Remember back when I shared Elanors birth story and I said I had a post coming with more details. Well it turns out I had no idea just how little I would be getting on my computer once baby #2 arrived. While out to dinner with some girlfriends the other night they reminded me about the fact that I hadn’t yet shared the med students experience I mentioned in the final post of Elanors birth story. I hadn’t delivered the story and they were still waiting. On a good note, that means people [other than my immediate family] are still sticking with me and checking this site, thanks for not giving up on me guys, and for holding me accountable. So, without further ado, here it is…
Before I dive in I am giving you a Warning: this post is a bit graphic. I am sharing some of the nitty gritty details of childbirth. If you don’t want to read about blood, or see the word placenta, stretching, or lubrication, then you should definitely stop now. I want to share about the stuff people don’t talk about and you are completely blindsided with when you have a baby. Alright, you have officially been warned, now lets get to some of the truths behind birth.
During and after the time that Elanor was delivered, my midwife, Jenny, tested and instructed the med students that were in the room with us. While most people would probably say no to having a few extra strangers in their delivery room, saying yes turned out to be a really cool experience. It made for the most informative first hand account of what was going on with our baby and my body. We got to hear, learn, and see so many details that you don’t normally hear about as the patient.
One of my favorite parts of Elanors birth process is how aware I was during the entire process. Between pushes I was listening to Jenny talk and I remember hearing her say “More” several times to one of the nurses. I looked over at the nurse and watched her squeeze some gel into Jenny’s gloved hand. She put her hand back up and the nurse re-filled it and Jenny told her “thank you”. I realized at that moment that that nurse was one of my favorite people in the entire room. I looked at her and said “Yes, thank you!” She chuckled a little and smiled at me. I know, without a doubt, that the combined effort of Jenny’s constant ‘work’ and that nurses ‘generosity’ are some of the main reasons I didn’t tear delivering Elanor. I can not express my overwhelming gratitude for that fact. I was able to get up and walk around, pain-free, not even an hour after having our baby.
Have you noticed that on every tv show where a character is having a baby they mention and even joke that the mother is going to poop on the table while pushing? Guess what, that doesn’t happen to everyone. That’s right folks, I am announcing to you all that I did not poop while birthing, not just one, but both our daughters. I’m 0/2. I will share a loose (hehe) tidbit though, when you are laboring a natural part of the process is for your body to push everything out. I’ve talked to several friends about this and it is very common to have to use the restroom before you get to the push point. Your body prepares for birth by naturally clearing and cleaning itself out. As the baby moves further down so does everything in your bowels, which can be a welcoming thing since constipation is such a big issue during pregnancy. See ladies, a natural labor can be great. You think you have to poo and you finally can. Then, a while after that, you have more pressure like you need to push and you get a cute little baby! I call that a win-win situation! And if it turns out you do end up pooping while pushing I am pretty positive you won’t even know it, or care. If you do somehow see that it happened you will quickly forget because it’ll be the best rewarded bowel movement you’ll ever have ; )
I already mentioned how we had Med Students in the room during delivery. One thing that still makes me chuckle is one of the students facial expressions. There were 2 girls and 1 guy. They were standing on the right side, out of the way but within range to see everything going on down below. After a series of pushes I remember telling Jenny I needed a breathing break during the next set of contractions. While I was mustering up some energy Jenny was commenting about the fact that our baby had a head full of dark hair. I was looking down to see and it became time to push again. After a push and while sucking in a deep breath my eyes wandered to the med students. The look on the male students face was laughable. He had a look of confusion, and terror, like he was taken aback by what was taking place. I noticed him make that face twice. Once just after a push, and the other time was when Jenny was quizzing them after I had the baby and pointing out to them that I didn’t have any perineal or anterior tearing (praise God for lubricant!). I don’t know if that guy was doing a required rotation or wanting to be an OBGYN, but if so he might should look into another speciality.
After Elanor was born one of the next steps, as with all babies, is to cut the umbilical cord. I was holding our baby while Stephen and I were both taking in all her precious features and Jenny started talking to the med students. We weren’t paying too much attention to them, but we did hear a few things. We learned that the cord should wait to be cut until the blood has pretty much stopped pumping from mother to baby. Stephen cut the cord with both our daughters, so it was cool to watch the placement of the clamps and why you cut when you do. Not safe to do it right away, but you can’t wait too long either. However, if you are ever in a situation where you have your baby outside of the hospital, do not cut the cord. Wait for medical personnel to arrive. Just another random piece of information that was shared.
The placenta – that thing is smaller than you’d think. People don’t really tell you this, but after you have your baby you also “deliver” the placenta. It certainly can’t stay in there, so how else is it gonna come out?! I didn’t know this and I had had another baby before (pain meds did a horrible/REAL number on me with our first child)! After delivering the placenta Jenny held it up for the med students to see and announced “okay guys, this is the placenta.” It was almost humorous, like she was showing off a cute shirt she just bought at the mall. She was showing it to the med students and telling them about the dark maroon color and then, totally unexpectedly, flipped the thing inside out. It was crazy. Stephen and I were both watching and I asked ‘so that’s where our baby has lived?’ and she held it in our direction and showed it to us. Crazy. It may sound weird or gross to some people, but we thought it was kinda awesome. I don’t think we would have gotten a view of the placenta if med students hadn’t been there, much more a show of it being flipped around and inside out. Good decision confirmed!
Another tip from my experience, don’t just suggest but verbally INSTRUCT the doctor/midwife delivering your baby that you do not want birthing intervention. Meaning no vacuum, forceps, episiotomy, or whatever else they may throw at you. My doctor with my first baby knew I didn’t want any intervention, and because she wasn’t there we told the nurses and on-call doctor that I didn’t want intervention. Well it seems she was in a hurry and didn’t care about my wishes because not only did she give me an episiotomy, but she used the vacuum to pull Sarah out. I didn’t know about this until weeks later, which explained why my healing process was so long and painful. I can’t watch the TLC show “A Baby Story” because the few episodes I have seen involved doctors rushing the baby out with forceps and/or episiotomies which resulted in these new mothers having an extended, and far more painful, recovery. As well as a painful and unpleasant birth story. Complication-free vaginal childbirth was not meant to involve surgical tools.
If you want/hope to have a natural birth the most important thing you can do is talk to mom’s that have done so. There is nothing more encouraging than hearing first hand accounts of how natural childbirth really feels, physically AND emotionally!
I really wanted to write this because I feel that as women we have been taught to fear, and even look down upon, natural childbirth. We are told that the pain associated is cruel, unnecessary, and even sexist, and if we are smart modern women we will properly plan for every possible scenario to avoid the cruelty of labor & childbirth. I am sad that I myself was uneducated and fearful with my first delivery. I was scared into an epidural during our first daughters birth. I’m not saying that choosing an epidural is wrong at all, don’t misunderstand me here. My point is that it was not at all what I wanted, but the nurses and doctor did a great job at coming in every 20 minutes and suggesting intervention methods. Labor going slow? You need some pitocin. Pitocin scares you? Oh, just get an epidural. Epidural scare you? Here’s some heavy dose pain meds. You’d almost think the hospital staff got a cut of the bill by how much medicine they suggested and encouraged I take. I don’t see why insurance companies don’t encourage natural delivery or midwives, it’s so much more cost effective. Not to mention the quicker healing and recovery for the mother. If you have complications or are high risk, intervention and planning makes sense. What is most important is that mom and baby are safe. Specialists are around for a reason! Advancement in medicine has made it possible for women who normally couldn’t carry a baby to term, or even get pregnant, the chance to have their own children. It’s an incredible blessing for so many families. Or heck, if your husband is 6’8 and 280lbs I get that you could be birthing a potentially frighteningly large child… ;) I just want to let people know, from my own experiences, and discussions with other moms, that natural childbirth can be far less painful than a medicated/controlled birth. Our bodies were made to do this, and for me it is the most rewarding and exhilarating thing I have ever done. I feel that most women have no idea what really happens just before, during, and after birth. I know I didn’t with my first. All we ever hear are horror stories, and what can go wrong if we let things happen without following the hospital/doctors suggestions. When I told people I wanted to deliver naturally the most common response was “Why?”. It was actually very discouraging for my first pregnancy. Thankfully I prepared myself the second go around and was able to have my dream delivery. My best advice is to educate yourself. Know what you are subjecting your body and baby to before you make final decisions. I found Dr. Sears The Birth Book extremely helpful and informative, as well as first hand birth stories, and the childbirth documentary “The Business of Being Born” (which is on Netflix).
Women, we are tough. I continually find that I am far stronger than I knew when faced with challenges and adversity. It is because of our bodies natural abilities that mankind continues to reproduce and exist. Stand up for your rights as a child bearer. In my case that was done with the decision to find a midwife I connected with and trusted, researched pregnancy, labor and childbirth, and made my mind up for myself. While modern medicine is a wonderful thing, I didn’t want advanced drugs and technology. I’ve been on both ends of the birth spectrum; a controlled/hospital run birth and then natural and med free. For me personally, the latter served much better.