A couple things before we get to the blog post:
-I had such sweet feedback from the blog post: Maxwell Todd’s Birth Story on Tuesday– thank you! The ones that I really loved were from mommies-to-be that felt empowered from reading it. You can do it mommas! One of my friends told me that people keep telling her, “ohhh, just wait…you’ll need the pain medication”. I’m very happy to provide her with a different perspective.
Plenty of people said things like this to me. I would actually kind of downplay wanting a natural birth because I know I live in a fairly negative + opinionated world. I didn’t need to hear it.
-Before birth, I went to a women’s health physical therapist. I thank God for my sister Krystle and friend Natalie for many reasons, one of them being that they are both women’s health physical therapists. This gives me easy access to very smart resources. I’m actually going to have Natalie back on the blog very soon to discuss the benefits of seeing a women’s health physical therapist in preparation for birth + in the postpartum period. People don’t talk about women’s health issues enough! Instead they suffer through things that could be fixed (ex: painful sex, incontinence), so around here we’re going to open the conversation! If you aren’t interested, just skip those posts. The world needs the knowledge, so I’m going to post them! A friend referred me to Jessica over at Mindful Motion Physical Therapy in Madison. I believe Jessica is one of the main reasons this birth worked for me. Jessica + I worked together on utilizing deep breathing to relax my pelvic floor + allow the baby to come down. Yes, this meant that Jessica was feeling my pelvic floor + coaching me. We also worked on stretching out the tissues to prevent tearing. Additionally, Jessica has the sweetest demeanor + was a strong encourager. Being a momma herself, she could speak to her own experiences. She was in my corner + gave me a lot of confidence going in.
When I would talk about going to a physical therapist some women would say, “nothing is going to go as planned…you’ll see.” I would just smile + nod. Why wouldn’t I prepare well for the most physically demanding event that I would ever go through? And I’m a strong believer in preventative care, all I could say is why not give it a shot? Huge thanks to Jessica!
-Another huge thing I did to prepare was to workout! I’ve talked about that a lot + written a blog on the importance of exercise during pregnancy. See that here. I did a leg workout in the morning on the day Maxwell would arrive. Squats, RDLs, lunges, + step ups.
Okay, back to the business of this post I wrote.
As I mentioned I wrote this blog post on Friday while at a coffee shop. It was the second draft of it– the first was on my old laptop that completely died! I just wanted to add that because I was mentally preparing about a month ahead of time + not just the day of! That’s when I wrote the first post + it was very similar to this one 😉
Writing this down made me believe it even harder. Besides, I didn’t want to have to go back + edit it 😉
I didn’t edit this at all, here is what I wrote on Friday. It is in a blog post format, so I was writing to you guys + also writing to myself. Here goes:
I hadn’t wanted to post about my birth plan before labor + delivery. There are just certain things that are a little too personal to share right away or maybe at all. Plus, I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. This was my first time I was going to bring a life into the world, I simply couldn’t be sure how it was going to go.
As many of you know, my full time job is a nurse. In nursing school I was able to spend two of my clinical experiences in a labor + delivery unit (about 320 hours worth). Since I did the University of Wisconsin- Oshkosh’s Accelerated Program (a fast paced program made for people who already hold a bachelor’s degree) my clinical hours were spent one-on-one with my preceptors. This meant that I was able to get loads of hands on experience with some amazing nurses.
I thought I wanted to be a labor + delivery nurse, so I soaked these clinical hours in.
Imagine my surprise when I passed out during the first vaginal birth I witnessed. I’ll never forget it. I woke up on the couch made for the family members in a pool of sweat. One of the nurses had turned around just in time, saw my ghost white appearance, grabbed me, + put me on the couch. The lady (who had a baby crowing) asked if I was okay from her hospital bed. I left the room mortified. My preceptor, gave me a cold towel, a cup of juice, and asked if I was ready to go back in. Say what?! I still wasn’t feeling 100%, but what was I going to do?
I made it through and saw a beautiful birth, and then another that same day. And many more after that.
The reason I tell this story is because the experiences gave me a deeper understanding of what birth would look like. I have seen a handful of women birth without an epidural, a few that utilized IV pain medications, many that birthed with an epidural, and a couple caesarean births.
The phrase Drew + I love to say is “to each their own”. Any way mommas want to bring their sweet little bundles into the world is their choice + I respect their decision. It is my choice to do a natural birth. I discussed it with my wonderful OB Dr. Wiedel at Madison Women’s Health + she wrote in my birth plan: “Amy will ask for further intervention if she needs it, she knows what is available. Please do not offer pain medications or an epidural.”
It is that simple. I don’t have a two page birth plan. I know if I am going to make it happen, it is going to have to come from within. I’m confident that I’m going to have a great nurse, a great OB, + I know my husband is the perfect person to be there to encourage me.
How did I prepare? I watched the Business of Being Born + read blog posts regarding natural birth before the main event. I find a lot of blog posts on Pinterest. I also read an article about the fear/pain cycle. Essentially the more fear you have, the greater pain you feel.
What is my mindset? I knew I needed a reason that would push me when the pain escalates. It had to be deeper than I didn’t want a needle in my back + I didn’t want numb legs or the inability to get our of bed (which are also great motivations for me). My deeper reason? From my research + previous knowledge I know that the interventions can escalate into a place that I didn’t want to be. Meaning once you start interventions (epidural, pitocin) it can cascade, which is one of the reasons the United States has far more caesarean births than it should. “The rate of caesarean section births in the U.S. was 32.7 percent in 2013 — well above the “medically necessary” target of 10 percent to 15 percent that WHO says is ideal.” quote via Huffington Post.
Of course, like any expectant mother my main focus is having a delivery that is safe for my baby. So I 100% understand that the natural birth plan may need to be changed if medically necessary.
BUT, knowledge is power. I keep thinking: prepare yourself to be your own advocate in that birthing room Amy.
When I think about my why…I also keep coming back to: because I can.
I use a lot of self-talk. I probably talk to myself more than the average person x 5, but I guess I don’t know that for a fact. A lot of times it is aloud in my Jeep. And the voice in my head is a positive one. I don’t let myself get negative or say things about myself that I wouldn’t say to a friend. I would never tell myself I look fat or dwell on something I did wrong for too long, as examples.
I especially use this tactic when the going gets tough.
During a half-marathon or other race my head sounds like a Gatorade commercial. Example of something I would be thinking: Amy, stay in this mile. You are doing SO well. You are strong. You’re doing it. You got this. You’re okay, you’re okay.
Encouragement to myself for birth:
Amy, I know you can do this. Your body is meant to give birth. So many women have done this before you, many without the option of an epidural at all. I know this will be your greatest challenge that you will ever face + you will feel completely empowered when you overcome it. Think about how great you’ll feel! The finish line will be the greatest gift in the world. During birth, repeat this Amy: You are made to do this. You are strong. You are SO strong. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe your baby out. The baby needs you to breathe.
I know you’ve got this girl! I’m SO confident in you.
And that’s it friends! I love reading that now that I’m on the other side because I really can tell you it really helped! Another thing that helped was never doubting myself. As I said in the birth story there were times that I was scared + overwhelmed, but I kept myself centered around the fact that I could do it + I was doing it.
Maxwell is doing really well! We had his newborn checkup on Tuesday afternoon + he is gaining weight from his initial dip in the hospital. Thrilling to hear as we’re working really hard on the breastfeeding. I did mention it is challenging, but both of us are committed + we know we’re also going to make that work!
Huge thanks to my husband for being such a great husband + daddy. I keep telling him in person + he keeps saying, “Amy, he is half mine.” So true, but the calmness, patience, kindness, love, diaper changing, meal preparation, etc. etc. has made the transition home tons easier. He’ll also say, “Ame, go take a shower…I’ve got this” or “do you want to just go for a walk by yourself?”
Being able to write posts + do a couple things for myself has probably also been one reason that I feel SO darn happy. It’s really important for my mental health to find a balance between being Maxwell’s mommy + being myself (even if right now that balance is 95% Max/5% mom).
See you guys next week! Love, Ames