Friday, December 18, 2009

Preparing for Birth

I've been thinking a lot about childbirth. Big shock, considering I'm pregnant and all. Last time, my birth didn't quite go as I had hoped, although it was still wonderful even though I was in labor for almost three days, two of those unmedicated and ended up unable to walk for a week! But even though it wasn't quite what we had in mind, the fact that we studied and prepared really made it a wonderful experience and one I am more than happy to repeat even if it's as tough as it was last time (although, I'll take one of those super easy 4 hour labor, 5 minute push dealies too!) I learned so much about myself, my toughness, how strong my relationship is with mrp. It was the best almost three days of my life. It hurt like a mother and was very very frustrating at times, but nevertheless it was fun in a strange way!

Anyway, I wanted to share a few things that made the experience so good (despite being so abnormally challenging).

First, we took a 12 week Bradley Method child birth class. It was definitely a big time commitment, but it was so worth it. Both mrp and I learned everything about labor and delivery. The Bradley Method is particularly great for athletes because it treats labor and delivery as an athletic event with the dad as the coach! Mrp was a little tentative about birth before the class--we always figured he's be an above the waste dad--but after the classes he was more gung-ho and into childbirth than I was and was right in there helping me and the midwife when the time came. He was incredibly supportive and experienced all of the birth right along with me. It was an amazing thing and one we highly recommend. But seriously, I can't tell you how important it is to know as much as you can about what is normal during labor and delivery. There are things you can do to help you avoid a c-section, that you're more likely able to breastfeed, or whatever else is important to you. The more you know, the more empowered you are. Plus, it's just really interesting to learn about this most amazing of human processes.

The next thing we did that made a huge difference is we hired a doula. Our doula just happened to be our Bradley instructor. She was awesome and totally helped us. It was really important to us to try to have a natural childbirth and to avoid a c-section at the very least. I am certain after my crazy labor I would have ended up with a c-section without her. She helped us know when what was happening was normal and when it wasn't. She helped us know when we could negotiate with the doctors and when we couldn't. Plus, she helped mrp help me--it helped him be confident in how to help me and also to know when I was just uncomfortable and yelling or really mad. Heh! It's hard to know sometimes! It was really invaluable to have her. We will definitely be using her again. E-mail if you want a referral!

Finally we made a birth plan. We knew what we wanted. Like I said, we wanted a natural, unmedicated birth if possible. We wanted to breastfeed exclusively if possible. There were other more specific things we wanted too and we wrote them all in a plan. Here is a reproduction of our birth plan with things that didn't go as hoped in the parentheticals:

We are Salty and Mrp and we are very excited to welcome our first baby into the world. Our hope is that we can put our Bradley training to use and experience a natural childbirth. However, the health and safety of both baby and mom are our top priorities and we are open to doing whatever is necessary to preserve both.

Priorities and Preferences

(: Healthy and happy mom and baby :)

Labor and Delivery

Prefer vaginal birth and no episiotomy--avoid all cutting if possible (got cut. UGH!)
Prefer to labor without pain meds--please do not offer, we will ask if we want them. (We asked)
Prefer to stay mobile and active throughout labor (HAd to be chained to monitor more of the time than I wanted)
Prefer mother-directed pushing
Prefer heplock to iv for mobility (Was way dehydrated so had an iv).
Prefer periodic external fetal monitoring (cordless if available) and would like to avoid internal monitoring if at all possible (had it for a brief time, after got the epidural)


Prefer to nurse baby immediately after birth (Nursed about 45 minutes after birth, but had no problems at all).
Prefer for dad to cut cord AFTER it stops pulsing (Mrp couldn't cut the cord because poor peanut was in the care of the NICU peds immediately after birth).
Prefer to donate cord blood to public bank if possible (not possible on Friday afternoon--lame)
Prefer to delay eye ointment and vitamin K for at least an hour after birth
Prefer NO Hep B vaccine be administered to baby at this time
Prefer to room-in with baby and dad.
Prefer our son NOT be circumcised.

Contingency Plans

We understand that procedures we would not prefer may become medically necessary. If the need arises, please allow us time to consider our options and ask questions before performing a non-preferred procedure.


Prefer dad be present if possible
Prefer mom is conscious throughout
Prefer to nurse baby immediately after birth

Anyway, I just wanted to share what worked for us. I feel really strongly that we need to educate ourselves and empower ourselves to get the birth experience we want. That doesn't mean we all have to want a natural childbirth or anything like that, but if you have something you prefer out of the experience it's best to understand the process and go into it with your eyes as wide-open as possible. This time I really hope I get a nice, short labor and an unmedicated quick delivery. The odds are that this one will be much easier than the first, which is pretty much the standard for second pregnancies. But, if it isn't easier I'll deal again!


Mama Simmons said...

I just read your original birth story and OHMYGOD. Let's hope this one isn't sunny side up, huh? I'm curious about how your mom did with you... My theory is that it's genetic- my mom (and both her sisters) had very quick "easy" labors... And I did too. Moana popped out so fast the doc didn't even have time to get in the room. The nurses were telling me not to push and I swear I was trying not to but there was just no holding her in. I almost felt like I got cheated out of the pushing part bc she just came out all on her own. Anyway, I do think there's got to be a genetic link to it somehow since all the women in my family have the same story (um, my aunt tells the story of how she was crowning in the elevator on the way to L&D!!)
sounds like you've got a good plan though so hope it's easier this time!!

Susan said...

Hi Salty. I am a blog lurker-I started reading your blog about your running comeback as inspiration. I ran my best marathon (nothing compared to your times but a 3:18) and then found out I was pregnant with my third baby. My little girl was born in September. My first child- a son- was born by c-section. We had a very similar story to yours but no sold birth plan. I think the major problem was that he was induced (had gone 41 weeks as first babies often do) and just wasn't ready. My second son came by VBAC. Not induced (not allowed:) and all was well. Pushing was tough (2 hours), but I remember a nurse said that any subsequent baby would be much easier now that a "path had cleared." It was an interesting metaphor, but at the time thought baby having was done. Still a strange way to put it, but I have to say she was right. My daughter was almost a pound bigger than my second son, and the same size as the first son I was unable to deliver. Pushing wasn't easy, but I knew how and it only took 20 min. this time.

Best of luck to you and keep running. I am so impressed. Despite reading your blog and all my best intentions, I gave up running for eating at month 6 and now I have a long journey back. But it's fun and it's obviously worth it.

DR said...

I do agree there is some family history (genetics) to birthing. But almost always the second one will come out quicker (given no previous uterine damage and a healthy pregnancy)...just because your body has paved the road before so to speak.

The first birth depends on both your anatomy and your baby' size. But it's almost a guarantee that the second one will come out faster, easier. "slithered out" is the term I heard one mom use for the birth of her second one, even though the second baby was bigger!

I like your birthing plan! Very thoughtful. I am an adult physician (and hence was too busy in my last year of residency studying for exams while pregnant)to commit to any labour classes. Big mistake! I was time for sure I want my baby BFing ASAP!!! My daughter was asleep and exhausted four hours after I was finally cleaned up and she had such problems latching after that...sigh. What a production! I was in shock too because I did not know that some babies don't know "how" to BF. Who knows, it may have been the same outcome either way but next time (I hope) I want my baby right away...

Trisaratops said...

I hear ya, sister. I learned lots the first time around that I'm hoping to apply to this bean. My mom had both my brother and I with nuthin', and I think she's a total rockstar for it. I was induced and really didn't know any better. I was just so flat out scared. This time, I feel much more empowered and knowledgeable about my options, and am obviously most concerned with my baby's health followed by my own, but am hoping to avoid an induction, pitocin at all costs, and a C-section. Here's hoping 2nd deliveries go more smoothly...although it sounds like yours definitely took the cake on mine! Yikes! Good thing they're so doggone cute, though, right? :) Kind of makes you forget all the stuff you have to do to get them here.

Katie said...

Hi Salty--I feel like you wrote this post just for me! I'm due 10 days before you and starting to think about what I/we need to do to get ready for birth.

I like what I've read about the Bradley method--my husband was a bit surprised about the time commitment. I am researching it a bit more to see what our local options are.

Were you guys always sure you wanted to use a doula? The hubs doesn't think he'd have much of a role in the delivery room if we had a doula and I just don't know enough about it to argue otherwise.

Thanks for the post!

The Salty One said...

Katie--yeah, the time commitment was the hardest part of the Bradley class, but on the other side we can safely say it was well worth it. We made good friends there too--a great place to meet other parents and playmates for your baby!

As for the doula, I was pretty hell bent on wanting a natural childbirth and my best friend is a doula in a different state. So, I knew I wanted one. Mrp was not as into it until he learned about birth at the Bradley classes. Honestly, I think mrp had more to do because we had a doula--she helped him be more confident in helping and getting right in there and also told him thing he could do to help. I think she was more help to him than me in a lot of ways! It's hard to understand in theory how great it is--but trust me, it's worth it!! We only do this a couple, maybe a few times in our life. Might as well make it the best you can! That's my opinion anyway :)