Archive for the ‘Preparing For Birth’ Category

Preparing For Birth – Quotes from Women on What Pushing Feels Like

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I went on a quest to find out just what pushing was like for other women.  As an educator and doula it is probably one of the more challenging concepts to address.  Why?  Well some of the imagery can be quite vulgar.  “Push like you are pooping.” Do women REALLY want the image of pooping out their babies?! “The urge will overwhelm you and you cannot help it.” That also is not quite right some women never get the urge until the baby is very low and engages the nerves and some women will have the urge when baby is high and dilation isn’t complete (I did not say premature because I believe when the urge comes pushing “gruntily” with the peaks is alright as perhaps that will facilitate complete dilation and rotation of babe).  Some women feel great rectal pressure, some feel it in their abdominal muscles, and some don’t feel much at all going into it. Hey I do not believe we need to be fixed in this area.  I think whatever a woman’s body does is right for her body.

Below are many quotes that I frankly trolled for to edify women everywhere on the spectrum of what pushing is like. I could bore you to tears with the physiologic nature of the process but that isn’t what you really want to know now is it?! If you have questions on the new perineal massage, please refer to my previous entry https://prepforbirth.com/2009/08/25/new-episiotomy.html.

Quotes from real women

“My babies #1-4 practically fell out. #5 I was in what looked like early labor for 4 days. Midwife assistant came over, checked me, I was at 7 cm but ‘not in active labor’. I got into it quickly! Long story short I pushed, painfully, for 3.5 hours, baby had 11″ cord with a true knot. She needed to be pinked up but is almost 3 and is doing well.”

“When I was coached to push (w/ no 3..first natural birth) I was in agony. When I was left alone and did not push (w/ no 4), life was good.”

“I feel like if I can just get to the pushing phase, it will be a breeze from there.” (and it was. The whole “surrender/dilate” phase is much more challenging to me than the whole “take control/pushing” phase.)”

“Pushing was fantastic with my 2nd baby and awful with my 3rd! It was really surprising because after my 2nd birth I thought “Okay so pushing is the really fun and satisfying part! That’s when it gets EASY.” Then my third birth totally shocked me. Pushing was the most painful and difficult part of the birth. I had stayed so calm and collected… until then. Every pregnancy and birth is so different!”

“I love the way it feels to have a baby move through me and into my waiting hands.”

“I *loved* pushing. I didn’t do it for very long (two contractions), but it was so great to finally get there. I was told to purple push (not in those terms – the nurse told me to hold my breath), and intellectually I knew I shouldn’t, but I tried it and it really did feel like I was more productive that way. I felt like a warrior. It was awesome.”

“Before anyone hates me for only pushing through two contractions, you should know that I’d been in labor for three days – so it all comes out in the wash ;-)”

“Pushing with my 2nd was horrible. 3+ hours of the worst pain I had experienced at that point in my life. Turns out her little fist was up by her cheek (um ouch) and her head did not mold much. My 3rd I did not push because she was precipitous and we were trying to get to the hospital. I felt like all the energy in the world was gathering and swirling at my fundus and then suddenly flowed through me carrying her with it. It was the best physical experience of my life.”

“I have heard some say that pushing feels good.. um, I personally have not experienced that and I have had clients remark the same … :p”

“Hmm…Definitely the best part of labor and delivery. For me though – never had any “urge” to push but still had baby out in 20 mins…I think I was feeling determined being a VBAC mom…still, would have been easier if I felt the need to and not just contractions. “

“Heard lots of clients say it feels good after hours of labor”

“Ahhh, I’m not so fond of the pushing. Did it for 2 1/2 hours with my daughter (LOA) and though it was only about 20 minutes with my boys, they were both OP. That was, shall we say, unpleasant. I cannot relate to those who’ve told me it was such a relief!”

“My labor was surprisingly short, only 6 hours and she’s my first baby so far. I woke up in active labor and at 4 cm and I wanted to push THE WHOLE TIME! It was horrible having the nurse say I couldn’t push yet when I wanted to so badly, but once I did get to push, oh my goodness, it felt incredible. So much control and power, it felt so good to finally work to end. 3 big pushes and there she was. :)”

“Sheer, immeasurable power. Unbelievable!”

“Babies actually come out of your butt. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” One of my clients recently said that. :)”

“Birth is shockingly rectal” – Gretchen Humphries. She was totally right.”

“Pushing with my first felt like I was satisfying an urge, an uncontrollable urge. It felt almost desperate I couldn’t stop it. (kinda like having that rectal urge when you REALLY have to poop). Pushing with my second was no big deal, I followed my urges again and pushed 3x and out she came in her 10# glory. It was extremely satisfying and powerful I felt like I had just finished exercising. Amazing!”

“The ring of fire OH MY it is indeed! Though as soon as the burn started the whole are went numb almost like too hot or too cold numb and the power of the urge to push my son out was almost beyond description.  Pushing was never easy for me as I have an unusual pelvic shape.  But my last son WOW no molding and quite a large head to birth him was incredible really.  No tearing, just some abrasion.  Recovery was a snap.”

“I had at the point of delivery what was the best orgasm of my life!”

“Pushing was totally primal.  I had an incredible urge and it took over.”

Questions and Answers

  1. I have had a previous episiotomy, do I need another one automatically? No you don’t.  Depending on how your scar has set and the position you push in the scar can re-open or it adhesions in the scar will need to be broken up.  I would suggest perineal massage prenatally if there are any adhesions to break them up and soften the area prior and to choose a pushing position that doesn’t put all the tension on that exact area.
  2. Is is wrong to push when I am not fully dilated? Not necessarily.  Now I think grunty smaller pushes with those contractions can be effective to complete dilation if you are in transition.  Prior to that change the position you are laboring in to change where baby is placing pressure.  Knee chest can be very effective to abate very early pushing desire.
  3. What if I poop during pushing? Some women will pass some stool and some won’t. You may here that when pushing the right way you may pass some.  Hey open bottom is vital to pushing, so hey it is a normal but not always occurence.  A fantastic nurse, MW or doc will not actually wipe it away but simply cover as to not cause constriction of the sphincter muscles which can disturb pushing progess. If it is possible to discard the stool without disrupting you, it will be done very quietly and discreetly.
  4. I am very modest, do I have to have all my “glory” showing? Absolutely not.  You can maintain good modesty all the way up to delivery.  Even then you do not need to be fully exposed.  Truthfully a home birth or birth center birth with a midwife if likely going to help you have your modesty concerns respected and honored. Really no one needs to put hands in you during pushing, or needs to stretch anything, or needs to see everything either.  A midwife is trained to see by taking a quick peek or simply to know when she needs to have hands ready to receive baby and to offer external positive pressure if mom wants.

Check back later more Q and A to come as more questions are sent to me.

Pushing for Birth – another look

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

“Pushing felt good.” “The urge to push was unstoppable.” “I loved when I got the urge to push!”. “I felt like I was going to split apart.” “It hurt so much more than I thought it would.” “I didn’t want to push.” “Why did I have to hold my breath and tuck my chin?” “I grunted and threw back my chin.” “Why were people yelling at me?” “All I wanted to do was breathe and not push.” “What is the deal? I was told I couldn’t get a baby out on my side, squatting, hand and knees or when I arched my back and threw my head back.” “It felt so good to put support at the top of vagina.” “If I would have pushed in another position would I have torn so much?” “Why did the nurse and doc keep putting their hands in me while I pushed?” “Would I have avoided a cesarean pushing in another position?”

The myths surrounding pushing in our culture are widespread. Over and over women are told unless they push in the “C-position” or reclined position with tucking chin and holding breath “purple pushing” there is no way they can effectively push out a baby. Women are told that spontaneous or limited bearing down will take much longer. When in fact that is untrue.

Interestingly, when not coached, women spontaneously know how to push, how to breathe properly and how to help baby descend. As a matter of fact, most women choose to squat, stand and lean or use a variation on hand and knees to deliver their babies and even nap in between pushing cycles.

By the comments above pushing can be wonderful, challenging, or even both.  Outside influence can hinder or encourage a woman. She is very vulnerable and usually tired, but then the second wind comes.  She knows her baby will be here soon.  She knows that after the hours of getting out of her own way and letting her body do the job it was designed for, she can now DO something. Second stage can last minutes or hours, though it is like early and active labor more rest than work. Women may even sleep in between contractions.

So why are women continually told there is only one way to effectively deliver a baby and expected only to do that?

Here are a few thoughts to chew on:

  • 98% of babies in USA are born in the hospital versus at home  with or without a midwife or at birth center with midwives in attendance.
  • Most OB’s are not trained to receive a baby in any other position. They are trained to see with their eyes for one orientation and have not learned to “see” with their hands.
  • Most OB’s are trained to sit in front of the mother on a stool like a catcher.
  • Staff and OB’s want something to do when really the woman pushing is the only one who needs to be doing anything.
  • In hospitals, nearly ALL women – in some areas close to 100% are medicated with narcotics or more likely with epidural anesthesia disallowing freedom of mobility and body presence.
  • Beds are used virtually 100% for hospital deliveries versus a birth chair, birth stool, toileting, squat bar, standing or leaning.
  • Women are programmed to be in one particular position because it is virtually all we hear about from others and see in the media.
  • Women are not taught to trust their instincts and to listen to their body and baby during birth so instead they look outside to gain understanding of what to do.
  • Nurses are trained only is “pushing” women in the new classic C position with vigorous perineal and vaginal “massage”.
  • Women are limited to a specific pushing time and often in the one position before a cesarean is performed even when mom and baby are doing well.

When a woman chooses a variety of positions for pushing without hindrance (this can include the C position) it can:

  • Reduce trauma to the perineum, labia, clitoris, and urethra
  • Shorten pushing time
  • Allow for movement of the tail bone thus opening the pelvis more
  • Can lessen stress on the baby
  • Give mom more sense of control over the birth
  • Changes the pelvic shape to aide baby in molding and adjusting
  • Allow for fetal ejection reflex to occur
  • Allow for a euphoric and natural state to occur

Using alternative breathing techniques other than holding the breath as in directed pushing to a count of ten or more can allow for baby to get more adequate oxygenation as well as,  be a more gentle process for both parties. A laboring woman may breathe in several different ways during pushing.

She may:

  • throw her head back and open her neck with an open mouth while breathing to comfort and pushing
  • spontaneously push while breathing non-specifically
  • she may grunt and growl
  • she may hold her breath for a moment and then exhale several times during a pushing episode
  • she may do a slow-exhalation with mouth relaxed and slightly open (open-glottis) while pushing
  • breathe slowly/rhythmically and not push actively allowing for passive descent of baby through contractions

Most un-medicated or lightly medicated women will choose a position and breathing style that works for her body allowing for the natural progress to occur, usually culminating in the fetal ejection reflex at the very end.  Instead of forcing a woman into a cookie cutter type position, she needs to be given the opportunity to trust her body, trust the process, feel the process and feel supported. Otherwise, we don’t really need to do anything.

I urge you to have deeper conversations about pushing and delivery with your care provider BEFORE you go into labor. The answers to the questions may be a green or red flag for you. Pay careful attention that your questions are really answered to your satisfaction.  It is your provider’s job to prove to you why he/she practices the way he/she does.

  • Ask your provider what his or her philosophy about pushing and delivery is.
  • Ask provider to describe what pushing normally looks like with his/her patients.
  • Ask how many hands off deliveries your care provider has done.
  • Find out what positions your provider is comfortable or willing to GENTLY receive your baby in.
  • Ask if provider performs perineal massage? If so, have it described to you. GENTLENESS is the key here. No one needs to tug, pull and yank your vagina, labia, and perineum.
  • Ask your provider if spontaneous pushing and delivery are supported.
  • Tell your provider you will agree to coached pushing after you have tried everything you want to do
  • Ask about percentage of women under provider care “require” an episiotomy
  • Ask how long pushing will be tolerated before wanting you to have a cesarean or instrumental delivery.
  • Ask for evidence to support practices. Actual studies not just verbal.
  • If you are having a hospital or birth center birth upon arrival and admittance speak clearly to your nurse about what you plan on doing for pushing.

Here’s to pushing with confidence, using your instincts and following your body!  Here’s to finding the provider with a normal outlook on pushing and delivery.

Preparing For Birth – A sample low-intervention birth plan

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

A birth plan is a tool to express your desires and needs for birth and initial postpartum, as well as, to make sure that you and your provider are on the same page.  Your birth plan should be brief (no more than one page) and only have the bullet point information that is specific to your care and desire or not usually done by your care provider or birth location.

Discuss with your care provider prior to labor and bring a copy with you to your birth location.  Remember it is not a legal document that your location of delivery or care provider must adhere to.

Here is a sample plan for an out of the home birth:

Birth Needs and Desires for: _______________________. Care Provider:____________________________________.

Estimated Due Date: ____________________________.

Labor

I am planning on a no to low-intervention natural birth.  I plan on being mobile, lightly snacking, drinking orally, and having ___________ present.   I understand that intermittent monitoring of me and my baby will be necessary.  I want to be fully consented for any procedure that may come up and fully participate in the medical care for myself and my baby.  I understand that there is pain management available to me, I will ask for it if I so desire.

  • I plan on wearing my own clothing. I will ask for a gown if I change my mind.
  • I would like a saline lock in lieu of an IV
  • In the event of an induction and/or augmentation is medically necessitated-
    • Ripening – Foley Catheter instead of Cytotec (misoprostol)
    • Pitocin – A very slowly increased dosage
    • AROM – will only consent to if an internal fetal monitor is a must.
  • Delayed cord clamping for at least 5 minutes (baby can receive oxygen or other helps while still attached to me).

Postpartum and Baby Care

  • Request that my baby is on my belly or chest for assessments and warmth (even oxygen can be given on me)
  • Delayed bathing
  • Delaying vaccinations including eye ointment and vitamin k.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding, no pacifiers, sugar water, or formula
  • No separation from me unless absolutely medically necessary not just protocol.

Cesarean: In the event a cesarean becomes necessary and is not a true emergency requiring general anesthesia.  I would like to keep the spirit of my plan A to plan C so the delivery can be as family centered and intimate as possible.

  • Only essential lighting
  • Only essential conversation related to the surgery and delivery
  • Lower sterile drape or have a mirror present so I may see my baby emerge
  • Only one arm strapped down so I may touch my baby
  • Pictures and video
  • Aromatherapy as I desire for comfort, abate nausea and to mask surgical odors
  • Baby to stay with me continuously in OR and recovery
  • If baby must leave OR for treatment, my partner/spouse goes with baby and I would like my ____________ to stay with me so I am never alone.
  • Breastfeed in OR and/or recovery
  • Delayed immunizations
  • Delayed washing and dressing of baby
  • No separation from me except what is absolutely medically necessary

Choosing your birth location – A tip sheet

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Choosing the place of birth for your baby – It is incredibly important that you understand where you fit best prior to choosing where to birth your baby. Take hospital and/or birth center tour, call and talk to L&D floor, get facts on home birth by talking to home birth midwives, other moms who have had home births, online and in books. Being intellectually safe is not the same as being safe. Know the facts before you choose.

· Does the location offer what is most important to you (tubs, birth balls, wearing own clothing, intermittent monitoring, fetascope monitoring, etc.)?

· What are standard protocols and practices that are followed? Is individualized care a norm there or is cookie cutter style?

· Is water birth available?

· Are birthing stools or non-reclined pushing and delivery positions encouraged?

· What are the no/low intervention rates? These numbers are tracked monthly.

· What is the induction, epidural, cesarean rate? Are VBAC’s supported and encouraged?

· Are mom and baby friendly practices used? (no routine interventions, no separation of mom and baby, breastfeeding is the norm, movement in labor is utilized, doula accompaniment is accepted, labor induction rates are low, etc.)

· What if I choose to decline an intervention, medication or procedure? Will my decisions be respected? Are patient’s rights taken seriously?

Points to Ponder afterward

· Will I be able to have the type of birth I truly desire?

· What location will I ultimately feel most comfortable in physically, emotionally and spiritually?

· What location is ultimately safest for my specific needs (I am currently a low-risk or high risk)?

· Is insurance or lack of it the reason I am choosing the location?

· Do I have realistic expectations for the location?

· Am I willing to take responsibility for my birth in the location?

· Is staff open to working with a doula or natural birth?

· Are there any compelling reasons to choose one location over another?

Interviewing your care provider for pregnancy and birth – A tip sheet.

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Choosing your care provider: Use this as a template for the interview process or to discern you are of the same philosophy and belief system with current OB or Hospital/Birth Center Midwife.

· What is birth philosophy? What is philosophy of pregnancy?

· What makes up majority of experience in practice? Has provider seen normal labor and birth? How often?

· How is the “due date” approached? When is “full term”? When is “overdue”?

· Will questions be answered over the phone?

· How much time will be spent with me during each appointment?

· What if I hire a doula? Are there restrictions on the doula I may hire? If yes, why?

· Are there restrictions on the type of childbirth or breastfeeding class I take? If so, what and why?

· What routine tests are utilized during pregnancy? What if I decline these tests?

· What are intervention rates? (IV, AROM, continuous monitoring, episiotomy, etc.) Cesarean rate? VBAC rate? Induction rate? What induction methods are used? When are forceps/vacuum used? These numbers are tracked.

· What positions is care provider comfortable catching in? Birth stool? Hand/Knees? Squatting? Standing? Water? How often do patients deliver in positions other than “c” position?

· If I choose an epidural, when can I get it or when is it too late?

· What about a birth plan? Does CP agree with them or not?

· Is an on call rotation utilized or does CP attend all own patients? Will back-up or on-call CP honor the requests we have agreed on?

· Are there any protocols that are non-negotiable? If you cannot refuse – you are not consenting.

· What if I choose to decline a recommended procedure or intervention? Will my decision be respected?

· How long is provider with patients during labor?

Points to ponder afterward:

· Did you feel immediately comfortable and respected at the interview? If already with a CP, do you feel comfortable, respected and heard at each appointment?

· Was or is care provider willing to answer questions in detail without being annoyed?

· Is choosing your care provider based on your insurance or lack of insurance?

· What are you willing to do in order to have the birth you really desire? Birth location?

· How much responsibility are you willing to take for the health care decisions for you and your baby?