What Do I Wish I Had Known Before Giving Birth?

Posted by  | Thursday, October 15, 2009  at 3:08 PM  
How about oh-so-many things!

This list could easily be much longer than it is, but I figured this would be my top ten (in no particular order)!

To give some background, in preparation for our first birth, we attended the childbirth class at our hospital where we were to have our son, Keaton. After a very long (36 hour) labor (mostly back labor, 2 hours of pushing) ended up in a (very necessary, however emotionally gut-wrenching) c-section, I knew I had to be much more prepared for our next birth. I did all I could possibly think of to prepare for my un-medicated, VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) that was to follow 16 months later with my son, Benjamin.


1. I wish I had known how much having a doula would have helped in my first birth.
Not just for the physical labor, but emotional as well. I truly feel I would have had a c-section with Keaton, no matter what, due to his very short cord. However, a doula would have been able to help me with my back labor (and to tell me that an epidural might not help much with the back labor...because it surely didn't!) and to recall the information we learned in our class (as well as offering other valuable information to help us throughout labor and birth) that we totally forgot as soon as labor started! Also, if I had a doula, she could have helped me process through the emotional roller coaster I went through for months following Keaton's birth.

2. I wish I would have known how much my "care providers" would influence my labor and birth.
When I first became pregnant, I really wanted a natural birth, the closer labor time came, I was scared into getting pain medication as early as possible. If I had asked more questions early on, I could have quickly learned that I may not be getting the care I was desiring from them and sought out doctor's or midwives that would help me reach my goal and, as a first time mom, to not be afraid of labor and birth.

3. I wish I had known how easy it would be, in the throws of labor, to tell my provider what I wanted to do.
With Benjamin, I had to ask my midwife to leave the room at one point so I could re-focus on getting back to 'laborland' - she was more than happy to do this. I knew that it was so important to regain control over my labor that it was not hard to tell her I needed her to do this.
Later, my midwife had to step out of the room to be with another mom who was pushing, leaving me with the on-call OB (who was adamant about a repeat c-section) to assist in birthing my baby. I was able to have the labor and birth I (pretty much) wanted because I refused certain interventions when she mentioned them.

4. I wish I had known how much I really wouldn't care about anything when transition hit.
In preparing for my labor, my doula and I talked about many things, but two things in particular stood out.
First, she had told me that "many women who attempt natural childbirth end up naked." I laughed at her and said something along the lines of, "Yeh, like all the hippies in Ina May's book! I'm way too modest for that..." She said, "That's what I thought too, I'm just warning you..." Transition hit - everything came off and I did not care one little bit!
Secondly, we talked about vocalizing throughout the contractions. I told her I was not going to be "that loud woman in labor." My doula could tell I was having trouble focusing throughout some of the contractions after my midwife broke my water and suggested moaning through them, keeping the noises long and low, almost "song like." After a few minutes, I quickly learned that moaning was the answer - it was amazing and I didn't care who was around to hear me.
In the end, I didn't care that I was on my hands and knees, naked, moaning on a hospital bed, up (what felt like) 10 feet in the air for all the world to see. Imagine my surprise after Benjamin was born, I turned over to see him and was greeted with a room full of smiling nurses!

5. I wish I had known there were other books to read than, "What To Expect When You're Expecting."
I feel I would have been more prepared for my first birth reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Henci Goer's Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth or Birthing From Within (and I could go on and on!)
What To Expect When You're Expecting is great for the medical side of it all, preparing you for tests and whatnot, but in preparing for an un-medicated birthing experience, I do not feel it compares to these other books.

6. I wish I had known what an incredible support my husband would grow to be throughout our 'birth journey'.
Before I went into labor with Keaton, he didn't want to see "anything" but, when my OB proclaimed that Keaton was crowning, he was checking for his sons' head!
In preparing for Benjamin's birth, he allowed me to share all my fears and concerns regarding a VBAC vs. a repeat c-section, and why I personally could not have another c-section. He insisted we seek out a doula (not because he was afraid he couldn't handle things, but to have one more person 'on our side'). He read Dr. Robert Bradley's Husband Coached Childbirth and insisted on practicing relaxation techniques.
During my labor with Benjamin, he stayed by my side the entire day while I labored at home and never left my side at the hospital. He kept me updated on the progress of Benjamin's arrival and whispered encouraging words in my ears. And, he shocked us all by agreeing to cut the cord.
Who knows what he'll do whenever #3 comes along!

7. I wish I had known beforehand, how empowered I would feel after pushing out that sweet baby.
I had read about it and heard about it, so I knew about it, but I definitely was not prepared for the overwhelming urge to take on the world! I can't even begin to explain this in any more detail - I just remember being floored at what my body had just done!

8. I wish I had known in my first pregnancy how a chiropractor could help so much.
I have pretty much dubbed myself a chiro-pusher. I will talk about our amazing chiropractor to anyone who will listen. I have horrendous sciatic nerve pain while pregnant. During my first pregnancy, my OB suggested I go see one and I refused. At about 5 months into my second pregnancy, I decided to give it a try. Within an hour, I was sold. Here are just a few of the ways she has helped us:
*Benjamin was transverse up until 2 days before I went into labor, he flipped just a few hours after an adjustment from her (he would flip flop from transverse to head down, just about every day, but at my last adjustment, it was just the push he needed to settle into place)
*She helped with my sciatica (never cured it, but made it livable with regular visits)
*My labor stalled in the middle of the day, in a matter of minutes and a quick adjustment, she jump-started my labor. I went from nothing (I woke up that morning with 6 minute apart contractions that fizzled around lunch time) to 5 minute apart contractions, lasting 45-60 seconds long
*After Benjamin was born, he had a horrible latch from being transverse for so long making breastfeeding painful, to say the least. At four days old, he had his first adjustment and she made a huge improvement in his jaw to allow him to latch on perfectly
*He developed reflux and started to become colicky. A few adjustments later, I had my happy, content baby back!
And I could go on and on and on!

9. I wish I had known how manageable my labor would be.
I don't know if it was how hard my first labor was, how determined (ie: stubborn!) I was or how I had prepared myself, but it was no where near as "bad" as I thought it would be (I can't even call it bad). I remember chatting with my doula before we left for the hospital and saying, "These contractions are so easy..." She (having had a very similar first labor as mine, full of back labor) could only laugh and agree with me. There were moments of self-doubt throughout my labor, especially as transition hit, but only once did I ever think that I couldn't do it - and that one time was right before I asked the midwife to step out so I could refocus and get back to 'laborland' (where I "set up tent and camped out", according to my husband, lol).

10. I wish I had known that cervical dilation and effacement would (and does) mean nothing regarding when labor would begin.
When I was pregnant with Keaton, I was checked at 35 weeks and found out that I was 1.5cm dilated and 50% effaced. I was completely unimpressed by these numbers, but my OB said, "Wow! I bet we're going to have a baby this weekend! There's no way we'll see you at your appointment next week!" I asked about 8 times if he was serious, he assured me he was...Five and a half weeks later, I "finally" had my baby. I decided then and there that I would never be checked again unless already in labor.
Thankfully, the midwives that I now see do not check (unless you ask) - 1- because it is no indication as to when labor will begin and 2- more cervical checks increase the chance of infection. It was so nice to only be checked twice (both times while in labor) and not have the disappointment of thinking that I was 'not progressing' in those final weeks.

Please note: these are just what I wish I had known. To each their own, right? :) Thank you, Hollie, for allowing me to share some insights from my birthing experiences!


Keri said...

hehe :) I am with you on the totally ending up naked during transition! My sister in law called me to ask me if I wore a bra the whole time or just the hospital gown and I couldn't remember so I asked my hubby and he laughed and said that I ripped the gown off because it was bugging me. :)

Anti-gag said...

Hi Meg ,

Here's a good video I found on YouTube about religion, you might like to view it and see what you think.

”God in my life”

I think it makes a lot of good common sense don't you?

Chris Hill

American youth: Young gifted and passionate about religion.
”Fiery lady”

Curt, Mariah, & Carli Badura said...

Thanks for this post. I related to much of it, especially "4. I wish I had known how much I really wouldn't care about anything when transition hit." I had also said I would never be naked in front of people I didn't know (nurses) but like you, the gown didn't stay on long during the birth of our 2nd child (back labor and not responding to oxygen...). You can read the birth stories on our blog. Let me know if you are interested!


KC said...

When my transition hit, my husband said I kept asking the nurses the same questions over and over b/c I couldn't remember that I had asked or what the answers were.

I was already in transition when I got to the hospital. I wanted to wait as long as possible b/c I thought the more time I spent in the hospital, the more chance I would end up with an epidural. ACTUALLY the opposite was true for me. The stress of being admitted, trying to go over my birth plan, changing into their gown...was just enough to throw all of my relaxation techniques out the window.

I ended up getting the epidural at the last possible minute (right before pushing) so my son got the least amount of meds possible, but if I had I gone a little earlier and gotten those formalities out of the way during the easier parts of labor, I think I could have avoided the epidural all together.

I also wish I had a doula with me and DEFINITELY will hire one next time and may even consider home birth!!

jesse said...

I absolutely agree with your theme that knowledge is power and every woman has the right to take control of her own birthing experience. But I have to take issue with #6 "I personally couldn't have another c-section."

I also had a totally necessary c-section the first time around and was determined not to have one the second time. My doctor was really supportive and all was well until I pushed and the cord tightened around his neck, cutting off his air. In a moment my, "I just can't have another c-section," changed to "Please God, let my baby live." I was rushed to surgery where my doctor pulled him out blue and lifeless. He was resuscitated and cared for by the greatest group of doctors, nurses, assistants & technicians. And he is fine!

Birth your babies on your terms but please, birth them in a hospital -- just in case!!

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