Sunday, February 14, 2016

Preparing for a Natural Birth

I've now had two very different birth experiences.  One was not easier than the other...just different.  I thought I'd take a minute to write down what I did to prepare myself for my unmedicated delivery so I remember it!

One of the main things I think helped my body prepare for birth was going to the chiropractor.  I started going around 8 weeks pregnant with Greer, and went once a month up until 36 weeks, then once a week.  My last adjustment was Monday January 4th, and I was in labor 48 hours after that!

Another thing I did in preparation was read.  Pat and I took a childbirth education class at the hospital in Reston when I was pregnant with Brooks, and I had [obviously] had a baby before so I didn't feel like it was necessary for us to take another child birth class.  I did want to make sure I familiarized myself with what happens when you're in labor, as well as fill my mind with positive birth stories. Some books I read were...

Ina May's Guide To Childbirth 

The Bradley Method 


I also downloaded some of the hypnobirthing relaxation tracks. I played those at night before I went to bed. Relaxing was key for me this time. I knew that I dilated quickly with Brooks once I got the epidural because my body relaxed, so a lot of my preparation was focused on the things I'd need to feel relaxed while in labor.  

Additionally, I wrote down some quotes from Ina May's book and put them up in my house where I could see them during the last few weeks. They were - 

"Most women need support and encouragement during labor more than they need drugs. "

" Remember this, for it is as true as it gets: your body is not a lemon.  You are not a machine.  The Creator is not a careless mechanic.  Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth as well as aardvarks, lions, and elephants.  Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you begin to think positively about your body."

As well as a mantra from a friend of mine...

"I am strong.  I am safe.  I am calm."

My sister had my friends and family that came to my sprinkle write down encouraging words for me during my last few weeks of pregnancy.  In addition to reading those, I also put up some cards from the "push pack"...

On the Wednesday morning that I was in labor, I opened the last card that I had gotten from my sprinkle.  It [of course] made me cry, but it was just the encouragement I needed to focus and push through the pain to meet my baby girl.

Lastly, one of the things I did that I think really helped me physically was going to prenatal yoga class and doing a prenatal barre workout DVD.  I only did it for about 20-30 minutes every day, but it helped strengthen my body as well as improve my self esteem!  I felt much better about myself when I was working out.  I have the Suzanne Bowen Slim & Toned prenatal and the Barre Amped prenatal workouts.  I'm looking forward to getting back into them soon!

Of course, deciding to have Greer at the birth center played a huge part in my successful unmedicated delivery. Drugs were not an option at all so I didn't have anyone asking me if I wanted them, and it never even crossed my mind.  I did have other tools available to me such as: essential oils, the birth ball, shower, tub, DVD player for relaxing music or movie, chiropractor, and the list goes on. Not to mention the incomparable support from my family, doula, and midwives. 

Preparing yourself adequately for giving birth is an important part of having the experience you want, whatever that may be.  Every birth is unique and every birth is special. I hope, if you're pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, you'll take some time to think about and prepare for your birth ! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Greer's Birth Story

I want to preface Greer's birth story with the fact that I did a lot of research on where I wanted to have our second baby.  After having Brooks at the hospital near us three years ago, I knew I didn't want to go back there for many reasons.  I also knew I wanted to have an unmedicated, natural birth.  I have a bit of [what my midwife likes to call] "white coat" syndrome...I don't like hospitals, needles, medical equipment, blood, etc.  Who does? I suppose some tolerate it better than others.

Anyways, I first looked into the home birth midwives in our area.  A home birth made me a bit nervous [and my husband too].  I wasn't sure if this was the right option for us so I continued to look for something in between- a birth center was what I really wanted.  In my search for the closest one I found the new "birth center" that was attached to the hospital in Leesburg, VA.  I went to my first appointment [at 8 weeks] there and knew it wasn't for me.  I kept thinking I didn't want to go too far away, so when my search on a birth center website turned up NOVA Natural Birth Center in Chantilly, I was hesitant.  However, I hadn't found the right fit for me my sister and I decided to go to an information session there one evening in June.  I knew immediately this was where I wanted to have my baby.  [Coincidentally, the midwife who did the info session that night is the same one who caught Greer!]  It takes right around 1 hour to get from our house to the BC and the drive never bothered me once! I could not be happier with my experience at Nova...I know I felt great the whole pregnancy due to my low stress levels and I had the birth experience I wanted largely in part to this setting.

So, on to the story!

On Tuesday evening, January 5th I had a few more light contractions than usual.  I told Pat and added that maybe we should go to bed a little early- so we did.

Around 5am on January 6th I woke up with some pain in my back- it felt good to stay lying down in bed and rock my pelvis back and forth as I slept.  At 6am I got up because I was hungry and wanted to make sure I kept these contractions going- I was sure that was what they were at this point!  Pat got up with me and then Brooks woke around 6:30am.  It was a school day for him.  I got in touch with my dad to pick him up and let him know that they'd need to keep him after that.

After Pat dropped Brooks at school my sister came over to help.  At this point I had been texting my doula and midwife to let them know what was going on- between 9 and 10am I was having strong contractions that I could no longer talk through about every 2-5 minutes.  I had taken a shower (and shaved my legs!) so around 10am my midwife said to make the drive to the birth center.

The hour long ride to the birth center was surprisingly pleasant- with the heated seat on high it felt awesome on my back, and we played my ocean relaxation CD the whole way.  I know I peeked at the clock every time I contracted to makes sure I was still keeping up with every 5 minutes and I was!

We got there and I came in the back door (it was 11am and I wasn't sure how many other patients would be there!) my room (the Aspen room) was all prepped and ready for me, tub filling up.

  My doula asked how I was feeling and I told her I was excited! Everything was happening quickly- just like I had described in my "dream birth" situation on my birth plan...except faster!  My midwife timed contractions right after I got there [they were 2-3 minutes apart] and I answered a couple questions...she asked if I wanted her to check to see how dilated I was and I told her I'd think about it for a little bit.  I tried every position I could to get comfortable- all the contractions I had were in my back.  I was most comfortable standing and supporting myself on a wall with my hands over my head and swaying back and forth.  I knew my feet were going to get tired if I did that for too long so I also tried lying on the bed and sitting on the birth ball.

Since I was eating and drinking, I soon had to go to the bathroom.  I noticed some blood in my underwear at this point ["that's good, right?!" I said to everyone] and when I was done I felt like I wanted to get in the tub.  Pat got in with me [in his bathing suit] and the hot water felt so good.

  We turned the jets on too which was awesome!  I'm not sure exactly how long I was in there [maybe 30 minutes or so?] - taking sips of coconut water and smelling the DoTerra Breathe oil to keep me calm.  Suddenly my body started to push.  I remember opening my eyes and seeing my midwife with her gloves on and I knew it was happening...I was going to meet my baby so soon! This was the hardest part...holding the baby down in the birth canal and not going too fast.  I pushed about 4 times and out she came! I could not believe I had done it.

Greer Mae was born at 1:30pm on January 6, 2016...about 8 hours after labor began [with absolutely no internal checks to see how dilated or effaced I was, I might add]!  8 pounds, 6 ounces and 20 inches long. I am so unbelievably happy with how my labor and delivery went.  It was the hardest thing I've ever done physically and I could not be more proud.

Greer is the most perfect baby girl, and Brooks is the best big brother!  We've all adjusted to our new life as a family of four and are loving every minute of it.

If you're pregnant and want to know more about the birth center please message me or send me an email! I'd love to chat about it.