Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tapping into the Pool of Wisdom

When the Holidays rolled around at the end of last year, I put my birthing book aside and told myself that come January, we would bring the books back out and start getting serious about preparing for a positive, wonderful labor experience.

Well, February is the new January.

And I'm just starting to roll. Lately, I've been thinking that not taking advantage of the massive pool of birthing experience out there would be foolish, so I am writing now specifically with the purpose of tapping into the communal blogging Pool of Birthing Wisdom.

So all you mothers out there, what preparations did you find helpful? What do you wish you had known before waddling through the hospital doors? And what helped to take the terror out of the experience?

Just so you know where I am now, I'll give you a rundown of where I am mentally: I am not going into the labor process with a set expectation that anything will go any certain way. I greatly prefer to have a vaginal delivery over Cesarean, and I greatly prefer to have it be 100% natural and unmedicated, but I'm open to changes in the "plan" because labor is unpredictable. I have great midwives whom I trust and I will be giving birth in a great university hospital, so I will have access to anything I might need from a health/medical perspective.

As far as my current preparation goes, I have a Bradley natural birthing book, and Marcos and I have started using the coaching exercises to practice deep, intentional relaxation so that we can train my body to work with contractions instead of tensing up and working against them. And yes, I have been doing trying to do my Kegel exercises regularly, as well as prenatal yoga or walking a few times a week.

I should also mention that I don't have any moral issues against epidurals or medication. Early on in my pregnancy when I realized that, wow, this is it, this is where my life changes and I can't ever go back, the terror of something that large coming out of something that small washed over me, and I felt a sudden need to educate myself in order to suppress the urge to run away and disappear. And for obvious reasons, the most thorough and educational books tend to be natural birthing books. That is how we ended up leaning towards the Bradley method, and I am so grateful we have had access to this information. Knowing precisely what is going on during a contraction, and how my powerhouse uterine muscles will work to launch that baby out has been incredibly empowering. A little information sure works wonders: since I have understood that I am uniquely designed to do this kind of work, and that my body is made to be astonishing, my fear has nearly diminished, and my new feeling is a desire to be well prepared.

Which is where you come in. I would love to hear your thoughts about what worked and what didn't, and I don't care if every piece of advice you share is personal, anecdotal and you all contradict each other. I just want as many tools as possible in my belt so that when the time comes, I can powerfully and gracefully join you band of mother warrioresses!


Kim said...

I was sooo unprepared when I went in to have Kinsey, we had done a birthing class but it was basically useless. Neither of my labors (or lack of labor in one case) have been normal so I don't really have any advice ;) but you really sound like you are on top of things. I think you'll be amazing!

sienna said...

yeah, i think any preparation goes a long way. we took a hypnobabies class. it was a little pricey, but it was worth it for me. having the actual class helped me to be more diligent about doing the homework every day. they do have a homestudy book with CDs if you don't have a class in your area. the homework is basically daily affirmations and a daily relaxation exercise. listening to the hypnosis CDs during labor really helped me to have something to focus on and reminded me to relax and breathe through each contraction.

but even with all of our preparation, it didn't stop Bo from getting stuck in the birth canal and needing a c-section. so having an open mind is a good idea too.

good luck. whatever you decide to do will be good cause you'll have a beautiful baby girl at the end of it.

Unknown said...

Epidurals are wonderful, not just for you, but for everyone in the delivery room. It makes labor into a party!

That is my only advice.

Oh, and bring your own toiletries to the hospital --lotions, shampoo, new toothbrush, new hair brush. After it is all over you'll feel like you were just run over by a threshing machine so it is good to have a special "rejuvinating" kit that you've prepared for yourself.

Prouses said...


Gibson Gang said...

After doing this four times, I think I'm starting to figure some things out. :)

The big lesson came when I was able to compare Noa and Kai's births. Both were too fast for the epidural to kick in - the difference between them was my attitude. With Noa's I was set on having the epidural and unprepared for any other option. I lost it! Grabbed the nurse by the collar, yelled things like "this isn't fair!" and "help me!"

With Kai, I was determined to be open-minded, in control, and dignified. I kept my mouth shut, closed my eyes (let Kelii answer the nurse's and Doctor's questions)and sort of just became one with my purpose there. I tuned everything out, took each breath with deliberation, and focused on time. What I mean by "time" is that I reminded myself that 'in 5 seconds this will pass, in 4 seconds this will pass, in 3...'. When I gave myself that perspective, that the pain was just moments away from passing and bringing me moments closer to holding my baby and being done with the whole thing, I found that I could do it! Next thing I knew, he was in my arms and everyone was saying 'way to go supermom! wish i had deliveries like that!'

Metts, I know you will be amazing! Just remember that even though it feels like an eternity during those contractions, they are just moments. They will pass. You have the advantage of watching the monitor so that you can literally see the decline as the contractions go by. Have Marcos watch with you and say "ok babe, here comes one... and it's going down, it's almost done, you're doing great!" Team work! :)

You guys will be awesome!!!

Elizabeth said...

I used Nurse Midwives in the hospital also. And I was very happy with the balance of natural and modern medicine that brought. So here are my tips for what they are worth!
Read the book Spiritual Midwifery. It is a very hippie birth on the farm type of book. Even though I wasn't having a home birth it was great for me to read because it had such a positive view of labor and got me really excited to have a baby. I think you would like it, there is a lot in there about how kissing with your spouse helps the labor process.:)
Also I advise waiting as long as you can before you check in at the hospital. Less time for unnecessary intervention to get in the way. i.e. trying to give pitocin to hurry things along and such. So as long as your water hasn't broke and things are going well laboring in your home is a lot more enjoyable then being tied to the hospital bed for too long.
Also tell Marcos to help you remember to drink water. I would forget in the thick of things and would always show up at the hospital dehydrated and needing an iv. (which then ties you to the bed more.)
When I feel like I can't wait anymore and need to get to the hospital I still try to walk around outside the hospital or through the halls before I check in. Then I am close if I need to be but can still be mobile.
I had back labor with all of them and something one of my midwifes did that made it so much better. But the hospital bed up in a sitting position. Put your feet up and have someone push the bottoms of your feet towards the back of the bed. It pushes your lower back into the bed and relives the pressure during the contraction.
Okay so I have a lot of advice! Remember that when the pain feels unbearable you all almost there! You can do it!

Katy said...

Hi Mets! I have a few thoughts to add to the other excellent responses. The first is: squat. Yep, when reading a book, beating a bowl of eggs, brushing your hair, talking to Marcos or whatever, squat right down and let gravity and the weight of your body open up and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Think of all those women through human history cooking around a firepit, scrubbing clothes in a stream- think of Grandpa out in the driveway cleaning out his antique bottles, whatever, but it is an easy habit to get into that will get your body ready for what it needs to do. Also, I found it incredibly pain relieving when I was in labor to get in the shower or tub and have warm/hot water streaming over my back. Also, Lindsey's comment about just going inside herself and concentrating on the counting or breathing is great. Let go of the external details, questions from nurses etc; that is a great role for husbands. And remember that your body already knows how to do this, so trust and love and gratitude are your best allies. You'll do great. Love you! Katy

Robbie said...

My doula gave me Spiritual Midwifery to read, which also gave me a positive outlook on it, knowing that my body was made to do it. I also appreciated watching a DVD about natural births that took place at a birthing center, so I could see for myself how women responded to the pain, and so when I was going through it, it seemed more do-able because I had seen other women go through it. I had only seen one delivery and I was 11 years old, plus I didn't see any of the labor part, so the movie was very helpful. I know you've recently helped a friend give birth, so that is great prep, I'd say!
But I think it's good to know the ins and outs of doing it the other way too (the non-100% natural way) and being open to it, just how you are doing. That way, if it becomes reality, it will be easier to accept it, and I think accepting what is happening has a lot of power during labor and delivery. Fighting it and telling yourself you can't do it or won't do it probably doesn't help. Of course, I've only done this once, and I couldn't have done it without my TWO awesome, dedicated coaches who helped me through every single breath during every single contraction. I also don't think I could've done it if I had to stay in the bed the whole time. I'm so grateful for intermittent monitoring that allowed me to move around, especially during transition! Anyway, this is what I wanted to share. Happy anticipating, Mets! You and Marcos will be so great at bringing little Giovanna into the world!

Headle said...

Metta! I'm so impressed by you! I've been dying to find a spare moment to respond to this post.

First of all, I think its totally awesome how well you are educating yourself. I was pretty naive the first time around. I took a standard prepared childbirth class but basically just trusted my doctor to take care of things. It wasn't good. I learned the hard way that if we as women aren't prepared and educated about childbirth that no one can do it for us. We have to be informed about all the options BEFORE we get to the moment when tough choices have to be made.

I hope Abbie has a chance to comment. She has such an awesome testimony of the spiritual side of childbirth. When you have a chance you should read her birth story with Audrie. Its awesome! I know that's not always possible, but I learned avoiding induction is one of the best ways to avoid unnecessary interventions which can lead to a lot of problems. By the time I was pregnant with Addi I knew SO much more. It was quite a transformation for me and gave me so much more confidence going into labor.

You are awesome Metta!! You have done so much in your life to prepare for this special time. You will rock this! Have confidence in yourself and you will do great! :)

Have you seen The Business of Being Born? Its a documentary you can watch on Netflix. I watched it during my free trial. Its definitely bias towards natural birth and even if one doesn't agree with every point, its fascinating!

Headle said...

Oh, I almost forgot...Abbie recommended Hypnobirthing, the Mongon Method. She has so many amazing resources, really!! I wasn't able to implement hypnobirthing very well during labor. I don't think I practiced practically enough. But the principles still helped reinforce the natural process of labor and I was better off for it. Again, Audrie's birth story covers this. So inspiring! :)

dena said...

My best bets are a good doula and gravity. Stay out of the bed. Big fat birthing ball helps greatly with this, as does walking, a long hot shower, rocking chair and kneeling. Just stay upright and your body will be able to do what it needs to do with as little physical stress as possible. It all goes quicker this way too.

Abbie said...

Read Pushed by Block and Hypnobirthing by Mongon Those are my two favorite birth books (I've read about 10).

You can do it!!! Natural birth is an amazig thing. It will change your life. I am so passionate about this (slowly training to be a doula), so drop me a line and we can chat: abbietastic at gmail. Seriously, you can do it! I'm so excited for you!

Abbie said...

I just read Heather's comment. I love her. Really, let's chat if you want to. And Audrie's birth story is on our blog. You can search for it or emaile and I'll email you the link. Yay for birth!!! (especially natural birth!!!)

Lauren said...

When people tell me that they are open to either natural or unnatural (they are going to go with the flow) I always tell them that they will get the epidural. But all of them (by all, I mean 3 or 4) end up going natural. Shows you what I know. I have a very low pain tolerance and have accepted the fact that I could never survive a natural childbirth process and don't think its anything to feel guilty about. I think the most important thing is that you are capable of welcoming your child into the world with happiness. For me, that means drugs, for other people it doesn't. Before the drugs, I was screaming, tense and didn't want anyone to touch me. After, I was nice, relaxed and excited for the baby. I will say, however, that I sometimes wonder if not feeling the full extent of pain, caused me to break my tailbone. More likely it was Luke's "Stacey forehead" but in any case, they can make the drugs wear off a little near the end and I think I will have them decrease the drugs a little more next time.

Also, I've noticed that people who do natural usually have short labors. That makes a HUGE difference. You are the most mentally strong person I know so I'm sure however it turns out, you will have a great experience.

Drew and Alicia said...

Everything was pretty positive and upbeat(as can be expected) for the labor. I LOVED the big labor ball in the room. I think that helped most with the pain and waiting. A nurse came in told me to imagine a happy place and then try to keep that image in your head during labor. I imagined Drew and I having a picnic a top a beautiful mountain close to the edge of a cliff. During labor I kept picturing jumping off the cliff! So look for possible dangers with your happy places and adjust them before the pain hits!
The only thing I wish I'd known was that once the labor is over, the pain isn't over. I don't know why I didn't know this before hand but I found myself depressed when I felt painful cramping as your uterus contracts back to a tinier size.
Loved being induced so my doctor was for sure there. Also me and family were able to plan and prepare better.
Loved my epidural. Helped me stop jumping off that cliff and made me able to sit back and enjoy the experience.
Loved the water bottle the hospital gave me to easily clean "down there" every time after using the restroom. As well as tux pads, hemorrhoidal cream, diapers filled with ice, and stool softener. I highly recommend buying all of these in case the hospital doesn't provide all of them! Strongly believe these were the factors that helped me feel great and heal so well.