Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

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First off let me say that this was a great book for me.  I am new to this childbirth thing, and I have a lot of questions.  This book helped me find answers to many of them, as well as come up with a few more I need to ask.  That being said, this book is not for everybody.

The first half of the book was strictly birth stories.  I didn’t find them terribly helpful myself, and did not read all the way through the first half.  The stories were not all butterflies and ponies, it does have a good mix of the good and the bad.  One story that I read that really stuck with me gave me an image of just how traumatic birth could be for the mother.  This woman’s story included standard pitocin and episiotomy without assessing need, strapping her to the bed, taking her baby away, sedating her, and a number of other horrible assembly line type experiences.  She was not even told the sex of her newborn, much less allowed to hold it, before being given ether to knock her out while they stitched up her episiotomy.  I think this story itself outlines the fear many woman feel approaching childbirth and not knowing what to expect or what to ask.

The stories are not all like this, as I mentioned before there is a good collection of the good and the bad.  The good stories are full of happy mothers relishing in their birth stories, experiences that changed their lives for the better.  This section of the book does include positive stories of hospital births with obstetricians, and does not make any effort to cast a negative light on those types of births.

I found the second half of the book to be far more useful and informative than the first.  Ina May outlines labor and delivery, and what to expect every step of the way.  She starts off by describing the mind/body connection that we all have, but has been downplayed by current medical practice.  Comparing it to the placebo effect the author explains how we have the power to influence our bodies in many ways.  She discussing speaking your wishes aloud, listening to the words of others, visualizing the desired effects, and a number of other ways in which our bodies respond to situations that affect us mentally and emotionally.  For instance did you know that being comfortable with your practitioner is good not just for your peace of mind, but for ease of labor?  Having a strange person walk in, and possibly behave in a manner that is not gentle and peaceful, can negatively impact your laboring, and even cause dilation to go backwards?

Ina May delves into all the details of labor itself, explaining to the reader exactly what to expect, while making sure they understand to expect the unexpected.  She goes into detail what goes on with our bodies while laboring, stressing the point that if your labor is different that what is ‘normal’ that you are not broken, merely human.  The second half of the book is full of diagrams and photographs depicting women in labor and birth describing different characteristics.  One set of images shows many different laboring positions that are all perfectly natural.

Later on the author details potential interventions and their risk, encouraging women to talk about these things with their practitioners and find out exactly what that person is used to doing.  I think I found this to be the most helpful part of the book, and answered a lot of questions that I had.  Going into this book I had a vague idea of some things I should know before my due date is upon me, but I really wasn’t sure what all I needed to know, and had not asked my doctor anything.  Through this book I was able to come up with a rather broad list of questions and concerns that I will be able to present to my doctor at my next visit as well as to the nurses at the hospital when I have my tour.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is a fantastic book full of incredibly useful information.  In my opinion this book should not stand alone in your library of childbirth resources, but should make an appearance.  This book does have the power to scare a woman, but it also has the power to arm her with the knowledge she needs to proceed to the next source of information.  Don’t let this book scare you away from doctors if that is what you want, but let it lead you to the right doctor for you.  If you are looking into an all natural home birth experience, you already have a good idea what you’re getting into, read this book anyway.

To all mothers, regardless of how they choose to bring their little ones into this world, remember that you are a woman, and this is a woman’s experience.  No man can ever know or fully understand childbirth.  The things we know did not come out of a book, and can never be put into words without losing a good chunk of what it means.  Trust yourself, and don’t let anybody force you into something you do not want.

My list of questions:

1. How far into labor do I need to arrive at the hospital, what signs should I look for before I know it’s time to see my practitioner?

2. When would induction be recommended, and by what method?

3. What style of fetal monitoring is typically used by this practice and the hospital of my choice?

4. Are intravenous fluids routine, and will I be allowed the freedom to eat and drink during labor?

5. Will I have the freedom to move around as I see fit?

6. What is the cesarean section rate of the practice and the hospital of my choice?

7. Will I be on a time limit to deliver once I arrive at the hospital or will I be allowed to continue laboring as long as nothing life threatening presents itself?

8. When will the umbilical cord be clamped, immediately or when it stops pulsing?

9. Will placenta expulsion be hurried, or allowed to progress on it’s own?

10. Are epistionomies routine or reserved for situations where they are absolutely necessary?  (Under what circumstances would they be considered necessary?)

6 months!

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I have to post this now, before the clock hits midnight, or it won’t be the same!!!  Today I am exactly 27 weeks, which means I am exactly 6 months pregnant!  I’m not sure where I get this idea, but 6 months seems like such a milestone to me.  Probably because it marks my entry into the third trimester.

I’m really starting to get excited about this baby, it feels so real now.  That and I can really feel her…  I am willing to bet that, had I been looking that direction, I would have seen my belly jump a couple times one morning.  It was the first time I had felt her from the outside, and I couldn’t stop giggling.  It was early morning and I was resisting it, laying in bed reading before the need to pee overtook me.  She was just dancing away and I was enjoying it.  When she started kicking the same spot pretty hard a couple of times I laid my hand over it, just to see if I could feel it.  Oh I felt it all right!  She kicked me pretty hard, twice.  I tried to wake Hubby Bunny up so he could feel it, but he as so groggy he didn’t know what was going on, and she stopped before he could figure it out.  Soon I hope.

I don’t remember what I was going yesterday, probably watching tv, and all of a sudden it struck me.  I’m pregnant.  This little outfit I am knitting?  My baby will be wearing this in just about 3 more months.  So I guess it’s time to start thinking about the real things I need to know.  Bottles, diapers, bedding, parenting…  I have a lot to learn yet.  I haven’t read into it much, but I think I am leaning toward attachment parenting.  Although I am not comfortable with co-sleeping.  She takes up too much room in the bed as it is!

I have a few hurdles to overcome as far as breastfeeding.  I don’t think many, if any, people around me truly understand what it means to breastfeed exclusively.  Well, my husband does, he is very supportive.  As a matter of fact he was the first of us to say it out loud.  I didn’t even realize he had strong feelings about it until he (jokingly) announced to me that I would be doing it.  It seems like a simple choice, do it or don’t.  Wow I had no clue how much else would go into it!  Aside form people not understanding, or having these preconceived ideas born out of societal norms, it’s going to be a lot of work itself.  Never before have I heard the term ‘nipple confusion.’  Really?  That’s real?  Yea, apparently.  No bottles, no binkies, not until breastfeeding is firmly established.  Know what else that means?  No babysitters!  Eep!  Not that I think I will have any kind of desire to be separated from my little miss at all, but what if something did come up?  I guess I’m not going…

I won’t sleep with her in my bed, but I am willing to put her next to my bed where I can easily reach her.  We’ll see how it all goes, I need to get a book on attachment parenting and decide if that is for sure going to be our method, but I am sure it will be.  The time has come to decide, as well as to pack my overnight bag!  Just in case she makes an early debut…

The good with the bad

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Bad day is bad!  Today my lower back is absolutely killing me.  I can hardly stand up at all, much less straight.  Even looking at the basket if towels I was going to fold today made me want to cry and I had Sean hide them in the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to look at them.  

I have gained less than 20 pounds so far, but on days like today it sure feels like a lot more.  Sean is sweet, he said it doesn’t look like it either. My sense if balance is completely off though, which doesn’t help when I can’t stand up straight to walk into the kitchen.

It didn’t turn out all that bad though.  I made pork chops, mashed potatoes, and corn for dinner and it was fantastic.  I have peanut butter swirl (my favorite) for later.  Right now I am watching Stand By Me, one of my all time favorite stories, with my wonderful husband.  Oh, and little miss is rolling around all over, making me forget how crummy my day was.

Kick Once For Yes, Twice For No

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I have been reading Facebook posts about the Due in December girls feeling their babies kick, and I have been so jealous  the entire time.  I hadn’t felt my little one squirm at all, at least I didn’t think I had.  There were a couple instances where I would have sworn she was dancing on my right kidney, but it only happened twice, and I wasn’t very sure.  I figured, it just wasn’t my time for it yet.

As I started to get a little farther along I started looking up ways to get her to move.  I tried the flash light and ice water.  We used my phone to play music for her, and I tried laying on my belly and being very still.  Nothing worked, I never felt anything.  My Mom mentioned to me that she never felt me when she was pregnant, so I just let it go.

I was about 24 weeks when I started to get a little worried about not feeling her.  I always get anxious right before my next appointment.  Every month I start to worry something is wrong with her shortly before I go in, but every time she is just fine.  This time the anxiety was worse.  Maybe the stress of life these days added to it, who knows, but I was worried.  Usually Hubby Bunny can keep me calm until the appointment, but this week it just didn’t work, I needed confirmation.

I guess it didn’t really help that I had seen 2 stories about women suddenly and inexplicably losing their babies during their third trimester…  I can’t say anything about these stories being posted on our board, that’s part of what the group is about.  If we can’t deal with other people’s sad stories, how can we ever hope to support one another if it happens to us?  So, I sucked it up, and read the stories, but they really got to me.

I posted on the board about it, jsut to get a little support from the other girls.  They are pretty awesome and made me feel a lot better, and most importantly, made me feel like it was ok to call my doctor about this.  I don’t call him, at all, I don’t want to be a nuisance.  When I have a question I either keep it until my next appointment or I research it to death until I am satisfied.  I can’t really Google ‘is my baby’s heart still beating’ and hope to get a reliable answer though.

So when I was 24 weeks and 2 days along I called my doctor’s office.  The receptionist said she’d send a message to the traige nurse and I would get a call back.  The nurse called back before too long, and she was super nice.  I told her I didn’t want to waste anybody’s time, I was probably over reacting.  She puts my concerns to rest, and told me she would go see what the doctor thinks and give me a call back.  A few minutes later she called me back and told me he had asked for me to come in.

Well, of course our girl had a good strong heart beat, I felt a little bit silly for over reacting, but much better now that I knew.  The doctor even said that peace of mind is priceless, and I wholeheartedly agreed.  The really embarrassing thing about all this?  It happened on a Tuesday, and my next appointment, which included an ultrasound, was on that Thursday.  I couldn’t wait 2 whole days to find out.

So yea, that was last week, a week ago today to be exact.  I am now 25 weeks and 2 days.  Sunday night I started to feel her wiggle a bit.  Yesterday morning I was feeling it a little more.  Last night she was wiggling around all over the place, and gave me to really good hard kicks in the gut.  Now?  Wow, I think she needs Ritalin!  She is ALL OVER the place!  I did read somewhere that this is when they start to turn from breach to heads down, so maybe that’s what she is doing.  Although if that’s the case she is going the long way.

When I had my ultrasound she had her head on my right side and her bottom on my left, and her little feeties were pointed straight up into my stomach.  My placenta is mostly in front and a bit over the top, so that’s what she was kicking and why I couldn’t feel it.  Now, you’d think that if she was turning head down that she would go the short way.  Well apparently not, if that’s her goal right now she is going through breach to get there!  I almost wish she’d take a nap, but not really.  It’s so nice finally feeling her and knowing she is there and doing ok.

A Letter to my Daughter

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Dear Alice,

Today I am exactly 25 weeks pregnant with you.  We’ve come a long way, and I am still a little surprised every time I feel you or see you on a computer screen.  It’s all very surreal.  I try to think about what Christmas will be like this year, and it doesn’t feel like it will be any different, although I know it will.  I have a little section in my closet full of cute frilly pink things sized my month, and a couple pairs of tiny shoes that you will just die for!  It just doesn’t feel like you’re real though.

Your father tried to make sure I always know though.  He is really excited to meet you, maybe more than I am.  I hope he gets to feel you kick, and soon.  He tries from time to time, but I can still barely feel you…  although you just kicked me pretty hard, twice!  I wish he was in here with me to try to feel it.  Anyway, now that you’ve stopped distracting me from the task at hand…  You’ve already got him wrapped around your finger, and you don’t even know him yet.  You will soon though, so soon I can hardly believe it!

To be perfectly honest, I had always hoped I would have a boy first and a girl second.  I though the big brother thing would be nice, maybe I am silly.  However, from the moment I new you were there I knew you were a girl.  I had absolutely nothing to go on for this, I just knew.  Your father claims he was just as sure that you were a boy, but I think he did it just to tease me.  I don’t know where this feeling came from, or why.  I did know that if we went to our ultrasound and found out that you were a boy I would have been completely shocked.  Neither of us cared if you were a boy or a girl, as long as you were healthy, and human.  There was some talk of you being a pony, and at one point of you being a dragon.  I am still not sold on you not being a dragon though, I think you are breathing fire up my throat some times.

I can’t say that this has been easy.  You’re wearing me out, keeping me up, and I am pretty grumpy.  You’re inspirational though, hey, I am here aren’t I?  It’s all worth it, every tums I have to eat, and every time it takes me half the night to fall asleep only to wake up immediately and have to run to the bathroom to pee.  Every time my hips hurt, or I can’t stand up straight, it’s all worth it, and I can’t wait to meet you.  I know that some day you’re going to make my life very trying, and we might not get along very well all the time, but you’ll still be my baby girl.  We both love you so much already.

~Mommy