Birth Inspiration

I heard this verse in church today and it caught my attention, and then this evening it was in my devotional reading:

2-corinthians-4-8-9

picture source: thebottomofabottle.wordpress.com

I think I’ll add it to my existing birth inspirations.  It may seem like a strange choice of verses to want to remember during childbirth, but after some of the intense experiences and emotions both during and after Alex’s birth, it makes sense to me.  Although I’m anticipating a much smoother delivery this time, I do want to remember that, no matter where this birth takes us, God will give us the strength to deal with it.

I had my birth inspirations printed out and around the house during the last weeks of my first pregnancy, but I didn’t really notice or focus on them while in labor.  I don’t know if that will change or not this time, but I’ll probably set them out a couple weeks early again to begin getting myself into a mindset of trust and peace.  I really want to feel as little fear going into this birth as I did the first time, but I’m struggling with just how to get there.  I may be a little more realistic now, knowing firsthand that all of my best plans don’t ensure perfection, but I don’t want previous experience to rob me of the faith that my body was made to do this, that my baby innately knows how to be born, and that God ultimately has His hand over the whole process.

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I trust my body.  I trust my baby.  I trust my God.

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My mind and body can handle a labor of any kind.

Knowing that your body is made for birthing is the first step to allowing your mind to relax.

Throwback Thursday

A year ago today, I was in labor and wrote this: http://wp.me/p1y5B6-cO

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a year! Now Alex and I are standing by the heater vent in the kitchen where we spent some of those early contractions, and look who’s not a baby anymore! 🙂

image

It’s been an emotional time of year for me as I remember Alex’s birth and the days leading up to it. I wonder if those memories will always be so emotionally charged? So much happened, so much changed, and I felt so much, both good and bad. I’d say that giving birth has been the single most impactful event in my life thus far (if I can make impactful a word right now). Yes, even more than getting married, completing my master’s degree, or living abroad.  I didn’t expect that.

I’d love to elaborate some more (a lot more), but I have a one-year-old doing the wiggliest nursing on the planet, and he wants breakfast at the same time. 🙂

Blogging will wait.

Now I Understand…

I understand now why, when their babies begin to grow into toddlers, mamas want to have another one. I understand how the memories of morning sickness, sore hips, and labor pains fade and the desire to do it all again becomes overwhelming.

I already miss that moment when I first saw my son. The whole process was so surreal and I really wish I could go back and experience again the indescribable feeling of him leaving my body, the astonishing weight of him on my chest for the first time, the incredible post-birth high. 

Our bodies really are amazing. I underestimated what mine can do, but now that I know…. After you’ve given birth, everything else you do in life seems so small.

38 Weeks, 6 Days: Labor is Closer!

December 9, just 10 days from our due date!  Everything is so exciting now because I know that birth can happen any time and that the more time goes on, the closer we are to meeting our baby.  🙂  My sister and her boyfriend were here for the weekend, so that was really fun!  It also pushed us to go ahead and finish up all the big stuff we had to do before Baby is born.  We still have some little things we wouldn’t mind finishing, but I think both my husband and I feel pretty relaxed now and ok with the baby coming at any time.  I would like for my mom and sister to be here, mostly because I know that they really want to be.  I’m sure that I’ll really appreciate their support as well when the time comes, but the thought of it just being me and my husband doesn’t bother me at all.  Our midwife talked to me at her visit last Wednesday about when to call her and that she wouldn’t want us to be panicking that she wouldn’t get there in time…. Yeah, that doesn’t worry me at all.  I would almost feel fine about no one but my husband being there, but because I’ve never had a baby before or even seen a birth I feel that it’s smart to have someone there to know what’s normal and what’s not.  Our midwife will also know what to do in case something is not normal.  But I definitely don’t worry about her not arriving in time (such as if I had a crazy fast birth or something, not that I expect that at all).

The midwife also told me that she doesn’t expect this baby to be born much past the due date (she knocked on wood as she said it, lol).  Her reasons for thinking this are that that baby is in a great position and already very low, I’ve been contracting for months now, and I’m not a large person (I guess that makes babies more likely to want to be born so they can start getting some milk and keep growing 🙂 ).  I don’t have a whole lot of water, she said, but the baby has a very reactive heartbeat (it goes up every time he moves) and is still moving around a ton, both signs that Baby is doing just fine.  I’ve been feeling a bit paranoid about my water levels, and I’m really trying to drink enough water every day.

For a few nights, Baby was kicking me so brutally that it was becoming an extremely painful experience!  I was getting clobbered in the ribs, belly button, round ligament, sciatic nerve, bladder, and cervix- sometimes all at once.  I kinda dreaded going to bed because I knew I’d be attacked from the inside again as soon as I lay down.  One night it was so awful and I was so frustrated that I finally just sat up in bed and cried.  My midwife suggested not eating late (and indeed, I had eaten a whole plate of food right before bed the night it was really bad).  I tried her suggestion, and I think it might have helped some.  Either that or baby is finally accepting the lack of space and settling down a bit.  I’m still getting plenty of movement, night and day, but it has felt a little gentler lately.  Whew.

I keep feeling like the baby may be early, but we are getting so close to the end of “early”, so maybe not.  Still, there are some new things happening that I feel signal labor is closer.  Yesterday morning we had sex and afterward I had some quite crampy contractions all during church and lunch.  Braxton Hicks have been feeling lower down and crampier at times for the past week ever since I really noticed how much Baby has dropped, but yesterday’s were just a little bit stronger and more noticeable.  We had a choir concert for church and I really loved it when the crescendo of the voices matched the peak of my contraction- makes me wish I could have a choir sing to my labor- ha!  😀  By last night, however, most of the crampiness was gone.  I feel like I have a tough time telling whether I’m having cramps because something is happening with my cervix or because I need to poop (yeah, we’re going to talk about that).  Pooping is feeling a little different lately, and sometimes quite painful, probably because the baby’s head is so far down in my pelvis that he is totally crowding all my vaginal and rectal space.   Silly baby 🙂

This morning after breakfast we watched a little TV with my sis and her boyfriend and the whole time (a couple of hours) I had rather painful Braxton-Hicks-like contractions, but it only hurt on my right side.  I assumed it was my right round ligament being all tight, or maybe the baby was in a position that pressed against my ligament during a contraction.  Either way, I felt a little distracted from the TV by what I was feeling.  I sat on my exercise ball and moved my hips in circles for a long time.  I experienced this same feeling last Wednesday night while I was trying to go to sleep- every Braxton Hicks (and I was having a lot of them) made my right side hurt like a fire poker.  I finally got up from bed, walked around the house, did hip circles while sitting on my exercise ball (and I feel super tired in an almost drugged way the whole time, which was weird), the cat pose exercises my chiropractor gave me to do, and finally was able to get to sleep.  I assumed that was my round ligament too, but who knows.  I love for these cramps and pains to be a sign that something is happening with my cervix!  I’ve done some self-checks lately, but while I’m able to feel the baby’s head with no effort at all, I can only just barely reach what I think is the very edge of my cervix.  I can tell that it’s extremely soft, but I can’t get to the middle of it to see if I’m dilated at all.  Oh well.  That will happen when it will.  I think as soon as my family is all here we’ll start having as much sex as we can to help my cervix soften up really well.  It’s tempting to start doing stuff like that now, but I really have no reason to rush the start of labor (as if I could), so I’ll just wait.

My nipples are really leaky tonight too.

One thing I’ve found strange lately has been the lack of cervical mucus.  I thought I’d have TONS of it at this point in pregnancy, but I’ve had even less than I did earlier.  So weird.  I’m hoping at least that will make it really easy to tell if I lose my mucus plug.

I put plastic under the sheets on our bed (just a simple shower curtain), a towel beside the bed, and have begun sitting on a towel in my car- all ready in case my water breaks in a gush!  I kinda down expect it to, though, because my mom’s never broke before labor.  Hers never broke spontaneously, actually, because during both her births they ruptured it in the hospital.  It will be interesting to see when mine breaks.  I wouldn’t mind it staying intact during the first part of labor if it will make things a little easier on me.

I feel that I’ve done just about as much preparing for birth as I can do.  I’m still reading Birthing From Within, so that would probably be a good book to finish, but even if I don’t it’s ok.  I’ve also ordered a belly mold kit that I’d like to be able to do, but there will hopefully be another baby if we don’t get the chance.  I think my husband and I are both starting to feel pretty ready to give birth so we can see our baby…. bring it on, labor!

Writing a Birth Plan

This week, in my mostly crippled state, I’ve set out to accomplish sitting-down goals.  Writing our birth plan is one.  I had a few resources from our birth class which were really helpful.  If you’re writing your birth plan, I would suggest finding some sort of template to use as your starting point, such as this one, and then personalizing your plan from there.

I considered reading the book “Creating your birth plan: The Definitive Guide to a Safe and Empowering Birth” by Marsden Wagner M.D, M.S. , but decided to just write it based on what I already know is important to me and my husband.  I’ve done enough research in the past few years and felt like more reading about possible interventions and things would be a little much at this point.  Plus, I had a difficult enough time fitting it all on two pages.  🙂

I tried to include the things that were most important to us for each stage of labor and delivery and also addressed situations such as cesarean section and NICU admission.  Those are my “just in case” sections so that if we find ourselves with a real emergency we can at least have peace of mind that the choices we can still make are written down.  I feel like the whole birth plan is an odd mix of things that apply to a home birth and things that don’t.  We’ll have to explain to our doula and midwife when we show it to them that we understand that most of our wishes are standard practice for a home birth but that we felt we needed to have some written record of what we want in case we should find ourselves in a different environment.

So, without further ado, here it is (names removed for privacy):

Birth Plan for the Family of (Me and My Husband)

Dear Birth Team- we are so thankful that we are able to take advantage of your care and expertise as we welcome our baby into the world.  We’ve put together a short summary of our wishes regarding labor and birth.  Thank you for helping us to have a safe and positive birth experience. 🙂

Basic Information

  • Birth Team
    • Midwife- (name and #)
    • Assistant Midwife- (name)
    • Doula- (name and #)
    • Family Support- (my mother’s name), (my sister’s name)
    • Desired back-up Doctor and Hospital– (name of Dr and hospital)
    • Maternal History– This is my first baby.  After years of personal research and study, I’ve chosen to give birth at home after a healthy pregnancy because I know that I will feel most comfortable in this environment and will be more likely to have a low-intervention labor and delivery. I realize that sometimes complications arise during birth that would necessitate being in a medical environment, but would prefer to remain at home if at all possible.

 

Starting Labor

  • We wish to allow labor to begin spontaneously before 42 weeks.  After 42 weeks, we would consider the use of natural home induction.  We do not wish to do a medical induction unless advised by (midwife).
  • If (my) water breaks before labor begins, we wish to allow labor to begin spontaneously unless (midwife) advises otherwise.

 

Environment

  • I highly value my privacy and would like to have only the members of the team listed above present while I labor. I prefer dim lighting, candles, soft music, and subtle pleasant smells.  During early labor I would like friendly conversation to distract me from contractions, but during active labor when concentration becomes more difficult, I would like to hear softer voices and more limited conversation.  I may or may not want music at this point, and I may not be able to tolerate a lot of physical touch stimuli or close physical presence, but I will appreciate knowing that attentive support is close by.  I may want to spend some periods of time alone with (my husband).
  • I wish to be able to freely eat, drink, and move about during labor.

 

Early Labor

  • If labor begins in the evening, I will attempt to sleep or rest.  If labor begins in the morning, I will go about my daily activities and may want to begin a predetermined “labor project”.
  • We would prefer to use natural stimulation for a slow labor: walking, nipple stimulation, etc. 

 

Pain Management

  • We do not plan to use an epidural or IV narcotics.  The only circumstances under which we would consider an epidural would be:
  1. Caesarean section (after all other options were exhausted)
  2. Extreme exhaustion rendering (me) unable to continue to labor and have a vaginal birth without the rest afforded by an epidural (this would need to be under the strong advice of Stacia and all other options would need to have been exhausted).
  • We would like to use natural pain management techniques such as: breathing, relaxation, changing positions, bath or shower, cold wash cloths, massage, counter-pressure, and visualization.  I would like to have access to a birth ball, a birthing tub, and a shower.  If the things I am instinctively doing seem to be working for me, I would like to be given space and verbal and/or physical encouragement to continue using them.  If I seem to be unable to find relief on my own, I am open to suggestions from my support team. 
  • I will very much appreciate and respond well to verbal encouragement and affirmation during labor, and do not want “negatives” such as the mention of drugs, passage of time, or hospital transfer to be a part of the conversation.  I believe in my ability to birth naturally, and knowing that my birth team believes in me as well will be extremely helpful. 

 

Approach to Additional Interventions

  • We would like to avoid interventions such as artificial breaking of waters, continuous monitoring, IV fluids, vacuum or forceps extraction, episiotomy, pain medication, medical labor augmentation, & cesarean section.  If interventions are recommended, we would like to discuss the consequences of choosing or not choosing the intervention.

 

Pushing Stage

  • I would like to push spontaneously and use positions that encourage my body to open.  I do not wish to push in the lithotomy position.  I would like the option for a water birth.
  • I am open to perineal support and/or lubricating oils and warm compresses to lessen the possibility of tearing.  I would like give my perineum time to naturally stretch around my baby. 
  • We would like for (my husband) to catch our baby for (me) or (my husband) to discover the sex of the baby.

 

Third Stage

  • We would like to allow the cord to cease pulsation and/or the placenta to be delivered before cutting the cord ([husband]would like to have the honor of cutting the cord). 
  • We would like to allow natural expulsion of the placenta.  Please do not dispose of our placenta as we wish to save it for encapsulation! 
  • I prefer local anesthesia for the suturing of any tears.

 

After the Baby’s Birth

  • We wish for our baby to be immediately placed on (my) chest for a minimum one hour of uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact, and all assessment and care during that time period to be delayed or done without removing the baby.  We would like for (me) and Baby to take an herbal bath.
  • We prefer natural expulsion of amniotic fluid and suctioning of mouth, nose, and deeper airways to be done only if medically necessary. 
  • I would like to be allowed to immediately begin breastfeeding if Baby is interested and do not consent to the use of formula.

 

Newborn Care Procedures

  • If our baby is a boy, we DO NOT wish to have him circumcised!
  • We do not give permission for antibiotics, vaccines, or a vitamin K injection to be administered to our baby.
  • We wish to use either an oral dose of vitamin K or to forego vitamin K.
  • We wish to decline antibiotic eye treatment for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea (I do not have these infections).
  • We would like to do the PKU test.

 

Rhogam

  • (My) blood type is O- and (my husband’s) is O+
  • We would like to test Baby’s blood type and, if Baby is O+, do a Kleihauer-Betke test.
  • If the Kleihauer-Betke indicates blood mixing, (I) will have the Rhogam injection.  If no blood mixing is indicated, (I) will decline Rhogam.

 

For a Cesarean Birth

  • We wish to reserve cesarean birth as a last possible option and want (my husband) to be present during the operation.
  • We would like minimal drugs (epidural only).
  • Following a cesarean birth, we wish for our baby to be warmed by skin-to-skin contact with (me) or (my husband).  We want (my) arms to be free so she may touch Baby as soon as possible.  (My husband) should stay with Baby while (I) am unable and should be allowed to warm Baby using skin-to-skin contact.
  • We wish for Baby to be allowed to breastfeed in the recovery room and do not give our consent for formula, sugar water, or pacifiers to be given.

 

NICU Admission

  • We want NICU admission to be a last possible option.
  • If (me) and Baby must be separated, we want (my husband) to stay with Baby and to provide skin-to-skin contact.
  • I would like to breastfeed or provide pumped breastmilk.

I tried to use neutral language (i.e. “we don’t wish to” instead of “you’d better not”), imagining how the plan would be viewed by any health professional, especially one who doesn’t know us or is not as familiar with a natural birth.  It’s difficult to be very clear about your wishes but respectful of the medical staff at the same time, and it makes me doubly relieved that we will probably never need to show this to anyone but our home birth midwife and doula.  Whew. 🙂

I realize that everyone’s plan will be different based on individual preferences, viewpoints, and birth setting, but hopefully our plan can give you some idea of the things you can include in yours.  I also realize that it’s impossible to include every scenario or list every preference on a birth plan (without making it into a book), but I hope that ours at least conveys the most important things to us and will give anyone a feeling for the kind of birth we’d like to have.

 

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