Labor & Delivery 101

5 years ago

The last few weeks leading up to your delivery can be some of the longest days you ever live. A few things will happen that prepare you for the delivery of your baby. Most women go into labor between 37-42 weeks. They begin to feel Braxton Hicks {cramping pain that can feel like contractions in abdomen and lower back} that help get the lower body ready for delivery. You may also realize that you have lost your Mucus Plug {a plug made up of membranes that help keep the uterus closed and protected}. Losing your mucus plug is a bit frightening when you arent sure what it is. It will seem like a brownish think mucus and you may even leak some fluid. Some women can go into labor right away or not for a few weeks after. You doctor will also begin checking for dilation during your weekly prenatal visits. These check up will irritate the uterus and a sweeping of the membranes may induce labor. Some woman that are choosing to go all natural will probably want to avoid this.

It isnt always easy to know when you are in labor. There will be many time where you might feel like its coming or even that you are in labor. It is very obvious when you are having laboring contractions. They are very strong and they will begin to increase with frequency and intensity. Of course if your water breaks and a huge gush of water spills out of you there is no mistaking but, not all women have their water break and some only witness a leak of fluid that isnt so alarming. Dont ever feel too embarrassed to call your doctor or go to the ER if you arent sure. Always better safe than sorry. The combination of losing a mucus plug, dilation, contractions and water breaking are all signs of preparation and labor. 

Contractions begin in the back and move towards the lower abdomen. They begin slow and intensify to a peak of very strong squeezing and then it will slowly release. This will last anywhere from 30-70seconds {which will feel like eternity}. You should start timing the contractions from when they begin till the beginning of the next one. It is great to stay home as long as possible to that you arent confined to a hospital. But lets face the facts, its scary, painful and well you might just feel better at the hospital. You also want to take into consideration the time it take to drive to hospital, register {try to preregister at your local hospital},  you may have to go through triage {a place where they keep you to check that you are truly in labor before admitting you, can take up to an hour}, and well if your interested in an Epidural {or any other pain management} that can also take a long time depending how busy the hospital is. The pain does vary for every individual. This type of severe pain can bring on nausea, vomiting and the shakes {it can be very alarming when your body begins to do thing involuntarily and you cant control it}. There are techniques that can be learned to deal with pain management such as relaxation, breathing & water {bathtubs}. I dont think that having a natural labor is about proving that you are strong. This is a time to try and be a hero. If you choose natural labor it should be because you truly feel that it is what you want. It is also ok to change your mind no one is going to make you feel guilty except for yourself.

Side Note*** as I was writing this post I took a break to get some lunch and I ate while watching my favorite show {A Baby Story on TLC}. This woman decided she was going to have a water birth. She hired a midwife as her doctor and a doula to coach her through the birth. 2cm into the labor and she was screaming for an Epidural. Her husband, midwife and doula were not responsive to her request. They wanted her to try and work through the pain and that if she got the epi she would regret it. They almost forced her to wait till she was 7 cm. This woman was telling them that they werent listening and that she needed the pain management. I wanted to just through the TV and slap these people. That poor woman is screaming for help and they are pretty much ignoring her {oh and her husband, he was acting like she was being a wuss..If only we could have them feel the pain and see them suffer}. Regardless, I feel like you need to make sure that whoever is on your team that they make sure to listen to your needs and meet them. That is very simple and all they have to do. 

 

An Epidural is a form of a catheter that is put into your spine. Its a small tube that allows the medication to constantly flow into your body. This numbs your body from the stomach to your toes. You will have a heavy sensation to your legs and feet. it can sometimes wear off by the time you need to start pushing. You will receive a button to release the medication and you will feel a cold sensation when it is distributed. The complications with an epidural are rare but it does cause back pain once it is taken out and you are no longer numb. The numbness makes it hard to hold your legs up while pushing. It also keeps you from feeling if you are pushing efficiently and can cause some anxiety. Your doctor and nurses will reassure you that you are doing what is necessary and tell you when you are not. Because you are numb you will not be able to feel the urge to use the restroom or be able to get up and do so. This is why they also place a vaginal catheter until the numbing subsides and you are able to walk. During a scheduled C-section you may receive an epidural, or spinal block {a one time shot in the spine and creates immediate numbness}, or general anesthesia for special circumstances. 

Some deliveries are induced for medical risks and if the mother is overdue. This is done by administering Pitocin {mimics Oxytocin which is a hormone you produce to cause  contractions} through and IV. The doctor may also intentionally break your water to speed the process. Many doctors give pitocin even when labor has begun naturally. It is very common to try and speed the process so that the mother and the baby arent under physical stress that can put them at more risks. Some believe that Pitocin will lead to having a C-section. I recommend researching and educating your self of the different methods that are used during labor to decide what you want your birth plan to be. The best advice is to have a plan but to know that this is not a predictable occurrence and changes might have to be made at a moments notice for the health of both you and your baby. 

Once your body reaches the 10cm mark and your fully effaced {when your uterus have completely thinned out} you can start to push. Pushing will take as long as it needs to so dont have any expectations. Of course if you arent pushing efficiently then the baby will be put on stress and can cause their heartbeat to lower causes an emergency C-Section. Pushing is very exhausting. You will feel like you have been hit by a semi-truck and they are expecting you to push the semi-truck off your body. You will need to focus, relax between pushes and breathe. During the pushing your doctor might suggest and Episiotomy {an incision to create a larger area for the babies head to exit the vagina} to keep from tearing. Regardless of a tear or an Episiotomy you will have stiches and have a nightmare to deal with after the birth. It is very painful and unusual. The area will look deformed at first. Your skin will actually feel and look like its pinched and sticking out of the stiches. The stiches will dissolve on their own and it will take about 3 -6 weeks to fully be healed. It will take longer for the skin to soften and feel/look normal again. Dont be alarmed when you first feel/see it {I was and I promise that it will soften and disappear} There will be a beginning period of burning and soreness, then comes the itching {skin itches severley which means that it is healing} and can be very uncomfortable. I used my numbing spray for weeks. Cold Compresses helped a ton as well. Here is a link for Post Partum Care Kit that will provide all the care items you will need after labor. 

 

****Side Note: There should be a debriefing of what happens to your vagina and body after labor & delivery! It like this underground unknown secret women keep to themselves! At least if that happens at the hospital before it goes down then you can prepare yourself and not feel like you have just been mutilated to no return by that little bundle of joy! ok I got out of hand but just a suggestion! ;) 

"Here Comes the Baby" It will come out with a funny looking head, purple, pink and bloody! It will have someone suctioning out their nose and mouth. Then the cry will come. :) My instinct made me want to soothe her from crying but the crying is good for their lungs to begin working to breathe healthy. The doctor will clamp the umbilical cord and it will be cut. A clamp will stay on it until it drys. It will fall off within a couple weeks. They will take the baby to weight, measure and take prints. They will put an antibiotic on their eyes to make sure they dont get an infection {it looks like vaseline}. They will check the babies heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflex response and color. They give them a vitamin K shot to help with blood clotting. Then comes the skin-to-skin. This is very important for bonding and breastfeeding. The baby will be able to feel your warmth and smell the milk from your chest. They will instinctually make their way to your nipples. This is the best time to attempt to get them to latch on. As long as the baby is healthy they will be able to stay with you the entire time. It is encouraged so that breastfeeding can occur frequently making the process become routine and easy. If you are tired and feel like you needs some time to recoup then ask the nurse to take the baby to the nursery {which is perfectly fine and respectably so}. The baby and both parents will be given matching labels to ID them. The baby will also recieve a security device that is put around the ankle to make sure that they stay safely in the hospital {does make changing a pain in the rear but obviously needed}.  There will also be a blood screening for disabilities or diseases {you have to go back within two weeks to get another blood test}, a hearing test and a Hepatitis B shot before you leave the hospital.

If you feel that you need more time in the hospital then you may request to stay from your doctor. If you feel ready to go home then it is time to do so! Sometimes babies need to stay at the hospital for some reasons such as Jaundice. Check out Jaundice 101 to learn how I had to deal with Jaundice!  


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