Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First Time Birth - In Mom's Own Words

I've been asked a few times to include some birth stories. This mom was quick to write up her story to share with everyone and with her permission I am posting it to my blog. I would like to point out - length of labor is NOT the requirement for having a good birth memory. :) So please enjoy her experience! (And note the photo of the hands was a photo I took - I'm so glad it came out)
Jolyssa's Birth

From the very beginning I wanted a natural child birth. I spent weeks researching my options when I first discovered that I was with child. We moved to Sacramento and were fortunate enough to find a birthing center and a group of doctor's and midwifes that specialized in natural child birth. I had a routine pregnancy, with no complications and was fortunate enough to see a midwife. She was amazing at each appointment, and was always so nice and positive. She never doubted me, and always offered advice that made sense and encouraged me when I doubted myself.

A few months before my delivery, I decided to add a doula to my birth team. A doula is... (Labor/birth support doulas are labor support persons who attend to the emotional and physical comfort needs of laboring women to smooth the labor process. They do not perform clinical tasks such as heart rate checks or vaginal exams, nor do they provide advice. Rather, they use massage, positioning suggestions, etc., to help labor to progress as well as possible. A labor/birth support doula joins a laboring woman either at her home, birth center, or hospital and remains with her until a few hours after the birth. Some doulas also offer several prenatal visits, phone support, and one postpartum meeting to ensure the mother is well informed and supported. The terms of a labor/birth doula's responsibilities are decided between the doula and the family. In addition to emotional, physical and informational support, doulas work as advocates of their client’s wishes and may assist in communicating with medical staff to obtain information for the client to make informed decisions regarding medical procedures.) After interviewing a couple of people, I decided to hire Cyndi. Cyndi, not only made me feel comfortable but she had years of experience that would prove vital for me.

New year's eve started like any other day. We didn't really go anywhere, and decided to stay home that night since I was so far along in my pregnancy. Around 11 pm is when I would say that my early labor started. I noticed some changes in my body but decided to ignore them because if it was labor, I knew that it would take days for it to kick in.

On New year's day, we lounged around the apartment. Went to dinner and watched a movie. I kept feeling contractions but nothing that would have killed me, or that I couldnt ignore. They went on all day and were starting to get consistent. But the movie, took my mind off of them and I really didnt see the point in paying attention. That night I slept well and didnt mind it.

January 2nd- Adrian went to work, and I woke up with pain. It was a nagging pain but nothing unbearable. I emailed Cyndi and described what I was feeling, she confirmed that she believed was early labor. I decided just to relax that day and not tell Adrian because he would freak out. The contractions at this time were about 8-9 minutes apart but again were not unbearable or painful. Before bed, I emailed Cyndi again, and told her that I would update her if anything changed thru the night. The pain did get harder to ignore but I slept well until 4-5 am. When I woke up with stronger pains and could just not sleep anymore

January 3rd- I awoke at 4-5 am with contractions that I could no longer sleep thru. At this time they were 6-7 minutes apart. I emailed Cyndi and she suggested warm baths, walks and keeping busy. We did all of them but soon the contractions started coming 5 minutes apart.... still not completely unbearable or painful. At this point, I told Adrian that I wanted a turkey wrap from Costco, so we drove there and this is when things got interesting. Contractions started to come every 4-5 minutes apart. I got my turkey wrap and we came home... I called the birthing center and described what was happening and my midwife instructed me to stay home until my contractions were 3 minutes apart lasting a minute for an hour. I agree, thinking again, that I was in very early labor.

Around 4pm, I started to get more uncomfortable and contractions started to come stronger. Now they were about 3 minutes apart, we decided to wait the hour and thats when I finally agree with Adrian that it was time to go. On the way to the birthing center, my contractions seemed to slow down. I got worried because I thought that they were gonna send me home with news that I was only 1-2 cm dialated.

We arrived at the birthing center at 5:20 on January 3, 2010. The admitting nurse put me on a fetal heart monitor and we were supposed to have Jolyssa monitored for 30 minutes to check her heart rate and was also connected to a monitor that was measuring my contractions. Jolyssa decided not to cooperate and what was supposed to be a 30 minute monitoring procedure turned into 2 hours. Finally after 2 hours, I got checked and little did I know.

At 7 almost 8pm I was told by the first Labor and Delivery nurse "This cant be, there is no way this is true."
Me: "What?"
Nurse: "I must be wrong, because from what I see, you are 9cm dialated. I need to have someone verify what I see, because there is no way that you can be laughing and cracking jokes and be this far along in your labor."

At this point my midwife came and verified that I was in fact 9cm dilated and that I would be staying. At that point we called our doula, who arrived shortly and were placed in a delivery room with a birthing tub. I was shocked and happy. Everyone was amazed at my high treshold for pain.

The birthing tub was the most amazing thing during my labor. It soothed me, and helped me manage the last stretch of my birth. Unfortunately, when my membranes ruptured, we discovered that Jolyssa had passed meconium in her amniotic fluid, and was told I would have to get out of the tub to deliver her. I was sadden but understood the importance of having to get out.

As I was getting ready for the pushing stage of my labor, I got out of tub. I can honestly say that up to this point, labor was a piece of cake. The pushing, was the most challenging. At this point, it was almost 3am on January 4, 2010. I had been in labor since December 31, 2009 or so and I was exhausted! Adrian had been exhausted too, he even fell asleep during different points in my labor. I swear I wanted to kill him when I saw him sitting there asleep while I was in pain! lol, but having Cyndi there helped me get thru those times. She was a vital part of this success story, I don't know where I would have been without her help. She was there the whole time, making me and Adrian laugh. Walking me thru some of the difficult contractions and helping Adrian to help me.

The Labor and Delivery nurse, Loise, was amazing but like everything else she was not in the room with me the whole time. She would come in and out to check up on me but she would have to leave. This is where Cyndi definitely helped. She was there the whole time and even allowed for breaks for Adrian.

After 2 hours of pushing, I began to panic. I thought that if I didn't make progress soon, someone would show up with interventions such as a C-section. But that was not the case, the midwife, the labor and delivery nurse and my doula all helped me thru the last part of my labor... and an hour later... I gave birth to Jolyssa at 5:08 am on January 4, 2010.

They whisked her away to the warming table where the nurses worked to clear the meconium from her air passage ways and as soon as she was clear they placed her on my belly. I have never seen a more beautiful sight in my life. I could just not believe how beautiful she was and how amazing this whole process was!!!! I was fortunate enough to give my daughter the gift of a medication free birth. I felt a sense of empowerment as a woman and confident as a new mother. The joy I feel in my heart cannot be described in words!

I owe it all to my wonderful birth team!

Adrian- who despite falling asleep (uummm 3 times) was there for me thru the whole process and who I love to death, without you, I dont know where I would be Love. :)

Jessica- Our wonderful midwife! She was so sweet and understanding, never ever pushy. She respected my wishes down to the letter, and gave me sense of empowerment by letting things progress at their own rate.

Cyndi- Amazing, Amazing doula. I dont know where I would be without her. She walked me thru a cloud of pain and made it seem like I did it alone. Thank you so much for being there for me!!!

Loise- Amazing Labor and Delivery nurse, I am amazed at how professional and understanding she was. All L&D nurses are angels!!!

Next baby, I am having at home!! LOL

Labor of love... I got to use the birthing tub for most of my labor, if you ever decide to have a baby... I highly recommend a water birth! It is amazing!!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I had a client who had this quality - quiet confidence.  She knew herself and her baby and had confidence in the directions she wanted to go in labor.  So even though her doctor wanted to do an exam or break her water, the mom held firm to what seemed right to her.  These were not medical issue discussions, but more pushing the time allowed to labor normally.  This couple were so well suited to supporting each other and moved through their labor at their own pace.  It was interesting to watch the discussion between staff and this mom - she just held her ground for what felt right to her - of course, with no medical concerns being involved.  It didn't become a heated argument or challenging the doctor's medical ability, just a firm stand on issues that were important to this mom, in a quietly confident voice.

Is that ability possible for any mom - I think yes.  But it has to start in pregnancy, really getting to know yourself and your baby.  Trusting your instincts even if you have never labored before - you are still the best person to know your child. Testing out your voice at your doctor's visits - the sky won't fall in on you if you choose not to have a routine exam--if there is no medical reason for it.

When facing labor, many moms ask "will they let me" whether it comes to positions, clothing, music, lighting, etc.  Remember, you are a part of the decision making process.  Your voice is still valuable.  It still matters how you feel - what you think.  So a better way to ask these questions is:  "would this enhance my birth, is there a benefit to the lighting being low, playing music I like, using my own clothing, standing instead of laying down".  If there is a medical reason this is not to your benefit, the staff will be happy to explain it to you and you can re-evaluate your choices.

Be quietly confident and your birth will feel more like your own journey, one that you contributed your voice to accomplishing.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


This post addresses that age old question (well decades old question), when does a family decide it is time to head to the hospital in labor?  Of course, this assumes you are not having a home birth. (With my own two homebirths, it was my midwives that had to juggle this question - I had no worries about when to go - I was there!)

If it is your first birth, the bigger issue will be, how do you stay home as long as possible?  A first labor can many times be a marathon, not a sprint. So trying to just ignore labor for the early part is essential.  Do you have a drawer that needs to be cleaned?  A list of thank you notes from baby showers?  Some project on your computer?  Or just an old movie you have been wanting to see.

If it's daytime, take a lovely walk - if it is inclement weather, make it a walk through the mall.  Or go to the grocery store to get the ingredients for a nice dinner.  How about making muffins or cookies for the hospital staff later? Think outside the box and be creative about the use of your time.

Once the contractions take over your focus, then you will need to concern yourself with position changes and relaxation - but that is usually many hours into the process.  Take as many naps as possible during this "down" time.

So what are you looking for to head to the hospital?  There is no one answer. And you have to factor in any medical reasons to go in earlier.  If this is a normal progressive labor with no medical issues, you might want to wait until 3-l-l which means 3 minute apart contractions, lasting at least a minute each for an hour.  That needs to be combined with feelings of nausea, shakiness, lots of bathroom needs, and a hot/cold temperature change.

Another reason to head in is that the mom doesn't feel safe.  Something in her instincts says that she needs to get herself or her baby assessed.  Then head in with a view that once you are reassured, you will happily head home to continue your labor.

If you are bleeding excessively, you need to get medical attention.

There are a few other reasons to go - but if you can change your thinking to your home being your "labor room" and the hospital being your "delivery room", your stay in the hospital will be lessened.  If you are still needing to talk to someone about this - add a doula to your birth team~