Jodi and I are going to be tackling some reader requests from past posts over the next few weeks but we got one tonight that seemed interesting. Sarah asked what we think of epidurals, pitocin and the overall labor process.
Now, this is a very touchy subject and I want to preface this by saying two things:
1. Birth is a very personal process. It should be thoroughly researched and thought out.
2. There are about as many ways to bring a child into this world as there are children. Each has it's own benefits and there is no one size fits all birthing plan.
I have been blessed enough to have been a labor coach during quite a few births. In fact, the first baby I ever helped coach into the world is about to turn 9. Well before I was ever pregnant I was interested in the birthing process. If I could pick a dream job, it would be to be a labor and delivery nurse.
Before I was pregnant with my first son I had a fair idea of how I wanted to bring my children into the world. I am most comfortable in a hospital setting. The monitors in the background, being able to watch the heart rate and knowing that if something did go wrong I would have access to the medical procedures I or my child needed. I am a paranoid person. I prepare for the worst so no matter what I am not caught off guard. It's a big reason I knew a hospital birth was right for me.
I do believe that some maternity wards can be baby factories. If you are not progressing fast enough, they give you drugs or cart you off to a C-section. They want you to birth a certain way...unless you speak up. Just because I wanted a hospital birth did not mean I could not be in charge of how I labored.
I am lucky that my grandfather is a nurse anesthetists. He has given countless epidurals and attended so many C-sections in his career. The first thing I asked him was if he could talk the hospital into letting him administer my epi, if I got one. I was most afraid of that big needle in my back, not as much pushing something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon. I really wanted to do a 'walking epidural' but he quickly talked me out of it because they were not as reliable. He said, if you are going to get the epi, might as well get the one you know works and not have to get the whole process re-done.
I wanted to make sure I could walk around so my labor could progress. I also wanted to wait until I was 7cm to get the epi if I was going to get it. I wrote out the most detailed birth plan you have ever seen. I emailed my mom and sister with copies months before I went into labor. I kept trying to have meetings with them about it. In short, I was obnoxious.
When the time came to deliver Kayden things went a little differently than planned. I had to be induced because my blood pressure was approaching pre-eclampsia levels, my normal contractions turned into very painful leg contractions that made walking out of the question. At 5cm I received an epidural that helped me relax enough to go from 5cm-9cm in 15 minutes. I was pushing 2 hours after getting the epi. I pushed for 3 hours and thankfully had a wonderful doctor that worked as hard as I did to deliver vaginally. Later she told me it took so long to get Kayden out because I had overdone my kegels to the point that my birth canal was extremely narrow. In the end I had an amazing baby born without any complications. I remember thinking as they wheeled me up to the mother and baby unit that I could do that again the next day.
Liam's delivery was much like Kayden's except that he was sunny side up and not putting enough pressure on my cervix to get it to dilate. Again, I was blessed with an amazing medical staff(and support group), this time a nurse, who understood my desire to avoid a c-section. She moved and positioned me in such a way that Liam finally turned. I was able to push him to crowning a whole hour and a half before my doctor thought I would be able to. She was in surgery when he was crowning so the staff midwife delivered Liam. By the time I was pushing my epidural was 12 hours in and had completely worn off. I felt every bit of that delivery, but I was able to nap during the labor with the aid of the epidural and I think that is the only reason I had enough energy to to the kind of pushing I did to get Liam to turn.
Both times I had my mom there to coach me. She(and my sister for Kaydens birth) kept me calm and focused. While I knew my medical needs where being attended to, I had my family there to take care of my emotional needs. I find that equally important to any kind of medical support I received.
But in the end I knew what was going on because I took the time to research what my options were and think long and hard about what I was most comfortable with. I have friends that have done home births, water births, scheduled c-sections, VBAC, emergency c-sections and births like mine. In the end we all had the same result, a gorgeous new baby. Some would have changed what they did and some loved their own special birthing experience.
Deciding on a birth plan is one of the first choices you will make as a parent. And just like any other important decision you make, what is most important is how YOU feel, how YOU will be most comfortable and how YOU want to bring your child into this world.