Today I read a post at The Feminist Breeder (FYI, I’m not saying I agree with 100% – or even 75% – of what she says, but she says it very well!) and it got me thinking.
See, today marks 9 years since I had a baby. Notice I don’t say “gave birth”. No, it wasn’t a Caesarean but the way it all happened, I just don’t feel like I can say I “gave birth”.
Her post got me thinking about all the lessons I learned from that experience. I’m going to list a few here but I can tell you know it all boils down to 1 thing: EDUCATION. I can not begin to tell you how important it is to educate yourself.
And no, that doesn’t mean “Just ask your doctor”.
Lesson #1 – Hospital “Classes”
I thought I could learn everything I needed to know about labor in 3 hours. I somehow thought in 3 hours we would cover what my body would be doing, what to expect, how to cope with it, what the doctors and nurses would be doing, what would happen in an emergency, and what happens after the birth.
It took me until my 3rd child to realize that if I really wanted to know all of the above, I would need longer then 3 hours, and more then $35. Yes, this cheapskate had to dig a little deeper, but knowing what was happening makes an incredible difference!
Lesson #2: Stripping The Membranes
First of all, what exactly is it? According to webmd.com “The doctor will insert a gloved finger into your vagina and move it back and forth to separate the membrane that connects the amniotic sac to the wall of the uterus.”
Let me just say: It’s as painful as it sounds.
Well, it was for me. It was at Week 38, 39, and 40. Yup, that’s right, I had it done 3 times. They asked “Do you want this done?” and I figured that if they were offering, it must be the right thing to do.
Yeah. Um, well, that last time the contractions did start, leading to a 38 hour labor. But I have a feeling it started too early. I don’t think my baby was ready yet. She wasn’t quite in position which led to….
Lesson #3: Back Labor (Or, Managing Labor)
Look, I’m not going to sit and tell you labor should be completely comfortable. But the fact is there are ways to manage the pain. And my opinion is anybody going into labor should have a heavy arsenal of techniques to try. Having a toolbox full of tips, ideas, and suggestions makes such a difference. And that way you can know you did everything before you have…
Lesson #4: An Epidural
I will never every say that epidurals are evil or should be banned, or look down on anyone who has had one. (Heck, I had 2!) But with that being said, I do believe that EVERY woman should know the risks, preferable before they’re in full blown labor.
In my case, it turns out they included another drug with the epidural; I want to say Femerol, but I don’t remember exactly. Turns out it can cause the mother to spike a fever and vomit. That, combined with meconium in my daughter’s fluid, led to days of needless worry and me not holding her until she was 29 hours old. (They stopped adding it soon after… Hmmmm… I wonder why…) It also can cause your baby to be sleepy for awhile, as it did my daughter, which made the breastfeeding start very difficult.
Lesson #5: Support
Honestly, next to education, I think this is the most important thing you need. Support from your doctors, family, friends, and the father. For me, I also had a wonderful dear friend who was a doula at my last birth. Because sometimes, all that education you learned will go out the window when a nurse starts to argue, or you’ve been laboring for hours on end, or the excitement of it all gets to you.
Look, I just touched on some things off the top of my head. I’m not a birth expert by any means. But I’m a mom, I’ve done the birth thing, and I can share the little bit I did learn. Every mom in every situation is different, but they all deserve the encouragement to go out there and educate themselves. There is enough information out there, and most of it is accurate. 😉 Challenge yourself. Visit some sites that you think have a different view then you have. Ask question. Ultimately, do what feels right for you and your baby.
I didn’t. Not for my first birth, and not for my 2nd. Nine years later, I still am weighed down by the way things went. I still feel guilt about my choices (or lack thereof). But that’s why I want to encourage everyone out there to educate themselves, and support the women in their life as they do the same.