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This FAQ last updated: February 2006
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BBW Birth Story Pages
BBW Birth Stories: Normal Vaginal Births
Many women over the years have requested a section for birth stories of plus-sized moms. Large women come into pregnancy with so many fears and body issues that reassurance that other large women have indeed done this is important. Pregnancy books and most websites do not fulfill this need; mostly they are filled with warnings not to get pregnant until you lose weight, dire predictions of disastrous pregnancies filled with complications, or horror stories designed to scare you into compliance.
Although there are many birth stories online, most are of women of average-size. While these are also important to read, many large women have longed for a collection of stories of plus-sized pregnancy---normal births, complications, special births, just plain births---warts and all. It is important for us to see that many of our large sisters have traveled this journey before us.
This is a collection of BBW birth stories collected by Kmom over the years. Stories have been separated into various categories (vaginal birth, c-sections, twins, gd stories, etc.). Because some stories fit more than one category, many will repeat on different pages. Some stories are already up on the web in a more complete form elsewhere; with the mother's permission, Kmom has linked to these sites and urges readers to click on the link and read the more complete story.
Unless specifically requested, all identifying information has been removed or changed to protect the privacy of the participants. All stories are copyrighted; none may be used elsewhere without specific written permission from both Kmom and the mother involved.
This particular FAQ presents the stories of normal, mostly unremarkable vaginal births--something the media and some doctors would have us believe never occur! This FAQ shows that yes, fat women can have completely normal births too. Some births discussed here are completely natural with no medications or drugs of any kind, while others involve plenty of interventions such as inductions or epidurals (but which ended in a vaginal birth anyway). Some are hospital births much like you would see on TV, while others are homebirths, waterbirths, or even unassisted childbirth. The point is not to promote one particular style of birth, but to show the wide spectrum of births that large women have experienced. There is also another FAQ which covers normal vaginal births under special medical circumstances, such as high blood pressure or with twins, etc. Together, these FAQs prove that fat women can give birth vaginally too!!!!
More stories will be added over time, so keep checking back if you are interested in reading further stories. If you are interested in sharing your birth story, click here for more information, birth story format, and submission guidelines. New birth stories are always welcome; Kmom updates the birth stories FAQs about once or twice a year so be patient for your story to show up. If you do submit your story, please carefully follow the format and directions given in order to shorten the amount of work involved for Kmom. Kmom's family will thank you!
Terms and Abbreviations
Most moms will recognize most of these terms, but women new to reading about childbirth may be puzzled by some of the terms and abbreviations used in these stories. This section briefly defines some of these in order to help women understand the stories better.
Birth Stories: Normal Vaginal Birth
Rachel's Story (homebirth, posterior)
Kmom's Notes: A wonderful homebirth, even with a posterior baby (facing towards mother's tummy instead of towards spine).
Can be found online at www.childbirth.org/articles/stories/HH.html
Summary: This mother, a lawyer in New York City, originally intended to have a hospital birth with midwives, but changed her mind after touring the hospital. Also, all her lawyer friends in the area had had c-sections, and she felt there might be a tendency to practice defensive medicine with her due to her occupation. She then considered a birthing center but felt their guidelines were too rigid about transfer to hospitals, causing a very high transfer rate (about 20%). So she found a certified nurse-midwife in the area who delivered at home.
At 8 days overdue, she went into prodromal labor for 3 days (common with posterior presentations). She feels that at a hospital they would have forced the issue much earlier and added pitocin (which may well have caused a c/s if the baby did not turn). She finally went into regular labor on the 4th day, had painful back labor and progressed very slowly (other signs of a posterior baby). She finished dilating but had an 'anterior lip' left on the cervix (also common with posterior babies!); her midwife helped move the lip aside and get the baby through.
Pushing lasted only 40 minutes; she pushed in the semi-standing position. It's not clear if the baby turned before descent. She was born with only very minor tearing. Labor lasted about 15 hours, once it started up in earnest. In retrospect, she found labor hard (and it is with a posterior position!) but was very glad she had chosen a homebirth.
Darla's Story (waterbirth)
Kmom's Notes: This was a completely natural pregnancy. She didn't even have the doppler used (ultrasound) and refused all "necessary" prenatal testing, including routine ultrasound. She now also works as a doula, a professional labor support person.
I woke up at 3am Saturday morning to a gush of fluid. My contractions did not start immediately, so Sandi (my midwife) advised going back to bed and trying to sleep. She said to call her back when they were about 8 min apart.
Almost immediately contractions started and were 5 minutes apart, but only lasting about 30 to 45 seconds. I called Sandi back after an hour and told her I wanted to come in and have her check the baby's heartbeat. Unfortunately, I discovered that I had a fear of prolapsed cord - a residual of my horrendous hospital birth when I was confined to bed to "prevent" a prolapse, I'm sure. Contractions continued at this pace for the entire drive up (1 hour).
Sandi checked the heartbeat and did a Vaginal Exam (VE). Baby's fine, 2cm, 50% effaced. I went and lay down in the bed and relaxed for about another hour. At this point, my doulas and my Mother-In-Law (MIL) arrived. The contractions began to space apart. So, I got up to walk around hoping to start them up again. By 9:30 am the contractions were barely every 15 minutes. The family and I decided to go out to breakfast. We all traveled up the street and I had eggs and corned beef hash. We returned to the birth center at about 11 am and I spoke to Sandi about our options. State law in Florida is that active labor must be established by 12 hours after waters break or transfer (yuck!).
At 11:30 we started using the herb pennyroyal that I had brought. Boy, did it taste awful! Jim (dh) and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. Contractions were getting stronger but not really any closer together or longer. I continued to walk around inside the birth center (it was quite hot outside). I had another dose of pennyroyal at 12:30 and again at 1:30. Finally, my contractions were regular enough (5 min apart and 1 min long) to be considered active labor (yay!). I tried getting in the water to labor, but my contractions spaced out again (see how relaxing water is). I labored facing backward on the toilet, on all fours on the birth ball, sitting on the birth ball, sitting on the birth stool, laying on my side, walking around (whew!). At about 2 my family went and got roast beef sandwiches. Roast beef never tasted so good! All this time I continued to drink and pee. Sandi will back me up that I drank a total of 3 1/2 gallons!
At 9 Sandi faithfully and legally offered me IV antibiotics for GBS. I had not tested for it during pregnancy and my waters had been broken for 18 hours at this point. I refused. At 10:30 or so, we began transition-like contractions (I know this in hindsight) and Sandi did a VE, 6cm 80% effaced. I was very disappointed! 9 hours and only 4 cms progress! I learned my lesson. Next time, no VE! All my wonderful support, however, quickly reassured me and we got back in the groove.
I finally got in the tub again and labored there for about 1 1/2 hours. It was great, but I think it would have been more effective if the water had completely covered my abdomen. I was leaning on the side on my knees so that my abdomen would be completely submerged. My doulas were rubbing my back and pouring warm water over my back. After about an hour in this position, my legs were cramping, so I tried sitting, leaning back. It was a roman style tub and I kept sliding down into the water so I got out and labored on the bed for awhile. The contractions were now much more intense and lasting longer, some even triple peaking! Through the entire labor, though, I always had at least three minutes rest between contractions.
At this point I really began the self-doubt stage, crying, praying, yelling that I can't do it anymore. Freya (my 7 y-o daughter) later told me that this scared her more than my moaning or pushing noises. She thought that I might die! :'( I foolishly never explained transition to them. However, they had lots of support and were fine after my SIL explained that it was normal. At about 2:30 am the contractions were incredibly intense. I was really having a hard time moaning through them. I never really had an urge to push like I did with my other two. I felt Kelson move down and the contractions began to feel as if they were trying to pull my uterus down. Sandi checked me and I had a small lip that she held as I pushed through a couple of contractions.
I pushed on the bed for about 20 minutes while they refilled the tub. I got into the tub and what a difference! It was so much easier to concentrate on the feelings and push gently and with my body. Soon, I could feel Kelson's head sliding down the birth canal and then the ring of fire. Sandi reminded me to push gently and I slowly pushed out his head. There was no cord around the neck, so I pushed out the rest of him and held him in my arms! It was 3:05 am. Exactly 5 minutes over 24 hours from SROM. He was 8 lbs 6 oz, 21 inches. Alec (my 5 year-old son) peeked under the towel and announced, "It's a boy!". This was a surprise as most of us had believed him to be a girl!! After the cord was done pulsating, Freya tried to cut it. It was too hard, so Daddy helped her.
This pregnancy and birth was the most amazing experience! Everything was exactly the way _I_ wanted. Kelson had _nothing_ done to him. No shots, tests, unnecessary procedures. The whole family fell asleep until about 8 am. We went home about 9:30 and stopped for bagels on the way home! I definitely want to repeat the experience someday.
-Darla the Doula, Birth Doula (Mom to Freya, highly interventive vaginal birth; Alec, natural birth; and Kelson, waterbirth)
Barbara's Story (group B Strep, vaginal birth)
This was my first pregnancy, and was "textbook." I had no gestational diabetes, no high blood pressure, no pre-eclampsia, nothing. I also had a very wonderful OB who never made my weight an issue and was never anything but friendly and professional towards me.
By the time I reached my 39th week of pregnancy, I had been having lots of Braxton Hicks (BH) contractions for a couple of weeks, and losing pieces of my mucous plug, but nothing was really happening. I was dilating and effacing, but had no idea when labor would finally arrive.
On Tues, October 19th, I began having contractions that were the real thing, but 25-35 min apart. On Wed, I went to my 39 week appointment, and found that I was 4 cms dilated and 90% effaced. My OB said he didn't expect me to make it through the night and told me to cancel my next appointment. This is coming from a man who had been refusing to make any kind of predictions.
At around 5 pm that evening (Oct 20), my contractions became much stronger and were now 10-15 minutes apart. We spent the next 8 hours at home, watching them get closer and closer together, walking around the block, and practicing relaxation techniques. Finally, at around 1 AM, they were around 6 minutes apart and we decided to leave for the hospital.
I labored for another 5 hours in my LDR room, using the whirlpool tub and walking up and down the hallway until the dr. came and broke my water at 6 AM. After that, the contractions got much harder and more difficult to breathe through and tolerate. I took a shot of Demerol at 7 AM when they said I was now 7 cms. It didn't do much for the pain, but it did allow me to sleep between contractions.
The time between 7 and 9:30 AM were the absolute worst. I had no idea the pain and sensations could be that intense. Finally, at around 9:30 I began feeling an urge to push. The nurse checked and said I was 9 1/2 cms, fully effaced but still had a small lip. I went through another 2 or 3 contractions, trying not to push and thinking I wasn't going to make it much longer, when they told me to go ahead. I pushed through 4 or 5 contractions, I think, when the nurses started yelling at me to stop and ran to call the dr. Fortunately, his office is across the street from the hospital, or the nurses may have had to deliver the baby.
The dr. came running in, threw on a gown, dropped his gloves on the floor and had the student nurse running around the room looking for a new pair. At this point, the baby's head was crowning. The nurses were yelling at me to stop pushing, but he told them to leave me alone and that I had no control over this. No kidding! I pushed once and her head was out, one more time for the shoulders, and one more little one and there she was!
She weighed in at 8 lbs, 3 oz and was 21 1/2 inches long. She has a full head of dark hair, and nurses beautifully. I could not have hoped for a better baby. It was the perfect end to a very normal and happy pregnancy.
Jameel's Story (Supersized, Group B Strep, Homebirth)
Mike and I have been married eight years. When we met, we both had office jobs. But about three years later he decided to become an over-the-road truck driver. This worked out really well for our relationship, but when we lived in the Midwest, he was only home on the weekends. In the Fall of 2002 we moved to the East Coast, and by the next summer we decided to start trying to have a child. Mike got a trucking job that had him home four days a week and by September of 2003 we were pregnant.
A couple of years before, I had read a book called Birthing From Within and decided then that I was interested in having a child, as long as I could have it naturally, at home. Before that I hadn’t realized how much fear I had had about birth. I think I thought an over weight person automatically equaled an unhealthy person, and therefore, a complicated birth. It was really important to me that the birthing experience be positive, and a homebirth seemed like the best way to accomplish that. The feeling that this decision was the best choice for me was very strong, and I was looking forward to additional research on homebirths and its issues. I discussed it with Mike and he seemed fine with the idea – probably because he had never thought about it before, and had no idea what to expect.
Shortly after we were pregnant I started looking for a midwife. I found “Vee”, a Certified Nurse Midwife who specialized in homebirths. She had worked in hospitals for years and then later decided to open her own practice. I asked her if she had any concerns about my weight, and she didn’t. She provided all the care and services I needed throughout the entire pregnancy.
I only wanted one or two ultrasounds, and we decided we wanted to be surprised with the gender. I had all the standard tests throughout the pregnancy, most of which came back normal. I was concerned about getting gestational diabetes (because of my weight and family history), but my sugar levels were always fine. I did test positive for Group B Strep, so Vee and I discussed possible issues that may arise because of that. We determined that if my water broke early during the labor process it would be necessary to monitor my temperature to see if an infection was getting into my uterus.
The baby was due on June 15, 2004. About a week before the due date I woke in the middle of the night with what I thought were contractions. They were 13 minutes apart, and felt like muscle cramps in my lower abdomen. However, as soon as I sat up, they stopped and didn’t return – false labor. This happened again around the 18th or so. On June 20th, around 7PM, I started having real contractions that felt more like menstrual cramps. They weren’t that painful and I was actually able to sleep on and off that night. Mike called his boss and told him he wouldn’t be in the next week.
By Monday the 21st I felt like I was officially in labor. The surges were regular, lasting about 30 seconds every five minutes or so. However, they weren’t that much work as I was able to walk around between, make phone calls, answer e-mails, etc. I called Vee around 4PM, described the symptoms and she said I should give her a call around 7PM to see how I was doing. A little later Vee came over and checked my cervix and the baby’s heartbeat. She didn’t want to place a number on how dilated I was (because she knew I would be doing the math to try to figure out when this baby would arrive!), but she said everything was progressing along fine.
By then labor was a bit more work. I had figured out that sitting or lying down through a contraction was much more painful than standing. When I had to go to the bathroom, if I would have a contraction while sitting on the toilet, afterwards I would feel so sick I would vomit. This happened twice and I realized that sitting through a contraction was not for me! And if I laid down too long, the surges would slow down or not be as intense. I thought that would delay things too much, so I would get up and walk around, thinking that would speed up the arrival of the baby. I would sit on the edge of my bed, and when a surge would come along, I would stand up, lean on the arm of our treadmill and Mike would rub my back.
By midnight or so, Mike and I were tired, and we needed some kind of feedback from Vee on how much longer this would take. She checked me again, and said that I was still in the early stages of labor and it may be a while before the baby would be born. We decided that I needed some rest, so I propped myself up in a chair knowing things would slow down a bit, but maybe I could get some rest. Mike went to sleep and Vee went home and told me to call if I felt things were changing.
Around 4:30AM on June 22nd I was tired. By this time I realized that I had been a bit arrogant about how much work this would all entail. I remember thinking that I had assumed that this would be easier than it was, and I needed to face the fact that if I wanted this baby out this was going to be hard work. I remember thinking that, although I knew the Lord had been with me throughout this whole experience, my faith in Him was going to carry me through this. My need for prayer kicked in right then.
I called Vee who suggested that I get in a bath to see if that would feel good to me. I was reluctant because I didn’t want to go through the trouble of changing positions again. But I realized something had to change, so I tried it. What a difference! I filled the tub, laid down on my side, and had the shower spray hot water down on me. The surges were very mild and I was actually able to sleep for a few hours.
By 7AM or so, Vee came back and I told her how wonderful the water felt, although I was sure I hadn’t progressed since I wasn’t that uncomfortable. She checked the baby’s heartbeat and my cervix and said that I had dilated almost twice as far, and my cervix was extremely soft. We decided that the birthing tub was the way to go. Mike and Vee started setting up the tub in our bedroom, while I labored next to the treadmill.
They filled the tub with warm water, and crawling into it was heaven! I tried going through contractions in several different positions until I found that leaning over the edge of the tub while kneeling was the most comfortable way to labor. Mike put a warm wet towel on my back and would hold my hips whenever a surge would come along. One of my kitty cats chose a spot on a chair near the tub and we all patiently waited as I labored along. I remember reminding my husband that I’ll need verbal reassurance and support with each surge. At one point he told me that I looked like Sara Connor. “Who is Sara Connor?” I asked. “From the second Terminator movie,” he said. “You look wild.”
Later I felt my water break and called Vee over. She said that I needed to get out of the tub so she could check to make sure my water was clear. I stood up and had a very painful contraction which sent me right back into the water. A few minutes later I tried standing up again – another contraction. She decided to check me while I was in the tub. She checked the waters, my cervix and the baby’s heartbeat. “Jameel, you’re having this baby before lunch!” she said. “What time is it now?” I asked. It was 11:30AM. I shooed my cat off of the chair and used that to crawl out of the tub onto the bed.
I started to feel the urge to push with each contraction once I was on the bed. I tried pushing while on all fours for awhile. Then Mike sat on the edge of the bed while I leaned into his lap. Vee and her assistant, “Ann”, sat behind me constantly monitoring the baby’s heartbeat. All my pushing took a lot of focus and I remember that I didn’t want to open my eyes or be otherwise distracted. Mike would constantly say reassuring things to me, and the midwives were telling me how well I was doing after each push.
After some time I asked her how much of the head was out. She suggested that I reach back and feel, but I didn’t want to. She said she could see the hair. I asked, “Can you see the forehead?” and she replied, “Not yet.” I exasperatingly said, “This is taking too long. In the movies this part is always faster.” She reassured me that this is taking exactly how long this is supposed to take and everything was progressing nicely. So I continued to push with each surge. My focus was to muster the energy to get two good pushes in with each contraction. She asked if I wanted to try a different position, but I was too tired to move around. Ann brought me a cup of orange juice but it was too sweet. I just wanted ice water. I felt her put a cool cloth on the back of my neck, but for some reason I wanted the cloth on my feet instead (??).
I could feel the head coming out more and more, and that motivated me to want to try to push more than twice with each surge. I tried to push a third time and maybe a fourth time, but I was tired. Vee suggested that I wait until I have another contraction before trying to push again. But I wanted the baby out! Finally, Vee suggested that I try a different position again. I turned around and put my back to my husband’s stomach. He held me up while I pushed. I’m not sure how many pushes it took, but it didn’t take much. I felt the baby slide right out and she put him on my chest.
I remember my first thought was, “Oh, well that wasn’t so bad.” Then my second thought was, “Why did I just think that?” I immediately had this burst of energy while I looked at the baby. He was trying to open his eyes, but the light on the bedside table was too bright. We turned off the light and his eyes opened right up. Then I felt another contraction, much milder. Vee said that it would stop once I pushed out the placenta, but I was in a funny position on the edge of the bed, and Mike was pinned behind me. Finally, Mike wiggled out, sat me on the bed, and I was able to sit up. He helped cut the cord and I pushed out the placenta. I laid on the bed to look at the baby. “It’s a boy!”
Quinton Alexander was born at 2:02PM on June 22, 2004.
Since I’ve had the baby, many people have told me that they think I was very brave. That makes me laugh, because I feel like I made the easiest birthing choice. I’m trying to imagine going through all of this in a hospital, and I just can’t. Would I have been able to try so many different positions? Would I have been encouraged to do something to speed things along? And how would have that affected the outcome? And I know that I wouldn’t have felt as comfortable there than in my own home.
Could something have gone wrong? Sure. But I believe the chances of that are greatly reduced by allowing my body to labor the way it wanted to. Also, I trusted my midwife, and I trusted my body that whatever could have happened, would be manageable.
The whole experience was wonderful. The baby is beautiful and healthy. I thank the Lord for all the wonderful blessings he has given my family.
Aylene's Story (homebirth)
Kmom's Notes: Some women who have been on phen-fen found their cycles messed up afterwards; in others it helped their cycles. Many women with insulin resistance have reported, however, that a low- or moderate-carb food plan helped restore their cycles fairly reliably. (Kmom has deep reservations about the very low carb diets, but a moderate plan seems more reasonable.)
I have struggled with my weight my whole life. My mother was overweight and had me on her diets before I even started school so dieting has been a part of my life since I can remember...[I yo-yo'd up and down the scale quite a lot.] Right before I met my husband I had lost 70 lbs by taking doctor prescribed phentermine. I had gained back 20 lbs by our wedding and a year later the rest. Nevertheless, my husband is very loving and accepting of me. He still thinks that I am beautiful and admits that he prefers a padded woman to a scrawny one. By my early 20s I had begun to have irregular cycles. This had never really worried me until after my marriage. We knew that we wanted children and with my post-marital weight gain my periods had gone awry. I took numerous pregnancy tests and finally went to an OB.
They examined me and found everything ok. When I asked about stabilizing my menstrual cycles he advised that if they didn't stabilize on their own soon that he could prescribe hormone pills. I thought, Ugh, No way! I hadn't had a period since May 1997 and since we were interested in becoming pregnant we stopped using protection during sex. In January of 1998 my husband and I both decided to lose some weight and began a low-carbohydrate diet. I successfully lost 11 lbs in the first month and got down to 248 lbs. Imagine my surprise when I became pregnant in that month! It was several weeks before I realized that I actually was pregnant since I had no period to time it by. The emotional swings and general feeling of malaise were the first subtle hints. I stopped the low carb diet. I found myself crying for silly reasons at work. I honestly thought that I was having a nervous breakdown. The key was when my breasts noticeably changed. The next day I bought a pregnancy test.
On some level I had always wanted to have my baby at home but assumed that I would give birth at the hospital like everyone else I knew. In my childbirth class my husband and I learned a lot about traditional hospital policies and procedures that disturbed us. This convinced me that I wanted to have as natural a birth as possible because of the benefits to both mother and child. The group of obstetricians I began seeing were very traditional and had high rates of epidurals and episiotomies -- things I did not want. I decided to seek some alternate form of healthcare. My husband and I decided to investigate home birthing. We researched the facts and prayed for God's wisdom and guidance. My childbirth instructors had told me about Sharon's homebirth midwifery practice. I scheduled an appointment and we met.
After talking with Sharon I knew that I wanted to try home birth. As a back-up plan I also begin seeing a Certified Nurse Midwife in an OB's practice. During my pregnancy I followed the Brewer Diet, a diet which includes a lot of protein, calcium, fruits, green, yellow and orange vegetables. I limited my intake of sweets - though it was hard to give up my ice cream during that hot summer. I actually lost weight during my first trimester, common in plus-sized women. In all I gained about 25 lbs throughout the pregnancy with the majority gained during the 6 weeks preceding my labor.
I had been expecting labor to start any day since late September. Early in the week I had experienced some loose bowel movements and thought I may have passed my mucus plug. On Friday morning, October 9th , I had a little bloody show and was excited. I thought, This is it! I had a weekly appointment ; I was not even dilated one centimeter and my cervix had not noticeably effaced. I left her office feeling hopeful that labor would begin soon. I passed some very unusual mucus on Friday and Saturday but other than a few Braxton Hicks contractions nothing else happened all weekend. We took a few walks hoping to get something going and I stayed a bit on edge waiting.
In the early a.m. hours on Monday morning the Braxton Hicks contractions became strong enough to rouse me from a sound sleep -- normally no easy task. For two hours the contractions came every eight to ten minutes and were uncomfortable enough to cause me to stop whatever I was doing and just focus on relaxing. I knew from my reading that I should try to get as much sleep as possible and so I took a nap. When I woke back up the contractions had abated and lost their regularity. [I had irregular BH Contractions over the next day; I walked trying to get things going.]
[The next day I had more BH contractions. My midwife came over late that afternoon.] When Sharon somewhat reluctantly checked me at around 5 p.m. she was surprised to find that I was dilated to 3-4 cms and very thin. She had thought it likely that I was still experiencing "false" labor and didn't want me to be discouraged. At that point Sharon suspected that the birth would occur that night but was still cautious in her evaluation. After all, I was a first time mother and my mother's history included a slow twenty-four hour labor. Sharon went home with her son, leaving instructions for us to call her when the contractions were two minutes apart. As she left my house at 5 p.m. I had a contraction that actually took my breath away. My mom called from work and I told her the news but told her to stay where she was, probably there would not be any major action before she got off work at 9 p.m. However, by 6 p.m. the contractions were coming more intensely requiring support from my husband and closing in on the 2 minute mark. My husband and I decided to take a hot shower. The water on my back felt heavenly while he supported me through several contractions.
When we got out of the shower we decided it was time to call Sharon. At this point I felt that I couldn't get through a contraction without my husband's immediate presence. His hands and steady pressure on my lower back helped me to focus and made the contractions more bearable. We walked the house together a bit and tried several positions during the contractions. The one that felt best to me was on my knees leaning over some pillows piled on top of a footstool. He could really press into my back, giving a lot of relief. Between the contractions (about two minutes apart) he was running around the house trying to do the [last-minute nesting] things I requested.
When my mom called back a little after 6:30 p.m. we told her to come - things were progressing quicker than anticipated. She arrived at our house right after Sharon got here at around 7p.m. At that point the contractions were quite intense and painful enough for me to cry out with moans and some wails. I wondered if the neighbors would call the police to investigate the strange sounds. Sharon gave me another exam and found me at approximately 7 cms. She immediately called her assistant, Lori. Transition was starting. This time period is mostly a blur. I have to go by what everyone else tells me about it. I remember experiencing intense physical sensation - a different kind of pain than I'd ever experienced - and a timelessness. From the beginning of transition until Simon was born I felt like I'd entered a different dimension where time didn't exist. There were just the contractions and the time between. Everything else moved in slow motion. Between the contractions when I tried to speak I thought I was speaking normally and became a bit frustrated when Roger had to translate everything I said - no one else could hear or understand me.
Most of transition was spent either on the floor bent over the ottoman or on the toilet two feet away. Everyone present has confirmed that I was quite loud during the contractions and that there was a definite difference from the previous contractions. Transition lasted about 45 minutes and was without doubt the hardest part of the delivery. The contractions were like a force of nature, powerful and beyond any control. Sharon finally confirmed that I was nearly complete, only a slight lip left, so she gave it a little nudge to help it along then gave me permission to begin pushing.
The next stage of labor was very different from what I had expected. First, I didn't feel a strong urge to push and, second, for some reason I thought the contractions wouldn't hurt anymore during this stage. I learned that pushing into the contractions somehow made the pain go away and replaced it with really intense pressure. I didn't want anyone to touch me. This was hard work and no comforting touches could help me. I tried several different positions during the pushing; standing, on my side, sitting up with hubby behind me, but didn't feel like I was making any progress. I just felt a strong heaviness in my pelvis. This part of labor was the most tiring. While on the floor resting on the ottoman during one push I felt like a blister was bursting between my legs and I felt my water break. This was only about twenty or thirty minutes before my son was born.
At one point during the pushing I told Sharon that I was too tired to continue, she replied, "That's okay. The contractions won't stop and your body will push the baby out on its own." Grrr! That motivated me to continue pushing. The most helpful thing at this stage were Sharon's fingers directing my pushing efforts. She would occasionally touch me and tell me to push to that spot. It gave me direction and a focus. I started to feel a bit queasy and at the end of one contraction felt that I was almost going to pass out. My mother recognized low blood sugar and got me a glass of orange juice. I only took two sips but they seemed to give me a lift. I remember saying a quick prayer asking God for strength and help, then I turned over and got on my hands and knees on the bed. Somehow I had found a determination and strength to be finished with this. Sharon called my mother in to see the top of baby's head as it started to peek during the height of the pushes and then on one push I got him past the pelvic bone and he was ready to crown. She had just applied the warm oil compress to ease the burning and stretching - a ring of fire indeed! It was a wonderful relief.
Trying to encourage me, she told me to feel my baby's head but I was completely focused on pushing. I think I took Sharon by surprise at this point. She told my hubby to hurry and scrub his hands so he could catch the baby. I didn't stop pushing - this baby was coming out now! On the next push baby's head was delivered, then Sharon told me to stop - I paused briefly while she helped the baby to turn his shoulders - then I gave one last push and he was fully delivered.
My son was born at 10:10 p.m. I collapsed my upper body on some pillows and asked someone to help me turn over to see my baby. My mother held him up while I rearranged myself then he was placed on my stomach. Sharon directed hubby in cutting the cord after it had stopped pulsating then I brought my son to my chest. I had a milder contraction and in one little push delivered the placenta while sitting up holding my baby. At this point Sharon took him from me to give him a quick wipe and bundled him tightly then everyone left so that Roger and I could have some time alone. We turned off the lamp and lit several candles and spent about an hour just looking at our baby in awe.
Sharon called her husband with the news and was heard to say that I was such an awesome birther that I should have a dozen children! This experience is one I wouldn't trade for the world and I plan to deliver any future children God blesses us with at home as well. I think that this experience gave me the same kind of self-knowledge that some people seek by doing extraordinary things - like climbing mountains or running marathons. I think that I understand myself, my limits and abilities better than ever before. I am more sure of my own strength and power.
Kathy2's Story (Supersized, induction, vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: It's very common to elect an epidural very late in the dilation process when the pain seems overwhelming, get into position for it to be administered, get it, and then be completely dilated and ready to push shortly thereafter. There are several possibilities here: the position that you have to get into for getting an epidural (spine curved over) often finishes the last bit of dilation needed and a simple position change might have eliminated the need for an epidural; or the epidural relief relaxes the woman enough to finish dilating quickly. Probably it's a little bit of both. But often just when a woman needs the epidural most, she's nearly done, and assuming that epidural position can often finish the process for some women without getting the drugs. It's a trick many professional labor support people know to try before actually resorting to the epidural.
My official due date came and went with absolutely so signs of impending labor, so Dr. T scheduled an induction for October 18. We were supposed to report to the hospital at 7:30 am on Monday, October 18, but they were full, so we couldn't come in until 2:00 pm. They gave me prostaglandin to soften the cervix. At 7:00 pm they started the pitocin. For two hours nothing happened. Finally, a little after 9:00 pm, the contractions began. By 11:00 pm I needed to concentrate during the contractions. By midnight I had to start using my breathing exercises through contractions. At 1:00 am, I was between 3 and 4 cm! As the nurse checked me, my water broke.
Contractions started to pick up almost immediately after my water broke, and I asked hubby (DH) to call our doula, H. H and the nurse provided suggestions on different laboring positions, and DH provided my emotional support. DH was completely wonderful, angelically patient, and absolutely perfect throughout the entire experience. During the interval from 2:00 am to 5:00 the mood started to get more and more serious, as my contractions kept getting stronger.
At 5:00 am I was at 6 cm but the baby was still very high at -3 station. The contractions became a lot more uncomfortable, and I started to doubt that I could make it much further without pain medications. By 5:30 am I asked for an epidural. They told me that there was an anesthesiologist on the floor, and that he would be here in about ten minutes. Well, ten minutes took over an hour.
The anesthesiologist arrived at 6:30 am, and it took him quite a while to set up. I had to sit up and hunch over and not move a muscle as he was injecting needles into my spine. This was torture, because I was having transition contractions one on top of another. Finally, at 7 am, the medicine started flowing. But instead of feeling less pain, I felt the urge to push. I was 9 cm with only a lip of a cervix left. It was difficult to blow through the contractions instead of pushing like my body wanted to do. Fortunately, at 7:30 am, I was 10 cm and ready to push! The epidural deadened my pain, but I still felt some pain and a very clear urge to push. I guess I was a good pusher, because at only 7:45 the nurse told me to STOP pushing because we had to wait for Dr. T to deliver this baby!
Finally, at about 8:10 Dr. T had arrived and set up, and I could start pushing again. After one or two contractions, the head was out. After one more "light push", my son was born -- 8:15 am. He cried lustily for a few minutes, long enough to assure everyone that he was breathing just fine, then he settled down. His APGAR scores were 9 and 9. He was 9 lbs., 3 oz, 19 1/2 inches -- a big baby, and perfectly healthy. We were discharged two days later, to go home as a little family.
To all of you who are contemplating pregnancy or are recently pregnant and concerned that your weight dooms you to a problem pregnancy and/or an unhealthy baby, let me tell you that at my experience has been almost entirely problem-free in spite of my weight -- 350 lbs at delivery (yikes!). Other than low progesterone early in pregnancy, I had a completely normal pregnancy. And other than needing to be induced for being 11 days overdue, I had a completely normal delivery. And my baby has a perfect bill of health. I wish everyone the best of luck in their pregnancies. Here's to happy, healthy babies!
Bfing: I had a lot of difficulties with breastfeeding at first. In fact, this proved to be BY FAR the most difficult aspect of bringing my baby into the world. We had a lot of difficulties with latch on, as he would not open his mouth very wide and my nipples did not protrude as much as I would have liked. Also, my breasts are very full and poorly supported, so I couldn't figure out how to manipulate them into his mouth. Then when I got engorged, my breasts turned into two huge rocks. He lost a full pound off his birth weight. I consulted a lactation consultant and things improved for a little while, but then they fell apart again. I eventually resorted to using a pump and bottle-feeding him my expressed breast milk. This was extremely difficult on me and I spent a lot of time crying. With lots of additional support from several lactation consultants, we eventually got him back on the breast and he has been eating well and gaining well since about 2.5 weeks. He is now 10.5 weeks old and exclusively breast-fed. I plan to continue exclusively breastfeeding until at least 6 months, maybe longer.
In this adventure, I learned a few things the hard way. First, be as prepared as possible before-hand with information on breastfeeding. I found "Nursing Woman's Companion" to be indispensable. Read it before the birth of your baby because you won't have time afterwards. Second, get competent help as soon as you THINK you might need it. If you are having any kind of difficulties, they will usually get worse unless addressed properly. Third, experiment a lot with different positions and different kinds of support pillows. Advice that works well for a small-breasted woman might be useless for you. The only thing that I found worked for me was the cross-cradle position using the large nursing pillow from Baby Becoming. I could have spared myself a lot of pain if I had read Kmom's breastfeeding FAQ before he was born, as this document told me most everything which I had figured out the hard way. This advice is pertinent to all women, but especially critical for large-breasted women because a lot of common advice doesn't work "off-the-shelf" for us.
Robyn's Story (2 hospital births, then home waterbirth)
Kmom's Notes: Robyn consistently measured 'large' for dates by uterine size, which is a concern to many doctors, yet had average-sized babies. Larger women often do 'measure large' in pregnancy, making it appear to the doctor like they are going to have huge babies, so they are often subject to a great deal of intervention as a result. Although larger women do tend to have larger babies, fundal measurement (of uterine size) in larger women is not an accurate measure of the resulting baby size.
It is not realistic to expect a size 5 woman and a size 26 baby to have the same fundal measurements, despite a similarly-sized baby; larger women start with more padding and therefore generally tend to measure larger all along. What's more important is the consistency of measurement; if you always measure 3 cm 'bigger' and then suddenly measure 7 cm bigger, the doctor will have a more legitimate reason for concern. However, do be aware that measuring fundal height is extremely subjective; two different providers often come up with different measurements on the same person, same day. Also, the baby's position can influence a sudden increase in measurement as well. Fundal measurement is important as a general guideline, but is not very objective and needs to be taken with a significant grain of salt in large women in particular.
My first pregnancy was uneventful during pregnancy and birth. 8 hour labor start to finish, uncomplicated vaginal birth. My second pregnancy's labor was 6 hours, start to finish. Very intense, short births! I maintained a good diet and took my vitamins.
What is ironic is that they kept saying I wasn't in labor because no contractions showed up on the monitor both births (due to my "padding" monitoring me for contractions is useless). However when I was checked I was 4cm and moving quickly. Baby born few hours later. So much for me not being in labor! I managed to convince them by throwing up :O)
Once they realized they simply couldn't pick up the contractions, they were more accommodating. They were very good in every other aspect of my labor (except for the epidural which they "wet tapped", meaning they went too far causing unbelievable headaches for days). My weight did not play into my doctor's decisions, but I was very carefully in finding an OB that would not give me a hassle as I had run across that before and refused to accept it for this pregnancy!
Here is the link to my birth story: http://personal.mco.bellsouth.net/mco/d/m/dmatpm/Tjbirth.htm
Postscript: "Baby #3 arrived today at 10: 49 a.m. with a splash! An awesome home water birth. He weighed in at 9 lbs. 4 ounces 21 inches." This baby arrived in a very fast <3 hour labor at 41 weeks, 5 days. Robyn labored and delivered in a tub or birthing pool, supported by her family and her doula, midwife, etc. About this birth, she says "It was very different having this baby at home. My first two were hospital epidural births. It was nice not to have monitors and vaginal exams or have to deal with strangers at the hospital. I would definitely do it again at home. It wasn't exactly what I imagined it would be like, but the experience was good." The story of this birth (including pictures) can be found at http://personal.mco.bellsouth.net/mco/d/m/dmatpm/mattox/story.html.
Another postscript: Baby #4, a girl, was also born at home a few years later. Here is her story.
I started having contractions early. They would peter out and then come back. I went to the midwives' office and had her check me. Still no change from last week, 2 cm and no effacement. She stretched my cervix and I was a good 3 before I left. After a few hours of steady contractions, I had the midwife come check me. No change, still 3 though. She stretched again using the Evening Primrose Oil, and I got to 4. By 10 p.m. no change, still 4. The contractions were strong and steady but manageable.
After a long discussion on it, I decided to have her break my water. The contractions were extreme then! I got in the shower and just labored. Lights off, in the dark. The midwife just sat by the shower door and talked me through contractions. I had a house full of people, but I had them all stay on the other side of the house. The midwife said I needed to get out and move around. So I did. About 15 minutes out of the shower I asked to get in the tub. I was really having to work through contractions now with a lot of vocalizing and saying, "no, no, no!" The midwife brought me back into focus and I asked to get into the tub. Once I did I relaxed and felt pressure.
The next contraction I yelled 'push' and just grunted and pushed. She came out all in one motion. No tearing, although it felt like I tore. She is doing great and nursing well. I still can't believe she is here!
I always know the pain is hard, but the end results are worth it. I couldn't tell myself that at the time though. I figured [the midwife] would check me and I would still be the same! I was shocked when I felt her move down so quickly and then out, all in the span of about 2 minutes. My water was broken at 2:10 a.m., she was born at 4:17 a.m. Same 2 hours it took her brother before her!
Kimberly's Story (posterior, induced vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: Another 'typical posterior' story. Her bag of waters broke before labor (not unusual with posterior babies because they tend to put uneven pressure on the amniotic sac), she dilated but had an 'anterior lip' (9.5 cm) that was difficult to finish, and she 'got stuck' in the second stage (pushing), almost leading to a c-section. In the end, however, the baby came unstuck and was born face-up just as she was being wheeled in for a c/s. Although it's not easy for a baby to be born posterior, it can certainly happen, especially if the baby's head finally molded enough to go through, the head slipped into a better position, or the chin suddenly tucked down (which reduces the head diameter that has to go through). Whatever happened, something occurred that allowed the baby to be born suddenly.
As a follow-up note, Kimberly notes that her first baby was also posterior (turned after hands/knees position), and that her mother and maternal grandmother also had some posterior babies. This second baby had a touch of jaundice, but that is common aftereffect of induction with pitocin.
I guess you could say I am a classic example of how average and "normal" a pregnancy and birth can be for a larger woman. C was conceived easily, one month after we started 'trying'. My pregnancy was fairly uneventful, except my doctor actually got concerned that I was LOSING weight. I found that my heightened sense of smell, couple with all-day morning sickness made eating a less-than-wonderful chore. In the end I delivered at a weight of 269 and left the hospital at 249, almost 20 lbs. less than pre-pregnancy. All of my health-care providers (nurses, etc.) were fantastic throughout the pregnancy, and I only had to ask once for the large bp cuff (new nurse).
My labor was induced with iv pitocin because my water had broken without real contractions for more than 12 hours. The presentation was [posterior], which slowed things down considerably, and put me in misery with back labor. During the final hours of labor I spent at least 2-2.5 hours on my hands and knees with my husband and nurse applying pressure to my lower back to manage the pain. The nurse also talked me through a lot of visualization, who knows if that helped? It almost seems like I was keeping her stuck because I couldn't relax through the pain.
The baby "got stuck" trying to pass into the birth canal and the doctors had decided that a cesarean was in order, which was fine by me at that point (was stuck at 9.5 cm, fully effaced for over 2 hours). When they mentioned c-section I finally relaxed because I knew that I wouldn't have to do the impossible (push her out) and BOOM there she was. The baby had other plans!
As I was being wheeled across the hall to the shiny metal-filled delivery room, she decided she was coming "unstuck" and fast....I was crowning in the hall and I shrieked that the baby was coming NOW and a nurse reached down and held her in till we got to delivery. She shot out like a wriggling cannonball (as my husband put it) about 5 seconds later. She had a touch of jaundice but that didn't even require bili lights and we went home about 40 hours later.
Christina's Story (med-free vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: Christina is a doula, a professional labor-support person.
My first 2 pregnancies were completely average. I was 135 at the beginning of my first, gained 25 lbs and promptly lost it within a month after the baby. My second pregnancy I gained close to 70 lbs, still haven't lost it yet. When we set about trying for our 3rd I only briefly thought about my weight. I knew many big moms who did fine so I figured I would too.
I choose to see a midwife, which was the best decision I made. She never commented on my weight in a negative way. We talked about eating healthy and trying to drink water and that was about it. I felt comfortable with her and tried to eat sensibly. My pregnancy progressed as normal, I didn't gain much until the end. But even then my midwife never commented to me. I guess, my focus was on having a healing birth after the trauma of my second, long story about that. So I never really thought about my weight as a factor. I was very lucky to have both a midwife and a loving husband to support me.
The labor part was wonderful. I was in labor for about 10 hours. It went absolutely the way it should. At the end when he was out we all thought he was a little big but had no idea until they weighed him how big he was. I'm so happy about the way the pregnancy went and how the labor was that we are trying for our 4th now. I am heavier now than at my top pregnancy weight but I don't even think about it. I guess sites like these have helped me realize how weight is just a number and the point in life is to feel comfortable with yourself.
Aliza's Story (Supersized,1 terrible vaginal birth, 1 terrific vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: This mom had a terrible birth experience the first time around. Although the birth was vaginal, it was very traumatic and the treatment very poor. (Vaginal births can be very traumatic sometimes. Nancy Wainer Cohen calls these "vaginal cesareans", and they too often need healing.) It's also interesting to note that the poor treatment she received was at the hands of on-call hospital midwives who handled her birth; in her second birth she had the private OB she saw for prenatals in both pregnancies. Proof that on occasion, midwives aren't always better!
Aliza worked very proactively the second time around to change things. Between pregnancies, she sought counseling for food/body issues and really gained more trust and respect for her body. She used her supportive and size-friendly OB for birth too (not just prenatals), hired a doula (professional labor support person), worked on body trust, and actively did positive visualizations of birth, etc. It really can make a difference!
I'm originally from Melbourne, Australia, although I've been living in Israel for the past ten years. The system here is quite different from the States. The public health system allows you to see a ob/gyn throughout your pregnancy and then one registers at one of the local hospitals and your baby is delivered by a midwife who just happens to be on call. You can even have a number of midwives throughout a single delivery as they change shifts every 8 hours. One may also see a private doctor at own expense throughout one's pregnancy and may also take this same dr. for the delivery at the hospital where the dr. has "rights".
First Pregnancy: My first pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage at about 10 weeks in March 1993. After that I tried naturally to conceive including losing a significant amount of weight which my dr. said would help ovulation resume. When that didn't help and I was feeling desperate, I finally said I wanted help. My son was conceived on my first round of Clomid.
Second Pregnancy, First Birth: From the very beginning of the pregnancy I was pessimistic. From the third week (one week after conception) I had severe abdominal pain which my dr. could not diagnose and said that it was too early in the preg. for him to do anything -- either it'll continue or it won't. By the end of the fourth month, the pains subsided (I had basically been experiencing the pains whenever I moved and had quit my job and put myself on bed rest) and I then began questioning my dr. about all the problems I assumed would happen as a result of my weight. My dr. was okay in that he said that certain problems would be more likely; however, we'd deal with *if* they came up. Regarding my weight, he had said originally that I would probably put on less than thin women and he would like to see no more than a 6 kg gain. I lost steadily in the first few months and my the end of the ninth month, I'd gained a total of 8kg which was fine with him.
During the last six weeks of my second pregnancy (first birth), my BP went up a bit and I had to be monitored every two days (b/p, NST, u/s). This constant worrying and not knowing what would happen worked havoc on my sanity and by the time I was induced at 42 weeks, I was a mental mess. The treatment in the hospital was vastly different from my private dr. They made me feel bad as if it was my fault that my BP was up, as if no thin women ever had elevated BP in late pregnancy.
The labour itself was extremely traumatic in a number of respects. Firstly, the hospital staff made me feel like they were doing me a favour and I was induced at 10:30pm, half an hour before the shift change, so as to accommodate the oncoming shift, despite being exhausted from a very emotional day. Secondly, queries by myself, my husband or my labour coach were dismissed as bothersome. Any efforts on our part to create a different kind of labour experience were met with disdain if not direct opposition such as a desire to remove the monitor temporarily, to walk around the labour ward, to change positions etc.
Finally, I don't feel as if I received any support from the staff to boost my confidence in my ability to birth my baby. This feeling was increased when my failure to progress, after having spent 7 hours at 6cm dilation, was met with the on-call dr's saying "either labour progresses in the next half hour or you'll go for a c/s" and saying again after having gotten an epidural (for which I had to wait 3 hours, which took me to 10cm in a matter of minutes) that if the baby wasn't delivered in half an hour I'd again be taken for a c/s.
Fortunately, my son was delivered in exactly 30 minutes weighing 4.32 kg. I don't know if the dr's response was due to my weight or not. The placenta took more than 40 minutes to be delivered and then the midwives were not sure if it was complete. By the time the dr. checked it, I was hemorrhaging, and he had to do an emergency manual D&C without any anesthetic (100 times more painful than childbirth), then I went into shock and had to have a blood transfusion.
Needless to say, I was traumatized. I felt as if I'd been physically and emotionally raped. My body had been invaded, pushed and shoved, pulled and manipulated. It took me many months to realize the extent of the trauma I'd been through. I don't know how much of my experiences with the medical staff was due to my weight but another significant factor that cannot be ignored is the fact that I am an English-speaking immigrant in a Middle Eastern country - the cultural gap is significant and the attitudes towards birth very different. I do know that they definitely did nothing to reassure me that it wasn't my fault and at my six week check-up I discussed these events with my private dr. who reassured me that it had nothing to do with my weight.
Third Pregnancy, Second Birth: My second baby's birth was an extremely exciting and spiritual event and this is my birth story. After my first baby 2.5 years earlier, I was terrified of labor. My son's birth was preceded by 6 weeks of medical intervention which left me feeling like my body was awful and couldn't function as it should have and that my size was the cause of all the problems.
It took a long time but by the time my daughter was conceived, I had begun to like my pregnant body. As the pregnancy continued my self-esteem grew and that confidence was boosted by a completely uneventful pregnancy. For the first time ever I felt like my body wasn't betraying me and I began to respect my body. So although as my due date approached I began to feel anxious, I tried to get in touch with my body and show respect for the process that was happening inside of me. On Friday afternoon I took a bath in lavender oil to help me relax and continued with my visualizations which I'd been doing in the last few weeks - imagining my uterus opening up and allowing by baby to be born through it.
My water broke at 4:30 am the following morning, the day before my due date and since I didn't have any contractions I followed my doula's instructions to stay at home and waited. I spent a lovely day with my family and friends until early evening when I contacted my doctor who asked me to come in. I arrived at the hospital some 16 hours after my waters broke and had managed to induce contractions using nipple stimulation for a half hour in the car on the way in. I was 4cm dilated and 80% effaced and barely feeling the contractions.
My OB gave me a hospital room to rest in for the night and said he'd see me in the morning or when anything started happening. I sent my husband to my brother's house nearby and told him to get some sleep. I decided to try having a shower to see if that would help move things along. By the time I got out of the shower a short time later, my contractions were strong and I was feeling shaky in between the contractions. I was a little nervous so I called my doula who said it was time for her to come.
At 1:15 am my husband and doula arrived at the hospital. For the next three hours I experienced strong but irregular contractions. I varied my positions and walked a lot to accelerate labor but by 4:30 I was only having contractions every 15 minutes. By now, I'd been up for 24 hours so I decided to get some rest. After sleeping for two hours, my OB returned and checked me. I was now 5cm and 100% effaced and very disappointed and very fearful of repeating the scenario of my first birth with a pitocin induction, stalled labor and baby in distress. Since I had discussed these fears with my doula and OB during the pregnancy we had worked out how I would handle such a similar scenario and thus when my OB said he had to use pitocin to get labor going I knew I would get an epidural to help me with the pain.
It was 9am by the time the pitocin was started and my epidural was already in place. The labor went very quickly from then on and although despite two attempts with the epidural, it was not working as it should. By 12:35pm I was 9cm dilated and felt the need to push. For 25 minutes my doula worked with me to help me concentrate on not pushing and at exactly 1:00pm my OB said "okay, push" - the words I had been waiting for. Exactly 6 minutes and three contractions later my beautiful daughter was born. She was delivered straight onto my stomach and my husband cut the cord. A few minutes later the placenta was delivered and I had one stitch to repair a very minor tear. My daughter nursed immediately and we were left alone to bond and rest. A short while after the birth I hopped of the bed, freshened up and walked to the maternity ward full of energy albeit tired.
My doula had been a wonderful source of emotional support and physical help. She knew what my concerns were and was able to help me through the fear as well as rub my back between contractions and give a lot of encouragement. My OB was wonderful also in that he gave me the space to try for the type of birth I wanted. My OB treated me, throughout, like any other pregnant woman and made no comment about my weight. When I asked him about having a higher chance of GD or PIH he said that we'll deal with that if and when we need to. At no time during the pregnancy or labor did he make me feel handicapped by my weight but rather was tremendously encouraging and positive. My husband was there the whole time and I cannot imagine going through birth without his continued presence and support. Throughout, I felt surrounded by people who were caring and considerate of my feelings and what I was going through and they all helped me make this birth experience the best it could be.
Heather's Story (baby malposition, 2 vaginal births)
Kmom's Notes: #1 is another baby malposition story! It's not clear, but it looks like this one was not truly turned around, just a little 'off', since it was easily corrected by a vacuum extractor. Baby was probably asynclitic or a tad transverse in the head only. Baby #2 came easily and quickly; see what a difference a properly positioned baby can make!
I had my first baby when I was 19. After a comfortable and uneventful pregnancy I went into labor 1 week shy of my due date. I knew I was already dilated 3 cm. and 90% effaced from a doctors appointment a few days earlier.
For the last three months I had told my doctor that the baby didn't move much, and he seemed okay with that, but when I went in to the hospital with contractions 4 minutes apart they were very concerned that I hadn't felt her move very much. They immediately put monitors on me and ordered an ultrasound, apparently I had little to no amniotic fluid. They tried to rupture my membranes, but nothing happened. I stayed in bed on my back with a rolled towel under my right side for 17 hours and I had three failed attempts at an epidural- so I was feeling everything.
I started to push at 9pm, she moved less than 1 cm in almost three hours of pushing. She started dropping her heart rate with each contraction. My OB walks in and announces without explanation he will try to vacuum-extract her and if doesn't work in the next ten minutes I will be having an emergency c-section. We found out her head was stuck because it was rotated the wrong direction and she came out within a few minutes with the vacuum. I was thinking "Why didn't you do that 2 hours ago?". She was born at 11:50 pm. She was quiet and needed a little stimulation to breathe. She went straight to the nursery and was on an oxygen hood for the night. She in now a perfectly healthy four year-old.
My second daughter was a completely different experience. My water broke at home. We went to the hospital; I was not having contractions I could feel. They started me on pitocin, I had an epidural and slept on and off for a few hours. I was stuck at 5 cm for about three hours and they called in my midwife. When she checked me I was 8cm. She said she'd be back in 30 minutes to see how dilated I was- fifteen minutes later I had to send my mother to get her because the baby was coming- NOW!
Two good pushes later K came into the world at 2:31am. I held her for three hours and got to nurse her. Her birth was a much more pleasant story. My second baby was a wonderful vaginal delivery, except for needing the pitocin.
Sandra M's Story (homebirth)
Homebirth, labored in a pool, birthed on a bed. "FanTAStic!!!"
Kmom Note: We are still waiting for the rest of Sandra's story.
B.G.'s Story (normal vaginal birth)
Two days before my due date, I woke up at 5, feeling "something". I felt it every 5 minutes, lasting 30 seconds, so I knew these were contractions, it wasn't painful, but I couldn't sleep, so I watched some TV. At 7 my husband woke up, we showered, got dressed, and drove to the Dr's office. I was 100% effaced, not dilated, but my blood pressure was higher than usual, so he sent me to the hospital.
We arrived there at 12 noon, I was told to walk around for 2 hours to see if we can get things moving and yep, it got things moving ! Contractions were now 2-3 minutes apart, lasting 45 seconds, painful but the breathing technique I used really helped. At 2:30 the Dr checked me, I was 3 cm dilated so he sent me up to the L&D room. I then took a long shower till 3:30 which was WONDERFUL, couldn't feel the contractions. We later on learned that my water broke in the shower. The midwife checked me - 3.5 cm.
An hour later I wanted some ease from the pain and asked for an epidural. The anesthesiologist arrived quickly, the nurse checked me, I was 6 cm. It took him 2 trials until he got the needle in (didn't hurt at all). The nurse checked again - I was 9 cm, and started feeling the need to push, so the nurse told him to put only a bit of the stuff, just to take the edge off, since I am going to be pushing soon, and need to feel the contractions. The epidural was great, I felt the contractions but they weren't painful.
I only had about 10 minutes to enjoy this and then I was 10 cm and felt the need to push. It took about 6 hard pushes and at 6 she was out. My beautiful baby girl was born !!!
April's Story (induction, vaginal birth)
I had a doctor's appointment the morning of December 23rd, one of our weekly checkups at that point. Our favorite doctor was on that day, thank goodness. She did the internal exam and found me to be 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. She said that we probably would go into labor anytime now or she could get things going for us. We opted for the induction so we'd have a little more control over the situation. Or so we thought.
The doctor stripped my membrane then and told us to get to the hospital, which is right next door, to be induced. We didn't have our labor bag with us, not expecting to go to the hospital that day. The doctor said for DH to get me checked in and then he'd have plenty of time to get home, get our stuff and get back. DH took me to the hospital and got me checked in. The doctor came in and broke my waters, and the nurses started up my IV with some Pitocin. My other labor partner, K, came in and DH headed home. I started having contractions right after she broke my water and then the Pitocin kicked in.
The nurses turned it up I think three times or so until the contractions were 1 - 2 minutes apart. It was right about then that I got sick for the first time. It happened once more after that and I was very glad that I hadn't eaten much that morning. I only had an orange and some juice that the nurses gave me when I started into labor. Then I decided enough was enough and I asked for some pain meds. The nurse checked me and I was four cm at that point, so they gave me a dose of Nubain. I was a little loopy for the rest of the time. DH called on his cell phone to check on me and let me know he was on his way. I told him the contractions were 1 - 2 minutes apart and that he'd better step on it. He got there and helped me through the next 45 minutes of contractions. My memory of this time period is really fuzzy thanks to the drugs and the amnesia, but he tells me my contractions came pretty much one on top of the other from then on.
I guess we should have figured out that I was in transition at that point. I remember having really weird contractions that I could not breathe through all of a sudden. Then I remember the nurse checking me again and telling us that I was 10 cm dilated and had no cervix left. We were ready to push! I'm thinking, push?!?! I just had my pain meds an hour ago and I was only 4 cm dilated. Are you sure? Now I realize that those weird contractions were that wonderful sensation/overwhelming need to push. The nurses told DH later that they have never seen anyone dilate that fast on the Nubain. That happens with the intrathecal fentanyl, but not usually the Nubain.
They got me set up in the stirrups in a semi-sitting position and told me to go ahead and push. On the first push, they could see her head. Pushing itself was very satisfying. It felt good to push and I never thought I'd be saying that. It was such an overwhelming need to push that baby out. I still can't get over that part of it. I don't remember hearing anyone else's voice except my husband's for most of the delivery. He kept coaching me to push and counting out loud for each 10 count during the contractions. Then her head delivered. The doctor suctioned out her nose and mouth a little and then helped her shoulders to turn. Then she reached back to pick up a blanket keeping one hand on the baby's head. Just then I had a contraction and she came shooting out with a whoosh! The doctor almost dropped her she came so fast. My labor partner, who is an EMT, jumped to help catch her. But, she was fine and the doctor put her on my stomach. I remember being just amazed that this little warm, slippery creature had just come out of me and was now crying on my stomach.
We were both doing well by the next day so the doctors said we could go home on Christmas Eve. So, we had our little girl home in time for Christmas. Many a tear was shed that night and the next day between DH and I. Our daughter is a wonderful baby and we feel blessed everyday to have her with us. She was conceived after 2 1/2 years of trying without help and after 9 months on 50mg and then 100mg of Clomid.
If you are still reading this long story and are trying to become pregnant, don't give up. It can be done and don't let anyone discourage you because of your size either. I weighed 224 lbs at her conception, gained 25 lbs during my pregnancy and have lost 15 pounds since her birth. I had no problems with my weight, blood pressure, diabetes or anything else. And my labor was only four hours from start to finish. Women of size can have healthy children just like everyone else.
Carol C's Story (PCO, Group B Strep, vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: Carol's story of back labor, difficult pain, waters breaking before labor, and having difficulty dilating beyond 3 cm at first raises the question of malposition (posterior or asynclitic, etc.). However, either that was not really the problem or the position corrected itself because her labor proceeded on to a normal vaginal birth. Also note that this baby was almost 10 and a half pounds; according to many OBs, this is 'too big' to birth normally, but obviously Carol had little trouble.
The only time my doctor ever mentioned my weight was when I was losing too much from queasiness during the first trimester - and even that was just to make sure that I was TRYING to eat sensibly and not trying to diet during pregnancy.
My whole pregnancy was pretty uneventful. Morning sickness was limited to queasiness and disinterest in food - I hardly ever actually got sick. My blood pressure was always fine. All those other routine tests they do were always fine.
I was still feeling pretty good when we checked into the hospital, and determined to have a natural birth, in spite of back labor. We had taken a Bradley class, and were prepared with a bag full of massage toys. DH was getting me through the contractions okay. That is, until 8 hours had gone by since water breaking, and I hadn't gotten past 3 cm. :( The doctor on call insisted that we start the pitocin, because of the Group B Strep.
I was still handling it okay, until the second time they increased the drip. There were a yucky couple of hours there, with lots of vomiting (MAN, was I glad that I wasn't the one who had to clean up my messes!), sweating and moaning. And so I caved and asked for the epidural. The pit had done its job though, because when the anesthesiologist got there, I was at 6 cm, and by the time they finally got the epidural right (3rd try), I was at 9 +.
I'm disappointed that we didn't have the birth of my dreams, but I'm happy with how things turned out. I really did feel great after the epidural, and pushing was a breeze. I got to have a mirror, and that was really neat! My nurse massaged and stretched me for an hour, and I give her some credit for me not having to get an episiotomy and only having minor tears with my big boy. :) Well, my wide hips might have had something to do with it. too!
My precious son is just the most wonderful little person in the whole wide world, and I'm thanking God several times a day for blessing us so greatly. Being a mommy is just so indescribably wonderful!
Atheena R's Story (Supersized, induction, vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: Another case where the doctor induced early because the 'baby looks like it's going to be big'. The concern here is needing a c/s because the baby is 'too big' to fit through, or the shoulders getting stuck as they come out (shoulder dystocia, a potential emergency). Research shows that inducing early for 'big baby' does not improve outcomes or lower the rate of shoulder dystocia, and often actually raises the c/s rate strongly, sometimes to >50%. However, inducing early for macrosomia continues to be standard procedure anyhow, especially with larger women, who tend to have larger babies as a group. [Also note that her baby turned out to be not particularly big.]
This mother also tore excessively during the birth. Kmom wonders if this is because the doctor did manage to start an episiotomy after all (episiotomies tend to result in much greater tearing, and the doctor apparently did already have the scalpel in hand), or if she tore so much because she pushed so hard to try to avoid an imminent episiotomy. Repair of this led to a great deal of intervention, including sedation, intubation, and catheterization. Different care might have been able to avoid all this intervention, although it's hard to say for sure.
At my 39-week appointment, the doctor I saw said that my latest ultrasound indicated that my baby might be large, so she explained the dangers of shoulder dystocia and suggested I get an induction that weekend. I said okay. Then as I was driving home from the appointment, I was in a haze. "Hmm. I'm having a baby this weekend. Hmmm."
I went in Sunday for a Cervadil treatment, which did nothing, so they sent me home. Before I left, then inserted another Cervadil application, which came out a few hours later when I lost my mucous plug (although I didn't know that was what happened at the time).
The next morning I went back to the hospital, and was on pitocin ALL day. I had contractions, but they weren't particularly bothersome. When I described them as 'bad menstrual cramps', the nurses were a little discouraged. I was not really dilating or effacing either. That night they turned the pitocin drip down so that I could sleep, but Tuesday morning bright and early they cranked it back up. A series of doctors from my OB group dropped by during the course of my delivery. They had an on-call system and I think I went through 4 of them during my stay. One of them was the doctor with whom I had most of my appointments, an older man who seemed to know everything about the childbirth process. He was surprised to see me there, felt my tummy, and said, "You know, I really don't think this baby is going to be that big."
Tuesday around 5, they were just about ready to send me home again as a 'failed induction' when my water broke. I was VERY happy, because the pitocin drip was getting a little tiresome by then. According to my birth class, I thought a baby was supposed to be delivered within 24 hours of the rupture. I could not WAIT to get the whole labor thing over with.
During the night, however, I still didn't dilate or efface much. I think I was about 75% effaced, maybe 4 cm. Wednesday morning came, and I met yet another doctor. He told me his goal was to have me delivered no later than sunrise Thursday morning. The thought of 24 more hours of constant contractions was a little too much to bear, and I burst into tears.
Since my water had broken, they were able to use the internal monitors, and discovered that my mild contractions were actually quite strong---they just didn't bother me. Wednesday, I also got a new nurse. She told me that I needed to get up and move around a bit, and that would help labor progress. Until then, I had been told to sit in bed and not move. My DH had a dentist appointment that after noon and was agonizing over whether to go (he had broken his tooth a week before and this was the first appointment he could get). We decided he needed to go and I'd page him if by some miracle it actually looked like I was going to give birth.
When he got back, he had smuggled contraband! Donuts! I hadn't eaten in 3 days (except popsickles and jello), so after my first pain shot (a synthetic narcotic), I had half a donut. 5 minutes later I vomited donut and jello all over myself. [Kmom note: This is one of the possible side effects of this type of pain medication.] I didn't eat again, and after my second shot, I made a point of asking for an emesis bucket, so I was prepared for when I vomited.
By now it was around 6 p.m. and the contractions were actually becoming a little painful. And I couldn't tell if I needed to use the bathroom, or if I needed to push. I was given a choice: I could get pain medication now but not use the bathroom, or I could go to the bathroom and then get the meds. I told them I might need to push, so she checked, and sure enough, the baby was on its way! I was given the shot, threw up, but the next 30 minutes were a blur. I remember the lights being turned down, the nurses yelling, "She's pushing, we need some help in here!" One of the nurses suggested that my DH and I each hold one of my legs back until they set up the bed for delivery. Finally, everything was ready and I remember snoozing between contractions.
On my birth plan, I had indicated that unless there was a compelling reason, I didn't want an episiotomy. The doctor said he was going to do one, and I think I said I didn't really want one. He told me that the baby's heartbeat was dropping a little, so if it didn't come out on the next push, he was going to do it. I think he had already given me the local. Well, at the next contraction, I pushed with all my might, and SWISH, out she came! I may be making this up, but I swear I saw the doctor put down the scalpel in shock before he caught the baby. They wiped her off a bit, then put her on my chest. As I was looking down at her, I felt another "WHOOSH" and I actually said aloud, "Oh, that must be the placenta." (Nobody told me it was coming, and I'd sort of forgotten about it with all the excitement.)
She was very cute. But apparently they were not able to repair the tearing in the delivery room, so my DH got the baby (he was crying----DH, not the baby!) and I was carted off to a surgical room for stitches. The doctor kept telling me to relax, but after the delivery, I didn't really have enough control of my muscles to relax. The next thing I knew, I was in a recovery room. Apparently they had sedated and intubated me without letting me know. I couldn't talk for about 20 minutes because my throat was raw. They had also inserted a catheter, which was actually causing more discomfort. I had to beg them to take it out, and they wouldn't even consider it for 24 hours.
Other than that, things went well. No one made me feel bad about being bigger than average, except that I had to specially request the larger hospital gowns. Basically, I was able to forget that I was a larger woman and concentrate on the fact that I was a pregnant woman, and then a new mommy.
Jennifer's Story (quick vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: This baby was more than 9 and a half pounds, "too big" to try to have vaginally by some doctors' standards, yet was born in a extremely quick, easy labor. Most big babies, when positioned well, can be born without problems.
Note: This is Jennifer's fourth child.
I felt funny all day Sunday...grouchy and out of sorts. I had some contractions about 30 minutes apart but nothing much to speak of. I tossed and turned all night, just uncomfortable. Monday morning I woke up at 7 a.m. and called my Mom about going shopping for nursing bras. I then got the boys their breakfast and got them dressed. I started having some hard contractions about 8 a.m. on the way to taking our two older boys to school. It was hard to drive. I got home and called my Mom back and told her that I didn't think we would be going shopping after all. She encouraged me to call the midwives but I wasn't totally sure at that point.
I hopped in the tub and shaved my legs and had some more contractions; they were getting stronger. The more I did the worse they got. I tried calling the midwives at 9 a.m., when they opened, but their answering machine came on. I called my DH and told him that I thought that this might be it. He told me to call back after I got ahold of the midwives. I did some laundry and tried to pack my bag but every time I moved, I got contractions on top of contraction. I had to sit very still on the bed and then they would come at a more manageable every 5 minutes. My Mom arrived at 9:15 a.m. and got my 2 year-old dressed. I finally got the midwives to answer and they said to come to the Birthing Center to be checked.
At this point, I called DH to come home. He had a 30-minute drive to get home and then we had 45 minutes to go to get to the Birthing Center. He finally arrived at 10:15 a.m. and helped me finish packing and we headed out. That was the most hellish 45 minutes I have ever experienced. Every 5 minutes I had a contraction and of course that is when DH would hit a bump. :-)
When we got to the Birthing Center at 11 a.m. I was miserable and panicking every other contraction. The midwife said she knew that I was in transition as soon as she saw me. She got me in the Birthing Room and examined me. I was 9 cm and the bag of waters was bulging. She said that we had to get to the hospital. I didn't want to get off the bed. I screamed every contraction. It really helped me deal with them. We got back in our cars and followed her to the hospital. She was driving so fast we could hardly keep up with her.
DH had the window down in the van when we pulled up in front of the hospital. I was screaming through a contraction and noticed a woman staring at me. I yelled at him to get that window up. The midwife got me a wheelchair and the doula showed up about then. When I went to step out of the van, my water broke a little. DH flew to park the van and ran after us.
We got in the room at 11:30 a.m. They asked me if I wanted to change clothes and I said that I wanted to put on a T-shirt that I had brought. I went into the bathroom to put it on and to pee. When I sat on the toilet, my water broke and out came my son! The midwife heard me scream and ran in. She put her hand under his head to hold him up. This nurse came and spread a blanket on the floor and said to have me lie on it. The midwife said, "No way!" There was no way I could have gotten off that toilet and onto the floor! I leaned over the side of the toilet and the midwife pulled the baby out. She plopped him on my stomach.
I was shaking so badly that the midwife had DH cut the cord and I passed the baby off to the nurse. I was afraid to drop him. The nurse that wanted me to get on the floor left the room, she was so upset about me giving birth on the toilet. I sat for about 10 minutes and had another contraction and delivered the placenta. It was really cool. The first time that I had seen one of mine. I sat for a few more minutes, trying to stop shaking and then got to the bed. Clean-up was very easy. They just flushed the toilet. :-)
This baby is a dream baby. Never cried, breastfeeding like a pro. I tore slightly and the midwife put in a few stitches. I feel great! Not even like I had a baby. We were the talk of the hospital; we had tons of nurses coming in to talk about it. I feel lucky that we even made it to the Birthing Center, let alone the hospital. If DH had been any longer, we would have been having him on the side of the road. I took my Boppy Pillow [Kmom note: a Boppy Pillow is a type of C-shaped pillow that can be used for nursing, etc.] to the hospital with me, for those that have one. I highly recommend taking it. It was a dream to have there.
I don't think I am forgetting anything. It was such a whirl! :-)
Laurie's Story (baby malposition, vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: This mom also 'measured ahead' (not unusual in bigger moms) and her docs tried to talk her into an early induction for 'big baby'. Her baby turned out to be just over 8 lbs., even after going to term. Not all babies predicted to be big really are!
Her baby was also malpositioned, probably posterior and asynclitic. She nearly had a c/s because her labor did not progress (typical with malpositions). However, with an epidural, the baby was able to turn at the last minute and she narrowly avoided the c/s. The baby was born with a misshapen head, a sure confirmation of a major malposition. Other signs included prodromal labor for a long time beforehand, lack of progress in dilation, a baby that stayed high and unengaged, and a long labor. Unfortunately, no one did anything about the baby's position; she was fortunate the baby turned on its own.
Because my labor was long, my story is long, so I'll try to do a 'greatest hits' version. I wanted an unmedicated birth. We took Bradley [childbirth education classes], I read insatiably, I armed myself with everything I could find. I hired a wonderful doula. My biggest problem was with my provider, a large group known for their high-risk care.
I was never considered high-risk. My pregnancy weight gain put me over 300 pounds and I had one or two episodes of high/normal b.p. readings but I had a wonderful pregnancy and felt fantastic until the very end.
At 38 weeks I started measuring ahead. Suddenly the doctors began talking about a big baby, shoulder dystocia, induction, etc. etc. One doc pushed me into scheduling an induction. I did, but kept pushing the date back with the support of a female doctor within the group that I really liked. To avoid the induction, I had my membranes stripped twice in my 40th week, too castor oil, did everything you can think of to naturally induce. On Sunday evening, labor began. By Monday morning, my doula was pretty sure my close contractions and vomiting were signs of true labor and suggested I go to the hospital. I did, they checked me, I was still the same 3-4 I'd been for the past 3 weeks. I wanted to go home. They said my b.p. was high (not really) and the baby was slightly non-reactive (not really) and insisted I stay. I did.
They started pit, reasoning that I was scheduled for an induction the next day anyway. I was on the pit the first day for almost 12 hours with no change. I was having contractions (boy, was I!) without any dilation. I had to fend off the doctor on call from breaking my water (he was reaching for the hook without even asking! I wasn't ready for a time limit yet). The baby wasn't dropping past his -2 station. They turned the pit off and agreed to restart it the next morning. I was convinced the baby was posterior and I was terrified after another day they would decide to do a section. I did everything I could (hands-knees, pelvic rocks) to try and turn the baby.
The next morning at 5 a.m. they started the pit---put me on the highest dose and by this time nothing was happening. Nada. My favorite doctor was on call. She agreed to unhook me from all the crap I was tied to (b.p. cuff, monitors, IVs) and let me walk to see what I could do. Two hours later I returned and I was slightly more dilated and the baby was down to a good -1. We discussed breaking the water; by now I knew I needed to make some changes or I was heading for the O.R. After the amniotomy, things began picking up. The contractions became intense but I was till dilating very slowly. A uterine catheter was administered (one more thing tying me down to that bed) and showed I was having really, really strong contractions (I could have told them that) but the baby wasn't budging.
Every time I had a vaginal exam, the nurse/doctor would say with a sigh, "Still at six." I started to give up. After 4 hours of non-stop rushes, I started to lose my focus during contractions. I asked for a walking epidural (and intrathecal). It was nice because I could still walk and use the birth ball to try and move that baby out of his funky position, but the contractions were pushed far, far away. However, it lasted only an hour and a half and could not be re-administered. After it began to wear off and I was still only 6-7, I knew what was coming. My doctor called to talk to my husband. She told him after 52 hours we needed to do the section. By this time I agreed. I was so tired and frustrated and disillusioned.
The anesthesiologist came back and administered a dose of epidural. I was shaved, prepped, cath'ed (by now I had 6 things attached to different parts of my body) and the nurses were waiting to take me into the O.R. when the doctor came in. She said she'd check me one more time. When she did, she got a funny look on her face. Then she stood up and smiled. "Well," she said, "I'll tell you a secret. You're complete." I went from a six to a ten in 25 minutes.
The anesthesiologist looked crushed. I couldn't stop giggling. The epidural wore off in 15 minutes and the urge to push roared through me like I'd swallowed a train. I pushed for one hour and delivered a beautiful baby boy with a crazy-shaped head. That poor thing had been ramming against my pelvic bone for quite a while. In retrospect, I suspect that my baby was posterior and asynclitic and unable to turn himself until the epidural relaxed my deep pelvic muscles. Had I not been restricted to bed in early labor, I think he would have rotated then. I desperately and instinctively wanted to get into the tub and spend all my time on the birth ball---two things I was not allowed to do.
I love that I did almost all my birth unmedicated. Next time I'll complete the process. I knew that my OB group was skeptical about natural childbirth but I was determined to prove them wrong. Next time, I'll begin with someone who shares my views and I won't have to prove anything.
Kimberley2's Story (PROM, augmentation, episiotomy, vaginal birth)
to be used in FAQ: "Kimberley2" Age: 32
(when I delivered)
Weight or Dress Size: 200 lbs., size 16
girl - healthy!! 7lbs. 8oz.
Gain in Pregnancy: 50 lbs. + 25 lbs. post-partum
vaginal w/epidural anesthesia
Yes -- still and she's 2.5 years old now!!
Notes on Pregnancy: I was 200 lbs. when we conceived, and I lost 12 lbs. my first
trimester, nausea + sick! Gained more post-partum because I was so darn
hungry all the time while nursing! Now I'm up to 270 lbs. and excited to
conceive again soon! :-)
very common for larger women to lose 10 or so pounds in the first trimester or a
bit longer, whether they are feeling sick or not. Just seems to be a common pattern in women of size.
had known for many months that after I became pregnant that I wanted to do
things and alternative way. I had many "hippy, natural mamma" friends
that I inspired to be one day. My
DH and I had been married for about 3 years when we became pregnant. We were
overjoyed and excited to begin this new journey of parenthood together. I had
never really had that much of a weight problem during my life. I'm 5ft. 11in, so
I'm pretty much just thought of as a "big girl". I was a size ten all
though my teens & 20's -- then I was 190 lbs. when I got married. I never
was told to be careful or that I was too heavy to get pregnant. I have pretty
size-friendly doctors that I go to. That helps a lot, I'm sure.
my pregnancy, I had no complications. No PE, no hypertension, not a thing to
worry about. Thank God. I did however have a lot of nausea & vomiting for
about 6 months. Therefore, I lost 12 lbs. just because I couldn't keep anything
down! I was so hungry, but everything made me sick. That was the one hurdle I
had to just make the best of. For my own spirit and that of my unborn baby's.
She was growing fine, the Dr.'s said. On the night of April 13, 2002, I was
awakened at 12:30am with a abdominal cramp that made me run into the bathroom. I
sat there a few minutes and had a very bloody show, followed by PROM. Nice,
since I was sitting on the toilet. How convenient!!
DH & I had chosen the Bradley Method of childbirth, so I had planned on
laboring mostly at home. Unfortunately, my waters were clouded in a murky blood
and our Bradley instructor felt strongly we should get to the hospital sooner
then later. By 2am, my contractions were 3 min. apart and I was admitted and put
into an LDR room at Tarzana Medical Center in Tarzana, California.
labor progressed s-l-o-w-l-y for the next 7 hours. I was 90% effaced &
hovering at 3cm dilated. My OB/GYN came in at 9am and said that if I wasn't
moving faster by 11am, she would like to augment my labor with some Pitocin.
Yipes! Intervention! Well, at 11am I was put on Pitocin and tolerated it well
with no pain meds for about 3 hours. When the pain and contractions became too
intense for me to handle, I asked for an epidural. My Bradley birth had sadly
gone out the window. DH held my hand, and I labored for the next 6 hours,
finishing off around 3pm at 10cm/100% effaced. The baby was now engaged and it
was time to push. Push!! I pushed for 2 1/2 hours. There was never talk about a
CS because I knew I could do it. I wasn't going to give up that easy! All this
labor for nothing? No way!
beautiful baby girl was born at 5:46pm the evening of April 14, 2002. She
weighed 7 lbs. 8 oz. I had a small mediolaterial episiotomy, with no tearing.
The nurses and staff were very welcoming and kind. Never a word about my weight.
My delivery nurse was a plus-size mamma herself, so that was a blessing!
trying to nurse for about 20 min. after birth, the nurse felt that our daughter
had swallowed a bigger amount of amniotic fluid while in utero then normal. She
was gasping for air. The baby had to go to NICU to get her "saturation of
oxygen" up to par. My DH followed & never left her side. Her breathing
was labored and dropped below 70% several times, but she was a fighter!! After 5
hours in the NICU, she was brought into me in the post-partum room were we would
then stay in for the next 2 days. It was such an amazing experience; words
cannot justify all the moments we shared together. Our baby girl is now a
precious 2.5 year old and we cannot wait to have another one!!
bringing our baby girl home and establishing an awesome nursing relationship, I
have become active in my La Leche League group. Since we believe in child lead
weaning, our 2.5 still nurses a few times a day. Sometimes for comfort,
sometimes to sleep. I am currently on the LLL committee for the East San
Fernando Valley Toddlers Group. I plan to keep nursing through my next
(hopefully soon!) pregnancy and tandem nurse our next baby. I am currently the
only "supersize" mamma in the LLL group. I like to send the message
that plus-size mammas can nurse successfully and that there is support for us.
Let's pave the way together!!
Julia M's Story (Group B Strep, home waterbirth)
Kmom's Notes: This mom runs a bulletin board for large moms on babycenter.com. She wants specific information on her birth, her midwife, and her baby available for people to see. The info for joining her bulletin board is www.babycenter.com/bbs/8404/index.html.
This mom had a terrific, short labor and birth with her second baby, Joanne. Although she was undecided about having a birth center birth or a home birth at first, she chose a home birth eventually, and gave birth in the water. She was positive for Group B Strep, but her midwife simply used IV antibiotics with her as a precaution. Her midwife's name is Valerie Sasson, and she works through Puget Sound Birth Center, www.birthcenter.com.
Her pregnancy diary is at www.nwlink.com/~juliam/baby.html. www.nwlink.com/~juliam/birthstory.html is the link for the actual birth story. Photos of baby Joanne can be found at www.nwlink.com/~juliam/joanne.html or at www.growthspurts.com/view.asp?s9129&src.
However, Kmom's favorite link is to the photos Julia had made while she got a 'belly cast' of her pregnancy belly and body, one week before giving birth. Big, Beautiful, and Pregnant indeed---you go, girl! The last photo is absolutely the best. The link is www.nwlink.com/~juliam/bellymask.html.
[If you are interested in having a belly cast done for yourself, it is available in many cities. Call around to various midwives, birth centers, prenatal yoga classes, prenatal massage therapists, etc. to find the name of someone who does this in your area.]
Mary's Story (planned unassisted homebirth)
Kmom's Notes: For those interested in unassisted childbirth, more information can be found at www.birthlove.com (including unassisted births of some large moms!) and at www.unassistedbirth.com as well. Mary also gave her permission to include her email address, email@example.com, in case anyone wishes to contact her for more information about unassisted birth.
When I got pregnant, both my husband and I decided we wanted a homebirth. We were planning on a homebirth with a midwife, initially, though my husband wanted to have an unassisted birth. I liked the idea but was nervous to try this with my first child as I had no idea what my 'history' was or would be. Well, as things turned out we were almost forced into an Unassisted Childbirth (UC), though it was still by choice. We found that our unregistered midwife was unable to attend the birth because of possible legal problems, and after deliberating (I had decided long before I do not want to give birth in the hospital), we decided we would just do it by ourselves. When we made this decision I felt a great feeling of peace and release of anxiety. This was made 2 weeks before I went into labour.
On January 11th, I had a contraction first thing in the morning which sort of surprised me as I wasn't expecting the baby to come for another week. Nevertheless, I was in labour. I laboured all day, though not strongly, allowing me to clean my house (I wish I had had the forethought to make a few meals!). As evening came on, I went into stronger labour. We prepared the bedroom with candles, music, a tray with some food and water for me, plus the drop pad (we never got around to turning on the music). DH ran me a nice hot bath (okay, about 5 baths all through the night) and I went back and forth from the bedroom to the bathroom labouring in the water. We did not check dilation or the baby's heartbeat at all while I was in labour. I had nothing to ease the pain, and there was a point I would have begged for something if it was available, but I am glad that it wasn't.
As the contractions got stronger, I felt more comfortable on my hands and knees on the bed. I realise now I was in transition by this point, as I was very restless. My DH was a great help, massaging and encouraging me and telling me how great I was doing. I was vocalising a lot and towards the end hollered some. My water broke about half an hour before she was born. After about 10 minutes of pushing, she was born while I was on my hands and knees. My husband caught her as she came out and when I turned over to a sitting position, he handed her to me.
After labouring all through the night, she made her appearance shortly before 9 a.m. on Jan. 12th. She was healthy and strong, and we didn't need to suction her. DH put her on her tummy on his knees and just gently rubbed her back until she coughed up the mucous. Then he handed her to me. We tried to nurse for those first few minutes, but she wasn't too interested at first. I went back into the bath to birth the placenta, but sat there for almost 2 hours and finally got on the toilet where it came out within a few moments. We didn't cut the cord until an hour and a half after the birth. It was a wonderful, spiritual birth.
A few hours later we took her in to the doctor to be weighed and measured and checked over. She was very healthy as we knew she was, and we went home to enjoy our new baby. Soon, we are planning another unassisted homebirth.
I wanted a homebirth because after years of study and preparation, I realised that a hospital birth would not only not give me what I wanted, but it wouldn't provide the safety so often touted by hospital advocates. Everything in me was against hospital birth, NOT for other people if that is what they desire, but for me. I knew I wouldn't feel safe and secure in a hospital setting. I knew my level of tolerance wouldn't allow me to have the birth I really wanted to create.
We chose an unassisted birth almost because there was no other choice at that point. We had a midwife we were seeing for prenatal care, and found out she couldn't attend 2 weeks prior to my due date. We frantically tried to find another midwife, and then decided that because of money and the lack of any available [midwife], we would do what my husband wanted to do in the first place and do it by ourselves. And it was the best experience ever.
Now we want to have all our babies by Unassisted Childbirth (UC). To also clarify, I had been on unassisted birthing lists for a long time prior to even being pregnant, so I was prepared, and it was going to be our plan for the next babies, anyway. I have no problem if anyone is interested in contacting me about our birth experience (we get a lot of questions...).
[Update: Mary had another baby recently, also an unassisted birth. This baby weighed about 6 lbs. and was about 19 inches long. He came about 2.5 weeks early but had a 13.5 inch head. Mary was about a size 20 in this pregnancy and probably gained about 20 lbs., although she didn't keep a strict tracking. She did most of her own prenatal care but did see a doctor a few times for some blood tests. She had a sore hip in this pregnancy and did see a chiropractor throughout. She nursed her prior baby through this pregnancy and is tandem nursing both children now. Here is the birth story she sent as a follow-up to the other story.]
Before I forget, I am going to write the long version of my son's birth. I would also ask that anyone ask my permission before forwarding this story to anyone. Thanks!
About 6 a.m. on a Monday, I woke up briefly, and felt a mild sensation that felt like a contraction. At first I thought it was maybe just a gas pain, but when I had a couple of more within a few minutes I realised it wasn't that, it was a real contraction. DH was half waking up and I told him that it looked like today might be the day. We got up and started our day. My eldest didn't wake up immediately, so we left her in bed while we made breakfast. I was getting excited. I realised that this was probably really it, but because I was just beginning labour it wouldn't be right away. DH left for school and I told him I would keep him posted and that if things got really much stronger, I would be telling him to get back home ASAP. I do think a solo birth is a really great idea but it isn't for me. I love having my husband there, just being a strength and support and comfort. It helps that he is so calm and knowledgeable about it too.
I wanted to get some laundry finished and take care of some other things. I also took my daughter for a walk, though I put her in the stroller. I wanted to walk as briskly as I could to keep things smooth. One thing I really noticed was that not only did the contractions feel less intense when I was actually moving, but it really DOES speed things up, no matter what some people might say. We took care of all our appointments then, and saw several people who I knew would be surprised when they found out our baby was born that day.
We got home shortly before lunch and I put my daughter down for a nap. Nursed her actually, which brought on some strong contractions. Every little bit helps. I arranged fro my husband to pick up some birth supplies that were waiting for us. I was starting to really have to concentrate and I got things tidied up a bit and did a bit of emailing. DH got home after lunch as a special surprise, just as I started to phone the school for him. I hopped in the bath and he started setting things up for our planned waterbirth. Unfortunately, shortly after starting to fill the pool, we realised it had a leak. All our stuff was downstairs, but because I wanted to be near the tub, DH hauled everything back up. Such a trooper! My daughter was doing really well the whole time. DH told her that when I was vocalising through the contractions it meant the baby was coming. So every time she would get a big grin on her face and say, "Baby coming!"
I really found that either being in the bath, moving around a lot (I 'danced' through some contractions), and making low strong sounds really made a difference, helping me integrate the progression. I also said to myself when I had some really intense ones, that it felt so good, and the self talk made a difference too. Towards the end I squatted through some as well, and that helped open me up and relieve the pressure.
Around 5 p.m. I came into the bedroom. My daughter wanted to lay down for a nap, so she was on the single bed right next to our queen bed. I knelt against the end of the bed, and one really strong intense contraction almost overcame me. It didn't, but it was an amazing one, and I could really feel it opening me up. I am quite positive that I dilated fully at that point, and that my son moved down some more. DH said, "Maybe you should get on the bed now." I did, as that was where all of our pads and stuff were located. I knelt again, like I did when I was birthing my daughter. So far, my favorite position to birth in! I concentrated on relaxing, and though I didn't scream (yay!) I continued vocalising through my contractions, and a few minutes before 6 p.m. my water broke through a contraction. I had a couple more and then some more water came out.
Before this, DH was getting the crockpot ready and the wash cloths ready to support my perineum. I had asked him if it looked as though the head was coming and he said, "Not yet, but you are really opening up." Even at this point I figured we had a good couple of hours before the baby would be born. Well, that shows how much I knew! After the second splash of water came out, DH was getting a wash cloth and I was, "The baby is coming!" I could feel him coming down, and he sure was. DH supported me again with the wash cloths, as I felt again that ring of fire; the wash cloths completely relieved that. Another couple of contractions and I really had the urge to push. I didn't really feel that with my daughter, but I sure couldn't help it with this one. I didn't give it everything I had, though; I let him ease out. His head emerged, and instead of pushing him right out, I waited for the next contraction. He slipped out, and though my daughter was out of view to see him come out, she went out of the room and watched from the door. She showed no fear at all during the whole time, but curiosity and a good understanding.
My baby didn't have any mucous to cough up and when DH turned him over to rub his back to make sure, he complained rather loudly. I turned onto my back and had DH prop some pillows under my shoulders and back after taking the baby from him. We wrapped a towel around him and though he didn't nurse immediately, within a short while he did. My daughter came up to see him and was so excited. We sat there for about an hour and though I could feel the placenta had separated within a couple of minutes, it didn't come out. About 45 minutes after he was born, DH cut the cord and took him, while I got up to squat over the bowl. I decided I would rather sit on the toilet, so I went in there and pushed out the placenta.
After all this, I realised how great I felt, and still feel. I don't have the same soreness I had with my daughter, and no tearing either. (I had a skid mark with #1 but not perineal tearing with her either.) My new son is a little angel. He loves the sling, he loves to nurse and he is a very content baby. He took to nursing so well, and has had no problems latching on. My milk took a day and a half to come in, compared with 2.5 with my daughter. The joys of tandeming! My daughter is quite thrilled with her little brother and about the returned milk. He was 2-2.5 weeks early, but is a healthy strong little guy. He is tinier than his sister was, 19 inches long and weighing about 6 lbs.
I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father for blessing us with this beautiful little boy. I can hardly wait to have another. We are so happy with our little boy. He is a sweetheart and an amazing addition to our family. I am just in love with him!!! This birth was so wonderful, and it can only get better! And he does look just like DH---it is amazing, right down to the little chin......
Veronica M's Story (pelvic pain, baby malpositions, fat-phobic treatment, 2 vaginal births)
Kmom's Notes: Veronica has classic symptoms of SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dystocia), a gap or misalignment of the pubic symphysis area (the joint in the front of the pelvis on the pubic bone). When the pelvis is out of alignment, chiropractors believe it can pull the uterine ligaments unevenly, causing the uterus to be unbalanced and the baby to often assume a malposition. Kmom believes that many cases of baby malpositions are actually related to SPD/misaligned pelvis, and may be able to be prevented in the future by chiropractic treatment that addresses misalignments in the back and pelvis (including the pubic symphysis joint, which is often overlooked), and release of the ligaments that support the uterus. Without this, malpositions are likely to recur, and difficult labors/cesareans are common (although not inevitable.)
In Veronica's second birth, the nurses saw that the baby's hand was by its head, so that put her on her back and pulled her legs forcefully back to her ears. This is called a McRobert's position. If the baby has trouble getting out this position can be useful, but in this case the baby's head was already crowning easily when the nurse did this. Unfortunately, the side effect of using the McRobert's position was that the gap/misalignment of her pubic symphysis joint got pulled apart too far and was damaged long-term. When this damage happens, it is called DSP (Diastasis Symphysis Pubis), and it can make it hard to walk or do normal activities for years. But because the diagnosis is not commonly known among doctors in the U.S., it was missed with her.
The other outrage in Veronica's birth is the fat-phobia exhibited by her doctors and nurses. Her treatment was inexcusable, from the doctors to the nurses to the anesthesiologist. As is common with large women, the doctors and nurses predicted a 'huge' baby and told her to expect a cesarean, but were surprised when the baby turned out to be only 6 lbs. Between their expectations, the induction, the lack of pain relief, and the position they made her deliver in (on her back, in stirrups), it's a miracle this baby was vaginally. This mother did an amazing job under very difficult circumstances.
Unfortunately, like many women, she found it hard to switch providers and went right back to the same people who had given such poor treatment the time before. Not surprisingly, she got burned again. She now knows not to return to these providers, and to stand up for herself and not tolerate sizist treatment. Hopefully, she will also get treatment for the pubic symphysis problems so she does not have to endure such pain and discomfort in any future pregnancies.
Despite my weight, I was easily able to conceive and was looking forward to my first baby. I never had problems with blood pressure or blood sugar. During the third trimester I started to have debilitating pain in my pubic region. I told my OB about my symptoms and she dismissed it as normal pregnancy aches and pains. Being my first pregnancy, I assumed she knew what she was talking about so I carried on best as I could. I couldn't roll over in bed or get out of the car or walk up the stairs without crying from the pain. My husband ended up pushing me around in a wheelchair the final weeks because he couldn't stand to see me suffer anymore.
My water broke before labor started and I dutifully did I as I was told and went ahead to the hospital. Once there, the hospital staff was very rude about my weight. The nurses rolled their eyes when I asked for a bigger gown. They got disgusted when the blood pressure cuff was too small. They assumed I would be having a huge baby and told me to be prepared for a cesarean since I am only 5"2. Pitocin was started right away, despite my protests that maybe I could start labor on my own by walking or nipple stimulation. I was hooked up to a monitor and IV and wasn't allowed to ever get up. I really wanted to walk but the nurses kept scaring me with talk of "cord prolapse" until I hushed. I now know that it would have been highly unlikely considering that my baby was well engaged and had been for weeks.
The monitor wasn't picking up anything substantial so the nurses kept increasing the pitocin every 20 minutes until I was writhing in pain. I was screaming that the contractions were too intense and it felt like my uterus was being torn in half, but they hushed me and pointed to the monitors that were showing nothing. Finally I convinced them that my padded tummy was causing the monitor to fail. They inserted an internal monitor and found my contractions were off the charts at only 4 cm. All I could do was scream. That breathing stuff was useless at this point. Finally, at 5 cm I was told I could have an epidural. I was so relieved at the mere thought of it. My pitocin had been turned down but it was too late at that point. The contractions stayed unnaturally strong the remainder of the time. Well, the epidural didn't take and the anesthesiologist refused to try again. I was hysterical since I was counting on it for a little relief and I knew I still had a long way to go.
Somehow I survived transition and I got ready to push. I wanted to be on my side because of the pelvic pain I knew was still there somewhere (couldn't tell where one pain ended and another began) but because they assumed I would have a large baby, they made me put my feet in the stirrups and told me to push with all my might. At this point my OB shows up and gives me an episiotomy which I had specifically requested not to have. It all turned out to be overkill as my 6 pound baby slipped easily out with 2 pushes.
The pelvic pain subsided after that but returned during my next pregnancy. I was considering finding a different OB and hospital for my next birth, but for some reason I didn't. I think because my OB is a plus size woman herself and we get along well, I was willing to overlook all her rules( bed-confinement, episiotomies, etc.) and the fact that she only delivers at this hospital that had been so rude. I should have had more sense but I was just hoping for a better outcome this time.
My second birth ended up exactly the same. The pelvic pain was terrible but still no one would listen. My water broke before labor again and again I dutifully went off to the hospital to be confined to the bed. Pitocin was started again and despite my telling the nurses what happened the last time, they still wanted to use the external belly monitor. Again I had violent contractions and the nurses were very rude and telling me to be quiet while I screamed. Again the epidural failed and wasn't tried again. I remember wailing to my husband that I couldn't believe all this was happening again. I felt like a caged animal, writhing in pain and strapped down to this bed.
When I felt the urge to push, the nurse scoffed and told me I was at -2 so there was no need to call my OB yet. I pushed anyway and the nurse screamed for a doctor (turned out to be a med student) because she crowned in one push. She had her arm up by her face so the nurse grabbed my legs and pushed them to my ears while at the same time pushing me flat on my back. I gave another push and she easily slipped out. I don't think it was necessary for them to panic like that and my pelvis has never been the same since then. The doctor hurriedly yanked on the placenta and I was bleeding heavily for hours. The nurse refused to massage my uterus, saying that she wouldn't be able to find it. So I did it myself after I got to my room.
After her delivery I was barely able to walk. The pubic pain had gotten worse and I had no idea what the problem might be. I talked to my OB about it and she did a quick exam, said she couldn't find anything wrong, and sent me home. My family doctor said I was just imagining it and to get some rest. My internist had an x-ray done of my tailbone and when it looked fine, he was very annoyed that I had wasted his time. Everyone told me that it was just normal post-delivery pains or that I just needed to lose weight. I was so upset and angry. I could barely get around but no one believed there was anything wrong. Aarghh!!!! Finally after 2 years it has resolved itself, but I still feel clicking and weird sensations when I lay on my side.
Tracywag's Story (posterior baby, induced vaginal birth; induction, cord prolapse, c/s)
Kmom's Notes: This mom had 2 rough labors. Not surprisingly, both were induced, which makes for harder labors. Although it is difficult to prove, many homebirth midwives feel that inducing before the baby is ready to be born increases the chances of the baby being in a poor position for birth, and thus having a rough time.
This mom's first baby was malpositioned for sure, born face-up. It is difficult to know from the story whether the second baby was malpositioned, although it seems likely. Another malpositioned baby could explain why the mother was "late" with her second pregnancy, "needed induction" and why the head had not engaged before labor. However, the baby also had knots in her umbilical cord and the cord around her neck, which might also have been an issue.
Ironically, the CNM in this case decided that labor should be induced in this mother because the baby hadn't engaged yet and the midwife was worried about the chance of cord prolapse. During the course of the induced labor, the water did break and the cord did prolapse, and a cesarean became truly necessary. The question is whether this would have been a problem if the midwife had not forced the issue by inducing labor, particularly with a baby that was probably malpositioned. Perhaps with more time, the baby's position would have resolved and cord prolapse would have been less likely. On the other hand, the knotted cord etc. might have caused a cesarean no matter what.
The mother notes that she had quite a bit of joint pain, sciatica, and round ligament pain. This suggests that she had Symphysis Pubis Dystocia (SPD), a misalignment of the pelvis that often seems to predispose women to malpositioned babies. It's unfortunate that no one suggested chiropractic care for her joint pain and SPD symptoms, as this might have made her more comfortable and might have prevented the malpositions. See the FAQ on SPD on this website for more information.
Baby #1: Induced Vaginal, Posterior Baby
My due date came and went. Baby was high, cervix was tightly closed and not effaced a bit. My CNM stripped my membranes, I drank tea, took evening primrose oil, had sex, walked, tried Castor Oil. Nothing. I got to know the night shift at Walmart well, it was air conditioned there and safe to walk. Ten days overdue, I went to the midwife again. Nothing. She said we need to talk about induction. I went to my husband's office and told him we were having the baby tonight.
We went home, packed, and went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant before checking into the hospital. They inserted Cervidil, and my husband went home to sleep. The chairs they said folded into a bed for the dad to sleep in were rickety old recliners, so I told him to just go home. At seven a.m. the next day, my midwife came in, saw little change in my cervix and asked if it was okay to break my bag of waters. I thought that wasn't supposed to hurt! In retrospect, I must have been tighter than a drum. Contractions started, 5-7 minutes, my mom came down. We talked, read, watched TV. I had lunch at noon and watched the clock as contractions became farther apart. The midwife came to check on me, the baby was still not moving down and labor had stalled. I agreed to Pitocin around 1 p.m.
Ack. Now I had monitors, an IV, and hard contractions. It was miserable. At 5 I couldn't take it anymore. The experts claim this is what you feel just before transition. I had them check me, 4 cm. That's it. [Kmom note: This is typical of posterior labors----transition like contractions at around 4-6 cm or so.] I started crying. I asked for some help, they gave me a shot of Stadol. It helped me relax between contractions, but did nothing during them. By 7 p.m. I was beside myself. I said forget it, I need an epidural. The guy checked my back, then the midwife checked my bottom. 10 cm with a lip. I beat the epidural, I could push.
I never felt the urge to push. They were yelling for me, my husband had one leg and the nurse had the other. I tried but didn't have any idea what I was supposed to do. It helped when the midwife put her fingers in a place and told me to push there.
My delivery nurse's shift ended at eight. She stayed till the end. The baby was face up and my midwife went in and tried to turn her. They were talking interventions and I heard them. Then my midwife said, "Reach down here, that's your baby's head. You can feel it." I touched her little forehead. I managed to push her out, face up, at 10:48 p.m.
My mom yelled, "It's a girl" and they gave her to me. Her eyes were wide open, she was mad. But when they handed her to me she just looked. My husband spoke and she turned to look at him. People started coming into the room. I held her for an hour, nursing her and just marveling. She was so intense and ignored everyone except mommy and daddy.
Suddenly they whipped the drape closed, and took the baby and my husband to the nursery. I was hemorrhaging. It took them nearly 1.5 hours to get it to stop. The nurses kept pressing my belly, it felt worse than labor. I finally told them to stop. Everything was slowing down, then this nurse starts giving me a sponge bath. I kept getting colder and colder and she wouldn't stop. It was making me nauseous. I told her I had to go to the bathroom just so she would let me up. I promptly fainted. They yelled for help, they got me on a gurney, and I was whooshed by my confused husband. I was pretty anemic.
I woke the next day to my beautiful baby, she looked like a Gerber baby---no marks, no squishiness, no cone head. I walked down the hall for coffee. I felt fine. Tired, but fine. I had a little skid mark, no tears, and no stitches. I put on my street clothes and started asking when we could go home.
Breastfeeding was less than intuitive. Everyone and the janitor got a look at my breasts in my short hospital stay. I don't think they knew what to do with larger than an "A" cup, not perky boobs. A friend who is about the same build as I am came to my house with her baby and did a show and tell session that was more helpful than anything else.
One thing that surprised me after the birth was the bleeding. It lasted nearly five weeks, finally petering down to nothing, then just after my six week appointment I started bleeding profusely, passed fist-sized clots and was scared to death. I called the midwife and she said it may be my period returning (fully breastfed and period didn't return until 7 months) and told me if it was more than a pad an hour to come in. I don't know from pads, I had a whole towel rolled up! I don't know what caused it but two other friends had the same thing so I guess it's in the realm of normal.
Although I wasn't super careful about eating when I was pregnant, I was 5 lbs. below my pre-pregnancy weight by my 6 week postpartum appointment.
Baby #2: Induced, malpositioned, emergency cesarean - This story can be found under BBW: Cesarean Births or under BBW: Malpositions.
Suzy's Story (epidural, vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: Like many women, Suzy was doing fine with pain management until they added pitocin, after which she needed an epidural. Pitocin makes your contractions unnaturally strong and often there is very little break between pitocin contractions, unlike most normal labor contractions. Although sometimes women are able to handle pitocin contractions without an epidural, most women need pain meds/epidurals to help cope.
My due date was 1/3/01. On 12/30/00 the weather forecast was for snow and ice upwards of 12 inches. On a good day we are 45 min. from the hospital. I had been having a lot of contractions here and there but nothing I felt like I could call the Dr. on. But with that forecast I was worried I would be stuck at home having a baby with my husband wanting to use his tools on me. I told my DH I WAS GOING TO MAKE MYSELF GO INTO LABOR!!!
So I made him take me to Home Depot. He had shopping to do there, and I walked and walked and walked. I got some contractions going, told him to check out and I was calling the Dr. I was pretty sure the contractions would slow as I stopped walking but I called anyhow. The Dr said to come in. So we go home and get the bag and learn my neighbor was going to watch the dog would be able to as she was going away. So the whole family, including the Dog, gets in the van and goes to the hospital.
When we get there, I get checked and am at 4 cm, no contractions. My husband said if we could get a hotel room if needed. The Dr said no, with the forecast he wasn't sending anyone home that was this far along. I explain to the Dr and nurse I want to be in control of any pain meds. I don't want any offered, I will tell when I need something. So DH tries a few friends in the area to see about dog sitting. Thankfully he found someone. Dog is delivered and the Dr says we will start by breaking your water.. And let you walk some more. I walk and walk. I am getting some contractions, nothing painful but they are working. 2 hrs. later I am at 6 cm.. The Dr comes by and looks at me and says you are too happy; let's move things along and add a little pitocin. I wish I had said no.
By the time the pitocin is added I am at 7. Another hour goes by and I ask for the epi.. I had been walking, dancing, getting massages etc., but nothing was helping. The epi is placed and I am at 8. I sleep for a another 2 hours and am a happy camper. By then I am at 10 cm.. Time to push.
I push and push for 2 hrs. I get tired and am not pushing effectively. The nurse is getting irritated with me. She makes a comment that worries me, that I had been pushing for so long, if I don't birth soon, she will talk to the Dr about a c-section. That motivated me to push harder and better. Within 10 pushes the baby is crowning. The Dr. rushes in and my son is born, about 8 hrs. after admission.
I tore quite badly and the dr. had some difficult controlling the bleeding. I believe that if I hadn't been so scared about a c-section I might have pushed more controlled and thus less tearing. I don't think my size impacted any of my birth experience. It was more impacted by the Dr trying to move things along for his convenience. But regardless I have a happy healthy little boy.
Kati's Story (unmedicated induction, vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: It is rare indeed to see a woman (esp. a first-time mom) who is able to do an induction completely unmedicated. Kati did a fantastic job, and was helped by her partner, her doula, being able to be mobile, and her Hypnobirthing instruction.
My husband and I wanted our birth to be as natural as possible, but in a
hospital setting. Before trying to conceive, I visited 4 separate OBs and had full annual gyno exams with each before I decided on my doctor, even
though insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of the extra exams, because I wanted to be sure to find a doc who I was really comfortable with. I found a
wonderful practice of all women doctors and midwives that emphasized natural birth. Although my doc suggested that it might be better to lose weight
before trying, it was more important to have a steady weight for at least three months before trying, and since I was already in good health, doing it
at my present weight (at that point about 245) would be fine. With a little more exercise, I was down to 234 or so when we started trying.
We conceived within 2 days of deciding to try. I had an easy pregnancy. My blood pressure was very good, and both the baby’s growth and my weight gain were so average my doctor called me “her most boring patient.” I didn’t gain any weight until my 24th week, and then around a pound a week. No GD, no anemia. My only real complaint during pregnancy was a strong lactose intolerance that made me throw up all dairy products, which probably helped curtail my weight gain! My husband and I started Hypnobirthing classes three and a half months before we were due, and practiced religiously together. We also took a breastfeeding class, which was invaluable. A month before we were due, we went over our birth plan with doctor, doula, and even one of the nurses at the hospital.
Celia arrived eight days past her due date. At 4 a.m. on Dec.6, I started having contractions 8 minutes apart, then seven. At a little after 8 o’clock the contractions faded to nothing. About 8:30 a little trickle down my leg made me think me my water had broken. After we determined with the doc at 10 am that it had, we asked if we could still attend an acupuncture appointment we had already set up for 10:45 to try to do that. We were afraid that the doc would make us go straight to the hospital, but to our surprise, when we told her the name of the acupuncturist, she told us to definitely go; she was friends with her, and in fact had had lunch with her the week before! The acupuncture really did start things at that office, although the contractions had faded by the time we reached the hospital.
We tried lots of non-pharmacological induction methods -- walking, using a breast pump, blue and black cohosh tinctures (and Evening Primrose Oil the night before)--but at 6:30 p.m. it became pretty clear that I wasn't going to start labor spontaneously. The baby had actually moved up in the pelvis, and my effacement seemed more like 25% rather than the 75% the doc had found the week before, so we really weren't in the best place for labor. So they suggested a tiny dose of Cytotec; I had a terror of it from the horror stories about high doses, but my OB convinced me that at a very low dose it would be safe. I started having small contractions, but it wasn't enough, so after discussion, we started Pitocin at a low dose just after 8 pm.
By then I had read them the riot act about the EFM, which was not registering
either the baby’s heartbeat or my contractions regularly without being held in place, so we changed to intermittent monitoring, which worked fine until
pretty late in labor, when we decided to install an internal monitor...again, another thing I was really afraid of, but it didn't cause
any extra grief and actually allowed me to move around more freely. I ended up on "level 3" Pitocin, about half a normal dose. At one point, the OB
nurse said, "You know, I'm not seeing any contractions strong enough to push out a baby; the doc wants me to up the Pitocin," and I whipped my head up at
her and stared at her like an insane person, since I knew these had to be it. Eagle-eyed DH realized that when I had gone to the bathroom, the machine
had recalibrated to 30 points under zero - so my contractions were half again as intense as they appeared on the graph. She apologized and left me
Our doula, who had also been our Hypnobirthing instructor, arrived just as contractions started. She was FANTASTIC, and really helped me breathe and visualize through each contraction; we used every technique I learned in class, and then some, and many different positions, which helped a lot. She also corralled and put to use every member of my family in my care. I never did consider using the code word we’d decided on pain meds, nor did I really consider it, except for the moment I mentioned above. After that point I went from 4 to 6 centimeters in an hour, to eight in another hour, and then to ten in just three or four contractions. They put up a nice big mirror to help me see the crowning, which took what seemed forever because Celia had flipped posterior during labor; after 45 minutes of pushing, she suddenly flipped herself over in the birth canal, and it was just one more contraction for her head to emerge, and then one more push to get the rest of her out at 1:25 am on Dec 7. They plopped her on my belly, happy and wet and perky. I think the long pushing combined with our adamant perineal massage before and during birth to keep me from tearing...I just ended up with a little abrasion. I felt just fine after the birth since I didn’t have any meds or procedures to recover from – just the birth itself, about seven hours of active labor.
She weighed 6 pounds,13 ounces, and was 21 inches long at birth, which surprised everyone; because she was so long, they had all assumed she’d be more like 8½ lbs.
Because of the trust I felt in all my caregivers, even with all the interventions I had in the end, it still FELT in the end like a warm, cozy, minimal-intervention birth. And because I had screened them ahead of time to ensure positive attitudes about my size, it never entered into the birth event at all.
My only note to breastfeeding moms: stick to your guns about rooming in, no artificial nipples, and no supplementation unless absolutely necessary, and then only with a lactation aid instead of a bottle. The recovery nurses’ BF knowledge was spotty at best, and we finally gave in to one really difficult nurse’s demand that she give the baby a bottle, which hurt our baby’s good natural latch a lot and took weeks of work to overcome.
Naomi2's Stories (induction, epidural, hospital vaginal birth; castor oil induction, homebirth)
Baby #1: At my 36 week appointment, the OB said to come back if I got a bad headache. Later that, week, I did get a headache, so I went in to get checked out. My blood pressure was 110/70, no protein in my urine, and dilated to 3cm. The OB decided that I should be induced that day, even though there was no medical reason. I was sent to the hospital and my water was broken around noon. My OB took the weekend off and gave my care up to another doctor. I was very hurt by this, but we weren't close-- I mean, she didn't even remember my name after my coming in for 6 months! Now I am glad she wasn't there because she was sizist, plus she was annoyed that I was young and unmarried, who wants that kind of attitude around a birth? The new doctor was a stranger, but at least he was neutral.
Pitocin was started up, and I had mild contractions all afternoon. By nighttime, the contractions were hurting so much that I asked for an epidural. It was very hard for the anesthesiologist to find the "area"--he had to try 5 times! Finally it was in and at midnight, I went to sleep.
I woke up at 4 am because my mother was calling from Germany. I don't know why the hospital would let a phone ring in a room at 4am, but they did. I was checked and found to be at 10cms. It was time to push. The nurses brought in a mirror and being able to watch what was happening helped me concentrate. I couldn't feel anything but I could see what I was doing at least. I pushed for 20 minutes, and my son was born at 4:51 am. His Apgars were 9 and 10 but the hospital took him away for observation anyway. I think this early separation from me was a terrible trauma for him, and he has always been very sensitive and high-needs. I think a homebirth would have been the best for him, but I didn't know better at that time.
Baby #2: My water broke at 10 pm on my due date, with light meconium. I saw the midwives the next day at noon, but wasn't in active labor yet. They said I had until midnight before they would recommend a hospital transfer. I spent the afternoon drinking castor oil, vodka and orange juice. Active labor began in the evening around 6pm. I spent most of it either draped over a birthing ball on my bed, and on the toilet (thanks, castor oil).
When it was time to push, I wanted to be in a semi-sitting position. The baby got stuck at the end so the midwives had me flip to an all-fours position, and then he slid out easily. He was blue and not breathing. The midwives gave him oxygen and he pinked up and all was well. His apgars were 3 & 9. The time of birth was 11:50 pm.
Homebirth is definitely the way to go for me. No strangers were involved, we had low lighting and candles, and I didn't feel inhibited about making loud noises. It hurt a lot, but the minute my son was out, I felt euphoric and so proud of the work I had done.
Vickie's Stories (induction for predicted macrosomia, vaginal birth anyhow)
Kmom's Notes: A classic example of one of the most common interventions done on women of size. The doctors assume the baby is going to be huge (macrosomia) based on the mother's size and larger-than-average fundal measurements. This either leads to an elective c-section (after many scare tactics about the 'dangers of big babies') or an elective induction on the mistaken assumption that inducing a smaller baby lowers the chances of emergency cesarean or of the baby getting stuck. In fact, the research shows that elective cesarean for macrosomia is NOT justified and leads to many unnecessary cesareans, and that elective induction for macrosomia does not decrease the rate of baby getting stuck and actually increases the cesarean rate substantially. Unfortunately, in this area, few OBs practice evidence-based medicine.
Vickie was fortunate she had hired a doula for her labor. Without the doula, she probably would have had a cesarean. Utilizing a doula does usually lower the incidence of cesareans, and at least one study showed that use of a doula during medically necessary inductions cut the cesarean rate from 63% to 20%. (Reference in the GD: Providers section.) Hiring a doula is probably a very good idea if there's a good likelihood of induction.
Vickie has gone on to study to become a midwife. She cites this first birth experience as definitive in forming her views on birth.
Fourteen years ago when I pushed my son into the surprised hands of my doctor, I had no idea that a journey of spirit, of heart, and of body would begin at that moment. Sure, I knew I was giving birth to a child, but I had no idea that I was, in many ways, giving birth to myself as well.
I started that pregnancy as a "good patient," listening intently to what the doctors had to say. They told me that my risk of having a cesarean was high because of my "obesity" (I weighed just over 200 lbs. at the time, and that in and of itself made me 'high risk'). I believed them, fearing my body for nearly nine months. I even believed them when they told me there 'no way' I could give birth to my child because he was 'so big' (predicted to be over 10 lbs.) and I was 'so short' (5'3" on a good day). They decided to let me have a trial of labor, but gave me little hope that it would be successful.
Twelve days after my due date, they stuffed prostaglandin gel into my cervix and left me with a nurse borrowed from another unit. For several hours not much happened, but eventually the cramping began and soon became very intense. We called the nurse who took my vitals and assured me that I wasn't in labor and told me to try and get some sleep. The cramping got worse, making sleep NOT an option; I began to wonder, "If this isn't labor, how will I handle the real thing?" Still, our nurse assured us that everything was fine and to get some rest. We'd hired a doula (a knowledgeable woman who gives comfort and support during the birth, and who also helps out afterward, easing the mom and baby through the transition of the first days or weeks of life) to help us but since I believed the 'expert' who said I wasn't in labor we didn't call her. We figured we'd need her the next day when my 'real labor' began.
Finally, with the contractions coming right on top of the other, the shaking, hot flashes and nausea scared my husband and he called our doula. "They say Vickie's not in labor but she looks terrible and is in a lot of pain," I heard him tell our doula, who said she'd be right over.
Suddenly my room was full of people and I had a tremendous urge to push. I heard something about 'crash section' and 'heart rate in the 60s' and they quickly tossed me onto a gurney for the trip to the O.R. Still, being a good girl I was crying, "I want to push, I need to push, please let me push," like a mantra while they wheeled me to the O.R. but they ignored me. No one told me what was going on or where I was going; even though I was the 'star of the show,' I was treated as a piece of meat---not a person.
Our doula showed up as they were getting me to the O.R. She took one look at the board where they wrote my status, saw '9 cm dilated, Crash C/S' and knew immediately what had happened----the Prostaglandin gel, as it does with some women, put me into precipitous (very fast) labor.
After they got me onto the operating table, my doula grabbed my hands and I looked into those calm brown eyes of hers and said, "I want to push but they won't let me." She looked at me and said, "If you want to push, Vickie, then push. Go ahead and have your baby." Relief washed over me because FINALLY I could do what my body was demanding of me. I pushed, giving in to that birthing power and channeling its strength. It felt so good to feel my bones sliding over my baby's head as he descended into my pelvis. I was so intensely aware of everything happening in my body that I lost track of my surroundings. My world WAS my womb, opening to my baby, pushing him toward my waiting arms.
At this moment a well-intentioned anesthesiologist approached me, syringe in hand, and asked me to hold out my arm. For the first time in my life, I stood up for myself. "Fuck off," I told him, between pushes; he shrugged his shoulders and walked off.
Eleven minutes later, my son slid out of me, slippery like a fish, kicking and waving his little fists against my thighs, all 8 lbs. 12 oz. of him (so much for 'well over ten pounds,' eh?). It is a feeling that hasn't lessened with time; I can conjure it at nearly any time, and it will always make me smile and sigh. Often at births, the memory will wash over me, unbidden but always welcome.
Of course, the doctor still had to do an episiotomy (he had to control the uncontrollable somehow, right?). And as episiotomies often do, it spread into my rectum. That, and the botched repair job he did, made sitting nearly impossible for about six months. But I have no regrets. I took control of my birthing experience; and, thanks to my doula, I began this journey. Each birth I attend, each woman I connect with, brings me one step closer. To what, I'm not exactly sure, but I can tell you that the view from here is spectacular. I love what I do; birthing is, in my opinion, the ultimate 'women's work' and I feel so very blessed to have been called to midwifery and women's health.
My hope for women is that we take control---of our health and our bodies. We live in our bodies 24/7 and therefore are the true experts where our health is concerned. Sometimes, though, it's difficult to get in touch with our inner midwife, to trust our bodies to heal themselves, or to know what they need to assist in that process. In this column I hope I can help other women take back control of their own bodies and be their own midwives. "I am a woman giving birth to myself."
Aimee's Story (SROM, rapid natural birth)
Just before 2 a.m. on May 10, 2001, I got up to use the bathroom. Not unusual, I was two days past my due date. I sat down at my computer because I wasn't sleepy after going to the bathroom and at almost exactly 2:00, my water broke. We left for the hospital about an hour later.
I laid on a table in the L&D triage for about an hour. They didn't check my dilation at that time because my water had broken and they wanted to keep internal exams to a minimum. Contractions had begun in the car on the way to the hospital and increased in frequency, duration and strength while we were in triage. By the time I was finally wheeled into my own room, I was having fast and heavy contractions but was breathing well through them.
As my nurse asked five million more questions and prepared to give me an IV, my SO and I decided it would be a good time for him to go get our bag and move the car from the ER lot. He left and very shortly my contractions started coming much faster and stronger so that I could barely breathe between them. I was in so much pain, I was feeling faint and starting to be a little bit afraid of the intensity of things. I was afraid that labor was going to continue to increase at that rate for hours and hours to come.
The nurse got the IV into my hand and as she cleaned up the trash, I felt really intense pressure, almost as though I wanted to push. I told the nurse and she looked at me kind of funny, but came over and checked. Then she had a surprised look on her face and sort of trotted over the the wall speaker and called for doctors for a delivery in my room! "Where's the father?" everyone was asking.
So more nurses and a doctor came and started preparing everything for me to start pushing. Finally my SO came in and looked so shocked to see that we were having the baby RIGHT THEN. He dropped our things and stood by the bed and I started pushing.
I'm not sure how many times I pushed, but about ten minutes later, almost exactly 3 hours after my water broke and less than two hours after we arrived at the hospital, my daughter was born. Many women have expressed envy over my short delivery and while of course I'm glad it didn't drag out for a long time and that there weren't any complications, there is something really intense and shocking about such a short labor.
I was very lucky to not have any of the staff at my OB clinic or the hospital even mention my weight.
Lori W's Story (postdates induction, unmedicated vaginal birth, PPD)
Kmom's Notes: An unmedicated induction! Very unusual because it is very difficult to do. Actually, this mom was just about to to get an epidural when her body took over and started pushing, rending the epidural unneeded. She did an amazing job.
Evidently this mom's gestations run a bit long, because her baby's size was certainly none too big for a 42 weeker. Just over 7 lbs.---pretty small for 42 weeks. She notes her mother had a history of long gestations too.
This mom also had some post-partum depression. Fortunately, she had help and the PPD didn't last too long.
I had a textbook perfect pregnancy, no morning sickness, very little discomfort even at the end, slept like a baby the whole time.
I had a Non-Stress Test at 42 weeks; the baby was fine but we decided to induce 4 days later. When I went to the hospital I was 60% effaced but not dilated one bit. My midwife placed a prostaglandin pill (Cytotec/misoprostol) on my cervix probably about 7:30 - 8:00AM. After 1 hour I was walking in the hospital and shopping at the gift shop etc. (eating Whitman's Chocolate!) I would go back to the room occasionally. At 12:30 the midwife gave me the option of trying the prostaglandin one more time or having pitocin. I was 100% effaced but no much more dilated. I opted for the prostaglandin (Cytotec) again.
I started getting fussy about 1:30, just a little uncomfortable. I had a whopper of a pain later and figured if it was going to be like that for 20 hours I was getting an epidural. I was much more comfortable when I was able to get out of the bed and labor on my birthing ball. At 2:20 they checked me and I was at 3 cm. About 2:30 my doula, when the Doc came in for the epidural, suggested I go to the restroom, my body "cleaned itself out"!
I got up on the table and suddenly it felt like rings sliding over my body. My body bore down on itself with no thought from me. My doula said, "She's pushing." My midwife said, "It's too early," and I said, "I didn't do anything!" My midwife checked me and I was at 10 centimeters. The Epidural Doc said, "You don't need me anymore," put the medicine back in her pocket and walked out! About 15 minutes later at 3:06 my daughter was born, perfectly healthy! I had a slight abrasion but no tearing and no episiotomy.
To prepare for the birth I read too many books, researched everything I could find about large size pregnancy.
I took a prenatal vitamin, extra folic acid, ate extremely well and took a few herbs
that I discussed with my midwife. One book that helped me an incredible amount was "Supernatural Pregnancy" by Jackie Mize. It approaches the
birth process from a Christian view. I believe childbirth is a natural process that women's bodies were designed to do.
I brought up the size issue with my midwife's office before I made an appointment and also addressed it with my doula before hiring her. (I have a thigh that is as big as my doula!!) Other than in my family, I feel I encountered no size bias. Within my family, I nipped it in the bud as needed! The only complication for me was after the birth. I was very overwhelmed emotionally and probably a little depressed. This is one area that I wish I had been better prepared for but really never expected it to be a problem for me.
I was able to breastfeed my daughter immediately after birth but she wouldn't latch. According to one of the LCs she was a 'tongue thruster'--- instead of drawing the nipple into her mouth with her tongue, she pushed it out. I had the LCs and nurses in my room 4-6 times a day while in the hospital. I think everybody but the janitor had their hand on my boobs! We tried a hospital grade pump to see if it would draw out my nipple any. We did supplement with formula after the second day. I went home with the pump and tried breastfeeding and then supplementing with pumped milk. Supply was never a problem. One person suggest a nipple shield, we tried that...Finally my husband and mother pretty much decided after two weeks that it was too much for me and was making me nuts so we jointly decided to bottle feed. Some women have said that breastfeeding felt really good to them. I always felt sick to my stomach. I am sure that all of this did not help my emotional state after I gave birth.
I also was not prepared for how long or how much I bled afterward. My midwife said it was on the heavy side of normal but normal. It started to resolve after I passed 2 fist-sized clots. I had no energy. I had the midwife check my iron levels and they were fine. I remember not being able to walk through the entire grocery story without getting woozy.
I really think I had a bout of depression. I remember feeling so overwhelmed. Luckily my mother stayed with us for about 3 weeks and I would hide in my room and let her take care of the baby. I remember wishing the baby's mother would come and get her...like I was the baby sitter or something. At no time did I ever feel or fantasize about harming her or myself but would have gladly hidden in my room for days. I couldn't eat and lost 20 extra pounds in about 2 weeks, in addition to the 14 lbs I lost after the birth. I didn't want visitors other than my family and pretty much told everybody else to stay away. It just seemed to be too much effort to have visitors. I probably felt that way for about 6 weeks before it started to get better.
I think some of the causes were hormonal but some were not. I think the pressure I put on myself to breastfeed was not great. I also think the adjustment from being a couple of 15 years to suddenly have an infant, no matter how welcome, was greater than I anticipated. Finally, it could have been just what my midwife said, "Well, you know you're no spring chicken!" Ouchhh!
[Kmom note: I doubt that age was relevant here. There may have been other causes, like thyroid issues, that did not get explored here. Fortunately, this mom was able to get better with a little time, but some moms need drugs to help overcome PPD.]
Camila's Story (PCOS, epidural, vaginal birth)
I planned to deliver at the birthing center. I went with my husband to the classes and everything. At 40 weeks and 1 day my labor started and my husband drove me to the birthing center where I stayed for 12 hours with hard contractions. My midwife intentionally broke my water. ( I won't let this happen again-it's not a good idea if you are looking to have a natural delivery-let your body do the work!)
Because it was taking too long, I was transferred to the hospital right after my midwife's assistant came (boy, I hated that woman! She made me feel so uncomfortable!). At the hospital they gave me pitocin and also I asked for an epidural (I was exhausted by then!). And who knew--- 2 hrs later my beautiful daughter came out. She was quiet but then, right after she was taken away from me, she cried and cried! It was the best baby cry I have ever heard!
I am happy for having my baby so healthy, but I felt I was deprived of the natural and empowering birth I was planning for. I am grateful for my baby for I never thought I was going to conceive, but I hope I get another chance to have not only the perfect baby and a bigger family as I always dreamt about, but also the perfect birth! GIRLS, NEVER GIVE UP!!!
Amy3's Story (switched to birth center midwife, vaginal birth)
When I found I was pregnant I began my search for an OB... my first doctor took one look at me and before ever reading my medical history lumped me in the high-risk category simply because of my weight...didn't matter that my blood pressure was fine, blood sugar was fine, etc... I stayed with that doctor was a few months and became increasingly upset with how I was being treated... I was told I would have to have an IV, continuous monitoring, wouldn't be allowed to walk during labor, and even was told my weight would most likely force a c/s!
By this time I had been reading more and more books on pregnancy and couldn't see anything that would give that doctor cause to do those things... I was perfectly healthy! So I found a different doctor to switch to... that doctor was the same way! Very frustrating! I didn't know there were options to an OB though so I stayed with that doctor for a few months as well... blood pressure still fine and I passed my 3 hour glucose test with flying colors!
While under that doctor's care I found a book about water births and midwives... that sounded so ideal!!! Unfortunately because I was on state insurance there were very few midwives in Houston that I could see... and none of them would take me, again because of my size! I started getting so depressed, but I wouldn't give up!
I started looking outside the Houston area and found a wonderful midwife in Austin... I explained on the phone that I was a large woman and she said it wasn't a problem... she had experience with other BBWs and she herself was a BBW too and had no problems during her own pregnancy and birth... she understood how closed minded OBs could be... I went up to see her for my 7 month visit and never looked back! She even was willing to let me labor and deliver in water, exactly as I wanted!
I continued seeing her through the rest of the pregnancy and still had no problems... I started seeing her every week at 36 weeks and when I was at 37 I had started dilating... she told me to hold it in since birthing centers aren't allowed to deliver babies under 38 weeks... I went back for my next appointment at exactly 38 weeks along and I had dilated further... she said it could be any day!
Because I had to drive myself 3 hours to her office I was really tired and decided to get a hotel room that night and go home the next day... good thing I did because at 11pm that night I started having contractions about 10 minutes apart... within a half hour they were 5 minutes apart! I met her back at the birthing center and we turned on some relaxing music and joked around a bit... just sat, drank red raspberry tea and talked...the contractions moved along quickly and soon were about 3 minutes apart... at that time I felt I was ready to get in the water... it felt SOOOOO good! I knew all along that I wanted NO medications, so being able to use the water was a god-send!
During transition the contractions were so bad I thought I would die, but I never once regretted not using meds... I felt my water break finally while in the tub, such a strange sensation! I started feeling a lot of pressure and thought I had to go to the bathroom... she helped me out of the water and I went into the bathroom and found I didn't need to go, but I did throw up... when I came back out the babies head was crowning... she said I could back in the water if I wanted, but it hurt so bad I couldn't make it down the steps so I settled for leaning against the futon in the front room and after only 7 hours of labor and 20 minutes of pushing my beautiful little girl was born! I had no tearing, no episiotomy, no complications of any kind. It was, in my mind, the perfect birth.
I know without a doubt that had I stayed with an OB and delivered in a hospital it would've ended a LOT differently!
Angela's Story (SPD, epidural, vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: In this story, "SO" stands for Significant Other, her fiance.
My due date was Wednesday, September 12th, 2001. I was feeling kind of crampy that morning, but I wasn't sure that it was anything real. I was trying not to hope that I was in labor, because I had been hoping for a couple of weeks already, so I was trying to ignore it. We were also still pretty consumed with all of the events that were unfolding with the terrorist attack on 9/11.
Well, I kept feeling crampy all day, and at around 4 that afternoon, I started what I thought must be actual contractions. The nurse that I talked to when I called the hospital was really nice, and listened while I told her what I was feeling. I did not have any bloody show and my water had not broken. She said that I sounded like I was in early labor, but that I should not come in yet. She said the bloody show was important, because that would mean I was dilating. So, we settled down and I took a shower. Looking back, I should have taken a nap!
The nurse said to call back in an hour or so. We did, and we were basically the same, and they still said to wait. To make a long story short, this basically went on all night. The contractions definitely got more intense, and they were pretty regular at 4-5 minutes apart at about 5am. I thought I was dying at that point, because they hurt REALLY BAD. I was getting scared. I had been scared of labor all along, but now I was getting nervous. I made SO call the hospital back and tell them that we WERE COMING NOW, because I really needed something for the pain. I was exhausted and couldn't sleep through the contractions, and I was really afraid of getting so tired that I wouldn't be able to push when the time came. I got in the shower again, and that really helped.
I got out and got dressed, and the contractions were SOOOOOOOO bad! I was practically in tears and could barely breathe through them. It was a loooooong ride to the hospital feeling like that. When we got there I sat in admitting for a few minutes, but they got me upstairs pretty quickly.
We arrived at about 7:20am. The put me in triage, and I was freaking out with every contraction. I really felt very out of control. It just hurt so bad! I still hadn't had any bloody show and my water hadn't broken. I really wanted pain meds but I didn't know if I was dilated enough. Finally a wonderful nurse checked me and I was dilated to 4!Yea! They said I could have a L&D room, and I was wheeled on down.
I said I would be willing to try getting in the bathtub for a while, but by the time my new nurse got me in bed and my IV in, I didn't think I could move! The contractions were HUGE and one on top of another, and I said I didn't think I could do the tub and I wanted an anesthesiologist NOW! Please! The nurse said okay, and checked me to see where I was at.
Now, keep in mind, only about 30-40 minutes at the most had passed since I had been last check at 4. Now I was at 7!!! .The anesthesiologist was really nice and worked pretty quickly and it really didn't hurt too bad (especially compared to the contractions). The position that he had me get into for the epidural was actually a lot more comfortable for my contractions as well. When he was done I had a few more at full pain, and then it kicked in pretty nicely. I could still feel everything, but it was more like pressure than knife stabbing pain.
So, I am finally settling down when all of a sudden I start feeling really funny and have a big rush of pain again. I tell the nurse (or maybe she heard me yell out during the contraction) and she decided to check me. This was about 9:45am, and maybe 30 minutes after I had had my epidural. Well, she checked me and I had no cervix left and the baby was really down the canal! But, I still had not bled and my water still had not broken. My bag of waters was "bulging". So, my advice to you all is to not go too much by that, because obviously it can happen without......
Well, the nurse was really surprised and the room was not even fully setup and they didn't know which doctor would be covering me since everything had moved so fast! But, she made a call that said that the baby was coming and *someone* had better get down here! They really hadn't planned on me going that fast since it was my first baby and all.
So, while they were scrambling for a doctor and getting everything else ready, I got to start pushing at about 10am. I had 2 student nurses holding my legs, SO holding my head, my mom was standing off to the side vowing she wasn't going to look (she didn't think she could take the gore, but she ended up watching the whole thing anyway!), my nurse was getting everything ready, and finally 2 doctors and a resident came in because no one knew who had come!
I pushed and pushed.....it felt like an eternity when I was doing it (but didn't feel like any time at all once I was done). They couldn't believe how fast my contractions were coming. I really had no time to rest and was already so tired! Just hearing my nurses voice telling me that they could see her head and everyone commenting how close I was and how much hair she had was the only thing that got me through. I didn't have a mirror so that I could see for myself, so I had to know that I was making some progress somehow. It really did help to just concentrate on pushing through the pain. Man oh man did it hurt! I have to say though, that the moment her head was out was the greatest feeling EVER! Her shoulders just came out with no problem whatsoever after that, and immediately I felt fine! It was THE greatest relief to know that it was over and she was here!
My daughter was born at 10:40am. Her apgars were 9 and 10. She was 6 lb. 11 oz. and 20 1/2 inches long. She had a full head of black hair and big brown eyes. She was wide awake and alert the whole time, and didn't sleep until much later in the day. She was really clean as well which surprised me. She breastfed like a pro immediately. Neither she nor I seemed to have any side effects whatsoever from the epidural, which I did worry about. I have to say that I really did need it, and appreciated it GREATLY!
I felt wonderful afterwards. My placenta delivered right away after she was born (although I was very disappointed later on when I realized that I didn't get to see it, although SO did) and he cut the cord. I did tear a little bit, but I didn't feel them stitch me at all. I healed really well and really quickly, with a very minimal amount of pain.
Emma Fearon's Story (epidural, vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: Translations for US readers: A "stone" is about 14 lbs. "Gas and air" means an inhaled medication, like laughing gas; this is not available in the US but is widely used in the UK. "Syntocin" is the British version of what Americans call "pitocin," or a synthetic version of the naturally-occurring contraction hormone, oxytocin
When I finally went into labour, I thought I just had wind- until I noticed it was coming at regular intervals! It was Friday April 30th, 2004, and at 7pm the midwife told me to come to the hospital. Myself and Rob, my husband, got a taxi (and a very nervous taxidriver) and the porter at the hospital wheeled me to the delivery suite. I still hadn't had a show or my waters break, so we were not too shocked when I was told I was only 1cm dilated.
The midwives settled me in with a pot of tea, a rocking chair and oral painkillers to take the edge off the pain, and we went for a stroll around the hospital grounds at 11pm! I can still remember the scent of the flowerbeds as I leant on my husband during a contraction. When I got back to our cosy private room, I had had a show, so things were moving. They did a quick monitor of the baby, and started me on the gas and air. Wonderful stuff. As you can tell, I was treating pain relief as a menu, trying what was on offer!
After another pot of tea and a couple of bananas, I decided to try some dancing to relax. Now for the previous 2 months I had been almost glued to the sofa, I felt so ungainly, but that night I danced with a huge burst of energy- thank you Justin Timberlake! Of course when a contraction hit I would breathe in the gas and air.
After another couple of hours, I decided to try the diamorphine injection, as the contractions were increasing in pain. The midwife was examining me when my waters broke and there was meconium in the fluid. The doctor said they would like to put me on a syntocin drip in a couple of hours, if things didn't progress fast enough. Baby's heartrate was still okay, but I was only about 3cm.
We waited, but at 9am they decided on the drip. By this time the injection was wearing off, and I was in a real state, so they suggested I have an epidural. Looking back I just remember the time waiting for the anaesthetist as a blur of pain. But they finally did it and hooked me up to the syntocin.
Around about this time, Rob fell asleep. I was feeling no discomfort at all, but over the next couple of hours, the midwives noticed I couldn't feel or move anything from the chest down- and I was sliding down the bed! Due to being unable to move and rather large, we ended up with 6 nurses adjusting me up the bed. I was glad Rob was asleep and missed that undignified moment! As I was now fully dilated, the decided to stop the epidural, so I could be able to feel enough to push soon.
I had a lovely midwife who came in and chatted to me while I waited to start pushing. She helped me to push the right way and everything was going fine until the baby heartrate monitor alarm started to go off. Suddenly I was being told to lie on my side, and there were loads of people rushing into the room. A doctor was telling me they were getting the baby out immediately and needed forceps. First I needed an episiotomy! I screamed at the doctor to promise me she had anaesthetised the area (Rob still reminds me of this moment- I was that forceful).
But as soon as they cut me, and before they could pick up the forceps, I gave a last almighty push, and suddenly Michael was sitting on my chest. Rob said we both had a slightly dazed expression. After that, he held him while they stitched me up, and I had a quick shower.
In the end I knew we had a great experience, bar the last 5 minutes, when I decided the next day that we would have more children. And apart from needing a few extra hands to help my epidural-effected body up the bed, my size had no effect at all.
I hope this helps other larger women resist the idea that birth should be any different for us because we weigh more.
Jan A. Heirtzler's Story (borderline BP, pelvic pain, homebirth)
Kmom's Notes: To find out more about pubic pain in pregnancy, check out the FAQ on this website on Pelvic Pain.
Friday night is "Craft Night" in the Heirtzler household: we have my sister and brother-in-law, and my brother, over for dinner, and then go upstairs and work on various projects (and sometimes just play games). Last Friday was no exception, and we played "Star Wars" monopoly until 2 in the morning. If only we had known...
I woke up at 7 on Saturday morning, having to pee (as usual). And then I noticed the mucus plug as I got up. Oh my God, I thought, while I tried to reassure myself that lots of women lose the plug and then walk around for weeks before going into labour. I woke up David anyway, though, and shortly thereafter, started feeling mild contractions, maybe 30 seconds long and 10-15 minutes apart. Bad timing, wee one! Not only was Cilia, my midwife, going away for the weekend for a conference, my mother had several speaking engagements for that Saturday! However, we paged Cilia anyway, as well as the backup midwife, just to let them know that things were in the works. Mom said she would be over around 2, and Cilia started back to New Hampshire from her 4-hour drive to New York!
Things went pretty slowly all day, with contractions going from 10 minutes apart to 4 minutes and then back to 10. We decided to go for a walk, and went to the health food store, where no one noticed I was in labour, and when David got hungry, to a local cafe, where the proprietress did notice and wished us luck - she was very interested in our homebirth plans. The walk got my contractions to about 4 minutes apart again, and they were pretty steady by the time we got home. However, we walked in the door to find not only Cilia, my mother and sister, but also the backup midwife, her assistant, and her 11-year-old daughter! I was in an irregular pattern to begin with, but this did nothing to help... soon my contractions pretty much faded out completely.
We went upstairs to hide from the crowd, and Cilia checked my blood pressure and wee one's heart rate; the latter was fine, though my b.p. had been spiking high since about week 32. She suggested that I rest for awhile, and sent the others away -- she also went home and told us to call if anything changed. Well, I wasn't really in the mood to nap (silly me), and we had wanted to make a plaster cast of my belly once I started to show, but had put it off, thinking we had plenty of time. Ha. So Robyn (my sister), David and I jumped in the car and went to the craft supply store to pick up the plaster wrap and such. I think it was around 3:30 then.
We got home and started doing the cast, and my mom arrived shortly thereafter, much amused and perplexed by the proceedings. The cast took about 30 minutes to do, and I think it turned out pretty neat -- I haven't actually seen it dry, just when we took it off me.. Will post pictures to the website when I have a chance. Things were still going slowly, so my brother and brother-in-law came over for dinner that night (we got subs from a local place) and hung around until later (maybe 9-ish?) when we decided it was probably time to go to bed. I could only keep the contractions going by moving around a lot, and was starting to get tired.
I didn't get a whole lot of sleep that night, either; I'd have about 30 minutes of sleep before being woken up by another stronger contraction, then a couple more maybe 5 minutes apart. That kept up all night, so I don't think I got more than 3 hours of sleep total. Sunday was a lot like Saturday -- hurry up and wait. We tried to keep things moving with me climbing stairs, etc. but were not making my progress. Cilia came by around 3 pm to check my cervix -- at least the contractions had been doing some good, as I was 5-6 cm dilated and somewhat effaced. (The internal was really not that bad -- I think she must have an excellent technique.)
That was encouraging, but contractions were still very irregular -- they'd get closer and more intense, and then back off again. Mom said all three of her labours were a lot like that; she went 48 hours (in the same pattern) with me. We gave up trying to keep things going after talking to Cilia again at around 10 pm. By that time, we were all pretty exhausted, and just wanted a good night's sleep.
I slept fairly well from 11 until 2 am... and then things kicked into serious mode! When I woke up at 2, I thought at first I was in for more of the same, but it was not to be. Contractions got very strong, very quickly, and it soon became apparent that this was "it." We called Cilia at 2:30 and she was there by 2:50. An internal revealed that I was in fact in transition, at about 9 cm and quite well effaced, so we did the best we could to ride out the increasingly uncomfortable (not yet *painful*) contractions. They got stronger and longer, and closer, and at 4:30, she suggested that I might try pushing.
You can see pictures of the birth support Cilia uses on her website (which I made) at http://www.birthchair.com. I think it really did make a big difference in pushing; I was uncomfortable everywhere, of course, but much less so on the chair. Not to mention the positive effects of gravity :) I don't really know what was more painful: contractions during transition or the actual pushing. I pushed for about 80 minutes, probably less effectively than I could be, and then Cilia said I could feel his head if I reached down.
The videotape best captures the sense of "Wow!" that I felt; I immediately had a concrete goal to reach for, and changed pushing appropriately. After that it was only about 8 minutes until he was born... 8 very, very intense minutes! It stung rather a lot when his head crowned, but after that, he slipped out very easily, and started crying right away!
Stephen Glenn (for my mother's late father) Lewis (for David's father's father) Heirtzler was born at 6:08 am, with Apgars of 10 and 10. We were all surprised by how small he was -- just 6 pounds, 2 ounces. It appears his cord was much smaller than normal, so although the placenta was a good size, he was getting a bit less than he otherwise might have.
It's been 14 months since his birth, and we're still happily nursing. Thinking about number 2 next year, too :)
Tami's Story (Supersized, posterior baby born vaginally at home; postdates homebirth)
Kmom's Notes: Pregnancy #1: Tami worked up until her due date and had no complaints. They used a fetoscope only (no Dopplers). Did have a Glucose Tolerance Test, which was normal. No other testing.
Note that the first baby had difficult establishing bfing. Although many factors can be responsible, it is not unusual for many posterior babies to have more difficulty nursing at first, or to have long-term colic problems. Chiropractors theorize that this is due to cranial and neck trauma during the birth in a less-optimal position. Many women have found that Cranial Sacral Therapy or gentle chiropractic work (done by someone TRAINED in treating newborns) can often help in this situation.
In her second pregnancy, Tami had no testing at all during the pregnancy. Fetoscope only was used, except for using the Doppler while in the pool during active labor. Tami also notes that she nursed the first child through the second pregnancy.
Link to birth story #1: www.visi.com/~jlb/homebirth/micah.html
Link to birth story #2: www.visi.com/~jlb/homebirth/naomi.html
Kmom special note: Tami has great pregnancy/baby photos and even a short movie ("It's a girl!) on her website!
Isadora E's Story (pelvic pain, possible malposition, epidural, vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: Note that this mom had a lot of pubic symphysis pain during pregnancy. The most common symptoms of this are pain on rolling over in bed, difficulty lifting one leg at a time, etc. Some providers feel that this is a sign of a misaligned pelvis, and may be more associated with fetal malpositions. Chiropractic care can help many cases. For more information about this problem, see the FAQ on Pelvic Pain on this website.
I am a 40 year old woman, 260 pounds (274 when I got pregnant). I just had my first baby, a lovely, healthy baby girl. During my pregnancy I gained no weight; I made sure to eat very well (fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, meat) - but there were times when I had fast food cheeseburgers and fries. However, I made sure to eat very well more than 90% of the time, and I tried to eat smaller, more frequent meals. My diet before I got pregnant was also very healthy and varied. I also swam from time to time during the first 6 months.
I had no complications, although the first doctor I saw, when I was barely one month pregnant, told me that she expected problems (toxemia or gestational diabetes) given my age and weight. I switched doctors in the fourth month. I did not expect any problems, since I knew I was fundamentally healthy, and felt very healthy. I had no problems conceiving (happened on first try to my delight!).
I want to share my story because all the book I read told me either nothing (no information for large-size women), or told me basically not to get pregnant----and then I went on the web and found this site (when I was about 2 months along) which was extremely helpful and encouraging. I hope my story encourages other women.
I did feel some morning sickness in the last two trimesters (actually just when I brushed my teeth), and during the third trimester, my pelvic ligaments ached. The pelvic pain...was definitely severe pubic symphysis pain---rolling over in bed was excruciating (worse than labor!), lifting my legs hurt, etc. I will definitely get some chiropractic help next time. My pelvis was also misaligned (according to my doula, who gave me a massage a couple days before I went into labor).
I hard a hard time sleeping at the end (typical of all pregnancies). My blood pressure stayed quite low throughout the pregnancy and I did not have any problems with gestational diabetes. I did have an amnio (actually because my husband wanted it; I would have skipped it). I was pretty frightened about the procedure. But it was painless, and went very quickly. It also told us that our baby had none of the problems they test for.
Throughout my pregnancy, I trusted my body; it was built to give birth, and my gut feeling was that I would have no problems. I did have some severe emotional upheavals; my husband moved out when I was in my fifth month. The pain and depression over this even (which had been brewing for perhaps several years) caused me to fear that the the emotions would harm my baby. But a counselor I spoke to encouraged me to grieve and "let it all out" rather than bottle up my frustration and sadness. I took this advice. Also, actually the separation from my husband brought me a lot of relief from day-to-day frustration with the relationship---I moved into a new apartment when I was 5 months pregnant, which also gave me much relief, as the new place was much better than the old in many respects.
Four days past my "due" date, I felt contractions at about 2 in the morning. I tried to go back to sleep, to rest for the journey ahead, but frankly it was difficult. At 7 a.m. my husband made me some breakfast (I called him to come over at about 3 a.m.), which I wish I would have eaten, as I would need a lot of endurance (didn't know that at the time). We called our doula at about 9 a.m., and she arrived at noon. I was 6 cm dilated.
We left for the hospital around 2 p.m. and when I checked in, I was 7 cm. All these contractions were painful, but manageable. I was very mobile during labor: on the birthing ball, walking up and down the halls, doing the exaggerated "marching" for 20-30 minutes. Still, my baby stayed at -1 position, and I did not dilate beyond 7 cm. That's where the happy story takes a turn-----to make a long story short, at about 9:30 p.m. they broke my bag of waters, hoping to increase the strength of the contractions and get the baby to descent more, but I was still at 7 cm at midnight.
I took a Bradley childbirth class, and I was determined to have a completely drug-free birth. However, at midnight my doula suggested that I have an epidural to relax my pelvic area. Reluctantly, but hoping to avoid a c-section, I had the epidural (administered at 12:30 a.m.). The anesthesiologist who administered the drug asked me my weight so he could determine how much to give me. I wish I would have lied, because he gave me too much---I am sensitive to medicines, so I knew a smaller amount would probably be OK. However, I told him the truth, thinking that in my then exhausted stated, lying might not be the best thing. Then because my contractions were getting farther apart, the doula suggested I ask for some pitocin. Again this was not what I had planned for nine months on doing, but I trusted her, and I accepted some pitocin.
One hour and a half later, at about 2 a.m., 24 hours after my contractions started, everyone told me to push! Unfortunately, there was so much epidural in me, I could not feel to push, so I had to "think" pushing, and hope my muscles would behave. The doula started grading my pushes (C-, B=, A-, etc.) and that gave me the feedback to know which pushes were working. At 2:22 a.m., my daughter was born (7 lbs., 8.8 oz., 21 inches long). During this entire process, intermittent fetal monitoring showed that her heart rate was strong all the way through.
She was cleaned up a bit and then laid on my chest; she suckled right away, and did not appear to be drowsy or drugged from the epidural. Her little suck was strong and she was so beautiful. I had a small tear (one stitch) and felt no discomfort as I recovered (I bought 3 bottles of witch hazel that have gone unopened). My recovery was quick and within 3 weeks all bleeding had stopped.
[My "stalled labor" could have been a malposition, or it could have been emotional.] The idea that I was about to become a single mom was not part of my birthing plan. At about 11 p.m., before the epidural, we sent [all the other relatives] out of the room (except my husband)...and the doula looked me in the eye and asked me point blank if there was anything holding me up. I said I was afraid, and that I wanted my husband to live with me to help me take care of the new baby for at least 3 weeks. He promised he would. He did-----and the first 3 weeks with the baby were marvelous, but highly stressful because he was there physically but not emotionally. However, the doula, when we met with her 3 weeks after the birth, thinks I had performance anxiety in front of all the people there in the birthing room. This resonated with me; next time it will just be me, the doula, and my partner.
Breastfeeding: I have been diagnosed with insufficient mammary tissue. I am breastfeeding using the Supplemental Nursing System---I produce a little milk, perhaps a few ounces per day. When I pump, I get a few milliliters of milk (3-8 per breast). I tried herbs, pumping, brewer's yeast, drinking quarts of water, acupuncture, Chinese herbs---nothing increased my supply. On the other hand, my daughter is almost 4 months old now, and I am still breastfeeding with the SNS, and occasionally she has an "all breast milk poop" (texture, color, and smell are totally different from the formula poops). I intend to continue breastfeeding for the first year, or until she self-weans.
While my birth did not go exactly as I had hoped, I did have a vaginal birth, a very healthy pregnancy (no anemia, no toxemia, no high blood pressure, no diabetes), and a good recovery. I am the very happy mom (ecstatic actually) of a four-month-old daughter who is really thriving, and I hope to give her a sibling next year.
Melissa's Story (pelvic pain, possible malposition, vaginal birth; pelvic pain, minor malposition, vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: This mom also had a lot of pubic symphysis pain during both pregnancies. Her first baby was probably malpositioned somehow (Kmom's guess would be that the baby's head was tilted to the side, since it resolved quickly when she swung her hips strongly from side to side, which is typical of an asynclitic baby). The mother's long labor and stall at about 7 cm, then quick resolution when the mother changed her position (with the mother feeling the change when it happened), then the quick birth afterwards all point to a malposition.
In her second pregnancy, the mother also had some pubic pain, but not nearly as strongly as in the first pregnancy. Her second baby was born after a long prodromal labor and then a quick labor once her midwife broke her waters. However, this baby came down sideways (probably occiput transverse) and the mother was on her back with her legs really pulled up strongly, which probably caused a strain and temporary damage in her pubic symphysis area (DSP).
After he was born, she experienced a lot of pubic pain. She notes she could hardly walk for a couple of weeks, and she also had tailbone pain for several months. This is typical of women with DSP. Fortunately for her, it eventually resolved on its own. Some women experience this pain long-term.
Again, for more information about this problem, see the FAQ on Pelvic Pain on this website.
Baby #1: My first labor lasted 23 hours. I started regular timetable contractions at 11:30 p.m. on January 30. We were up all night, timing them. About 4 a.m. we called the midwife and she said to go in. We got to the hospital at 5 a.m. or so and I was dilated to 7 cm when they checked me. My contractions were close together but not really very strong. I didn't even need to breathe through them at this point.
Then labor stalled. I walked and walked. Then we did nipple stimulation, and finally about 3 p.m. (I think!) we let my midwife break my water. After that, things got to really moving! OUCH! All of a sudden, those contractions HURT! So, I tried to get in the tub but I didn't know how to breathe right, and just couldn't stand the pain. So I had the walking epidural. BLISS! Except I was allergic to the morphine. ITCHIES! And then I started vomiting too!
Well, they gave me some Benadryl to combat the itchies, and my midwife got me up trying all sorts of position to get the baby to move down to the right place. She finally had me hold on to the counter and swing my hips back and forth. After a few minutes of this, I could FEEL something change down there. I got into bed, and in about 15 minutes, I had pushed my duaghter out, screaming and yelling (both of us!). No tears for me, but lots of bleeding. I breastfed her within minutes. I finally had to give her up because I was still getting sick from the morphine.
My daughter weighted 8 lbs. 13 oz and was 20 inches long. She was born at 10:38 p.m., almost a whole day after labor started. After the birth, the extreme pubic pain I had before having her disappeared. I do not remember having any trouble walking at all after her birth. I think in her case, just getting her out of there solved the pubic pain problems.
Baby #2: My due date came and went without any baby. His sister was born the day before her due date so I was a little disappointed that he was "late." I was so uncomfortable, so tired of being pregnant, and he'd permanently implanted his feet in my rib cage. It hurt. I was also getting VERY swollen up and my blood pressure was creeping up little by little. I was ready to get him born!
I had been having labor stops and starts for over a weeks and I was so darn sick of timing contractions. They'd get really close together and then just STOP. We walked and walked and walked. It was so aggravating when they'd just STOP! I went in for a midwife visit 2 days after my due date. I was only dilated to a 3. I'd been dilated to a 3 three weeks before my daughter was born so this was pretty discouraging. She massaged my cervix while she was checking. She also suggested that we take castor oil. She said it would probably start labor...
[DH and I discussed the castor oil business.] We came home and he fixed my "cocktail" for me. BLECH! We put it in Sunny Delight, which I can't even look at to this day. ACK! At least I didn't throw up though. A lot of women do, I guess. About 30 minutes later it started doing its job. A half hour after that I was ruined. I had "bottom problems" throughout my pregnancy, so all this diarrhea was NOT helpful. I was in so much pain!
My midwife called during this to check on me. She wanted to know if we'd decided to try the castor oil. I chewed her butt for it because I was hurting so bad. She was at the hospital with a first-time mom already, and suggested I just come into the hospital and take a Jacuzzi and let her check me, and possibly break my water.
I was a little leery of getting my water broken because I didn't think the baby was in an optimal position for it. She kept reassuring me though, that even if he wasn't, he'd get that way after my water was broken. So we calmly packed and took our time to go leisurely to the hospital. It was very nice just going like this, so calmly. We got there and they checked me in and then slapped me in bed to do some monitoring. Problem was, my BP was way up. I suggested they try a bigger cuff on me and see if that helped. It did. With the bigger cuff (a thigh cuff) my BP was what it had been in the office earlier that day. I'm still not sure if my BP was actually up and the bigger cuff was making it look lower or if my arms actually needed the big cuff to get a correct reading. I don't know. I am glad we went to the hospital, though.
After they were sufficiently appeased that I wasn't going to fall over because of the BP, they went away and let me get in the tub. Ahhhhh...it felt so nice. I still had to get out to go to the bathroom a couple time. I was also having contractions pretty regularly by this point, so I guess the castor oil did do its job? I'll never know, I suppose, if it was that or just that I was ready anyways.
After I got out of the tub, the midwife came in and asked me if I wanted my water broken. I decided at this point that I was ready to have the baby, so I let her. I had dilated to 4 since that afternoon, so I figured he was ready to come and we'd just be helping a bit. So she broke it and the bed FLOODED! I had SO much water. TONS of it! It went everywhere. I think it shocked the midwife and the labor nurse. I had not been diagnosed with "polyhydramnios." It had not even been suspected.
After this, things seemed to have moved very fast. DH called our families and told them to come. I labored through about an hour and dilated to 6 or 7 I think. The contractions were strong and hard and painful. They also spent FOREVER trying to get an IV in my arm because I was group b strep positive. They poked and poked and poked. I was bruised and bleeding on both hands. They finally called the anesthesiologist to come and try it. It even took HIM two tries to get one in, but the blessed man used Novocain on the places he was trying to put the needles in at, so I didn't even feel him poking. It helped, because I didn't jump when he poked me and he was able to get it in my little veins.
He went away. My labor nurse taught me how to breathe through contractions. I felt in control. I was staying on top of them. But it HURT so bad!! And then the thought went through my head that they wouldn't be passing out medals afterwards for going unmedicated. So I expressed this opinion out loud. They called the anesthesiologist back and he came and gave me my epidural, which was actually just a "walking" epidural. When I had this with my daughter, they used morphine, which I ended up being allergic to. By now though, they had stopped using morphine in them. It was a couple different drugs, but I don't remember what they said they were. They didn't make me sick, though. WOOHOOO! The relief was instant and wonderful. I could still feel things tightening up and I could feel all the areas under where my stomach stops, but it took away the terrible contraction pain.
Our families all showed up at some point. I hardly remember them getting there. They were having some trouble monitoring the baby so I was paying more attention to that. They decided I needed an internal monitor because he was having some heart dips. This scared me. They said they'd have nursery staff on hand, too, in case anything was wrong. She thought the cord was around his neck, but his [heart rate] was coming back up every time.
The next thing I knew, she checked and said I was complete. I couldn't believe it. It had only been 3 hours since she broke my waters! I was in labor with my daughter for 23 hours and it took 7 hours for her after she broke my water! So I said, OK, I'm ready to push! Someone got the video camera out and handed it to my sister. Our moms were down at the end of the bed waiting too. I remember my mom "getting in trouble" because she was learning on the sterile tray of birthing stuff. Leave it to Mom to get in trouble during my birth!
So they got me pushing. I was on my side for a few pushes, but decided it would work better if I could get on my back. I LOVE the pushing part. It seems like I finally have some control over something. I love the work of pushing my children into the world. It's satisfying in a way that nothing else has ever been to me. Certainly no physical work has ever been so rewarding. I'm GOOD at pushing. On the video I'm even joking between pushes. I was in a GOOD mood!
I think it only took 15 minutes or so of pushing for him to crown. I was dreading this part. I remember it being such a painful thing with my daughter. It was so shocking. No one warned me it was going to hurt like that when she crowned. I panicked with her and started screaming that I couldn't do it. I thought that pain was going to last the whole time. No one told me I'd go numb after that initial "ring of fire." So, as I was pushing with my son and I knew he was getting close to crowning, I was dreading this part, but wanted to get it over with too. So I just kept pushing and pushing and then, THERE HE WAS!!! And it didn't hurt anywhere like I thought it would. Maybe because he was not the first one? Maybe because the midwife had been stretching me the whole time I was pushing? I don't know, but it wasn't too bad. After his head was born, she told me not to push for a moment. I asked if the cord was around his neck and she said, "Not anymore."
With the next push he was out and handed to me. He wasn't crying. His sister was pretty mad at being born. She was carrying on like a little banshee. It scared me so bad that he wasn't crying. And he was just kind of limp too. And NOT crying! I said, "Is he OK?" And the midwife said, "He's fine!" At which he gave out a yell. I was SO relieved!!
His head was rather pointy. He was positioned semi-facing my right leg as I pushed him out, and it did terrible things to the shape of his head, not to mention to my pelvis. While his head was better by the next day, my pelvis still hurt two weeks later. Eventually it stopped hurting but I could hardly walk the first week or so.
Turns out the cord was around his neck twice, but he had a super long cord and it didn't hurt anything. He seemed to us to have kind of a LONG neck the first couple months, and maybe that's from that cord being around it. I thank God that it didn't hurt him. I had no tears and no stitches because my midwife is wonderful and knows what she's doing.
My son was 8 lbs. 9 oz. and 21 inches long. His dad, both grandmas, his aunt, and his sister were all there to witness his arrival. Even with a few problems, I loved my birth. It was a wonderful experience that had a very happy ending!
Jennifer T's Story (PROM, group B strep, induction, vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: This mom was empowered enough to seek out different care during her pregnancy. If she had stayed with her original OB, it's likely she would have had a MUCH different experience. Even after switching, she was "risked out" of a birth center birth because of her size. Not all birth centers do this, but some do because of the strict protocols they have to abide by through the hospitals they are associated with. It's a shame, because supersized moms may need the hands-off approach even more than most women do in birth.
Jennifer did interview a homebirth midwife during her pregnancy and ended up using her as a doula (labor support) during her hospital birth. This probably really helped a lot. Next time, though, she plans to just hire the homebirth midwife and stay at home!
I knew I was pregnant fairly early on since my periods are quite regular and I have ovulation pain. As soon as the test was positive, I called and made an appointment with my family doctor. He confirmed I was pregnant and sent me to an OB/GYN. I mentioned to him that I wanted to use a midwife and he told me the OB/GYN used midwives, so I decided to give him a try.
My experience with that doctor was absolutely horrendous. My blood
pressure registered pretty high, but I attributed that to the fact that a) just before the visit I had found out my mother-in-law was STILL smoking in
the house even though we had told her not to, b) I had to stand during the blood pressure measurement because they only had a college desk/chair
combo to sit in and my butt wasn't going to fit, and c) the nurse did it wrong. It was the most painful blood pressure measurement I've ever had. She
got the cuff inflated and then let a little air out, then inflated it more, let some out, etc. She did that about three or four times.
Then she had to stand on her tip-toes to see the numbers. So, my reading was quite high, but it probably read much higher than it should have. The doctor
freaked out and told me my blood pressure was high and I would have to see a perinatologist. I didn't even know what that was at the time, but I did know
that my blood pressure hadn't been a problem before. I told him this several times and said we should get
ahold of my records from my family doctor. He ignored me and started the scare tactics,
saying I was high-risk and I'd have to give birth at one of the high-risk hospitals and telling me that I didn't want a stillbirth or anything bad to
There were other problems with that office, such as the fact that they did not believe me when I told them I couldn't remember my last menstrual period, but I did know when I ovulated. They were going to send me for an ultrasound to check the dates. They also did not have a gown that fit (or at least they didn't bother to find one for me), which
didn't bother me that much except on principle. What did bother me was that the doctor did the exam (not very gently) and did not leave to let me get dressed, but instead talked to me while I was just covered with a sheet. Oh, wait, he didn't really talk to ME, he talked to my husband mostly!
Needless to say, I did NOT go back to that doctor. I wrote a very nasty letter to them explaining why I would not come back to that office. I got a call and an apology from the office manager. I thanked her for reading my letter, but told her I was going elsewhere. That is how I ended up with a certified nurse-midwife at a practice with a birthing center.
The new practice was much, much better, though not without problems. I got on the scale once and it didn't register because I weigh more than 350. The nurse asked me how much I weigh and I told her I honestly don't know. She seemed surprised and asked me if I was sure. I shrugged and said I just didn't know. That was it for weighing me. The first visit went really well. My husband and I heard the heartbeat (I was about 11 weeks along at that point) and talked about the birth center and how it is for low-risk women. We were pretty excited, assuming we would be giving birth there. However, between visits I got a letter from my insurance company saying I was pre-approved (or whatever they call it) to go to the hospital for those two days around my EDD. I thought that was suspicious since I was going to use the birth center. So at the next visit I was going to ask about this letter and ask very specific questions about what low-risk meant. I started by asking what kind of things would mean someone couldn't give birth at the birth center. Our CNM was quite uncomfortable at this point and indicated that I was at risk for PIH and GD due to my weight and family history. I asked if I would use the birth center if I did NOT develop those complications. I kept asking questions and she finally said that I was not going to be able to use the birth center because of my weight and those risk factors. I was very disappointed and depressed after that visit.
That week I called a homebirth midwife (an LM). I had been interested in homebirth in the beginning, but somehow had let people talk me out of it. I did some
more research into it at this point and was very excited at the prospect. However, my husband was not willing to do a homebirth with me. So for several months I was very angry about the decision about the birth center and a bit angry with my husband regarding the homebirth. We kept seeing the CNM and planning on the hospital birth, though. My blood pressure was fine. The only time it was high was the visit after we found out about the birth center decision. I planned to confront our CNM, but I wimped out. They took my blood pressure and then made me lie on my side for 15 minutes so they could take it again. It was fine after that and every other time after that. I did the test for GD twice, which I know they do not make everyone else do. I agreed to do it twice because of my family history. Each time my blood sugar was just fine.
In other words, I had a very easy pregnancy. My worst problems were some pubic symphysis pain around 5 months and some sciatica during the last couple of months, which went away after the baby dropped. I also had heartburn a bit those last few months. I never had morning sickness or any of the usual complaints and my ankles only swelled when I ate lots of salty foods during the day.
The decision about the birth center still bothered me because I knew that it was simply based on my weight and nothing else. This really hit home when we started taking classes at the birth center. One of the instructors started the class by telling us how wonderful the birth center is and she'd never do it any other way. Then she went around the room and I said we were going to the hospital. She was surprised and said something about how it sucks when you HAVE to go to the hospital. When we left that class I was in tears and was very angry about the whole thing. We discussed the birth center decision with one of the CNMs (our usual one was on vacation) and they claimed that I was at risk of having a big baby and of bleeding out more than normal. I still wasn't really buying their reasoning, but talking about it did help with the anger. We also called the homebirth midwife back. My husband agreed to meet with her because he saw how upset and mad I was about the whole birth center issue. So we met with her and we were all set to do a homebirth. By then I was about 36 weeks along. The next week they did the test for Group B strep and I tested positive. We did some research and read a lot about it. We talked to the homebirth midwife and eventually decided to do it at the hospital because it didn't seem to be worth the risk. If I could have found a nurse or someone who would do an IV at home, then I would have done it that way.
The homebirth midwife offered to act as our doula, so we took her up on that offer and it worked out wonderfully! I ended up being induced because my water broke and I had no contractions for 18 hours. I had planned to do a lot of the labor at home with our doula, but since my water broke and I had the Group B, we went to the hospital. We got one dose of penicillin in and then left and got lunch and made some phone calls and all that. I would have kept going to the hospital and back home, but apparently my veins are difficult to get an IV into, so I decided to just stay at the hospital. We were there all day Monday with no contractions, just getting penicillin. At one point the CNM came and decided to make sure that it was amniotic fluid! The test was positive, so we waited until the 18 hour mark. I was scared to death of the pitocin, partly because I knew it could make labor more difficult and painful and partly because I didn't want that much intervention. No one explained to me that they were going to do the pitocin the way they did. They started it around 1:00 AM at the lowest dose and increased it every half hour. My cervix was already around 2-3 centimeters and about 85% effaced and the baby was dropping good, so the pitocin worked well. I didn't start having decent contractions until around 5 or 6 in the morning. I didn't get any real sleep that night. The doula and CNM wanted to give me some kind of pill to help me sleep, but they didn't explain to me that the pitocin wouldn't work right away so I decided not to take the pill. At some point the next day (the exact timing is kind of a blur) our CNM came in and said that my bag of waters was a "high break" and she wanted to break the bag of waters lower down. I agreed to that, thinking it sounded reasonable. That did seem to help things along, although they discovered that there was meconium by that time.
Towards the end of labor the CNM wanted to put in the internal contraction monitor. I could tell that our doula thought this was a bad idea but she didn't want to say anything out loud. She tried to keep me on the toilet for some contractions. I was almost ready to push at this point. I felt the urge a little, but they said it was too early and that I was only about 7 cm dilated. I was in that foggy labor land, though, so I couldn't think of arguments against the internal monitoring, so in it went. The CNM left, I think, but came back not too long after that it seems.
By the time they broke my waters, they discovered meconium. So a pediatrician was at the birth. Our CNM wasn't there when I started pushing, so the nurse was telling me not to push. At first I was doing what they told me, but even through the fog I knew that the pediatrician was there, that a nurse and a LM were there and that it was safe to push. I even argued my case and said it wasn't my fault that the CNM wasn't there. I am amazed that I was able to think clearly enough to work through that because I was quite out of it from the endorphins and from being so tired. I was worried that I would be too tired to actually push and do that part since I basically had not slept in two days.
So I started pushing before the CNM got there, but she did make it for most of the pushing and the delivery. [I only pushed for a little more than an hour, and if I remember correctly, once his head was out the rest of him came out with just one more push so shoulder dystocia was definitely not a problem despite the fact that he was a good size (I just don't think that 8 lbs. 10 oz is a BIG baby....just a nice size!)]
After the delivery, I did bleed out a bit. [Kmom
note: Bleeding excessively is one of the risks of induction. Also,
the midwife pulled on the cord to get the placenta out, another risk factor for
bleeding.] They gave me a shot of pitocin in my thigh and then a shot of something else
that starts with an M in my arm. I would guess that the pitocin didn't end up in my muscle in my thigh because of the amount of fat there. I was really
out of it because of the lack of sleep and the blood loss. I was on pitocin all night, but was released the next day. We were home less than 24 hours
after he was born.
I didn't get to nurse right away because of the meconium. Also, the baby was pretty jittery when he came out, so they tested his blood sugar. It was high and they decided to give him some formula through the tube (he was intubated to check for aspiration) because they thought his blood sugar was going to drop. I suspect that they were concerned about his blood sugar because he was over 8 pounds. They kept checking his blood sugar, but after the second or third time (it was sometime after I felt better too) I asked if it was normal and the nurse said yes, so I told her not to test it anymore. We had also asked to NOT do the vitamin K or the eye antibiotic, so I just had to sign the waiver for that.
So I didn't get to nurse right away, but I did get to nurse within the first hour thanks to my doula. She was awesome! The nurse had swaddled the baby, but my doula took that off and put him to me skin to skin and showed me how to get him on the breast. I ended up having some breastfeeding problems because my milk came in pretty late (day 5 or 6, but he seemed ready for it on day 3!) and then it wasn't quite enough. So I pumped and took some herbs and worked him up to nursing 10-12 times a day. We also had to supplement a bit, but only for a few weeks. He didn't have any nipple confusion, luckily enough. He was really good at his part! [Kmom note: One of the post-partum effects of bleeding a lot after a birth is anemia, which can affect milk supply. Fortunately, they seem to have resolved it without any permanent damage to her supply or breastfeeding.]
I also had some problems with latching because of my breast size and my belly, but we worked those out with the help of a lactation consultant. The side-lying position works really really well, but with a modification----instead of tummy to tummy, his legs are up by my head. The tummy to tummy is working better now that his head is bigger, but it wasn't working when he was a newborn because there's just too much breast tissue above my nipple and he couldn't breathe. I think that is the most important thing I learned from the LC. I don't think I would have figured that out on my own. At this point Aidan is 5 months old and we still primarily use the side-lying position but other things are starting to work, too. None of the cradle positions seem to work, though.
[The birth center was a big disappointment, partly because I did expect midwives to be much more supportive. I think the issue is mostly an insurance liability one. They were worried about me having a big baby and having a shoulder dystocia. At one point they did mention that and said something about how there wouldn't be enough manpower at the birth center if dystocia was a problem. Of course, that's probably because they use the knees to chest maneuver instead of hands and knees to resolve the dystocia. One of the midwives did tell us that if the birth isn't textbook, people get transferred to the hospital. I'm not sure if she was saying that to make me feel better or if it's true, but I suspect that they risk people out at the drop of a hat, both during pregnancy and during a birth at the birth center.
Next time we are definitely working with the Licensed Midwife (homebirth midwife). She is awesome. I had more rapport with her after a 5 minute phone call than I had with the CNM the whole time.]
Jenni M's Story (Supersized, PROM, spontaneous labor, easy vaginal birth)
Kmom's Notes: Jenni probably did so well in having a normal birth without complications because her doctor did not push her into induction, let her labor while walking and with mobility, did not push her into having an epidural "just in case," and because she had a special labor nurse who acted like a "doula" for her. Eating right, exercising, and taking care of herself also helped her be healthy going into labor.
At one point it certainly appears as if her baby might have had a minor malposition---she had a lot of labor pain, her labor stalled, she made very little progress for a while, but then suddenly she had contraction after contraction and baby was born shortly thereafter. This sudden change of progress often happens when the baby's position corrects itself (baby moves hand away from its face, baby straightens its head, or whatever). We may never know if she truly had a malposition, but the clues certainly suggest she might have had a minor one that resolved fairly easily. Because her nurse helped her be mobile, this probably also helped any possible malposition resolve.
Please note that Jenni is one of the bigger mothers on this FAQ, not quite 400 lbs. Her story shows that even very large moms can have normal pregnancies and births, especially when their doctors/midwives leave them alone and let them labor spontaneously, give them special support during labor, and encourage them to be mobile and to labor without drugs. Not all big moms have the opportunity for that because of complications, but whenever possible, outcomes do tend to be better in big moms when labor is spontaneous, mobile, and natural.
It was my due date. I had the usual discomfort of being that far along, including loose feeling hips and some swelling in my feet (it was July and HOT). It was a Sunday and I couldn't bear the thought of work again on Monday, as I had worked right up to then. So my hubby and I went walking around the local mall and grocery store.
Once we got home contractions were about 8 minutes apart. So I took a shower and cleaned up around the house. Lo and behold, my water broke! I called the doctor and he said to go to the hospital. It was around 7 p.m. when we got there and contractions were about 5 minutes apart. So after I was checked and it was determined that I was only about 1 cm dilated, we walked the halls of the hospital.
We walked intermittently until midnight, and then the contractions were becoming harder and more frequent. I had an open mind about the possibility of an epidural and wanted to talk with the anesthesiologist. This was the only time I got any negative vibe about my size. He told me that there might be some difficulty with placing an epidural because of my weight, but that he thought he could do it and was willing to try. I told him I would let him know when and if I was ready. I was only at 3 cm by this time.
I labored through the night and there were times when I felt like I was panicking, but we got through them by thinking back to the childbirth classes and practicing those breathing techniques. Just when I felt like I couldn't take it anymore and was ready for an epidural, in walked the nurse who was the instructor of those classes. We labored together and I seemed to stop progressing. So, the dream nurse took off the blood pressure cuff and we tried a variety of different positions to keep me feeling in control and somewhat comfortable. There was still no change in my cervix and they were talking about pitocin until about 6:45 a.m.
Then all of a sudden it was one contraction after another after another. When she checked me, I was at 9 cm, fully effaced and ready to go. I felt a tremendous urge to push and did so regardless of the advice not to, assuming we still had a long ride to go.
The doctor was taking his sweet time to get to the room, and a nurse literally had to grab him by the arm and pull him into the room. He gave me the okay to push, and it felt so good to finally be able to legally push that I sure gave it my all. After only 10 minutes or so, my daughter was born, completely healthy.
I did not have the opportunity for a midwife, but the dream nurse was a savior. By all means, if you can, get a midwife to coach you through the rough spots.
Do not believe them when they say that you will have complications because of your weight. If you eat right and exercise like everyone should, you have the same chances as anyone else for a normal, fulfilling birth experience.
Adrienne's Story (hyperemesis, homebirth)
Kmom's Notes: Hyperemesis is severe, unrelenting morning sickness/nausea. It can be very debilitating. Some experience it only for a while, some for a long time, some for the whole pregnancy. Severe cases even have to be hospitalized if they get too dehydrated. On the bright side, some women have great luck treating hyperemesis with acupuncture, and there is some research to show that this is an effective treatment for some women.
I became pregnant with my first child in
March 1993. I planned a hospital birth with a certified nurse-midwife, believing
that that would give me the best of medical technology and the best of sensitive
midwifery care. I delivered a 9 lb. baby boy, my Jacob, on December 10, 1993,
and although the birth was uncomplicated and unmedicated, I felt very
uncomfortable with the hospital atmosphere.
I became pregnant with my second child in February 1995. After much research and prayer, I chose a homebirth attended by direct-entry midwives. My prenatal care was wonderful and I looked forward to birthing on my own terms. Unfortunately, my Abbie was late! At 42 weeks, after trying for two weeks to start labor and crying buckets, I was admitted to the hospital for induction. I again had an uncomplicated, unmedicated (and very fast!) labor and delivery, in spite of the fact that the Cytotec that was used to induce my labor caused excruciating, non-stop contractions.
My third child, Spencer, was my easiest. My husband’s ex-wife was kind enough to do the labor and delivery honors!
When I became pregnant with my third child (my husband’s and my first child together) in October 2001, I decided to try again for the homebirth I wanted so much. I began to see one of the same midwives who had cared for me during my second pregnancy, with her new partner. Julia and Mary Lou gave me ideal prenatal care and again I had no complications. I felt very confident that I would succeed in birthing at home until my due date was about a month away. In that last month, I prayed often for the ability to simply surrender the process, and spent lots of time “talking” with my body, trying to assure myself that everything would happen according to God’s perfect design for the birth of this baby.
On Monday, July 22, I went to see my midwives. I was feeling very down, sure that labor would never start. My due date was July 23 (according to me) or July 24 (according to my midwives) and I was feeling out and out scared. I knew the baby was perfect and healthy (he certainly knocked around enough in there), and I believed he would be safe wherever he was born, but I wanted to birth him into the arms of the people who love him, not strangers. Julia check my cervix and found it to be about 2 cm and 50% effaced, the same as it had been two weeks earlier. She stripped my membranes and I went home feeling a bit better than I had when I left.
Tuesday, July 23 was a better day and I spent time preparing the house for the birth. Brian, my husband, told me many times that day (he had begun his paternity leave several days earlier) that he believed in me and knew I could do it. All of our other children were home that day and we had a fun evening in our back yard, just enjoying each other. Thus, although there was no sign of impending labor, I went to bed in better spirits.
I slept through the night that night, something I hadn’t done in weeks. I was normally up several times during the night to pee and prowl the house, or to hunt for my husband. We’d been playing musical beds, sleeping on any vacant couch or bed we could find when one of us woke the other up with restlessness, snoring, or a reading light. It was sort of a twilight zone existence without much distinction between day and night, as I always find the very end of pregnancy to be. But that night, I knew nothing until my alarm went off at 7:00 am. When the alarm went off, I was having a contraction, which didn’t excite me much because I’d been having them for weeks, but did get my attention because I normally had “practice” labor in the evenings, not in the morning. I hit the snooze button and when the alarm went off again seven minutes later, I was having another contraction. I hit snooze again and lay there for seven minutes saying, “Oh, please, oh please, oh please!” the whole time. The alarm went off and no contraction—and then, 30 seconds later, it came! I told Brian this could be it and suggested we get up and get busy and just see what happened. I was encouraged even more when I went to the bathroom and had some bloody show.
We woke the children and got them ready for summer program and I continued to contract. I didn’t time them, but had a vague idea that they were about 7-8 minutes apart, nice and regular. I didn’t need to breathe or even stop what I was doing during them, but I was definitely aware when they were happening. As we drove the kids to school, I began to be afraid between contractions that each one was the last, that this wasn’t really labor and it would stop soon. But, oh, joy, they kept coming, and began to get stronger, maybe a little closer together. I had to stop and breathe through a few and, although I still wasn’t convinced this was labor (I wasn’t convinced for quite awhile) it was slowly sinking in that I would see my baby boy today!
Brian and I went to the grocery store, partly because we needed milk, but mostly because it made more sense to do something, anything, than sit at home and look at my watch. When we were finished and home, I got in the shower because I knew that if this was just practice labor, the warm water would make it stop. I stayed in the shower for more than half an hour, breathing through contractions (they all required my full concentration by now) and praying. I prayed the whole time I was in there and when I got out, I knew I was in labor and I was fully at peace, ready to labor and birth with love and power. I had an immense feeling of connection to all of God’s creation and felt honored to be the person he chose as this child’s mother. I called the midwives to let them know what was going on, and put my parents on notice, too.
We still had two hours before it would be time to pick up the kids (it was 10:00 am), so Brian and I decided to go to the mall where Brian could get his favorite coffee at Border’s Books and we could walk for awhile to speed things up. I hadn’t felt the baby move much that morning and was getting a little jumpy about it, so at Border’s I got a piece of coffee cake to try to raise my blood sugar and get the baby to move. Brian got up to go to the bathroom, and while he was gone I had the mostpowerful contraction I’d had so far—right there in the middle of that busy café, and I was all alone! It was awful, but right in the middle, the baby squirmed and punched me in the bladder and even though it hurt like fire, I felt so much better! From then until he was born, the baby seemed to move just when I needed some reassurance that he was doing well. Every little squirm or kick felt like he was saying, “All’s well on this end, Mom!” When Brian came back from the bathroom, I told him not to leave me alone again until the baby was born. He said, “Fine, but you have to come with me to the bathroom.” We had a good laugh about that. We laughed a lot almost all day. There was sort of a party atmosphere around us.
that point, I decided that I was ready to be at home, so we skipped walking in
the mall and went to get the kids early. I was leaning with my hands against a
wall in the entry room of the school, having a contraction, when Jacob came and
found me there. “What are ya’ doin’, Mom?” I told him I was having a
contraction and was going to have the baby today. “Yeah, but why are you
leaning on that wall?” So much for all the preparation about how this having a
baby thing would work, huh?
When we got home, my mom was already there waiting for us. She helped me make up the bed with a plastic sheet and do the last minute things that needed to be done. When we were done, I stood behind a chair in the living room and leaned on the back of it through some contractions and that felt good, especially when it occurred to me to turn the stand fan to blow directly at me! I made the mistake (once!) of sitting down and the next contraction nearly knocked the breath out of me. I got up and stayed up, and eventually my feet started to hurt, but it was nothing like the pain of sitting. It was about noon by then, and although I was breathing through all the contractions by then, I still had my sense of humor and wasn’t vocalizing to handle things, so I was still feeling pretty good. My mom timed some contractions and started urging me to call Julia and Mary Lou, but I put her off several times. I was feeling very relaxed, like things were just really getting started, and I didn’t want to call too soon. Finally, though, my mom insisted that I was further along than I thought and said I should call. I did, and Mary Lou arrived at about 1:00.
The first thing Mary Lou did was check the baby’s heartbeat—perfect! But of course, I knew he was doing well because he kept “telling” me. Brian and my mom went to the back porch to start inflating the birth pool and Mary Lou and I went to the bedroom so she could check my cervix. She said my cervix was 6 cm and paper-thin. I was stunned! I really felt like I was just getting started and expected her to say I was 3-4 cm. I lay on the bed for a bit because I was getting tired and Jacob came into the room during a contraction. He said, very softly, “Hi, Mom.” I didn’t answer and wanted to visit with him when this one ended, but he thought I couldn’t hear him (Hey, for all he knows, labor could make you part deaf!) and yelled, “Hi, Mom!” I started to laugh, hard, right at the peak of the contraction. Painful and not recommended!
During this time, my senses became pretty acute. I held Abbie for awhile and smelled her hair, which just seemed divine at the time. Weird, since it was July and she should have had that six-year-old sweaty, dusty smell that kids that age have within 15 minutes after a bath. Spencer’s mom came and got him and at some point my dad arrived. I went outside to get in the tub that they were filling out there (I think there was some problem with the hose, but for once in my life, I let other people handle it!) and the water was heaven. It felt so awesome, and it slowed down my contractions for about 30 minutes, which was just what I needed. I closed my eyes and enjoyed what I knew was the last rest I would get for awhile.
My dad left with Jacob and Abbie to get them some lunch and run some errands, and I remember telling him to hurry. I stayed sort of aware of what was going on with the kids the whole time, even though I was fully in “labor land” by about 2:00. Brian pulled a chair up to the side of the pool when the contractions started to intensify again, and I got on my knees and held his hands while I rested my head on the side of the pool. I stayed on that position until the end. I tried sitting once or twice to rest my legs, but with the baby’s head putting so much pressure on me from above, I couldn’t bear to have pressure coming also from below (I had the same feeling with Abbie; with her, I wanted to sit on the toilet!).
The contractions got steadily stronger, as labor tends to do, and I was really vocalizing through every one. Hands down, the most helpful advice I ever got about coping with labor was to keep my voice low. Low sounds help increase relaxation; high-pitched sounds are the sounds of tension. As a contraction began, sometimes I would hear my voice start out too high and feel all my muscles tighten up as I fought against the pain. I would lower my voice a bit with each breath until I had it nice and low, and at the same time try to release the muscles that had to let the baby through.
Everything and everyone was very, very quiet. Brian spoke to me now and again, telling me I was doing great, and Mary Lou gave me encouragement by reminding me to let go and let the baby out, but even they spoke in low voices. At the very end, when it was getting really hard, I started giving myself pep talks after every few contractions, saying, “I can do this. I am doing this. I can do this.” Nobody else heard me, but I guess I convinced myself that I COULD do this, because I did. Mary Lou and Julia were listening to the baby every few minutes, but I barely noticed because they never once asked me to move. He sounded perfect every time they checked him.
My dad and the kids were back by this time and were in the house watching cartoons (later someone told me that both kids came to check on things every few minutes, but I wasn’t aware of that at the time) and the phone rang. It was the child care resource agency calling to update my file, and my dad brought me the phone! We got a huge laugh over that after it was all over, but at the time, I was utterly baffled, as if I had never even seen a phone before. Brian told the caller to try again next week, and when I talked to her and told her what had happened, I thought she would pee her pants she laughed so hard. Imagine giving a phone to a woman who is going to give birth (as it turns out) in about 15 minutes!
At about 3:45, some contractions felt a little pushy and I just went with it until THE contraction, the one where the urge to push is overwhelming, terrifying, and enormously powerful. Mary Lou was behind me and she felt my cervix and told me there was a lip and NOT TO PUSH! There is no way to describe to someone who has not experienced it, how nearly impossible that is. I got upright, still on my knees, and Julia got in front of me and helped me pant through a couple of contractions, and then Mary Lou told me to reach down and feel his head. He was crowning, and I could just feel his slippery, wrinkly head at the opening of my vagina. How incredible! I was so scared to let him out, but so excited to feel him in my arms. During the next contraction, his head came halfway out and I knew that the biggest part of his head was through, so I knew the hardest part was over. I think I said, “OK, I can do it now,” although I don’t know if anyone heard me. A loop of his cord had slipped out with his head, but both midwives assured me that that was fine and Mary Lou said if I gave a good push I would have him out. Well, that was all I needed to hear! Next contraction, I pushed out his head and then whoosh! out came Carter’s shoulders and body, quick and powerful into Julia’s hands. She unwound the cord from around his neck while he was still underwater and put him in my arms within 2 seconds of his birth, at 3:59 p.m. The pushing stage lasted no more than 3 minutes! Jacob and Abbie watched everything from their Grandpa’s arms.
Talk about indescribable! I won’t even try. When I looked at him, he still wasn’t breathing, but the cord, of course, was continuing to give him everything he needed. He took a few gaspy breaths and then started to cry and pinked up right away. I felt the cord pulsing and we left it uncut until it stopped. He did great, but wouldn’t open his eyes. In fact, he barely opened his eyes for about three days. I passed Carter out to Brian so I could get out of the pool and go to the bedroom (I needed to get upright to deliver the placenta) and Brian cut his cord. At that point somebody told me there was a true knot in the cord. Thank God the knot never tightened.
I got out of the pool and walked to the bedroom (amazing, since I could barely move after the other two kids were born!) and got on the birth stool to deliver the placenta. I always hate to push out the placenta. It’s taken me longer than average every time, and it just seems unfair that I need to push again after everything that’s just happened. Then I lay down on the bed with my baby. Spencer’s mom brought him back to our house, and I just enjoyed snuggling with the baby and sharing him with the other kids. We took lots of pictures (of course!) and, after some exploring and hesitation, Carter latched on and nursed for about half an hour. Bliss!
Sometime later, Julia and Mary Lou did Carter’s newborn exam right there on the bed. He was 8 lbs. 4 oz. and a whopping 22 in. long! Everything was absolutely perfect and he was never away from me for even a second. Mary Lou checked me and found a 1 ½ cm tear that I elected not to have stitched. She said I needed to stay in bed with my legs together for several days to let it heal, which sounded just fine to me!
When Brian, Carter, my mom and I were finally alone, I took a shower in my own bathroom while my mom stripped the plastic off the bed to expose the fresh sheets we’d put on earlier that day. When I got out of the shower I snuggled up with my baby and my husband and if I’ve ever been happier in my life, I don’t remember it.
That night, after Brian was asleep and I was alone in the quiet house, I prayed while I stared at the beautiful new person that God created in my body and who I had birthed only a few hours before. I wouldn’t change a thing.
So, there’s my story of waking up in labor and popping out a kid in time for dinner. I’m now the only person I know who has given birth outdoors; pretty cool, huh?
Dawn's Story (borderline blood pressure, possible IUGR, homebirth; homebirth with photos!)
Kmom's Notes: Compare Dawn's first two stories to Dawn's third and fourth stories. Even with vaginal and pretty much natural births in the hospital, she still had a lot of intervention and trauma there.
I think Dawn said it all when she noted, "I chose to go the home birth route because I believed in the natural ability of women's bodies to give birth, and felt that the hospital impeded the process at almost every turn. I wanted to give birth in a safe, comfortable environment where I could experience it as the full rite of passage that it is, and where I could assume that I would be treated with dignity and respect."
Dawn has made photos of her 4th birth available online at www.geocities.com/birthtenders/Birth1.html. These are BEAUTIFUL photos and Kmom urges everyone to go see the complete story in pictures as well as reading it in text!
[Kmom note: Here are summaries of Dawn's hospital birth stories with her first 2 children.]
Baby #1: My first baby was born when I was twenty, with a female OB, in a hospital. I had read a *lot* about birth, and went in armed with a wonderful birth plan that seemed to go out the window when the OB insisted on an IV... and then broke my water when I got "stuck" at 8... to find meconium in the fluid. From there on out, it was intervention hell. Internal monitor, transfer to delivery room, up in the stirrups, butt in the air, pushing uphill, baby's heart rate dropped into the 60's, doc said, "I have to cut to get her out" and cut an episiotomy (at least she asked) baby was rushed over to the warming tray and DEEP suctioned. We were thrilled we had a little girl (7 lbs, 6 oz, 21 inches, and I had no drugs or epidural) but I was so incredibly disappointed with the birth. I had very little support afterward, I felt like I'd been through a war, and when I had the guts to take out a mirror and look at my stitches, I felt like Frankenstein's monster. I had severe PPD after this birth, including anxiety attacks that I was sure were heart attacks. It took months to recover psychologically, and we couldn't have sex comfortably for a year afterward.
Baby #2: Second birth, three years later, I decided to go with a group of certified nurse midwives in a hospital that had labor-delivery-recovery rooms. It seemed like a great solution to the intervention train ride I'd been on with my first, but at my "routine" 16 week ultrasound, they discovered that our baby boy's kidney was enlarged, and I had an ultrasound a month thereafter until the 38th week, when they did an amnio to assess lung function and decided to induce because his kidney was still enlarged. There was plenty of fluid, and he seemed healthy otherwise, but they wanted to be safe. So we went in and I was given prostaglandin gel on cervix periodically all day, but nothing much happened, so they sent my husband home with the promise to start pitocin in the morning. I took a shower, and when the nurse came in to check the baby and found his heartbeat "high" (170) she called the midwife, who checked me and found me at 6 cm!! I was shocked.
She broke my water (and the pain increased tenfold) and I called my husband and my best friend. They were running around, getting me out of my nightgown and into a hospital gown "in case they have to do a c-section" they said, worrying about the heartbeat, trying to get a PH level from the baby's scalp, all while attempting to put in an IV, and I was writhing on the bed, literally screaming in pain from being poked, prodded, and the contractions now coming one right after the other. Finally, an OB walked in, she rolled me on my left side, made everyone else leave, and breathed with me for fifteen minutes. The baby's heart rate went back to normal and never went high again! My husband showed up with my mother in law, who was NOT invited to the birth, and then my friend showed up. I got stuck at 8 again, but felt the urge to push, so the midwife held my cervix back and I pushed out my son, 7 lbs, 11 oz, in about 15 minutes. Again, no drugs or epidural, and this time, no episiotomy, for which I am grateful, but still too many interventions for me. Ironically, the first thing he did was pee on the midwife!
But we still had to get his kidney checked, and I had the horrific experience of holding down my screaming 2 week old and sobbing while they put in an IV so they could do a dye test to check his kidney function. The result? He was perfectly fine. Except for the induction-jaundice he developed, which the pediatrician was sure was "breastmilk" jaundice, and he told me I HAD to stop breastfeeding for 24 hours. I was sobbing as I called around looking for an electric breast pump to rent. We made it through those 24 hours, to "prove" it wasn't my milk, and ended up putting him on home phototherapy (a little blanket with a bilirubin light inside) and it cleared up. I wish I hadn't had the first ultrasound, though, because that intervention snowball never would have gotten rolling in the first place.
Baby #3: [This time] I chose to go the home birth route because I believed in the natural ability of women's bodies to give birth, and felt that the hospital impeded the process at almost every turn. I wanted to give birth in a safe, comfortable environment where I could experience it as the full rite of passage that it is, and where I could assume that I would be treated with dignity and respect.
I had a prenatal appointment scheduled for June 1 at our new house, where
all the midwives would practice getting here (all three of them), and we would go over our last minute plans of how
we wanted the birth to go. On the morning of May 31, DH said upon leaving the house, "Today would be a good day, it's Thursday, you know."
We'd been joking for a few weeks that she needed to be accommodating and be born on a Thursday (he has Fridays off) so that he could take the entire
following week and not have to go back to work until the next week. I laughed and said, "No way, she has to wait until June now, today is my
sister's birthday, I don't want her to have to share!"
Instead of sleeping in, I decided to get up and get started on the things on "the list" that needed to be done around the house. (Alas, the last day I would have to sleep in and I missed it!!!) After breakfast I started not feeling so well, having to run to the bathroom every half an hour or so. After about the third time, it suddenly occurred to me that this was probably a good sign that labor was going to begin at some point, maybe not today, but soon. Either that, or the Thai food we'd eaten the night before hadn't agreed with me! I hung around the house, kind of anxiously anticipating something, almost as if I could feel it in the air.
Sure enough, contractions started that afternoon. Nothing major, a little bigger and more intense than the Braxton-Hicks I'd been experiencing, in fact they were so far apart and weren't so bad that I wasn't sure they were "real" contractions at all. The hardest part was not knowing for sure! I picked the kids up in the afternoon from school, and noticed that I was having a hard time concentrating on what they were saying if I was having a contraction. Hmm... that was a good sign. Maybe these were "real" then! I tidied up when I got home, got a few last minute things together for the birth (just in case I'm really in labor, I told myself!) and started preparing dinner.
Contractions weren't really close together, anywhere from five minutes, to eight minutes, and sometimes fifteen minutes apart. No real pattern. DH called at five, and I told him, "Well, you *may* be a daddy today." Even though I told him not to, he canceled his last client and came right home. I was afraid that it wasn't really labor, and I didn't want to disappoint him if it wasn't really it! I had contractions through dinner, through clean-up, through kids' baths and bedtimes, but again, they were anywhere from five to eight minutes apart, and while they were uncomfortable, I *still* doubted if I was really in labor.
Finally, I called the midwife around 8:30 p.m., just to give them a heads up. I didn't want to have to wake anyone up in the middle of the night if I didn't have to. I gave her all the information, and she told me that she would call all of the other midwives, and told me to sleep if I could, and if they got worse or changed, to call her back. DH and I decided that distraction was a good idea, because both of us were too excited and anxious to sleep, so we played Yahtzee until 11:30 p.m. or so. (I haven't played it in years!) We went to bed, and I curled up with DH and the contractions started spacing themselves out. Ten minutes apart. Then fifteen. I was sleeping between them, but then I'd have a contraction and it would wake me up and I would grab DH's hand, which would wake him up, and he'd breathe through the contraction with me until it was over and I fell asleep again. It was a good system, and I think the sleep did me good. It did us both good.
At 12:30 a.m., interestingly just as it was becoming June, my contractions started picking up. They became stronger, and started waking me up every five minutes. In fact, I wasn't so much sleeping between them as I was zoning out. At 1:00 a.m., DH gently suggested we call the midwives. I hesitated. I was *still* doubting that this was "it"! Maybe they would space out again between, like they had before, how did I know? At 1:15 a.m., DH was suggesting it more strongly, and after my next contraction, when I sat up and had to arch my back to keep the pressure off of my lower back through it, I decided that it might be a good idea. He called them while I was in the bathroom, and I when I came out he said they were on their way. As soon as I knew that, I was somehow able to relax some more, which made the contractions seem a little more bearable. Of course, that made me think that maybe this wasn't really "it" and they would slow down or stop when they showed up! My fear was of being the little boy who cried wolf (or the woman who cried labor) but in the next forty-five minutes before they arrived, the contractions were coming regularly and were fairly intense, and I became pretty sure (finally!) that this baby was going to be born on June 1.
The midwives arrived at about 2:15 a.m., and of course wanted to check my progress, but I didn't want to move. Things were starting to pick up and it was becoming uncomfortable. I did anyway, of course, and she checked me both before a contraction (about 4 cm) and during a contraction (which hurt beyond belief, but I was 5-6 cm during) and after that, contractions seemed even closer together and were getting to an intensity I could barely remember from my other two births. DH was having a hard time getting me to focus, and both of the midwives were giving pretty good directions (keep my voice low, relax my forehead, breathe, etc) and I tried hard to listen and follow their instructions, but things were getting fuzzy.
I have no idea how much time passed, but the pain went from "Wow, this really hurts" to "Oh my god, I'm going to die" so quickly that I didn't even have a chance to breathe. The midwives were still telling me to breathe through them, DH was having me focus on his face, look into his eyes and breathe with him, and while everyone around me was saying how good I was doing, I felt like I was falling apart. Not only was I in pain, but suddenly I was really afraid. They had checked me at what felt like minutes ago, and I was only at 4, so these contractions couldn't possibly be as intense as they felt like they were, and I must just be acting like a baby. My fear (and of course I was doing the labor math in my head: this kind of intensity at 4 cm, times 1 cm per hour, that means at least 6 more hours like this?!) was that I couldn't possibly handle this much longer.
Then my water broke. I'd never felt that before. With both of my other births, my membranes had been artificially ruptured. I remembered the feeling, but this was different. This was pressure that broke the bag, and I said, "You guys, I think my water just broke," and oh my god, I remember contractions getting more intense after that in my previous births, but this was beyond anything I'd ever experienced. It felt as if the water breaking was pushing the baby down, it felt like the baby was coming, and not just coming, but coming *right now*!
I saw the midwives' faces, and the first question out of my mouth was, "Is there meconium" She said, "Yes," and my heart sank. "A lot?" I asked. "A good amount" she said. They were setting up suction equipment, and I thought, well, this is the thing, then. This is the thing that had to go wrong. Then, I couldn't think anything anymore. It all happened too fast. She decided to see how far along I was then, and she said, "Oh, you're a stretchy 7." Close to transition, then. I felt like I was dying. The baby's head was now *so* low in my pelvis, I was starting to have the urge to push, but knew if I said anything they would tell me to breathe through it. I was afraid I couldn't do it anymore.
Then they couldn't find heart tones. They were using the Doppler, but no matter where they put it, they couldn't find her. Finally, they heard something faintly, and thought that maybe the uterus was tipped too far back, so they wanted me on my hands and knees so that the uterus would tip forward and they could check it from underneath. I was saying, "No no no" when she suggested it, but she was firm, and DH helped flip me over I was amazed how good it felt to be on my hands and knees. I thought, this is great! Why didn't we do this before?? The baby was low, really really low, but I was in so much pain that all I could do was grunt and moan. I had two contractions like that, while they were frantically checking for heart tones from underneath, and could feel myself starting to push through them, unable to stop. It didn't occur to me to say that maybe they couldn't find heart tones because she was too far into the birth canal!
The midwife had me flip back over and that's when I gasped and said, "The baby is *right there!*" She said, "Ok, I believe you," reaching for a glove, and suddenly I felt the familiar stretch and burn of the baby crowning. She was shocked and said, "There's a head!" Both Michael and I reached down to feel her head, wet and full of hair. They checked for a cord, and suctioned her there on the perineum because of the meconium. As soon as her head was out, I was lucid again. One more little push and she was up on my belly. They suctioned her again (Delee), making sure to get any meconium before she aspirated it into her lungs. She was pale at first, but began to cry and pink up. She was born at 3:43 a.m. Apgars were kind of scary (5 and 7). I was shocked at how tiny she was! She was the smallest baby I'd ever seen, aside from a preemie.
After the initial worry about her breathing (which was fine and clear from that point on), we slowly got to know her as I kept her
warm on my belly and the midwives did what they needed to do, checking her, checking me, having me push to deliver the placenta (within about fifteen
minutes after she was born). The placenta was small, too. My 7 year-old, whose room is right across the hall, woke up when she began to cry.
He came into our room, and I told him to go get my 10 year-old. I was sorry they missed it,
but we all nearly missed it, it went so quickly at the end! They were thrilled to see the baby, and crowded around to say hello to her.
She's a perfect little peanut, and looks just like DH when he was a baby.
(Pics at: http://hometown.aol.com/dawnegirl/page1.html
) We waited about half an hour to cut the cord (it was STILL pulsing!) and DH cut it with his knife and said a blessing.
(I forgot to get pictures of that, which I'm still SO mad at myself for!)
Then I cleaned up while Michael held her, and then we settled back into bed and napped and snuggled for a half an hour or so while the midwives cleaned up and made some calls. They wanted her checked out by a doctor as soon as possible (which was standard practice for them anyway, but because of the meconium and because of her size, they were insistent that it be right away), so they made an appointment for us, and one of the midwives said she'd go with us. My son had gone back to bed, and my daughter was out helping the midwives prepare things. She was the biggest help to them, and is an even bigger help to me now.
After the doctor checked her out and gave her a clean bill of health, I think we all relaxed a little bit. She weighed in at 5 pounds, which is smaller than the minimum average (which is about 5 and a half pounds) and was 18 and a half inches long. Her head circumference was 12 and 3/4, which is on the small side and is probably why I had no second stage of labor. I didn't have to push her out, she just kind of slid right down the birth canal and into the world! Her size is a mystery. The doctor said it could have been my blood pressure, which was borderline at the end, that may have affected placental function, and she may have been meant to be a small baby regardless. The good news is that she's healthy, and is nursing like a pro, and hasn't left my arms (or someone's arms who loves her) since she was born.
I shudder to think what may have happened if we had delivered in a hospital. The meconium alone would have had her in the nursery for "observation" for 12 hours or so. Her size would have probably had her in the NICU, just as a precaution. It certainly could have been warranted. There are a lot of babies who are small who have a hard time holding their temperatures, who have hard times breathing. I was so grateful to be at home, with people who knew what to look for, who were willing to watch her and wait. She passed every test, and handled it all on her own, and they were satisfied with that and so was I. It was a relief and a blessing. She is a possible IUGR (intrauterine growth retardation) baby, probably SGA (small for gestational age) but so far doesn't show any negative effects. (Note: at 7 weeks, now, 50 days old, she is 9 pounds!!)
I can't tell you what a healing experience it was to have a baby in my own bed. In spite of the pain (which was much more intense, not only than I remember, but than I'd experienced before) and my fears of falling apart, which I would have had in or out of a hospital I imagine, I was able to have a positive birth experience, when I'm nearly 100% sure that it would have been a snowball of interventions in a medical setting that probably would have traumatized me, the baby, and my husband. I felt confident that although there were things we had to take seriously and pay attention to, the midwives would respect the normal process, and trust in my body and the baby's, and they did. It was a gift, a blessing, and a truly amazing experience for all of us.
Baby #4: [Kmom note: Summarized from the complete story which can be found at www.geocities.com/birthtenders/ ]
[I had contractions off and on all night long, only waking for the bigger ones. By 5 a.m. I was pretty sure that going back to sleep wasn't going to be an option! My husband awoke and we talked a while...] I was feeling a bit of apprehension and fear about the prospect of starting this process. I knew it was going to hurt and I knew it was going to be hard. I was a little afraid of back labor, because the baby was still posterior (and still kicking me up high during contractions between my ribs!). I was fearing a long, drawn out labor. Could I really do this?
DH held me for a while and we kind of got a little more centered. He made a lot of sense when he said that it was better to get into a good mindset now, even if it wasn't the "real thing." [I got up and took a bath.] I spent an hour or so there, with a candle lit, breathing, breathing, feeling my belly rise with each contraction. Oh yeah, I remembered this. This was definitely the real thing. [We called everyone and told them we were having a baby today.]
By 8 a.m. I was out of the tub, feeling clean and good, and still having contractions. Our doula (one of them) showed up, and was very helpful feeding me, getting me to drink, having me up to pee. Her hands were fantastic, and her words were encouraging. She reminded me of the baby all of the time, and I would focus on him, imagining his descent, his journey. I laid on my left side for a long time (my right wide, especially just above my pelvis, hurt a LOT and we still don't know why. Could have been an arm or hand pressing there, but we couldn't feel anything when we massaged, and later it was just too tender to touch), curled up against DH with a pillow between my legs and my doula curled up behind me, both of them stroking me, talking to me, reminding me to take them just ONE....AT....A....TIME.....I didn't feel out of control, although I felt things starting to intensify over time.
Another of our doulas suggested a bathroom break, and a hot water bottle on my back. My midwives arrived and the baby sounded wonderful, my blood pressure was good, and they didn't need to do a vaginal exam (I had requested minimal exams, if any, and didn't want to know how far dilated I was...it has too much of a psychological effect on me!). They helped me labor, too, and the words "sink into it....good....relax your shoulders....perfect....you are sooo strong..." still echo in my head. They were so incredibly encouraging.
I could hear [my daughter] in the other room, but my mom soon arrived to keep an eye on her. A surprise to me, my father also showed up! I could hear his voice. I was surprised, but it really was ok with me. At that point, Santa Clause could have showed up and I wouldn't have cared! I was pretty lost in laborland by then, and getting excellent rest between contractions. I actually fell asleep after some of them, as did DH. He would wake when I grabbed his hand or shirt and I started that deep, deep cleansing first breath. By this time, the room had been cleared of most people except our midwives now and then, and DH and I labored together, moaned together. A few times, I would get up and labor standing, which hurt, ooohhhh wow did it hurt more, but I could feel the baby start moving down and down. The pressure was getting pretty intense.
People came in and out, with quiet suggestions, encouraging words, soft hands. Our photographer snapped labor pictures from the corner. I was really just lost. It hurt a lot during contractions, I could feel my head spinning sometimes, and I would moan low and loud. A few times I could hear my daughter in the other room imitating me! But I didn't feel panic or fear, which I was grateful for, and I didn't experience back labor, just that strange pain in my lower belly that no one could account for which made leaning forward for hands and knees positions unbearable, along with that feeling of my body and cervix opening wider, wider, widest, as the baby moved down and down and down.
The midwives did check me once, but I didn't want to know the "number." I asked to be checked, because I wanted her to feel for the sutures [on the baby's head] and see if the baby was still posterior. She said my cervix was "like butter," nice and open, baby was very very low and baby was either LOP or ROA. I found out later that at the time I was 6-7 cm (DH couldn't resist asking after the baby was born!) but I was still taking them just one at a time.
The hands and knees suggestion came up again, and I said I'd try it. It worked for two contractions, although "worked" is relative, because the pain it caused was so incredibly intense. I suddenly felt like pushing and couldn't help bearing down a little....POP! My water broke, not a huge gush, because baby's head was soooo low. And getting lower every minute! That feeling of fullness and stretching began. I rolled over to my side so they could check the heartbeat.
Suddenly the room was a flurry of activity. I said, "Check me, I want to make sure it's ok to push, because I HAVE to!" The midwife grabbed a glove but before she could reach in, I was pushing HARD. There was no way I could stop it. She said, "Ok, baby's head is RIGHT here." But I knew that already. He was there all right. I called for the kids to come in, and the room flooded with people. He felt so BIG as I pushed, and with that push he was right on my perineum. And the burning....oooo, I was saying, "It burns, it burns!" They said, "Breathe through it," but yeowww! His head felt huge, and I could actually feel bone against bone as he moved under and out. I couldn't hold it, and his head was out!
Someone showed me in a mirror, and I felt his wet slippery head with my hand. My baby!! The midwife checked for a cord around the neck, and found a nuchal hand up by his face. She pulled it across and out and still, that feeling of fullness in me, and I pushed again, and felt every part of him as he slipped out of me. What a relief! I pulled him up to my chest, and actually laughed. He seemed enormous to me, covered in vernix and starting to cry. He looked like a little sumo wrestler!
There were a few minutes when the midwives worried about the bleeding, gave me some herbal remedies and then a shot of pitocin. Bleeding slowed, thankfully, and the placenta delivered in half an hour. That, too, seemed enormous to me. DH said a blessing and cut the baby's cord with his knife after it stopped pulsing, and then we cut off the twine bracelets we'd braided and had been wearing since my Blessingway ceremony. My perineum stung a bit, but no real tears, just a "skid" mark. Baby nursed within 15 minutes, perfect latch, and didn't stop for an hour, when we got to take our herbal bath. That was incredible, looking at him over my deflated belly, floating supported by my hands, submerged in water except for his eyes, nose, and mouth. His eyes were wide open and curious. I fell in love.
After the newborn exam (9 lbs. 6 oz, almost twice the size of my last baby!), slowly people said goodbye and left. By 4:30 p.m. we were cuddled in bed together becoming a family of six. The older kids clamored to hold him. The younger one wanted mommy. I cuddled her and introduced her to the new baby. As I write this, he is nursing vigorously (and I am cramping, thank God for Motrin!) and he is a little over 8 hours old. I can't believe it's over, that I'm not pregnant anymore, that all those months of waiting, planning, wondering, are over. What a journey it's been----what an incredible journey we are about to begin.
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