New Mom: Childbirth Class Helped Me Give Birth the Way I Wanted
By Jacqueline Boyter, Jacksonville, FL
On Wednesday, August 24th my contractions had become noticeably stronger and by that evening, heading home from work, bumps in the road weren’t comfortable. By dinner, I had to lean to one side to relieve pressure. I went to bed that night waking every so often and thought nothing of it when I woke up for work Thursday morning (the 25th). For a couple hours at work, I tried to clean up my desk and get a few things done, thinking I would have the baby over the weekend. A co-worker walked with me trying to help “start” labor as she’d done several times in the couple days prior. I found myself slowing down during contractions, but pushed through.
Around 10 o’clock in the morning, I spoke with our Doula who was checking in on our status. I described my contractions and told her I wasn’t timing because I didn’t want to head home and be in false labor like the week prior! Shortly thereafter, I had to quit denying it. By 11:30 I hadn’t heated lunch (I’m usually famished by 11) because I didn’t want to leave my cubicle. Every time I had a contraction, I had to stand up out of my chair to help relieve the pressure I was feeling.
I called hubby and headed home, asking if he could pick up lunch and he reminded me he had meetings unless I really thought I needed him home. Still in denial, I said I’d get something on my way. Each bump in the road during a contraction caused me to tense up and wish I could get off my butt! I suffered through a 15 minute delay before I was finally able to stop at McDonalds for the double cheeseburger without ketchup that I’d been craving all day.
Shortly after arriving home, my husband called to let me know his other meeting had been cancelled, at which time I suggested he come home as I was starting to feel I didn’t want to be alone. Sometime after 2, he began timing contractions and called our doula as they were consistent around 5 minutes apart and carrying a conversation was no longer possible. I was breathing through each one, and during the breaks, snacking and resting. I was having a lot of back labor with pressure in the buttocks during each contraction and had to utilize the all fours position or hunch over pillows to keep my butt off any kind of surface! As the contractions came closer to 3 minutes apart, nearing 11 p.m., we decided it was time to gather our things for the hospital while I rested on the bed in preparation for our long night ahead. It was then we figured out that lying down instantly caused my contractions to stall to around 9 minutes apart, and as soon as I got up, they immediately returned to 2 to 3 minutes.
Heading out the door, I had to throw up several times. I’m not sure if it was the anxiety of having to go to the hospital, or if it was the pressure from the contractions. When it was over, we finally headed out. Hubby was cautious of the bumps on the way to the hospital, but I was in agony sitting and couldn’t wait to get out of the car.
Once we were registered at the hospital, we waited to be checked before we were “checked in” to L&D. At about 11:30 I was only about 2 or 3 cm dilated and my water hadn’t yet broken. The nurse told us I needed to be 3 cm in order to be admitted, so we were told to walk around for an hour to see if there was any progression in order to be admitted. I was disappointed in the progress we’d made thus far, but reminded myself that stressing about it wouldn’t help speed things along, so I stayed calm and positive. I was checked again at 12:30 and was at 5 cm, so we were admitted.
Passing along our birth plan proved more stressful. Our nurse was supportive, but indicated that hospital policies were going to keep her hands tied, and the one doctor I had hoped WOULDN’T deliver my baby happened to be on duty and had told her “no” on most of our wishes. At this point, I’m scared and ready to ask to be released … I’d seriously considered going home and sitting in my bathtub. Luckily, the nurse left us alone most of the time and allowed us to do almost everything we wanted, including intermittent monitoring and changing positions when I felt necessary. The only thing that was “forced” was the IV plug, which I absolutely hated.
Because I had asked for minimal internal exams, they didn’t check again until 4:30 a.m. and I hadn’t progressed past about 5.5 centimeters and was offered pitocin to help speed up dilation, but declined. Thankfully, because of my exhaustion, I was able to sleep between each contraction, which I believe helped me to stay calm and in control. The pressure in my back and butt got so bad, that I could no longer sit or stand. Even lying down was uncomfortable, but at least I was able to sleep, so that’s where I stayed.
About 6 a.m., between the exhaustion and the pressure, I began asking for pain medication to “give me a break”. I still wasn’t ready for an epidural, but hubby talked me out of the pain relief each time. After asking several times, Buddy finally went to get a nurse or doctor to check on my progress at about 8 a.m. because the doctor I had wanted to deliver the baby should have been on duty. The doctor I wanted was unavailable, so Buddy asked the nurse to check for progression, telling her that I needed to know I was progressing so that I wouldn’t feel the need for pain medication. When she came in to check me, I was at 6-7 cm and that because I was so far along, the narcotic pain medication I was requesting was no longer an option and that my only option was an epidural.
We both decided an epidural wasn’t an option, so we began requesting breaking the bag of water to help speed up labor. We were told that only the doctor could do this, so we had to wait for the doctor who was on duty during the night after completing an emergency C-section. At approximately 9 a.m., he arrived and checked me, telling me I was at 7 cm and that he could come back in about 15 minutes to break the bag. When the doctor returned to do a final check (before using the tool to break the water), my water broke, on its own, in a warm gush which oddly enough provided a huge relief in the pressure (probably from the warmth of the waters). It was within seconds that the doctor, checking my cervix, said “7, 8, 9 … okay ladies, get your stuff together; we’re about to have this baby.” There was a huge whirlwind of activity all at once which suddenly scared me and I kept saying “I’m scared, I can’t do this” and hubby kept reminding me that I could! I remember seeing the nurse beside me and all of a sudden needed to push before the doctor came back in. At about 10 a.m. the doctor returned for me to start pushing. I got a charley horse in my leg as they tried to put me in stirrups, so I forcefully declined the stirrups and used Buddy and my doula to support my legs.
After about 5 contractions and pushing, the doctor determined I was too tired to push without assistance, so he pulled out a small suction. I remember shaking my head and enthusiastically saying “NO CUTTING!!!” He showed me how small the suction was and promised he wouldn’t cut. Another couple rounds of pushing, and he gave me a shot at my perineum so that I wouldn’t tense up the area. At 10:29 a.m. on August 26th, Shelby arrived, and I instantly felt relief, although it took a couple moments for me to realize that I’d just had a baby – I think I was in shock.
I had experienced no tears whatsoever, Shelby was wide awake and responsive (passing her APGAR with flying colors), we were released from the hospital after only 1 day, and recovery went very quickly!! Overall, my experience was amazing … the only thing I wished they didn’t have to do was give me the IV plug as it was the most obnoxious thing to deal with considering I never needed any fluids. When it was all said and done, the nurses and doctor respected our birth plan more than we initially anticipated, and we’re so proud, despite the length of labor, that everything went as smoothly and according to plan!! And it was such a wonderful feeling when the nurses would comment about the birth and say things like “it’s like you were meant to have babies” when they would find out I went through such a long labor without medication and didn’t tear.
I know I couldn’t have done all this without the knowledge from the natural birth class. More importantly, I couldn’t have gone through such long labor without the constant and amazing support from Buddy. Unfortunately, I was less than thankful that he wasn’t allowing me to have pain medication when I asked for it several times, and I got mad at him at one point for it (and he’s just finding out about it after nearly 2 months), but looking back, I’m extremely happy that he kept me on track!
Looking back, I think it was important to push for good care for us because I know I didn't want to regret our decisions or lack of knowledge later, OR wonder if we did something wrong. Because we both attended classes together, we were well informed and prepared as best we could be for the day our little one would join us. The knowledge helped me to push any fears I had with the process out of the way and NOT to have any unrealistic expectations that things would be perfect. I think because I wasn't stressed out or nervous, the birth process did end up being perfect for us. And, the best advice I can give is to not go into labor without lots of information (not just from classes) and NOT to walk in afraid or you'll be more likely to do whatever doctors want, instead of what you want!