Saturday, March 21, 2009

Birth of a Family

I wanted to share this email from a DVD student that gave birth last weekend. I have wanted to put it up here all week, but it's been Spring Break and we were dog sitting THREE dogs. Darcy also had her 4th birthday party. So it's been a little crazy around here!

I enjoyed this birth story for a number of reasons. This couple, before switching to a midwifery group in a hospital, was with an OBGYN at a hospital with a 60% C-section rate. It took a lot of courage to change their birth attendant and birth place towards the end of pregnancy, but they are so thankful they did. FYI -- I left the names of the midwife, nurse, and hospital out of this story on purpose – you'll understand why as you read the story.

We headed to the hospital around 11 am yesterday. Got there and they did an initial check. I was at 5 and a -1 station. The nurse we had was great. She brought in a birth ball for us, encouraged me to eat whatever I needed and drink as needed. I got in the bathtub/jacuzzi just to help me relax around 2. Transition set in probably around 2:40, and I started pushing around 3:00. We found out later that the policy at (the hospital) is not to let people have a tub birth, but at that point I wasn't getting up, and my midwife practice was awesome. They let me labor exactly how I needed to. We had never even considered giving birth in the tub, but it felt so great to be in the water that I didn't want to get out. Donna--I'm a pretty reserved person. I'm very polite--you know, the whole pooping thing. I made noises during pushing that I didn't know I was capable of. My throat is still sore today from my grunting. I didn't scream, but I was definitely loudly yelling. My midwife, told me at one point, "I know you feel like you're out of control, but you're completely in control. You sound great." It was very encouraging. The pushing was just like you described it, feeling like you have to poop, then the burning when the head is coming out. When he finally made his appearance at 4:41, he had the cord wrapped around his neck four times. I didn't even think to panic because the midwife and the nurse didn't at all. They just unwrapped it and immediately put him on my chest skin to skin. He pinked up right away. He's seven pounds even and 19 3/4 inches long. I did tear slightly, but it was in two places on my labia. My midwife said it wasn't bad at all. All in all labor was just shy of 12 hours. Much quicker than I expected.

So, my thoughts after this are that I'm so glad we went through Bradley. As soon as the birth was over I was able to get up, move around, hold my baby and walk the room with him, hug my family, and eat! It was so worth it to be able to move--and I don't feel like recovery is as big of a deal. Also, every time they checked the heart beat during labor it was nice and strong, around 150. The nurse and my midwife both told me later that if we had been on constant monitoring then they would have probably picked up distress with the cord being around his neck so many times, which could have ended up with a c-section of course. It's awesome that we knew what we wanted and were able to make that happen. Thank you SO MUCH for helping us with this! Also, I honestly believe if we had a doctor and the cord was wrapped around his neck, then they would have gone into emergency mode and I would have been separated from my baby. That might not be true, maybe I'm now skeptical of doctors, but I am SO GLAD we were with the midwives.

Kyle wanted me to tell you that he's sorry he couldn't get back in touch with you yesterday. His phone died, and I didn't have your number stored in my phone. Oops! He also wanted me to tell you thank you so much for all of your help--not just yesterday, but with the classes. We both are still on a high from the whole experience.”

First of all, hats off to the midwife and nurse for trusting this mother, her desires, and most importantly, her needs. They encouraged her to listen to her body and follow her instincts. They were even willing to "break the rules" in order for this woman to do that. They trusted birth. I also loved that they encouraged her to eat and drink in labor. They wanted her up and moving, not strapped to a fetal monitor, which, as mentioned, could have potentially led her to a C-section.

Anyone who has sat through my class knows I spend a lot of time talking about poop -- poop stories, as we call them. We have some good laughs about it, but it is a very serious issue for many women. So serious, in fact, that I've seen a C-section happen because she was so afraid of pushing out something other than just her baby. So, I loved her comments about being reserved and "polite" -- followed up with being shocked by the sounds she made as she pushed her baby out. I encourage women to sound out their contractions, which makes people uncomfortable when they are not exposed to natural birth and its associated sounds. Ina May Gaskin talked about this in "Orgasmic Birth."

Another item I wanted to address was the cord being around the neck four times. She must have had a long cord to do that! One in three babies will have the umbilical cord wrapped around their neck, so it is very common. The midwife will just slip it over the baby's head. I have heard this time and again as a reason for a C-section. Or I've heard comments like, "It's a good thing the doctor did a C-section because the cord was wrapped around the baby's neck," like the c-section saved the baby. It is very common to have the cord wrapped once or twice around the neck -- not so common to have it wrapped FOUR times! So glad they had a midwife to calmly handle the situation without all the unnecessary drama.

I had the opportunity to talk with her husband a couple of days after the birth and he was on a total birth high. This is something I see with couples who work together to give birth without medication or interventions: it brings them closer together and the men have a deeper admiration for their wives. The husband who sits back and lets the doctors take care of everything does not feel this same sense of accomplishment as the man who actively helps his wife give birth. This particular husband and new father simply gushed over what his wife had done. He said that it was "awesome" to see his "Southern Belle" do something so amazing. He pointed out how cool it was to see her give birth, and then after the placenta was born, she got up and walked to the bed with blood running down her leg. I think he thought she was amazingly tough, and yet so feminine! He said the next baby will be born at home! This is an experience that will be imprinted on his heart forever.

Congratulations Jessica and Kyle. Thank you for allowing me to be a small part of this experience in your lives.


Kate's mommy said...

Yay, Jessica & Kyle! Kip & I are so happy for you. :)

Sarah said...

Oh, how I love good, frill-free birth stories! Thanks for posting this inspirational story--of birth in a hospital, no less!

Donna Ryan said...

Good to hear from you again, Sarah. I've been pondering your post request... Stay tuned for more.