"Parents are like shuttles on a loom. They join the threads of the past with threads of the future and leave their own bright patterns as they go."
-Fred Rogers

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Birth of Lillian Margaret (Lily)

My dear friend (and neighbor) gave birth to her third child a few days ago.  Before her second child was born I taught her husband and her HypnoBirthing and was their doula.  This time I didn't make it to the birth in time (dang those HypnoBirths can really go quickly!).  Below is story of Lily's birth; through her mommy's eyes:

Early Tuesday morning I was 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant and expecting to have to wait another week or so for labor. When I was woken up by contractions a few times between 2am and Jonas' usual 530am wakeup, I figured it was nothing and went back to sleep each time. Once I was actually awake I timed a few and they weren't regular and were between 15 and 30 minutes apart. I knew my labors seemed to be a bit atypical in the past with longer contraction spacing than normal, but I still didn't want to get my hopes up. But just in case I asked Russ to work from home and texted a quick heads-up to Tricia, my doula. Around 11 things petered out completely and I got very cranky. Then at 1 or so they started back up and were 7 to 15 min apart and strong enough that I had to get off my yoga ball and lean over to be comfortable during each one. So I called the midwives and while my timing wasn't classic labor they wanted to check me because of my history of labor getting unexpectedly advanced even without matching the normal patterns they look for. So we packed up (we took our time a bit and I joked with Russ that if I had the baby in the car because he was printing off beer labels for the baby beer, I would NOT be amused) and headed out to drive the hour to their office.

After talking to Tricia on the phone about traffic a bit we decided to call Russ's parents and ask them to head over to Oak Park since we were going to hand off the other kids to them and didn't want them to be late if stuff started cruising along. Then I started noticing that contractions were getting stronger and needing more concentration than they had before and I started listening to my Hypnobirthing track (saved as an audiobook on my Kindle!) during each one and pausing it to talk to Russ and the kids between. At one point I turned to him and said "You know, it's the second time I've used this during labor and I still can't get over how weird it is that an audio track can act like a pain-relief drug." We got to the office and Amy (the midwife) checked me and said I was 6cm, 90% effaced, with a bulging bag. She said we could head over to the hospital and she'd meet us there. We went across the street to grab a quick sandwich from Red Hen Bread and then I had to ask Russ to go get the car because I didn't think I could walk to the parking garage. He realized that meant stuff was advancing pretty quickly so he and Jonas booked it to the garage and back and picked Dorrie and I up.

We drove up to the entrance of West Suburban Med Center and his parents pulled up right behind us. Russ and his parents did a super quick carseat exchange/reinstall and we gave the kids a kiss and then I asked the info desk woman if they had a handy wheelchair as I thought walking was less than enjoyable at that point. We got up to L&D triage, went into the triage room, and I started to feel a bit out of control as things were really kind of trucking along without me at that point. I started concentrating on my Hypnobirthing track more and and thankfully the triage nurses allowed me to do the EFM strip while on my hands and knees instead of lying down, as that was the only position that felt right then. Russ had started doing light touch massage on my back the way Tricia had showed us during our Hypnobirthing preparation with Jonas which helped my focus immensely. The nurse had an OB come in and check me as she was worried that I was going to have the baby right there in triage but she said we had time to get me into the ABC room.

Not long after that Amy got there and we headed to the room. They were filling the tub, but I still felt like the only possible way for me to be was on my hands and knees so I hopped onto the bed. I'm sure plenty of other stuff was happening around me at this point but I was pretty inwardly focused. Pushing made contractions feel less overwhelming so that's what I started doing. Soon my water broke (quite explosively, I heard afterward!) and not long afterward I could feel the baby crowning. That part was the most uncomfortable part of the whole experience, the part where I started thinking "Okay, changed my mind, don't want to do this anymore," but there wasn't really time to dwell on it as she pretty much came rocketing right out after that.

She came out so fast she actually had a few mucous issues and got a little suctioning and oxygen since she didn't get quite the amount of lung-squeezing in the birth canal as usual, but she was perfectly healthy and had Apgars of 8 & 9. It went so fast Tricia got there about 7 minutes after she was born! Then we cuddled for a bit, she nursed a bit, and Russ took her to get get weighing and measuring done. I didn't have any tearing which thrilled me (I was a bit worried since she came flying out so fast!). They came back and told me she was 10 lbs exactly (a medium-sized baby for me! Dorrie was 9#1, Jonas was 10#6) and 20 inches long.

All in all it was a wonderful though very overwhelming experience. 15 minutes in triage and 15 minutes in the ABC room - incredibly intense and fast. But the Hypnobirthing kept me from getting panicky and overwhelmed and Russ remembering his doula training from last time kept me focused and supported. Lily is perfect.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Elective Inductions

I've noticed an epidemic here in our country and more specifically in the area where I live.  Women are being induced, without medical cause and routinely, time and time again.  It's become so common here that women look at me strangely when I ask them, "so why are you being induced?"  As if it  never occurred to them that there should probably be a reason their pregnancy is being forcibly ended.  I am not out to blame the moms here; obviously care providers should be practicing evidence based medicine and they should be telling their patients the risks and benefits of all procedures.  But they're not, and moms don't even know to ask.

Don't get me wrong, inductions have their place.  I was induced when it was found that my son Michael no longer was alive, and I was induced when my hypertension got so out of control that I was risking stroke, seizure, or worse at the end of my pregnancy with Mickey.  But to be induced "just because" is risky at best and downright dangerous at the worst.

Unfortunately women are not being given the whole story.  They are not being told of the hazards and risks of elective inductions, especially inductions prior to 40 weeks gestation.  They are not being told by their care providers that being electively induced (meaning without a true medical indication) increases their chances of needing countless other interventions.  And I'm wondering if women do actually realize this, could it be that they probably don't understand the consequences of such interventions?  Pitocin, epidurals, forceps, vacuum extractions and c-sections have become so routine in our country that most don't even know the risks that each of these procedures carry.  These risks are real.  They are not made up by natural childbirth advocates.  They are not minimal.  I can tell you story after story of moms being electively induced who come to me for their subsequent pregnancies feeling disillusioned and disappointed by their prior experiences.  Their pain is often not just emotional, it is oftentimes physical as well.

And it is not just moms who are suffering.  There are risks to your baby if you decide to electively induce or have an elective section.  I can tell you stories, real stories, of babies born too soon via elective induction or elective c-section who end up struggling to breathe and survive.  Babies who spend weeks in the NICU.  Babies who would probably have been absolutely healthy and thriving had their moms been left to finish their pregnancies.  Babies who seem perfectly normal but who grow into toddlers and preschoolers who are developmentally delayed, have chronic respiratory and viral infections, have uncontrollable asthma...I could go on and on.  These are proven and documented consequences that come out of babies being born too soon.  Too often I hear women say, "Thank goodness my doctor saved my baby and me with the emergency c-section.", when in actuality, the doctor was probably the one causing all of the issues due to the elective (NOT medically necessary) induction that never should have even occured. 

If you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, PLEASE educate yourself about "routine" care in the medical model.  Know what is evidenced based and what is just done due to personal philosophy.  Seek out providers who follow scientific evidence.  Consider going toward the midwifery or "wellness" model of care for your pregnancy and birth. 

To learn more about evidence based practices in pregnancy and to read about what you need to know and what questions you need to ask while pregnant, please visit Childbirth ConnectionChoices in Childbirth or Birth Network

I want to hear from you. Moms and dads who are reading, have you or your partner ever been pressured into having an elective induction or an elective c-section? Please tell us about it below. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER...