Pregnancy is a wonderful soulful miracle. Whether you’re religious or spiritual, we can all agree that carrying this precious tiny human affirms how spectacular life is and will always be. Everyone says each pregnancy is different. Each labor is different. Each child is different. And what you do, what you eat and how you feel affects your pregnancy. I’m here to let you know from my experience, that those statements are so very true. I’ve had five pregnancies, five deliveries and five children. And each one was different. I hope some of the things I went through can help in a small way with your pregnancy, make your labor and delivery a little less scary and give a slight piece of parenting help. Because we all know, any help is appreciated.
I was 29 when I became pregnant; shortly after becoming married and after deciding we would wait since babies are expensive and we had just bought our first house. Lesson #1— Pregnancy rarely happens when you expect or plan it. A miracle does happen when you least expect it. We were excited; I did everything right. Ate the recommended foods, eliminated my favorite beverage-Coca-Cola; which was the hardest thing for me. My one indulgence was eating coney dogs with chili cheese fries while working midnights at the hospital. It was so deliciously delightful though. My one craving. My one sin.
I went to Child Birth Education Classes. Childbirth Education Classes helped me help myself. Lesson #2–please go to this class especially if you are a first time mom. I truly believe that knowledge is power and will lessen any fear of the unknown. Fear increases pain which may slow labor down. Labor is already a long process without anything slowing it down! If you have the opportunity to attend a breast feeding class, I would recommend it also.
I created my birthing plan; which included Eric cutting the umbilical cord. I wanted to do skin to skin, where your baby is placed immediately on your bare skin as long as everything is fine. I wanted to breast feed. I did not want an episiotomy, a surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth, to aid a difficult delivery and prevent rupture of tissues. I did not want any medication. I wanted to try to have a natural birth. I thought women have had babies for centuries and were able to go through labor without medication; to me women bodies knew what do, if we let them.
Lesson #3–have a birthing plan, know what you want but at the same time allow flexibility. In my experience as a nurse, patients that had extensive super detailed plans and who were set on only doing things they planned, always ended up with a C-section. Those moms were always disappointed in their birthing experience and we, as nurses, always had to reinforce that they have a beautiful healthy baby–that’s what mattered in the end.
I woke up one morning; Mother’s Day, May 9, 2004 with a little twinge. It came again. I thought, let me go back to sleep and if that twinge is still there, I would call my doctor. I woke up later and still felt these cramps so Eric and I decided to call my doctor. She said to go to labor and delivery once my contractions became about 5 minutes apart.
Lesson #4–have phone numbers readily available. It is important to have your doctor’s number and labor and delivery number easily assessable. Post it on the fridge so both you and your partner can find it easily because you’ll both be excited and anxious and probably not thinking straight.
Lesson #5–learn to time your contractions, because the nurses WILL ask you. Have your partner learn to because you may not be in your right mind to be counting and timing. I called labor and delivery and they asked me how far apart my contractions were and then if my water broke. I answered, “No.” they told me don’t come in until your water breaks. I must have had a stunned moment of silence, not expecting them to tell me NOT to come to the hospital?! They then explained there were no beds available but if I wanted to come in I could. I decided not to because less time in the hospital, the better. Eric and I walked. And walked. And walked. And walked. Lesson #6–walking during early labor will help speed up the labor process.
My water broke. Not as a big gush that you see in movies but I felt like a peed but didn’t have the urge and couldn’t stop it. We went to the hospital. Upon examining, doing a cervical check, I was 6 cm dilated. Lesson #7–cervical checks are THE most uncomfortable experience both physically and mentally. It may feel like your doctor is elbow deep in your vagina. Let’s hope your doctor and nurses have small hands–Check them out during your doctor’s visit.
I was having back labor. My nurse told me to get on my hands and knees with my head down. I can promise you, this was uncomfortable, and I thought, “What is this nurse doing?!” She came back in about 20 minutes later and told me I could sit up. Wait! Where’s my back labor?! They were gone! Lesson#8–listen to your nurse. They are there to help you. Believe me, they want your labor to progress just as quickly as you do!
I used the birthing ball. I breathed during each contraction. Eric was eating dinner and came over leaning down, close to my face and said, “I don’t know about you, but this meatloaf sure is good!” My nurse was thoughtful enough to say in a kind way, “She’s going through labor. I don’t think she really cares about eating.” Because otherwise, Eric’s dinner may have been thrown across the room if I had to say something. Lesson #9–be prepared that your partner may not be the help you thought and hoped. You may have to be specific in telling them want you want and need.
Throughout my labor, because, I did not want an episiotomy, the nurses would massage my vagina with warm wash clothes and olive oil to slowly stretch my vaginal opening to allow an easier delivery of the head. It came time for me to push..Lesson #10— when you start pushing, push like you’re having a bowel movement, keep your eyes open and even smile or grimace. Making that guttural sound helps. Be prepared that you may actually have a bowel movement. But don’t worry, your nurse is discreet and will take care of things for you, so you don’t even know.
The doctor told me push, push, push, and I felt this burning sensation! Lesson #11— yes you will feel the burning sensation and it is your baby’s head coming out and true to it’s name—the ring of fire! Imagine the size of a baby’s head and how big your vagina is…yes it will burn.
Then my son came! Eric was ecstatic but was too overwhelmed to cut the cord. Lesson #12–your partner will see your vagina in a whole different light when they see a baby come out of it! “The wait 6 weeks until resuming intercourse” is for the benefit of your partner. It allows them time to process the experience, allows them to recover from what they just witnessed. When I was a nursing student, I saw my first delivery and told Eric how the father cried. His response, “Why? Did it smell?”–that is how men view labor.
Once you get to hold your baby, a feeling overcomes you, a feeling you never knew you had. Unquestionable, undying love. Your partner will feel it too. I remember Eric staying up all night holding and rocking his first son, tears in his eyes.
A Father’s Love
Lesson #13–if your partner is a father, let him be part of his child’s life no matter the relationship you may have with him. A child needs his father. A son can only learn to become a man from a man. A daughter learns how she should be treated when her father protects her, helps her, and tells her how beautiful she is. She learns to not accept anything less from any man.
This was my first pregnancy and labor experience. I felt everything was text book, everything went according to what I expected. Breast feeding was a breeze, no problems with latching on, no pain or discomfort. This was my first. My second would be a whole different experience.
Wife/Mother of 5/ Registered Nurse
Contact Kristine @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Find her on this blog “The Amazing Adventures of Pregnancy” every Wednesday
Do you have any stories about your 1st Delivery