Cesarean Section BirthThere is this nugget of not-so-feel-good wisdom my mom likes to drop on me occasionally which goes like this:
“They say, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” – Unknown
Having a natural birth was something I didn’t have to give second thought to. Naturally, it felt like the right and most perfect thing to do for my baby and for my body. No drugs in. No painkillers. I imagined myself tuning in to my body’s commands, obeying them and birthing a beautiful baby at the end. With that being said I’d like to share my original birth plan, avenue I took to get there and additional thoughts. All of the following plans probably had God rolling on the floor laughing.
First, a quote: “Natural childbirth isn’t when you do nothing to prepare for the birth; on the contrary, it only happens when you do many things to prepare.” – Dawn Freeman
In preparation for having my first born I decided to take a 10-week childbirth education course with instructor, Chantal Wilford at Birthways in Sarasota. My mother was in attendance as well seeing how my husband was/is working outside of the country. My soon-to-be-mommy mind expanded to great proportions each week as I learned new and invaluable information, techniques and my rights as a future breastfeeding mom in America. While topics such as breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing and circumcision were all touched upon, I wouldn’t say this is where I benefited most. Topics that really grabbed me were those in pain management during labor, various birthing videos, making decisions (using your B.R.A.I.N.) in both emergency and non-emerg situations and topics that stressed becoming a more informed patient. I won’t cover 10-weeks of lessons here, but I do suggest moms wanting to have a natural birth take some kind of course if available.
Developing a birth plan was one assignment that proved most beneficial. Here is my exact original birth plan minus some of my personal deets:
While at Birthways, I’d like to have the flexibility to try for a water birth if best for baby and mom, but if needed to have the baby outside of the tub. Movement, music, aromatherapy, food & drink, low light are all welcome dependent on my mood. These are things I’d like to go with the flow on at the time of labor. Lastly, in addition to my support team, I’d like for Valerie Joy McClintock-Gipe (Photographer) to be on-site (if available) to photograph my birth story. On the quirky side: I have no desire to keep my placenta, but would like a photograph with me and this amazing organ for keepsakes.
Coincidentally, this action occurred the same day I had gone in for prenatal acupuncture treatments. The acupuncture was to help with spontaneous labor and with thinning the cervix and so forth. The treatment I received has never been known to turn babies breech and I do not blame the care provider. This type of treatment is practiced quite commonly in German hospitals and other parts of the globe outside of America. Again, it could be one strange coincidence.
In order to remedy the big turn the baby had made I visited a chiropractor to try the Webster technique 3x and I continued to work with the acupuncturist doing moxabustion treatments daily. Both of these techniques are said to have a 80-85% chance at turning the baby and I certainly did feel movements when they were performed. It just wasn’t enough movement to make the full flip. My midwife then recommended I see a OBGYN / specialist in performing external versions.
I met with him the week of Thanksgiving and after a review of my ultrasound the Doctor explained the likelihood of the baby turning. He said chances were slim, but that he could try. It was my job to go home that night and think it over. I felt like this was a test, like if I attempted the external version it would prove how stubborn I was and how much I wanted a natural birth. Given the risks involved with the procedure and that it would need to be done the day after Thanksgiving, I decided to pass and plan for a C-section.
Having my mind locked in on a planned C-section with spontaneous labor gave me the opportunity to try to make the best of things. Of course I needed to revamp my birth plan and here is how the new one went for the section:
Thank you for being a part of the birth of my baby. I appreciate your expertise and experience during this incredibly important day – the day I meet my baby. I would like to be kept fully informed of my options and be involved in decision making. Please remember I am hearing impaired and may need you to speak louder at times and/or repeat yourself a number of times. With that in mind, we (my mother and I) have a list of preferences that we would like respected whenever safely possible. Let’s deliver this baby together!
I actually stumbled across a sample C-section birth plan from the local ICAN group here in Tampa and used their sample to guide my own.
[Note: there’s a Facebook group for ICAN of Sarasota too.]
Now that I’ve shared all my plans, let me tell you how it all went down and offer some unsolicited advice.
My water broke shortly after 1:00 AM the morning of Monday, November 28th. I had just gone to bed about a hour before after my usual Sunday evening routine. I had been camping in my mother’s room the last few nights in the event that I went into labor or started feeling funny (this was the final stretch) and woke her to let her know the water had broken. At least I thought it to have broken given the contents in the loo. My mother readied herself for the trip to the hospital as I was slowly gathering last minute items and meditating through contractions. We were at the hospital by 3:00 AM or so.
We checked in at Labor & Delivery, informed the nurses I was in labor and that my baby was breech. This basically meant: sound the alarm and let the Doc know a C-section is needed. One of nurses checked things out with another ultrasound and confirmed what we had stated. I was still feeling the contractions and I felt like water was leaking everywhere. It was not a pleasant feeling. They prepped me for the section, gave me the spinal tap and the Doctor came in shortly after. Before I knew it the baby was delivered. Bada-bang. Bada-boom. I had skipped ‘GO’ and collected my $200 or baby without the trouble of pushing, panting and doing it the natural way. As supremely bummed as I was the last couple weeks leading up to the C-section, I sure wasn’t bummed when they announced I’d had a baby girl.
I wanted to cry, but my eyes were so itchy from the anestesia that the tears didn’t fully form. Still a well of joy filled in my throat. I felt speechless, blessed and beyond words to see God’s latest work of art in my hands. Once I returned to my room for recovery I proceeded to breastfeed and bond with my baby girl skin-to-skin.
It wasn’t how I had imagined it, but things happen for a reason, plans change and it all works out in the end. Just go with it, be prepared, be flexible and and be happy with the outcome. This was the watered-down mantra I sorta said to myself. My advice to self for the next baby and for other moms who are open to it is the following:
That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.
Birth Center Surrogate BirthI was a surrogate for some friends of mine, I’ll call them Momma S and Daddy S. We had a wonderful pregnancy! They were able to come to every midwife appointment, and were in every way involved in the pregnancy and birth of their baby boy.
At 40 weeks gestation, we were still pregnant, so we decided to get a cervical check, just to see if anything was changing. We were at a whopping 1cm, so I started taking some herbs to help ripen my cervix, in addition to Evening Primrose Oil. Two days later, on Wednesday, I went to acupuncture. I was hoping for labor on Wednesday night, but nothing happened. On Thursday, I was having some practice pressure waves – they were about a 0 on a scale of 1-10, and were roughly 10 minutes apart, so I knew that it wasn’t labor. So, I went back for another acupuncture treatment. When I left acupuncture, the pressure waves were slightly uncomfortable, and about 7-8 minutes apart. However, I was still able to do everything I was before. I didn’t have to stop to breathe through any. I was hopeful since they were a bit uncomfortable, so I texted Momma S and told her that I was hopeful that this was it, and to be prepared for a phone call in a few hours. And then they started to space out again. At this point, we were 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant. Disappointed, I texted Momma S again, and told her that they were fizzling out to about 10-15 minutes apart again, and suggested we all get some sleep.
So, I went to the bathroom and found that I had some bloody show, but I still didn’t think much of it. I drank some water, went to bed at just before12:00am, and was laying down playing Words with Friends, and instead of fizzling out, the pressure waves actually got closer together!!!! … first 9 minutes apart, then 8, then 7, then 6, then 5, then 3, then back to 5. And they had some intensity!!! So, at 12:30am I figured, “This is IT”, called my mom, told her to come over, called Momma S and Daddy S, told them to head over, and I got back up. Momma and Daddy S live about 2 hours away, so I knew we had some time before they got here. In childbirth class, we talked about different ways to labor, and I quickly realized how right our teacher was when she told us that we needed to be open to changing what we think we will want! Prior to labor, I was convinced that I was going to have light back rubs, and use the massage roller on my back during pressure waves. Turns out, I didn’t really want anyone to touch me between waves, and during them, I wanted lots of counter-pressure on my lower back. =) I also found it helpful to sit on a birthing ball, and hold onto the arm of my couch and allow the rest of my body to go limp during a wave, just hanging from the couch.
By the time the baby’s parents arrived at 2:30am, I was READY to go to the birth center and get my butt in the tub! We finally got out of the house and into the car at 3:15am, and to the birth center at 3:40am. I was surprised that it took longer than I anticipated to get into the car, but that the ride to the birth center didn’t seem as long as I thought it would. I just divided the amount of time of the drive by how far apart my pressure waves were, and estimated the number of waves that I would have on the way. After each one, I knew we were that much closer, and before I knew it, we had arrived!
The midwife checked me and said that I was dilated to a 5 – YAY! I was pumped… until she told me that she didn’t want me to get into the tub yet – she didn’t want my labor to stall… so she sent me to the shower and my IM (Intended Mother) was great about helping get the water beating on my back and applying pressure where I needed it. She was Wonderful! However, after about an hour, I was OVER the shower…I wanted in that tub!!!
The midwife told us that I could get out and we could get in the tub in about 20 minutes because they had to wait for more hot water, so I stood at the bed, leaned over a birthing ball and demanding counter-pressure with each pressure wave… once I was in the tub, I realized that I was a lot more bouyant than I thought I would be! And it was harder for people to put pressure on my lower back, so I leaned against the tub, and used my legs to push myself back into the wall of the tub to get my much-wanted counter-pressure.
I was having some trouble with focusing and relaxing, so they put my Hypnobabies “Easy First Stage of Labor” track on…and that made ALL the difference!!!! Momma S and my mother both said that they saw a HUGE difference in how relaxed I was as soon as the track came on. I was able to sleep between pressure waves some, had some back labor (he was still posterior), and I KNEW when I hit transition… it was SOOOOO different from the previous pressure waves that I asked my Momma S to go get the midwife. Everyone else knew I had hit transition too because my vocalizations had changed. But, I was still sleeping between pressure waves! =)
I had some trouble with pushing at first because I had a little bit of a lip of my cervix left, and from pushing, it started getting swollen, so my midwife helped move it aside until baby’s head was past it. I pushed for a total of 1 hour and 10 minutes, but once the lip was discovered and moved out of the way, I was only effectively pushing for 31 minutes.
Baby S was born at 8:00am in the water, and was still in the caul! The best part of all of this is that Momma S caught him!!! Daddy S cut the cord, and it was wonderful! Only 8 hours of labor from start to finish. As soon as Baby S was born, he was in his mommy’s arms, wrapped up, and introduced to his waiting family members and my son, who were all patiently waiting in the waiting area. Momma S was able to put Baby S to breast quickly and he took to nursing right away. Momma S was able to do this because she induced lactation during the pregnancy. Then the new family of 3 spent some time bonding while my midwife stitched me up from my small tear. After a couple of hours, we got to measure Baby S. He weighed in at 9 lbs 5 oz and was 21.5” long.
The birth of Baby S was honestly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had as was watching Momma S and Daddy S see their son for the first time – words just cannot describe how elated I was to see it, and how it felt to be a part of helping them become a family. His birth was so incredibly empowering and I actually felt even MORE empowered when I heard how much he weighed! Within hours of Baby S’s birth, we all left and returned to the comforts of home for recovery, bonding, and being with our families.
My first birth with my son was in a hospital with interventions galore. It was painful; it was scary; it was dangerous for both me and my son. My blood pressure dropped, his heart rate dropped to dangerously low levels, I was cut (episiotomy) without permission; he was *taken* from my body, not birthed. It was traumatic. This birth was everything that I ever wanted (but didn’t get) with my first birth. It was peaceful; it was calm; it was NOT painful… it was intense, but Pain is not a word I would use to describe it. I would choose natural childbirth every time, and I would do this all again.
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