August 19, 2005

On childbirth and the aftermath...

Now that I'm close and have decided that my body can start doing its thing whenever it wants to, I've been going over Cael's birth in my head. In general, it was great. Once I got that pain relief, man it was sweet. I was able to relax, which to me was key in getting thru it. The two days leading up to it weren't so good. Back labour from the start and I didn't handle it well. I'd heard of back labour and that it sucked, but I had no idea it would be THAT bad. Like I was having a hot poker driven into the small of my back, while at the same time being kicked. Ouch.

So when I found out I was pregnant again, I started doing research on back labour. And learned I did so many things wrong. Mainly, I didn't move around. I lay on the couch feeling sorry for myself when I should have been up. The only thing I did remotely right was getting into the tub. We have a whirlpool tub and it did feel really good to have the jets driving into my back. But I didn't want to stay in there forever. In hindsite, I could/should have.

Like I mentioned, I was on my back or side most of the time. I should have been on my hands and knees or at least leaning over during a contraction to ease the pressure.

Also, I didn't eat anything while labouring. I wasn't hungry, so I couldn't force myself to eat. Which prolly didn't help my energy levels. I was knackered by the time we could finally went to the hospital, but of course by then they wouldn't let me eat.

I got the epidural as soon as I could at the hospital. It did help me relax and snooze some. Well, as much as I could with an IV, heartrate monitors and a blood pressure band doing its thing every 15 minutes... But I realize now that if I'd been walking around, my labour prolly would have gone quicker. (But there was one woman down the hall who was going natural and the nurses weren't very supportive of her. They couldn't undrestand why she didn't just take the pain relief when it was offered. And she made noise...heaven forbid.)

I was terrified. Of everything. I'd never been thru childbirth before, and since so many people were telling me to bed prepared for a c-section 'cuz I'm so small, I believed them. I didn't trust my body to do what it was built to do. So not only did I not know what to expect with labour, I was scared of getting major surgery, which I'd never had before.

I didn't think I'd be able to breastfeed. Those who know me would agree that I'm not particularly well endowed. I was an A cup on a bloated day pre-pregnancy. (Luckily I seem to have kept some of my "size" and am now a gigantic B cup before my milk is even here!!) I was convinced that I wouldn't be able to produce enuf to feed my child. Plus I have a stubborn inverted nipple. Which did prove to be a challenge in the end, but that's ok.

So. After going thru it once, I feel much more prepared for everything. I have a yoga ball, which I hear is great to sit and rock on during contractions. I know to lean forward to relieve back pressure, and stay in that tub as long as I want to. And don't sit in the tub, kneel. And in between baths, walk instead of lay on the couch. I have lots of little snacky foods that I can quickly grab while labouring.

I had a good chat with my doctor at my last appointment about my choices during labour and pushing. She said that women are open to do whatever they want to position wise...whatever is comfortable. Unless they get the epidural of course...then you're pretty much confined to bed with wooden blocks for legs. I'd like the freedom to be able to move at will. Get in the tub at the hospital if I want, walk the halls if I want etc. So I'll go without the epidural for as long as I can. If it goes long and I get tired and need it in the end, fine. At least I gave it a go w/o meds and helped things along by being active. But if the evil back labour does its coming and going thing for two days before the contractions are close enuf for us to go to the hospital, I have a feeling I might cave again because of fatigue. And that's fine too. Cael's birth was a peaceful enjoyable one, and I have no real regrets.

And I had no reason to doubt myself on the breastfeeding side. Ask anyone...Cael had a gigantic appetite. He ate A LOT. I did supplement with formula every so often just to keep my sanity, but I think I did have more than enuf milk to feed him. He was a well fed chunky baby. And the inverted nipple was easily remedied with the use of a nipple shield. The use of which is controversial, but it worked for us for 10 months and I fully plan on using it again this time if I have to with no guilt. As long as he's getting my milk I don't care how he gets it.

I KNOW I can give birth. I've done it. I feel much more confident in my abilities this time. Cael was a biggish baby at 8lbs. Big for me anyway...people are still shocked that I popped him out.

Now recovery was another thing. This is prolly way tmi for some of you, but when Cael was crowning, I wasn't stretching or tearing on my own. So the doctor had no choice but to cut so his head would come out. It didn't end up being a huge cut, but enuf that I needed a few stitches. That was pretty brutal afterwards. So if I don't get the epidural, I'll be free to push in a kneeling or squatting position (which I hear can be brutally hard for any length of time, but gravity aids the baby come down, and its a more natural position to birth in). And if I end up in labour early next week, my own doctor will attend my birth which I would love. Partly 'cuz she knows my wishes and concerns, and also 'cuz I feel more comfortable telling her what I want and don't want. She's on call Monday and Tuesday (and maybe Wednesday? I forget now...) fingies crossed. ;)

One thing that I HATED was the nurse and doctor yelling at me to push. OMG. I thot there was something wrong, so I did what I was told. For the first hour of pushing, I did my thing...I could feel the contractions even with the epidural, so I knew when it was time to push. When things got down to the nitty gritty, it was like there was this big urgency to get the baby out as quickly as possible. Now, there was nothing wrong. He was being monitored and the heartbeat was fine. His position was fine...he was making his way out no problem. I think that this time when I'm at 10 cm, I won't push until I feel like it. I mean, what did they do in the old days when there were no nurses sticking their hands up labouring women's hoo has to see how dilated they were? They pushed when they felt they needed to. There really is an "urge to push", that I did feel when the end was near. I just think I wasted a lot of energy pushing when contractions do a pretty good job in getting baby down on their own.

And I dunno what the nurses' problem was, but I had zero aftercare in the hospital. They didn't bring me a sitz bath 'til 24 hours after Cael was born. Didn't offer me a shower. Didn't even bring me a bottle to squirt myself "down there" after using the washroom instead of having to wipe, which from what I understand is supposed to be standard. This time, I'm bringing my own sitz bath. Its the same one I brought home with me to use at home after Cael and I plan to use it. I also bought my own squirt bottle to bring. And I've researched pain relief and healing and decided to pack witch hazel in my bag as well. If anyone else has tips for what I can bring for aftercare (Amy??), please offer 'em up.

So. Stay tuned to see if I stick to my "plan"...

And as a sidenote, in the time it took me to type this, I've had abt 10 decent contractions. Woohoo!


Anonymous wr said...

what does that mean?? is the baby coming??

19/8/05 21:04  
Anonymous wr also said...

interesting info by the way... you'll be much more prepared this time and you have the confidence to be able to do it your way. i think you're bang on to go with you motherly gut instincts.. especially when you have medical attention right there. i could imagine you even doing the midwife thing?? have you thought of it.. i guess a bit late this time round... maybe next time eh ;)

19/8/05 21:07  
Anonymous Amy said...

I agree with WR. I can totally see you with a midwife and/or doula. You have so much more confidence in your body's ability to bring your new son into the world... good for you!! Listen to your body, it knows what it needs to do. The birthing ball, walking, and all fours position is super for speeding up labor and reducing back labor. (Personal experience doesn't lie!) After birth, two words... (maybe three) Kegels & Sitz Baths!! Best wishes, you'll do great!! Oh yeah, check your e-mail, I'm sending you some info on herbal sitz baths and all that good stuff!!!

19/8/05 23:22  
Anonymous Lorie said...

Having had 3rd degree episiotomy, I so agree that the squeeze bottle is a must. I never tried it, but I have heard that soaking maxi pads in water and then freezing them makes an excellent ice pack for post-birth. And the best thing my husband did for me pre-birth was to install a handheld shower head! : ) My fingers and toesies are crossed! Can't wait to meet the little one!

21/8/05 11:20  
Anonymous Andrea said...

Good luck! I can't believe he's still hanging around--he must be comfortable. ;)

23/8/05 07:11  
Anonymous Donna said...

sounds like you're ready! on a positive note, i found the healing process and the overall discomfort with baby #2 much faster and easier than with baby #1. i guess everything's already been stretched and shifted and your body remembers. witch hazel, tuck's pads and sitz baths are the way to go, plus warm water in the squirt bottle. also my sister in the states was given a heat lamp which she said sped the healing up a lot - but i don't know if they have those here anymore (i think it's considered "old fashioned") but you could ask. i asked at QCH but they didn't have them. anyway, good luck and i can't wait to hear the good news!!!

23/8/05 09:17  

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