Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Malvina's Birth Story

I was recently sent this Birth Story from Malvina Beker, the founder of StartWithMom.com, an incredible resource for new moms and moms-to-be. This is the story of the birth of Malvina's second daughter. This story is not one of a pain-free birth. This is not the story of a perfect birth. What this story IS, is the story of a woman who listened to her body and was confident enough to fight for the birth she wanted.

The story of my natural birth with my second daughter Emma is one that I think of as a challenge and one of hard work. After Emma was born I had over-analyzed our birthing experience and had even sat with my doctor to go over all of the points that I found did not work, or made the experience difficult. My doctor had reassured me that she had thought it went quite well. Although I have come to terms with it and looking back now, don’t really think it was such a big deal that it didn’t go according to plan, I still feel unsatisfied with my lack of preparation and the miscommunication with my labouring nurse.
My birthing story with my older daughter Alyssa seemed like a fairytale. I was insisting on having a natural labour and birth and did just that. We had taken a prenatal course, were well prepared ahead of time, had a dream team of support which included, both sets of parents, an awesome nurse and intern-doctor, and of course my husband who was my rock throughout the whole entire experience. With Alyssa, my labour started three days prior to my due date, when my water broke, and I had only laboured for 7 hours after arriving at the hospital. I was so happy with how everything had gone according to plan, that I was quite sure it would be the same with my second labour and birth. This was not the case.
As my second pregnancy was coming to an end, almost everyone I knew had told me that my labour and delivery would be a breeze. In fact, I was so convinced that Emma was just going to fall out, that I was even paranoid about the drive to the hospital, and since this was after all our second baby, we didn’t think about taking another prenatal course or even attempting to do any prep work ahead of time. We decided to wing it.
I believe my labour had begun three weeks prior to the actual event. I started to have contraction one per hour each day. Some of these were so painful and bad that they had driven us to go to the hospital twice with false alarms. At that point I was so exhausted and so badly had wanted the baby out that I wasn’t thinking logically about signs of labour. And then my due date came, and I was still pregnant. The most frustrating part of all was having everyone I could possibly think of calling me daily to ask if I was still pregnant, and being almost embarrassed to say, yes.
On the third day passed my due date, as frustrated as I was, I had decided to accept the fact that I was late, when I had my first real sign of labour, I had a bloody show. This was awesome, because I knew that it was just a matter of time, and the next day I began to experience cramps. These were not like the cramps I had been experiencing for the last 3 weeks prior, these were soft and short and felt more like period cramps. I had called my husband Michael and told him that this was real labour and we drove to the hospital at once, which I wish we didn’t do, but I was just so ready to have this baby, that I didn’t take the time to think about this.
We had arrived at the hospital at 3:30PM only to discover that I was only 3 cm dilated. I was still okay with that because that meant that I would get admitted, but there was no delivery room available, and so we spent several hours sitting in the visitors room. I had quickly started doing my rounds around the hospital floor, taking in each contraction and preparing for the next one. I had a tens unit attached to my back and would use it to fight each contraction. After several hours, we were finally given an actual delivery room. And this is when we met our labouring nurse. Because I had such an amazing and understanding nurse the first time around, I was excepting the same sort of thing the second time around, but was quickly disappointed. The first thing the nurse did was attach me to the monitors, despite the fact that I had mentioned to her that I had already had a stress test, and needed to be mobile since I was having a natural birth. The next thing she wanted was to attach me to an IV pole, since I had needed antibiotics, again leaving me immobile.
Well, I had no intention of lying in bed or being attached to anything. The first thing I had asked for is for her to give me a walking IV that would prevent me from having a pole attached. She reluctantly agreed, but still wanted to have me lying in bed for 20 minutes in 15 minute intervals. This was not going to fly. I called in my intern-doctor and told her to insist that she do intermittent monitoring. Although she made a fuss over this again, she had agreed to do it after the inter-doctor insisted that this was okay.
Having freedom to be mobile, made me feel in control. I was also lucky to have lots of support with me at the hospital. My parents and brother were there, along with my brother in-law and his girlfriend, all who had helped me during my labour. Getting from 3cm to 5cm took lots of hours, and everyone took turns taking walks with me and talking with me, making this experience as comfortable as possible. After 11PM however, I had sent my brother in-law home, but my parents insisted they would stay with me for the rest, I was not progressing as I had expected.
By 3 am, I had become restless, and called the intern-doctor and made the decision for her to break my water after almost 12 hours of labouring. A half an hour after my water was broken, I was walking with my father when suddenly I was no longer able to have a conversation with him. The contractions were getting harder to deal with. My dad called my mom and Michael to take over. We ended up in the delivery room, where I wasn’t really sure of what I needed to do anymore, for the pain became a harder struggle.
I sat on the bed and closed my eyes, between my contractions, waiting for the next one, when the nurse came in. “Oh you look so tired, you should lie down and rest”.  “I’m fine.” I murmured, with my eyes closed. And then she walked over and stated as an authoritarian “You should rest”, and literally pushed my head against the pillow of the bed. Since it was between contractions I went with it for a minute, and then it happened. A big god-awful contraction came through. I had jumped right off the bed in agony. Michael ran to me but seemed unsure of what to do, he seemed lost, since my labour with Alyssa was not like this at all, nor was it so painful.
My mother came to my rescue. She ran over to me and quickly began to massage my back, it felt so much better. The next contraction was even more painful. My tens unit was blasting at this point, but it no longer was helping me. The pain was pretty unbearable. Michael took my mother’s lead and would massage my back along with her. “Call the nurse back”. The nurse came back, I said I was ready for my doctor, and that it was time to push. “Oh I don’t think so. You were only at 7 cm last time.”  “I don’t care. Call my doctor”. I answer rudely this time.
My intern-doctor came in and I was telling her the same thing. She also seemed skeptical. Each contraction from then on were more painful than the last. There were moments where I’d look at my mom helplessly and think, I’m not going to make it. I needed to push really bad by then, and my nurse and intern were not believing me that I was ready to go. “I’m sorry, I can’t hold on. I really gotta push” I insisted. “But your only at 8 cm.”  “I DON’T CARE!!!” I yelled, and my body began to spontaneously do it. My nurse started to yell at me. At this point my doctor ran in, in her street clothes and everything.  “I need to push, I need to push!” I cried, looking at her to rescue me.  “I heard you” She smiled at me.  “She’s only 8 cm” the intern mentioned.  “Well, if she’s telling you that she needs to push, let her do it. Let see what happens.” I heard that this was usually not recommended, but my body was insisting on it. The nurse tried to argue with doctor, but I got the green light and pushed. And then it happened. Just like that, I had dilated to 10cm. My intern-doctor smiled. Later on we figured out what had happened. Emma was coming down, sunny-side up, and was kind of taking her time coming down, in the meanwhile, my really bad contractions, which I did not experience with Alyssa, were the result of back labour, of which I did not prepare for or even understood I was having.
It didn’t take long for Emma to rush out of my body after that. When my doctor had stepped out to quickly change out of her street clothes, the nurse had tried to once again have a hold of my birth, “I’m going to tell you when to push”, she insisted, looking at her monitors. I ignored her, and listened to my body. This was hard because it was telling me to push, but my nurse had me on my back because she had once again strapped me to monitors, causing pushing a difficult task. Every time I pushed with my body’s urges, my nurse would yell at me, that I was pushing at the wrong time. At one point, I was so angry with her consistently yelling at me, that I called her annoying and swung at her (I did apologize later for that). What I was angry about the most, was that I had a hard time listening to my intern-doctor’s instructions, because of the nurse, when finally, my intern yelled over the nurse what she had wanted me to hear. “Sit up and push with your whole body!”, I sat up, and did just that, and Emma came practically flying out.
My doctor, had just re-entered the room by then, almost missing my birth.
As happy as I was with finally having Emma in my arms, I was quite upset with my birth. Especially the last hour of it, as I had struggled to be in control over my birth despite what plans my nurse had for me, of which I don’t really blame her for, since she probably did not experience many natural births before. It was a very frustrating time, but an experience that I now look back at with awe. I have learned a whole lot since then, and believe that this experience, if anything has made me much stronger. A natural birth is not for everyone, but for those who do desire to have one like I had, don’t give up, believe in yourself, and trust in your body, for it was designed to give birth and knows how to do it.


I want to thank Malvina for sharing her story with us. Like I said, this was not an "ideal" birth. Malvina herself says she was not pleased with how everything happened. However, I feel that this was a very HONEST representation of birth in so many cases. Mothers fighting for the birth they want, whether they are fully supported by the staff or not. 

Too often, women are pushed into changing their birth plans or going along with what the hospital staff or their doctors want instead of trusting themselves. The strength that Malvina showed in her birth is incredible and I wish more women could enter into the birthing process with this same confidence.  I think that this story shows just how important it is for women to get educated about birth, to find a good support team, and most importantly believe in their body's ability to birth.

Thank you again to Malvina for sharing your amazing story of the fight for the birth YOU wanted!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Homebirth: Part 4

Well, I had another prenatal appointment and my blood pressure is still super low. Thankfully, if you're going to have an issue with blood pressure in pregnancy you're better off too low than too high.  The main concern at this present time is the dizziness I get.  So, I am still working to try to raise it a little.

I did a little research into herbs, but unfortunately most herbs that are used to elevate blood pressure are contraindicated during pregnancy. So, I've just been doing things the old-fashioned way... I added salt and a little caffeine to my diet and we'll hope that works.

I thought I would enjoy being told that it was okay to be more UNhealthy, but it hasn't been as pleasant as I thought.  Adding caffeine back into my daily routine after almost completely eliminating it for close to three years now (I quit the caffeine when I was trying to conceive my first baby who is almost two now and continued to limit it even after he was born because I was breastfeeding) has been a bit much for my stomach to handle. Not to mention trying to stay hydrated has been difficult enough for me, but then you throw salt and caffeine into the mix and it's even harder. 

I know, I know, I'm whining a little.  It really isn't so bad.  After all, I can get my beloved Tim Horton's Iced Capps and McDonald's Frappes again!

The main concern from my blood pressure being low comes if I have a problem with hemorrhage during the birth.  Since a blood loss will lower blood pressure even more this would make even a little hemorrhaging potentially serious in my case.  Thankfully, I don't have a history of hemorrhage and I am still healthy otherwise, so there isn't too much concern that I will have a problem. Just in case though my midwife and I have been discussing different things that I can do to prevent hemorrhage. 

On a more pleasant note, I did some belly painting with the help of my little boy!



I also finally finished my birth plan!

Birth Plan

Mother: Carmen                 Father: Aaron                
Guess Date: March 19, 2013
Birth Location: Planned Homebirth                                                      
Preferred Hospital: Henry Ford               Closest Hospital: St. Mary's<<<<<<
Midwife: Kate                 Student Midwife: Michelle                   
Doula: Bridgette                   

I will have a camera out and would appreciate if you would take pictures any time you are able to do so through all stages of birth.

Please try to use HypnoBirthing terminology:
~Surge, not contraction
~Pressure/Sensation/Tightening, not Pain
~Near Completion, not Transition
~Opening/Thinning, not Dilation/Effacing

Wishes for First Stage:
During labor I'd like:
~As few exams as possible
~To be able to eat and drink if I choose to
~To have the freedom to move around as I please
~The birth pool to be set up, however, I may not use it at this stage
I would like to remain active and use whatever position I find comfortable. Please encourage me to stay off my back!

Wishes for Second Stage:
During pushing I would like to:
~Have a water birth and would appreciate your support and encouragement to get into the water at this point if I have not done so already
~Push without time limits, as long as baby and I are not at risk
To avoid tearing, I would prefer to use:
~Water, Warm Compresses, Perineal massage, and Positioning

As the baby is being delivered, I would like:
~To use a mirror to see baby crown (if not in the water)
~To touch the head as the baby crowns
~Catch the baby

Wishes for Third Stage:
Immediately after delivery I would like:
~The umbilical cord to be cut after the placenta has been delivered naturally
~Myself or my partner to be able to cut the umbilical cord
~The placenta to be preserved for printing and encapsulation

Please do NOT give my baby:
~Eye ointment
~Hep B vaccine
~Vitamin K shot

Please do NOT:
~Wipe away any vernix on the baby's skin
~Put a hat on the baby

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Breastfeeding Counseling

Lately, I have been focusing a lot on my Breastfeeding Counselor certification. It has really been taking off and I love doing it. After all the trouble I had with breastfeeding, I really don't want any woman to ever have to go it alone when trying to figure out how to nurse their baby.

Breastfeeding is SO important and it IS natural, but it isn't always easy.  So many women are never told how hard it can be. They tend to think, "If it's meant to be my baby and I will be able to do it.  If we can't figure it out, then my baby and I probably weren't meant to breastfeed".  This is really not the case. Yes, nursing is instinct for babies, yes it is natural, but that doesn't mean it isn't a learned skill.  It can take a lot of practice and a lot of trial and error before you get things right. 

The important thing for all women to remember is that if you are struggling with breastfeeding You are NOT a failure, you are NORMAL! 

I have worked with a lot of new moms since starting my certifications and the one problem that has consistently come up is breastfeeding.  I have so far known only ONE mom who was able to pick it up right away and never had a question/problem later.  That is out of about 15 moms I have helped just since beginning my training and countless friends and family that I have discussed it with. 

So, please keep in mind that most women have some difficulty breastfeeding.  You are not alone in your struggles.  It is so important that if you are having trouble you find an expert who can help you through it and surround yourself with supportive people.

If you are having trouble or have a question please feel free to contact me and hopefully I can help you out or get you in touch with someone who can! 

My first homemade boobies! The left one is a little baby hat and the right one is a teaching breast (not stuffed yet)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Homebirth: Part 3

It has been awhile since I updated the blog on what is going on with my pregnancy and homebirth planning, so bear with me as this may be a bit of a lengthy post.

Last time I updated I had just had my first visit with my midwife. Since then I have had another appointment with her.  At this appointment we again went through all the basics of any other prenatal visit; blood pressure, fetal heartbeat, urinalysis, general discussion of the pregnancy.

At this visit I also brought in my medical records from my previous care provider.  Many people I have talked to have been a little bit surprised to learn that a midwife required me to have my medical records sent over.  It occurred to me when discussing this with some of my family and friends just how little they understand about how midwives practice.  They seem to believe that by choosing a midwife that means I have decided to forgo any type of medical care and testing for my pregnancy.  This is not the case. By choosing to use a midwife, I have simply decided to forgo any UNNECESSARY or EXCESSIVE interventions and testing. Most midwives still provide the same testing that OB's do.

Throughout this pregnancy I have been having a significant amount of dizzy spells. I have had issues with dizziness and fainting for most of my life, but the spells have never occurred this frequently. I have always had lower blood pressure and since pregnancy typically lowers the blood pressure even more I assumed this was the problem.  At my previous appointment my BP was 95/50 and I was pretty dehydrated, so that pretty much confirmed what was causing the problem.  After discussing this with my midwife, she recommended that I increase my sodium intake and get A LOT more water.  Since then I have not had any significant dizzy spells and have been feeling much better. At my last appointment, my blood pressure had also gone back up to 105/60 (much closer to my normal range).  A note that I would like to make about this situation is how quickly my concerns were addressed. When I was with my prior care givers, from both this and my previous pregnancy, it would usually take days to hear from a doctor or nurse.  In this instance, I spoke to my midwife immediately.  Just one more example of how amazing it is to have the personal care that a midwife provides!

I have also been working hard on writing my birth plan.  Even though I am having a homebirth and I shouldn't have to worry about medical staff who are unaware of my wishes, it is still important that everyone involved is aware of how I want things done.  Of course, this birth plan is much shorter than my last because many things are assumed in a homebirth. However, there are things that need to be included in this plan that were not in my last. For example, because there is the possibility of a hospital transfer being required, I need to include information about where I would like to be transferred in case of an emergency.  So, I have been busily researching the L&D units in the area and tracking down phone numbers for the L&D's as well as EMS.  Hopefully, these numbers will never be used, but, of course, better safe than sorry.

I am now in my 29th week of pregnancy. From here on out things should be getting pretty busy and should be posting a little more frequently. I have another appointment a week from today.  I am also planning on doing a maternity photo shoot some time in the next few weeks and will hopefully have a few pictures posted from that. I am also still working to get all of my certifications (Labor & Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator, and Breastfeeding Counselor) done.  It is looking like I may even be able to get my Labor Doula and Breastfeeding Counseling certifications completed before I have my baby (fingers crossed)!  So, I will be updating on my progress on that too!

Thanks again for following me on my journey to my first homebirth!