The Birth Story of My Oldest (Part 3) –
I was in labor for three hours with my first child. I know. I know some people are in labor for days. All three hours of my first birth were medical personnel making me feel like the birth was taking too long. I have no problem with medical personnel. I’m glad we have medical professionals to treat illness. However, I do not believe a healthy, normal pregnancy is an illness. After years of my own research and three additional births with a midwife, I now believe the vast majority of births could be accomplished without any complications if we allowed the bodies of women today to do what God created their bodies to do without trying to help them along with a host of unnecessary interventions. If only I had researched the matter thoroughly before my first pregnancy, I could have had the same pleasant birth experience I later had with all of my younger children. Hindsight is always 20/20. Thankfully, I learned as I lived.
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And then I started pushing . . .
If you’ve been reading the other posts in this series (to catch up, see Part 1 and Part 2), you’ll remember that they knew I wasn’t fully dilated yet because I still had the lip of the cervix left, but they decided I should try to push through it, so they started the whole people holding up the legs and pushing to the count of ten procedure. My body was not trying to push yet. That should have been an indication to me that I should not start pushing, but I didn’t know any better then. I also hadn’t figured out yet that ten point pushing is what leads to lots of tearing. God made a woman’s body to stretch in the right places to accommodate giving birth, but if you try to do that at a rate different than your body’s own rate of stretching, you will have more tearing.
They had me push through a few contractions. Then they decided trying to push through the lip of the cervix was causing a lot of swelling, so they told me to wait through a few contractions to let the swelling go down. It would have been better to wait in the first place, but everyone at this hospital was in such a rush. During this birth, I had one extremely encouraging and calming nurse and one older, very grumpy nurse who acted like every blip on the monitor was a catastrophe. This type of over-reacting was not helpful to me at all. The doctor was not overreacting. The other nurse was not overreacting. The nice nurse was trying hard to keep the grumpy nurse in check the whole time.
The baby’s heart rate took a dive.
After I waited through a few contractions, they had me push again. At some point in the first few pushes, the baby’s heart rate took a dip. The grumpy nurse kicked my mom out of the room because she said they were going to have to call in respiratory care. The doctor said we were not going to need respiratory care because the heart-rate was coming right back up. The nice nurse let my mom back in the room before the grumpy nurse even got her to the door. I’m pretty sure the nice nurse started reminding me to breathe after that. The heart rate stayed up.
I now know that I was “purple pushing” through the first few contractions, but nobody bothered to explain that to me at the hospital. The situation would have been way less scary if someone had told me that was why the heart rate dipped. It wasn’t until my first visit with the midwife for my son when the midwife asked me to tell her about my first birth, and she then asked me if I was holding my breath during the contractions that made the baby’s heart rate dive, that I even realized that’s what I had been doing. I had been holding my breath for the ten count. The midwife explained that holding your breath affects the baby’s heart rate. I’m not even sure if anyone at the hospital made that connection or if it was just coincidence that the nice nurse started helping me breathe then, but I have to wonder how many women have ended up with a C-section because they held their breath.
They decided to suction.
Because I was having trouble with the now swollen lip of the cervix from pushing too early, they decided they would need to suction (at least it wasn’t forceps). Again this was more rushing. I hadn’t even been in labor for three hours. Nobody rushed me with my other kids. The doctor tried mostly unsuccessfully for the rest of the time to get the suction inserted. By the time she managed to get it on the baby’s head, she was pretty close to crowning anyway. I think the suction was on for maybe two pushes. They did an episiotomy at some point, I think right before the crowning, but I really don’t remember. Had I been allowed to let my body push at its own rate, I would not have needed an episiotomy, but that is just how one intervention leads to another intervention and then another and then another. It’s just like that book about giving the mouse a cookie. When your body is allowed to push and stretch at its own rate, it usually eliminates the need for any interventions. Fortunately, I learned enough before my next birth to have my super huge son with no interventions and no stitches and very little pain (and seriously his shoulders were so huge).
So they suctioned a couple of times, and then the baby was crowning, and then the shoulders came with the next push. I think they did give her right to me, and she nursed for just a minute but wasn’t really interested (My other kids were all calm and alert and nursed well instantly.). Then they took her off to the side to weigh and so on. I think she was born at 9:45 pm which was right at 3 hours from the time the doctor had left my room, but it seemed like about three days. She weighed 8 lbs. 11 oz. and was 21 inches long. She was my smallest baby by far. But everyone in that room thought she was so big. At one point, I could hear the nurse say, “Oops, only three toes.” That freaked me out for a second, but when I asked, she explained she meant on the footprint. She had to redo the footprint because a couple of toes missed the page. It was the nice nurse doing the footprints and handprints.
The punching of my stomach was really unnecessary.
The mean nurse started punching my stomach which hurt almost as badly as the birth, and she acted like I should just be happy about it. The stomach punching is completely unnecessary if the baby nurses right away, so they should have just left the baby with me longer. Nursing causes the uterus to contract and dispel the placenta and all the afterbirth naturally. Nobody punched my stomach with any of my other kids. The midwife just waited for them to nurse the placenta out. No one tried to rush it, and no one punched my stomach. Even if the baby isn’t nursing well, the midwife just has you massage your stomach because that stimulates contractions in the uterus. The punching of someone who has just experienced childbirth is pretty cruel really.
Then I had to get stitched from the episiotomy. I kept flinching with each stitch because I could feel it, and the doctor said, “You shouldn’t be able to feel that.” I told her I could feel every bit of it, so she gave me another shot of numbing stuff, but I could still feel it with that too, so I suffered through it without flinching, so she wouldn’t give me another shot. I can usually still feel everything at the dentist too, but I don’t tell them because I would rather just get it over with instead of getting an extra shot.
There was some damage from the suction.
The doctor said I was probably going to need to be catheterized for the rest of the evening because she had really roughed things up trying to get that suction inserted. She said there would likely be too much swelling for me to urinate without the catheter. She gave the nurses instructions about how long they should wait to see if I could just go without it. I don’t remember how long she said, maybe two hours. Thankfully, I didn’t end up needing the catheter.
Sorry, you’re getting all the too-much-information details, but you need to understand that interventions are not without consequences. I didn’t know any better at the time, and I just accepted it all, and I let them rush me through a birth that would have been speedy anyway even if they let my body progress at its own rate, but because of all these interventions, I could not walk without significant pain for a very long time, and I had stitches that itched. I had never had stitches prior to that. I had actually never been hospitalized before that.
Oh, and I almost forgot. It was such a stressful and tense environment in the delivery room that my husband’s stomach muscles were sore the next day. He said it was like he had been doing a lot of push-ups. Fortunately, birth with a midwife is so relaxed that he never had to have those painfully sore abs from any of the other births. [Can we talk about how my abdominal muscles completely separated while carrying his 11 lb. son?] I know, I laugh about my husband telling me about his soreness the next day, but my mom actually said the very same thing about it, and since she has given birth multiple times, she’s allowed to discuss the discomfort of being a bystander during childbirth. Just for all you future-daddies out there, a man mentioning his pain from the birth is about like a man suggesting a woman might need to take a Midol. There are some thoughts you shouldn’t say out loud. Happy wife, happy life! You should probably just tell your wife what a great job she did instead.
But my baby was perfect, and that’s all that really matters.
Despite all the unpleasantness, my baby was perfect and beautiful, but she was very sleepy from the Stadol. I wish someone had stopped before giving me the Stadol, and said, “We can give you this Stadol, but it will make your baby sleepy, and that can make breastfeeding more difficult.” Then I could have made an informed decision about it, and I probably would have decided against it. My baby just wanted to sleep. She did not want to stay awake to nurse which I needed her to do.
See my beautiful baby!
Had I continued to have doctor-assisted hospital births where the whole event is treated like an illness, and the birthing process was something I was rushed through with a sense of urgency instead of supported through in a calm and relaxed manner, I would have just believed that’s how childbirth feels. I guess I would have never known any better.
With my oldest daughter’s delivery, birth wasn’t something I did. It was something that was done to me. I was just a powerless victim with no real input into anything that happened. Birth does not have to be that way! Granted there are cases where interventions are unavoidable, but for most healthy women in a normal pregnancy, birth can be a wonderful and empowering experience with relatively little discomfort.
My own ignorance with my first birth gave me a not-so-pleasant experience, a long painful recovery, and the interventions (mostly the Stadol) followed by the stay in the hospital came very close to jeopardizing my ability to breastfeed my child.
Stay tuned for Our Rocky Start to Breastfeeding. This story could end up having more episodes than Star Wars! You can follow us from the Social Media icons on the righthand sidebar, or subscribe below.
My oldest daughter is now married. If you enjoyed her birth story, you may also enjoy the story of her wedding.
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