Our entire Saturday was dedicated to learning about childbirth! From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Ryan and I were immersed in a class that covered everything from what to expect during the various stages of labor to relaxation tips and more.
After breakfast at home, we left our house and headed to the hospital to join about 10 other couples for a full-day Childbirth Prep class.
As instructed, we brought pillows and a yoga mat and arrived excited to learn more about what exactly we’ll be experiencing within the next 28-or-so days. (I seriously cannot believe we’re less than 30 days away from our due date right now. WHAT!?)
It was overwhelming, exciting and, if I’m being totally honest, pretty darn terrifying. As it turns out watching videos of women going through labor isn’t exactly my cup of tea. Thank goodness every video ended with a woman holding her baby because that is the image I’m holding onto as I start to think about my personal labor.
One thing that became very clear from watching a handful of birth stories is that everyone’s story is so, so different. When I first got pregnant, I remember talking with some women who asked me about my “birth plan.” My what? I thought the plan was just to have a baby. Well, detailed birth plans seem to be quite popular, but if watching birth stories taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected.
I think it’s wonderful to tell the doctor the type of birth you’re hoping for if you have strong thoughts about certain procedures or medications, but I also think it’s so important to be adaptable and understand that during labor, conditions can change in a second. I definitely have certain thoughts I’m going to share with my doctor but in the videos we watched, we saw moms with one plan have to make a quick change to help them have the safest delivery possible. It was really interesting to see the different labor experiences and while I definitely could’ve done without some of the graphic parts of the videos (yes, they showed the crowning and delivery on multiple occasions), in the end I walked away feeling like childbirth is something I can do, even if it scares me more than I care to admit sometimes.
Seeing a baby pushed out and seconds later placed on the mom’s chest was so emotional for me. I truly cannot fight the tears when I start to think about that moment in my life. It’s right around the corner and yet still somehow seems unreal to me. I know I cannot begin to imagine the way I will feel when I get that skin-to-skin moment with our baby boy, but if there’s one thing I’m going to focus on during labor, it’s that moment.
Aside from watching birth stories and discussing different options at length, the class took us through some laboring positions that might provide comfort and ways your person of support (in my case, Ryan) can help alleviate pain and provide distraction during contractions. (The “double hip squeeze” felt fantastic!)
We tried out about a dozen positions and though I obviously don’t know what will feel best to me in the moment, I was all about the birthing ball on Saturday. I loved the way it alleviated pressure in my hips and back and allowed me to roll around.
Another position I liked a lot was the simple sitting position where you sit down on a chair backwards and drape your arms over the back of the chair with a few pillows placed between you and the chair back.
The class was really helpful and I’m so glad Ryan and I were able to take it together. Neither of us realized how long many women labor at home before going to the hospital or that fact that only about 10 to 15 percent of women have their water break before they go into labor, so it was helpful to learn a bit more about what we can expect when everything starts happening.
After the class, Ryan and I decided to share some ice cream before driving home.
We split a small cup of butterscotch and a double scoop of cotton candy ice cream in a homemade waffle cone and it was fantastic. A great way to end the day!
On our way home, we started talking about dinner options and I, predictably, said I just wanted to eat my bodyweight in watermelon, so we swung by a local market to pick up a large watermelon.
We also nabbed a chicken pot pie and a key lime pie to eat that night and spent the rest of the evening on the couch with Sadie.
Saturday was jam-packed with a lot of information and even though parts of the class made me feel uneasy and a bit nervous, I am very glad I went and left feeling a little more prepared going into the final month of my pregnancy. We’re in the homestretch!
Questions of the Morning
Lots of questions for the moms today from this curious mother-to-be…
- Did you have a “birth plan” going into labor?
- Did everything go the way you thought it would?
- Were there certain positions you gravitated toward during labor?
- What helped you relax the most or provided you with the most comfort during labor?
My birth plan was to have a healthy baby and I’m happy to say I followed it! I wanted an epidural ASAP (although I’m terrified of needles and the thought of it made me sick while pregnant) and to not get sent home from the hospital. Major fail. I got sent home after about 16 hours of labor. Finally got admitted 6 hours later and got the epi after a full day of dealing with contractions at home. NOTHING went the way I thought it would, and after 30 hours of labor I was raced to the OR for an emergency C – section when my baby’s heart rate dropped suddenly. http://chocolateismylife-us.blogspot.com/2014/09/daltons-birth-story.html
Not to be a fear-mongerer, but in my experience all the stuff we practiced in the birth classes didn’t do jack once shit got real, nothing was comfortable (the bath was the only thing that “helped) and my poor husband was trying to help (even looking through his notes from class, bless him) but if I could have spoken clearly I would have told him to shove that birthing ball up his ass and get away from me.
But, the cliche is true, and it was worth it a million times over, and I never even got that skin to skin moment for a bunch of reasons (meconium in the amniotic fluid, my reaction to the c-section, etc). It’s great to have something to focus on, but just remember that even if that’s not how things go, you still have a million other wonderful moments with your baby to look forward to!
Joni Erkkila says
I planned to have an epidural and did have an epidural. I was also terrified of childbirth, but the whole process was more amazing than I could have ever hoped. My pain was VERY minimal once the epidural was in and I was able to actually enjoy each moment. I know epidurals aren’t for everyone, but it worked for me and I plan to do the same if we have another. Best wishes to you and Ryan!
Hannah M says
Definitely expect the unexpected! I had a birth plan (no drugs, labor in the tub, have hubby cut the cord, skin to skin immediately) and it kind of went that way. My water broke in the early am and I was having slight contractions at about 9 am. Called my doctor, she said to come on in. I arrived at the hospital at 10:00, got moved to the delivery room at 11:00, pushed for 15 minutes, and out my son came!
There are some scary birth stories out there and there are some great, easy ones too!
A few of my mantras were: your body was made to do this, the pain can’t last forever, you are strong, and he will be here soon!
You can do it!!
I really enjoyed reading your thoughts about your birth and delivery. I just had my second daughter by a successful VBAC. And what you said about the baby being placed on your chest seconds after delivery made you teary is exactly how I felt about that moment during my delivery. It was the single moment my heart craved since I didn’t get to experience it with my first child. And oh man, it was such an emotional moment that I will never ever forget. I’ve got my entire birth story up on my blog…. http://www.momRD.com. Looking forward to the birth of your little boy soon 🙂
Kelly N. says
I have a 3 1/2 mo. Daughter. I am very a type and love planning things out. However I knew births often don’t go as planned. I took my whole pregnancy preparing to be informed but not necessarily have a plan. I was open to an epidural but was also open to trying without if I thought I could handle it. I wanted to try and avoid a c section. That was pretty much it. Well, my little lady decided to be late and I ended up getting induced and they broke my water right when they started pitocin. I made it three hours before an epidural. Walking and slow dancing with my husband felt the best lol. After the epidural I couldn’t get up anymore but i was so much more relaxed and comfortable which helped things progress. We watched a movie and I even tried to nap lol. I was able to still change positions in the bed as the labor progressed and even though it took them a while to place the epidural ( I guess my ligaments were tight) and I had some slight bruising after, I would recommend it to anyone. I could feel my contractions without the pain. I could focus on and enjoy my labor and without fighting the contractions. It helped the labor progress quickly. I was scared it would stall my labor but it didn’t at all. It was weird because I was relaxed but my body was still shaking with exhaustion at certain points.
For me labor wasn’t nearly as scary as I built it up to be. Also, you get the best reward at the end. Just focus on that baby boy! You can do it!
jessica w says
Mine went better than we were hoping so that was a plus! http://warfieldfamily.com/2015/06/reeses-birth-story-first-few-days-of-life/
I went into the hospital without a birthplan bc I knew nothing is guaranteed. My son ended up coming 4 weeks early which was scary but also left us without some of the anxiety we thought we’d feel that last month. I assumed we’d be in for a long labor – I’d only read/watched videos about vaginal birth & afteecare, but ended up w an emergency c-section after being at the hospital just 6 hrs. In the end, I can’t imagine his birth any other way. You’ll do great!
Sarah b says
Did you have a “birth plan” going into labor?
No but I did have some minor things I preferred if possible and actually wrote them down and let my husband read them. That way he could become my advocate if they presented me with options and I was too “out of it” to know what was going on. He is a nurse and actually suggested I share with him so he could play advocate knowing what my wishes were.
Did everything go the way you thought it would?
I was very scared and wasn’t mentally ready until the day my dr scheduled an induction because I was late. I didn’t want to be induced and As circumstance would have it I went into labor that night. I had very few expectations, maybe as a preservation tactic. I knew everyone’s experiences were different. You hear a lot of horror birth stories (why do people do this to an 8 months pregnant lady???) but I actually don’t think mine could have gone any better. I’d do it again the exact same way if I could so I know I did what was right for me at the time.
Were there certain positions you gravitated toward during labor?
Walking early on and bouncing on the exercise ball. I also loved that same chair position in class but never used it during labor!
What helped you relax the most or provided you with the most comfort during labor?
The epidural ranks #1!! I know some people have bad experiences but mine was very worth it and helped me calm down and relax and really be myself which helped me to remember the whole experience more. I was shaking really bad right before I got it. Probably a lot of nerves because the contractions were increasing. I was shocked that I could still feel my legs, feet, move in the bed, etc. they also didn’t give me a catheter which I thought they would. They just come empty your bladder every once in awhile and you couldn’t feel anything. Early on I quickly realized I was mentally jumping ahead to later stages of labor and when I switched to just focusing on the stage I was in and saying to myself “relax, relax, relax, you are handling this” and really focusing on relaxing my muscles I didn’t get too overwhelmed.
Last little “warm fuzzy” about labor that I didn’t really understand until afterwards is that sure you have to do work to get that baby out but there is a lot of biology involved. I used to wonder how the heck the whole baby coming out of a hole that small can happen but I had a 9 lb 6 oz baby and feel like nature gets a lot of credit with getting that baby out. Humans are designed to create and release hormones that allow and tell your body to do the right things to deliver that baby.
So from one formerly scared pregnant lady to another, I totally get it, try to trust your body to do what it needs to do. Find what works for you to relax and don’t be surprised if it’s not something you planned ahead of time!
Can’t wait to see pics of that baby boy!!
My due date is tomorrow (with no signs of baby wanting to make her grand entrance) and reading this really calmed my nerves, so thank you!!!!
My “birth plan” was to have a healthy baby and probably get an epidural. I was supposed to be induced at 39+4 due to gestational diabetes, but was one of the 10-15% that had my water break before labor at 38+1. And then after 9 hours on pitocin, I failed to progress past 4cm and ended up with a c-section. During surgery, the doctor informed me that there was no way my pelvis would have gotten big enough to pass a baby. I had actually thought all along that I would end up with a c-section, since my mom had a similar story. What I wasn’t prepared for was the 9 days my daughter spent in the NICU with breathing issues related to the diabetes, csection, and early delivery. Phew! But now almost 8 weeks later, she’s healthy and happy! That’s all anyone truly wants.
Wow, baby’s grown a lot since the last pix we saw! We did have a birth plan, but didn’t get to follow it completely bc things happen out of your control. My water broke but we waited until later in the day before going to the hospital. After your water breaks, you need to be monitored for possible infection after about 24 hours. Labor needed lots of help getting started. I hadn’t wanted that or an IV or an epidural, but had all as our daughter wasn’t born until 48 hours after my water broke. We both were doing okay, and I was able to push her out after three hours. Julie, I know you’re scared but I don’t look back at that as a terrible time. (I found caring for a baby after going home more challenging,) Be adaptable but don’t be pushed into anything either 🙂 Plan for an epidural if you’re worried about the pain. I actually came along further in labor when I got one bc my body could relax more. Before that a rocking chair and the ball helped me the most. And when pushing, on my back worked best,. Others I tried were uncomfortable. Pushing was exhausting but I think exercising during pregnancy gave me the stamina, That, and the fact that I would actually fall asleep in between pushes! You will have the strength and stamina.
My birth plan was to have a natural, drug-free labor and delivery! We also did childbirth classes, which didn’t prepare us for the reality which was that baby girl was breach and my high blood pressure didn’t allow for extra time to see if she would flip on her own… so we had a scheduled c-section and my birth plan went out the window. But it went really well, no complications, and now my baby is 3 weeks old and I’m mostly recovered! Best advice- learn all the possible delivery options, from natural to c-section to emergency c-section, just so that you’re fully aware of whatever might happen! it’ll be great, no matter how your little man arrives. 🙂
Amy Smith says
Honestly my plan was to get home safely with baby. I wanted to be adaptable. I ended up w an epidural and a 19 hour labor, but I went into labor 4 weeks early. I ended up hating the ball because I felt like I was sitting right in her head. I thought I would love the tub, and hated that because it magnified my contractions! Being adaptable is the MOST imports thing.
Brittany K says
With my first, my water broke at 36 week and she was delivered natural (but with an epidural). With my second, I went into labor at 31 weeks, spent a week in the hospital trying to stop labor, spent 5 weeks on bedrest, went back into labor at 37 weeks and ended up with an emergency c-section after 10 hours of labor (or 7 weeks of labor, depending on how you look at it 😉 ). I say throw the birth plan out the window, trust your doctor and nurses, and go with the flow. I know you’ll do great and you’ve got the right mindset – keep your eye on the prize! You’ll get a little bundle of love no matter how he decides to arrive. 🙂
Ashlee O. says
My plan was for a natural home birth and thankfully, everything went according to plan, though I was mentally prepared for anything. The only hiccup was when dilation and contractions stalled out for a long time midway through.. My midwife checked me, said I had polyps on my cervix (or something…I was a little too distracted at the time to remember exactly, lol), so she literally reached in with a gloved hand and popped some. It was probably 20 seconds, but felt like five minutes. Immediately after, I began having contraction after contraction and moving right along! One really comforting thing to me was having some music playing softly. It was all songs I’d picked out specifically that were softer and I thought would give mind something to focus on when I needed it and it was helpful. And I kept telling myself that me and baby were in this together and every contraction was purposeful- telling myself not to fight it, but to let it do its work, so that I wasn’t experiencing any contraction for nothing. I figured if I fought them, I’d be hindering their effectiveness. It was probably one of the biggest reminders I kept focused on that made a huge difference!
Afterwards, I thought, “was I crazy!? Im never doing that ever again!!!”….we’re going to be trying for number 2 later this year, ha ha. It’s all so worth it! 🙂
My goal was just to go pain med free as long as possible so that I could get up and move around (my hospital did not have walking epidurals so once you got one you were stuck in bed). Bc we kept our “plan” so loose we were able to stick with it, my advice is not to get too detailed bc there is soooo much that is out of your control. I liked sitting/bouncing on the exercise ball during contractions and relaxing in the hot tub felt really amazing!
I did not have a birth plan going in and it went nothing like I assumed it would anyway! My baby was born a month early. I started having contractions in the morning, they got more intense, went to the hospital and about 5 hours late was already 9 cm dilated (with no medication, which was not the plan. Everything just moved REALLY quickly). I got an epidural at that point, but the baby’s heart rate was really high and after about 15 minutes of pushing, I had to have an emergency c-section. So I basically went through all of labor, they tried to vacuum the baby out, I had an epesiotomy and then had to have a c-section anyway! That being said, I didn’t think labor was that bad. Definitely painful but bearable. And since it was so quick for me, everything was about 6 hours start to finish.
I think a lot of people were horrified by my experience (even the doctors and nurses), but I sincerely didn’t think it was that bad and my son is beautiful! In the moment, labor was much less scary than I thought it was going to be. You got this!
My hubby and I also took a series of childbirth education classes, and I thought it was a good foundation of knowledge going into it all. I had a birth plan (natural labor, epidural, breastfeeding, etc), but I also knew I had to be flexible because it could all change in an instant. I had the condition where I had excess amniotic fluid, and therefore the baby was measuring big. They ended up inducing me (which was not part of my plan and I was a little bummed about), but with my condition I don’t know if I would have ever gone into natural labor by myself. I got the epidural, but by the time I actually got it all hooked up and flowing, I was pretty much at 9 cm. So needless to say, I did a lot of the labor process without one (not part of my original plan LOL).
Preface for this next part: I am not trying to scare you, but I just want to be honest with you because I appreciated honesty about these kinds of things when I was pregnant. During the labor process, I remember crying and telling my husband I can’t do this and I wanted to go home (haha totally not an option!). I felt like I couldn’t do it and it hurt too much, and I wanted to give up, and I didn’t want to ever have to go through this thing again. Honestly somehow you just do it and you get through it. It might not be pretty, but your body just does what it was built to do. It had only been a few short weeks after my daughter was born and I honestly could not remember how horrible I felt in that moment of labor. It obviously couldn’t have been that bad if I couldn’t remember it! So the moral of my story is that labor is scary, and I won’t lie it is hard (but maybe not for some people!), but it is worth it and you can do this! I have faith in you Julie, and I will be thinking about you!
The second part I wanted to tell you about is the controversial topic of breastfeeding. I had all the hopes and dreams of breastfeeding my baby, but I breastfed her for 4 days. 4. I chose not to do it anymore based on the situation at hand (slight jaundice baby, latch issues, baby losing too much weight in hospital and just needing to gain weight, and many others). I want to tell you that it is OK if you aren’t able to breastfeed, or choose not to, or whatever reason. I still have Mother’s guilt over this and my daughter is 9 months old, and I don’t know why. My daughter is beautiful and healthy and growing at an amazing rate both physically and developmentally. I just wanted to reach out and say that if it doesn’t work out for you, please know you have a friend (via internet) that understands. You will be an amazing mother, and I am so excited for you to be able to experience this. Becoming a mother is truly the most amazing thing I have ever done 🙂
I apologize for the long-winded post!
Don’t feel guilty about the breast-feeding!! You tried right???? THAT is all that matters. I was determined to BF my daughter who is also 9 months. Well we had a rough birth via C-section, she ended up going to the NICU for a month so I could only pump. I did it though. Unfortunately with the stress of the situation, me getting sick with a cold and low milk supply anyway (due to complications) I was only able to pump for 2 months.
Refreshing to hear people talking about not breastfeeding. My baby was born a month early, could kind of latch but just wasn’t eating a lot that way. On top of that, I was actually producing a lot of milk but he couldn’t get it out so I had horribly painful breasts. I tried pumping which still didn’t completely alleviate the pain and this went on for WEEKS. In the end, I only ended up breastfeeding him for about 6-8 weeks and then moved to formula. I do still feel bad about it, but he’s steadily gained a lot of weight and is really happy, so whatever!
I have had 3 babies….and all 3 pregnancies/births were sooo different!! I would honestly have no birth plan…you know what they say about plans??? I would say the 3rd labor I had a definite plan in my head. but at the end I ended up having an emergency C-section.
With my older 2 I walked around the hospital if I got tired of being in the bed.
I planned to have an epidural, and try to feel comfortable throughout labor. My little one had other plans, and after laboring for several
hours, was already 7 cm when I arrived at the hospital. We had an epidural free delivery as a result because he was ready to arrive. The pain was intense, and it’s the hardest workout you’ll ever experience, but it was amazing to go drug free, feel strong, and see your baby after all that hard work! It’s completely indescribable.