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Our Birth Story

Update: edited for formatting and to add Baby2’s birth stats and some more details. Never too soon to chalk that up to mama brain, right?

First, thank you everyone for your comments on my last post! My heart swelled with your kind words and well wishes. Each one made our day that much more special. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts as we awaited the birth of our daughter!

And oh my, what a birth it was.

First, let’s go back to Tuesday’s midwife appointment (which I wrote about Tuesday night but had scheduled to post Wednesday morning, which just happened to be hours after our delivery!). She said that, based on Baby2’s positioning, my labor would likely start with my water breaking and then be intense and quick.

Oh my goodness she was so freaking right.

It started early on Wednesday, July 19th. I woke up to go to the bathroom a little after 4:30 AM, which is very normal for me lately. I went back to bed and tried to fall asleep, but I couldn’t (which had been normal for the last couple weeks).

Suddenly I heard The Pop. The Pop I had read about in other birth stories. The Pop of my water breaking. I thought, nah, that probably wasn’t it, but seconds later I felt a trickle of warm fluid. I ran to the bathroom to avoid soiling the sheets (and I totally made it down the hall and to the toilet without leaking! Score!). After I drained for a bit, I went back to bed to rest before things got going.

Mr. Handsome had just woken up a few minutes ago, but I didn’t tell him my water had broken until I had the first contraction. I quickly had three contractions in less than 10 minutes. Mr. Handsome could hear me breathing through them and asked if it was time to go. The clock said 5 AM and I realized things were happening fast. Time to pack up Kiddo1 and get going.

I got dressed and went to the bathroom a couple more times. The contractions were already super intense and I had to vocalize through them. I knew I needed some food in me, so I went to scramble some eggs (it seemed totally sane at the time!). Kiddo1 got ready with a quickness (luckily his bag was already packed and in the car!). He found me in the kitchen hunched over the counter, trying so hard not to scare him with my moaning, but probably failing.

I finished making my eggs and had to ask Mr. Handsome for a to-go container. I was already so out-of-it I couldn’t find the containers that I had reached for every morning to pack up my eggs for work. Yikes. I remember the next contraction dropped me to the floor and I pounded my fist and yelled out. Yelled. Loud. I felt the sensation of pushing. And I didn’t fight it, I pushed with each contraction from then on out.

Mr. Handsome moved with lighting speed after that! We piled in the car and took off for Kiddo1’s friend’s family’s house who, luckily, had answered the phone and agreed to take our child and lives about a minute down the street from us. We are forever in their debt for responding so quickly and keeping our son safe and occupied!

We dropped him off fast and headed toward the hospital. It was about 5:45. Mr. Handsome was so amazing. As I was somehow knelt on all fours in the third-row seat of our van (one leg on the bench seat, one leg on the floor, head toward the window grasping the seat belt and pulling on it with each contraction) he was driving us the six miles to the hospital. He asked if I wanted to stop at the hospital-affiliated clinic that is on the way. I told him to just keep going to the hospital (the clinic was probably closed anyway). The contractions still made me push, but they had slowed down. Because of that, I knew this was happening. Now.

We arrived at the hospital just before 6 – Mr. Handsome got us there in 10 flat minutes which was amazing! He later told me he ran three red lights to do it, but I was so grateful that he did! As we pulled up a contraction was starting. I finished it and we walked in together from the loading zone, where he left the car. I had a contraction in the lobby that I was able to stand through, as he explained to the front desk that I was indeed in labor and needed to get to labor & delivery, stat. They brought a wheelchair but there was no way I was sitting down! So they ushered us toward the elevator.

When we got to the L&D floor, I dropped to all fours again with another intense contraction while Mr. Handsome ran to find a nurse. I finished my contraction, got up and started wandering down the hall. I heard my name called behind me and saw Mr. Handsome and a nurse approaching with another wheelchair, which I refused again. The delivery room was right around the corner.

When we got in the delivery room I dropped my bag and literally crawled on to the bed. The nurse asked if she could check my cervix, but I told her she probably didn’t need to. I could feel the head crowning.

She and the staff had no idea what was coming.

I/she pulled off my underwear; my skirt and shirt were still on. My face was buried in the pillow and my butt was up in the air for all to see. Another contraction, another push. The nurse suddenly knew what was happening.

A fury of people entered the room. I heard a doctor introduce himself, who I believe I gave the thumbs up to. The midwife on call was rushing from another delivery. Another contraction, another push. More fury in the room. I heard Mr. Handsome say that we were interested in the waterbirth option (how freaking sweet is he?!) and a nurse (and I?) respond that there wasn’t time for that now!

Another contraction, and I knew this was it. I pushed hard and felt the ring of fire, so I backed off. How I was able to back off I don’t know, but I really didn’t want to tear!

Another contraction, and I pushed. I heard people tell me to push, but I didn’t need any direction. I felt her head emerge, I pushed again, I felt her shoulders. She was born at 6:13 am, less than 20 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. The midwife arrived 10 minutes later, so apologetic, but honestly, all I needed was someone to catch and I didn’t care who that was!

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
I couldn’t see her! I wanted to see but I couldn’t figure out how to flip over from my all-fours position. A nurse said something about skin-to-skin and I quickly ripped off all my clothes (that stretchy Old Navy skirt came in handy! It went right over my head). Mr. Handsome and a nurse helped me turn over and my daughter was placed on my chest. I looked at her, she was amazing. Mr. Handsome and I both said that she looks exactly like her brother did when he was born. The spitting image – it’s completely amazing! I looked at the clock and realized all that happened in about an hour and a half and my mouth fell open. Oh my goodness, what just happened?!

The cord blood donation process happened quickly. The nurses were so amazing. The placenta came out quickly and a nurse asked if we wanted a placenta tour. I declined but Mr. Handsome was all over it! He finds this birth thing just fascinating.

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The next two hours in the delivery room were a blur. Our daughter was here and she looked amazing. She came out perfectly pink, she was alert, she was completely healthy. She started to nurse about an hour after she was born and she ate for a solid hour. When she was done the nurses took her stats and APGARs (6 pounds, 8.8 ounces, 19 inches and perfect scores) then we were packed up to recovery and met more incredible nurses.

In the end, my GBS positive status didn’t matter at all. Of course I didn’t get a drop of antibiotics, but Baby2 didn’t show any signs of infection whatsoever. She did so great on all her tests that we were released a mere 30 hours after we had arrived (GBS positive births require a stay of 48 hours).

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We’ve been home for 27 hours now and life could not be any more perfect. Mr. Handsome is my knight in shining armor, Kiddo1 is so excited and helpful, Max is slowly taking in her smell and getting used to having a new little one to watch. Our family feels so perfect. We’re all so very happy!

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“The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”

This quote is over-dramatizing my thoughts of today, as I don’t feel quite the heartache Robert Burns conveyed in To A Mouse, but it was the first thing I thought of upon receiving some test results today. The midwife says I’ve tested positive for Group B Strep – no big deal, really, but it does add a small wrinkle to my lovely birth plan.

I’ll step back a bit. What is Group B Strep? The midwife has brought it up a few times in our group appointments, but of course I scoffed at it completely because I’m always thinking that kind of stuff doesn’t apply to me. “No, no; my labor and delivery will be smooth and perfect with no complications whatsoever,” I say inside my head. Sigh. I am a naive one sometimes! Here’s what I remember, with a little help from the American Pregnancy Association:

  • Group B Strep is a bacterial infection found in the vagina or rectum (it was a fun test to find it, let me tell you). It affects about 25% of healthy adult women.
  • It isn’t an STD or a hygiene thing or anything; apparently the bacteria can come and go (it just happened to be present in me on the day of my test!). There are no symptoms – anyone can be a carrier.
  • As a precaution, to combat the chance that Baby2 could develop an infection as a result of being exposed to Group B Strep, antibiotics are delivered during labor every four hours.

So no big deal, really, as long as precautions are taken to prevent Baby2 from getting sick (those precautions are the antibiotics).

What does this mean for my lovely birth plan? Not much, thank goodness.

  • First, things first, I can still labor and deliver in the water, if I so choose.
  • Second, I have to come in to the hospital a little earlier than I may have wanted to (as soon as my water breaks, if that happens; otherwise, call the midwives when I think early labor has been established so they can direct me from there).
  • I’ll have to be hooked up to an IV every four hours for the duration of my labor. Luckily my hospital is cool and I can have a hep-lock device so the IV tube can be taken in and out without me 1) having a constant drip in my arm or 2) having to get stabbed and re-stabbed to establish the IV line.
  • Most likely I’ll be able to move about while the IV is in and it shouldn’t take too long to administer the antibiotics, so I can still have an active labor.
  • Baby2 should only need monitoring for 12-24 hours post-delivery (assuming no other risk factors, like fever, are present) so we shouldn’t have to be prisoners guests in the hospital for too long.

Again, not so bad. (Does it sound like I’m trying to convince myself that this is No Big Deal? Because I think I am.)

All in all, this small set-back is kind of nice, in a way. It’s good to find these things out now while I can get over them rather than during the throws of labor when my emotional state is… compromised. Also, this small setback is helping to prepare me mentally that things *might not* go completely my way. There could be other things that happen to derail my lovely birth plan. And guess what? I’m not going to know what the hell those things are until they happen!

This stanza will most likely not “leave us nothing but grief and pain for promised joy.” It is but a wrinkle in my “best laid plan,” and nothing more.

Birth Fears, Expectations and A Plan

Apologies if you receive this post twice. It posted this morning before I was quite ready – oops! I added some things, but didn’t take away anything. Blog burp!

Apparently birth plans have become a controversial subject. Some of the books I’ve read completely support them (like Natural Hospital Birth) and some have basically said, “What’s the point?” (like Birthing From Within). I like to be a bit prepared AND our midwife recommends covering some basics in a written plan, such as if we want to breastfeed and how we want Vitamin K delivered (there are several options these days!).

I really liked the strategy suggested in Natural Hospital Birth about having three birth plans (fantasy, reality, abridged hospital version). I’m going to just stick with two, though: one that gets Mr. Handsome and I on the same page and one written version for the hospital staff to keep on file.

Before I get to our expectations for this birth, though, I thought I’d “talk” out some of my fears about birth. First off, I feel a thousand times better about this impending birth than I did in the weeks leading up to my first birth with Kiddo1. Nine years ago I was freaked out beyond comprehension! All I could focus on was how much it was going to hurt. Because of this, my birth plan was basically, “Give me the epidural as soon as humanly possible.” (Actually, my birth plan was pretty hilarious with lots of unnecessary stuff like, “I would like dim lights and soft music.” My OB even laughed at me a little bit.)

Nine years later (haha, had to sneak that in!), I don’t really fear pain. Having made it through a birth before, I know more of what to expect which helps me feel way, WAY more comfortable. I believe that I have the power to make it through this time. I believe this because my last labor was assisted with Pitocin, making the contractions way more frequent and intense. Also, I made it to 9 cm before getting the epidural, so I know I can push (haha, pun intended) just past that mark this time. I also believe that the pushing phase will go faster because I’ll be able to feel what’s going on (I didn’t have any feeling whatsoever last time).

Despite the increased level of comfort and knowledge this time around, I still have fears. I fear that I won’t be in control. I fear that my wishes won’t be followed because I won’t be able to make them known. I fear the “fog of labor” which will impair my ability to communicate.

I know I can alleviate my fear, though. I can talk to Mr. Handsome, in depth, about my desires and his expectations. I know that Mr. Handsome will be a great supporter and will fulfill every need I have. He did an amazing job last time without any real direction from me whatsoever. I need to give up my need for control and allow him to take over. I need to trust him to do what’s best for me. I recognize that my fear lies with my own willingness to let go, not his capability to do what I need.

So what are my own expectations then? Well, I need to make myself move around, change positions, etc, but I expect myself to get lazy and fight that a bit (last time all I wanted to do was lay on my side and cry/scream). So I’ve asked Mr. Handsome to keep me moving. I want to get in the birth pool, but I don’t know when I’ll be ready for it. I’ve told Mr. Handsome that the pool should be filled when I’m able to get in (5-6 cm) but I may not want to get in right away.

As for everything else, I’m trying to just keep an open mind and not expect too much. I have ideas for birth positions but I don’t know which one I’ll like or will work best in the moment. I want to try to remain as relaxed as possible about the whole thing. We’ll see how that goes!

I’m keeping myself sane and giving myself license to relax because we have a birth plan. The hospital philosophies very much align with what I’m wanting, so my birth plan should cover any lingering questions the staff has. Also, I’ve been reading up on tips for the hospital birth plan. Here’s a couple things I’ve learned:

  • Keep it short. Nobody has time to read a twelve-page treatise – it’s more likely that things will get overlooked this way, too. But a short, well-organized plan will allow the staff to follow your wishes more closely.
  • Be nice! A negative plan that says “I don’t want this” and “I don’t want that” feels very, well, negative to the staff. Frame desires in a positive manner: instead of “I don’t want to be confined to a bed,” state, “I would like to be as mobile as possible during labor.” (There are a couple exceptions that our midwife told us to specifically add, such as declining an IV/hep lock and eye ointment.)
  • Don’t belittle the staff. Don’t tell them how to do their jobs.
  • Avoid ambiguous statements such as “I prefer” or “If necessary.” Be assertive! But still nice.
  • Customize it! Don’t just take one of those “form plans” off the internet and check some boxes and call it good. Really think about what you want, what is necessary to ask for and what your priorities are.

So here it is, the Hospital Birth Plan:

  • During labor:
    • I would like to be as mobile as possible.
    • I would like to avoid pain medication. Please do not ask about pain levels.
    • I would like to enter the birth pool when appropriate.
  • During delivery:
    • I would like to give birth in water.
    • I would like my husband to be in the pool, “catch” our baby and bring her to the surface.
  • Immediately after delivery:
    • I would like to donate cord blood and preserve the placenta (for encapsulation).
    • I would like to exclusively breast feed.
  • Infant care:
    • We prefer a family practice consult to evaluate our baby post-delivery.
    • Please administer Vitamin K via injection.
    • Please do not provide eye ointment.
    • We would like the Hepatitis B immunization. We were immunized for Whooping Cough (TDap) at 36 weeks gestation.

I think we’re ready for this. Mr. Handsome and I have talked about it (and will probably continue to talk about it here and there). We have everything written down. All the reading I’ve done has mentally prepared me very well. Now we just have to get down the aisle, so to speak.

Book Review: Birthing From Within

PhotobucketBirthing From Within is the lucky number seventh book about birth that I’ve read during this pregnancy.

It took me awhile to get through this book, for two reasons. One, being that this is the seventh birth book I’ve read, I’m getting a little restless with birthing so I took my time reading. Two, this isn’t a book you can just whip right through – it requires you to stop and think, reflect, visualize, etc. This latter reason for delay is also what makes this book so great.

I almost felt like I went through a little workshop in the experience of this book. Ms. England speaks of her experiences with leading childbirth classes. One of her favorite ways to help women and couples cope with fears about childbirth and all related things is to make art. She recommends all kinds of subjects for art but mostly about perceptions and expectations of birth. While I didn’t actually make any art, I did take the time to visualize what my art would be like and envision what I thought this birth would be like. I think that alone has helped in working through some of my fears for this birth.

One of my favorite tid-bits from this book was the concept of having a labor project. If you’ve been a reader of my blog you’d know that I love to have a project! Well, Ms. England describes this great birth story of an Amish couple. The Mrs. is basically going about her daily tasks, plus refinishing a rocking chair, while she’s in labor. I love the idea of immersing yourself in some distracting project while allowing your labor to just do its thing. Sure, this isn’t possible in all labors, but I’m willing to give it a try. I need to come up with something to do as a labor project now!

I also like that the benefits of active birth are discussed; very similar concepts that I read in the book Active Birth. I love when a concept shows up in more than one of the books that I read. It gives me the sense that the point is something to really pay attention to, that it has real value.

The section about pain management is great, including the chapter about “surrendering to pain” which kind of sounds easy but, of course, isn’t. It is not about forgetting about the pain or making it go away but rather about working with the pain, being part of it, giving up control and surrendering to what the body needs to do to make it through. Other chapters in this section explain practical techniques such as “Non-Focused Awareness,” breathing exercises, vocalizing, etc.

Honestly, if this book wasn’t good I wouldn’t have made it through because, like I said, I’m tired of reading birthing books! It took me awhile to get into the book but I’m really glad I read it all. I think it helped me to really think about some of my fears, think about letting go of my control issues and giving me productive things to do and think during labor.

Next review: The Everything Breastfeeding Book by Suzanne Fredregill and Ray Fredregill

Group Appointments and Interventions

Mr. Handsome and I have taken the group appointments route for maternity care. We see a midwife along with five to seven other couples in one visit. It sounds a little strange, and we had some reservations at first, but now that we’ve had three appointments I’ve started to really enjoy and even look forward to them.

There are pros and cons to this style of care, of course. The biggest con is that the appointments take two hours (or more) where regular non-group appointments can be as short as 20 minutes. We can’t bring Kiddo1 with us so we have to ask someone to watch him for about three hours (with travel time).

However, a lot gets discussed during those two hours. Every session has had a focus. During the second session we focused a lot on nutrition. I learned a little too much about how many calories and carbs are in my favorite foods. We were all advised to keep our carbs to 30 grams per meal (three meals a day) and 15 per snack (two snacks a day) – that’s only 120 grams of carbs per day which may sound like a lot but when you realize your favorite bagel has 65 grams of carbs… it’s sobering. Even to a person who is stone-cold sober, like the pregnant.

Another con would be that there isn’t a lot of privacy when it comes to discussions (the part during which the belly is measured, heart rate monitored, etc is done in privacy). But, honestly, the fact is that we (the couples) don’t know each other and don’t know each others’ friends so what are we going to say about each other? We might as well commiserate on the what’s what. Plus, once we get going, things start to come out and we begin identifying with each other really well. It just takes a bit to get comfortable and get things rolling.

So other than great discussion and comradery, the main pro is that you don’t have to go through the same crap that you do during an OB appointment. I hear ladies in my mom’s group complain about how their OBs spend more time reading their chart than listening to them, that there isn’t time to bring up their questions or really get to the root of their concerns, that they analyze their urine sample more than their simple “symptoms” like leg cramps, indigestion, etc, which I’ve learned in my group appointments can be indicative of or adjusted by diet, exercise or vitamins. Simple fixes to annoying problems, which an OB usually doesn’t bring up.

I don’t mean to bad-mouth OBs at all. There are a lot of good ones out there. I’m simply reacting to feedback from fellow pregnants. The OB I had with my first pregnancy was great and a good listener, but this experience with the midwives is SO much more fulfilling.

I wanted to write about these group appointments today because during last night’s session we talked a little about our fears about childbirth (which I’ll write about more specifically in a later post). Our questions, however, led to a much larger discussion/overview of hospital policies.

I admit, after reading Natural Hospital Birth I started to focus my fears a lot on how the hospital could screw up my birth experience… After last night’s appointment I feel a lot better. The policies of the midwives very much align with my expectations and desires for this birth. This is why I chose this hospital and group of midwives, after all, so I shouldn’t be surprised!

The “24-hour countdown” of labor-to-delivery isn’t nearly as rigid with the midwives. They’ll pretty much let you take your time, but they say do yourself a favor and labor as much as you can at home (which won’t count on the clock). They only want to see you if your water breaks early AND there’s a risk factor (such as colored fluid or you tested positive for Group B Strep, the latter will cause a need for antibiotics via IV). Also, eating and drinking during labor is encouraged by the midwives but the OB-side of the hospital strictly prohibits it (the midwives will cut you off if you have Pitocin or an Epidural, though). Speaking of Pitocin, the midwives discourage it, which I am delighted to hear! Fetal monitoring is done via a doppler-like device and it is not constant, so it’s as non-invasive as possible. It still has to be done, but intermittently. As soon as you arrive at the hospital you are monitored for 30 minutes continuously so they can get a good idea of how the baby is doing. Then doppler monitoring will occur for about a minute every 30 minutes or so. For a hospital, that’s really not so bad.

We also talked about all the post-birth procedures that are generally required at most hospitals but are elective at the university. First off, as soon as baby is born she is placed on your chest and you are encouraged to breast feed within the first hour. All baby check-ups can take place right there on your chest. They even prefer to administer the vitamin K shot while you’re breast feeding (it distracts the baby from the shot). You can forgo the baby’s vitamin K if you want, or choose a gradual method instead of the shot (I think we’ll just get it over with with the shot though). You can decline the eye ointment if there’s no risk of infection. If your pediatrician is not affiliated with the hospital you can choose from a pediatric or family practice consult – the midwives recommend the family practice because they are “a lot more flexible” than the peds and will require a lot less monitoring if the birth was healthy and there’s no risk of infection. All this sounds great to me!

I got some great news on my stats, too:

  • I only gained three pounds since the last visit, which is consistent with my home-based weight check-ins. The midwife is happy with my weight gain, diet and exercise.
  • My fundal height (uterus size) is 32 cm which is also right on target. Baby’s heartbeat is an excellent 140 bpm.
  • My blood pressure is 118/70, most excellent. Apparently I am quite calm.
  • My glucose test (which I really tried to reject but apparently this midwife’s study focus is gestational diabetes so there was no getting out of it) showed my blood sugar level at 53 which the student midwife said is the lowest she’s ever seen. Not dangerously low, but low enough that – get this, GET THIS – the midwife says I have (basically) free reign on eating carbs and sugar. I CAN EAT CARBS AND SUGAR! I will still keep this manageable but I won’t be as restrictive as I have been. For example, that night I ate a sensible chicken dinner. And a cheese roll. … And some ice cream.
  • Baby is positioned the same as our last appointment – head down, butt on the right and feet to the left. She is awesome. Stay in that position baby! The midwife says it’s the best position for an easy, quick birth. Fingers crossed!

We have only two more appointments left until the due date! One in late June and one in early July. Unless a complication arises that’s all we’ll have to do! No weekly appointments, no constant check-ins. I’m loving the midwives at my hospital!

Book Review: Natural Hospital Birth

PhotobucketThis book was recommended to me by a member of my Moms Group. When I heard the title I knew I had to read it, as I am planning a natural hospital birth myself.

I was a little afraid the book would make me start to feel really combative about how we would have to deal with the hospital in order to get our natural birth. Over the last few weeks, I have identified that my biggest fear about birth isn’t that I can’t do it, it’s that hospital staff will somehow mess it up for me by not following my wishes.

Much to my surprise, though, this book doesn’t encourage confrontation with staff. Ms. Gabriel emphasizes a calm but firm approach, one that allows the staff to see your confidence in and commitment to natural birth.

One of her biggest strategies for avoiding interventions is using the phrase, “I think we’ll wait an hour.” It isn’t rejecting the staff’s ideas or being combative, rather it’s a keen delay mechanism that often allows time for whatever they feel needs resolution to resolve itself. For example, if the staff is pushing Pitocin because of an inactive labor, one hour could be all you need to really get in the groove of things. And if one hour doesn’t work, ask for another. Staff may try to guilt-trip you into seeing things their way, but hold your ground and they’ll see your commitment to natural birth.

One of the great things about this book is the assistance in writing one’s birth plan. I had no idea that birth plans can be controversial: apparently some practitioners discourage them because they don’t want their patients to get “too attached” to a specific plan. Ms. Gabriel is a big advocate of plans, though, as long as you understand that plans change and you keep your “hospital version” short and sweet.

Ms. Gabriel recommends three versions of your plan: a dream version, a realistic version and a hospital version. The hospital version should basically say, “I want the most natural birth possible.” I’ve been inspired to finally start to writing down elements of my ideal plan and get working with Mr. Handsome, too, to make sure we’re on the same page.

Plus, I’m asking Mr. Handsome to read this book, too. It’s great that I have all the information about obtaining a natural birth in a hospital, but there’s only so much I’ll be able to do during “the throws” of labor. Mr. Handsome is my advocate so he not only needs to live and breathe our birth plan as much as me (maybe even more so!) but he needs to know the strategies presented in this book in order to get what we want out of this birth. Poor guy, his prescribed reading list is getting longer and longer!

I’m not as nervous about the hospital staff failing me after reading this book. I think there are things we need to do to prepare ourselves for trying to achieve a natural birth in a hospital setting. I have confidence in myself and in Mr. Handsome that we can convey our commitment to natural birth and have things the way we want them. I know circumstances can change and some things are just out of our control, but I feel like we will have a handle on ensuring that we have the most natural (and enjoyable!) birth possible.

Book Review: The Waterbirth Book

As you may know, I’m very interested in pursuing a waterbirth so, naturally, I’m reading up about it in order to prepare myself and Mr. Handsome.

The first book I read, Choosing Waterbirth, was a great primer and helped prepare the emotional side of my brain for this experience. This next book, however, took my preparation to a whole new level.

PhotobucketMuch like her book Active Birth, The Waterbirth Book, by Janet Balaskas, is a comprehensive account of every detail of waterbirth that I could possible thing of, and then some.

Ms. Balaskas not only goes over a brief history of waterbirth, cultural uses of water during birth and pain management using water, but she also walks the reader through every stage of water labor and delivery. Any question that was lingering in my mind after reading Choosing Waterbirth has now been answered. Now I’m only left with a list of questions for the hospital about their policies. And an incredible excitement for what we could experience with this birth plan!

Here are some of my questions for the hospital after reading this book:

  • When do you fill up the pool? When we call to say we’re coming in (based on our assumed progress/timing of contractions)? When we get there and progress has been assessed?
  • How long does it take to fill the pool? How is water temperature regulated?
  • What does the pool look like/what is it made of? (Based on photos I’ve seen, our hospital uses inflatable pools that look about 5-6′ in diameter and maybe 2-1/3′ tall.)
  • At what point during labor is the appropriate time to get in the pool? (The book says 5-6 cm dilated, before transition.) Is there a point at which “the window closes” and it’s too late to get in?
  • What things would cause you to ask a woman to leave the pool?
  • How do you manage fetal monitoring? How often do you monitor?
  • Are partners allowed in the pool? During all stages?
  • Is there a time limit for being in the pool? (This book states most births occur within 3-4 hours of getting in the pool.)
  • Can the entire third stage (birth of the placenta) be done in the water or is it preferable that this is done on dry land? Will cord blood banking be effected? (We’re donating to a public bank.)
  • Finally, the big one, will you let Mr. Handsome “catch” and bring our baby up to the surface?!

See, Ms. Balaskas gives you a whole lot of ammo to make sure you’re fully comfortable with hospital policies regarding waterbirth. I’m totally going to rock our class (coming up in June).

There’s also some great tidbits in here from Active Birth; not so much from a physioloical perspective, more like the reiteration that movement and staying upright is helpful whether on “dry land” or in the water. She also points out that the pool actually facilitates movement as you’re less inclined to get into bed and have greater freedom of motion (one of the birth story quotes talked about being able to move quickly from an all-fours position to a squat which is quite a feat on dry land). Plus you’re in your own little bubble where you can be free to concentrate inward which is a major bonus for me.

Choosing Waterbirth was a great book but there’s nothing in it that The Waterbirth Book doesn’t have, plus it has a whole lot more. If you can only read one book about waterbirth, make it this one by Janet Balaskas!