Monday, July 11, 2011

Power not Pain

So this weekend was the "big weekend" where Chad and I spent 12 hours in a classroom at the hospital learning about how in the heavens I'm going to deliver this baby.

Other than a few funny words, comments and phrases from our tree hugger/hippie/doula instructor - I think it's safe to say Chad and I found the labor and birth education class to be super helpful and did so much to alleviate a lot of the concerns we had going into this whole "birthing a human" thing.

So here's the thing - if you only based labor off of what you see on television and what your "for some reason I think it's a good idea to terrify you with how hard and difficult labor is" friends tell you about it... no doubt, you'll be terrified. Obviously, I don't think any woman is stupid enough to think labor is easy and painless. But there is more to the picture than that.

As our instructor did a good job in explaining, "pain" during labor isn't pain for no reason. It's a natural response your body is giving because it's doing something it was made to do. It's not like pain from an injury or sickness where your body is telling you something is WRONG. Labor "pains" are completely different. And besides that, the pain is not constant. With each peak of pain comes minutes or seconds where you can regroup and focus to do it again --- God's awesome design. And if we can change from seeing it as scary, scary "pain" into something that is empowering (ummmm hello, you created life and are delivering it!!!) then you can go a long way into alleviating that fear we have going into labor... which will go a long way in making your delivery easier.

So with that knowledge, we learned all about the ins and outs of labor and delivery. We learned about the options available to us and how to advocate for things we do or do not want during labor in order to come up with a birth plan for our ideal birth to share with our doctor before our little man arrives. Everyone has the right to decide what they think would be best for them - so no judgment on what anyone else decides - but I'm glad that Chad and I were on the same page.

We had to do one helpful exercise where we laid out all the options that would go into having our "perfect labor and delivery" and then had to go through acting like if three things went wrong and we had to change what we had wanted, and then add three more things, and three more things until we only had 2 "cards" that were most important to us. These are things that our partner would advocate for us above all else if things were to go south.

Ours were:
Vaginal delivery.
No forceps or vacuum on baby. (I have an 'under no circumstances' for forceps, and if absolutely necessary, I'd let them try the vacuum ONCE very briefly to help guide the baby out. But if there was any resistance, I'd want it to stop immediately. If baby was absolutely lodged in there and was in distress, then we'd absolutely go for c-section.)

My other big "want" - which I know might be hard to fight for - is that I really, really, really unless absolutely medically necessary for the health of me or baby, do NOT want to be induced prior to 42 weeks. So many of the reasons people either want to be induced, or that doctors want you to be induced (mainly liability/medical malpractice reasons) aren't really necessary. We should trust our bodies know when baby is 100% ready to arrive.

Big reason being? Once you start one medical intervention, things are exceedingly more likely to snowball requiring you to need others. Again, this is no knock to those who were pleased as punch to figure out their induction date and proceed to have perfectly healthy babies. It happens all the time. But for us, we really want this to be as natural as possible for both me and our little one.

So here are some of our "wants" for our labor + delivery. As you can see, so many of these "wants" would be eliminated immediately should I have to be induced.

1) Spend as long as possible of "pre-labor" at home. Our hospital is only 7 minutes away, so when our contractions get closer together and more powerful, we'll head on in. Until then, I want to be in the comfort of our own home.

2) I don't want to be hooked up to an IV. I want the freedom to eat and drink as I want to during labor unless I'm showing signs of dehydration. I'll have the little port stuck in my hand ready to go in case I need to be quickly administered an IV or medications --- but I don't want to be tied to an IV.

3) I only want intermittent monitoring for baby. I don't want to be tied to a machine for this either. I'm happy for the nurses to come monitor the baby as often as they want to - but I don't want something strapped to me unless, again, baby is showing signs of distress. This monitoring is the same thing I had on during my non-stress test last week, and I was stuck lying perfectly still because whenever I moved the dang thing would slip and the nurse would have to come in and readjust it.

4) The biggest reasons for numbers 2-3 is I want to be able to move about freely during labor. I don't want to be lying in bed. Our hospital will provide us with a birth ball and each room is equipped with jetted tubs and showers for "aquatherapy" if we want to do that. We spent a good 2 hours practicing various techniques - standing, squatting, sitting and lying that will help open up the pelvis. A lot of times women can get stalled in labor simply because they aren't trying any other positions. Let gravity work with you!

5) After the baby is born, I want to immediately hold him on my chest and unless medically necessary, delay any testing or newborn procedures for one hour.

In terms of drugs, I've been super honest this whole time with the fact that I'm not going into this assuming I'm going to need them. At the same time, I'm not kidding myself that I won't want them. I have no idea how my body is going to be able to manage the pain. But I hope that by being able to move around and work through my contractions with Chad's support, I'll be able to put off (or avoid completely) any pain medications or an epidural. Of course, the ideal situation is for this baby to be born completely unmedicated - it is definitely the best thing for baby and mom if that can happen.

Our instructor mentioned more than once the biggest factor in allowing you to have a natural birth is you believing in your body's ability to do it. I don't want to second-guess myself and don't need anyone telling me "oh you say that now... just you wait!" What does that accomplish? Nothing.

I am completely realistic that in birth, like in every other area of life, things hardly ever go as planned. And I'll be okay with that. The only thing I really care about in the end is having a healthy baby. There are a million different scenarios that can all end with that - that involve any number of combinations of things I do or do not want during my labor + delivery. I just want my little boy at the end and we'll do what we need to do to make that happen. I'm not tied to my plan - because things will change... I have no doubt. But I'm glad that I have an idea of what I want instead of going in this blindly.

Most of all, I'm so thankful to have Chad. As big of a goofball as he is, took the class very seriously and I have no doubt he is going to be the most amazing support system for me in that hospital. I'm also so thankful to have baby Jack... I've said it before: Jack is a fighter. I know he is. I can feel it. It's crazy, but I really feel like the three of us - Chad, Jack and I - are going into this together as a team and we're going to work this thing out. I have completely confidence in my ability to do this, Jack's ability to cooperate with me to get him out, and Chad's ability to support us all.

Only a little over 6 weeks left.

And I finally feel ready.


  1. I just read my own birth "plan"! Haha. I wanted the exact things and did the same card exercise in our class. No matter what happens, you'll have a wonderful baby boy that will melt your heart and fill you with more love and joy than you could ever imagine! We're praying for you, Chad, and Jack.

  2. What a huge blessing you are so close to the hospital. 7 Minutes is just awesome! Its really great that you have so many things laid out that are ideal but are still being flexible about it. One thing to just think about (so you're prepared for it) is if your water breaks naturally you might not want to walk too much. From personal experience it is GROSS ;-). Bring crocs or other shoes you can wash! Getting so excited for you and to see sweet baby Jack!

  3. Thanks Sarah and Grace! So lucky to have so many awesome and supportive moms around me. ;)