Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Help me! When Breastfeeding Isn't Working...

If we're gonna be honest about it, sometimes breastfeeding sucks.  The benefits are obvious.  It promotes bonding, strengthens baby's immune system, reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and can even help increase baby's IQ.

But sometimes, it sucks.  And it's hard.  And you just want to cry.  And you just want to stop.  Instead, though, you CAN get through, and it WILL be worth it, and it WILL get better.  Let's look at some of the most common breastfeeding problems and what you can do about them.

Problem: It hurts!
Holla if you hear me.  Nipple pain can be excruciating.  Curl your toes, hold your breath, hold back tears painful.  Maybe it's because your baby isn't latching correctly, maybe because you're engorged, maybe it's because of thrush or mastitis or a clogged duct.  No matter the reason, pain is pain, and it hurts.  I remember one night during the first week my son was home where it was so painful that I wanted to wave my white flag.  I almost drove to the store and bought formula.  I'm so glad I didn't.  It was perfectly fine the next day. You might feel like quitting, but here are some things to try first.
What you can do about it
The first thing you should check is your baby's latch.  This is the most common reason for nipple pain.  Baby should always be tummy-to-tummy with you to ensure proper positioning.  Try to align baby's ear, shoulder, and hip to make swallowing easier.  Aim the nipple toward baby's upper lip and wait for him to open widely to take the nipple.  Do not try to wiggle it in if his mouth is not all the way open.  The latch should be deep.  Most of the areola should be covered by baby's mouth.  Be sure that baby's lips are positioned outward like a pout.  If one of the lips is inward, use your finger to gently pull it out.
For pain caused by mastitis and thrush, warm compresses can be life-savers.  Apply warm compresses before and after feeding.  Refrigerated lavender oil  and/or lanolin can be applied directly to the nipple as well to help with pain, and is safe for baby to nurse over. Freshly expressed breastmilk can be applied to nipple cracks, and usually helps to heal them quickly.

Problem: My boobs are so full they might explode.
Engorgement is uncomfortable, to say the least.  About two weeks after my son was born, I woke up one morning in a panic because I realized that he hadn't woken up to nurse.  I looked over and saw him sleeping soundly, so my mind moved on to the next thought.  I felt HOT.  I was sweating and it felt like my insides were burning, and I sat up to discover that my boobs were on the brim of certain explosion.  Surely my baby wouldn't even be able to latch at this point.  Can't hand express because OUCH.  Can't pump because OH FOR THE LOVE OF OUCH.  Help.  Somebody. please. help.
What you can do about it
I stepped into a hot shower.  Miracle.  If you can prevent engorgement, obviously do that.  Make sure baby nurses about 8-12 times a day, and keep baby on one side until it is completely empty before switching to the other side.  Sometimes, engorgement still happens despite all precautions.  In this case, try a hot shower or warm compresses or try to hand express some of the milk.  If the swelling is so much so that no milk is coming out, warm compresses will only make it worse.  In this case, use an ice pack to relieve swelling.

Problem: I'm not making enough milk.
Suspected low milk supply is the most common reason for women quitting breastfeeding.  However, an actual low milk supply is one of the least common problems encountered during breastfeeding.  Many new moms are concerned that they aren't making enough milk, but almost all women are capable of making enough.  Your baby's weight will drop after birth no matter what, so this should not be a concern that your body isn't doing it's job. Cesareans or stressful births can cause your milk to take a little longer to come in, which will slow down your baby's weight gain at first, but it will come.  If your baby seems unsatisfied with feedings, he may just be going through a growth spurt.  The rare cases where you may actually not be producing enough milk can be caused by hormonal disorders, breast surgery or injury, or taking certain medications.
What you can do about it
Frequent feedings.  Nurse on demand.  The more you let baby nurse, the more you'll produce.  Avoid offering pacifiers or supplementing with bottles, because this can cause baby to be less interested with the breast and cause a drop in milk supply.  Herbal supplements such as fennel and dill can help increase milk supply, as well as brewer's yeast and Mother's Milk Tea.  This recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip lactation cookies are a great (and delicious) way to help boost your milk supply as well.

Problem: I'm going back to work.
Many women are concerned that they won't be able to keep up with breastfeeding once they go back to work.  They may be worried that their milk supply will drop, or that they won't be able to keep up with pumping.  Luckily, there are ways to work around this and continue a successful breastfeeding relationship.
What you can do about it
Make sure your job is pump break friendly.  There are laws to protect you on this.  You are entitled to regular breaks and a safe, comfortable place where you can pump.  Continue nursing your baby at the breast at home, on demand if possible.  This will help keep your milk supply up.  Here is a great article from Birth Without Fear that discusses Breastfeeding and the Workplace and many more tips on pumping.

Problem: I'm uncomfortable breastfeeding in public.
As much as some of us crunchy moms like to shout from the rooftops #normalizebreastfeeding, sometimes other people just get to us.  Sometimes that judgmental, perfectly-pruned eyebrow-raised face is just too much for us to deal with.  You might catch us on a day when we're in the mood to let you know that we're perfectly within our rights and tell you to go milk yourself.  But if you're lucky (and we're not), you'll catch us on a day where we just feel like crying and leaving and getting out of the red zone of your judgy-eye glare rays.
What you can do about it
Moms, when sometimes you find breastfeeding in public too much to deal with, that's okay.  Use a cover.  If you still catch the judgy-eye glare rays and it bothers you, you CAN go somewhere else, but know that you don't have to.  You're protected by law, and hopefully by supportive bystanders.  Or you can always just stay home, but I don't recommend it.  We have to go out in public sometimes or we lose our sanity.  Tell me I'm not the only person who's ever asked a sales clerk where the potty is, or told my husband that I'm going night night.  Go out in public.  See other adults.  Talk to them in grown-up speak and regain your sanity.

Problem: My boobs smother my baby.
I was not blessed with this problem.  Mine were the perfect whip-out-able size for on the go breastfeeding.  Some of us, though, who are usually the envy of the masses with your voluptuous forms, may have a more difficult time breastfeeding without losing sight of your baby.
What you can do about it
Experiment with different positions.  Find the positions that work best for you and your baby.  You may find that the football hold or side-lying position is more comfortable.  Make sure to support your breast while feeding as well by putting your palm under the breast and your thumb around the top and side, forming a "c" with your hand.

Comment with any more advice you can give on #breastfeedingproblems and with any other questions!

Monday, June 16, 2014

How the Media Takes Away Our Voice in Childbirth

When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I immediately began to load myself with information about pregnancy and childbirth.  I wanted to be prepared, so I prepared myself the best way I knew how.  I checked out books from the library, I Googled, I watched marathons of A Baby Story on TLC.  Unfortunately, I was unaware that I was preparing myself for someone else's birth experience.  Not my own.

If you turn on the TV and search the keyword "birth", you'll get shows like A Baby Story, One Born Every Minute, Maternity Ward, 16 and Pregnant, and others.  If you watch these shows, you'll get the same impression of childbirth that I first did.  Childbirth without intervention just isn't something you see.  We're told that epidurals are standard treatment.  We're shown that the use of synthetic hormones to augment labor is natural.  We're pushed to have c-sections instead of letting our bodies do their jobs.  We're instructed to sit back and let the doctors take control.  We're made to believe that our own bodies are not to be trusted.  We're shown that birth is pain.  Fear.  Danger.

What we're not told are the risks of each of these things.  We're not told that interventions interfere with the hormone regulation that naturally occurs during labor and birth.  We're not told that this natural hormone regulation is necessary for its own pain relief, for mother/baby bonding, for the mother's well-being, and for the baby's well-being.

We're not told that epidurals make labor longer and more difficult, that they can increase the risk of a c-section significantly, or that they increase the risk of tearing.  We're not told that they can compromise the baby's blood and oxygen supply and decrease the baby's heart rate.  We're not informed that the medication used in an epidural is still derived from cocaine, and is still found in the baby's urine days after birth.

The media doesn't tell us that c-sections are far more risky for both mom and baby, and they don't tell us that Pitocin increases the risk of c-section and has proven adverse effects for mom and baby as well.

They tell us that these things are normal.  Then, in the "interest" of showing both sides of the coin, they give us a show like Birth in the Wild, which demonstrates women having unassisted childbirth outside.

Extreme?  Absolutely.

Unassisted childbirth is not recommended.  Should complications arise, who will help?  But this is the "other side of the story" for them.  They tell us that we either submit to a doctor's will, or give birth squatting in a bush alone.  These are our options.

But where is our middle ground?

Where is our real birth?  Where is our natural, empowering birth experience that we were all given the tools to have?

My first was taken from me by the lack of accurate information we're given, as I'm sure many of yours were as well.  We all know that we shouldn't take what the media says at face value, so why are we doing it for birth?

I encourage you to find the REAL information.  If you weigh the risks and benefits of interventions, and decide to go ahead with something, GREAT!  You're informed, and your experience is empowered.  Just know the facts.  Travel outside of the information that is immediately presented to us, and find your truth. That's where you'll find your options.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Delayed Cord Cutting: Is it Actually "Delayed"?

In the first few weeks of life, babies don't make many new red blood cells on their own, and their red blood cells have a significantly shorter life than that of an adult's.  Iron helps to carry oxygen to the rest of the body via these cells. We know that birth is a carefully designed process.  A perfect process, if I dare say.  We also know that breastmilk is relatively low in iron.  So maybe infants are designed to get iron from their mothers in another way.  Let's explore this idea.  

The moment a baby is born, only about 2/3 of the baby's blood is actually in the baby.  The remaining blood is still in the umbilical cord and placenta.  This iron-rich blood is pumped into the baby's system during third stage labor, during which mom delivers the placenta.  However, many hospitals in the US practice immediate cord clamping, an outdated practice that considerably increases the risk of an infant developing iron deficiency anemia.

In fact, the ACOG now recommends that cord clamping be delayed by at least 30-60 seconds after birth.

This article from Science and Sensibility explains the common misconceptions and benefits of "delayed" cord clamping.   

Waiting to clamp the cord until all blood has stopped pulsing (as shown in the above photo) ensures that baby gets every ounce of blood, oxygen, and iron he needs.  


What's our solution?  If you want to wait to cut the cord until after your baby gets everything he needs from it, tell your doctor or midwife.  Plus, it'll give you some extra snuggle time with that brand new human.  Love.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Let's talk about it!

Hey, guys! Sorry I haven't posted in a while...I've been in the middle of moving. Yikes.

Let's talk about our birth experiences today and hopefully send some encouragement and support to any moms who stumble across this little blog. AND, since we're honoring the life of one of the greats...

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."  -Maya Angelou

Talk to me here! :-)

How did you give birth? Vaginally or via c-section?

Was your doctor or midwife supportive of you and your choices?

What type of support system did you have?

How did you feel about your birth experience?

What do you think could have made it better?

One more thought. Pardon the language, but come on. It's Maya Angelou, and its also true. 

"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass." -Maya Angelou

Go, mamas, go! Have a happy Thursday! :-)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

And the Experts Agree...

The new ACOG guidelines: What do they mean for laboring mothers?

The experts are in agreement with us on this.  Cesareans are being overused and are not necessary in most cases.  The percentages of cesarean births are much higher than they should be, and something needs to be done to lower the rate. 

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released new guidelines this year for the safe prevention of primary cesarean delivery.  In this document, they address the issue we've been waiting to hear from them.  If you're brave and have lots of time to Google the big words (Trust me...it took FOREVER to read), you can read the guidelines here.  But for the rest of you busy folks, I'll break down what it means in English.

First of all, the opening paragraph of the document contains this:

"...Although cesarean delivery can be life-saving for the fetus, the mother, or both in certain cases, the rapid increase in the rate of cesarean births without evidence of concomitant decreases in maternal or neonatal morbidity or mortality raises significant concern that cesarean delivery is overused."

Basically, this means there has been a serious blow up in the amount of c-sections performed with no evidence of related decreases in fetal or maternal death.  In short, they're concerned that we're using c-sections for no legitimate medical reason in too many cases.

Cesarean sections were originally used as a last-resort measure, performed only when the mother was already dead or was considered to be beyond help.  If the ACOG is agreeing that the increasing c-section rate is not particularly decreasing the maternal and fetal death rates....

Why are we using c-sections as an alternative delivery method for healthy pregnancies?

Here are just a few of the points I found to be very important news for us.

Slow but progressive labor is not an indication for cesarean
Maternity care providers have long used Friedman's Curve to define the "normal" amount of time for a woman to be in labor.  We know that in labor, there is no "normal".  It's always different.  Now the ACOG agrees.  "Slow but progressive labor in the first stage of labor should not be an indication for cesarean delivery."  Here is a great article from Evidence-Based Birth on Friedman's Curve and it's outcomes on births.  "Failure to Progress" is the number one reason for unplanned C-sections in the U.S. 

Long second stages of labor are not an indication of negative outcomes for baby
There is no evidence to show that longer pushing times are dangerous for baby or mom. It is also worth considering whether the second stage of labor begins at full dilation or when mom feels the natural urge to push. After transition and at full dilation, there is often a "resting period".  Mom's body is giving her a break before pushing. Should this time be counted as part of the pushing phase, or should it begin when mom feels the urge to push? I also found this gem of a quote in the ACOG's guidelines:

"Thus, the literature supports that for women, longer time in the second stage of labor is associated with increased risks of morbidity and a decreasing probability of spontaneous vaginal delivery. However, this risk increase may not be entirely related to the duration of the second stage per se, but rather to health care provider actions and interventions in response to it."

Variations in baby's heartbeat appear to be a natural physiological response to labor
Also from the ACOG...
"The unnecessary performance of cesarean deliveries for abnormal or indeterminate fetal heart rate tracings can be attributed to limited knowledge about the ability of the patterns to predict neonatal outcomes and the lack of rigorous science to guide clinical response to the patterns."
I don't even really think I need to explain that one. But I will. They pretty much just said that they're doing unnecessary c-sections because of abnormal fetal heart rates because they don't know any better. This is so huge because it's being recognized that they have so much more to learn about the natural processes of labor and birth, and that their interventions aren't always necessary.

Labor induction increases the risk of cesarean
"Normal" gestation periods range anywhere from 37-42 weeks.  Babies develop at different rates.  Some babies walk at 12 months, some walk at 15.  The variations in development don't only begin after birth.  It is now recommended that inductions not be performed before 41 weeks without medical indication.  Why force them out before they're ready?  The ACOG says this:

"The use of induction of labor has increased in the United States concurrently with the increase in the cesarean delivery rate, from 9.5% of births in 1990 to 23.1% of births in 2008."

A big baby is not an indication for cesarean
Ultrasounds have been shown to be ineffective indicators of a baby's weight.  One of my own friends was told she was carrying a 9-pound baby at 38 weeks, only to give birth to a 7-pound baby a few days later. Additionally, your body will not grow a baby that is too big for you to birth.  Your body knows what it's doing. If you're carrying an 11-pound baby, you probably have a SuperPelvis and you CAN give birth.  See here.  There are multiple birthing positions you can take to help widen your pelvis for birth.  ACOG says:

"Suspected fetal macrosomia is not an indication for delivery and rarely is an indication for cesarean delivery...screening ultrasonography performed late in pregnancy has been associated with the unintended consequence of increased cesarean delivery with no evidence of neonatal benefit."

Breech presentation is not an automatic indication for cesarean
The new guidelines state that external cephalic version (turning the baby from the outside) is underutilized.  There are multiple ways to attempt to turn a baby before birth. Additionally, breech deliveries ARE possible.  This video is proof, and it's also proof of the next point I'll make.

*Warning*, this is raw birth footage. 

Twins are not an indication for cesarean
This one's pretty self-explanatory.  Cut down, it means that as long as one twin is presenting head-down, mom should be counseled to attempt a vaginal delivery, and that doctors just need to be better trained to vaginally deliver twins.  We're not unable to deliver multiples vaginally because of an inability on our part.  It's an inability on the part of the medical staff. That has to change.

"The rate of cesarean deliveries among women with twin gestations increased from 53% in 1995 to 75% in 2008 (105). Even among vertex-presenting twins, there was an increase from 45% to 68% (105). Perinatal outcomes for twin gestations in which the first twin is in cephalic presentation are not improved by cesarean delivery. Thus, women with either cephalic/cephalic-presenting twins or cephalic/noncephalic-presenting twins should be counseled to attempt vaginal delivery (Table 3) (106). In order to ensure safe vaginal delivery of twins, it is important to train residents to perform twin deliveries and to maintain experience with twin vaginal deliveries among practicing obstetric care providers."

Use a doula!
"A Cochrane meta-analysis of 12 trials and more than 15,000 women demonstrated that the presence of continuous one-on-one support during labor and delivery was associated with improved patient satisfaction and a statistically significant reduction in the rate of cesarean delivery"

Continuous labor support is shown to increase mom's satisfaction with her birth experience and significantly reduce the rate of cesarean. Studies consistently show that having a doula provides the following benefits:

  • 50% fewer cesarean sections
  • Reduction in the use of forceps vacuum by 40%
  • 60% fewer requests for epidurals
  • 40% reduction in the use of synthetic oxytocin for inductions or augmentations
  • 30% reduction in use of pain medication
  • 25% reduction in labor length
  • Increased rates of breastfeeding at 6 weeks post-partum (51% vs 29%)
  • Higher self-esteem (74% vs 59%), less anxiety (28% vs 40%) and less depression (10% vs 23%) at 6 weeks post-partum
Thank you so much to the ACOG for hearing us and beginning the changes to help us have safer and more satisfying birth experiences.
Photo property of Kayla Bernier, some rights reserved Attribution CC by 2.0

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ashley's Birth Story

Get ready for this story about a mom who was told that her pregnancy was likely ectopic and was directed to abort.  She then goes on to vaginally deliver an (ready for this?) almost 12 pound baby.  Way to go, mom!  This is an incredible and inspiring story.  It's a long story, but so worth the time.  Read on. :)

Let me start with this, I knew from the moment they confirmed my pregnancy that I was in for a rough time. I was about 5 weeks pregnant with my second child. I knew the moment I conceived, as I had (that day) had my Mirena removed. I had morning sickness barely 2 weeks in. I had the start of a baby bump by nearly 4 weeks, you read right, 4 weeks. I confirmed my pregnancy with an at home pregnancy test at nearly 5 weeks. I hadn't even had a chance to confirm with my doctor when things started to become complicated. I laid my daughter down for a nap, and decided to lay down myself. I felt sick to my stomach, I felt like I had the chills, and a little cramping. I thought to myself maybe I was getting the flu, and decided to rest on the couch. 

When my daughter woke up, two hours later, I tried to get up to get her, but I felt dizzy, cold, and had severe cramping. I pulled it together and got her up for a snack, and an episode of wonder pets. I went off to find the thermometer. I had a temperature of nearly 103 I was doubled over in pain at that point, and then I discovered I had what looked like my period. I was officially in a full on panic, thinking I had lost my baby. I frantically tracked down my husband, and a friend to watch our daughter. I called my mom, and mother-in-law to tell them the baby we had so excitedly called them about just the day before, I may no longer be carrying. 

We had, what seemed like, a long drive to the hospital. We finally arrived at the ER, and I had to take a pregnancy test, before being admitted. The test showed positive, which left us confused, as we were sure I had miscarried. I was whisked off to an O.B. room where they hurried me along to change, so I could be hooked up to an IV for fluids and pain medication. They ran a blood test to confirm the pregnancy and then took me to ultrasound. We discovered that despite the bleeding and cramping the baby was still alive and well. The bad news was because I was so "freshly pregnant" they couldn't tell if the baby was actually in my uterus, or if I had an ectopic pregnancy. Believe it or not they were so determined (that because of my symptoms) my baby was indeed the result of an ectopic pregnancy, they were willing to operate on me right then and there. 

They explained to me that "usually any pregnancy with a Mirena, or shortly after a Mirena is removed, the pregnancy is usually an ectopic pregnancy." I remember calmly asking the O.B. what would happen if I choose not to operate. They doctor looked stunned, and insisted I had no choice. I asked her if she could 100% guarantee the pregnancy being ectopic. She said no. I said 'so what happens if I choose not to have my baby...removed?' She said if it was indeed an ectopic pregnancy that my symptoms would become worse, and it could become a very dangerous situation for me, but if it wasn't ectopic then I would be fine. She pushed and pushed for me to 'remove' the baby, I refused, at which point she reluctantly sent me home. I decided if there was a chance that my baby wasn't ectopic, they weren't removing anything without irrefutable evidence. Which I assumed would be easy to get. If my symptoms got worse, which she assured me would happen over the next 12 hours or so, I had to operate. If they didn't I was in the clear, well with some monitoring of course. Days passed, and so did my symptoms. I was due into the hospital to have weekly ultrasounds, and tests. By 12 weeks they confirmed the baby was in my uterus, and thriving. I was so grateful that I trusted my instincts!

I had a fairly normal pregnancy, normal aches and pains. I did develop horrible acid reflux, as well as extreme heartburn. It was clear early on that I was carrying a very big baby. Every doctors appointment, from about 4 months on, I measured about 3-4 weeks ahead of schedule. My first baby was born on her due date weighing in at 8 lbs 10 1/2 oz and 20 1/2 inches long, so they assumed this one would be just as big. By about 6 months along though I started to develop high blood pressure. I was monitored for preeclampsia, as I did show signs of having it my first pregnancy. Weeks 28-41 were rough. I was carrying very low, The baby's head was actually causing me pain to walk,by about 7 1/2 months. I was so swollen it hurt to stand. 

Between the reflux, high blood pressure, and heartburn, and general discomfort, I had a new set of worries. My baby was so big that I rarely felt him move. I tried everything, and I do mean everything. He wouldn't budge. I was almost constantly in the L&D at the hospital to be monitored. I started to have nightmares that my son would be stillborn. A mother's worst fear. At 36 weeks his ultrasound measurements were 7 1/2 lbs, they told me that couldn't be right, and that they wouldn't induce until 41 weeks. I was so miserable, and I was barely able to care for my daughter anymore. I couldn't ever stay awake, I had dizzy spells all the time, I almost passed out one morning trying to make her eggs. Of course being a stay at home mom, and living in Japan with no family around had me panicked. My husband had to end up putting in an emergency leave request, after the egg incident, to come home and pick up the slack. After I was 9 days late (and after almost a full 12 hours of calling) they finally had a L&D room for me, and I was scheduled for induction!
41 weeks pregnant.  Two days before delivery!

They started me off with a pill to get things going.  It was their attempt to avoid pitocin. I was frustrated because I knew from my first induction that pitocin worked for me, and I actually (repeatedly) requested the pitocin. They insisted I give the pill a shot, and I was so ready to climb in that hospital bed, knowing I wouldn't get back out of it without a baby in my arms, that I stopped arguing. Our daughter was at home with a family friend, and it was just my husband and I. Twelve hours passed on the pill and nothing happened. Not one single contraction. At this point I was tired, and frustrated. Also I was nervous. This baby was much bigger than the last, and I could tell there was something the doctors weren't telling me. My son was so big that my skin was, well, ripping. That's right ripping. Where most women had stretch marks I had rips in my skin, and blood, and bruising. The reason the baby hardly ever moved was because he had no room. They came in my room and announced that they were going to start the pitocin. The only thought I had was FINALLY. Within about 30 minutes the contractions started. 

Almost an hour and a half into labor I got my epidural. I believe about 4 hours in my water broke, on it's own. I called the corpsman in to inform him, and he had the courage to muster up "yes ma'am, that's supposed to happen." Anyone who has ever been pregnant with a boy knows that your hormones kind of turn you into a no BS tolerating lunatic. Or as my husband described me, pure evil. When I was pregnant with my daughter I would randomly cry, and I was a little sensitive, but other than that I was pretty normal. With my son I swear I could shoot daggers at people with my eyes. I was...miserable and moody to say that least. So now I had the task to very 'calmly' explain to him that this was my second baby, and I was well aware as to what was supposed to happen, and also I had measured my whole pregnancy for having to much amniotic fluid, which meant he had better get a mop, because when my water broke I heard it hit the floor. His face turned red as he realized I was right, and he never tried to explain to me again how labor and delivery worked.

The doctor seemed more in tuned with my delivery than with my first, he kept coming in to 'check my progress,' only usually that had meant to check how dilated or thinned your cervix was, neither of which he did. He kept feeling my stomach though, and saying "yep I bet you have at least a 9 pounder in there." Ummmmm...thanks doc. About 6 hours in I'd say I found out what all of the fuss was about. The babies heart rate was inconsistent, he wasn't taking my contractions well, and they wanted me to 'mentally prepare' for a c-section, as it was looking like that is what I was in for. I was upset. Here I was no family, a 21 month old at home, and a husband who was running out of days of leave, and I may have to have surgery? 

As selfish as that sounds let me just say that I was ready and willing to do what was best for my baby. You have to understand though that with my first L&D I became ill shortly after having my daughter with a UTI so bad that it came and went for an entire year. As it turns out I was allergic to the lubricant they used, which of course was reapplied every time the had to 'check for progress.' Then when they inserted the catheter the lubricant was pushed into my bladder causing bladder retention, which basically means that you have the urge to go, and your bladder is completely full, but nothing comes out. I was so sick that I had to have a new catheter placed shortly after giving birth, and I had to keep it in for weeks. I was on 4 different antibiotics, as well as an antibiotic shot, and I had could barely walk, due to my catheter rubbing against all of my stitches. Not really how you picture bringing your new baby home. 

Then the doctor came in again explaining that because of the size of the baby he was at risk for shoulder dystocia, which basically means that my son's shoulders would get stuck under my pubic bone, and they explained to me that if this happened, they would have to break his arm to be able to pull him out. The doctor pushed and pushed for me to go ahead and give him the okay, to take me in for a c-section.

When I would ask if it was absolutely necessary, and question if there was anyway to bring him into the world safely, while choosing a natural delivery. He kept saying that there was no way to determine that, and that I should just go ahead with the c-section. I felt like he was just in such a hurry to get the baby out, that he was almost trying to scare me into a decision. It didn't seem as if he thought it was at all as necessary as he was trying to make it sound. I was immediately in tears, at the thought that they would have to hurt my son.

Luckily for me a Midwife heard of our situation and came to offer help. She had overheard the nurses talking about our situation, and asked the doctor to take over, after seeing my birth plan, and how I was trying to avoid a cesarean if at all possible. When she came in she said that we could try for a natural delivery, before being pushed for a c-section. She thought that she could turn the baby during delivery and avoid any complications. She seemed confident that at this point a c-section wasn't a necessity. I was so relieved to have her support! She had just finished her shift and was willing to stay and delivery our baby. She saw that I was eating Jolly Ranchers, and decided that was the reason for his inconsistent heartbeat. I was surprised, because with my daughter that's what I was told to bring to the hospital to chew on during contractions, but it did make sense. They sugar obviously wasn't the best thing for the baby, so I of course handed them over and replaced them with ice chips, and his heartbeat became consistent. As for the oxygen levels she watched the monitors closely and she would come in and change the position I was laying in until things became normal again. I was so grateful to have her. 

About 7 hours in or so I was in agonizing pain. After about an hour of this, I called for the nurse, to beg for more pain medication. She tried to explain that it was just back labor, and then a monster of a contraction came on and her face went almost pale, I guess my epidural had worn off. She immediately called for the midwife who confirmed that this was indeed the case, and they immediately called the anesthesiologist for epidural # 2. In the meantime they gave me something in my IV to take the edge off. I also had to start oxygen. The baby was looking great on the monitors though, and he was tolerating my contractions so much better. The risk of complications greatly decreased, and my midwife assured me that I was doing great, and so was the baby. She seemed confident that we had made the right decision, which made things so much easier, and less stressful. 11 hours in I started feeling a lot of pressure. They didn't want to check me however because they were trying to avoid me getting another infection, and I had just been checked maybe 30 minutes prior to that. I dealt with the pressure, for about 45 minutes until it became increasingly apparent that it had to be time. 

My midwife came in and confirmed that it was time to push. She told when to push, and to stop sometimes in the middle of a contraction so that she could turn/maneuver the baby. After a long 25 minutes of pushing, with everything I had, he was finally out. The room was silent. You could have heard a pin drop. I didn't know if my husband was pale from being sick, or sick with worry. Our son was blue, and he wasn't crying. They midwife laid him on top of me, everyone scrambled around the room, no one said a word. I felt tears fall down my cheeks as I looked at him. All I could think was I should have had the c-section. Did I put him in unnecessary danger? Is something wrong with him? It took a minute but finally he cried. Relief poured over me. He was huge, he was healthy, and he was perfect. Weighing in at 11 lbs 11 1/2 oz 21 1/2 inches long, my son was finally here.

It was a bumpy ride to this moment. Initially I was told he the result of an ectopic pregnancy, and I should have him 'removed.' After that I went through a pretty tough pregnancy, then a doctor again pushed me toward a potentially unnecessary surgery, to have a c-section. Not willing to wait and have the baby naturally, because let's face it the reason I was 3 days passed my induction date was because the L&D beds were full, it took me 3 days to get in to be induced, when they were 'in between patients.' I felt like once their waiting room started filling up they wanted to just get us in and out. 

Luckily my midwife found us, and she was amazing. She listened to my concerns, told me it was reasonable to feel like I could still wait and potentially have a natural delivery. She wasn't trying to hurry us, or scare us into a decision. I trusted my instincts, I trusted my body, and I did what I felt would be right. I knew if it became dangerous for my baby or myself I would have to have a c-section, but I also felt like I could do this on my own, with the right doctor...or in this case, midwife. My son not only broke the record for the biggest baby born at that hospital at the time, but also the record for the biggest baby to be born naturally. 

I don't think that you can feel your strength unless you feel safe, supported, nurtured, and trusting of your body’s ability. Trust in your body, and trust in yourself. You're able to accomplish more than you think.  You're stronger than you think.  I know I was.    

Monday, May 5, 2014

What NOT to Say to Breastfeeding Moms

If you're a breastfeeding mom, you've probably heard these things. Sometimes it's from well-meaning mothers-in-law, sometimes from not-so-well-meaning mothers-in-law, and sometimes from random strangers who obviously must have a part in your decision-making.  Regardless of who says them, we don't usually like it. These are just a few of the things we've heard that tempt us to squirt you in the face with it tell you you're not being very nice.

  1. I don't know...I just...it's....weird.  Well, it's a good thing I'm not breastfeeding you, then, isn't it?  My baby doesn't think it's weird, and neither do I.  Thank you for your input.  You're welcome to go away.  
  2. Just wait til he gets teeth!  While your advice is probably well-intentioned, we don't like it.  We feel offended when you imply that we live in a parallel universe where we believe our babies will never get teeth and will never bite us.  We know it happens.  We're already afraid of it happening.  Leave that tip out. 
  3.  You don't give him bottles?  But no one will be able to keep him!  Excuse me while I feign horror at the realization you've just presented to me. I didn't have a baby so YOU could keep him.  I kind of like him.  Plan on keeping him myself...thanks.  
  4. No wonder he's so clingy.  No.  He's "clingy" because I'm his mother.  If I bottle fed him, he would still be "clingy". 
  5. Doesn't your husband want his boobs back?  Whoa.  Apparently I missed a HUGE part here. I must not have been there when my husband grew breasts and lent them to me to feed our child.  Second, I wouldn't marry a man who didn't know how to share.  Kindergarten 101, folks. 
  6. You're STILL breastfeeding?  Okay, now you're just rude.  Unless that statement is followed with "...That's awesome!", then you're probably bound for dealing with a mama in a bad mood. 
  7. Do you have to do that HERE?  Yes, I do.  No, I will not go into the restroom to feed my child. He's hungry now. When you get hungry in public, you don't stop and go into the restroom to eat.  Neither will we. 
Breastfeeding is normal, but it can also be difficult. Let's try encouraging each other instead of judging.  Next time you see a breastfeeding mom (or a bottle-feeding mom, for that matter), tell her she's doing a great job.  Ask her how she's feeling.  Encourage her.   Help make her a better mom by telling her she's a great mom.