So i’ve written and re-written this post a few times over the past week. My birth story is pretty long and kinda epic and a million paragraphs long. I tried to cut parts out, but it was all important, so I decided to scrap it. Basically, my story makes for a better short story than a blog post. So instead, I’m going to summarize what happened to me and focus more on what I learned and am taking forward with me from my birth experience.
Reader’s Digest Birth Story
- Duration of labor & delivery: 24 hours
- Water broke at 11pm on April 2nd
- Labored unmedicated from 1:30am – 2:30pm April 3rd
- Pushed unmedicated from 2:30pm – 5:30pm
- 5:45pm epidural administered and I labored down (rested) for 2 hours
- Pushed for 2 more hours with epidural
- Emergency c-section performed and our baby girl arrived at 11:00pm
What I learned
If you get cleared for it, workout for the duration of your pregnancy with a concentrated focus on breath, deep core muscles, and mind/spirit connection to the body. I was only able to labor and push for as long as I did because of my physical condition and mental/spiritual strength. It’s sooooo important to connect with your Transverse Abdominals (TA muscles) and Diaphragmatic Breathing BEFORE you deliver. It made laboring and pushing so much more powerful (only reason it wasn’t successful is because our baby girl was poorly positioned). It also has made recovering post laboring and c-section so much quicker – I even had nurses, midwives, and doctors comment to that effect!
Prepare as much as you can, and then be ready to go with the flow. My birth experience did NOT go as planned! I prepared A LOT for it. I planned to have an unmedicated labor (I did have that) and an unmedicated natural delivery (I did not have that). I thought it would go quickly and smoothly. My body was ready, my mind was ready, my team was ready. However, things don’t go as planned. One of the best things I did in preparation for labor and delivery was to learn about all of the different labor/delivery options. We took a birth class that covered unmedicated, natural, as well as medical options. From there, I was able to write a comprehensive birth plan. This plan made it easy for me to know when it was time to move to the next plan. I didn’t feel like I “failed” when I needed the epidural and I sure as hell didn’t feel like I failed when we ended up requiring a c-section. Because I wrote down my wishes for each of these cases, my preferences were always honored and I always felt part of the birth experience rather than feeling like things were happening to me or being decided for me. Having a plan and being flexible with it allowed us (even with all the craziness) to have a truly positive birth experience.
Eat something as soon as you go into labor! I did not do this and I was without food for about 32 hours! You never know how long it’s going to take, plus it’s good to have that extra energy!
Surround yourself with a team that knows and cares for you. Our experience was intense, it could have been a lot scarier feeling, and it could have been a negative one instead of the positive one we had. It was because of the amazing people we surrounded ourselves with that we felt so good. My mom, my husband as well as the nurses, midwife, doula, and OBs were our pit crew. They knew our wishes, they respected our wishes, and they honored our wishes. Everyone there was there for both me AND baby. We never felt opposition, judgement, or scared – even as everything progressed and plans began to change.
One tip for everyone – GET A DOULA! Seriously! No matter what your birth plan, you should have a doula. Nurses, midwives, OBs, etc. are in and out of the room and I can’t imagine being left alone for even 5 minutes the experience was that intense (and new!). A doula is YOUR person. They are your teacher, advocated, masseuse, coach, and partner support system. I would not have been able to do what I did without ours.
Keep your ego in check! It would have been easy for me to feel like I failed. I didn’t achieve the birth experience I wanted. It would have been easy to feel like I cheated by having the epidural or that I did something wrong that required me to have a c-section. The bottom line is, so much of this experience – much like most of our baby girl’s life now is and will be out of our control. All we have control over is our attitudes. Because I was prepared and informed, I know that I made the decisions that were best for both me and my baby given the circumstances. This experience wasn’t about me getting a trophy for accomplishing a fully unmedicated birth and delivery. It was about both of us leaving the labor and delivery floor alive and as healthy as possible. I wanted an unmedicated birth to give myself and my baby the strongest start, but with our particular situation that was proving not to be the strongest start so we pivoted to the next plan to achieve that end. I’m not any less of person for requiring intervention and whatever you decide for you and your baby – you will not be any less. Birth isn’t a competition – it’s about bringing another life into this world. It was only by going through what we went through that I have truly learned that lesson.
Labor and delivery was a tremendous experience for us. It didn’t go as planned, and was more intense (and yes more painful) than anything i’ve ever experienced. So would I do it again? Am I scared for next time? Yes i’d do it again and no i’m not scared.
How can that be? Well we’ve all had that marathon running friend who tells the story of that race they ran that was mostly uphill, in the rain, and ended with many blisters and missing toe nails. They tell that part of the story and then talk about how happy they were crossing the finish line and how ready they are for the next race. That marathoner views that race as an intense challenge where they earned their stripes and they talk about their “war story” with pride. That’s how I feel about my birth experience. It was the most challenging, painful, grueling, scary, intense, life-changing, humbling, loving, amazing experience I have ever had – and I can’t wait to do it again.
Primarily, because this the trophy you get when all is said and done.