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Pregnancy and Your Newborn

After 2 Inductions, I’m All for Medical Interventions

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

I’ve heard horror stories about inductions that sound nothing like my own experiences. Inductions that lasted days and many that resulted in emergency c-sections. There are mothers that insist their babies were forced out when they were ready, even when their gestational age read 40 plus weeks. I’m not saying anyone is wrong, or that natural birthing is a load of crap. I just see incredible value in medical interventions.

People used to die in childbirth all the time.

All. The. Time.

Women and their babies.

I’m uncertain that my daughter and I would have survived her birth without medical intervention. Yes, we were in the middle of an induction, but I never even touched Pitocin. She was in distress because of cord placement, and had the doctor not acted quickly, I can’t imagine what would have happened. If I had dared push to my 42 weeks against the advisement of my doctors, things could have turned out very differently. This was with a completely healthy pregnancy.

I know that my induction experience was positive and that changes things for women. I bet that I would be more reluctant to have a second induction if the first one had been horrible.

However.

I trust my doctors.

I don’t have a medical license. I only know what doctors, googling, and birth boards have told me. So I defer to my doctors. Everything is circumstantial, and not every birth is going to be the same.

My first birth was more traumatic than I realized, and I know more about how much danger my daughter and I were in now that I’ve been through a very similar induction a second time. Shit got real. Recovery sucked. A different perspective could have prompted me to refuse an induction and try to go naturally.

And part of me really did want to go into labor naturally. I was not looking forward to a repeat of being tossed into labor without warning with only a touch of cervidil. I was hoping a natural labor wouldn’t be so sudden and I could progress more slowly.

Of course, that was not to be. I was progressing less with my second pregnancy at full term than I had with my first. An induction was scheduled, and I whole-heartedly agreed. I wanted to meet my baby and I trusted my doctors. I asked questions and I made my intentions known ahead of time when I got to the hospital. My birth went smoothly, and although everything was a bit more vivid (including the pain, yay!) the overall experience was better than my first.

Perhaps I would have gone into labor naturally on my own closer to 2 weeks. However, there’s a real risk to extending pregnancy. I’m less worried about medical interventions and more worried about holding out for something that just isn’t going to happen for me. Waiting could have harmed my first and second child. So even if my first induction had sucked balls, guess what? I probably would have agreed. I trust medical advice, because I don’t know anything different. If I’m going to trust these people with my own life and my baby’s, I need to be all in. It’s one thing to advocate for yourself and make informed medical choices, and it’s another to make decisions out of fear. Negative things happen. My first born was literally ripped out of my body, and yes, I felt every bit of that. My second was delivered in 13 minutes of pushing and an hour of active labor, zero complications. It can be different.

If medical intervention during labor and delivery sucked for you, I’m sorry, but I only ask that you try to change your perspective. They probably saved your life, and your baby’s life.

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Pregnancy and Your Newborn

Epidural vs Unmedicated Birth: The Pros and Cons

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

One of the most stressful things a mom considers before childbirth is how exactly they are going to push a baby out of their vagina.  If you’re a first-time mom, the anxiety can be killer because you have no idea what to expect. You know it’s going to hurt, but that’s so vague, isn’t it? If you’re not a first-time mom, you might experience even more anxiety because you know exactly what’s coming for you and are doing it again anyways. Good times.

I have no personal experience with an epidural, but I did do quite a bit of research in making my decision. After experiencing a birth that was mostly unmedicated, I at least have a little bit of perspective, so we will start there.

Unmedicated: Pros

  • I felt in control.
  • I could walk around, bounce on a birthing ball, and change positions as needed.
  • I was coherent the entire time.
  • I could hold my baby immediately.
  • I could walk as soon as I felt ready.
  • I had no lasting side effects after labor.
  • I had a short hospital stay.

Unmedicated: Cons

  • The pain was overwhelming at times.
  • I was not mentally ready for what contractions would feel like.
  • I had to have local anesthesia for any repairs.

It’s important to note that I am slightly biased, not having experienced a long labor or epidural. I did reserve the right to elect for an epidural, although it was my goal to not need it. This is what I found out when I researched an epidural.

Epidural: Pros

  • It greatly reduces the amount of pain felt.
  • Gives the mother the opportunity to relax and sleep.
  • Reduces the likelihood of trauma associated with pain.
  • No local anesthesia needed for any repairs.

Epidural: Cons

  • It doesn’t work for everyone (only numbs one side, wears off before active labor begins, etc).
  • Short-term and long-term side effects are possible (pain at injection site, migraines, etc).
  • Catheter must be inserted because the mother can’t walk.
  • Increases the likelihood of tears if the mother can’t feel when to push.
  • Epidurals can trigger a chain of other medical interventions (continuous monitoring, Pitocin, and possibly a c-section)

When I chose to decline the epidural, it was not because I wanted the pain. I’m not crazy. I was more scared of the possible side effects, and for me, it was all about being in control. The thought of being confined to the bed freaked me out more than the pain, and as I approach giving birth to a second baby, I hold firm to not wanting the epidural.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience is going to be different. The doctors, the nurses, your support network, the circumstances under which you are giving birth, your current mental state, and more all will impact your experience. Some rave about the epidural, and others have regretted it. It’s so crucial that you make the decision that is right for you specifically and advocate for the well-being of you and your baby. The choice of an epidural or no medicine at all is entirely yours, and you can always change your mind. Trust me, everyone begs for a c-section in the final moments of labor, anyways.

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On Motherhood Pregnancy and Your Newborn

Should I Have Let Them Induce My Labor?

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

The short answer? Absolutely. For all I know the induction, as well as my quick-thinking doctor, saved my daughter’s life.

There’s a huge trend leading towards “natural” childbirth, whatever that is supposed to mean. There is no right or wrong way to birth a child, but some insist that that birthing without medical intervention is the way to go. For some, it probably is! Some women feel completely comfortable laboring away in their bathroom at home. That’s great! However, not every woman can give birth without interventions.

Medical interventions save lives.

Yes, women gave birth before there was anything like a C-section or induction, but many more women and children died in childbirth back then. Now, doctors can save lives! How great is that! And medical interventions allow birth to be much less painful. Just like how a doctor isn’t going to saw your leg off with a barn tool if you have an infection, you get treated with amazing new medicine! Isn’t that exciting. Birthing mothers are allowed the same.

I was induced at 41 weeks.

I debated over the induction, because I was only 41 weeks. I technically could have pushed my medical team to let me wait until 42 to see if I would go into labor on my own, but honestly, I’m not on the natural birth bandwagon. I trusted my doctors, and if they believed that induction was the way to go, I was all about it. It seemed preferable to the constant tension of wondering when I would go into labor. Would I know I was in labor? Would I get to the hospital in time? With an induction, I had an appointment. A predictable time. A window in which I knew that I was going to finally meet my baby girl, and I figured she just needed a tiny bit of encouragement to make her appearance.

I didn’t want the epidural, but I was open-minded.

I did a lot of my own research about epidurals. I’m not against them at all, I just don’t trust my body’s reaction. I don’t have the best reactions to medications, and the smallest doses knock me down the same way half a beer makes me tipsy. It wasn’t something I was comfortable with, and although I heard all the stories of epidurals being heaven-sent, I also heard about the side effects that I wasn’t willing to risk. I get enough migraines, thanks.

Turns out that in the end, I didn’t need one. You can bet your ass I asked for one once I started pushing, but by that point I was already in it. But I had only labored for about an hour at that point. I wasn’t one of those women enduring back labor for days. In a different situation, I might have taken my chances with the epidural.

Babies don’t always come when they are ready.

I consider my induction a successful one. I had medicine placed directly on my cervix to soften it up (I was dilated a whopping 1 cm), and they expected nothing from me until morning. I was informed that Pitocin would be given to me in the morning to start contractions, but to not expect anything soon. We were all so wrong. After only a few hours of the cervix medicine, Hallie was ready. My contractions slammed into me back to back, and suddenly, calls were being made to get the doctor on call back to the hospital immediately. The doctor had gone home people!

Pushing was going great, and my girl’s head was starting to appear, when my doctor realized that the cord was wrapped twice around her neck. Within seconds there were clamps everywhere, and my doctor told me that this would be the last push. It had to be. I didn’t know at the time what was wrong, but I knew she was serious. I screamed once in this final push, because my doctor had shoved both her arms in after my girl, twisted left, twisted right, and pulled her free of her umbilical cord.

Hallie was stunned for a few seconds, but perfectly fine. Her heart-rate had never dropped while in labor, and she was no worse for the wear. Lucky me, I had third stage hemorrhaging due to the doctor’s invasion, but I considered myself blessed. I was carefully sewed up (which has healed nicely, thanks) and got to enjoy a peaceful stay in the hospital with my new baby.

If I hadn’t been in a hospital, we both could have died.

I’m certain that had I attempted a home birth, things would have happened very differently. Both of our lives could have been at risk, and I dread to think about the outcome if I had insisted on the extra week. No one had a clue that the cord was tangled, and Hallie could have easily been a stillbirth had I not agreed to an induction at 41 weeks. My induction may have saved my daughter’s life.

Things do happen that can’t be prevented, and birth is serious business. I have nothing against those women who approach birth naturally in their own homes with the assistance of a midwife. For me though, I have no doubts that I will always give birth in a hospital, surrounded by a team of medical staff. I’ll always try to avoid the epidural, but I’ll never turn down medical interventions that will help myself or my baby. Induction was the right choice for us, and I’m glad I trusted both my mom instincts and the doctors.

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On Motherhood Parenting Pregnancy and Your Newborn

What They Don’t Tell You about the Postpartum Experience

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Just a warning: It’s going to get a little TMI, but motherhood is graphic, and I don’t hold anything back when it comes to moments that blow my mind. There’s all sorts of books on what to expect and the joys of motherhood, but few dare to mention the horrors that come with. Of course, with every pregnancy being different, who can tell you what’s coming for you?

I know after talking with other moms that, while some post-partum experiences were common, others were unique to the individual and their pregnancy. These are the experiences that I had, and I wish there had been a warning label somewhere.

  • Peeing was the worst – For those lucky women with no stitches, this may not have been an issue. For me, with so many stitches that the doctor refused to say how many, peeing was awful. I still sing praises of the tiny quirt bottle they gave me at the hospital, because it’s the only way I managed. Also, it took me 30 patient minutes of sitting on the toilet to officially relief myself post-birth, much to the annoyance of the nurse. She threatened a catheter and I told her that was not happening. Handled it.
  • Pooping was even more terrifying – I got lucky here, but it was still scary. God bless Louis, who I insisted join me in the bathroom for moral support. Thanks to stool softeners and plenty of water and juice, everything went just fine. Unfortunately, I know many women who have suffered through hemorrhoids, so you’re not alone if that’s the case!
  • Uterus contractions post-birth – Breastfeeding has many benefits, and people say that it slims you down a bit. Not because you’re burning calories, but hormones are secreted that encourage the uterus to shrink back to normal size. For me, these contractions were agonizing. Every time Hallie nursed for at least the first week I had the pleasant experience of feeling like I was giving birth again. What. The. Crap.
  • Night sweats – For the first week or two I was home, I would wake up randomly in the middle of the night dripping in sweat. I’m not talking a tough work-out sweat, I’m talking – change my clothes and put a towel down because I can’t be bothered to change the sheets – sweat. Talk about a hot flash.
  • Speaking of hormones – Louis thought I was “sensitive” before Hallie was born, but after, he was in for a ride. I spent many moments clutching Hallie and asking Louis how we were supposed to protect her from this cruel world, and how I just wanted to put her back in my uterus where she was safe. Tears would be streaming down my face, and he would just hug me until I could be reasoned with. Post-partum is a real roller coaster.
  • Breastfeeding in general – I can’t speak about bottle-feeding, which has its own challenges, but I can tell you that if you choose to breastfeed you will discover many amazing things about the human body. Regulating milk is fun, for example. If Hallie was 15 minutes past her usual schedule, a let-down would strike and my shirt would be soaked with milk. Oh, and my let-downs felt as if I was being sucker-punched in the boob every time. I hear the sensation is different for everyone, but that was mine. And if Hallie dared sleep for more than a few hours at night, I would wake up in a puddle of my own milk. Good times.

I also want to mention post-partum depression. I didn’t experience this, but many women do. It is a very normal post-birth experience, and it’s a shame that it’s stigmatized. We are bringing life into this world, and tearing our own bodies apart to do so. I’m not surprised that some of us carry a few more scars than others. If you feel like you’re struggling with depression, you’re not alone. Please seek help. You are a good mom, and caring for yourself is not wrong. You can’t fill other’s cups when your own is empty.

What was your postpartum experience like? What do you wish you would have known?

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Pregnancy and Your Newborn

Trust Your Instincts

MomPower Contributor Lisa Van De Graaff

I gave birth to my baby at 2:40am, twenty-seven hours after those first pains I’d waited so long to feel. The contractions were regular from the start, and progressed normally. I rode the waves with the help of my partner, who danced with me through a series of foreign motions and steps. I felt like I was doing it, the no-pain-medication-no-medical-intervention-perfect-birth for my child. Then I bonked. I was exhausted and only dilated to 7 cm. I had nothing left but the pain, so I asked for medication. What a blessing a shot of medication was. I slept a little, rejuvenated, and was ready to continue (with an epidural, please).

Then the epidural didn’t work. That was bad. Then the contractions slowed from the epidural that wasn’t helping my pain. That was worse. Then there was Pitocin. Worse again as I felt my body’s contraction followed by a Pitocin contraction. The staff didn’t believe me, not even my own doctor believed that I was feeling two contractions back-to-back. They also didn’t believe that I could feel the pain, all the way to 10 cm. All this made for an experience far different from what I had hoped birth would be as I had journaled and meditated, and dreamed of this rite of passage. The worst part of it though, was that I knew something was wrong.

I had known for hours that something wasn’t working as it should, and yet I had remained silent. Now here I was connected to tubes, listening to nurses whisper about vacuums and forceps and babies that are allowed to get too big. I had a doctor who didn’t believe anything I said, a doula so tired all she could do was sit in the corner, and a husband who became my knight in shining armor all at once as he spoke up in a most unusual manner and demanded they listen. His strength became mine, and I said it was time for a cesarean.

YES NOW!

There is more to the story, but the relevant result was a healthy, beautiful girl. According to the surgeon, a cesarean was inevitable because of how my daughter had become wedged in my pelvis. Had my daughter remained in the meconium-filled womb any longer, she may well have suffered irreparable brain damage. Once again, the lesson to follow my instincts was taught to me.

A nurse said, “the baby was taken by cesarean” as she dictated information to another nurse in the recovery room. I corrected her: “The mother delivered the baby by cesarean.”

It took months for me to stop judging myself for the less-than-perfect birth. I felt I had failed to fulfill my dream. I felt I had failed my daughter, my husband, my mother, women everywhere. Then a friend stopped me in my tracks (literally), when she said to me, “You get the birth you get and do the best you can, but you can decide what kind of mother you are going to be.”

She was right, and I am going to be the best mother I can be.