T Rex Family

T Rex Family

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Live and Learn Blog Event - Day 4

Practical advice for new parents

Child Birth

Pregnancy is nearly complete - time for baby to make that grand entrance into the world. And as my OB reminded me when I was many, many days over due - all babies come out eventually. Indeed. Some through the door (vaginally) and others through the window (c-section). Rarely are c-sections scheduled electively for first time mothers if it has been an uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy. However, about 29% of all labors are via c-section for whatever reason. For the purposes of this posting, we'll stick with discussing preparation for vaginal delivery and trying to avoid c-sections.

Let's start by some ways to avoid a c-section.
- Avoid induction unless medically necessary as induction does lead to a higher rate of c-section. Scheduling out of convenience might seem important at the time (believe me I understand this as I had Bebe Sister at the beginning of a school semester), but if you can go into labor spontaneously then you stand a better chance of vaginal birth.
- Labor at home as much as possible (ideally until 3 cm).
- Choose your health care provider and hospital carefully (if this is possible). Check their c-section rates and go with the one with the lowest. Or plan a home birth. Our OB was VERY much opposed to elective c-sections and he worked with us to really avoid having one (remember, I'm really petite but I still pushed out an eight and a half pound baby but had a nice episiotomy to show for it).
- Consider the use of a doula or birth assistant that can be your advocate while you are in labor.
- An excellent child birth preparation course can do wonders. Learning relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, and knowing when c-sections are appropriate.

As far as child birth, you have a couple of choices with regard to pain management - with or without the use of pain relieving medications. However, do not think that just because you're planning on getting that epidural you'll be without pain. You still have to go through early labor without the use of pain relievers and this can last for days. And epidurals do not always provide complete relief and often women do feel the pushing stage. Additionally, speaking from experience, actually getting the epidural itself is not without discomfort, especially if you're in uncomfortable labor. And the needle does not always find its place the first or second time.

And in case you did not know, you do also have some choices when it comes to birth location. There is the typical hospital setting, but there are also birthing facilities that offer a more natural atmosphere, and home births are also making a strong come back. You just need to ensure that your health care provider will delivery at your preferred location. If you would like to read an amazing all natural at home birth, visit my friend Emily's blog and read her birth story. It's a beautiful one. In contrast to this, you can read my hospital birth with baby number 2 here. It is important to note that both of these birth stories are not first time deliveries, which tend to last quite a bit longer. For example, with T Rex I was in labor for a total of 56 hours, 3 of which was pushing, and only 18 of which was with an epidural. With Bebe Sister I was in labor less than 24 hours, less than 3 hours with an epidural, and pushed for 5 minutes.

Every birth is different. And just realize that stuff can happen fast or not so fast. Always expect the unexpected and if you find you get exactly what you expect, than better to not be surprised than to be in shock.

Ensure that you take some kind of child birth preparation class. Some are better than others but taking one and learning, at minimum, some breathing techniques will help you significantly.

Make a birth plan. It can be as detailed or not as you want. My most recent birth plan had some interesting details to it. For example, I wanted the baby cleaned off before she was handed to me. I know that sounds odd but I was a little paranoid about dropping her if she wasn't clean.  The nurse working with us said she had never seen that in a birth plan before but she complied and intervened when my physician attempted to hand her to me not cleaned. 

Next I want to talk about what to pack in your hospital bag if you are not planning a home birth. Pack your bag early and keep it in the vehicle you will be traveling to the hospital in along with the car seat.

- Clothes - Consider what you want to labor in and pack it unless the hospital gown is your preferred choice. You might also want some other breastfeeding friendly clothes for wearing at the hospital. Also include some socks and underwear you won't feel too horrible about tossing due to stains. Nursing bra for sure. Plus some stretchy clothes for coming home (you'll still have quite an abdomen on you even after delivery.)
- Camera - toss in a disposable camera in case you happen to forget or not have your regular camera with you.
- Pads - I was amazing by the amount of blood loss following delivery. Shocked actually. I never used such giant pads. Pack some of your favorite kinds whether you like disposable or cloth, just pack them.
- Breastfeeding pads. Some women might actually be in the hospital long enough to need to use them so just pack some in case.
- Regular hygiene products and make-up you might want to use while there.
- List of phone numbers of people to call.
- Something to use as a focal point (like a favorite photograph or soothing photo)
- Journal (record your birth story as soon as you can)
- Soothing music
- Take home clothes for baby and favorite swaddling blankets
- Burp cloths
- Book or something to keep your mind occupied if you happen to have down time during early labor.
- Witch hazel wipes to apply to the perineal area (especially if you had an episiotomy).
- Glasses (if you require them or wear contacts)
- Your birth plan - make one and do your best to stick to it.
- Diapers - the kind you want to use for baby
- Extra paper for some extra set of foot prints

When you arrive at the hospital and are admitted, it's alright if you don't like the nurse assigned to you. Ask for another. You want to work with someone that you get along with. If you're not getting along well with Nurse Grumpy, ask for someone else. It's alright.

During delivery
- Partners - T Rex Dad says if offered scrubs to wear, take them. It can get messy.
- If you do not like needles, do NOT look at the epidural needle.  (T Rex Dad says: Dads, you ALSO should not look at the needle going in "Oh My")
- Don't eat anything - you will likely see it again if you do.
- Listen to your instincts - if you sense something is wrong, tell someone. If you sense you need to start pushing, there is a good chance you need to.

Following delivery
- Ice, ice, ice. For the first 24 hours apply ice to the perineal area. We found that diapers stuffed with ice made great ice pads. Gloves stuffed with ice worked good, too.
- Get as much rest as you can right away. It's okay to tell people not to visit you at the hospital.
- Sleep when baby sleeps.
- Take lots of photos, you can always delete them but you can never go back and take more.
- Begin breastfeeding as soon as possible.

If you end up needing or getting a c-section, that's alright. As I said earlier, 29% do so chances are someone reading this will end up going that route. It's just a bummer because recovery is so much longer as is the hospital stay. And it IS major surgery.

However, no matter which way baby enters this world - window or door - you'll have a new bundle of joy to love and nurture and all those months of pregnancy and hours of labor will be well worth it.

Disclaimer - once again this advice is not intended to replace that of your health care providers acting in an official capacity and I am not acting in an official health care provider capacity here. Just merely offering my own experiences and knowledge.

I'd love to hear or read your birth story and please feel free to offer your tips and suggestions to our first time parents. Did your labor go as planned? Is there anything you would do differently to prepare for child birth? Is there something you would add to the hospital bag? (If you leave a comment, you can put this toward an extra entry for one of the Live and Learn Giveaways - they close April 15th at midnight MST.)


septembermom said...

All great information once again.

For first time pregnant moms, I would suggest that you be vocal throughout your labor. I was a silent sufferer and lost my chance for an epidural. Since it was my first labor, the nurses didn't check me often. When they did come in, I was already 9 cm after 6 hours. Then they told me that it was too late for an epidural. I remember freaking out a little bit that I lost my chance. My other 3 labors were quick too so they were without pain medication too. I would highly recommend that you ask your nurses to check you when the pain gets intense or the contractions stronger. If you want the epidural option, you need to keep the nurses informed of your pain.

I also recommend that you try to be in the best physical shape you can before you get pregnant and during your pregnancy. Pushing is a workout!

angie said...

Such great, great advice!

Kim said...

Really good stuff here! I agree with Kelly - tell people exactly what you need. They can't read minds and you're setting yourself up for disaster by expecting people to read your mind. You birth plan tip is good - my midwives really encouraged me to create one each time.

Love those pictures of the kids' feet!!!

Crunchy Beach Mama said...

While I did have midwives with my first two(who worked with Drs)this crunchy mama had 3 c-sections and never any labor. Wish I could start all over again and we'd see what would happen now that I'm smarter! (well not the pregnancy part I wouldn't do over again :)

Caitlin said...

Excellent advice!

Here here to the asking for a new nurse if you don't like your current one. IT happens all the time in hospitals and it is no big deal for them. I did NOT like my labor and delivery nurse with Joseph, felt like she was way too inattentive, but I was too nervous/polite to do anything about it. She ended up getting distracted after Joseph was born and leaving me alone and puking in the bathroom!! Luckily my sisters were there to rescue me! If you don't like your nurse TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!

Also, I brought my pillow from home to sleep with after baby was born and it made a big difference to my comfort level.

You may also want to consider buying some cheap pajamas (Target, etc) to wear- cozy and comfortable, but disposable if you leak on them....!!
And yes, bring lots of pads and disposable underwear!!!

JKMommy said...

FANTASTIC advice. Here's my two cents:
1. Agree - take TONS of pics, we were so in a daze, we hardly took any and now I SUPER regret that. We just were not thinking, so drill into your head over and over that you need to take tons of pics.
2. I asked for lots of extra "iced pads" - yes they make disposable menstrual pads with ice in them that you crack and it gets cold - SOOOO great! I asked for a bunch of extras to take home and I was still using them once in awhile a few days after birth.
3. As much as it was FUN to get visitors in the hospital, and I was super anxious to share our new baby with everyone, we had like a STEADY stream...and I was incredibly embarrassed to breast feed in front of people b/c I was new at it. So all that set me up for MAJOR exhaustion when I got home, and then NOBODY came over b/c they had all come to the hospital, and I think that gave me a touch MORE of those "baby blues" b/c I got really lonely. It would've been better to have people come to the house a few days after the birth.
Other stuff about my birth story, I packed a ton of magazines & books and never looked at them - I think it was good to have brought them but I was in too much pain to even think about it...
I am going to read this over next time I get prego! :)

LeAnna said...

Oh, this is excellent advice! I've had two inductions, one for pre-e and the other for some other concerns. My second birth was so much more enjoyable. I had nearly med-free with a midwife at a hospital birthing center. It was an incredible experience! Not sure I'll ever attempt a home birth (even though the idea is appealing to me) but the birthing centers have been a great happy-medium for us.

I second the advice to take lots of pictures! My Mom has been in the room both times, and I've cherished every one of the pics she snapped. Precious memories!

Charis's Mum said...

I wish I was able to go with a midwife. Unfortunately, the hospital I delivered at does not offer privileges to midwives. And since I work(ed) at said hospital and that's who my insurance was through, my husband and I did not want to pay more money to deliver elsewhere.

I agree about being induced. TRY TO AVOID IT. I am thankful I took the epidural; it helped SO MUCH with my pain relief, I was able to get rest, and push when it came time to pushing.

I need to remember that every labor is different and the next one may not go as smoothly or nicely as the first one did.

Amy V said...

I agree-don't be afraid to vocalize your needs during labor. Also, don't feel guilty about getting medicine for pain-it's each woman's personal decision. I brought my pillow from home and a nursing bra.

Mariah said...

I really feel blessed to have had the med-free waterbirth I had prepared for but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. I think every woman has to go with the route they feel most comfortable with and then it's just a matter of mental preparation. Every birth story is beautiful!