Welcome back for my latest edition of my blog series: Pro Tips! This will be a series of short, simple, but incredibly helpful tips from a birth pro….me.
Cesarean rates can vary greatly by hospital. I’m still learning about the hospitals here in Houston, but I can tell you that one large teaching hospital with a maternal-fetal-medicine (high risk OB) department, and level NICU has an overall cesarean rate of 22%. And just a few miles away, another large hospital also with a MFM department and high-level NICU has an overall cesarean rate of 35%. Wow. And that’s not just Omaha. It’s everywhere. Do your research, mamas. Learning the cesarean rate of your birth place will tell you so much about how the providers within that system practice and the policies that hospital holds that may hinder normal birth.
Don’t keep all this great information to yourself! I made a nifty graphic for you to share on your facebook, Instagram, twitter, and whatever else you’d like so you can let all your friends and family in on these awesome pro tips!
For me, the story begins on Monday, January 20th around 5:00pm, when I would normally be getting off of work and heading home. However, I was in an extended meeting with my manager. I received a text from my wife asking if I was coming home soon. I replied, “No, why? What’s up?” She simply said, “Oh nothing. I just think I might be labor. No big deal.”
NO BIG DEAL?! I quickly wrapped things up with my manager and left work as soon as I could and called Megan. She assured me she was okay, and that it was still early on.
When I arrived at home, Megan was packing her “go bag” with clothes, snacks, baby gear, etc. The contractions were pretty far apart still, and not too strong. We both realized that we didn’t quite have everything we needed, so...we took a trip to our favorite place: Target :) We walked around for a while, stopping while mild contractions too place every five minutes or so. Eventually heading back home.
Once unpacked at home, Megan said I could go ahead and go to bed since it could be a long night if things got more serious. I went ahead and got ready for bed, and was only laying down for a few minutes when Megan yelled my name from the living room. I went to her and she said her water broke while she was shifting on the couch! Wow! Here we go!
We contacted our doula (Amber) to let her know what was going on. She told me to call the midwife to let them know we needed to come in for Megan to get her antibiotic for Group B Strep. We packed up the car and took the 20 minute drive down to the Midwife’s Place. It was around midnight, and a very cold, January night. Luckily no snow!
Once we got to the Midwife’s Place, we brought everything in (thinking we were going to stay there the whole time). Megan got checked out by the midwife and hooked up to the IV. I thought I would be nice a strong and handle that simple thing okay, but I ended up getting pretty queasy and needed to go sit down before I passed out.
Megan’s contractions started getting stronger over the next hour or two. I stayed with her, helping her through contractions, until I was too weak to help out anymore (like I was doing anything near as hard as she was!), and went to grab Amber so she could step in and help for a bit. While I was laying down, I heard Megan throw up (a normal/good thing when in labor), and that normally wouldn’t bother me, but it did...so I followed suit and did the same sadly. Some strong dad I’m gonna be ;)
After a while, the midwife checked Megan’s progress and suggested we go back home to labor there since you’re generally more comfortable and relaxed in your own home and can progress better there. So, despite not wanting to pack back up and go home, we agreed and did so. It’s now just after 2:00am or so.
Once home, Amber ran Megan a bath right away, while I went and laid down on the couch (sad, I know. I still can’t thank Amber enough for helping out. This is exactly what a doula is for!!) I rested while Megan labored in the tub for a while, and eventually they moved to our bed and continued laboring for a couple hours. By about 5:30am, Amber though Megan had progressed enough to the point where we needed to go back to the Midwife’s Place. So we got ahold of the midwife and let her know we were coming back.
Funny story: As Megan and Amber were getting ready to leave, I knew I had to take care of our dog Millie (feed her breakfast, let her out, etc.) since we wouldn’t likely be back home for several hours. Megan didn’t see that as a very critical/important thing to do at that exact point in time, and shared some friendly, laboring words with me to let me know that we needed to go and that I shouldn’t be worrying about the dog :) You can use your imagination to figure out what may have been said.
We get in the car and take the drive back down to the Midwife’s Place - again, still pitch black outside and below zero temperature. Megan was having some back-labor pain, so Amber placed her rebozo in a big knot behind her back to push on the car seat as we drove (so smart!) which helped Megan out.
Once we got there, Megan felt like she was so far and was in enough pain that she wasn’t wanting to get out of the car! I told her, “we’re right here, just get out and have the baby inside.” We made our way in and the midwife checked Megan once more - telling us she was still only at about 6cm.
We knew going in to this that we wanted to attempt to have a water birth. So, we ran a bath right away and got Megan ready. While she was sitting on the toilet, Megan said, “I think I’m ready to push.” Just a few minutes after the midwife told her she was only at about 6cm! Gotta love those maternal instincts :)
So we get her in the tub and Megan starts really pushing and the contractions are strong and very close together - barely giving Megan a chance to rest in-between. I had complete confidence in Megan the whole time. It was so exciting seeing her do this all on her own.
Once Megan sat back I handed the baby to her and just sat there weeping with absolute joy and amazement. I knew my wife was a strong woman, but to go through the whole process from start to finish without any pain medication, drugs, etc. at all makes me respect and appreciate all that she just went through SO much more. An AMAZING accomplishment.
Besides that, our daughter was just the most beautiful, sweet thing! What’s neat about a water birth is that the baby doesn’t really cry too much right away, because she goes straight from amniotic fluid to water, then air. So it’s a gradual thing. Megan just held her skin-to-skin, while I held the baby’s foot.
We waited for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing to ensure all the cord blood got into the baby’s body, and then I cut the cord (another awesome experience). And then I took the baby so that Megan could get cleaned up and out of the tub. This is probably my favorite part of the whole experience, where I was able to hold the baby skin-to-skin with myself. It was such an amazing bonding moment right away. We went and laid down in the bed and waited for Megan to join us. Just such a sweet experience.
Happy 6 month Birthday, Lucy!
Amber Piller - Professional Birth Doula and owner of Agape Birth Services. Serving Northwest Houston including Jersey Village, Cypress, Tomball, Spring, and Katy Texas.