week with a bonus video about natural childbirth. Mama Natural has not been a disappointment. These days I barely remember to take my prenatals, so a weekly text delivered to my IPhone is just perfect. I’ll admit I don’t always read every article or watch the video each week. But, it’s there if I have the time and energy.

So, momma, if you’re expecting, try this website and updates out. It’s much more entertaining that Babycenter, and I promise you will feel like you are doing you and your baby some good.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2 in Southern Illinois at the current moment. She can’t wait to meet baby #3 this fall.

My Birth Story: The Gladiator

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

They're Only Little OnceEditor’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.

“Hey, honey? I think this is the real thing.”

It was 4:30 in the morning. A contraction had stirred me from sleep at 1:48, and the intensity and regularity of the following contractions made it impossible to drift back to unconsciousness. I had spent a few hours bouncing on a birthing ball, watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, noticing a bit of blood with each bathroom excursion.

“What do you need me to do?” His eyes were hardly opened, and he was snuggling our youngest in bed. The two other boys were in their room, sleeping soundly.

“Nothing. You’re fine. I don’t think we need to do anything for a few hours until someone is awake and can take the kids. I just wanted to let you know that it’s happening today.”

None of my previous three children had come on their due dates, and I smiled at the idea that my daughter was going to be as big of a stickler about punctuality as her mama. The contractions were noticeable, but not painful. My mind drifted to previous labors, with many false starts, and part of me wondered if I was overreacting, and that this was going to be one of many practice rounds.

A couple hours passed, and I was no longer alone with my thoughts. The morning routine shifted a bit, as the two older boys stirred before my husband and youngest. I fixed them breakfast and put on a movie, then showered. When I stepped out, my husband asked me how I was doing, and if I thought he should take the kids to a friend’s house.

“I don’t know. Would you check me?”

Having worked with a couple of home birthing midwives in previous pregnancies, my husband had become skilled at checking my cervix for dilation. The contractions still weren’t painful, so I was skeptical about making the thirty-minute trip to the birthing center on a Sunday if this wasn’t the real deal.

“What? What is it?” I couldn’t read my husband’s face, and assumed that I was still at fingertip dilation.

“You’re at a seven or an eight. We have got to go!”

About an hour later, we were pulling into the birthing center parking lot, and I was acutely aware that I had only had one contraction in the past half hour. We settled into the birthing room, especially quiet in the repurposed large Victorian home, as a Sunday meant only the midwife and nurse attending my birth were present. As they took some information, I sheepishly said, “My contractions have stopped. This might have been a false alarm.”

“I checked her before we left, though. I think she’s at a seven or an eight,” my husband said to the midwife, who in turn looked a little skeptical of my husband’s cervix exploration ability while she assured me that it was completely okay if today wasn’t my baby’s birthday. I accepted her invitation to check herself, and laid back on the bed.

“Oh. Oh!” The midwife had a look of surprise. “You’re at a nine.”

Until this point, I’d had a little discomfort, but no pain. And at this point, I had no contractions.

The midwife suggested relaxing in the tub, operating under the assumption that my uterus was protesting because I felt stressed. After a while of still not contracting, she invited me to walk around. Soaking wet from the tub, and completely naked with the exception of a nude-colored nursing bra, I jumped out and started running up and down the stairs. My husband turned on my Pandora station, and I started dancing in the birthing room. I did squats and lunges, and more stairs. I used the bathroom constantly, as my previous babe had been born over the toilet, hoping for some good luck, porcelain style.

This went on for 4 hours.

Fortunately, my contractions started up again just as I received my second round of antibiotics for my group-B strep. I hopped back in the tub, willing my water to break, knowing that my daughter would come soon after. Finally, a soft pop happened, and I felt the gush of water in the tub. I was in a squatting position, holding the side of the tub, and spoke to my little girl.

“Baby, it’s just you and me. This is hard. It’s really hard. We’re in it together, and the hard stuff is doable, because we’re doing it together.” I pushed. The midwife, nurse, and my husband were in the room, but it was just me in the tub. I pushed her head into my hand, and with another little pop, her head was fully out. I laughed. “I can feel her ear!”

When the midwife saw that her head was out, she urged me, “Just one more push, right now. Just one more push to get her the rest of the way.”

“Nope,” I said. “I need a minute.”

When my body was ready, I pushed, one more time, and with just me in the tub, my little girl came out, and I pulled her up against me. She and I had done it. Together.

Her name is Emery, which means “brave and powerful.” While I do wish that for her, the truth is, she is my source of bravery and power. She is my Gladiator, and her birth was my most sacred accomplishment.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Maisie’s Birth Story

Friday, September 25th, 2015

DSCN1032Editor’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.

Thursday, 9/25

I went to work like normal the last day of my 38th week.  I came home that night and Adam and I had dinner, then went for a walk up and down the street twice. While we walked, we talked about all the things we needed to do the upcoming weekend to prepare for the baby. I was going to go to the grocery store, get the car seat installed, get the oil in the car changed, and get my license plates renewed. We also talked about how I had not even seen the plug yet–a telltale sign you are close to birth–and that she probably would not come this week. I told Adam that I had a feeling I would not see it, even though most women do.

We came inside and watched Oregon State finish pummeling number-one-ranked USC, which meant that Oklahoma would be number one now. The game ended around 10pm, and we went to bed right after. At about 11pm, I woke from a dead sleep, sat straight up and gasped. Adam jumped out of bed, thinking for some reason I had seen someone in the doorway. I told him, “I think my water just broke.”

I went to the bathroom to look at my undies to see if maybe in my late stage of pregnancy I had just had an accident, but it didn’t look or smell like urine. Adam was standing there and told me to call the doula. I called Angela and described what happened. She told me that she believed it was my water, and to go to bed and get lots of sleep. “I can’t sleep!” I told her. “I’m too excited! I’m not ready for this!” She told me again to get some sleep, eat a big breakfast, and to call her back first thing in the morning.

I tossed and turned all night, getting up frequently to go to the bathroom as my water continued to leak. I watched Conan O’Brien, the cartoon network, and chatted with some ladies on the I-am-pregnant.com message board. Around 4 am, I was finally able to fall asleep despite the contractions I was starting to feel. I woke up around 730am and the doula called. She told me to take a hot shower, eat a big breakfast, walk around the block for 30 minutes, and to call the birth center when they opened up. She said she thought I was indeed in labor. Adam made me blueberry muffins and got ready for work. He said he wanted to go in for at least a little bit so he wouldn’t have to take off the whole day. I was a little puzzled, but I let him go and would call him when I knew something more. Before he left, we looked up the instructions for the car seat online and Adam installed it in his car before going to work.

Friday, 9/26

It was raining that morning, so I took a shower, grabbed an umbrella and walked the block while I texted folks to update them on what was going on. At 830am, I called the birth center and they had Cece, the midwife on call, call me back and ask me about everything. I got kind of chewed out for not calling them as soon as my water broke, but they would have had me come in just to send me home, Angela told me. Cece told me she thought I was in labor based on what I had told her, and would meet me at the birth center at 10am. I called Angela and Adam and told them to meet me at the birth center at 10am. Adam left work immediately to come home and pick me up.

By the time we got to the birth center, the contractions were getting stronger, but I could still talk through them easily. Cece arrived and we went back to the big birthing room. She waited for a contraction to hit and felt my stomach. She said that they were good contractions and that I should stay. I asked if they were going to check my dilation, and she said they would wait and do it in a little bit.

When we realized we were staying, they asked if we had brought any food. We hadn’t, so Adam went to Trader Joe’s and got everything peanut butter–peanut butter cups, peanut butter pretzels, peanut butter crackers, a sandwich for me, and a ton of water. He got himself a burrito from Chipolte. I really wanted one, and he said he would go back and get one for me when we were done.

I sat on the birthing ball for a while and rocked through my contractions. They were still getting stronger but I was in good shape. They brought in Olivia, the nurse, and I met her and Fran, who would be covering for Cece while she had a meeting from 1pm to 4pm. I thought, “She is going to miss the whole thing if she’s not back until 4pm!” Adam laid on the bed and played a video game on his computer, while his iTunes played for music. I had planned to bring some CDs but totally forgot.

After a while of laboring on the ball, Fran came in to check my dilation. This was the first time I was checked. I got out of my maternity cargo pants and turquoise top I bought the weekend before when Allison was visiting. I took off my jewelry except for my watch and put it in my purse. I put on a pink and white wrap Sarah got me in Mexico when we got married, and hopped up on the bed for my first check. Fran determined that I was 2-3 cm. Angela said we needed to go outside and walk to get things moving. If they didn’t start up fast, I would have to have cervadil or pitocin to augment my labor. She said we could do cervadil without pain meds, but if I had to have pitocin that natural thing might be over.

We went outside and walked around, just me and Angela. We did two laps around the outside of the center. Then we came back inside and I sat on the ball a little more. After I labored a little while more, things began to heat up a bit. I felt nauseous during contractions and quit eating my sandwich. At this point they were getting pretty bad, so I went to the shower, then came out and got on the ball. Adam was pressing my hips together during contractions and massaging my back with Angela’s back massager. birth3

Angela told me to get out of the shower so they could check me again. I was really hurting by now and knew what Angela was talking about earlier when she said I couldn’t be too far along because “there were still smiles.” At the time I was offended, thinking that she was being pessimistic, but now I knew what she meant. We had been smiling and laughing between contractions, but that was over now. I thought for sure when they checked me this time that I would be 5 to 6 cm. Cece told me I was now 3 to 4 cm. I started crying uncontrollably. I told them I couldn’t do this and that I needed to go to the hospital. I just didn’t think I could take who knows how many more hours of this pain.  Cece told me that it was okay, and we would get through this. They ignored my pleas to go get an epidural.

We regrouped and went outside to squat with the rope. When I felt a contraction, I dropped down, holding the rope, to make it more intense and let gravity help me dilate. We walked again around outside with Adam this time, so I could drop down during contractions while walking. Adam and Angela held my arms and we were about halfway around when I started peeing with the contractions. We came back in and I was in more pain. They checked me again and I was not making much progress. That’s when they told me she was posterior. They got me on the bed and I hung my body over an egg shaped exercise ball to try and get her to turn over sunny-side up, as they call it.

From there things get really fuzzy. My eyes were closed most of the time. I know I asked about pain options at some point, and they told me about these water shots they could put in my back, and also a narcotic that would not numb me but would take the edge off for a bit. I labored in the tub once I got to 6 cm. I was hot and sweating but did not want them to turn on the fan. I remember liking the heat. Adam had rolled up his jeans and was sitting behind me on the edge of the tub so I could grip his legs as a pushed. I also had my legs straight out and was pushing off the tub. Some of the time I leaned over the front of the tub and labored on hands and knees to encourage things to move along.

We really didn’t talk at all the whole time after things got hairy. I remember trying to talk in between contractions, but it was like trying to talk when you are asleep and dreaming. I would mumble things that didn’t make sense and no one could understand anyway.  Sometimes I even felt like I was having lucid dreams between contractions. At one point when I was in the tub she got the hiccups and I could feel how much lower she was then when I was pregnant.

After this, they wanted to give me IV fluids because I had stopped drinking water. At that time I got out of the tub and labored in the bed on my side. They gave me the narcotic and almost immediately my brain felt fuzzy and I nodded off until the next contraction.  It felt a little less intense but mainly the difference was that I could rest a little bit. Adam was laying on the bed with me, and I gripped him during contractions. At some point I ended up back in the tub for a while and then agreed to do the water shots.

They told me that they give the water shots during a contraction because that way you aren’t focusing on more pain. They give you four and do them all at once. I got on hands and knees on the bed and waited for a contraction. I told Anglea and Cece that it was coming and they gave me the shots. It was the most painful thing I have ever felt. The shots seemed to just keep coming and coming. I think there were really eight. You felt one blast of pain when they stuck the needles in and another as they pushed down the plungers. It felt like a swarm of bees attacking my back. It was much worse than the contraction and I howled in pain.

The whole time Cece and Angela were encouraging me to make low, guttural sounds instead of high-pitched screams, so each contraction, I yelled “oh” in a low groan the entire contraction. This was to make sure that I was breathing deep and getting oxygen to the baby. The whole time they were monitoring her from the outside, and every time her heart rate was perfect whether I was contracting or not. It dipped when it was supposed to and came back. Right then we knew she was a really strong baby.

I got back in the tub and then they had me get out and they checked me again. I dreaded being checked for dilation because each check caused another contraction. At this point I was at 8 cm and I had progressed very quickly, so they thought she had flipped for us. They told me to walk around the birth center, which was vacant by this time. Angela helped me walk around, and Adam came with us to rub my back during each contraction. Instead of massaging, he would grab each side of my hips and squeeze them together as hard as he could.  It helped a little bit but not much. I didn’t have to tell him anything to indicate I was contracting. I would start groaning and grab the wall like I was being frisked, and that was his cue to grab my hips and squeeze.

As we walked around the birth center, Angela encouraged me by telling me how close I was and I asked if I could have the narcotic again. She said probably not because I was too close to pushing. When we got back to the room I asked Cece and she said I could. I laid down in the bed and they gave me the narcotic. It didn’t feel as strong this time. I clung to Adam and labored some more. He was watching his watch and told me when I only had five minutes of the drugs left–they only lasted a half hour. After they ran out, Cece told me to get on the birthing stool, that it was time to push.

I sat on the birthing stool and Adam sat behind me with his legs on the side so I could hold on to them. We started pushing and it seemed to go slow. I could feel her in the birth canal but not exactly where she was.  I pushed and pushed, and Angela told me not to push with my face. I tried to keep my shoulders down, my face relaxed and push like they told me. I grabbed the padding from underneath me and pulled up on it like the reins of a horse and leaned back hard on Adam. It was like pooping the biggest poop you have ever pooped in your life–the pushing feels exactly the same.

I pushed for a while and it seemed like nothing was happening because she would inch forward when I pushed and suck back a little when I stopped. The urges came in waves like contractions, but weren’t as painful. However, it was painful to have her stuck there, so it made me want to push faster. I pushed like a crazy person, moaning and groaning and then Cece asked me if I wanted to feel her head. I reached down and could feel the peach fuzz of the top of her head. Angela held a mirror so Adam could see her coming. I didn’t want to look, I just wanted her out. I kept telling myself it was almost all over and I could rest soon. Cece held a warm cloth on me to keep me from tearing. A few times they told me to stop pushing so everything could stretch out.

18 hours oldThen Cece told me her head was out. Adam stood up and leaned over me to look, and told me she was almost out. I pushed and pushed and then all of a sudden she said “Here’s your baby!” and they put this little blue coneheaded thing on my chest. Her cord was still connected and the placenta hadn’t come out yet. I just gasped because everything was so worn out I hadn’t even felt her come out. It still felt like she was stuck down there. I stared at her with my mouth open and said “Isn’t she beautiful?” Adam just leaned over me staring at her. We were both in shock. I couldn’t believe it was over after all that time. After a second or two in my arms she cried out, a good sign. She filled her little lungs with air and then immediately quieted down and stared right back and Adam and me. Her little brow was furrowed like she was suspicious of the whole thing. We sat there for a bit, and then right as they were about to give me pitocin to encourage the placenta to come, I gave one big push and it came out on it’s own.

Once the cord quit pulsing, Adam cut it and they clamped it off. They wrapped the outside of her in a blanket and put a little hat on her to keep her warm, but left her skin up against mine. Right before they moved me to the bed, Adam left to go get that burrito I had been promised.

When they moved me to the bed, they pumped my abdomen from the outside to get all the blood out and force the uterus back. Then they gave me a few shots to numb me and began sewing up the tear that resulted from the birth. Cece apologized and said it might hurt as she gave me the shots, but I couldn’t feel a thing I told her she could probably take a limb off right now and I wouldn’t notice. I was just laying on the bed sideways holding my baby and I could look at her and literally not be able to hear or feel anything outside of her. It was like we were in a bubble of just us. I kept saying “I can’t believe it’s over!” and the nurse kept laughing and said, “Honey, it’s just beginning!”

Cece finished sewing me up and they helped me get into bed. Adam came back with my burrito and I gave him to her to hold. She had been awake and alert the whole time. The nurses even commented on how alert she was. The first time Adam held her she smiled for us. All we could do was just stare at her. She was just fascinating.

After about an hour, we were asked what her name was for the paperwork and that’s when we decided on Maisie. She was born at 9:20pm, which meant we could leave at 2am, but we were so tired we stayed the night. The next morning she got looked over by everyone at the birth center–Cece, the nurse and a pediatrician–and we got to dress her in her brand new OU outfit and take her home at 8am.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City. 

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.

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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.