Thursday, November 20, 2008

And some more random pregnant musings

How does one prepare for childbirth?

Honestly, I fail to understand. I haven't signed up for birth prep classes, but I've read books and articles, talked to more experienced women and to new and expectant moms. I'm doing exercises which are supposed to assist me in the "moment of truth". And I'm still not an inch closer to understanding what is going to happen when it's actually time to have the baby.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not panicky - I just feel a bit... silly when I read, "breathe in such and such a way, as if you are having contractions" - while I'm not actually having contractions. Or, "practice position X - it will be very useful in such and such stage of labor"; OK, I've been practicing position X for the past two months. It might be a nice part of my exercise routine, but I doubt it makes me any more prepared. Or does it?

Do I feel more informed? Yes, absolutely. But the more I read, the more convinced I become that when it's time to give birth, I should simply allow my body to take control and do whatever feels most comfortable at the moment. For example, I might not feel like "doing" position X after all. It might be good for another woman, but not for me.

I also stopped feeling anxious about not reading each and every bit of information I can find. There's more than I can digest anyway - with the endless flow of useful knowledge from books, magazines, websites, blogs, and dear, well-meaning people, I actually feel I must protect myself from the thought that if I don't do this and that, I will fail to bring the baby into this world. Babies have a tendency to come out, not stay in, and most deliveries today are very safe, praise God. So while I like to educate myself, I know the world won't end if I miss out on a few undoubtedly useful how-to articles. The baby, with God's help, sincere prayer and good attitude, will be out safe and healthy in her due time.

Speaking of due time, I'm not fussed about that one either. Mom called me from work today to... ask the date of my last period. Turns out, she and her co-workers were sitting there, trying to calculate my exact due date through a new method. But we all know that a "due date" is only an approximation. No doctor can really know the exact moment when my baby is ready to enter this world. It just happens when it happens.

My plan for the next few weeks is very simple. I will need wholesome nutrition, routine exercise, enough sleep, and plenty of quiet time alone and with my husband. We might go out now and then just for the fun of doing things as a couple, and we plan to make basic preparations for the baby's arrival. If I'm not sure whether we really need this or that item, we can probably wait until the baby is here to find out. There are also a few household projects and crafts I'm tackling at my leisure.

And now, we're off to a relaxing weekend - wishing the same to all you ladies!

Mrs. T

31 comments:

Bethany Hudson said...

I think you're in an ideal place for giving birth Anna. You have a supportive partner, you're well informed, and you're ready to take this labor thing as it comes without any hard and fast demands or expectations. That's just the right place to be. I pray that you have a straightforward and uncomplicated labor and delivery!
~Bethany

Karen said...

Nothing really prepares you for childbirth. (Not even having a child previously. Both my babies were different.) So, rest, relax and enjoy! (and welcome to an adventure!)

karen

Anonymous said...

Anna,
I took the classes, the prenatal yoga, and read every book - I was so excited to have a natural delivery! So inevitably I went way past term, the baby's head grew to be the size of a large pumpkin, I had to be induced... after 12 hours of labor nothing (I mean nothing) happened and his heartrate started to decline, so I ended up with a C-section. No amount of preparation could have helped me, but the funny thing is that even though the delivery went the exact opposite of what I hoped for, it was still a very good experience, I was very well cared for by very kind people, and it just doesn't matter, ultimately, how the baby gets out, as long as he or she gets out and is healthy. There is absolutely no joy like the joy of holding your own long-awaited baby, and all the details become very inconsequential. At least, that's how I felt ;-) So do whatever you can to be healthy and to keep your baby healthy, and beyond that, don't worry - it will be wonderful. I'm so excited for you!
Gracie

Teri said...

You are certainly taking it the right way with realistic expectations that it will be what it will be. Having had 2 children over the last 4 years, I can definitely tell you that each pregnancy, delivery, birth and child are different. What works in one instance may or may not work in another.

When I was pregnant, I had countless people saying that it will be this way or that way. It turned out that it was a little bit of almost all the advice I had-no one's advice was exactly right, which I figured when I was pregnant. Even though my second pregnancy and delivery was somewhat similar to the first, it still wasn't exactly the same.

The best advice I had during my first pregnancy was by a dear friend who now has 4 children; she said every pregnancy and birth is different so just be patient and deal with everything as it comes. We shouldn't expect or want things to be just as they were for someone else, we should praise God in and for our circumstances and ask for His guiding hand to be upon our situation.

Also, word of caution-it is easy to get caught up in developmental milestones and compare and contrast your child with everyone else's child. I got caught up with this during the first year of my firstborn's life and I regret that I did. It is best to enjoy and celebrate their life because they are only young once. Even though my oldest is only 4, it seems like we have been in a time warp over these past years, everything just happened so fast. With my second (and even my first), I have learned to relax and learn to take it moment by moment because we only get this time with them once and then they are all grown up.

Little Missy Homemaker said...

I took a class with my husband and I can honestly say it really didn't help me on the day of delivery for my first child. Not that it doesn't help other women, I just found that what we learned in the class wasn't right for me personally. I have three children and each birth story is as unique and different as each one of them. I took a breastfeeding class before my first child's birth and that class did help me and I'm so glad I went. I hope your last few weeks of pregnancy are happy, healthy, and productive. I can't believe all the projects I would complete in the weeks before delivery. I wish I had that energy right now, lol.

Anonymous said...

Nothing can prepare you. Books, classes etc can inform, as you say, but not prepare. After dc1 was born I remember thinking: 'Did every mother in history really go through THAT? Why doesn't society make a bigger fuss about it?!?' I was incredulous that 'woman gives birth to baby' isn't front page news every time a baby is born.

But breastfeeding advice and establishing a good relationship with someone who can be on hand to support and encourage is essential, I think. I would concentrate your energies on that. After all, the baby will come out somehow in a way that may or may not meet your expectations. But childbirth is just the buckling in your seatbelts part of the parenting rollercoaster. What comes after the birth is more important.

sara said...

I think the way those classes and bits of information are helpful is if they encourage you to be uninhibited and do just as your body needs to do - as you have said. It also helps if your health care practitioner allows you to do what your body needs to do - some have some strange ideas about what's good for a laboring woman. There are also helpful suggestions such as soothing warm showers to ease pain that I would not have known if I hadn't been told.

I think you're doing just the right thing. You've gathered the information, it's there in your mind, now you must just relax and wait.

Kacie said...

We're thinking alike! I know there is nothing I can do to fully prepare myself for being a mom. There's a lot of "on the job training" involved.

I am taking a childbirth class, I'm reading lots of books, we're taking an infant CPR class...but really, I know we're just going to be winging it. It'll be ok!

Otter Mom said...

I learned a great deal in the classes. And very little of it actually applied to my labor. Your body will know what to do and when to do it, and you will have medical help if you are not sure about certain things so don't be afraid to ask. It's hard work, but it's also natural and if you have to have a c-section don't let that diminish the experience for you - it's still the birth of your precious baby. I think it's a good idea that you've read about birth, and it might help to talk to other mothers. Although each birth is different and what one woman goes through might not be the same as the another woman's experience. But try to enjoy these last few weeks with your husband, I remember that time as very special when it was my turn.

Sue said...

You are a very sensible mommy-to-be! I think you are on the right track. Though it is good to understand the process and what will be happening with your body, I agree that nothing can really prepare you totally for this unique birth.

I personally had a lot of nursing problems and wish that I had understood more about that before giving birth. With my second I had the La Leche League leader's phone number ready, and actually did call her form the hospital. She helped me so much.

I hope these last weeks are very relaxed, and full of special times as a couple.

Anonymous said...

The Pain...there's no getting around it unless you resort to drugs:
Psych your self up for the pain to be beyond your wildest imaginings so that when it does come, maybe it won't be so bad and it will seem like nothing! :) The really good thing is that when it is over, you forget all about the pain when they lay that precious little bundle of humanity that belongs to you in your own arms and think....wow, it was worth it!

Like someone said; every birthing experience is different.

All 3 of mine ended up c-sections and none of them planned so I labored with each one and each one was still different.

Dawn Treader

Anonymous said...

the best way to prepare for labor and birth is to be completely open minded about it because things don't always go as planned/hoped for. Also make sure your husband keeps you laughing through the pain :-) it will increase endorphins and decrease the pain.

Has said...

Very wise Anna.

I'm having my 5th soon, and one of THE most important pieces of advice I can offer you is this: be aggressive in your relaxation. You MUST relax during labour. It reduces fatigue and is shown to reduce the length of labour time, need for drugs, and complications. I took relaxation classes (tailored specifically to labour) for my 3rd labour and it was such an improvement. You mustn't fight labour, although it's painful, because you can in fact hold your body back from doing what it needs to do.

Also a positive attitude is very important.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Childbirth to me just felt like very intense pain. The "breathing" that is so famous is absolutely useless, except that it gives you a focal point, something else to think about and do (if you can!). The reason most women say all inhibitions cease is that they just want the ordeal over with - you see, its so intense that you just can't think about anything else but getting through it. Its no fun, and I was thoroughly upset at all the books that said it would be a "lovely experience" . . . they said "bring your favorite CD, your quilt from home and some aromatherapy oil" - goodness, it was a load of baloney. I was disappointed it wasn't the lovely experience they said it would be. They can talk it up all they like, but labour is called labour for a reason ! At least this way (knowing the reality) you know you're in for some hard work, and you can mentaly prepare. I don't expect other ladies here to appreciate that I'm not writing a fluffy message. The main point, is after its all over you will have your beautiful baby in your arms, and you will feel like after doing that, you can do anything !

It helped me through the process to think about how thankful I am that I CAN have babies - therefore being in labour is a priviledge :-)

Gothelittle Rose said...

Your body's going to do everything on its own. The majority of labor and childbirth is involuntary muscle action. In a way it's not You giving birth, it's your body taking over for a while and following God's plan by itself.

All those crazy positions and breathing exercises are just to try to make You more comfortable and/or give You a sense of being in charge while your body is doing it's thing "without you".

So you're absolutely right, you don't have to know how to give birth. I didn't take any classes at all, and guess what! My body seemed to know what it was doing just the same. :)

My pastor does "Creation stories" in which he talks about the way God designed one thing or another, and one of the neat little tidbits is that it appears to be the baby who sends the signal to the mother's body to start labor. I put no faith in due dates for anything more than vague estimates.

Watch out, though, for your balance... a fall can put you into a special kind of labor that's designed to Get That Baby Out. It's intense and it's short. Luckily, your body can do this on it's own just as well as it can do a 'regular' labor and delivery pretty much on its own, so don't be afraid if that happens. (My mother, labor/delivery #4, 1.5 hours after taking a fall. No complications.)

Megan said...

Anna - In my childbirth class, we had a choice between having clothespins on our ears or bare ice in our hands to simulate contractions during our breathing exercises. I have to say that I think my husband took a leeetle bit too much pleasure in placing the pin on my ear...lol.

I ended up going almost straight into "transitional labor" once my water completely broke, and all of the exercises and positions went right out the window. Until it was time to push, I didn't move from the postion I was in when it kicked in, which happened to be my left side! But the value I gained from the classes was confidence and a feeling of preparedness and knowing my options. So in my opinion they were quite helpful.

Summer said...

You have already gotten lots of good advice here so I will just say that reading the book "Birth Skills' by Juju Sundin helped me a LOT in having a natural birth. She discussed various ways to use up the adrenalin you feel during labour and refocus your mind off the pain.

Some of her suggestions include walking or running on the spot while focusing on the movements of your legs or the sound of your footsteps. This was so great for me, I jogged through about 9 hours of contractions.

Also, using your voise to make an aaaaah sound - focus on the sound not the pain. I did this when I had to lay on the bed just before I started pushing.

Also repeating words over and over in your head or out loud - like saying "baby down, baby down" over and over. This helped me too.

I pray that the rest of your pregnancy goes well and for a safe delivery.

Muriel said...

We did a class and it turned out a total wast of time. The women who gave it was very anti hospital and anti doctor. She advised us to even refuse an IV when arriving at the hospital.
And she told us that if you could not walk up Ben Yehuda st. from Kikar Tzion to King George st. while 8 months pregnant and not get out of breath than you would never be able to give birth. I can not even do that not pregnant with my asthma. How that kind of information helps you prepare for child birth is beyond me

The best preparing experience was ending up in the hospital with early labor at 35 weeks. (thankfully it stopped after a number of hours)

In the end labor was induced, I got an epidural and they had to bring in the vacuum pump. The pump gave the baby pain with feeding and in order to get her out fast they broke her collar bone (very common in a vacuum delivery, and it heals in a number of days, but again painful for the baby with drinking) I ended up with an infection and had to go back to the hospital a week later (without the baby) so breastfeeding did not succeed either.

I am currently 22 weeks pregnant with our second girl. This time around I am not taking a birthing class. I reread some of the books I have. I hope that labor starts naturally this time around and that breastfeeding will be successful, but at the same time I know that it will just go the way is goes and that that is good too.

Linda said...

All while I was pregnant, people had been scaring me with 'you HAVE to sign up for this, you HAVE to learn how to do that', blah blah.. especially the 'experts', such as midwives and doctors were really pushy.

I didn't sign up for anything. I just held on to the thought that our bodies were created to bring babies into this world, so why should we read in books how to do it?

Then labour started.. and lasted me 5 hours in total, and it was just like I expected. You'll know what to do in time. And if not, you can always follow instructions of those around you....

Don't let yourself be scared by anyone! It's a natural thing to give birth, not a rational thing.. it's not something you have to prepare for at all..

greetings from the netherlands!

MamaOlive said...

Hi Anna, I read all the time, but I think I haven't commented yet. I am mother of 6 precious children so I feel qualified to speak on the subject of childbirth. One thing I wanted to say was that "being prepared" does help. For me, the preparation is mostly mental. I need to be in tune with my body, recognizing changes, so that when the contractions start (or it's time to push) I can know it. I need to be at peace with the actual birth and with the baby coming.
To prepare, I like to read birth stories and find scriptures about birth. One of my favorite scriptures is
Isa 66:9 Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.
I hope this encourages you.

Di said...

I would just suggest that you keep an open mind with regard to positions and pain relief for the birth. Your body does take over, and your brain goes off on another planet especially in the later stages (well, that could have been the gas and air!), but never say never. I said that I never wanted a certain drug, then ended up having 2 shots of the stuff. Labour never goes quite how you plan it to...

But as another commenter said, read up on breastfeeding if you are going to feed that way. It doesn't come as naturally to all of us as the books would have us think. You may be fine, and the baby latch on properly from the start, or you might have other issues such as not enough milk, too much milk etc etc, which bring with them issues of their own. No-one told me it was possible to have too much milk, and it took me 4 weeks to work out that my baby was struggling to cope with the flow which was why I was in so much pain and she wasn't latching properly. Poor thing spent the whole time trying to protect her airway. But nipple shields solved that problem.

Anyway, enough from me - enjoy this time with your husband and on your own, you don't realise how much you relish me-time til you don't have any...

Sheri said...

Anna, I am praying for you as you and your sweetheart enjoy these last few weeks of your pregnancy. May God bless you in many special ways!

And, just listen to your body, trust the Lord, and watch the miracle of birth take place! *Hugs*

Kari said...

Such wise ladies have commented here! I just baby #2 three weeks ago, and my labour with him couldn't have been more different than with my daughter! We, too, took a prenatal class before baby #1, and it didn't end up helping very much at all! The biggest thing I learned from my first labour was, as a previous comment suggested, that I had to relax the rest of my body during contractions and not fight them. This not only helped labour progress faster this time, but also helped me mentally to cope with them. You'll do great, and holding that little baby afterwards makes it all worth it!!

Anonymous said...

You are well informed, Anna, and have a positive attitude toward the whole thing. If I may suggest a thing is that you just relax your mind and body, pray to God, and let Him guide you through the entire process. It will be fine! Hope you're having a super relaxing weekend.

Prayers,
W

ROSIE said...

Anna,

After giving birth to four precious miracles from God, I can agree with many other ladies here that each birth is totally different and will be what it will be...and as long as it entails health and safety for mother and baby, that is ALL that matters.

When new mothers have asked me for advice in the past, I've only given them a few tidbits:

1. Don't read too many books!! It will make you scared, crazy, and spend all your time fretting.

2. Do be informed as to what generally happens in your body during labor and delivery. Understanding the stages of labor and birth, what is happening during each one, and what purpose they serve are very helpful in allaying any anxiety and allowing Mom to relax as much as possible and to work with the contractions rather than against them.

3. Mom, YOU (and Dad!) will know your baby better than anyone else on the earth, including the pediatrician and other family members. You know what is normal for your own child, and what is cause for concern. Listen to your instinct and to your heart. And of course, when in doubt, ask.

May the LORD richly bless you and your husband in these final weeks before your little one arrives, and may the birth of your daughter be a truly miraculous and precious time!!

Rosie

Anonymous said...

This is why I would only have considered having children if I could have been guaranteed to be under a general anaesthetic for the birth! :-D

Anonymous said...

Anna,

I think you're doing a great job preparing! Incidentally, I find it quite funny that you're getting earnest about preparing now - I always do too around 7 months. With my first, I remember leaning over his crib after my parents had left thinking "Now what?!" Somehow because my parents and the baby had all arrived at about the same time, I thought that they would all leave around the same time... That's sleep deprivation!

The best preparation I had for labour was actually an exercise class for pregnant ladies that I took twice a week throughout my first two pregnancies. It wasn't so much the exercise, it was the unhurried discussion about whatever was ailing or worrying a particular person on any given day. Also as each participant "graduated" from the class, she would call the instructor to tell her "the story", and the instuctor would pass it on to the class. Listening to "stories" told in a non-sensational, educational way was THE best way to prepare.

Your body does know what to do, and I suspect that all the breathing and hoopla are really ways to help a woman stay calm and reduce her inadvertent interference in the process.

Two things I remember from my first delivery are this: if they tell you to push, and you think "Push what?!" it probably isn't time to push yet - wait, and pushing will likely happen all by itself! Second, when they tell you to relax between pushes, don't relax everything - you need to hold tight below to maintain the progress you've made pushing the baby out. If you don't hold her steady between pushes, you could end up spending hours pushing the poor child the same inch over and over again. And the goal is to get her out so you can finally meet her! I remember thinking (after only 20 minutes) "How long is a birth canal anyway, I must have pushed this baby clear out of the room by now!"

Beyond that, do as you're doing, learn what you can, be ready to be flexible, and enjoy having your husband all to yourself for a little while longer. I was astounded by how much pain I could bear for the baby, and by how instantly it was forgotten once he arrived. And the younger you are, the less it is likely to hurt. Plus, however bad it seems to be, you know it will all be over soon, probably in 24 hours or less.

I second all those who say to prepare for breastfeeding too. I got help with my first two, and nursing was a breeze, but with my third thought I should be able to figure it out on my own... BIG mistake, oh my and a painful one too!

I hope the remainder of your pregnancy and the delivery go very well.

Kelly said...

I think it helps to learn the stages of birth and possible outcomes just so you know what to expect. I didn't use anything I planned either.

Minnie said...

the only time i have seen anything go terrible awry is when a (distantish) relation of mine wne tinto labour and would not let the female nurse examine her to assertain her and the baby's health, if it is possible to be assgined a midwife you will probabky be calmed by having a little chat to her rather than reading up a storm and jsut scaring your self. the mid wife will put it all in perspective (my aunt always muses that afterwards you are so tired you see what a waste of time it was to worry about thing slike birthing pools and such like she is a nurse in a small rural hospital and has 6 children of her own and by the 6th her only advice to new mothers is "love it, feed it, dont drop it and educate it!"

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer said...

One of my favorite activities when preparing for a birth is reading birth stories. I love birth stories even when I'm not pregnant, but heading towards labor they become an imporant part of my preparations.

Here is one of my favorite birth story sites,

http://www.homebirth.org.uk/hbstories.htm

Blessings to you, Anna. I can't wait to hear about your sweet baby!

Bridget said...

This was a lovely post! I just found your blog this morning. I am expecting my 8th child in early March and was feeling a little crabby about pregnancy discomforts. Seeing pregnancy through your first time eyes truly boosted my spirits.

May God bless your little growing family!