Pain... it is what most women fear about childbirth. When making decisions about one's birth experience, the question often arises, "How will I handle the pain?" Fear has great bearing on the sensation of pain. Grantly Dick-Read, author of Childbirth Without Fear, hypothesized that when one is fearful one tenses her body and, thus, the sensation of pain increases. This is known as the Fear-Tension-Pain Cycle. It would seem logical, then, that to overcome the fear of pain, we must change the way we perceive it.
Consider this: In every other instance that we experience pain, its purpose is to alert us to harm or the possibility that something is wrong within our bodies. Pain can be a sign of an infection or other medical condition. It may be a response to touching a hot surface or a sharp object. Pain in childbirth, however, is due to the natural process of bringing life into this world.
Therefore, when preparing for giving birth, one must, in essence, re-tune the mind and body to embrace the sensations of labor. Renowned midwife, Ina May Gaskin, uses the term "rushes" to describe contractions and HypnoBirthing uses the term "pressure waves." Imagine for a moment, the sights, sounds and feelings of the ocean waves. They gradually build then recede. Practicing imagery and altering the language surrounding the labor process are just two useful tools in re-framing one's thoughts about birthing.
Your care provider, childbirth educator and doula can help you discover more ways to prepare your mind and body to work together in labor. Remember, each rush brings you closer to embracing your beautiful baby!
Monday, January 31, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Zoe’s Birth Story
On November 9th I was sent for an ultrasound to see how baby Zoe was doing since my belly was measuring small. This ultrasound was called a biophysical profile ultrasound; it tested the baby on 5 different things to see how she was doing. According to the ultrasound Zoe scored a 10/10. This was great news.
On November 15th my doctor called me at home and said “How does November 16th sound as a birth day?” I half laughed to this and said “Sounds great to me.” He then went on to tell me that after reviewing my ultrasound and talking it over with the radiologist and another doctor in Medicine Hat they decided it would be best for Zoe to be born as soon as possible. They found the umbilical cord was restricting the blood flow to her and her abdomen had actually shrunk since our last ultrasound. This concerned me but I was so excited to know that I would soon have my baby in my arms. He told me I would need to be admitted into the Medicine Hat hospital by 4:00pm that day and my induction would start on the 16th. Although an induction was not in my birth plan and it was something I really wanted to avoid my instinct told me that it would be better for my daughter to come if she was no longer striving inside of me.
David, my husband, and I packed our bags, told our parents what was going on and headed to Medicine Hat. My mom followed us to Medicine Hat. Once admitted they monitored Zoe for two hours. They said she was doing great and the doctor would be in to see me in a bit. At about 6:00pm the doctor came into the room and checked me for any signs of dilation or effacement. She said I was 0cm dilated and 0% effaced. She also said my pelvis area would only allow her to get two fingers in. She then proceeded to tell me that chances of me having a c-section were very high because my pelvis area was so small and also because I needed to be induced. As the words came out of her mouth a lump in my throat formed. I was devastated about this because I had planned for a natural vaginal birth and was not yet willing to have a c-section. I looked at my husband and then turned to my doctor and told her I would still like to try a vaginal birth. She then said that if baby showed any signs of stress that I would be sent for an emergency c-section right away. I was okay with the fact that if my baby was under stress I would have a c-section. I wanted to do what was best for my baby.
She then told me she was going to insert cervidil to start the induction process. Chances of the cervidil ripening my cervix and starting dilation were only 10% so it would probably take a couple days for anything to start happening. I went to sleep that night but tossed and turned all night. At about 4:00am I could no longer sleep because I was having pains every 2-3 minutes; which I later realized were contractions. The pain was not too bad but there was no way I could sleep or talk through them. I let David continue to sleep since he didn’t actually fall asleep until about 2:00am. At 4:30am my cervidil fell out so I called my nurse in. She said we would have to wait for the doctor to come in but she said chances were the doctor would just insert more cervidil.
At 6:30am my doctor and a resident came in to check how I was doing. They said they would see if the cervidil did anything but they doubted it. The doctors checked me and found I was now 100% effaced and 3cm dilated. This was exciting for me! They told me that we would start pitocin later that afternoon so at this time I was free to labor throughout the hospital.
David, my mom, and I walked through the hospital and I stopped every 2-3 minutes when a contraction came. My contractions were getting more intense and I really needed to focus on breathing. David was amazing at keeping me calm while my mom was there to support us both whenever we needed her. During each contraction I would stop and lean on David as he held me. I focused on breathing until the contraction passed.
At about 10:30am my nurse came to my room and told me she was transferring me to the delivery room and she would start the pitocin. Since my chances of having a c-section were high and I was being put on pitocin they would be monitoring the baby during my labor and delivery. Brandi went over my birth plan and knew I wanted to move during labor but this was not possible since Zoe needed to be monitored. Although I was disappointed that my labor and delivery wasn’t going to go exactly as I planned Brandi, David, and my mom all did a great job at helping me through each contraction. Brandi also assured me that we would do as many position changes as I wanted and she would help me make this possible.
Once I was hooked up to pitocin and they were monitoring Zoe I sat upright in the bed. David and my mom put cold cloths on my head between contractions and on my ears. David helped me breathe through each contraction and told me what a great job I was doing. My mom stood behind David passing him cloths to put on my head and also kept telling me how great I was doing. My contractions started getting more and more intense. As each contraction came I focused on the contraction. I visualized my pelvis widening so my baby could fit through. Each contraction brought a "good pain". A pain with a purpose. Although the break between each contraction was nice I was waiting for the next one to begin, knowing that each contraction meant I was closer to meeting my baby girl. Brandi noticed my contractions getting closer and closer together and getting more intense so she asked if she could check me for dilation. I agreed to this hoping that it would be good news. She said I was at about 6-7cm dilated. I looked at David and said “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” He told me I was doing amazing and that I was strong and I could do this. He told me to get through a couple more contractions and I would be at 10cm. His encouragement is what got me through. The pain in my back was intense and seemed to be getting worse. My back ached even between contractions. Zoe stayed posterior throughout the labour which caused this severe back pressure.
At 2:20pm I told my nurse that I had to go to the bathroom. She said that it was probably my baby’s head causing me to feel that way and that she was going to check me again for dilation because chances were I was almost fully dilated if I felt the need to have a bowel movement. Brandi checked and said I was at 9cm almost 10 and during my next contractions she was going to make me 10cm. At 2:25pm she announced I was now at 10cm and I could start pushing on my next contraction. The pain at this point was intense but I felt great knowing I had made it to 10cm without any pain medication. This was the one thing that was in my birth plan that I had complete control over. During my next contraction she told me to pull my knees towards my chest and push down into my bottom as if I was going to the bathroom. She coached me through my first contraction telling me how to push and also telling me to get three good pushes during each contraction. After a couple contractions and pushes she yelled out the door and told another nurse to call the doctor. I got to a point where I could no longer feel my contractions so I just let my body take over. I pushed whenever I felt the need to. Sometimes three pushes at a time and sometimes four. My body would start pushing on its own; it was as if I didn’t have a choice. The doctor arrived and told me she wanted each push to be at least 10seconds long. David counted to 10 for me during each push. I could feel Dr. Hoffman stretching my perenium. This bothered me so I tried to block the feeling out of my head. She was also telling a resident doctor what she was doing every time she did something. There voices is something I tried to block out during each contraction. After one of my pushes I remember saying “Oh no I’m peeing.” This was devastating to me. Brandi then told me not to worry that I wasn’t peeing it was my water breaking. I was relieved to hear this; the last thing I wanted to do is pee on my doctor. During labour these things just came out of my mouth, I didn’t even think before I talked.
Brandi said to me during a push that I needed to keep pushing and hard because she could see my baby’s hair. I remember thinking to my self “Thank god I’m almost done.” David later mentioned that he did not believe Brandi when she said this so he looked him self and was shocked to see our baby’s hair. David also said to me “I see her hair hun” with a smile on his face. At one point Brandi asked me if I wanted to see my baby coming out. I remember just saying no and keeping my eyes shut during this time. The pain was intense and I had to stay focused. The doctor said to me “Amanda is it okay if I give you a small episiotomy? You’re ripping a lot and it will make it easier.” I told her to go ahead but this was also something that I did not want. But at that point I just wanted what ever would make it easier for me and my baby.
At 3:09pm my baby girl was put on my chest. I was crying with her and said “Hi my baby girl.” She looked up at me for the first time and my mom took our first picture. It was amazing to see her, hear her, and hold her. At this point the pain and discomfort was gone. I held Zoe while the nurses cleaned her off and then covered us both with a warm blanket. David stood beside us. This was by far the most amazing moment in my life. To have our baby girl with us was amazing. After I held her for a while they took her to be weighed and measured. Zoe was 5lbs 2.7oz and measured 18inches long. She was perfect. David then held her and carried her back to me. I began breastfeeding right after that.
Reflecting back on my labor and the birth of my daughter I realize that very few things in my birth plan were followed. I feel that some of the things were necessary, like the induction. Although I am not sure an episiotomy was necessary it happened and I would like to try and avoid this next time. I have a huge sense of accomplishment that I went through the labour and birth process with no pain medication. November 16th will be a day I will remember for the rest of my life, a day that brought me more joy then I could ever imagine.
A note to myself and my daughter Zoe. Labor is painful, but it is pain with a purpose. As women our bodies are meant to do this without any form of pain medication. Nature and God will not give you more pain then you can handle. You will not die from the pain of labor, so learn to breathe through the pain and just get through each contraction one at a time. Labor without the pain medication is worth the discomfort. Once your baby is born and you see him/her for the first time the pain disappears. Have a great support team and you can have a labor and birth that you will enjoy looking back on.