Sunday, August 15, 2010

Getting ready for baby numero 4...mentally that is

**this post is really long and all about preparing mentally for labor and delivery. i know several other gals who are pregnant right now so while i refresh myself to prepare for d-day, i thought i would share what works for me. take it for what you will, it's just what worked for me**

Well it's hard to believe but I'm now thirty weeks pregnant with Sweetcheeks. I know I say this every pregnancy but I really can't get over how fast it's flying by. (Bubba was born at 37weeks and 1day, pooks at 37w4d, and peanut at just 36w3d. And for those that don't know, OB doctors count pregnancies in weeks, not months or trimesters so hence all the weeks and days, etc). 

Today I'm 30w2d. If I carry to 37 weeks, that means that I only have about 50 days left until Ms. Sweetcheeks is physically here. It's kinda overwhelming! And it's not that I'm nervous or overwhelmed, we're ready for her. It's just surreal that it's really almost time. Obviously the ''nursery'' is finished, we've narrowed down a name, we've purchased a few and have been given TONS of clothes, we already have a car seat, swing, and I've been slowly purchasing diapers so we have quite the stash already. What's still left? Preparing myself for the mental aspect of childbirth, breastfeeding and having a newborn...again.

I full intend on breastfeeding {again} so I've re-read "The Nursing Mother's Companion" which I can honestly say is the best ''guide'' book that I've ever read. My experience nursing Peanut was much easier, happier and lasted months longer than that of Bubba or Pooks' and I really think that being well educated beforehand helped in our success. The book talks about what to expect (realistically), nursing positions, latching techniques, and even items that can help like nipple sheilds, breast pumps, etc. It  even goes on to discuss nursing "issues'' that may come up later: strikes, thrush, etc. I found myself reading it at the end of my pregnancy as well as anytime I had a ''huh? what's that??" moment. I give it 2 thumbs up and I will say that my local public library carries it, and the local bookstore also had a ''used'' copy that was super affordable.

Currently, I'm in the midst of re-reading "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" to help mentally prepare myself on focusing and relaxing through the contractions (or rushes as she calls them). I will say that while I highly recommend this book as well, it isn't without a few warnings. It's very touchy-feely, hippyish type book. While I got past the tone, some people might find that it's a bit preachy or ''you must have a home birth or the health of you and your baby are at risk''. The book is written by a world renown midwife who focuses on natural childbirth so naturally, sometimes she does come across as a little anti-hospital, anti-OB. I just chose to take those comments/ "facts'' with a grain of salt. While I have had 2 natural childbirths (meaning drug-free, no pain meds given, vaginal childbirths) I have had both of them in a perfectly nice hospital with an OB who I trust completely. To me, a hosptial birth has never been ''evil''. I've never been forced to have a c-section or unwanted pain meds, etc. So, definitely keep that in mind.

--The first part of the book is nothing but birth stories. Which I do find inspiring and educating. There are a ton so they do get a bit repetitive but they are interesting reads. (Warning, some have graphic pictures!) For me, reading about how others childbirths have gone, how they coped with transitioning in labor, positions and techniques of what worked and didn't work, was very informative.

--The second part of the book discusses the physical, anatomical process of birth. What happens in each phase and how being mentally prepared and at ease can be so helpful. She talks about the pros and cons of pain medication, episiotimies, vacuums and forceps, etc. She gives great advice for coping/managing contractions, there are stories and illustrations of labor positions and she explains WHY these positions can be so helpful. That was what I found SO helpful.

With Bubba, I was induced so I had no choice but to lay in bed. I had high-blood pressure and was constantly monitored. It was a fairly quick labor (checked in at 8am and had given birth by 4pm) but had it's fair share of problems. I did have an epidural, it didn't take right. I couldn't feel any contractions at all or my left leg, but I could feel my right leg as well as my vaginal area. The pain of pushing was not numbed. The feeling of crowning was not numbed. It hurt and it hurt like hell because I couldn't feel the contractions, I couldn't feel the effectiveness of my pushes until I felt the pain. I was pushing when they told me I was having a contractions and I wasn't pushing correctly either. After delivery, I lost a lot of blood, I passed out twice after delivery. Bubba was born with the cord wrapped around his neck several times...his apgar scores were low and I didn't get to hold him immediately or have him placed on my belly. It was scary but I don't blame the hospital or my OB. I am extremely thankful that I was in a hospital and that I was able to get assistance so quickly.

His birth is how I knew that I could physically handle a natural childbirth, but it was also why I knew that I would never attempt a home birth. Once I found out I was pregnant with Pooks (just 6mos after delivering Bubba) I vowed to learn as much as I could about childbirth and to have a natural childbirth where my pushing attempts would be effective; where I would feel both the good and the not-so-good of labor. I will interject myself here and say that having a supportive birth partner/coach is HIGHLY needed. B was on-board for me doing this, he knew that he would see me in pain and that I would need his support and encouragement. My mom {Nanaw} had a natural childbirth herself, so there was no doubt in her mind that I could do it. Both my mom and hubby have been present during all of my labor and deliveries.

I also recommend having your own birth plan but realize that it is just a plan. If your birth story is a carbon copy of the plan, good for you. If everything is different, that's okay too. The important part of any childbirth is a healthy mom and baby. In the long run you won't get a medal for refusing an epidural or for having a vaginal birth over a Cesarean. When your "baby" crosses the stage at High School graduation I'm pretty sure you won't be scolding yourself for begging for an epidural 18 years prior.

While I had an idea of my birth plan in my mind {and on typed up on my laptop} I never gave a physical copy to my ob or hospital. Instead I talked to him one on one about it at my 32 or 34 week appointment. I let him know that I fully intended on having a natural childbirth, that I did not want an epidural. I was open to all suggestions for managing the pain naturally; squatting, birth balls, birth tub, etc. I wanted to avoid pitocin if at all possible. I was fine with him rupturing my bag of waters to help progress labor. That once the baby was born, I wanted to delay clamping/cutting the cord until it was done pulsating, and that B would cut the cord when directed. I wanted to nurse the baby as soon as possible after the necessary evaluations/tests were done.

And the important part of having a birth plan? Going over it again when you actually are in labor and check in to the hospital. Let them know of your desires and have them assign you a nurse based on those requests. With both Pooks and Peanuts birth, I had very helpful and supportive nurses. The worse thing is a nurse who doesn't think you can do it, or who asks if you want to talk to the anesthesiologist or worse yet warns you that he's leaving the building. 

I'm not going to lie and say that labor doesn't hurt...parts of it do BUT it's not a continuous pain. This isn't like breaking your ankle. This is a necessary pain with a light at the end of the tunnel. Contractions hurt, yes. But the amazing thing about contractions is that they only last for a little bit; after each one you get a glorious break. Sure at first those breaks are five minutes long and then they dwindle down to ya know, like 30 seconds...but the important part is they are pain-free breaks. It's a chance to mentally prepare yourself for the next one and to focus on the goal: meeting your baby. Breathe through the contractions, use the breaks to munch on some ice chips and re-focus yourself. I know if I can do it, you can do. 


So that's my 2 cents on childbirth, or at least natural childbirth. Millions of women give birth all over the world without so much as an option of an epidural. Without taking a class, without learning a method or hypnotizing themselves. (I've never done any of the aforementioned). If you are woman, and your pregnancy is text book normal (not breech, etc) your body is fully capable to give birth naturally. Remind yourself of that.

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