Monday, March 11, 2013

Methodist Hospital Natural Water Birth

Our second child "Baby E" arrived last week and we had an amazing birth story that I thought I would share.  Pregnancy with baby E was extremely uneventful: I felt great for the majority of the pregnancy, there were no complications, and baby was active and healthy.  I was seeing an OBGYN doctor with Park Nicollet in Minnesota and having a good experience.  We were planning to deliver at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park and our family had the opportunity to tour the newly renovated center at week 36 of the pregnancy.  As part of the new construction, Methodist hospital has now installed two fully functional water birth facilities.  Water birth was something I had heard a little about, but had never fully researched the benefits or drawbacks associated with it.  The birth tubs were gorgeous and the rooms had the feel of a day spa rather than a hospital.  After seeing the birth tubs at Methodist and reflecting on the long, intervention-filled birth of our first child, I was fairly decided that water birth was something I wanted to have the opportunity to try. 

My main reason for trying water birth was to avoid the use of an epidural.  With our first child, I had arrived at the hospital 7 cm dilated and was immediately strapped into machines with cords going everywhere.  The feeling of being restrained gave so much anxiety that I quickly requested an epidural.  The epidural completely stopped my labor, and little one arrived almost 12 hours later and only after having to restart labor with pitocin. I was determined that my delivery experience with Baby E should be shorter and involve less medical intervention.  In order to have a water birth I had to be pre-qualified.  This involved switching from the OBGYN I had been seeing, to midwife care.  Midwives were certified to perform water births, while the OBs were not.  At 38 weeks pregnant I saw a midwife and underwent blood screening to rule out any blood-borne infections that would disqualify me.  Since I had no risk factors or major health concerns during the pregnancy, I was qualified to have a water birth. 

In the days before Baby E's delivery, I had experienced several bouts of strong Braxton Hicks contractions.  There were times when I thought full labor may be on the horizon, but the contractions never intensified.  I saw my Midwife again on the morning of March 5th and explained my frustration.  She reported that my cervix was 3.5 cm dilated, but that labor could be days to weeks away.  I went about the rest of the day as usual: went to work, had a normal evening at home, and went to sleep.  At 1:30 am I awoke to some uncomfortable contractions.  I still wasn't sure if they were Braxton Hicks or actual labor, so I went to watch TV and sat on my yoga ball.  After an hour of strong and frequent contractions, I was convinced my husband needed to come and start timing the duration and length of time between contractions.  He reluctantly dragged himself out of bed and proceeded to immediately fall asleep on the couch. After a little convincing, he finally realized that we were going to have a baby.  We called the midwife and she agreed that, with my 7-minute-apart contractions, I needed to come into the hospital.  I said we'd be there within the hour, which gave us time to call Grandma and have her come over to watch our 2.5 year old.

At about 4am we arrived at the hospital.  The walk from the parking lot to the delivery center seemed to take forever.  I was having strong contractions about three minutes apart and the delivery nurse announced that I was 6 cm dilated when we arrived.  We transferred from the labor triage area into the water birth room at about 5am and flipped on the morning news.  Although my contractions were frequent, they weren't severely uncomfortable and I was still able to walk and talk during contractions.  By 5:30am the contractions were getting more painful.  I asked the nurse to start filling the tub and my husband used a massage tool to work my lower back during the contractions.  I was having to focus and breath to get through each contraction, but the pain was manageable.  At 6am the tub was ready and set to the correct temperature.  The warm water felt amazing, but to my surprise the contractions were still very noticeable and didn't space out after entering the water (labor sometimes stalls and restarts after entering the tub for water birth).  My husband continued to use the massage tool on my back during each contraction and by 6:15 I was extremely uncomfortable.  I told the nurse I was in transition, the most difficult part of labor where the cervix dilates from 7-10 cm.  I was still managing the pain fairly well, and after another 10 minutes I told the nurse I wanted to start pushing.  She quickly got the Midwife who suggested they break the amniotic sac. Before they could do so, the next contraction broke my water and small flecks of blood were visible in the tub.  The midwife said if I felt like pushing that I should go ahead and push.

I used each contraction to push as hard as I could.  I was ready to get this baby out, but I knew the pushing stage wasn't going to be easy.  As the baby dropped, I was thinking, "I suppose it's too late to get an epidural!"  My husband continued to work with the massage ball and the Midwife put pressure on my tail bone during each contraction.  There was a terrible amount of pressure on my tail bone and it was the same pressure and pain I remembered having during the delivery of our first child (even with an epidural).  Soon, the baby was close to crowning.  I had been leaning with my head on the side of the tub during most of the transition and pushing stage, but now the Midwife wanted me to turn onto my back.  Moving my body seemed completely impossible at this point.  I had been grasping the side of the tub, my arms shaking with each contraction and pushing bout, and trying to move an inch was out of the question.  My husband took over and flipped me onto my back.  At this point there was a wonderful break in the contractions.  I rested for about a minute and floated limp in the water.  When the next contraction started I gave the strongest push that I could, and I felt the baby crowning.  The Midwife told me to do small, short pushes, and I felt the baby's head finally emerging.  The head was out, but I couldn't figure out why I was still in pain.  The Midwife said, "Keep pushing!"  The shoulders had not emerged, but the baby's head was out and under the water.  After one more strong set of pushes, the baby emerged and the Midwife raised him out of the water.  She immediately placed him into my arms, and baby and I looked each other over during our first meeting.  I looked at my husband, both of us tearing up and in complete disbelief that we were parents again after going through such an incredible experience.

Although a natural water birth was in many ways more uncomfortable than my previous labor with an epidural, it had been shorter and more manageable.  Since I was able to feel the contractions, I had been able to use them to help manage my pain and push effectively.  Baby E was much more alert after birth and we were able to spend the first few hours bonding with him.  I felt incredible after Baby E's delivery: I was energized and, although I was exhausted, I hadn't needed any stitches and had very minor pain.  I was off of pain medications and leaving the hospital within 24 hours of birth.

Born 3-6-13
9lbs 9oz
21 inches long
7:04 am

5 hours labor, 30 minutes pushing




9 comments:

  1. Amazing! had you taken any breathing (lamaze) courses prior to either birth? that's what i think i was lacking during my first birth that led to me breaking down and getting an epidural. luckily it didn't prolong labor nearly as long for me as it did for you. but i've heard great things about waterbirthing from multiple people i trust (including you) and am now thinking seriously about it for our next little one (eventually). i'd be very interested to hear about other pre-birth classes or other preparation you did too! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Amy we did a child birth class with our first child, so it had been about 3 years since we'd had any instruction. I felt like the most important thing for me during this labor was to stay relaxed. I knew if I got worked up that I'd start doubting myself and my ability to manage the pain. Paul also did a great job of reminding me to take slow breaths during contractions any not hyperventilate. Otherwise the hospital provided a little bag of "goodies" for delivery which included the massage tool I relied on very heavily during labor- that was a life saver!

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  2. Congratulations on your little one! I absolutely love reading positive natural birth stories. I'll be featuring this on this week's Tuesday Baby Link Up! Thanks for linking up with us!

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    1. Thanks for visiting Shannon and thanks for the opportunity to link up!

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  3. Are you by chance a midwife at Methodist?

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    1. I'm not, but you're right there IS a midwife at Methodist named Nissa. She is wonderful. I also really recommend Carrie Sauter. Carrie didn't deliver my baby (she was off that night and my labor was fast), but she saw me several times and she is incredibly friendly.

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    2. What are the chance of TWO Nissas! ;) Thank you so much for the midwife suggestions.

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    3. One more question- do you have any recommendations for a doula?

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    4. I didn't have a doula and I don't personally know any in the metro area. But, I did have my placenta encapsulated with Jody Riley (jodyroseklof (at) hotmail.com) and she was wonderful to work with. She could probably give you some recommendations for good doulas. I blogged about the "placenta pill" here: http://clothdiaperguru.blogspot.com/2013/03/what-is-placenta-pill.html

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