Jackson’s Birth Story – Part 2- Labor & Delivery

This is Part 2 of 2… If you are interested in reading Part 1, click here.

This was the first pregnancy that I experienced many new things. One of those was prodromal labor. It is also called false labor, however, I believe there is nothing false about it as it still can make changes to your cervix and prepare your body for birth. I started experience prodromal labor for about 4 days a week before our baby was born. For 4 days in a row, EVERY evening at around 10pm I would start getting cramping contractions. They were legit contractions and different from Braxton Hicks (BH). BH contractions for me always just felt like tightening of my whole uterus. It was uncomfortable but with a change of position or drinking water, they would go away. Real labor contractions for me have always felt like really bad menstrual cramping that comes on slow, peaks then fades away. Sometimes the pain would radiate to my lower back as well. Anyway, these contractions I experienced for the 4 nights in a row were real. Every night I would start timing them only to see them be all over the place, never getting stronger and never getting closer together. Eventually I would fall asleep and wake up feeling fine in the morning.

It is very hard to deal with prodromal labor. You think “this is it!” only to be let down. It is very emotionally and physically tiring. I am lucky to have wonderful mamas who I was able to turn to online and get some support and words of encouragement. The rest of the week after having prodromal labor, I felt awesome. No contractions or other signs of labor. My due date came arrived. I began getting lots of pressure and tons of twinges and pinches in my cervix. I was excited as I remember the same feelings before I went into labor with Braydon. I continued to feel these pains the next day when I was 40 weeks and 1 day.

That night, May 14, I started getting some mild contractions again. However, once again, they weren’t regular and I was able to fall asleep by 11:30pm.

Then, at 1 am, I woke up having a cramping contraction. It was strong enough to wake me, but not the worse pain. I got up to pee and went back to bed. As I lay in bed, I was trying to fall back to sleep. But I kept getting contractions and it was hard to sleep. I tried drinking water and moving around to see if they would subside. They did not… So I decided I would start timing them on a contraction app on my phone before waking up Kyle. The last thing I wanted to do was jump the gun. As I timed them, they would be anywhere from 2 1/2 – 8 minutes apart. They would last about 50-60 seconds. As they continued, I could feel pressure in my pelvis so I started doing pelvic rocks and squats. I was not comfortable laying in bed during them so I figured I would work with them and see if it would make them more consistent.

At around 4 am, I was still awake having them. I went pee again and this time I noticed when I wiped that I was beginning to lose my mucus plug! I was very excited about this as I knew this meant my cervix was changing and getting ready. After this I went downstairs to get myself more water. I also decided I would wake Kyle up and give him a heads up that I *might* be in early labor. I continued having contractions so I bounced and swayed on my birthing ball during them. They were now around 4-6 minutes apart, still lasting 50-60 seconds. They still weren’t any stronger though, so I decided to let Kyle sleep and that I would try to sleep as well. If this was it, I wanted to try to get more sleep considering I had only about an hour and a half of sleep so far.

However, I was not able to sleep. They continued at about 4-6 minutes apart. I would have to stop and breathe through them also. At this point, I was definitely convinced that this could very well be it and that I was in labor. Every time I peed, I was still losing plug too.

It was now 5 am, on May 15. I decided to wake Kyle again before he got up to get ready to go to work. I told him that the contractions were now 5-6 min apart and about a minute long each. I knew my midwives wanted me to call once they were 5-1-1 or 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 min for 1 hour. I didn’t know if I should call yet since some were closer to 6 minutes apart. I told him I think he should stay home for a bit before leaving in case things changed. I sent my mom a text giving her a heads up as well that I might be in labor, I wanted to be sure I told her before she headed to work as well as she would be the one to watch Shayne and Braydon. I decided to take a shower as I know sometimes the warmth might slow things or stop them if it wasn’t actual labor. I figured this would be the test to decide if I would call the midwife!

I took a shower and had 3 contractions during my shower. My shower was 15 minutes, so I knew they had to be 5 minutes apart. I had to breathe through them as well. After the shower, I had to pee again and noticed this time the plug was no longer clear but now tinged with pink blood. This told me, I should call the midwife and see what they say.

I timed a few more contractions and they were indeed now 5 minutes apart for 1 minute. It had been about an hour. So I called the on call midwife. I explained everything from when it all started at 1 am. I also explained if they felt I needed to come in that it would take about 40 minutes for my mom to get to my house PLUS at least an hour for us to get to the hospital. She told me to have my mom come over and call when my mom got to my house and we would see how things were progressing at that point. I called my mom and told her she got to take the day off work and to come over. Luckily, it was before she would left for work so that meant we wouldn’t be waiting too long for her to get to our house. During this time, I got dressed and finished packing my hospital bag.

When my mom arrived, I called the midwife before we left. Contractions were still 5 minutes apart for 1 minute. They didn’t seem any stronger, but I was still being stopped in my tracks during them not able to concentrate on anything else. I also was continuing to lose bloody plug. She told me to go ahead and leave to get to the hospital. So we got ready to leave. Braydon and Shayne were still sleeping, but I heard a stir from Shayne and he was waking up just at we were about to leave. It was about 7:40am. I went up and told him that mommy was going to go to the hospital with daddy so mommy can have the baby! He was very excited and even more excited when I said Nana was here to watch him and Braydon. I gave him a big hug and kiss and said I would see him soon and he would get to meet his new brother or sister.

Kyle and I headed out to the car and left. We didn’t know what to expect on the drive. It was morning rush hour and it could be a good drive or a bad one. We decided to stay off the main highway though as it had been quicker in the past for us when we would go to my doctor appointments. We set off, I put on my favorite Foo Fighters CD singing in between contractions and hoping the drive wouldn’t be too long. The last thing I wanted was to deliver a baby in the car. The drive when SO well. I continued having contractions. They weren’t any stronger but it seemed worse because I was buckled into a seat and couldn’t move around. They were also radiating around to my back which sucked. About halfway to the hospital, the on call midwife called to check on how the drive was going. I thought this was so sweet. I was once again reassured that I chose the right place to deliver our baby. I never would have expected them to call to see how I was doing. I told her we were halfway to the hospital and that contractions were still going. She said that Beth, one of the other midwives, was heading in to the hospital and would be waiting for us to get there.

The rest of the drive went very smooth as well. We pulled up to the main entrance of the hospital. They had complimentary valet so that was nice that we could go right in and up to labor and delivery. When we walked in, the nurses were expecting us. The nurse joked and asked what brought me in. It was nice to laugh. They brought us to the room I would be laboring and delivering in. It was a nice bright room. It was a very good size too and had a birthing tub. I was excited to try to use water as a comfort measure this time! I noticed though, that I hadn’t had a contraction since we arrived and it had been about 10 minutes. I got nervous thinking maybe I did jump the gun and that I would end up getting sent home. The nurse took some info from me and asked if she could do an exam and see where I was. This was the first cervical exam I would be having this whole pregnancy, so I was curious to see too. I got on the bed and she checked. She told me I was just about completely thinned out and 6 cm dilated but she could stretch me to 7 cm! I was so shocked to hear I was already so far along, especially considering the contractions were so bearable. So the nurse said, “oh ya, so you’re not going anywhere. We will have a baby here soon!”

I was beyond excited. I changed into what I would be laboring in. This time even though I was still birthing in a hospital, I didn’t want to feel like a sick patient wearing a huge hospital gown. I brought a birthing skirt that was handmade according to my size in the color of my choosing. I also decided I would just wear a nursing sports bra with it. This way I could move around and not feel restricted or have to mess with a hospital gown falling down because they are always so big.

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The nurses pretty much left me to do my own thing. I had them bring me a birthing ball to use for comfort during contractions. I didn’t feel like I needed water yet, so held off on using the tub.

At 10am, after a few contractions on the birthing ball, the midwife came in to see how things were going. My contractions were still only about 5 min apart and not intense. She asked if she could check me, I agreed as I knew we would possibly have to do something to get things moving a bit. I was still the same and my bag of waters was still bulging. She asked how I felt about artificially rupturing my waters. Honestly, it was something I didn’t want to consider until it was really necessary. With my first birth, there were tons of interventions, rupturing the bag of waters was one of them, and interventions always mean csection to me. HOWEVER, this time was different. I went into labor on my own and I was already 7cm. I knew breaking the water would bring baby’s head down fully which would get contractions more intense and bring our baby earth side. I agreed considering the circumstances. It went very well. The water was clear and she was able to help ease the baby’s head down gently. He was in perfect position she said and that it wouldn’t be much longer.

breathing through a contraction

breathing through a contraction

Contractions didn’t pick up right away but they were starting to get a bit more intense and I did notice they were starting to get closer together. I also noticed that I was getting a lot more pressure now. I still felt good though and I was handling them very well. Kyle was great support. He let me lean on him, hang on him, he “slow danced” with me while I swayed through contractions. It was so wonderful and peaceful. He helped me stay loose and not tense. I labored like this for about an hour.

A little after 11am, contractions were definitely more intense. I was getting more vocal with my moans and breathing. I decided to labor hunched over on the back of the bed. I knew laying down or being on my back was NOT how I wanted to labor or push baby out. I knew to use gravity to my advantage so kneeling on the bed would be enough to use gravity but also give me a way to rest in between contractions. After the first couple contractions on the bed, I told Kyle that I was starting to get the “pushy” feeling. After another contraction, the nurse came in to check on me and I told her about the feeling. She asked if it was new or if I had been feeling it. I said that I know I will be having to push soon. So right away she left to get the midwife.

when things got intense!

when things got intense!

As soon as she left, another strong contraction came over me. My body started pushing on its own this time and I told Kyle to get them. He hesitated a bit because he knew the nurse had just left to get the midwife. By now the contractions were about a minute apart so the next one, I yelled “GET THEM IN HERE NOW!!!!!”

THIS WAS IT!!!

The midwife came in, I told her that I cannot resist pushing. She checked and could see baby’s head. She told me to go ahead and start pushing how I felt I needed to as she got gowned up and the nurses rushed around to get ready to have a baby. The way I was pushing, I was still hunched over the back of the bed, kneeling on my knees. I felt this was the best way and I honestly don’t think I couldn’t have moved from that position! Contractions were pretty much right on top of each other and I really couldn’t tell when one stopped and another started. All I could feel was intense pressure and the urge to push. Baby was not stopping and was ready to come out. This time I felt the baby crowning and the “ring of fire”. With my last birth, I did not feel this. One big push and the head was out. She asked if I could slow down a second because she noticed the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. Luckily, she was able to loosen it and said I could continue pushing. A couple more big pushed and the baby was out.

right after he came out, but before they took him to get oxygen

right after he came out, but before they took him to get oxygen

It is crazy how once the baby is out, there is no more pain. I quickly turned around and sat on the bed to see my baby. I look and saw it was a boy! ANOTHER BOY! Unfortunately, though, he was a bit blue and even though he was whimpering, they wanted to check him right away because of the fact the cord was wrapped twice plus he was holding onto it as he came out. We did not get to delay cutting the cord much because of this as well. Just goes to show how things do come up and plans change. Of course, the health of our baby boy came first. They walked him over to the warmer and Kyle went with as I waited to deliver the placenta. I was able to watch and see that they did have to give him a little oxygen and then he suddenly showed off how great his lungs were. I remember, I didn’t feel scared. I knew he was fine. They weighed him and told us he was 8 lbs even (my biggest baby) and 21 inches long. He arrived at 11:26am on 5/15/15!

One little push and I delivered the placenta. Then the nurse brought my sweet little boy to me. He was still a little pale but was doing just fine. We immediately did skin to skin and I offered the breast. He wasn’t into nursing right away as he was still a little congested from amniotic fluid in his throat which eventually we got out. As soon as that cleared out, he was super eager to nurse. I was so surprised as how well he latched on right away and went to town. Especially for only being about 30 minutes old.

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Welcome Jackson Cash!

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I am now 3 days postpartum as I finish up his birth story. I am still basking in the new baby warmth, smell, snuggles and the high of having another successful drug free VBAC. I cannot help but feel so strong and empowered. I am so happy and wouldn’t change a thing about Jackson’s birth… well maybe it would have been nice to try out that lovely birthing tub 😉 But it was another amazing birth. I am so surprised at how quickly it went and how well myself and my body handled it. I honestly enjoy giving birth vaginally and naturally without drugs. And although having my VBACs have been extremely healing for me, I still cannot help but have regrets and thoughts about my first birth, which was a csection. I wish I educated myself as much as I am now. I wish I would have chosen a better practice for my care. And I wish I was patient. Waiting for my last two babies to come when they were ready really was the best thing I could do. I am glad I allowed my body to go into labor on it’s own even if I went past my EDD. I hope sharing my 3 birth stories will only give hope to other moms in similar situations.

All images ©2014-2015 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

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Baby #3 Birth Story – Part 1- Pregnancy

We always hear that no two pregnancies are the same. This has totally been true for me. I have had 3 pregnancies and all were different in their own ways. My third and most recent pregnancy, however, was by far my most emotional, trying and difficult pregnancy. It always seemed as though once I started feeling good, I was hit with something to change that.

We found out we were expecting our third baby in September 2014. I began suspecting I was pregnant rather early on, around 4-5 weeks, because I was getting early symptoms similar to my second pregnancy. These were fatigue, sore breasts and random nausea. Sure enough, we bought some tests and they were positive right away. I have to say, it was somewhat unexpected. We knew we wanted to try and conceive our third child in 2014 but had planned to really try in the Fall. However, it happened much sooner than we expected. We have a history of having a harder time conceiving in the past so we honestly didn’t think it would be “so easy” this time. I had mixed emotions at first. A week prior to finding out, I had reached a milestone in my weight loss journey and reached 50 pounds lost and although, I knew I was healthier and felt good. It still hit me that I would now be gaining weight! But eventually, I got over it and we were super excited.

Once I reached the 8 week mark is when morning sickness hit. I was lucky enough to not vomit as much as I did with my first two pregnancies, but the nausea was unbearable. I was nauseas if I didn’t eat and if I did eat. I was nauseas from the moment I woke up in the morning until I went to bed at night. Sometimes I even woke up in the middle of the night running to the bathroom. It was not fun. I had no appetite for anything and literally felt like I had to force myself to eat just to fuel my body.

We had our first appointment at 11-12 weeks. We decided on yet a new practice that was an hour away but it consisted of one OB and 5 midwives. They were the best in the area and practiced evidence based care. Even though I had one successful VBAC under my belt, I will always be considered a VBAC and it is hard to find truly supportive practitioners. If you look back at my last birth, I still had to fight a bit to achieve my VBAC. I did not want to have to go through that again. Our meeting with the doctor went so well. He was so supportive and definitely didn’t give me any red flags. He gave us our due date of May 8 and then did an ultrasound. This was the first time we would see and hear our baby! The ultrasound measurements showed a estimated due date of May 13. So since this was more than 3 days off from the May 8 one, the doctor decided to change it to be May 13. He said, this will only give us more time to let baby come on its own! Not to mention, as long as myself and baby were fine, I could go to 42 weeks.

Baby looked and sounded great on ultrasound. It is always so exciting seeing this tiny human being bouncing and dancing around. We decided we would keep the due date a secret. With my first two pregnancies, we shared the due date and it really caused me more stress. For some reason other people think the due date is an expiration date and they don’t always think about how they say things or how a woman feels about reaching her due date and going past it. So this time around, we shared a due month. I found I really enjoyed going about it this way as even I forgot what week I was in most the time.

Baby's 1st picture!

Baby’s 1st picture!

Once I hit about 18 weeks, the nausea was finally gone. I was still on monthly prenatal appointments and things were going very well. At 19 weeks, we had our second trimester ultrasound. This would potentially be when we could find out the gender of our baby. But of course, we like to wait and we chose not to find out again. The baby looked great. We even got a picture of baby giving us a thumbs up telling me “everything was just fine in here!”. 🙂 Baby measured on track with the May 13 estimated due date (EDD).

Baby's thumbs up!

Baby’s thumbs up!

During my second trimester, baby was growing rapidly and often times this brings on those lovely round ligament pains and Braxton Hicks (BH) contractions. I felt BH with my second pregnancy but never really experienced round ligament pains. I would get some sensations of pulling here and there but NOTHING compared to this pregnancy! This pregnancy, they would stop me dead in my tracks. It felt like a jolt of electricity would run through my abdomen if I made a certain movement. Some were so surprising that I would be nervous to move for about ten minutes after feeling one.
Two months later was now time for the lovely Gestational Diabetes (GD) test. I know a lot of my naturally minded friends choose to opt out of this test. However, I personally choose to do it because of having a family history of diabetes. To me drinking one drink that I would not normally consume and getting a blood draw is worth it to make sure myself and my baby are fine. Luckily enough, I passed with flying colors and had no signs of GD, same as with my previous pregnancies. This test also marked the beginning of the last stretch, the third trimester!
FINALLY, I was actually feeling great. Although most women start losing energy and getting more and more uncomfortable at this point, I was the total opposite. The first two trimesters for me were difficult. I was tired and nauseas all the time. But the third trimester was awesome. I had tons of energy and I almost felt normal besides having a basketball for a belly. That was until I hit the 9 month mark. My kids and I were driving home after a day of running errands and we were in a minor car accident. Another driver rear ended us. Thankfully, no one was hurt. There was damage to our new van but that was fixable. Because I was so pregnant and I started having backpain and contractions immediately following, paramedics did check me out. But everything was fine. However, it did affect me more than I thought. I became very anxious in the car and I didn’t drive for a couple weeks. I have always been the one to drive, even if Kyle was with us but this whole incident changed that. Not only did that cause me a lot of stress, the stress of dealing with getting the van repaired, multiple phone calls from insurance companies and getting replacement car seats for the boys put a lot of unnecessary stress on me. I like to feel prepared and get things done. So having only a few weeks before baby could possibly arrive, made all this more stressful on me. It was definitely not how I wanted to spend my last weeks of pregnancy.
At my next appointment following the accident, it was brought to my attention that my blood pressure had sky rocketed. I have always had a healthy blood pressure, in fact, it has always been a bit low if anything, even during pregnancy. But they were getting readings of 160/100+. I felt fine and it was actually surprising to me. However, with it being my last weeks of pregnancy, there is always a possibility of pre-eclampsia. I figured it was probably the stress I was under as I showed no other signs or symptoms of pre-e. There was also the possibility of it just being pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH). Either way, both can cause issues with the baby, the placenta and myself so they began monitoring me twice a week instead of once a week. I also was to begin taking a natural supplement (another reason why I love this practice, they are more naturally minded) called Natural Calm. It is a magnesium supplement that can help with stress, anxiety, headaches and blood pressure. I was asked to monitor my blood pressure at home and get lab work done that included a full panel and 24 hour urine test (not fun!). The labwork was to check to see if pre-e was a possibility with checking certain levels, especially protein and creatinine. My first round of lab work came back beautifully. My urine did come back with some protein but my level was still low enough to not cause a need for concern. I continued with twice weekly visits and another 2 weeks of the bloodwork/ 24 hour urine testing to monitor the protein levels. Every week, my blood pressure was still high at the office and I was getting elevated readings at home but not nearly as high as in the office. Also my labwork only got better each week. So I was hopeful that things would be fine.
By my 39 week appointment, I still felt my anxiety of being in the car played a role in my blood pressure readings at my appointments. On a good day, not during rush hour, we have about an hour drive to the office that is mostly on the high way. I honestly could feel my blood pressure increase during the drive. I would feel a little off and my ears would get warm. And sure enough, my blood pressure would always be high. They would always take a second reading after I had been there a while and it would go down to the 130/90 range. So it would get better but still not perfect. However, I decided to diffuse lavender essential oil in the car on the way to my appointment. I used lavender when I was in early labor with Braydon and I remember how calm and relaxed I was. I figured there was no hurt in trying. When I got to my appointment, the midwife told me my urine protein levels were in normal range and my blood pressure was back to being my normal reading, which was low! I also had an NST scheduled that day just to be safe and baby looked beautiful on it! All great news. I couldn’t help but wonder if the essential oil actually helped me relax in the car. The whole week when I would check my blood pressure at home, it was also back to normal as well.
I went in for my 40 week appointment, the day before my EDD. Once again, I diffused lavender in the car and my blood pressure was great. I am finally told I no longer have to do anymore of the labwork and 24 hour urine tests! THANK GOODNESS!!!!! I finally felt like I can stop worrying and enjoy the end of my pregnancy. I am thankful that the doctor and midwives were proactive in monitoring myself and my baby. And even more thankful that they didn’t jump the gun. I know so many mothers who found themselves in similar situations only to be sent to the hospital after a couple high blood pressure readings and some protein in urine who end up being induced or with a csection. I know every situation is different and that sometimes these things NEED to be done. But in most cases, like mine, just having these two symptoms shouldn’t be cause for concern unless they get worse after monitoring. I am glad that I trusted my instincts and knew things were fine. I stayed positive and took care of myself.
For the 4 days prior to my 40 week appointment, I experienced what I believe to be prodromal labor. Every evening at the same time, I would begin to get contractions. They would come anywhere from every 2-11 minutes lasting around 50-60 seconds. Eventually, they would stop and I would be able to fall asleep for the night, only waking in the morning feeling nothing! I will admit it has been a little discouraging, especially because some of them are pretty painful and intense. It is also both emotionally and physically exhausting. However, I am staying positive and telling myself that my body is preparing. My body is getting ready to birth my baby and I am happy to feel the progress.

Yes, pregnancy is actually TEN months people! Not 9 months. At least for most of us! ;-)

Yes, pregnancy is actually TEN months people! Not 9 months. At least for most of us! 😉

Now, I sit here at 40 weeks and 1 day (or 1 day past my EDD). I am feeling really good. I am excited to meet our new family member very soon. I do believe in letting baby decide when to come and that baby will come when s/he is truly ready. Fortunately, my midwives and OB feel the same and have not mentioned the words csection or induction. My last couple appointments end with “well, now we wait!”. It really helps having supportive care providers. Our due dates are really an estimate but I would be lying if I didn’t wish our baby would have arrived by now. I technically went past my EDD with my first, however, I was induced and ended up in a csection due to not having a supportive and patient doctor. Our second child arrived nice and early ON HIS EDD. I keep reminding myself even subsequent pregnancies can go past the 40 week mark just as first time mothers can deliver their babies a week “early”. I know baby is doing well and I am still feeling great. I still have tons of energy. Our house is extremely clean, I have been able to prepare and freeze some snacks and meals for after baby arrives, laundry is caught up, everyone’s bedding is washed and fresh, baby’s cosleeper is set up, I have a drawer in my room and the kid’s room ready and stocked for the baby, boys have had their yearly check ups, hospital bag packed and double checked. The only thing not ready is the infant seat in the car. Maybe I need to get Kyle on that!

How I am Preparing for Labor

Being as into pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding as I am, I typically surround myself with those of like minds. And with this comes questions… lots of questions. All about how I am doing, how I plan to birth, where I plan to birth etc. Having gone through this a couple times before and having become a natural birth advocate, I don’t mind sharing most things. One question I get is how am I preparing my mind and body for labor? I also see a lot of moms asking this question on social media forums and thought it would be fun to share my experiences.

  • Belief in Oneself- I truly believe that you must believe and trust in your body! That is definitely at the top of the list. For millions of years, women’s bodies having been carrying and birthing their babies without interventions. (of course I am aware that in some cases medical intervention is necessary but with most healthy, full term pregnancies, it is not). I believe our mind and body work together. We must be sure that we trust our body to birth our babies and we must also trust that our baby will come when s/he is truly ready. Due dates are not expiration dates, they are merely an estimate. I love reading positive birth affirmations and even repeated a couple to myself when I was in labor with my second.

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  • Red Raspberry Leaf Tea (RRL)- RRL tea has grown in popularity over the last several years. It is an herbal tea that is safe to consume throughout pregnancy. However, I typically wait until the beginning of the 3rd trimester to start drinking it, but that is just my personal preference. I really enjoy Earth Mama Angel Baby’s 3rd Trimester Tea because they add some other yummy things to it to make it tastier than plain RRL, in my opinion.  Studies have shown that mothers who drink RRL tea during their pregnancies typically have less chances of needing medical intervention. RRL is known to tone and strengthen the uterus to help when the woman is in labor and helping the uterus return back to normal after the baby is born. It can also help during pregnancy with boosting the immune system, soothing sore throats, easing morning sickness and increasing circulation.
  • Date Fruit- A rather recent study has shown that pregnant women who consume dates in late pregnancy can have positive effects on labor and delivery. It showed that women who consumed 6 dates per day during the last 4 week of pregnancy had higher mean cervical dilation upon arrival to the hospital and higher chance of having intact membranes than those who didn’t consume dates. Spontaneous labor occurred in 96% of the women who ate the dates. Also half (47%) of women who did not consume dates needed their labor augmented with Pitocin, compared to 28% of those who had dates. I did eat dates with my second pregnancy, which was my first vbac and am curious to see if I have the same positive outcomes I did then with this next vbac I am planning 🙂
  • Vitamin D- A study that I actually came across early in my second trimester of this pregnancy has to do with higher levels of Vit D during pregnancy and it’s effects on labor pain. The study stated that women in labor who had higher vitamin D levels did not require much, if any, pain management or epidural compared to women in labor with lower vitamin D levels. *Most* Americans are in fact deficient in Vit D. This ended up being true for me after receiving my bloodwork from my first trimester. I wasn’t terribly low, but low enough to need to add daily vit D to my vitamin regimen. I take 3,400 ius daily plus whatever I may get from the sun (although not getting much of that now that we are in the middle of winter) or from food. One thing to look at is how much is in your daily prenatal. Almost all prenatals do not contain nearly enough vit D that an adult would need on a daily basis. I look forward to seeing how this labor compares to my last since this pregnancy I have been very diligent in taking my vit D.
  • Prenatal Yoga- I did prenatal yoga at home with an instructional DVD with my second pregnancy and found it to be very relaxing. It helps you learn to breathe, relax, bond with your growing baby, listen to your body and can greatly reduce stress. All are great in preparing for labor. Also, the positions and stretching involved can help with many aches and pains that the hormones of pregnancy can cause. I also found that it helped open up things from my ribs to my hips and help get baby into an optimal position. Whenever I felt my baby was wedged up in my ribs, I would do some simple yoga poses and would get great relief. With having two toddlers this pregnancy, I am sad to say I have yet to start my yoga but will now that I am in the final trimester. I definitely believe it is beneficial during pregnancy and it is a great way to workout without over doing it, especially for those who don’t normally exercise.
  • Use of Birthing Ball (exercise ball)- I love my birthing ball. I look forward to inflating that bad boy every pregnancy. Especially toward the end of pregnancy, it can be very hard to get comfortable when sitting. However, with a birthing ball, it is almost always a win. I use it to just sit on, to do exercises on and to bounce on. All are beneficial for labor. The gentle bouncing or circular motions you can do on a birthing ball can help open the hips and bring baby into optimal birthing position. It promotes good posture which helps with this as well. Sitting on one also takes pressure off the spine and can increase blood flow. I did use the hospital’s birthing ball while in labor with my second and found it to be very helpful and comfortable when I wanted to sit and rest but still remain in a position that would be helpful in birthing my baby.

Along with a healthy diet, I feel by continuing these simple measures, my mind, body and baby will be prepared for labor and delivery. Have you tried any of these? What other preparations have you tried to prepare for labor?

All Images ©NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

Books I Recommend Reading During Pregnancy

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I am someone who likes to prepare and plan. I also like to research and read about a lot of things that may come up in our lives. One of these things is pregnancy. Especially after my first pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum when I ended up feeling defeated and not as educated as I should have been. During my first pregnancy, I read the ONE book I believe most, if not all pregnant women read: What to Expect When You’re Expecting. And honestly, while it was fun getting all the little facts about my growing baby every week, it does not give much realistic advice on preparing for a natural birth and knowing red flags when it comes to maternity care. I personally, would not recommend this book to any woman and have since thrown out my copy. Since having my first child, I have become somewhat of a birth and breastfeeding advocate and believe in sharing as much information and helping to educate others. I completely believe in the saying “when you know better, you do better” and believe women should educate themselves on ALL of their options when it comes to pregnancy, childbirth and beyond. I decided to compile a list of books I have found helpful (and some books I am currently reading) about natural pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.

Books I Have Read

  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – This is by far my favorite! It is written by Ina May Gaskin who started The Farm in Tennessee. She has 30+ years Midwifery experience and in my opinion, THE best in the field. This book really makes you feel empowered and is all about helping women believe in their bodies. It has some positive birth stories, what many practitioners fail to tell you about the interventions used these days, how to create a peaceful birthing atmosphere and MUCH more.
  • Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding – Another by Ina May. Great resource, full of information and everything you need to know about breastfeeding your baby. She talks about the benefits of breastfeeding, challenges, weaning, pumps etc.
  • Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers – I read this book while pregnant with my first child. I knew I wanted to breastfeed and this book DEFINITELY came in handy! Now looking back on my breastfeeding journey and have nursed 2 newborns, babies and toddlers, I know I owe some of my success to the realistic advice of this book. I really loved how easy this book was to navigate and looking up something if I had a specific question.
  • Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care – I found this book VERY interesting. It is a long read and shares a lot of information and statistics plus the history of maternity care. I really found that this book opened my eyes and was one of the reason I continue to research and ask questions! It really will benefit ANY woman who is pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant regardless of the type of birth you want.
  • The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year – Exactly as the title states, it is a natural approach to parenting and caring for baby in the first year. It is all about following your intuition and more of the attachment parenting or “crunchy” way of doing things. Topics include, birth, breastfeeding, sleeping, sign language and baby led weaning. It was a very easy and fast read!

Books I am Currently Reading

  • Birthing From Within – I am about halfway through this book this pregnancy. It is a VERY spiritual and holistic approach on pregnancy, labor and birth. It helps teach women that birth is not a huge medical problem but natural and more of a rite of passage. It offers exercises and techniques for women to look inside themselves and discover any fears they may have about birth and ways to overcome them. There are techniques for coping with labor without the use of drugs and a section for the fathers/ birth partners explaining their role. It also touches on some basic newborn care.

Books I will be Reading This Pregnancy

  • Childbirth Without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth – I have yet to read this one, but it comes highly recommended for those wanting a natural birth. I will update once I have read it!!

**BONUS** Documentaries I Recommend

  • The Business of Being Born – This documentary explores maternity care in the U.S. I HIGHLY recommend for any expectant or soon to be expecting mama AND father/ birth partner. I watched it on Netflix.
  • More Business of Being Born – A 4 part continuation of The Business of Being Born. A conversation with Ina May Gaskin, exploring options and a part on VBACs. Also watched this one on Netflix.
  • The Milky Way – A wonderful doc on breastfeeding. The lack of support many women have when it comes to breastfeeding in the U.S., a look at how things are done in the U.S. vs other parts of the world. Very informative and a great watch for those interested in breastfeeding. (My son and I have a breastfeeding picture cameo in this doc too 😉 )
  • Breastmilk – This one is on Netflix, I plan on watching it VERY soon and will update!

What books have you read and found helpful in preparing for your birth?

All images ©2014-2015 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

PRT- Earth Mama Angel Baby

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I will be starting a new series of posts called, Product Review Tuesday (or PRT). I know, I know, creative right 🙂 Anyway, I get asked A LOT what I use on us, our kids, about certain foods and many other products we use because we do strive for living as naturally and chemical free as we can. I also have a lot of new items I will be trying for the first time in the upcoming months and thought it would be nice to share my opinions on them as I know being a mom myself, I am always looking for fun, new items to try out that may be helpful for myself or the kids.

I thought I would start off with one of my absolute favorite brands, Earth Mama Angel Baby (EMAB). They are a wonderful company out of Oregon who have created a wonderful line of organic, chemical free products for mamas, mamas to be and babies/ children. Don’t worry about the men in your life, even Kyle has been known to use some of these products 😉 I decided I wanted to review their products because I have pretty much tried and owned almost every single of the items they sell. I guess it’s a bit of an obsession… But no, really, I love their products and would recommend them to anyone looking for get smelling, gentle, safe, chemical free, organic body products that actually work!

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My personal stash, minus a few items that are currently in use

Here is EMAB’s mission:

Earth Mama believes in the natural process of birth, and the healing power of nature. Our mission is to provide safe, herbal alternatives for pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and babies of all ages, and to help educate people about traditional plant medicine and safe personal care. We manufacture natural and organic products that work, combining generations of women’s wisdom and traditional plant medicine with the safety and assurances of contemporary evidence based research. If it doesn’t measure up to Mama’s standards, it doesn’t leave the building. That’s Mama’s Promise®. – EarthMamaAngelBaby.com

They never use lanolin, SLS, preservatives or parabens. Their products are certified organic, cruelty free, vegan and non-GMO verified.

For Mama/ Mama to Be

For Mama/ Mama to Be

Another thing I love about their products is that there are many alternative uses for them. For example, I have used their mama bottom spray and mama bottom balm for aftershave because I have sensitive skin and tend to get red bumps on my legs after shaving. I either spray the spray or put some of the balm on my legs after I shave and I no longer get the red rashes or bumps! Both these products were great for healing after my vaginal birth as well!

The lotion and oil smell amazing. I used them on my growing pregnancy belly during my second pregnancy. They helped get rid of any itching from the stretching skin on my belly and in my opinion helped reduce the amount of stretch marks I got.

The soap is castile soap and it foams. So revitalizing and energizing, great for any mama! It is gentle and leaves my skin feeling clean, not like I have a film left over like when I used chemical based soaps in the past.

Nipple Butter is great! I love that it can be used over and over for soothing sore or cracked nipples. And you don’t have to worry about wiping it off before baby nurses because it is 100% safe. It has a wonderful cocoa smell because of the cocoa butter in it and it really heals. I used it during the first few weeks after having Braydon and I was only sore for about a week as compared to 4-6 weeks with my first when I used a lanolin based product. When you no longer need it for soothing sore breasts, it is great for cracked, chapped baby cheeks during the winter months or dry skin on mama or daddy!

Organic Herbal Teas

Organic Herbal Teas

I only have a few of their teas but have been lucky enough to try all of them besides the No More Milk Tea. The Heartburn Tea was PERFECT for soothing heartburn during my second pregnancy! I was actually skeptical at first but then I tried it and it really works. After pregnancy, it can be used for stomach aches or heartburn. The Milkmaid Tea is great for breast feeding mamas who want a delicious tea that will help increase milk supply. I found that I had a remarkable increase in my supply within 24 hours of drinking some. The Third Trimester Tea is great for the last trimester of your pregnancy. It contains red raspberry leaf which helps tone your uterus for labor. The Monthly Comfort Tea is great for that special time of the month and during postpartum. It is very calming and helps whenever hormones are raging! They also have Peaceful Mama tea which is a nice calming tea that tastes amazing and Morning Wellness Tea for pregnancy and nausea.

For Baby

For Baby

I really like their products for baby. I really love that they have two scents of their soaps. They have orange vanilla and lavender. Both are amazing. I will warn that since they are castile soaps, you need to be sure to avoid eye contact because it can burn baby eyes. The lotion is very soothing and keeps our baby’s skin extremely soft! The oil is great for super dry skin in the winter. And the Baby Bottom Balm is one of the most fast acting, healing diaper rash balms I have used. Plus it also smells so good! The bottom balm can be used for healing scrapes, minor burns, chapped skin, rashes (even fungal rashes) and thrush.

All of their products, if you haven’t notice by now, smell so good. I have been known to just open up a jar and smell it because they just soothe you by smelling it. A lot of people worry about the price or the size. Yes, they do run a bit more expensive than most chemical laden products but I believe you get what you pay for. And I mean it when I say a little goes a looooong way with all of their products. I have only had to buy replacements for the teas and soaps over the last 2 years and we use their stuff everyday.

I really encourage you to check them out if you are looking for a new bath and body product, that is organic and chemical free, for your whole family. Also, check out their alternative uses for their products and see if one would be useful if you are looking for something more specific.

 

 

**Please note: I am in no way affliated with Earth Mama Angel Baby nor do I receive any type of compensation from them for sharing their products. I just am a very happy consumer who loves their products and wants to share my opinion with others.

 

 

 

 

All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

 

 

Delaying Cord Clamping

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A practice that seems to be becoming more popular. Many new parents are adding delayed cord clamping to their birth plans. In this post I will outline my opinions and reasons why my husband and I choose to delay cord clamping with our babies. With our first child, my birth plan was pretty much thrown out the window. I did have delayed cord clamping on it, but the attitude of the doctor and nurses once a csection was decided was that they made the decisions from then on out. With our second son, I also had a birth plan written out and cord clamping was on it again. We got our wishes and did let the cord stop pulsing and go limp before it was cut.

Delayed cord clamping has been a somewhat controversial topic for decades. To me it is one of the most unnecessary medical intervention doctors have adopted. I think it all goes back to just rushing birth so the doctor can finish up as soon as possible. Many doctors still clamp and cut the cord within the first 5-10 seconds baby is born, then the baby is whisked away to be weighed, cleaned off and checked over. But why not just let nature be? In nature, mammals deliver the placenta on their own and the cord pulses, goes limp and turns white and it actually will sever and disconnect from the baby on it’s own. Guess what!? Same goes for us humans.

Benefits of Delaying Cord Clamping

  • Baby will receive ALL of the blood they are intended to have. When the cord is cut right away, up to half of their blood may remain in the cord and placenta. To me, this is a big deal.
  • To go along the lines of the previous reason, baby will receive around 30-35mg of iron when they receive all their cord blood. This is important considering pediatricians seem to be so concerned about infants getting enough iron in the first 6 months of life especially. Many moms are told to supplement with formula that is fortified with iron or give iron drops. Studies have shown that babies whose cord was clamped early were at much higher risk of anemia. It is important for babies who are born to mother’s who are anemic to delay cord clamping as it may help them avoid low iron levels. Plus, when our babies get all their blood and no sign of anemia (history in family could be another exception), there is no need to supplement with iron at all as we were designed to have enough iron stores to last the first 6 months, maybe even longer. Most babies start solids by 6 months and can receive iron from foods instead of artificial supplements.
  • In preterm babies, late clamping has been shown to decrease need of blood transfusion and decrease in chances of hemorrhaging.
  • Decreased chance of blood loss of the mother. Why!? Because early cord clamping has become an intervention to get the placenta delivered quicker which can lead to complications and potential blood loss in the mother.
  • Baby will get skin to skin and won’t be taken from mother right after delivery. This was another important one for me. Since baby is still connected to you, baby cannot be taken away, washed, weighed etc. Baby (and mother) will benefit from skin to skin contact, the cord will empty on it’s own and placenta can be delivered at a natural pace.
  • Decrease in breathing difficulties in baby. Your blood carries your oxygen, right? When baby gets all his blood, he gets more oxygen.

There are really no risks when it comes to delayed cord clamping. Several studies have shown that when delaying cord clamping, there is a slight increase in jaundice. However, many studies have proven these increases to be of no worry and jaundice is actually NORMAL in most cases.

Another question that comes up, is can parents still bank cord blood AND delay cord clamping? In short, most likely not. I have heard and read of some being able to let the cord pulse for 60 seconds before clamping it for cord blood banking, but typically the cord blood banking companies need the cord to be clamped within the first 5-10 seconds. If you absolutely want to bank your baby’s cord blood, I would see if it is possible to let the cord pulse the 60 seconds as a minute is better than right away. So this is another thing to consider when deciding and I encourage parents to really research it thoroughly.

I highly encourage all mamas to be to consider and do their research on this topic. To me, it’s a no brainer. Delayed cord clamping can even be done with cesarean sections and preterm babies as long as there is no medical complication, as even if you let the cord be for 2-3 minutes, baby will receive so many of the above benefits! Make sure to include it in your birth plan and talk to your provider.

 

 

resources:

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=206143

 

 

All Images ©2014 Naturally Awesome Mama All Rights Reserved

Birth IS a big deal

Nothing bothers me more when I hear someone say something suggesting that having a cesarean section is the quick, easy “way out” or it isn’t a big deal or especially I wish I had a csection!  This actually came up this past week. A good friend of mine messaged me on Facebook asking for advice and told me about a conversation she had with an acquaintance who had just had a baby. Of course, the birth came up and the new mother said how bad she tore and that it took such a long time for her to push baby out, then getting stitched up after she tore. My friend, who is also a cesarean mother, mentioned that she can understand the pain and having to wait an hour or longer to be stitched up after her cesarean. Her friend replied, “I would have much rather had a csection”. Now why am I writing a whole post about one simple statement? Well because this is something that as a cesarean mother, who felt that her csection was unnecessary, this really gets under my skin. I also know these type of statements bother many other cesarean mothers.

In the society we live in today, there is still this belief that a csection is just a quick, routine surgery. That it is so convenient some Hollywood actresses have been known for scheduling their child’s birth around their busy schedule full of appearances, photo shoots and vacations. Yet many are still blind to the fact that a cesarean section is a major abdominal surgery. It requires anesthesia, a surgeon (OB) and a team of many nurses assisting. They carry risk of hysterectomy, blood transfusion, blood clots, infection to name a few. Not to mention, the pain that can last upwards of a month or more and the 4-6 inch scar the woman will have the rest of her life. In fact, I dare you to ask any mother who has had an unnecessary, traumatic or emergency cesarean or complications from a cesarean, if it was easy.

Now I am not saying that a woman who has had a vaginal birth can’t have trauma or complications or pain that lasts months. Just like I know there are women who enjoyed their cesarean deliveries. All I am saying is we need to change the way we talk to women about their births, even mother to mother. We need to come together and support each other, not make each other feel like one birth is any easier than the other. Because quite frankly, birth is not easy. Our bodies go through so much to birth our babies. First off, our body nourishes our unborn baby for 9-10 months. Our organs get squished making us have to pee every 10 minutes one month, then feeling like we are constantly out of breath the next. We get baby feet stuck in our ribs and elbows pressed in our sides. We feel things that no man, and some women, will ever feel when labor starts. Our body produces all sorts of hormones and adrenaline. Some woman labor for days or hours. And with a cesarean, a woman will have her stomach and uterus cut open all while laying there strapped to an operating table, wide awake in most cases. In extreme cases, a mother won’t even be able to witness her child’s birth or hear those first cries due to being put under for an emergency csection. We, as mothers, all go through and give up so much for this tiny human being we have never touched, held, smelled or even seen face to face.

So for all those mothers who had an unplanned cesarean, made to feel like your body failed you, you are anything but a failure. You are strong and courageous.

For those mothers who had a peaceful vaginal birth, you are goddesses.

To the mother who had a traumatic, painful vaginal birth. You are amazing and a fighter.

No matter how you feel about your baby’s entrance into this world, if you are happy, sad, disappointed, feel regret, anger or any other emotion. Know that it is okay to feel that way. No one should ever make you feel like your feelings are not validated. No one should ever make you feel like you took the easy way out. Because birth isn’t easy any way it comes. And unfortunately, I know many women, including myself who have felt all these emotions about their child(s) births, before being made to feel like their cesarean is no big deal.

So the next time a mother wants to confide in you or you decide to ask her about her birth experience. Let her do the talking. Many women just want to talk and get their emotions out without feeling like they shouldn’t feel a certain way or feeling judged. Let her know it is ok to feel how she feels and she is supported instead of comparing births because even if you don’t agree with how she feels, EVERY BIRTH IS A BIG DEAL.

 

peace.love.live. ❤

 

 

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All Images ©2014 NaturallyAwesomeMama All Rights Reserved

 

Natural Labor Comfort Measures

Following up my post on why I chose to have natural childbirth, I thought I would share methods and tips to help one who may be wanting to have a natural birth and avoid pain medications or epidural. Some of these I have personally tried and some I have heard about but have not tried. Let’s get to it…

  • Bradley Classes or Hypnobabies – I have not tried these but have heard nothing but good things. You can visit their websites and see if they would be something you are wanting to try and find a class near you.
  • Essential Oils – I did purchase some oils for my second birth. Unfortunately, I only got to try out one of them while I was in early labor. I diffused lavender which did help calm and relax me. It kept me in a wonderful mindset and I look forward to trying out other oils in future labors. They can be used for aromatherapy or massage. Be sure to do your research on what oils are appropriate and how to use them.
  • Water (Hydrotherapy) – While at home, try taking a shower or bath. Some say it helps relieve pressure and pain. Some hospital and birth centers have water birth tubs. I was not allowed to try for a water birth because my hospital had a policy against VBAC water births. I hope one day I will be able to try using water during labor and/ or delivery.
  • Meditation and Visualization – I did both of these the last month of my pregnancy. While in labor I used visualization to keep myself positive.
  • Birth Affirmations – these are positive sayings a woman can write on cards and hang around her while in labor or simply say to herself while in labor. My favorite was “the power and intensity of my contractions are not stronger than me because they are me”. This really helped me realize that I will get through it. A simple google search will bring up many pages of birth affirmations.
  • Rhythmic Breathing or Moaning – Both of these can be very calming. Instead of holding it in, vocalization during contractions, when a woman lets out a moan (which is vocal breathing) helps calm and release any tension which can help decrease pain during contractions
  • Standing & Walking – Both of these uses gravity to the mother’s advantage. For some, it can be more comfortable than lying down and can make contractions more bearable and productive. It also helps baby get into a better position in the pelvis.
  • Leaning – forward on your partner, the bed or a birthing ball can help if you are having bad back labor. Getting on your hands and knees can do the same.
  • Squatting – Uses gravity to help bring baby down deep into the pelvis. It widens the pelvis and requires less of a bearing down effort to push when delivering baby.
  • Birthing Ball – I did use one of these throughout my whole pregnancy and while in labor in the hospital. It helps relieve pressure on the spine and pelvis while at the same time helping to open the pelvis when legs are spread apart while sitting. The mother can slowly sway and rock which can encourage proper rotation and descent for the baby.
  • Hot & Cold Compresses – can be used to relieve back aches or pains or help cool mama off when a cool damp cloth is applied to her head.
  • Simple Massage or Acupressure – this will depend on the mother. Some don’t want to be touched, some will benefit from massage or touch during contractions.
  • Music – many hospitals will have radios or docks for iPods. Make a playlist of songs from all genres as you won’t know what you will be in the mood for. I loved having music while in earlier stages of labor. Music is something important to me and I love to sing. It helped relax me and keep me calm. It was funny when the nurse said she wouldn’t expect Guns n Roses to be playing. Sure, maybe not the most relaxing but it is something I like and is familiar and that’s what worked for me. By the time transition came, I was done with the music and that’s ok too.
  • Doula – Although, I chose to not have a doula. MANY women benefit from hiring one. A doula is a woman who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and after labor. She will also help with getting breastfeeding initiated and answer any questions a mother may have regarding to that. Studies have shown that when a doula attends a birth, the labor tends to be shorter with less complications and reduces the chances of postpartum depression.

 

  • Last, and MOST IMPORTANT – Belief in yourself – Know that your body was made to birth your child. Contractions and any pain you may endure, is all normal. Birth is normal. Women have been birthing their babies for centuries and we will continue to do so. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you can’t handle it, aren’t strong enough or crazy for wanting a natural birth. You are strong enough and can birth your baby the way nature intended.

I am sure there are many other comfort measures for a natural birth. What have you tried? Share with me in the comments!

 

 

 

Why I Chose a Natural Birth

I remember when I got pregnant the second time around, many people laughed or thought I was crazy for saying I wanted to attempt a VBAC, let alone an all natural, drug free VBAC. I was asked why I would want to put myself through the pain and what do I have to prove and things like well, even if you end up with an epidural doesn’t mean you aren’t strong. All these statements really bothered me because they all, in one way or another, show a lack of support. This post is not meant to shame or put down any mother who chooses to have an epidural or tried for a natural childbirth and ended up with IV drugs or an epidural. It is just me sharing my personal opinion, experiences and reasons why I prefer an all natural approach to labor and delivery.

Cascade of Interventions

If you have researched labor or seen documentaries, like Business of Being Born (which I recommend ALL pregnant mamas watch), you have probably heard of this cascade of interventions. You will also know if you have read my birth stories, I fell victim to this with my first birth. It began with me being induced, then having my water artificially ruptured, Pitocin increased leading to unbearable contractions, asking for epidural, progress stalling, end up with csection. When I found out I was pregnant the second time, I knew I wanted to avoid a repeat csection at all costs and to me this meant not being induced and no drugs of any kind because to me it increased my chances of having another cesarean. Now am I saying, if you are induced or ask for an epidural that you will end up with csection? No, of course not. I know many mothers who were induced AND had an epidural and went on to have a vaginal birth. But this is not the case for everyone, as I also know many mothers who had the same experience as myself. So this is why I encourage mothers to at least try and give themselves a chance and experience labor without thinking about an epidural and going as long as they can without it. You just may surprise yourself.

Reaction to Epidural

With my first birth, I did end up with an epidural and I also ended up having a reaction to the drug. It made me very anxious and uncontrollably itchy when I first received it. This led me to need benedryl via my IV. Then after my csection, once I was disconnected from the high dose of the epidural, my body had another reaction that caused uncontrollable shakes that made me almost look like I was seizing. It scared my husband and it scared me because I had no idea what was happening. Of course, after the fact, I was told that these reactions I experienced were all normal side affects of the epidural. No nurse or doctor told me any risks or possible reactions before I got it. And I find this interesting…

Risks of Epidural

Through my research, I have found that there are way more risks than benefits when it comes to having an epidural. Not a lot of mothers to be will know these risks, like myself, and will not even second guess their choice to have one. However, I think it is important that women educate themselves and know the risks:

  • Blood pressure may drop causing a need to more IV fluids or oxygen
  • You may experience shakes (like me), shivers, backache, soreness where epidural was inserted, nausea or ringing of the ears.
  • Difficulty urinating or infection because a urinary catheter will need to be placed if you opt for an epidural
  • Headache due to spinal fluid leaking. In very rare cases, a procedure may be needed where blood is injected where the epidural catheter was to relieve the headache.
  • Rare, but possible chance permanent nerve damage.
  • Sometimes they don’t work all the way or not well. Some women will say they were only numb on one side or could still feel contractions and birth.
  • Drugs used with epidural can cause baby to become drowsy and may cause issues latching for breast feeding

Not Feeling in Control

I am someone who needs to feel like I am in control, especially when it comes to the birth of my children. When I had my epidural, I did not feel ANYTHING. I couldn’t feel contractions, my legs, my feet or my toes. This also meant, I couldn’t move myself in the bed. I was stuck and had no choice but to sit up or lay in bed. Because of this, I also had to be flipped from side to side and had continuous monitoring on my baby as staying in one position can cause labor to slow or cause fetal distress. To me, not feeling the pain was not worth feeling like I had no choice in how my labor progressed and not knowing what my body was doing.

I Choose to Embrace Childbirth

Now I am perfectly aware that women go everyday having a peaceful, perfect birthing experience with an epidural in place. But for me, over the years, I have learned that I choose to embrace everything about childbirth. I believe that my body knows what to do and is perfectly capable of delivering my baby without the use of drugs. To me, birth is a beautiful, raw, natural and normal event that takes place. With my VBAC, I had absolutely no drugs and it was an amazing and very healing experience. Yes transition, was a bit difficult. But for me, that was about 10 minutes out of my 8 hour labor. I thought it was amazing being able to feel my baby coming down through the birth canal and feeling the progress each push made. I was able to follow my instincts and follow my body’s natural cues and urges to push, all things I wouldn’t have been able to do with an epidural. I was able to be in a position comfortable for me and not the typical knees to chest, legs in stirrups, told when to push and for how long. I was in control and decided when to push and for how long. As far as feeling baby come out, or this “ring of fire” many women talk about, I was too much in the moment and my hormones took over and I don’t even recall experiencing this painful sensation. Having a drug free birth does not make me any stronger than any other mother. It does not prove anything and does not make me a better person. It is how I chose to birth my child because I felt it was best for me and my child.

I believe pregnancy and birth has become over- medicalized. So many women are made to believe that their bodies don’t know how to birth their babies or do so without pain meds or assistance. I think this is sad and it sets up women to not get the birthing experience they may want. Like I said before, an epidural is not the end all, be all. It does help some women relax and have a wonderful birthing experience. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come risks. I also recognize the fact that emergencies do occur and sometimes an induction, epidural or csection are the only option. But I encourage all mothers to make sure they educate themselves on all aspects of labor and birth and everything that may come with it. I am not trying to scare women out of getting an epidural, I believe in sharing both sides in this world where epidural is looked at as this glorious drug that is nothing but good things. Do your research and make an educated choice that is best for yourself and your baby. ❤

 

 

To VBAC or Not

**Disclaimer: Material on this blog is intended for informational purposes only. This blog does not give medical advice and none of the content, including my opinion and any linked materials should not be substituted for your own doctor’s care or advice. If the reader has a medical concern, he or she should seek help from an appropriately licensed medical professional and never disregard professional advice or delay seeking professional advice due to the opinions and other content within this blog.

 

 

I remember when I was pregnant with Braydon, I was talking to a friend about giving birth and I mentioned I am trying for a VBAC. She looked at me puzzled asking what it was and said, “I thought since you had a csection with Shayne, you had to have a csection for any other babies you have?!” Unfortunately, this has become the belief of many people and even many OBs. In fact, 92% of woman who had a cesarean go on to have an elective repeat cesarean. What is so unfortunate about this you ask? Well for most woman who have had a previous cesarean, it is the safer option for her to have a VBAC or vaginal birth after cesarean. In this post I will outline the risks and benefits of choosing a VBAC, the risks of multiple repeat cesareans, who are good candidates for vbac and why I chose to have one.

The Risks of VBAC

In my opinion, the only risk when it comes to having a VBAC is the chance of uterine rupture. I am not going to lie, it is a big deal when it happens, and it does happen. A uterine rupture is when a weak spot or prior cesarean scar in the wall of the uterus tears. It is a potentially catastrophic event that can lead to the death of the baby, mother or both. However, the chances of uterine rupture happening is rare, below 1%, between 0.4-0.8% depending on factors. Some of these factors include whether or not the woman went into labor on her own vs. being medically induced, if the patient has one or two prior cesareans, the type of cesarean cut and whether or not labor was augmented at all. In a low risk patient with one low transverse cesarean cut who goes into labor on her own, the risk of true uterine rupture is 0.4%. It is important to note that it has been found that of all uterine ruptures (varying cesarean cuts, spontaneous or augmented labor) 0.7% are true uterine ruptures and 0.7% of all uterine ruptures resulted in uterine dehiscence or incomplete uterine rupture. Uterine dehiscence often shows no signs of occurring, does not pose any threat to mother or baby and does not need any treatment or repairing. It is important to also know the chances of uterine rupture are similar to other emergencies in labor such as shoulder dystocia, cord prolapse and placental abruption which can happen in any labor regardless of prior cesarean or not.

The Risks of Elective Repeat Cesareans

  • Risks associated with cesarean surgery such as placenta accreta, blood transfusion and hysterectomy increase with each surgery
  • Higher chance of infection and blood loss
  • Increased chance of neonatal breathing difficulties
  • Longer hospital stay
  • Increased chance of blood clots
  • Possible complications from spinal tap or epidural

The Benefits of VBAC

  • 75% of attempted VBACs are successful
  • No major abdominal surgery needed
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Lower risk of infection, blood loss and other complications associated with surgery
  • Fewer neonatal complications
  • Risk of uterine rupture decreases with each successful VBAC

Who Makes a Good Candidate for VBAC?

According to ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynocologists), “VBAC is a safe and appropriate choice for most woman with one prior cesarean and some woman who have had two prior cesareans.” It is preferred that any previous cesarean incisions be low transverse or “bikini cut”. As far as other criteria that would make a woman an “ideal” candidate for VBAC, it really depends on each individual situation. If you are considered high risk due to other medical conditions, you may not be a candidate for VBAC. Many OBs will want their VBAC patients to have no more than one or two prior cesareans, be within their normal BMI (body mass index) range, have 18 months or more between pregnancies and have no other complications such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a VBAC if you don’t completely match this criteria. Like I said, it is important to go in depth with your provider in order to determine if you are a good candidate or not.

Why I Chose to Have a VBAC

For me, it was a no brainer. Considering that the risk of uterine rupture is so low and my past pregnancy, labor and delivery history, I knew I had the best chance of having a successful VBAC. I did not fit into the mold of what most doctors would consider the ideal candidate considering I was very much overweight when I got pregnant with my second child and with my family history of diabetes. But I also knew I had at least a 75% chance of being successful. I knew as long as I found a supportive provider and did my research, I could do it. And I did! As for my personal experience as far as recovery and the differences in how I felt after both my births, it was night and day! With my csection, I was in the worse pain I have ever experienced the morning after. I was forced to get out of bed and walk. I couldn’t sit up on my own or stand without help. Everyday, it got easier but even after being in the hospital for almost 4 days, I was still in bad pain when I went home. I am lucky I had my husband home to help me out as getting in and out of bed was difficult and painful for almost a week and a half after my csection. I was prescribed pain medicine that I took 1-2 times a day and I needed it for almost 2 weeks postpartum. I knew I did not want to experience this again if I could help it. With my VBAC, since I went all natural without any drugs of any kind, I was up walking on my own and going to the bathroom within 2 hours of my son being born. I had very little to no pain, in fact I was the one who pushed his bassinet from my labor and delivery room to my postpartum room. I took advil for pain as needed while in the hospital and was discharged and home just over 24 hours after he was born. I did have a prescription for pain meds but chose not to get it filled because I had no use for pain medicine. Of course, every woman’s experience will be different, but this was mine and I would choose a VBAC over RCS (repeat cesarean section) any day.

I hope this post will help those of you who have had a prior cesarean realize that it is possible and in most cases, safer to have a vaginal birth after cesarean. The “once a csection, always a csection” mentality needs to become a thing of the past. So many woman are not even given the option of VBAC and some woman who ask about VBAC are scared into believing it is dangerous. I am not saying that all woman with prior cesareans can or will go on to have a VBAC. This is not meant to bash woman who had cesarean births due to medical necessity or emergency. It is meant to help bring to light that VBACs are not scary or dangerous and for those who make good candidates, they are much safer for both mother and baby. Know you have options and rights!

 

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