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, fitness, Pregnancy, Uncategorized

What I Learned From my Labour & Birth

They say hindsight is 20/20.

39 weeks
Me in early labour at 39 weeks pregnant!

I thoroughly believe that is true. Looking back at my labour and birth of nugget nearly 6 months out, there are a few things I would have done differently, if I had the chance. This doesn’t mean I regret anything. I did the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time, but I also believe that it’s smart to take every experience you have and try to learn something from it.

  1. I wouldn’t have pushed so early
    As soon as I felt the urge, I pushed. It felt good, so I kept doing it. Looking back now, I think I was just over excited and should have let my body and my uterus do more of the work before I started actively participating. Even when a woman is not actively pushing, your uterus is still working to bring baby down with each and every contraction. I would have focused more on ‘breathing baby down’ or breathing through contractions and allowing them to do their work and conserving my energy for the work of actively pushing later on.
  2. I would have squatted more during labor
    I honestly have absolutely no idea why I didn’t do this. Squatting during labour helps open the pelvis and relax the pelvic floor, allowing baby to come down more easily. I prepared by squatting throughout my pregnancy, I knew that squatting in labour was beneficial, but for some absurd reason it did not pop into my head once to squat during labour. I think maybe I had it in my head that squatting should be reserved for pushing, but even then I didn’t think of it.
  3. I would have paid better attention to my posture
    All day in early labour I was so keen. I stayed in alignment, made sure I was giving my baby the best passage through, until I got into the birth tub. For some reason as soon as I got in there, I sat back on my sacrum (re: slouched) and I believe that influenced nugget bumping into my pubic bone on his way out. I also started out pushing in this position, which when I think back was actually a terrible idea!
  4. I would have slept!!
    Man, I wish I had slept more in early labour. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning and stayed awake until 9 the next morning after he was born, with the exception of a few very short naps. I had it in my head that labour was going to be quick and didn’t let myself relax. I was also worried if I got too relaxed, labour wouldn’t start and I would have to be induced. Being induced terrified me, so that was always in the back of my mind.
  5. I would have paid closer attention to my body
    Going into labour I thought I was very body-aware. Now, thinking back, I don’t remember feeling the baby move down. I was shocked when my midwife told me how low he was because I didn’t feel it. I don’t remember feeling my contractions move him down until he was crowning. I don’t remember feeling my pelvic floor, whether it was relaxed or not. I would have put more mental effort into concentrating on how everything felt and how it was changing as I progressed.
  6. I would have seen a women’s health physiotherapist prenatal
    Now this isn’t essential, however I believe it would have dramatically helped me connect with my transverse abs and pelvic floor while I was pregnant to better prepare them for labour and postpartum. It probably would have also made me realize that I had a tight pelvic floor and allowed me to work on releasing that tension before I went into labour.
  7. I would have moved more in the later stages
    If I had known how much of a difference getting up and walking out to my car and contracting in those awkward positions would have made, I would have done it so much earlier! If I had known possibly hiking up and down the stairs even one time would have helped nugget sneak past my pubic bone and stop that excruciating pain I would have done it in a second. My midwife said later she thought about suggesting it, but didn’t think I would have been very receptive to the suggestion, which may or may not have been true.
  8. I wouldn’t have put so much pressure on myself
    As soon as my water broke, it was game on. I was raring to go. I’ve never been much of an endurance athlete and that was totally reflected that day. I wanted things to happen and I wanted them to happen NOW. I happened to be wearing my FitBit and I recorded nearly 60 stories of stairs walked that day! Looking back, instead of basically climbing a mountain worth of stairs, I should have rested, relaxed, and let my body do it’s thing.

I hope you can learn a bit from the things I would do differently if I had the chance. I’m hoping I will remember this when it comes time for nugget #2 and I can have the homebirth I dreamed of the first time around. I can only hope that my words and experience will help even one other woman takes steps towards having the birth that she hopes for, whatever that looks like.

what I learned

Birth, motherhood

What do you mean you didn’t get an epidural?

 

I am at that age, 29 years old. The majority of my friends are trying to get pregnant, pregnant or just recently had a baby or two. So, as women do, we talk. A lot of the currently pregnant or recently pregnant women have asked me about my labour and delivery. I shared my story, as I did here, but they wanted to know how. So here are the ins and outs of how I managed an unmedicated birth.

Now I am not by any means suggesting I did it the ‘right’ way. Or that these strategies will work for you. It was just really important for ME to try my best to have an unmedicated birth, ideally at home. If you chose to schedule a c-section, or get an epidural the second the first contraction hits, or give birth in the forest with deer and bunnies, the more power to you! As long as it is what is right for you and your baby.

I remember my close friend getting pregnant a few years ago. Well before I had even considered the idea of having a baby. She was telling me all about how she was planning to have an unmedicated birth and all the preparation she was doing.

I thought she was absolutely insane.

I was fresh off a labour and delivery placement in nursing school and seeing what those women went through made me cringe at the thought of feeling aaaallllll of that.

Then I got pregnant and my perspective completely changed. All of a sudden it wasn’t about me, it was about this child, and what I felt would be best to bring him into this world. I did research, watched documentaries, found a midwife, fell in LOVE with Ina May Gaskin and watched Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives over and over and even made my husband watch it too.

I think having the right mindset was key. You have to believe you can do it in order to be able to. I’ve been an athlete in one form or another my whole life so that was something I could relate to. I decided to approach labour like an athletic event, like a marathon or climbing a mountain. I tailored my workouts at the end to be like labour training. I’d do one minute on, one minute off of different exercises to prepare myself mentally for the work of continuous contractions every two minutes. I used positive self-talk and told myself over and over again that I can do this. One of the biggest things that I found helped me was doing some research on Hypnobirthing and watching relaxation videos.

When the time came for me to actually be in labour I was excited! I was not scared at all, I saw it as a goal for me to challenge, not as something I needed to survive. I felt every contraction as work towards my baby coming earthside. I knew the stronger the contractions the sooner I’d get to meet my baby, so as they got stronger and closer together, I got more energized and excited. I felt like I was working with my body, not against it. Allowing it to do the work it needed to do.

When my midwife arrived in the middle of the night and checked me, she was so surprised to find I was already 7cm dilated, as I was still smiling and chatting in between contractions. I watched an entire season of friends and laughed and joked.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops and rainbows. Pushing was, let’s just say, not the funnest thing I’ve ever done. At first it was great, it felt like a relief to finally be able to push with the contractions. I felt like I was actively doing something to help my baby arrive.

That was until my pubic bone began to separate.

That’s where the real work, the mental grit, came into play. It was hard. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This part of my labour was all a bit of a blur, but my husband tells me there was a lot of screaming and swearing and definitely a few F-bombs were dropped. This is where I think being a homebirth made the difference between me staying with my unmedicated plan, versus taking something for the pain. It simply wasn’t an option. I didn’t think about it, it wasn’t offered, it wasn’t an issue. It wasn’t until I was 2 1/2 hours into pushing and just physically and mentally exhausted that the idea of maybe trying to go to the hospital for some help was even brought up.

Once we got to the hospital, we tried to use the gas, but for whatever reason we couldn’t get it to work. And at that point, I wasn’t even having the same pain that I was having at home. Baby’s head had slipped past my pubic bone and we were in the home stretch, so we didn’t even worry about it.

I truly believe that the key’s to making it through were having a midwife and attempting a homebirth. I was so much more relaxed, I knew my midwife very well by the time it came to deliver so I was very comfortable around her. I went into it with the right mindset and a positive attitude. Even though women tried to discourage me with comments like ‘oh just you wait’ and ‘the pain is real’ I wasn’t phased. I knew I could do it, and I did.

motherhood, postpartum, Self Care

Pain, Weakness, Defeat – How I felt Postpartum

As mentioned in my Birth Story, I had what they call a ‘prolonged second stage’ which means I actively pushed my baby out for over 2 hours, just over 3 hours to be exact.

It was the most excruciating, difficult, empowering thing I have ever done in my life.

It was worth it.

Would I do it again?

Absolutely.

Would I try and do everything possible to avoid doing it again if I knew it was an option?

Definitely.

Would I have chosen a C-section over what I went through?

Unquestionably, NO.

I believe everyone gets the birth they need. I will admit I went into labour cocky. After all my baby was so far engaged my midwife had never seen a baby that low before. When she checked me in early labour, she said he was ‘right there’. I thought when it would come time to push it would be, 1, 2, 3 he’s out, break out the champagne.

Nope.

And what do you think all of that pushing did to my pelvic floor?

Well… It wreaked a little bit of havoc.

No one tells you what it feels like AFTER you give birth. Sure they say it’s like a period, they talk about the cramping, and the breastfeeding difficulties, and the sleeplessness. No one talks about the fact that you might feel like you’re sitting on a swollen baseball or like your organs are going to fall out or you can’t hold a full bladder anymore. Or that doing something simple like walking around the grocery store might cause you pain in a way you hadn’t even considered.

No one talks about that.

Because you have a baby! And he’s amazing, and adorable and the greatest thing that has ever happened to you! (truth) But the fact that you have a perfect, healthy baby doesn’t negate how you are feeling. I was so caught off guard by the pelvic pain and weakness. After all, I had worked really hard when I was pregnant (I thought) to ensure my pelvic floor was in tip-top shape! I thought I’d be a rockstar, pop this Nugget out, and be back to normal in a jiff.

Not the case.

By my 6 week check up with my midwife, I was still having pain, and feeling weak and while I was lucky enough to not have incontinence, I still didn’t have the same control I once did. Luckily, my midwife had a contact for a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist (PHP) in my city and I booked an appointment.

6 weeks later I finally got in to see Michelle. (She’s that busy)

I recently was telling my friends about my experience with Michelle. I used words like ‘magical’ and ‘tender’ and ‘professional’.

You have a really intimate relationship with your PHP when you’re done. She helps you with things you may not even discuss with your mother.

She gave me confidence to know what is and isn’t normal within the context of my own body. She helped me realize my version of a Kegel was not very effective and helped me perfect it. She also made me realize I hold a lot of my stress and tension in my core by bracing it way more often than is necessary, which was resulting in a lot of tightness in my PF. She helped me learn how to relax and release that tension so I could enjoy things I hadn’t been enjoying before. She even helped me work through the grief I was feeling over the fact that I had worked so hard to keep my core strong, and here I was, so weak that wearing my baby for a trip to the grocery store was causing me pain.

Let’s just say, after I finished my last session, the first thing I did the next day was send her flowers and a Thank You note.

I truly believe every single woman should see a PHP after she gives birth. Regardless if it is vaginal or C-section, uncomplicated or complex, easy or traumatic. See a PHP!

What most women don’t realize is that during pregnancy your core all but shuts down. It get stretched so much that it is really difficult to connect with those muscles and keep them toned. A PHP will help you reconnect, and become more functional and I promise you, it will help you in every movement you make.