Birth, motherhood, pelvic health, Pregnancy, Prolapse

Pregnancy After Prolapse – Birth Story {Part 2}

{CONTINUED FROM PART 1}

Around 9:30pm my husband and I decided we should probably try to go to sleep, because we had no idea of knowing what was to come. He was able to fall asleep quickly (lucky him) but as soon as i laid down the contractions got a lot stronger. They were still quite far apart, but I wasn’t able to just lay through them, I had to get up and move each time one came. I tried to lay down and close my eyes in between them, but baby girl had another idea. She was very excited to meet us, and was having a continuous dance party in between contractions, keeping me from resting at all. I continued to labor in and out of bed, on my stability ball, leaning over the side of the bed, swaying my hips. I felt the most comfortable in hands and knees or leaning over the side of the bed with my hips moving. My body was telling me the best position to be in to allow baby the smoothest passage out.

Around midnight things really ramped up. The contractions started coming faster, about every 3-5 minutes, and after about 30 minutes of that I knew I should start letting people know what was going on. I woke my husband up, and called the midwife team to let them know to head over. My primary midwife arrived about 30 minutes later and there was no question, I was in full on active labor. She checked me, and I was already 7-8cm dilated and 80% effaced. She said she was surprised because I didn’t seem to be that far along! I decided to get in the tub because water feels so good on a laboring belly, and my midwife student arrived shortly after. I heard my midwife phoning frantically trying to get a 2nd midwife to come attend the birth, because she knew things were happening fast. I wasn’t so sure, I was convinced we were going to be in it for the long haul and we still had hours to go.

Even at this point, I wouldn’t necessarily describe labor as painful. It felt really intense, and required all my attention each time a contraction hit, but it also felt extremely powerful. I remembered my labor with Nugget, and also reading One Tough Mama’s birth story where she mentioned she focussed on relaxing through contractions, and I tried to emulate that. I focused on allowing my pelvic floor to relax and release, allowing my sits bones to open and blossom, and also repeated ‘i’m going to get huge‘, a mantra inspired my Ina May Gaskin.

It wasn’t long after my body just took over. I almost felt like it was an out of body experience because my body just did it’s thing and all I had to do was focus on allowing it to do so. I started pushing without even thinking. I could feel my transverse abs contract with each contraction and I vocalized in ways I never thought I would. There was no breath holding. There was no purple pushing. There was just my body, doing what a body does. It was magical. Though, I could feel my mind wanting to resist. I was fearful of how vulnerable it felt to allow myself to open like that. The amount of stretching needed to allow a baby to pass is so much more than you ever imagine it’s scary when it happens! Especially for someone who has experienced the after effects of a long labour.

I tried to get out of my head, and focused on relaxing rather than restraining. I knew the only way this baby was going to come out was for everything to relax and lengthen, so that’s what I allowed it to do. I didn’t even have to think about pushing at all, it just happened. It was all very animalistic and instinctual. This made me think back to Nugget’s birth and realize that I started pushing WAY too early with him, which is probably why I pushed for 3 hours!

It didn’t take long, and before I knew it her head was out, and on the next contraction, she was here! She was born at 2:04am, after a crazy six minutes of pushing over 4 contractions! She was 8lbs even, 20.5 inches long and had a head full of fluffy brown hair, though you couldn’t really tell because she was absolutely coated in the thickest layer of vernix I have ever seen!

Lynn birth kcfitness

After all was said and done, I looked up at my husband and said “oh my god! That was so easy!”. He laughed and replied “Well, I mean, I wasn’t going to say it, but…” We agreed that compared to Nugget’s birth, this one was amazing! Two hours of active labour and 6 minutes of pushing was miles better than 12+ hours and 3 hours of pushing!

And after all of that, the midwife’s second attendant didn’t even make it in time. I was already cleaned up and in bed when she arrived! I could not have asked for a single thing to have gone smoother than it did for me that night.

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Birth, motherhood, pelvic health, Pregnancy, Prolapse

Pregnancy After Prolapse – Birth Story {Part 1}

Going into this pregnancy, after previously experiencing prolapse and having a pretty good idea that my birth of my first contributed significantly to that, labour and birth is what I was most worried about. I had discussed it previously with my PFPT before getting pregnant, and again during pregnancy. I wanted to do everything I could to mitigate any risk, while keeping things as ‘natural’ as possible. While I 100% respect some women’s decision to have a c-section after prolapse to mitigate risk, that just didn’t feel like the right choice for me.

Leading up to birth in the third trimester, I focused my movement practice on keeping my PF and TA engaged, but also allowing them both to relax when appropriate. This is something I struggled with baby number one, and I wanted to ensure I had balance between the two this time around. I did a birth prep course that focused on mindfulness and relaxation through labor and birth and really dialed in my alignment and breathing strategies to ensure my core unit was functioning optimally.

In addition, I planned on having a homebirth. For me, this was the option that would ensure I would be as relaxed as possible during labor and birth. Not stressing about rushing off to the hospital, not worrying about being on the hospital’s timeline, not feeling like I was ‘wasting a room’ if my labor didn’t go as fast as anticipated. These were all things I didn’t want to worry about. Being able to stay home, in my own environment and eat and drink my own food and have my family and things close by made all the difference. I had midwives who aligned with my values, and ensured to communicate them all of my worries, concerns and wishes.

My midwife team was amazing. They heard and validated all of my fears and concerns about birth, were accepting my my story of my previous birth all while reassuring me that this birth would be the birth I was hoping for. They assured me that birth is usually much easier the second time around, and seeing as I was in such a good frame of mind there was no reason to be worried or stressed. I did still have a degree of concern, though, because we all know birth is one of those things that has the potential to go completely differently than is planned. Luckily, that wasn’t the case for me.

I had my 39 week midwife appointment on a Wednesday. We chatted about how I was feeling, I mentioned that my mother in law was scheduled to arrive on that Saturday to help care for Nugget when the baby arrives and my midwife says ‘Ya, we were talking about it, Saturday would be a good day for you to have a baby!’ and we all laughed, because baby’s never follow a plan. As I left my appointment I joked that I would see them Saturday, and went on my way.

Saturday arrived and I woke to find I had lost my mucous plug with a bloody show. I made a note of it, but didn’t get too excited since it can sometimes take days or weeks for labor to start after the mucous plug is lost, and it can regenerate. We headed out the door that morning to run some errands and pick  up my mother in law at the airport. Riding in the van on the way to the airport, I was feeling some tightening, but riding in cars had brought on braxton hicks since about 34 weeks so, again, didn’t think much of it. We got home, and the tightenings continued, and they were pretty frequent, like every 5-7 minutes, but not painful and I could easily talk through them and no one around me really knew what was happening. Even still, I started to pay more attention to them and started keeping track of them.

I gave my husband the heads up on what was going on around 3 in the afternoon. I told him I wasn’t sure if ‘this was it’ yet, but I thought he should be in the loop. We decided to head out for a walk to the park and just enjoy some time with Nugget, because of the impending potential that this could be our last days as a family of 3. We had such a great afternoon, swinging on swings, letting Nugget run around and guide our walk, and just enjoying him. I’m so glad I was mindful enough to ask my mother in law to take a photo of us, I will always cherish this photo of some of our last moments of just the 3 of us.

family of 3 KCFITNESS

After we got home from our walk, I was more convinced that this was it. I had gotten up earlier than normal that day and we had been running around so I decided it would probably be a good idea to take a nap, in case things ramped up and I ended up being up all night like I was when Nugget was born. Before I did that, I gave my midwife a call just to let them know what was going on, they agreed that a nap was a great idea and asked me to call back when things started to intensify. I laid down and surprisingly I was able to fall asleep quite quickly despite the tightenings. I was able to sleep for about an hour, but when I woke I found that the tightenings had all but stopped. They had completely slowed down to 15-30 minutes apart, though they were a little stronger than previously and took a bit more of my attention when they did come. I was so grateful that my water hadn’t broke yet, because that meant I could labor as long as I needed to without worrying about potential complications. As a result, I wasn’t worried about things slowing down, and knew my body would allow my baby to come when she was ready.

{CONTINUED HERE}

 

Birth, Pregnancy, Prolapse

No, I Don’t Want to Hear Your Birth Horror Story

*Update*
*This post is in no way suggesting that women who suffered from traumatic births have no right to share their story, that is not my intention at all. Telling your story of a birth that didn’t turn out as planned can be incredibly healing. I’m merely suggesting that sharing stories with the motivation of inciting fear is not appropriate, and sharing traumatic birth stories may not be the best way to prepare a pregnant woman for birth*

What is it with women today?

We seem to glory in sharing horror stories about birth. As if you one-up each other in who had the worst experience.

Why do we describe birth as this horrifying experience you just have to ‘get through’ because the baby is ‘worth it’?

What if I told you, you could enjoy birth?

That you could look forward to it, and actually want to do it again?

I know I do! I cannot wait to get the opportunity to do it all again!

I was recently talking to a friend who is very pregnant with her first baby. She told me she is ‘terrified of labour’. It made me so sad. I just wanted to reach through my phone and hug her, and say ‘No, no, noooo! Please don’t be terrified!’.

I think a lot of the root of the fear with labour & birth stems from us being so disconnected from our bodies. Our health system has trained us to fear discomfort. Any time something feels off in pregnancy, we back off. We limit movement, we stop everything. Life comes to a screeching halt as we know it.

I just read an article titled The Scary Truth About Childbirth.  The title alone makes me stabby. To summarize, the article suggests that vaginal (and ‘natural’) birth is over-glorified and it’s injuring women in the form of pelvic floor (PF) injury, prolapse, tears and pelvis fractures. It uses words like ‘horrifying’ and suggests that the natural childbirth movement is to blame. It offers up un-helpful solutions such as get induced early, and have an epidural.

No.

No. No. NO.

NO!

While I believe the intention of the article was to educate women about the risks of vaginal childbirth, which are rarely discussed at length (true). It’s shock & awe, fear-mongering approach is everything that is wrong with medicalized birth today.

Inciting fear into pregnant women is not the way to help the situation. Suggesting MORE interventions is not the way to help the situation. Describing injuries that thousands (millions?) of women suffer from as ‘horrifying;, ‘humiliating’ and ’embarrassing’ is not the way to help the situation.

So what can we do?

Well, first, maybe let’s stop approaching birth as terrifying. Fear increases pelvic floor muscle tension, which in itself is a barrier to vaginal childbirth. The PF muscles have to relax and release, and stretch up to 2.5x their length in order for the baby to pass through. This is not possible if the woman is too scared to let them go. This can result in prolonged labour, prolonged pushing, and ‘failure to progress’. A label as failure to progress usually leads to more intervention, such as instrument assisted birth (forceps or vacuum), which greatly increases a woman’s risk for prolapse and/or tearing (or cutting, depending on the care provider).

Let’s think about this from a different perspective. The hormones needed for childbirth are the same hormones needed to acheive orgasm. Oxytocin is released naturally in the brain when having pleasurable intercourse, and is the same hormone that triggers the uterus to contract. Now, if you were having sex, and you were terrified of an orgasm, do you think you’d ever get there? Uh, nope. Highly unlikely. If you were terrified of having sex, would it feel good? Nope, it might even hurt. Same goes for childbirth.

All this fear mongering, is contributing to traumatic births, which contributes to more fear mongering, which just continues in a cycle.

Just STOP.

There is no benefit to making a pregnant woman fear labour and birth. Yes, there are risks. Yes, she should be aware of them and educated on her options. Yes, she should be made aware of potential outcomes of vaginal childbirth.

But we can do it without scaring the shit out of her! We can do better.

If you tell someone you’re planning on running a marathon, people don’t bombard you with stories of how their sisters mother in laws grandmother ran a marathon once and she had a heart attack in the middle and died. No, they congratulate you, and encourage you, and ask you how you’re training, and get excited! Why can’t we approach birth this way?

How about when you get on the topic of birth with a pregnant mama, you tell her she’s going to do great. You tell her that birth is amazing and it’s going to be one of the biggest accomplishments of her life. You tell her that it’s going to be like climbing a really tall, steep mountain, but the views along the way and at the top are the most breathtaking views you’ve ever seen.

Finally, let’s educate women how how best to prepare their body for birth. Like I mentioned, it’s like climbing a mountain, or running a marathon, except we don’t know how long it will be or how steep the climb, or what barriers we may face along the way. So let’s train for that. Let’s encourage women to move their bodies, nourish themselves (as best the can) and get their mind right for the journey ahead. Let’s teach them activities and movements they can do now that will help them later. Let’s get their bodies strong and capable, so when the time comes they are as well-prepared as they can be. Let’s teach them to have an open mind, and be educated about as many of the potential outcomes as possible so they’re prepared to go with the flow of whatever their body and baby presents. Let’s help them be okay with the unknown, not fear it. Let’s share positive birth stories, and help them trust that their bodies are capable of giving birth, and trust that their care providers will have mom & babies best interests at heart. Let’s encourage them to get in tune with their bodies, so they know how to listen to those primal urges that go along with the process.

Birth is amazing, let’s remember that.

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If you’re pregnant and wondering where to start with getting over your fear of birth, here are a few suggestions, things that helped put me at ease:

Watch Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives

Read Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth

Watch How to Have a Harmonized Childbirth

Read I Came Along, I Wrote A Song For You {The Birth Story Of Sparrow}

Watch Welcoming Theodore

Watch Waterbirth of Scarlett

Watch Birth of Sloane

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