When Kay tells her birth story the word that stands out is “redemptive.” Her first two experiences were difficult and had left some wounds that had not quite healed. She came to Natural Beginnings despite the 45 minute drive in order to be heard and to hopefully have a very different experience.
Baby M’s oldest sibling had been born at 38 weeks via induction with Pitocin for pre-eclampsia. Due to severe itching, a reaction to the epidural, she was given an antihistamine during labor which made her extremely sleepy. Her labor and even the birth were very much a blur for her. Immediately postpartum after her baby was taken to the warmer for examination, she began vomiting and was given more medication which caused her to fall asleep. She awoke later with little memory of the experience and her family members were holding her baby. She felt very disconnected from the experience.
For her next baby, Kay made an intention to do things differently. She wanted an unmedicated delivery. She took classes and did tours at the hospital she had chosen. She made a birth plan and discussed it with her provider. She remained healthy during the pregnancy and was very happy that pre-eclampsia was not an issue and she would be able to go into labor on her own. At 38 weeks, her water broke spontaneously at home. Within a few hours, good contractions had begun so she made her way to the hospital. However, a different provider was on call that evening who wasn’t as agreeable to her birth preferences. Despite making good progress to 6cm dilation in only 5 hours of laboring, the provider made a decision to start her on Pitocin. Under the impression she was just receiving IV fluids, her labor began to take a painful turn. She then realized the Pitocin had been started and when she requested it be turned off, she was told that was not an option. She kept trying to discuss the issue but in between painful contractions she felt she just wasn’t being heard or respected. Despite not wanting it, she got an epidural.
“My impression was that the nurses just wanted me to get the epidural and be quiet.”
While she was being repaired from a second episiotomy, her baby was taken to the NICU without explanation. She assumed it was just for some routine exams, but over an hour later having already gotten out of bed and showered, she found herself pacing her hospital room waiting for her baby. Her husband went to try to find answers. Finally someone came in and explained that her baby had aspirated some amniotic fluid. By the time she saw her baby the first time it was amidst a sea of IV lines and other things that made it difficult to hold the baby.
At NBBC, one of Kay’s first and foremost desires after an unmedicated birth was not to be separated from her baby unless absolutely necessary and have the benefit of skin to skin contact. Another was to avoid Pitocin. The plan was to deliver at the birth center, however that option did not work out. Kay was very thankful that with Natural Beginnings she had OPTIONS!
With this pregnancy, Kay had some new experiences. The first was going to 40 weeks of pregnancy. In the past, both of her babies had been born in the 38th week. The other very different experience for her was prodromal labor. The stop and start contractions that were not dilating the cervix had begun to cause fatigue and discouragement over the span of days. Midwife Nicole encouraged her through a hard night of painful contractions on a Saturday night and had prescribed an OTC medication to help with sleep. She was finally able to get a little bit of rest but she was feeling worn down and physically uncomfortable. Christmas was just a few days away and the thought of possibly still being pregnant and having prodromal labor was causing a lot of emotional stress. Nicole explained to Kay that she had the option to be induced if she wanted. And after much thought, she decided to show up at the hospital Monday morning to be induced. The risks and benefits were explained to her so that she could make an informed decision. She felt confident that this time she would be heard and respected and that made all the difference. She was very thankful to be able to choose the hospital option and still keep her same care providers.
She arrived for her induction at Davis Regional Medical Center on Monday morning where she was given a cervical ripening medication. She was able to eat breakfast and shortly thereafter contractions began, but they weren’t terribly painful or unbearable.
Around noon she was able to enjoy some lunch and Midwife Marcia came to check her progress. She was 4cm and ready for the next step. After discussing the options, Marcia performed AROM(artificial rupture of membranes) because she wanted to respect Kay’s desire to avoid Pitocin. After this, contractions began to intensify almost immediately.
Around 1:15pm Kay began to experience back pain and she was able to get into the tub while being monitored with waterproof, wireless fetal heart rate monitors. Kay always thought she would love the water but it just didn’t feel right. She could tell that her body was making significant and fast progress because of the intensity that she was feeling. She was also feeling some pressure like she needed to have a bowel movement so she got out of the tub and sat on the toilet. She found that this position relieved her back pain. The ability to move and get into a comfortable position during labor was crucial to her achieving her desire to avoid the epidural.
Around 2:30pm Marcia checked her and she was 8cm. At this point she stayed and helped move Kay into more naturally comfortable positions for the transition phase of labor. Very soon after that she began pushing and baby M arrived. Kay spoke about that moment:
It was the most amazing experience of my life. They went by everything I had on my birth plan. I didn’t want her taken from me after she was born unless there was something wrong. And they didn’t touch her. The nurses didn’t touch her -nobody touched her-and it was the most amazing experience to look down and have her with me after carrying her for nine months”
NBBC acknowledges the benefits of immediate contact for mom and baby at birth and unless complications prevent it, the midwives encourage mother/baby bonding especially in the first hour.
“It was so amazing to have those first moments with her because I missed out on that with my other two.”
Kay feels that this experience was very redemptive. Even with making the change in her birth plan from birth center to hospital, having providers who she knew would listen to her made that transition much easier and significantly less stressful. Kay also spoke about her recovery:
“It went so good. I didn’t tear. I didn’t have to have an episiotomy. They[prior care provider] cut me with both of my other babies. They cut me. My son was 7lbs 11oz and my other daughter was 8lbs 5oz. This baby was 9lbs 2oz and I didn’t tear and they didn’t have to cut me because they let me labor the way that I felt I needed to and I feel like that made all the difference. So my recovery was nothing compared to the other two.”
The ability to easily get up and shower and move around made for a much easier beginning for her and Baby M. She was able to be present to her baby instead of focusing on her pain or recovering from medications. This was exactly what she had hoped for. She hadn’t been starved. She was allowed to eat during labor and then had the baby just in time for dinner so she felt nourished and had good energy. All of these factors made for a blissful postpartum experience and set her up for breastfeeding success.
Kay shared her experience with the midwives and the hospital:
“They are extremely great advocates for their mothers. To have these amazing women around you – you get your power back. Davis Regional is a very different hospital. They were on board. That was important.”