Monday

on birth and babies

there is an interesting post over at crunchy domestic goddess this week on the way natural childbirth is portrayed in the media.  she also links and reacts to a video of a scheduled cesarean that the today show aired live last week, and it's worth checking out, too.

giving birth is an accomplishment and a miracle, whether medicated or natural, at home or in the hospital, with a doctor or a midwife.  there is no one "right" way to give birth.  i do think, however, that women are culturally conditioned to fear natural childbirth--and we don't need to be.  we're afraid we won't be able to do something our bodies were created to do, and we may not consider the risks of certain interventions.

"birth story" details to follow.  so you know.

i'd wanted to have dylan naturally.  maternal drugs get to the baby through the placenta, and even if they are considered safe, i knew that they can interfere with a baby's interest in breastfeeding, and i didn't want to create any barriers.

my contractions began intensely and at five minutes apart right off the bat.  after a sleepless night at home, we went to the hospital a 8 AM, only to discover that i was barely dialated.  they weren't even sure they wanted to admit me.  i labored there for hours with jim and our doula, who helped me to relax as best i could.  i walked the halls (thankful to not be hooked to an IV), labored on a birth ball, and tried all sorts of positions.  my contractions grew closer and more intense, but they still weren't progressing my labor.

around 3 pm, after 13 hours of active labor, i was still at only 1 cm, and i had a epidural in order to rest and gather strength.  i labored without pain for a few hours and my cervix finally dialated, but when it was time to push, i didn't have all my sensation back, and my body just didn't know what to do.  i must have heard "just one more push!" dozens of times, and each time i grew more discouraged.  finally, my midwife performed the episiotomy i had not wanted, so that they could get dylan out--at 8:50 PM.

i was so exhausted (and i think partially traumatized) that i barely remember those first few minutes after dylan was born.  thankfully, i came out of my "baby daze" and was able to hold and nurse her soon after birth, but it was a long and painful recovery that in many ways was harder than labor and delivery.

james was born naturally, and it was such a different birth experience. with him, my contractions never got to five minutes apart (the magic number that is supposed to signal a trip to the hospital.)  contractions came and went.  by dinner they were coming more regularly, and by 8 PM, they were really intense.  we watched glee, i focused on my breathing, we went to bed.  i tried to rest but couldn't.   my contractions were fierce, and sometimes they'd be spaced at five minutes, but then i'd have a bit of a longer respite.

at midnight, even though they weren't completely regular, my contractions were painful enough that i no longer wanted to labor at home.  this was my second baby, it was a 40 minute drive, and i did NOT want to have a baby in the car!  we woke up a friend to come stay with dylan and left for the hospital at 1 AM.

we called the hospital to say we were coming in and later learned that they did not call my midwife--who lived an hour away!--until after i arrived.  we checked into a room at 2 AM.  i was seven centimeter dialated and progressing rapidly.  this baby was ready, but my midwife didn't arrive until after 3:30.  she didn't even get her lab coat on before telling me to push!

pushing was short and productive, and she put our sweet boy into my arms immediately (at about 4 AM).  i held and nursed james for over an hour in the early morning stillness before they even weighed him or cut the cord.  we enjoyed the loveliest, quietest family time together, and i cherish those memories.  i didn't need an episiotomy, and my recovery was remarkably easier.

my natural birth and recovery were significantly easier than my medicated one.  we read books about the bradley method and used strategies we learned there to manage pain--and it made a huge difference.  having a doula for a first birth (whose focus is entirely on the mother's care) is something i wish for every new mom aiming for a natural childbirth.  i also really appreciated our midwives, who really listened and offered wonderful care.  with our insurance we didn't pay anything for prenatal care or our natural hospital birth--a blessing that cannot be understated in these days of bankrupting health care bills. 

any thoughts you want to share about your birth experiences?  do you think the way childbirth is portrayed on tv or in the movies affects the choices women make?  did anyone see that c-section piece on the today show?  what did you think?

4 comments:

Penny said...

my birth experiences (both on my blog FWIW) were similar to yours. A difficult first birth and an amazingly easy birth second.

Birth is almost always portrayed as high drama on TV or movies, not as a "normal" process. Having said that I do think it is a rite of passage experience... just don't thing it gets portrayed accurately.

Jenney said...

THANK YOU...I am planning on doing my third birth naturally, and have been a little apprehensive. I just need to remember that 50 years ago no one had ANY pain stuff...hello I think I can do it!

First birth=nightmare. I went into the hospital at 33 weeks because I kept leaking fluid, but it wouldn't fern so they said it wasn't amniotic fluid...but was having contractions so they admitted me and put me on (name???) medication so he wouldn't be born. 4 days later (and now I was 34 weeks) they decided it was INDEED amniotic fluid and he had been sitting in "dirty water" for 4 days which is a big no-no and within 30 minutes of realizing it they induced me-yeah, like straight from an IV of "do not have baby" to "have baby NOW". I was so sick I wanted to die. Labor was not progressing and they gave me an epidural. I gave birth in an OR in case I needed a C-section. The nurses delivered him as this one Dr (not mine) stood over me with a scalpel telling me I had better hurry or he was going to operate. The nurses told him I was tearing and he didn't seem to care. I had 16 stitches. The nurses were livid. James was born 6 weeks early and spent a week in the NICU. I was given a breast pump after he was 24 hours old even though I kept telling them I wanted to nurse. Nightmare.

Baby #2 was much better. I delivered him about 6 hours after he was considered full term (37 wks). Whew! No NICU. I had an epidural again, but it stopped my labor almost completely at first. I had internal monitors (in his head and in uterus) and all of a sudden I felt EVERYTHING and told the nurse that I think the monitors had fallen out. She assured me that couldn't happen until the baby was delivered and called the anasteologist (I know I spelled that wrong) to see why I was feeling so much. She had just checked me and I was 6 dialated. The anas. came in and said the epidural looked fine but I assured them that the monitors were NOT in. She looked again and she could see a good section of his head. The anas. laughed as the nurse told me to lay VERY still while she got the Dr. and told me I might as well not have an an epidural because when your baby comes through that fast you'll feel everything unless you are completely out. I think I pushed twice and he was out.

That was better, but I figured I would just rather know what is going on and not have the pain of an epidural (because ladies, those are no cake walk, trust me). I think recovery and labor will be much faster this time!

Anonymous said...

I had to have an emergency c-section with my first because until I had pushed Brooke for 2 1/2 hours (I could see her hair) they realized that my pelvis gets incredibly small and a baby will NEVER fit. I had a scheduled c-section with my 2nd and am having my 3rd by c-section in less than 2 weeks. I am very passionate about informing women about the risks of home birth, because had I been born in a different age, both me and my sweet baby girl may not be here to tell our story. In third world countries, women with my body would either die in child birth and/or their child would die within them and they would then become toxic and die themselves.

I would have LOVED to have a natural child birth, but like you said, it is different for every women. However, hospitals, doctors, and medicine are a privilege that we now have and should definitely take advantage of when necessary.
Julie

suzannah @ so much shouting/laughter said...

thanks for your thoughts, girls:)

@penny: i'll have to go read your stories:) i agree, the media def. empasizes dramatic births, whether in fiction or "reality" shows. a lifetime diet of that scared the heck out of me!

@jenney: yikes! i cannot believe you had a doctor with a scalpel telling you to hurry up and that they denied you a breast pump for so long. that is craziness!

@julie: thanks for offering your perspective, too. i'm so thankful that you had skilled hospital care to deliver your sweet brooke (love that name:) safely in an emergency. how scary! doctors are exactly who you want there when an emergency presents, and we are blessed to have that.

homebirth never really appealed to me, and delivering with midwives at a hospital "just in case" was a great fit for us. midwives are trained to see birth as a normal, natural thing (as opposed to a medical procedure, which it isn't, except in extreme circumstances.) but after my last birth, i could understand the draw of homebirth more...

my midwife was LATE arriving (as in i had to hold off pushing for 45 minutes!) even though my birth plan said that i didn't want to be hooked up to monitors and i wanted to be free to walk and labor in different positions, the nurse wouldn't let me leave the bed until my midwife arrived and said it was ok.

the baby was essentially crowning, and the nurse would unhelpfully remind me NOT to push while she continued an insane barrage of questions like "how many piercings do you have? are you wearing two wedding bands? how many earrings? did you bring a purse?" she completely distracted my husband from being my birth partner to answering her unnecessary questions. then she'd repeat (3x!), "i hope that midwife gets here soon. i mean, i could deliver, but THEY DON'T PAY ME EXTRA FOR THAT." helpful, real helpful.

by the time my midwife arrived, the "walking around window" had long since closed. "push!" she told me, before even getting her lab coat on!

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