Friday, April 10, 2009

Labor & Delivery

Another great Mamasource exchange:

Q: I'm wondering if anyone has experienced this. I was due yesterday and I started sporadic contractions as of late Tuesday night. Wednesday afternoon (about 4pm) they were pretty much every half hour and then all night last night they were every 15 minutes and pretty strong. I thought I would have had my baby by now but I went to Labor & delivery and since this morning about 9am they have totally slowed down. When I got checked this morning I was at 1 cm. I get a contraction maybe once an hour now. I am trying a VBAC but have a repeat c-section scheduled for tomorrow if nothing happens. Has anyone had the same experience? I just feel like I am not progressing anymore and with all the pain I felt last night, I don't want to go through hours of more pain. I am seriously considering going through with my c-section tomorrow morning if nothing happens tonight. I had a c-section with my 1st child since I was induced and never dialated passed 3 cm. Your thoughts are appreciated!!

A: Congrats on your son and soon-to-arrive daughter. My advice, such as it is, is obviously predicated on everything being fine with your baby in utero, with no signs of stress or reduced movement due to anything other than no darned room left to wiggle around! :)

First, a reminder that for all the advances of medical science, doctors still don't know what exactly causes a baby to be ready to be born. Due dates are actually suggestions, with a two week parameter before and after THE BIG DAY. So although you, your doc and the little wheel said you were due yesterday, your little pumpkin may not feel fully baked.

Now, on to the fun of a VBAC. Even though you have a C-section scheduled, there's nothing that says you can't unschedule it. Sure, your doc would really like an undisturbed Easter/Passover, and sure would you, but that early labour, although it seemed unproductive to you (only 1 cm -- but you were working so hard!!) you may now be fully effaced and baby may be more engaged. I suffered mightily through 12 hours (I counted every one) of labour with my son, during which I only got to 3 or so cm, and in retrospect, I should have kept my butt at home, swam or had a bath, danced or watched a movie -- done anything to ignore the contractions while giving them time to work. It's a bit of a paradox. You can't rush your labour -- and you want to help it along by walking or resting or whatever your body needs.

If you don't have a doula, just take it one contraction at a time. If you're tired and hurting right now, go to bed. You don't have to be awake for the times between the contractions. Maybe baby isn't wanting to be born until Monday (when there'll be a fuller staff at the hospital, by the way).

I have several friends who did VBACs and they were all glad to have had the experience. Labor can suck, because it is, after all, work! But you planned on going a different way with this birth, and you have to give yourself the gift of time to let it happen. Not gonna lie (4 kids -- three drug-free, last two twins) -- every single time I was in labour, I kept thinking, "this is ridiculous ... I can't do this ... what was I thinking? I don't want to get a baby out of my body right now ... let it/them stay in!" All that stuff is going through your head and it's noisy in there. :)

Whatever you do, you do. But you had a wish to labour and deliver. Be gentle with yourself -- and it does help reduce the perception of pain (and thusly, the pain) to say during each contraction, "this brings me one step closer to meeting my daughter" while simultaneously puffing out your belly and opening your mouth. Sounds wacky, but it works. Good luck!! REST!!

The uncertainty of how you'll react during labour is why I always advocate for a good doula. I was lucky enough to have the amazing Seannie Gibson for my last three babies, and her presence, while very much in the background, although very active when needed, enabled my husband to focus on what he could do, and me to let go and get the work done. If you're looking for a doula, start here. And what's the most important thing to do during your birthing experience? Experience it. That means, turn off the playoffs in the L&D room and focus on your partner and your baby (or babies, as the case may be). It's a miracle, every time. With an epidural, during a c-section, or under a tree in the middle of a forest. Pay attention to that.

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