Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Amy's Ultimate Pregnancy Checklist Series: My Labor Stories & Advice

My Labor Stories & Advice:

With my first son, we went to the hospital to be induced with a balloon. When we got there I was already having contractions, but little guy wasn’t dropping, so I wasn’t dilating very fast. They put the balloon in over night, put monitors on me, and I tried to sleep. (Side note: Monitoring can be frustrating, try to work with the nurses and doctors as nicely as you can, they are there to help you!) Come morning I had dilated to a 4.5, but little guy seemed stuck, still wasn’t dropping, and his heart rate showed that he was beginning to be distressed. We were told we could wait it out and likely go in for an emergency cesarean, I would be knocked out and Greg wouldn’t be able to attend. Or, we could start preparing for a cesarean, I could stay awake, and Greg could attend too. After thinking about it, and watching our baby’s heartbeat on the monitor, we decided to opt for the less stressful cesarean.

After the procedure,  my son wasn’t very alert due to the medicine in my system that, consequently, went through my breastmilk into his little body. We also had major problems with breastfeeding. That’s not always the case, but I would suggest learning as much as you can about breastfeeding and latch before you have your baby. We had a few other issues with breastfeeding that were not “the norm,” but I would recommend trying to use the lowest amount of narcotics or try to stick to the extra strength tylenol or ibuprofen to avoid the medicine knocking out your baby like it did with us. It’s hard trying to wake up your baby every few hours as it is, but when they don’t wake up to eat after 6-8 hours because of medicine in their system, it can get really scary! If in doubt, ask for help!! Never be afraid to ask for help!

In the first few months after my son’s birth, I knew deep down that having a cesarean kept our son safe, but I still felt like a failure. Cesareans are hard, I’m not going to sugar coat it! I’m going to tell you if you have a Cesarean, you are not a failure! If you have a cesarean, recovery is much longer, and more painful, but your baby’s safety and health are what matter most. Going through a cesarean, you put your baby’s life before your own. Giving birth vaginally is definitely no cake-walk, and there are risks involved with both, but cesareans are much more traumatic. It’s a major surgery! You get sliced open, half of your insides moved out of your body, & your baby gets yanked out in a very unnatural way, then you get stitched up, & are now expected to take care of a brand new, beautiful little baby! You need way more time to rest & heal, not only physically but emotionally as well. If you have a cesarean, know that you are not alone, and there are many women who have gone through what you have. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, or ask questions! 

A few points of advice: If you have stairs in your home, plan on staying on one level for the first couple of months while you heal. Set up an area where you can sleep, shower, and eat without too much effort. Arrange for help for at least 3 weeks! Standing up straight will seem impossible for the first week, and it will wear you out just to take a shower for the first week or so. You will want the help, don't feel like you should do it by yourself, or that your a burden, give others the opportunity to serve you!! Most of all, REST!!! Sleep as much as you can so you can heal, and take care of your baby the best you can.

With my second son, I was lucky to have a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). I wanted to see how far I could go without an epidural or any other medicine. Once I was dilated to about a 4.5, my contractions slowed down (I think because I had a cesarean before, and my body wasn’t quite sure what to do). After a while the doctor recommended pitocin to help my body kick back into gear. Once the pitocin kicked in, the pain quickly became unmanageable, so we tried a local pain relief, but it only lasted for maybe 45 minutes. Once that wore off, I started crying uncontrollably during the contractions, and I wasn’t even at active labor yet. So we decided to go with an Epidural. Just 2 hours later, I was fully dilated, started pushing, and our little guy was born after 6-8 pushes (I honestly don’t remember how many, but it was quick). I had a small tear, which is normal, and was stitched up in what seemed like no time. After that, I was worried that the epidural might affect my baby negatively, just like the narcotics had with my first, but my worries were quickly washed away once I got to hold him. He was very alert, and wanted to nurse right away! He latched on beautifully, and my pain level with nursing was extremely low compared to my first. I'm thrilled that I had a VBAC! Recovery is so much faster,  I didn’t have nearly as much pain, and I could care for my baby so much more easily!

My two experiences are vastly different, and that goes to show that every pregnancy is different, every labor & delivery is different, and every baby is different. Try not to stress out too much about what you’ll do for each situation. There is absolutely no way to prepare for everything that will happen. Just arm yourself with the knowledge you think will help you through the challenges you will face, and have a few people in mind to ask questions for when you don’t have a clue what you are doing. :) I wish you all the best with your pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and that you enjoy all the time you get with your new little baby! Time really does go fast, enjoy it all while it lasts.

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