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!

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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?

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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?

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