I was lucky and had a pretty easy pregnancy with Jack. I didn’t have much nausea but preferred to eat more bland foods in the first trimester. I ate a lot of eggs, soy bacon, and spinach. I had some bleeding all throughout the pregnancy so we had more ultrasounds than normal. At the last few weeks of pregnancy Jack was really low, so they were a little worried he wasn’t growing enough because my stomach was small, but he was right on target in the ultrasounds. I kept exercising and walking with Bear (our dog) until the end of the pregnancy, as well as working.
I had wished I could give birth in a birth center or at home, but my husband didn’t think it was safe, so we delivered at a hospital where you could have a midwife. They seemed to use fewer interventions which I liked, but it still really felt like a hospital setting. I really wanted to have a medication-free labor because I believed strongly in it, and I’m also very scared of needles. I took a hypnobirthing class, but admittedly didn’t really practice the meditations at all. I hoped to stay at home as long as possible and be in the shower to deal with the pain.
When I was 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant, I woke up at around 6am and my water had started breaking while I had been sleeping. I was really surprised and didn’t expect things to start that way, or to end up progressing pretty quickly afterwards. We went to the hospital because they wanted to make sure that’s what happened, and then they let us go back home for a while because the contractions were really light.
By 12 or 1pm the contractions had gone from nothing to intense very quickly so I was in the shower at home which helped a lot, and they were 3 minutes apart. Once they were 3 minutes apart for an hour and a half my husband said we should go back to the hospital as the midwife had suggested. We arrived around 2pm and luckily got a room. The nurse was really nice and we ended up barely seeing the midwife at all. The hospital rooms were remodeled and nice, but I really wish they had a birth tub. I alternated between being in the shower or having my husband put pressure on my lower back.
I threw up a few times and they were worried I was dehydrated and Jack’s heart rate was getting too high. They insisted on putting an IV with fluids in, and I was sad that I couldn’t go in the water anymore which had been my favorite way to deal with the pain. I had only progressed from 2-3cm to 3-4 during those 4 hours at the hospital, so I eventually decided to get an epidural. They put it in around 6pm, and by midnight I felt like I might have to push. It was really quick getting Jack near the exit, but then it took 45 minutes to get his head out! I thought I might not be able to get him out, but I finally did. I had 2nd degree tearing and asked the midwife to do the stitching instead of the resident, and I was surprised how much it still hurt even with lidocaine. Jack cried right away and was healthy except for some jaundice. I was able to hold him and breastfeed within the first 20 minutes. I was also able to get up and walk soon because the epidural had worn off before the pushing, so I was moved into a recovery room pretty quickly. I really wanted to go home asap, so after a night of interrupted sleep by nurses etc we were able to leave by 5pm the next day. Thank goodness neither Jack nor I had any serious health complications. My stitches took a while (over 6 weeks) to heal, and his jaundice eventually got better.
If we (hopefully!) have another baby, some things I want to remember to try to do differently to achieve a natural birth:
- Hire a doula (I thought it might be a waste of money, but I think it would really help)
- Practice meditation and perineal massage more
- Stay at home until I feel like I can’t handle the pain anymore instead of just going by the 3 minutes apart rule
- Drink something after every single contraction
- Get A LOT of coconut water and juice for home and to bring to the hospital, and have straws
- If I need an IV, ask if they can wrap it in plastic so I can still go in the shower
I’m so grateful that everything worked out in the end though!