Thursday, September 25, 2008

What I Learned From My 3rd Birth

This will not be long, don't worry. The first 2 births, I wanted to really show the contrast between them -- drugs vs. no drugs. That is not the point of this one.

I had wanted to have the 3rd baby at home, but David said no way. Our video is a prized possession of the 2nd birth, so we knew we wanted to video the 3rd too. At 33 weeks, we found out that the hospital we were to give birth at did not allow you to videotape the actual birth. I had been jumping over red flags the entire pregnancy, so that was the last straw. David finally consented that it was time to search for another birth place.

Yadda yadda yadda, that birth place became home. I interview lots of midwives over the phone and narrowed it down. I took David to meet the one I like the best. I think deep down he was really scared to be walking this road with me. After meeting Jenny, though, he was full of confidence. In his words, "That woman could handle anything!"

Ninety percent of the births she attended were water births, so "when in Rome..." We decided to have a water birth.

I was cocky with this birth. I had all this knowledge of birth and my memory of the 2nd birth was that it was pretty easy. So, I didn't prepare. I ate my protein, but I did not practice my pregnancy exercises. We did not practice relaxation even one time before labor began. What a mistake.

You know how everyone always tells you that each labor gets shorter? That's what I was expecting. My 2nd labor was 5 hours, so 5 hours into this labor, and I'm thinking, "Where's the baby?" I really wasn't working hard though, not until the few hours before the birth. (This labor was about 14 hours.)

My water broke about 2 hours before she was born. Right before this, I was sitting on the toilet, totally freaking out in my head, thinking, "What am I doing? If I was in a hospital, I could be having drugs right now? Why didn't I prepare for this birth? I am an idiot!"

Things picked up after my water broke and I went to my glorified kiddy pool set up in the living room. I never recognized the urge to push because I was sitting on her head, propped up on my arms. Very uncomfortable. I was so hot in the water. Looking back, I should have gotten out and birth on land! I screamed my head off when I pushed this baby out. (The mailman came to the door to deliver our mail during this time!) All my cords have been short, and the water was so deep. I had a hard time holding her head up out of the water because my arms were shaking so bad. I wanted to breastfeed immediately to help deliver the placenta, but again, I couldn't because the water was so deep.

Oh yeah, she weighed 8 pounds, Dr. Wolsey! No tears.

So learn from my mistakes: practice and prepare for each birth. I have heard many midwives comment on 3rd births, that they tend to be the hardest. That was true in my case.

I love water for labor, but for birth, this was not the best situation for me. I had intense back labor again and in order for anyone to apply counter-pressure, they either had to be in the water with me or leaning over the very deep edge.

For baby #4, everyone kept telling me to keep my options open, but I knew I didn't want to birth in water again.

The funny thing about the whole story is that baby #3 has been the last to learn to swim and is always the first one out of the pool!


Jenni and fam said...

So, I can't help but always ask myself this question when I think about this birth....."Is Donna disappointed in the video?" I seriously still wonder how it all turned out. If I had already had a baby and knew something about it, then I probably would have been a MUCH better videographer. So tell me HONESTLY...what do you wish I had or hadn't done for the video? HOLY COW that was 8 years ago wasn't it? TIME FLIES when your having....babies!

Also, I agree with you on the 3rd birth is the hardest. My 3rd birth was the hardest...not the longest but the hardest. But for many reasons which there isn't enough room here to mention the biggest being the nurse took TOO long to check me and I was already at a 9 so she was sure MY midwife wouldn't be able to make it. So another midwife delivered...what a joke... its still upsets me to this day! E-mail me back about the video question and PLEASE tell me the truth!

Donna Ryan said...

The video is fine of that birth -- as fine as an under-water video can be! I didn't know you had been worried about it all these years!

Ruth said...

Totally off topic question here, Donna. Oscar is now 4 months old. Can you believe it? I feel like my milk supply isn't what it should be. I have been thinking this for a couple of weeks but it seems to be getting worse. I am working at night but really only miss one feeding and so far I have been able to use pumped breast milk. Otherwise he is breast fed during the day. He is a good eater and is sleeping 10-12 hours per night. When I pump I am now only getting about 4 ounces but he is eating about 6 at each feeding. He also is seeming unsatisified at his feedings and gets a bit frantic.

I was only feeding from one side per feeding and then switching at each feeding but now I have had to do both sides to get him enough.

What can I do to make sure my supply is enough and to make sure I can pump enough for the nights I am at work?

Feel free to email me directly at

Oh, and my natural childbirth was AMAZING! Extremely difficult but extremely rewarding as well.

Donna Ryan said...

Hi Ruth! I am commenting here instead of an email because I hear questions like this frequently.

A couple of things pop out: only feeding off one breast per feeding has given your body the message that your baby doesn't need as much milk. I'm glad to hear that you are feeding from both now. Keep doing that. It takes some time, but your body will get the message that it needs to make more. I think women get discouraged sometimes, not knowing that they can reverse milk production. You simply have to nurse more often.

Another thing to note: your baby is able to pull more milk from your breast than a pump. So don't worry when you are "only" getting 4 ounces when you pump. That's not all your baby is getting at a nursing.

If your baby has been getting an occasional bottle, that may contribute to a "lazy" nurser. He's having to work harder to get more milk. It's easier to cry because mom or dad will fix a bottle. Don't resort to that. Make him stay on the breast and you WILL make more milk.

Feed your baby at least every 2 hours. Don't go longer than that, even if he's not acting hungry. This will help satisfy him, as well as build up a good milk supply again.

As far as building up a milk supply for your freezer: you can pump after a feeding, although if you do this, the tendency will be to not want your baby to drain the breast because you want to have some left to store. Pick a different time, maybe about an hour after a feeding.

Also, while 10-12 hours of sleep a night is so great for us as parents, it's probably not the best thing for milk supply or baby. I'm assuming he's in a crib? If you can bring him to bed with you and nurse him during the night, this will fill his belly and also increase your milk supply.

Be sure you are getting enough calories. An extra 500 per day. Also, if you have added exercise, this can affect milk supply too, if you are not getting enough calories. Stay hydrated.

Let me know if this helps or if you have any other questions. Great to hear from you!

Ruth said...

Some great tips. I will start to feed from both sides each time and see if that helps. I have been pumping when I get home from work, around 11:30 or so because he hasn't seemed to need that feeding any more. Would you suggest rather that I wake him up and feed him and find a different time to pump?

I have not given him a bottle except for the times I am not there to feed him. He only gets one when I am not physically with him. This is only a few times a week and again, only for one feeding. I am still breast feeding for all other feeds. He seemed a bit more satisfied today but I pumped more throughout the night last night because I was working an overnight shift and was awake to do so. Would you suggest pumping more to stimulate more milk production?

He currently is on a 3-4 hour schedule but I will also bump that up for the next week or so to get my production back up.

I do know this is reversible. I just need to get my body back where it needs to be.

I also will work on getting more fluids as I think I have let that one slide. I have been exercising more but I know I am taking in more calories than I need.

Thanks for the help!

Donna Ryan said...

Pumping at 11:30 is probably just fine. Pumping will stimulate more milk production, but if you are with the baby, I would nurse instead of pump. That will actually increase milk production better than a pump. So really, you were only nursing, at best, 5 or 6 times in a 24 hour period. Nursing every 2 hours will just about double your nursing time. That will be great! You'll have a happy baby and a happy mama!

Anonymous said...

My third was also my most difficult, althout my least stressful. My first was a hospital birth, my second a home birth. I had hoped to have my second born in water, but it went so quickly that my husband was frantically trying to fill up the tub and I never made it in! When baby #3 came along I knew I wanted a more peaceful experience, with dh by my side, so I never bothered with the tub. I do advocate for water birth, and have attended them as a doula/student midwife, but I think I'm probably better off without it myself. The important thing is that we have options and find something that works for each of us!