Labor Lingo

At our latest laboring class, we learned about different positions and techniques to cope with labor. As I had mentioned before, I’m going to try to go as long as I can without any medication; however, keeping an open mind. Really, I’m not strongly ‘for’ or ‘against’ one or the other. 

I thought our class was pretty interesting because they had us simulate being uncomfortable, as if we were having a contraction. We actually got to experiment with different coping mechanisms in an actual labor room to see what we liked or didn’t like. The instructor played a tape that randomly beeped when there was a “contraction” coming along. She talked in between, giving us different ideas, then all the sudden, the beeping would start. We had to grab crushed ice from a cup and hold it in one of our hands. We weren’t able to let go until the beeping, or “contraction,” stopped. The ice was to simulate how uncomfortable and distracted you can get during a contraction. We had to try different ways to cope through the uncomfortableness. I thought this was a really great simulation, but I was burning up in the room so the ice actually felt a little refreshing. Now, if I were to have had to hold it for another minute, I probably would be telling a different story.

Here are some of the different positions and/or techniques we were given the opportunity to try:

Standing Supported Squat
Pro: Takes advantage of gravity
Con: May be tiring for you and your partner

Sitting on Toilet (for reals. It sounds gross, but our instructor said it was actually one of the most comfortable ways to labor)
Pro: Helps relax perineum
Con: Pressure from the seat may not be comfortable

Sitting/Straddling Chair
Pro: Good for resting
Con: May not be possible if you have high blood pressure (I don’t.)

Squatting with Birth Ball
Pro: May increase pelvis diameter by as much as 2 centimeters
Con: Can be tiring

Pro: Helps get oxygen to the baby
Con: No help from gravity

Pro: Contractions are often less painful
Con: Cannot be used with electronic fetal monitoring (since you need to be next to the machine)

Pro: Contractions are more effective and less painful
Con: Hard for nurses/doctors/midwives to see the baby

Leaning or Kneeling Forward with Support
Pro: Contractions are often less painful and more productive
Con: Hard for nurses/doctors/midwives to help with birth

Pro: Good position to avoid tearing or episiotomy
Con: Hard for you to see what’s going on (this might be a pro for some people, actually)

Things to Try
*Listen to music
*Sitting in shower
*Ice/heat treatment
*Sucking on a lollipop

After each “contraction,” we had to share if we liked the technique we tried (we switched techniques every time). I think it’s hard to decide now what I’m going to like when I’m actually in labor. To me, walking was such a chore and a strain on my body since I’m carrying all this extra weigh around, but it supposedly reduces pain during labor. I won’t really know if I like it until I’m actually in the situation. However, it was really extremely helpful to know all the options we have during labor. 

It was also beneficial because it got B and I talking about what I liked/didn’t like, and how he can be there for me. For instance, I know for sure that I got annoyed when B asked me what he could do. I know he felt like he was “supposed” to do something, but just having him there talking about whoknowswhat to distract me, made me completely forget about the ice. Also, the time I sucked on the lollipop (in a rhythmic/counting pattern) I didn’t even realize I was holding the ice. Gotta go buy me some in bulk! 

**I like to try to respond to each of your comments, but some of y’all don’t have your email set up to do so. I realized I’ve been responding to no-reply-type emails and you’ve never gotten my responses. If you want me to send you a little love back, adjust this feature. Here’s how… or at least I think this is how you do it. Someone PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong! 🙂 Settings tab > Comments tab > scroll down to Comment Notification Email > (add email) > SAVE!

Prepared Childbirth

Over the weekend, B and I had another baby prep class. This one was ‘Lamaze’-based and focused on laboring and coping. We really had no idea what to expect. I half went in there thinking, Oh!em!gee! They’re going to make us sit on the floor, chanting, hee hee hoo… hee hee hoo…

You know, like you see in the movies.
Thank goodness I was wrong. It was so much better than I thought! There were only eight couples total and we snagged a spot on the hospital’s sorry excuse for a love seat. [I’m so glad I brought a pillow] Now, ever since grade school, my fear is THE ICE BREAKER! It makes me all anxious and nervous. But of course, what was the first thing we had to do? Introduce ourselves. Duh. We were also asked to share if we were team pink or team blue, and our baby’s name.
I quickly shot a glance at B and whispered: Do we tell? We haven’t told anyone. But I didn’t want to be that couple.
So, when it came to be our turn… we *gasp* told the class our daughter’s name! [Mom, if you’re reading this, please don’t kill me. iloveyou.] We figured no one in the room knows our family or friends, so we’re safe, right? It felt good to say it out loud. But don’t get too excited. Our lips are sealed…
I always hype myself up for introductions, when in reality, they’re never all.that.bad. Plus, when the instructor asked the class why we were here, guess who was the first person to volunteer and answer?? Yours truly. Come to think of it, I was also the first to break the ice at our marriage prep class, too. Weird, no?
Anyway, I digress…
The purpose of the class was to inform us of our options. And to prepare us through knowledge. We mostly learned about: false labor vs. real labor, how to deal with contractions, what to do if your water breaks at home, natural/induced/epidural/caesarean births, pushing, and what to expect right after the baby is born.
One thing this class did have in common with the movies was THE VIDEOS. Yes, the birthing videos… circa 1990. Something you should know about me is I’m a laugher. If someone is laughing, you can bet I am, too. [Even if nothing’s really all that funny.] And when you are watching a birthing video of a full-grown, full-term pregnant lady wearing floor-length overalls, there’s bound to be some giggles. Have you gotten a visual? And if the couple next to you is laughing, ohh it’s even worse.
Fortunately, the lights were off and I’ve become quite the expert in tongue-biting. [Having had a lot of practice in my life!] I was so close to losing it so many times though, that I actually had to stare at a space on the wall instead of watching the video.
Now, I know there are some ladies that are really curious as to what we learned, so here goes it…

Labor at home as long as you can. CONSERVE ENERGY! REST!
Drink lots of H2O if you think you’re in labor… it’ll make false labor go away
Track contractions: 3-5 min apart for an hour… then go to hospital
Use breathing techniques (like hee hee hoo or whatever your preference) when you can no longer walk, talk, or laugh

Pee every 30-60 minutes
Moving helps labor progress
When labor plateaus: change positions, drink, & pee
Squat on birthing ball–open legs and sway

Take one cleansing (deep & slow) breath
Then one big inhale to push
Push from diaphragm down
Bear down for no more than 8 seconds
Get three pushes in per contraction

After baby is born!!!
Baby is usually alert for about an hour after birth
Skin-to-skin contact, a.s.a.p. to help regulate baby’s temperature
Nursing within the first hour leads to better eating habits, long-term
It’s safe to start tummy time in the hospital, and should continue this several times a day
Our instructor suggested letting the baby nap on her tummy once a day (supervised, of course!)

We definitely received lots of useful information and I highly, highly, highly recommend attending a birthing/labor class if you’re pregnant. I feel so much more confident and in control. Of course, my labor will be in God’s hands, but at least I’m not completely.freaked.out. anymore. I don’t do well with ‘fear of the unknown’ and now, I won’t be shocked or thinking things like, whaatt? you have to deliver the placenta, too? AND you might poop during delivery?! No one tells you these things before you’re pregnant, people. 

**I have a well-check up tomorrow, then on Thursday we have an ‘Extra TLC’ class where they’re gonna go more in depth with breathing during labor–something I know I’ll need help with!

To Epidural or Not Epidural? That is the Question!

**I know many women feel very strongly about natural birth vs. epidurals and this is not that kind of post!**

In the last few years of my life, before I was ever pregnant, I felt very strongly about having a birth that was au natural. And when B was just my boyfriend back then, we’d have “debates” over it. He’d call me c-r-a-z-y, but I always stuck to my guns, saying things like, “My mom did it. I can, too!” 

However, that quickly changed once I actually became pregnant […among other things. Remember this post?]. I soon began thinking, Well, you don’t walk out of the hospital with a 5-foot-tall trophy recognizing all your hard work. You don’t even get a Rachel Berry-worthy gold star or button that reads, “I did it naturally.” I guess you get bragging rights? But it’s not like that’s even long-lasting. You just get a “Whoa! Good for you.” Or sometimes a, “Why? She’s crazy!” behind your back.

So, for the majority of my pregnancy I’ve been thinking I’d get an epidural. I mean, why go through all the pain? Epidural or not, every woman still walks out of the hospital with a healthy baby, right?

Well… after our Labor & Coping class this weekend, I’ve since changed my mind… yet again. We had such a wonderful instructor/nurse. She was never ever pushy. But she made me realize that having a natural birth may be a lot more doable [I didn’t say easier] than I imagined.

Bare with me while I give you a little lesson. 
There are four different stages of labor: 

Early Labor: 0-3cm dilated and usually lasts 7-8 hours
Active Labor: 4-7cm dilated and usually lasts 3-5 hours
Transition: 8-10cm dilated and usually lasts 1/2-1 hour
Pushing: 10cm dilated and it’s GAME TIME, BABY!

We were told that if a woman changes her mind and asks for an epidural it’s usually when she’s about 6-7cm dilated, or between the Active and Transition stage. Our instructor also went on to say that if a woman can make it through the Active Labor stage, she is more apt to make it through labor without an epidural, since she’s basically home-free…. only about 30 to 60 minutes left! Most people think that if it took you eight hours to get to 4cm dilated, then it’s going to take you another 8+ hours to get to 10cm. But that’s not the case. The farther along you are dilated, the faster labor gets. [This is, of course, in a ‘normal’ labor.]

That got me thinking. 

If I could make it through the first two stages of labor, then surely I could make it through the rest. 

The first two are the hardest because they last the longest. Our instructor said that if you’re thinking of having an epidural during the Active Labor stage, tell yourself to wait another twenty minutes; or work through another few contractions. She said, you may realize that by the time you do so, you’re about to enter the Transition stage (~8 cm dilated!!).

So what have I decided?

I’ve decided that I’d like to try and do it naturally for as long as I can. Our instructor was very objective in her teachings, but you could tell she was pro natural childbirth (after all, she had done it FIVE TIMES herself!). She was very encouraging about ‘hanging in there’ until about 6cm because once you’re there, you only have about an hour left to go. You’ve made it that far, why have an epidural then? Again, this is of course, if everything is going smoothly with the baby. I’m not even getting into if the baby’s breached, transversed, etc. That’s a whole other story! 

But of course, if I get to say, 4 or 5 centimeters dilated and absolutely!cannot!go!on! I’m not going to feel guilty, or feel like a ‘failure’ if I choose to have an epidural. B and I have discussed it, and I told him that if I ask for an epidural, he has to tell me, “Let’s wait twenty more minutes.” [I will put it in writing, if I have to, to remind myself I really said this because I probably won’t believe I did lol] And unless I’m cursing his head off, he said he’d stick to the agreement 😉

An epidural usually (of course, not always) prolongs labor because the woman is numb and cannot feel when to push. Plus, the woman cannot get up to walk around [due to the numbness]. Getting up and walking, changing positions, rocking in a chair, bouncing/sitting on a medicine ball, or squatting helps move labor along. I want to be able–or at least have the choice–to do the above. Thinking about being confined to a bed because I can’t move my legs makes me agitated inside. (Maybe it’s the control-freak in me??)

But most importantly, I feel at peace with this decision. For me. At least for now. {lol}

*The latter was simply what I learned this weekend. They’re my opinions and does not make me an expert by any means 🙂

Baby Care 101

You need a license to breed dogs.
You need a license to drive.
You need a license to run a lemon ice stand at the beach.

Why don’t you need a license to breed have kids?

I think this law should be implemented, and personally, I think it should have been passed B.B.K.F. (Before Britney-K.Fed) 
[Don’t hate. I love me some old-school Brit as much as the next gal.]

Fortunately, for the hubs and me, I think we’ll be just fine.

We had our first baby class, and to be honest, I thought it was kind of lame-O. By no means am I the Baby Whisperer, but I do know a thing or two. And in this particular class there were only three things I didn’t know:

1. You shouldn’t use wipes for 2 (preferably 4) weeks. Instead, you should use plain white paper towels (like Bounty) and either wet them each time or keep them in a wet plastic baggy. Everyone I’ve known with a newborn has used wipes. They turned out just fine. But apparently, you shouldn’t use them for at least two weeks because you risk the chance of allergies.

2. When newborns have blue hands or feet it doesn’t mean they’re cold. (Tell this one to grandma.) It’s called cyanosis, and it’s a lack of oxygen. Usually it goes away in the first day, but could take a week. However, It could be a pulmonary problem, heart problem or a red blood cell problem. eek!

3. If a newborn has dry skin you shouldn’t put lotion on him/her. Instead, just let it run it’s course. It should go away within 1-3 weeks. I’ve always been taught that you should lather a baby up in (unscented) lotion. If the baby’s little ankles or other creases get cracked you could put on a tiny dollop of triple antibiotic ointment. 

They had a three week-old little bitty bean to demonstrate how to do the sponge bath. Ohh he was so precious. I just wanted to take him home with me! At the end, all the mommies and daddies got a creepy doll to practice changing a diaper, swaddling, and suctioning mucus out. I made B go first and might I brag say that he was the best in class 🙂 He did a super job, if I may say so. I can’t wait til he’s officially a daddy. [heart.melts]

OH! And I’ll have you know that ten minutes after we were there, the dreaded allergies came out to play. And they do NOT play nice! Why do they always show up when I have something important to do??!? I was miserable and

I’m going to let you in on a little fear of mine… blowing my nose in public! I have been scarred since kindergarten when this little boy named Alex (yes, I remember his name and exactly what he looks like because it.was.that.traumatic) called me out and made fun of me for blowing my nose in class. Oh the things that we remember as kids. Every since then I’ve always been so self-conscious about blowing my nose around people. There was no way around it though! I couldn’t keep getting up and leaving the room every five minutes time I had a date with Mr. Kleenex. That’s my secret. Please don’t tell anyone =P

Our next class is a two-day crash course on Labor & Coping in September. Should be interesting…

So that, my friends, was my Baby Care 101 experience. Anyone have anything they learned about babies they didn’t know before, either from a class or friend? 

Have a happy week!