Somehow it’s already been a month since I last posted and it’s already time for another Let’s Be Honest Mamas blog post! I have a few more posts to share before baby Teddy arrives but it’s amazing how intense that third trimester fatigue can be, especially at the end! I think it’s worse this time around since I have a toddler 😉
I’m so excited for this month’s topic! I love talking about labor & delivery. And it’s something I get to do very soon! (I’m already 37 weeks pregnant!) Kacie from elementsofellis.com has been heading up this fun collaboration where a handful of us mom bloggers blog about the same topic and share each others’ blog posts. I’ve always loved the sense of community it brings and I love reading other people’s responses to the questions. It helps bring a sense of solidarity and also a different perspective. We’ve blogged about sleep, technology with kids, postpartum, and tips for dealing with sick kids/flu season, just to name a few!
- Did you have a birth plan? If so, what was it. Did your labor go as planned? I did! I wrote up a birth plan and armed myself with as much knowledge as I could about pregnancy, labor and delivery. I share a few books below that really helped me feel well informed and that offered unbiased information. It helped me decide what I wanted and didn’t want during labor & delivery, as well as newborn care immediately following birth (such as cord clamping, eye ointment, vitamin K shot, etc). I pretty much planned an unmedicated, natural delivery in a hospital and I got it! I labored at home for as long as I could, we got to the hospital, I labored a bit more and then delivered my baby! It was amazing and I loved it!
- Share your thoughts on a natural birth vs. a medicated birth vs. a c-section. I had an absolutely wonderful unmedicated birth and I think my experience just fueled my passion for the subject. I wish more women felt excited about labor & delivery and didn’t fear it as much. Fear makes us tense up and that causes more pain and prevents our bodies from doing what they do best! It’s really fascinating to learn about the cascade of hormonal events that occurs with spontaneous labor. Hormones get a bad rap; in spontaneous labor, hormones are your best friends! They provide analgesic effects and although I’d describe labor as hard work, I never thought it was painful. I think if we knew more about our bodies and their capabilities, we’d be less fearful of birth. I think it’s also helpful to hear positive birth experiences. For some reason, women love to share their horror stories with others. Honestly, just tune them out. I would find a reason to walk away real quick when coworkers started to share their horrible birth stories with me and it was my first pregnancy! I think you have to be proactive about what you allow yourself to hear and read. If you have any fears regarding labor and delivery, form a positive affirmation specific to that fear and repeat it over and over to yourself in your mind. Speak it aloud, too. Deep seated fears can stall labor and it’s amazing to see the power our words and our thoughts have over our bodies during labor!
- Briefly share your birth story/stories. For a lengthy, possibly too detailed version, you can read Charley’s birth story 😉 But the short version is that I woke up the day after his due date and noticed I was having Braxton Hicks contractions every thirty minutes. It continued the whole day. Every thirty minutes! I just took note of them and did a lot of walking and Target trips with my mom 😉 I was excited and I asked her to take a photo of me because I felt like it was going to be my last bump photo. Around 7:30/8 pm the contractions (I love referring to them as rushes instead… they really are like a rush of energy that grows and swells like a wave and then dissipates) got stronger. I texted my doula and she told me to lay down and rest if I could. I couldn’t! Laying down isn’t an option at this point and I do a lot of swaying and deep breathing. I pretty much played my meditation playlist from then on (Native American flute music — extremely relaxing!). I was timing my rushes on my phone, then had to pass that off to Ben when I couldn’t anymore. My doula arrived, after a couple rushes my water broke and we headed to the hospital. The car ride was rough. It’s basically really hard to sit or lay down during labor!! I got checked in, labored in a triage room for about an hour (went from a 5-10 cm dilation in that time frame!) and then they hurriedly rushed me off to a delivery room. I was feeling super “pushy” and I guess they weren’t expecting me to dilate that fast. I climbed onto the bed on my hands and knees and pushed for about 30 minutes and then sweet Charley was born! No tears, no interventions, just pure bliss! I stayed in the hands and knees position because it felt good, so just follow your body’s instincts. Later I was reflecting on my birth experience and realized that it was a great position for pushing since it increase the pelvic outlet (aka more room for baby to move down and out!). I also just listened to my body and pushed when I felt the urge. Your uterus is contracting and pushing your baby out, so you don’t have to do too much. Work with your body, not against it! It was glorious and magical and intense. Such an empowering and beautiful experience.
- What advice would you give an expectant mother in regards to child birth? First off, read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth! Read it at least once. I’ve already read it three times this pregnancy. It’s incredibly empowering and I think it’s powerful because Ina May’s main desire or takeaway for her readers is to know that their body isn’t a lemon. Second, be very protective and mindful of what information you receive from others. As I mentioned above, I literally walked away from people who were commiserating about their horrible labors. Third, hire a doula. This was probably one of the best things I did! I loved her so much I’m using her again with this second pregnancy.
- Are there any books or classes you would recommend to an expectant mother? Yes! Like I just mentioned, get yourself a copy of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Also, I really appreciated reading a couple short and informative books called “Birth Book #1” and “Birth Book #2.” I’ve really appreciated my prenatal yoga class this time around. I practiced yoga with my first pregnancy but it’s just a little harder to carve out the time and space to do it with a toddler! I also love the community. And I’ve gained some great insight into things that I can do to help support my abdominal muscles after delivery and the most valuable exercise I learned has been one I can do now to ward off and heal diastasis recti. I found out I had it before getting pregnant but wasn’t able to close the separation and then I realized I was pregnant! I’d suggest getting a binder or wrap. I got this one this time around and may switch to a corset later when my belly has shrunk more. I didn’t with my first and I so wish I had. It seemed like an extra to me, but I’ve discovered it’s actually very important for our health and the support of our postpartum bodies. It helps protect our core, our back, and encourages our abdominals to come back together. It’s not just cosmetic, I promise!
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Now go check out these other wonderful mamas and read what they have to say about labor & delivery! I’d also love to hear if you’re a first time expecting mom or if you’ve already given birth, how your experiences have been! Please share and let’s encourage one another! There’s too much to fit into one blog post that I want to say, so I hope to share more that may encourage you after Teddy’s birth! We’re going different route this time and using a midwife and delivery in a birth center. I’m getting excited and really looking forward to it!