I received a few questions by email and post comments about labor and c-sections… I thought I’d try to be helpful to everyone and answer them here:
Question: Did I practice any pain management techniques? Do I think they’d be helpful?
Answer: We decided to do the Bradley Method (husband-coached childbirth). But we didn’t take a class, we only read the book (both Steve and I read it). Honestly, we didn’t find it very helpful. It starts by trying to pump you up– like, yea you can do it! And it talks a lot about why it’s the best method or why it works. Then tells you some tips (squatting is best, like sitting on a birthing ball… use abdominal breathing during early labor and later, keep your elbows out and chin down). And of course, the focus is on the husband and how he should talk to me and help me through it. It just didn’t work. Maybe if we had taken the Bradley class?
What I’d try, personally, is hypnobirthing. The at-home kit to teach yourself is like $300, which I thought was ridiculous. But if it works, I’d be willing to pay much more than that after the labor experience I had.
Also, I said the pain was unbearable… but the pain for each woman is different, so don’t let me scare you. It depends on your pain tolerance, your mindset, and the type of contractions. My contractions were focused in my lower belly, like menstrual cramps. Some women have the pain in their lower backs, wrapped all the way around, or just in the belly area.
Question: Do I think a different doctor would have given me a different result?
Answer: Without a doubt. My main OB didn’t start seeing me until I was 20 weeks along anyway (when we moved here) and she never remembered who I was… after she scared us with the “high-risk” and “full-term placenta” stuff we decided to try the 2 other OBs at that clinic because we weren’t too fond of her anymore. They weren’t much better.… but I ended up going back to the original and discussing my birth plan with her. She was actually great about that – saying she wanted my birth to be the experience I wanted. However.… we didn’t end up in labor with her. We got the doctor on call. If you have a doctor who you know will deliver you and she/he is on board with what you want, I think your chances are WAY better of things going how you want. The doctor we had had no idea who we were or what we wanted. She had no attachment to us and didn’t care. I hope to find a new OB that can become, basically, a friend. So that when I am pregnant again, I have someone familiar and friendly on my side.
As for the rest of the hospital staff… I only had the one nurse to deal with the whole time. Day nurse=awesome, night nurse=terrible. But either way, everything they do has to be passed through the doctor. So if you have your doctor on your side, you hopefully won’t have any issues. Plus, you can ALWAYS request a different nurse. I never even thought of it.
Question: How bad was it for Steve and I (without a doula)? What made us start wavering in our decisions? What would have helped us stick to our plan?
Answer: In the moment (exhausted, confused, in pain…) I basically forgot WHY I wanted the things I did. I knew I didn’t want interventions (water broken, pitocin, etc), but WHY? I thought, in hindsight, having a doula would have helped us stick to what we wanted. She would have spoke for us and said NO for us. But I’ve also heard stories where the doula got just as confused and exhausted. It’s just a really hard situation (for anyone) when the doctor starts talking about possible complications and makes you worry for your baby’s safety or your own. Early on I felt I was very strong with the hospital staff in what I wanted (refused water breaking and pitocin 3 times), but after 24 hours of labor and being exhausted (physically and mentally) and just wanting everything to work out… I broke.
Another thing.. Steve and I didn’t start the Bradley Method until pretty late in our pregnancy. I feel like we could have been more prepared. If your husband really doesn’t want a doula (as mine didn’t either), my best advice is to prepare early, and prepare lots (with regard to pain management).
Question: What should you ask your OB about c-sections, pitocin, etc? When should you talk about your birth plan?
Answer: Talk about your birth plan as soon as you’ve made it – trust me, it’s not premature and your doctor should be happy and willing to go over it with you. That way you can be sure your doctor is on board with your wishes (and you have time to switch doctors if needed). Plus, details and more questions will come up as you’re going over it with them.
Ask your doctor their c-section rates and what events may lead to one (if your water breaks/is broken, how long before they’ll want to intervene to prevent infection?; what will they do if you’re “stuck” at a certain dilation for however many hours?; etc). Ask what their max level of pitocin is and what their experience is with its use leading to c-sections. What percentage of births do they use pitocin on? If you get an epidural will you be able to get off the bed at all? (this may be a pointless question if you’re getting an epi regardless).
C-sections are something my OB and I never even discussed because I was so sure I wouldn’t have one. I just figured that if I ended up with one, it’d be an emergency… that’d it’d be absolutely necessary. And I was wrong – so definitely discuss it.
Please let me know if you have any other questions!