When Ryan was born over 2 and half years ago, I thought I new a lot about labor and delivery and how to have a healthy pregnancy. I took the childbirth classes, asked the doctors lots of questions, researched all my questions online, read the breastfeeding books, you get the point. But what I have learned and the people I have met over the past 2 years has taught me soooooooooooo much about whats really going on. I consider myself lucky to work in a place where I am surrounded by amazing, smart, professional, and knowledgeable birth experts. I have decided that even though I had a pretty good labor with Ryan (all things considered), I want this birth to be different. Here is my recap on how things went with Ryan, my new goals, and what I am doing to prepare myself!
Without re-telling my birth story, the short version is this...
My water broke at 3:30 am when I was just over 38 weeks pregnant. Almost immediately I started with contractions about 4 minutes apart. We left for the hospital at 4:30 am. From 5 am- about 9:30 my labor progressed pretty normally. Regular contractions, progressed from 1 cm dilated to about 6 cm in those 4 hours, and I was managing the pain. Of course as the contractions got closer together and stronger, the pain increased... but nothing abnormal to labor.
At that point the nurses asked me again if I wanted an epidural. I felt like I didn't truly NEED it at that time (I have a pretty good pain tolerance), but I wasn't sure if I could get through the next part without it. She then told me I could get it then or I would have to wait a long time. There was only 1 anesthesiologist working and he was about to go into surgery. I felt like she gave me a now or never offer. So I wimped out and got the epidural. Without knowing ahead of time, they also gave me some Pitocin through my IV along with the epidural shot.
This is when things got interesting. Since epidurals tend to slow down labor, they normally give the Pitocin along with it to keep things moving along (I know, that's crazy... the more interventions the more chance for troubles... but more on that in a minute). This process caused two issues for me. First the Pitocin made things move along very quickly... too quickly. I went from 6 cm dilated to ready to push in about 30 minutes. It got very intense very quickly. Second issue was that the epidural didn't 100% work for me. I still felt all of the pain on my right side, I could still move my legs, it didn't really offer any relief.
After these two drugs, I was pretty much ready to push... the problem was my VaJayJay was not quite ready because it didn't have time to prepare considering how fast things changed. I did a few rounds of normal pushing, which lead to considerable tearing. At that point Ryan's heart rate started to drop and the doctor got very nervous when we couldn't get it back up to normal. So it became an emergency situation. They gave me an episiotomy on top of the tearing I already had, and then used the vacuum to help deliver Ryan. At 11:17am he was born.
It took about 45 minutes of stitches, I didn't get skin to skin time with Ryan, and before I knew it I had a room full of visitors. Its all a blur, but the naive me at the time thought this was all normal/standard procedure. And of course, I was super happy to have a healthy baby in my arms.
Why I want something different...
What I have since learned about inductions, Pitocin, epidurals, assisted deliveries, C-sections, etc. is that as soon as you do anything at all to interfere with the normal birth process, you are much more likely to cause distress to mom and/or baby which will then lead to even more interventions. AND all of these interventions end up having lasting effects on mom and/or baby.
For example... I was proceeding with labor totally normally until I got the epidural...
-Once I got the epidural they thought things would slow down so they gave me Pitocin
-The Pitocin then made things speed up, but much faster than my body and the baby was ready for
-Because things moved so fast, Ryan wasn't in the right position to be pushed out (leading to the cord being wrapped around his neck and him going into distress with the heart rate)
-Also because it moved so fast, my lady areas were not prepared to push out a baby... leading to lots of tearing and an episiotomy
-Then because he was in distress they needed to use the vacuum
-The vacuum ultimately caused more damage and pain to my lady parts and ultimately caused neck and muscle issues for Ryan
-Once he was finally born, because I had so much tearing and the episiotomy I needed to be worked on for at least another 45 minutes
-Also because Ryan's birth needed intervention he needed to be with the doctors immediately for extra help/evaluation
-Because I needed to be stitched for so long and Ryan needed to be with the doctors, I didn't get to hold him in my arms, attempt to nurse, or do skin to skin time during the first hour (which is the most critical time to bond and get nursing off to a good start).
It is now very clear to me that the way Ryan was born definitely influenced my struggles to nurse, his mouth/jaw/latch issues, and my very long healing process.
Unfortunately, this is a common story. Women are induced all of the time for many different reasons. These inductions interfere with the normal process of labor and delivery, and complications almost always arise. Because of these complications, you almost always end up with an episiotomy or an assisted delivery, or severe tearing, or a C-section. The baby very often goes into distress because of the addition of all of the drugs and then of course the doctors have to step in to help the baby.
Don't get me wrong, I totally agree with intervening with there is truly an emergency... do anything to keep mom and baby safe. I just feel like most of these issues could be avoided to begin with if we weren't so quick to interfere with natural labor. If I did not get the epidural, leading to the Pitocin, I am sure I would have continued to labor normally... suffered through the pain and discomfort, but could have delivered Ryan without all of the other complications.
My attempt at a natural deliver...
This leads me to why it is important for me to try for a more natural delivery. I have NO idea what will really happen when the day comes. So many things can go wrong or I could totally wimp out and start screaming for the drugs. But because of what I now know about the importance of natural delivery, the long term effects on the mom and baby, the importance of skin to skin bonding time immediately after delivery, the impact on post pardum depression, etc etc ( I could write a whole separate post on the long term effects of assisted deliveries and C-sections on the health of moms and babies, but I'll save that for another time. It is definitely not as "side effect free" as people have been lead to believe).... I am really determined to be strong and to deliver this baby as close to naturally as I can! Honestly, its a scary thought, but it is super important to me.
How I am preparing...
The biggest thing I am doing differently is with my childbirth preparation. With Ryan, I just took classes on birth and standard deliveries. This time I am doing research and taking classes that are specifically geared towards a natural delivery. I have been listening to webinars and interviews of midwives, doulas, OB's that all specialize in preparing for a natural birth. I read blogs from moms that have had natural labors. The information is priceless (thanks Dr. Rob for the connections to all of this information).
We are also working with a Doula and taking her Hypnobirthing class. I have worked with Nicole over the past 2 years through the chiropractor, and we have become friends. This connection has helped because of course I trust her, but she is also giving me a great discounted price for both her doula and hynobirthing services. Its now something we can afford and I feel its definitely worth it. Having a support person in the room during labor, helping me through the hard parts and keeping me calm and focused will be a huge help. Tonight is our first hynobirthing class, so I will be able to explain in better after we do it... but my understanding is that it is a class based on teaching expectant parents how to stay calm and relaxed, the best birthing positions for an optimal labor, and what to really expect/how to get through all of the hard parts. She will work with me to develop a birth plan, answer my questions, and give me things to do before labor to prepare my body.
Lastly, things are different this time because I am being more proactive. I still exercise and stretch a lot. I do my kegels every day:) I get adjusted weekly. I am doing perineal massage to help avoid tearing/episiotomy. And soon I will be doing whatever Nicole recommends at the hypnobirthing class.
Again, we will see... know one can predict how their labor will progress, but I have a much clearer picture of what I can control when it happens. I will post all about the outcome when it happens!