As you can probably see lately, I’ve had a bit of a back log of half finished posts! Now that Emily is sleeping through the night better, I’m finally able to finish them, and I’d like to get all of the labour and delivery posts out of the way so we can get down to some fall decorating!
Now that I’m an expert at all things labour and delivery (just kidding!) I figured I should pass on some of the valuable lessons I learned while delivering our little one! These were all things that I would have changed or that would have helped me – they may not help everyone, and are not meant as judgement for those who do things differently!
1. Stay hydrated. Invest in a reusable water bottle with a straw. It can be difficult sipping from a glass when you’re lying down and a contraction could hit at any time, so being able to drink from any angle is a life saver. Make sure the neck is big enough to be able to add ice as well. I asked Craig to make sure I had a some water between ever contraction to make sure I stayed hydrated and I’m glad I did as I would have forgotten otherwise. Here’s the bottle I used:
2. Avoid an epidural/induction IV if you can. I have nothing against using medications for pain management if that is your preference, or in medically inducing labour (we had just booked our induction the night we went into labour!), however I HATED having an IV for the oxytocin when my labour stalled. I had to keep it in for 4 hours after delivery, and it was so annoying having a needle stuck in my hand and having to deal with all of the tubing whenever I wanted to turn over or reach for the baby or go to the bathroom. It just sucked.
3. Be wise in choosing your labour support people. Don’t overcrowd the room. I think the term ‘a watched pot doesn’t boil’ applies to women in labour too! Additionally, delivery was such a spiritual experience for us, and the moment we welcomed the little girl we created into the world was so personal to Craig and I that I wouldn’t want to share it with too many people! Next time Craig and I are hoping for a home birth with just us and the midwives. We’ll have a little girl that needs looking after, so I’m sure my mom will be at the house for her, and we’d like for Emily to be present for some of it too to welcome her little brother (here’s hoping!) into the world and to feel a part of (and understanding) bringing him here. I also think that moving to the hospital slowed my labour down. I dilated 6-7cm in 7 hours at home and then took the same amount of time to dilate the final 3 (and then sat at full dilation for 5.5 hours, fun!).
4. Try natural. I’m sure everyone has different tolerances for pain, but I think women are better able to handle the pains of labour without medication than they think. There were definitely moments I was saying to Craig “I don’t think I can do this!” because of the pain (particularly after they gave me the oxytocin and kept upping the dosage!), but the pain truly was fleeting, and once I reached the delivery stage pain was a non-issue. I’ve also heard some horror stories about epidurals not being performed properly and women having to shift positions constantly to prevent problems, or women having zero sensation/control over their legs. Most women go natural for the majority of their labour and then for the last few cm’s want some relief from the pain. Totally get it. Transition sucked. But you can do it!
5. Give midwives a try. There is a belief in society now that labour and delivery is a medical procedure and that it is necessary for a doctor to be there to perform the ‘procedure’. In a lot of hospitals women also fall into the ‘cascade of interventions’ and go from induction to epidural to stalled labour to c-section, instead of accepting the natural progression of things. I even fell a little bit prey to this idea and wanted to have our first baby in the hospital (under care of a midwife) because I’m a bit of a worry wart and figured it would make me more relaxed – not true! It was my first and last night spent in a hospital hopefully! Did you know that in England almost all births are assisted by midwives, with only a small portion of them performed by doctors when they are high risk or complications arise. I say assisted because it is truly something your body is meant to do (women in coma’s have delivered babies without assistance) so the midwives are only helping you to understand the cues and to help with pushing effectively and care of the baby once it’s born. If you are living in Ontario, at least meet with the midwives and see if it could be a good fit for you. It is covered by OHIP and you receive the same ultrasounds and tests as those under care of a doctor. The biggest difference is ‘informed choice’ as nothing about labour and delivery is mandated or required. If you’re in other provinces or living in the States, you may need to pay for the services yourself.
Overall, I wouldn’t have changed any of the choices Craig and I made that day. We had to respond to some unexpected developments, but it only proved to make the moment she arrived even more special. I look back on the day and am overwhelmed with joy for every moment, but I’ve got something that brings me even more joy calling for me from the other room – I must depart!