Birth Coaches

Okay, I’m fairly sure this will be my last post about birth for awhile. There is just so much associated with birth that I’ve wanted to share! Thanks for your patience with me (and hopefully this will be useful to at least some of you).

I never was a sports person, so I don’t know much about coaching. But, I do know that having a support staff in labor is essential to achieving the type of birth experience you want. All of our family is far away, so our coaching staff consisted of Brian and a doula, Becca. Nurses and doctors are also part of the birth experience, but they are more of a variable. You can’t control exactly which doctor or nurse will be on-call during your labor and delivery, but you can control who you bring with you!

Brian and I took a Bradley course (with Lisa Upham of A Baby Naturally) the first time around, so he was well-prepared for what happens during childbirth. Folks, he is an AMAZING coach. You’d think he’d been doing it his whole life. He is attentive, supportive, sweet, encouraging, firm, and never leaves my side. He knows all the activities that will encourage the progression of labor and he pushes me to keep active and to relax. I honestly don’t think I’d have made it unmedicated through either of my births without him.

Secondly, we hired a doula to help give support throughout the birth. Our first doula, Sarah, moved out of the state so we had to find a new one. We were referred to Becca of Labor of Love Doula Services and were so happy with her work! Having a doula provides extra emotional and physical support, as well as a wealth of knowledge about childbirth. She really helped get me over my slow progression of dilation through her experiences with other births. Plus, she was able to give me support while Brian needed to use the bathroom or grab some food. We loved having a doula!

Having support from people you trust plays
such a huge role in labor and delivery!

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Birth Plan

Yes, I’m going to write just-one-more post about birth. (Actually, I have one more planned, so feel free to stay away if you are not interested in birth stuff.) You know, because it’s on my mind and all. I cannot believe it has already been two weeks since I was in the midst of it all. Anyway, I was planning on sharing some of this before Mr. Nolan arrived, but didn’t get around to it.

Part of what has made my last two births successful (i.e., I got mostly what I wanted out of the birth experience) was the amount of preparation that went into it. For both births I had a very detailed birth plan that helped communicate my desires to the hospital staff. My nurse was so awesome and she was super supportive of my natural birth experience (last time too, actually). Having a specific plan for her to follow helped keep us all on track, especially when I got to the point during labor when I really couldn’t talk much.

So, I thought I’d share my birth plan with you. It’s a bit long, but might be helpful for those of you who are thinking through these things for yourselves!

Birth Preferences:
For personal and medical reasons, we are seeking a natural birth.  We understand that labor and birth are unpredictable, and ultimately we want the health and safety of both the baby and the mother to take precedence. That being said, in all non-emergency situations, please discuss all proposed procedures (benefits and risks) so that we can direct the decision making with informed consent.

Your Help with These Preferences is Very Much Appreciated!

Labor

  • We would like no augmentation of labor unless non-medical techniques are ineffective and consent is given.  Should augmentation be necessary, please proceed with a low-dose protocol after informing us of the need.
  • We would like no analgesia/anesthesia unless specifically requested.
  • We would like intermittent FHR monitoring and a Hep lock for IV so as to allow for the freedom to move, walk, and shower during labor.  Please use an internal monitor only if it is medically necessary for the health of the baby.
  • We would like as few vaginal exams as possible.
  • We would like to eat and drink as needed during labor, and we would like the ability to lower lights, play music, etc. in the birthing room so as to create as relaxing of an environment as possible

 Birth

  • As we are seeking an unaugmented and medication-free birth, we would like a choice of positions for pushing as well as the freedom to change positions throughout 2nd stage labor.
  • As long as progress is being made, please allow for a prolonged length of second stage labor as long as the baby is not deemed to be at severe risk.
  • We plan on laboring down until the urge to push is felt, so please allow for spontaneous bearing down.
  • We would prefer to tear rather than have an episiotomy
  • If assistance in delivery is needed as a last resort, please use suction rather than forceps

 Baby Care

  • We plan on allowing the baby to breastfeed immediately; please delay standard newborn procedures until baby has had the opportunity to breastfeed on both sides.
  • We would like an unaugmented delivery of the placenta.
  • If stitching of the perineum is necessary, please feel free to use a local anesthetic.
  • Please delay cord-cutting 3-5 minutes until cord is mostly gray, and please allow the father to cut the cord at the appropriate time.  Thanks in advance for your patience with us!
  • We would like the newborn to stay with us at all times, so please perform all physical exams and procedures in the room with us.
  • We respectfully decline eye ointment, Vitamin K, and Hepatitis B shots.
  • We plan on breastfeeding only; we respectfully request no bottles, pacifiers, artificial nipples, formula, or water be given to the baby at any time during our stay at CDH.
  • We do not plan on having our baby circumcised.

 Emergency

  • In the event of a C-Section, we would like the father to be present at all times.  We also request that a local anesthetic be used.  Please bring the baby to the mother as soon as possible for breastfeeding; please do not feed baby formula unless there is a serious medical problem with the mother.

We Appreciate Your Help and Support!

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The Second Time Around

As it turns out, being a second time mom is amazingly easier than a first time one.
I sort of love it.
And boy do I love him.

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I don’t mean to brag, but I think I might have the sweetest baby ever. Not only is he adorable, he never cries. He snores, he clicks, he waves his arms around when he’s hungry — but only lets out a yelp when he gets a particularly cold diaper change. He has stolen my heart!

Anyway, some observations from a second time mom:

  • Nursing is way easier. And almost enjoyable. I didn’t like it at all the first time, but now it feels way more natural and sweet.
  • The changes to your body freak you out way less. The first time you see a sagging stomach, or those stretch marks, or have leaking breasts, or feel like all of your organs are going to fall out when you stand up or sneeze or use the bathroom — it’s terrifying. I remember bawling my eyes out taking a bath, just sure that I would never be the same again. This time, I’m like — no big deal! It’ll change. It’ll get better. I will feel normal again. So what that I’m leaking and feel like a milk machine? It’s temporary and it’s worth it.
  • The newborn stage is way more precious. Every time I wake up in the middle of the night I have to gaze at my handsome boy and smother him in kisses. I know how short this time is and I want to appreciate it.
  • The mess is a lot less stressful. I remember being so afraid that Parker would spit up or poop on things. I would have little meltdowns every time I had to have a wardrobe change or add more to that pile of laundry. This time? It is what it is. Babies are messy and it’s my job to clean up after them. No big deal.
  • It’s easier to take “me” time. I’m really bad at asking for help. This time, if someone offers I’m like “heck yes!” Even if it’s just asking Brian to watch Nolan while I get a bath or read a chapter, I’m more willing to do it because I know it will make all the difference in my sanity. No one is expecting me to raise this child by myself. Accept the help and learn to ask for it.
  • I never want to put Nolan down. I remember thinking it was boring to hold a baby all day. Now I relish every chance I get to hold him — those quiet moments when I can just gaze at my baby are rare so I really appreciate them a lot more.
  • Watching Parker interact with Nolan makes me so happy. Indescribably so. Parker is definitely pushing my buttons with all the changes he’s going through, but he is so sweet to his brother. It makes me a very proud mama.

That’s it for now, but I am less than two weeks into this gig.
I know there will be so much more to learn.
Any tips from moms who have “been there, done that”?

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Nolan’s Birth Story

For those of you who are interested in this sort of thing, I thought I’d share Nolan’s birth story while it is still fresh in my mind. I’ll try to keep the details to a gory minimum, but afterall, birth isn’t pretty. :-)

I experienced “false” or “prodomal” labor for a week and a half before the real thing started. It was unbelievably frustrating. I would have regular contractions for 3 to 4 hours, only to have them stop completely just as I would start to take them seriously. I felt a whole host of other pre-labor symptoms at the same time. The emotional stress of waiting was really getting to me! I started doing acupuncture to induce labor naturally around 38 weeks. We also did a ton of walking each evening to get things on the move.

Finally, on the morning of January 12th I woke up with regular contractions. They were closer together than the previous false labor, so I hesitantly told Brian, “I think I’m in labor.” They weren’t painful, so he still went to work and we just kept it in the back of our minds. I spent the morning with some friends as planned, but around 11 I noticed that the contractions were getting much closer and I was becoming a bit shaky. Since a snowstorm was in the forecast, I decided it would be good to get home and have Brian there with me.

I got home around 12 and so did Brian. We called our doula and had our good friend Rochelle come over to watch Parker. I had already had an ultrasound and NST appointment schedule for 2:40, so we just figured I’d go to that and find out if this was the real deal. Until the appointment I frantically cleaned the house and got everything packed. We went to the appointment early so I could walk the halls before going in. During the NST we could see that Nolan’s heart rate kept decelerating during contractions. My doctor was concerned, so he said to check in to labor and delivery so I could be monitored for a full hour. I was dilated to 3 cm, so he said this could be it, but there was a 20% chance I’d go home if everything looked normal.

I ended up being monitored closer to 3 hours. The first hour I had to lay down, but after that my awesome nurse encouraged me to walk around with the electronic monitor. By 7 pm my doctor finally came in to check on the progress. Nolan’s heart rate looked fine, but since my contractions were 3 minutes apart, it looked like I’d be staying. I was at 4 cm and during the exam my water broke. We finally allowed ourselves to believe that this was it and we were having a baby boy in the next 24 hours!

The next three hours I was “in the zone”. You have never seen a more cooperative and active laboring woman! I walked, bounced on the ball, changed positions, did all the correct breathing, relaxed fully between contractions — I felt very in control and intentional. The contractions hurt, but were manageable and I just knew we were making good progress.

Everyone felt sure I was close to the pushing stage, so we decided to get another check. I was 4 cm. Absolutely devastated. I fell apart. I literally cried for an hour and said I was giving up. My contractions slowed considerably and I was completely limp, laying on the bed. They gave me some IV fluids to help give me some energy.

Between Brian, our doula, and the nurse I was somehow coaxed into rallying. I unenthusiastically followed orders and walked around the hospital in a daze. A new nurse came in and she encouraged me to try a new position. I was in an immense amount of pain at this point, mainly focused on my hips and tailbone. I couldn’t sit upright or Nolan’s heart rate would drop, but I couldn’t lay down because of the pain. I felt alternately hot and freezing, shaky, and nauseous. I don’t really know how I made it through the next hour, but by the next check (my doctor was threatening pitocin if I hadn’t made progress) I was at 7 cm. So much relief!

I kind of lost track of time after that, but after sometime laboring between the bathroom, the birth ball, and the bed I managed to make it to a “stretchy” 8. I was already having the urge to push, but was constantly reminded not to. The contractions were really close and really powerful (i.e. painful), until there was about a 6 minute lull. My nurse even commented, “wow, it’s nice you’re getting a little break here.” I sat up in the bed and exclaimed, “I HAVE TO PUSH!”

The nurse got really panicky, I think she thought that I wanted to be done so badly that I’d say anything. Much to her surprise, when she checked me she found Nolan’s head, just a push or two away from entering the world. Everyone jumped into action and my doctor barely made it in time. I pushed for about 10 minutes and we met our beautiful baby boy for the first time at 2:19 am, January 13. The cord was wrapped around Nolan’s neck twice, but the doctor was able to unwrap it without difficulty.

Despite the speedy delivery, I had no tears and required no stitches. I delivered the placenta about 5 minutes after the birth. I was bleeding more heavily than they liked, so they did administer some pitocin to stop the bleeding. After Brian cut the cord, I was able to enjoy cuddling with my little man and breastfed for awhile before they checked his stats. He was 8 lbs, 9 oz — after an ultrasound earlier that day had said 8 lbs, 1 oz. At 21 inches long, he was half an inch shorter than Parker, but weighed almost a pound more. Nolan was born at 38 weeks, 5 days gestation.

Recovery has been much faster this time around. We went home from the hospital about 30 hours after delivery. Nolan has taken to breastfeeding like a champ and everything with him just feels so natural. His blood sugars were all normal at birth, so we are officially done with gestational diabetes. The little man and I have incompatible blood types, so there is an increased risk of jaundice. So far so good! Nolan is a little love and hardly ever cries. He is definitely flipped with his sleeping schedule (goes about 3 hours between feedings during the day, but 1- 1.5 hours at night), but that’s to be expected with a newborn. We love our little man!!

Oh, and Parker loves Nolan too. He has adjusted remarkably well and is very zealous about giving hugs and kisses to Nolan. He likes to play peak-a-boo with Nolan and to name all of his body parts. He is especially intrigued by the umbilical stump. My heart swells so much when I have my two boys in my arms or when I see them with their daddy.

What an amazing thing to be a family of four!

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Waiting

Sorry for the silence around here. I suspect some of you have been wondering if I’ve gone into labor or had a baby with the lack of posting! But no, we’re just waiting. And waiting.

I had so many ideas of end of the year posts and new year goal posts, but I have just been too preoccupied with this whole birth thing. I’ve had false labor all week, so I’ve been super antsy getting everything ready just-in-case. I’m not overdue yet, so it seems silly to be full of so much anticipation, but having contractions everyday will certainly do things to your mental and emotional state!

I think I’m finally (or at least momentarily) at peace with whatever happens. I’ve lost my nerves about labor. I’m as prepped as can be at home and with baby stuff. I’m mentally ready for labor today or three weeks from now. I’m thankful for a healthy pregnancy and don’t want to rush Mr. N until he’s ready. But just because I’m feeling patient at the moment doesn’t mean I won’t be ecstatic when the time comes. We are so ready for our little boy to be here!

And trust me, you’ll be some of the first to know when it happens. I promise I won’t hold out on you!

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