On September 18th, at 12:03am, Evelyn Grace was born at 7lbs 12oz and 21.5 in.
It was a quick labor, matter of fact, it was so fast, there was no way anyone could have left the room to get a sandwich and came back in time to gobble it up. Luckily, we live only 5min from the hospital. When we were in Maine, we had to FLY to the hospital when I was in labor with Ayda; we lived an hour away! Total labor time with Evelyn: 6 hours. Pretty neat stuff. If you’re hesitating to exercise during pregnancy, think again. Check out my previous post on Exercise and Pregnancy and you’ll see why.
I wanted to talk about Natural Birth as opposed to choosing the pain meds or epidural to aid in delivery. So why Natural Birth? To answer the question is to understand the simple and natural story of normal birth. In a Lamaze class, they focus too much on the physiology and anatomical part that they skip on the idea of a normal birth. It confuses everyone. Then, they start talking about epidurals, medications, and c-sections so all of this seems NORMAL to the patients, and make it seem OK to schedule times for having your baby. It’s like the doctors and nurses try to embed this in our minds to make it seem like those choices are the ONLY route to take when having a baby. Our society portrays pregnant women as an assembly line: Pop one into the hospital, pop the baby out as quickly as possible, rob them of their money, and move onto the next lad.
I’m not going to go into the basics of how birth happens, but I would recommend watching ‘Pregnant in America.’ It’s a must see for those who are unsure about their pregnancy. A definite eye opener on who’s making the money during birth and who’s making the decisions for the individuals. I just want to educate others on why this option is the best opposed to the medical route. I’m going to go through my experience to give everyone an idea of how SAFE and EFFECTIVE the strategy is for the mother, and I hope that by writing this post, it will help give some women assurance that EVERYTHING WILL BE OK 🙂
Now, I can promise you that no one will not look like the above picture after having a child 😉 And if Jersey Shore helps the lady during her labor process, more power to her. I think it would make me more angry, because Snookie is someone I would like to punch in the face over and over again. It might actually make her look better.
When becoming pregnant, most women are scared of the PAIN that will be accompanying them through the whole process. It’s ok to be scared, I definitely was when I was pregnant with Ayda. I didn’t know what to expect, and no one does. Everyone’s bodies are different and will experience the labor differently. It’s HOW you make of the experience. The more tense and scared the mother is, the harder the labor; the more RELAXED the mother is, the easier the labor progresses (and the FASTER that baby will come out!).
Mother Nature is just awesome. She can be a b*tch sometimes, but remember, this is how she prepares the mom for her labor. It is important to understand that the pain of contractions in labor is valuable. Mother Nature actually helps women find their own ways of facilitating birth. In reality, the pain of each contraction becomes a guide for the laboring woman. My labor with both girls wasn’t bad at all. The contractions with Ayda were VERY strong, however, this was because I was scared to push her out. I didn’t prepare, and I didn’t know what to expect. I thought that my running up and down the stairs and kayaking 2 miles the day before would have relaxed me, obviously not.
With Evie, my body was more aware of what was going on. Hell, while I was in labor, we went for a walk around Lake Hefner, then went out to eat. My contractions were 8-10min apart. That’s right, I downed my last GOOD meal for the night because I KNEW my body was going to be working hard later! Little did my family know, they thought I was joking when I said I was having contractions. 😉
There are certain positions that will help the woman deal with the pain: squatting, lunging, hands and knees, sitting on a therapy ball, etc. It’s whatever helps the woman breathe through her contractions, and these will position the baby down the birth canal, making it easier for those pushes. A few ways that helped me get through the contractions was music (we listened to Bob Marley and Jack Johnson!), sitting on a therapy ball, and propping up on my knees while hugging 3 to 4 pillows. With Ayda, I hummed and sang to the music while twirling on the ball (it was fun!), and with Evie, we listened to music and then I hugged the pillows. Also, I reassured myself that pain is GOOD. I repeated it over and over again. Meanwhile, I was thinking of Ayda; this helped me get through all the contractions!
The Fear of Labor
When the pain is diminished by medications or epidural, it makes it even harder for the woman to prepare for labor, thus blocking the feedback system and slowing down labor. With Ayda, I started with the high dose meds so I could relax ( I know, you would think that a personal trainer would be tougher than that, well I was a wuss). These are called Opinoids. They are like a narcotic that doesn’t completely cover the pain, but will help you rest between contractions. And boy I’ll tell you what, it felt like I smoked a massive blunt that was accompanied by major pain. I wasn’t myself and slurred whenever trying to have a conversation with my husband. When those didn’t work, I screamed for the epidural. Once that needle hit my back, all the pain was gone, and I fell asleep for an hour. It was heaven. Then the doctor came in, broke my water, and told me to push. It all happened so fast, and this was NOT what I wanted. I didn’t ask for the doctor to come in to rush the baby out. However, my blood pressure was so low and so was Ayda’s heart rate (her head was on the umbilical cord). So they had to vacuum her out in order to avoid C-section. Then on June 20th 2010 at 11:13am, Ayda Belle Mattingly was born. She weighed 6lb 4oz and was 18.5in long. As she came out, I didn’t get to hold her right away. They had to suture me up before I could move. On top of that, my whole right side of my body was numb, so they had to take some precautions. I was a little sad that I didn’t get to hold her right away, but overjoyed that this little blessing was healthy and BEAUTIFUL!
Keeping that experience in mind, this goes to show you what COULD happen when women FEAR their labor. Mind you, everyone’s bodies are different and will experience different events, however, the woman should always do her homework on which options are best for HER. But women should know that we were made to give birth without the use of medicines, epidurals, let alone FEAR.
The Natural Birth
After experiencing how medications can really have an effect on labor, I decided to go natural with our second baby. If we didn’t live in an apartment, I would have had her at home (I didn’t want the apartment neighbors to think Justin was murdering me!). Justin (my wonderful husband) and I did a lot of research, watched documentaries (‘Born in America’, and ‘Babies’), and prepared ourselves for labor. We felt that it was important for both of us to support each other for our OWN roles: as parents, lovers, the woman in labor, and father the supporter. We knew that coming into the labor, it COULD be painful for me, but PAIN = GOOD. I also reassured Justin that I am NOT going to take medications, and if I scream for it, I would like for him to assure me that everything is going to be OK without them, and this is what we want for ourselves AND baby Evie.
My labor with Evie was such a breeze, it was amazing how fast everything went. As I described earlier, everything started on September 17th at 5pm during our walk, and at dinner. We had the company of Justin’s mom in town, as well as our dear friend Thuy from Joplin. The whole time I was in labor, everyone thought that I was joking! But really, I was trying to hide it as I didn’t want anyone to freak out 😉 During dinner, I would bite my nails and deal with the pain. Justin would ask if I was ok, and I would smile and laugh and say, “Ohhhhhh, just a contraction.” When we got home from dinner, I decided to take a hot shower to help with the pain in my back. Everyone decided to start the movie ‘9’ while I sat in the room by myself (I preferred it) to help me get through the contractions. I decided to come out and watch the movie with everyone, but hid behind the couch on my hands and knees. After each contraction, I would poke my head up and laugh with everyone. The more I ignored the pain and hung out with everyone, the better it got. After 10 min, I had to go lie down again and that was when the contractions started at 4 minutes apart. Thuy came in to check up on me, and I told her that we should leave fairly soon. As everyone was packing and getting ready, Thuy mentioned that she may have to shower and to go without her. I laughed it off and said, “Hey, just hop in and out. I’ll be fine!” When in reality, I could pop the baby out any second, but I knew that it would be ok!!!!
Justin didn’t speed to the hospital like he did before in Maine. I kinda yelled at him for that. Then after I lectured, he hit a pothole that was full of water and it almost all splashed into my side. I guess he was trying to speed up the laboring process???? ;0) After arguing where to enter for the hospital (it literally felt like my uterus was going to pop out any moment at this time!), we FINALLY made it into the hospital!!!
My water didn’t break yet and I was already 8cm dilated. (I guess we should have left before Thuy’s shower!) The doctor asked if I would like for her to break my water, and I OK’d it. I knew of the risks, but in reality, my heart told me that everything will be OK. The pain was soooo intense, but my body was ready to get this baby out. As every contraction hit me, I thought of Ayda. There was Jack Johnson music going on in the background, and I imagined myself on the beach in Key West with our two little girls. Literally, seconds after my water broke, I started to push. The doctor kinda yelled at me as she wasn’t expecting me to push! After the push, the doc told me to let her know when I’m pushing again. Well, I really didn’t have the voice to tell her, so I pushed anyway. No wait, I SCREAMED! Justin had to hold me on the bed, as I felt like a rocket ready for lift off! Then, I felt a massive amount of relief. It was like I could smell the ocean already and visualize our little girls playing together. As I looked down, our daughter Evie was sitting on my chest, ready for me to snuggle with her and never let go. I will tell you, my endorphins kicked in so much, I felt NO PAIN. That oxytocin was pumping so hard through my body, it numbed every single inch of pain that I had experienced throughout the labor. I was so in tuned with our new bundle of joy, I couldn’t WAIT to show Ayda her new sister!
Literally, 5 min after the birth of Evie, I was laughing, talking, and enjoying the love in the air. Thuy and Justin were so amazed at how well I was sitting up and just socializing with the nurses and doctors MOMENTS after giving birth. One nurse came to help me go to the bathroom, and I just stood up and wanted to run! (She had to pin me down a bit, haha) I just couldn’t believe how well my body reacted to the labor. It’s amazing how mother nature works! I was ready to leave to hospital 8 hours later, but we had to stay for 24 hours, dang! The look in Ayda’s eyes when seeing her sister: PRICELESS.
So really, why natural childbirth? Well, in reality, women find the answer to that question themselves. With Ayda, I was groggy for a week. With Evie, I could have run a marathon, literally. Both of my birthing experiences were absolutely beautiful, and I’m glad I went through both experiences. However, my body healed so much FASTER when going at it myself. What women need from childbirth educators, is to know that nature’s design works miraculously. Women who are confident, supported, and encouraged, will enjoy the freedom to look into their own wisdom and find GREAT satisfaction in natural birth. This process will prepare both mother and the baby perfectly in every little way to continue their journey together. Some women choose this route because they like the challenge; others prepare to work hard and ‘get the job done right.’ Others know what could potentially harm them and their babies and are out to avoid it. Why natural childbirth? The question really is: WHY NOT?