Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What helped me during my [natural] labor

From the get go, I wanted a natural birth and by natural, I mean no drugs, no interventions, a let-my-body-do-its-thing birth. Here are the things that were helpful in achieving this:

Read- a lot. To get my head in the game, to be all in, I read. If you read my labor & delivery story, you may have noticed I wrote "I had read that..." a few times. I hadn't noticed this until my last entry how many times it occurred, but it's true. I read as much as I could about birth. The process of birth, what happens at each stage during birth, many different scenarios, possible complications...

I remember my first meeting with my midwife. She was (and still is) very straight forward. When I told her I wanted a natural birth she asked me, "How hard are you willing to work?"

Yikes.

That was not what I expected, but it is true. It's called labor for a reason. It is not easy. It is work. Your head needs to be in it or you'll start asking for medicine as soon as you feel the slightest bit scared.

In all my reading that I did, I soaked in as many empowering birth stories as I could. They weren't all easy births, many had set backs or difficulties, but a woman's body is an amazing thing. It was designed to give birth! And then afterwards, it feeds that living thing!! (Even only being a Mama for three weeks, I feel like a superhero- making, carrying, birthing and feeding another human being with my body. That is powerful stuff!)

I read Ina's Spiritual Midwifery and her Guide to Childbirth. I also read Sheila Kitzinger's The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth and The Mama Natural Week-to-week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth, by Genevieve Howland was great, too. (I even brought it to the hospital with me.)

Watch birth stories. I remember telling some ladies at church that I'd been watching births, and my friend Cathy exclaimed, "Oh, honey! Why?!" She couldn't believe it, and to many, that may sound traumatizing.  I wanted to see the reality of birth. I wasn't going to believe what I'd seen on tv or in the movies. It's not all yelling and screaming. Many births I watched didn't look like the Mama was in much pain. (Not saying that she wasn't, but she was probably mentally prepared for the task at hand.) YouTube was a place I looked up birth videos and MamaNatural.com.

Take a birthing class. I was skeptical at first about taking a Lamaze class, but my midwife recommended it. I have to say that it was good for my husband to hear a lot that I had read about. We watched some birth stories in the class and it made my husband really nervous. For me, it just gave me more confidence in what my body was capable of doing. If all these women can get through those contractions, can endure the long labor and all the pain that goes with it, so can I.

Learning how to breathe through the contractions is what I took away from Lamaze. I felt really silly sitting on the floor next to my husband during class, with my eyes closed, practicing breathing, but that's what got me through the first stage of labor. During a contraction, I closed my eyes and did the "candle breathing" as it's called. I didn't focus on anything else, except breathing.

Jump in the tub. The Jacuzzi tub in my labor and delivery room was amazing! Water alleviates back pain, especially if the tub has jets. Turn them on! The warm water is so soothing, too. At my hospital, they were able to continue fetal monitoring while I was in the tub, so I didn't have to get in and out to be checked. If you're giving birth in a hospital, make sure you get to tour the facility. Be familiar with it, so you aren't surprised by something that is or isn't there. 

Surround yourself with people who encourage your choice for a natural birth. As soon as people find out you're pregnant, all the Mamas in your life will tell you their stories and experiences, whether you ask them to or not. To me, one of the most amazing things about child birth is that every single birth is different. Just because your Mom or sister had a long, hard labor, doesn't mean you will. You need to choose people that will help you through the process.

There are so many choices to make during labor: Do I want my water broken or wait for it to happen on its own? Do I want to be medically induced or try some natural induction methods? Do I want an epidural? Do I want to labor in bed, in a tub or walk around? (This is where a birth plan comes in...)

Pick a healthcare provider that is on your side. Whether it is an OB or midwife, you want someone that knows your wishes for birth and won't push interventions on you that you don't want (break your water, give you Pitocin or an epidural, which may lead to a C-section if they don't work the way they're supposed to). My midwife, Kim, was exactly what I wanted and exactly what I needed to get through my labor and delivery.

If it so happens that you need an intervention and you need an unplanned C-section, at the end of it all, a healthy Baby and healthy Mama are all that matter.

I am one of the crazies that wanted to experience child birth the way it is- raw and intense. That's not how everyone feels. Many Mamas opt for an epidural. It is each Mama's choice and birth, however it is, is a beautiful thing. <3

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