We had graduates Angie and Cody and Baby Tinsley visit our class last night. Angie and Cody were star students, meaning that they did everything possible to stay healthy and low-risk to increase their chances for a natural birth.
Angie was faithful in eating a well-balanced diet and eating a minimum of 75 grams of protein on a daily basis. This kind of diet provides mom and baby plentiful nourishment and a full compliment of vitamins and minerals. In baby, it builds strong, vital organs and body to handle the stress of labor. For mom, it’s the best opportunity for healthy uterine tissues as it stretches to accommodate baby, as well as the energy reserves for labor.
Angie also exercised on a daily basis. Before she started classes, she was running every day. After she learned some different ways to condition her body without taking the risk of undue pressure on her body, she opted for aqua aerobics for her stamina building and did her pregnancy exercises daily to strengthen the muscles she would use in labor and delivery.
Thirdly, they were relaxation experts. Cody would do relaxation practice every night when he got home from work. He claimed it was the best way to get Angie to sleep after her busy days!
Angie went into labor on Saturday morning at 2:00 am. Tinsley was delivered via cesarean surgery on Monday afternoon. Their total labor from start to the cesarean was 63 hours. Although they did everything right to prepare, sometimes there are labors that end in a cesarean. After input from their certified nurse-midwife, the parents decided to have a cesarean instead of more labor, with the prevailing thought that the most important outcome is Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.
For the full story, check the blog on Friday. You will get to watch a video as they share their experiences with our class. For today, here are the questions and answers between the family and our students last night.
Question: Were you allowed in the operating room?
Cody: They actually let me stand there and watch her come out. They put a doughnut around mom’s skin so you can’t really see inside. You see the midwife up here [by mom’s ribcage] and the doctor down here [by the abdominal area], and the midwife is just shoving her elbow into her stomach.
Angie: I wondered why I was in so much pain; why my ribs were in so much pain afterwards. And he told me the midwife had her elbows on you, shoving her out.
Cody: And how [Tinsley] shot out is just like what you see on the videos with a natural birth.
Question: Going into the c-section, what were additional options or choices you had?
Cody: [The midwife] told us we could wait, which we thought about it, and with how long it had been so far, we didn’t want it to get stressful on the baby.
Angie: Like I said, when [the midwife] basically said that, and I hate to say this because I feel like I gave into what she wanted, but when she said, ” I feel like in the long run you are going to end up with a c-section, I feel like the shoulders are hitting, she’s too big, she’s not going to fit through”, and thinking now, I shouldn’t have [agreed]. I feel like I should have waited a little longer, you know? I guess, my thinking was I didn’t want to get the baby stressed, there could have been more complications because they were stressing to get her out. But at that point there weren’t any signs of stress.
(My note: It is possible that Angie’s great nutrition factored into Tinsley handling 60 hours of labor without showing any signs of fetal distress. She was strong and well-nourished, making the long labor a possibility for this family.)
Question: Once you said you were going to have a c-section and you were on that track, what other kinds of choice did you have to make? Cody: We had said, if possible to put [Tinsley] to the breast, but it wasn’t possible at that time. Also we wanted to know if I could cut the umbilical cord, and they said no. Me being there – I was standing by [Angie's] head the whole time and they said I could stay with her – that, we got.
Question: Was the placenta removed as well?
Cody: That was another [choice we had to make], the uterus being pulled out of her abdominal cavity [as part of the surgery]. We told them we didn’t want them to, because sometimes they do that. So they pulled the placenta out all at the same time. Right as soon as the baby came out, they took her to mom’s head so she could see her, and then me and [the nurse] went over to [the incubator] to wipe off baby’s vernix. Then, right after that, while [Mom] was getting sewn up, we went to the nursery to give Tinsley her bath.
Question: Did you have double-stitching for repair?
Cody: We did not have a birth plan for a c-section.
Angie: It was like “that” long. (Angie gestures to show a 2” space)
Cody: That was not allowed, basically. We thought that everything was going to go perfectly, have the baby in 24 hours and be out. But there was one thing we did put on there, double-stitching [the uterus], because we felt that could give us the best chance for a vaginal birth next time, if that’s what we wanted.
Question: Did you have a doula? Where was she during surgery?
Cody: We did, but [the hospital] only allowed on person in [the operating room]. Our doula was out in the waiting room with the grandmas.
Question: Looking back now, is there anything you would have done differently?
Cody: More walking. It caused her a lot of back pain, so we didn’t do it as much. But we should have walked more.
(My note: In class we talk about how walking can open the inlet of the pelvis, and this can help shorten the length of labor. Additionally, back pain while upright might indicate a posterior, or “sunny side up” baby: the bony back of the baby’s head is against the spine causing a lot of discomfort. There are several things that can be done to help turn the baby into an occiput anterior position, the optimal position for labor and delivery.)
Angie: After that first contraction at 2:00 am on Saturday woke me up – literally I rolled out of bed and landed on all fours to handle that. None of the Braxton-Hicks contractions had ever made me do that. I should have recognized that and I should have slept that day. Instead, I went on a two-hour walk with my mom in the next neighborhood, watching people put up their Christmas lights. Then I showered and my mom and I went to IKEA to wander around for a couple of hours. I should have realized sooner that I was in labor. I think I didn’t because I have a high pain tolerance. It wasn’t until we were on the way home from IKEA and the clock in the car was in my face that I realized the contractions had a consistent pattern – about 12 minutes apart. I should have slept on Saturday instead of doing everything I did.
All through labor the pain was manageable – nothing made me stop in my tracks and take my breath away. I think that it might have been everything we learned in Bradley® class – the relaxation, using abdominal breathing, working together, counting the contractions. It did make it hard to recognize true labor, though, because I never felt like I was in pain.
Question: What did the epidural feel like?
Angie: It was the weirdest feeling ever. I felt like a whale – like dead weight when I have to be moved, like I weighed 300 pounds. I could only move my hands. I hated every minute of it. For the surgery, they doubled the dose.
Cody: The after effect was a lot of shaking, uncontrollably.
Question: When did they remove the catheter?
Angie: Not until the epidural wore off. The surgery was around 5:00 pm, and they took the catheter out sometime in the middle of the night.
Question: How was your recovery?
Angie: I am not going to lie to you – it was awful. Because I was in labor so long, and the added stress of the cesarean surgery, I had a lot of fluid built up. About a week after the surgery, they had to re-open a corner of the incision to drain the fluid. The first time they did it, I felt like my bag of waters broke again – there was that much fluid. I had to go to the doctor three times a week for a while to the dressing changed, and then twice a week.
Question: How did the breastfeeding go?
Angie: If it weren’t for Cody, we wouldn’t have made it. He was there to help us and support us – literally. I was so engorged – there is the analogy of latching onto a balloon. On top of that, I was so out if it – it took me three weeks to get out of what I called “the zone”. Cody did everything to support our breastfeeding. He would stand behind me in the rocking chair, and hold my breast – “sandwich” it like they showed us, and then hold Tinsley so that she would latch, and then he would hold the baby while she nursed. I can encourage you to stick with it, ask for help, call your Bradley® instructor – there are a lot of resources out there. We eventually figured it out. Cody came home from work one day and I was breastfeeding without him there – it had finally clicked!
A big thanks to Angie, Cody and Baby Tinsley for coming to share their birth story with our students. We appreciate their allowing us to use their experience as a "teachable moment" for our current class.
Disclaimer: The material included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes
available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American
Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.