Thank you for your instruction and guidance with our Bradley Childbirth Classes. Giving birth was a amazing experience. I never could have imagined the strength within myself, the compassion and commitment of my husband, or the joy of holding my daughter in my arms for the first time. I wanted to share this photo with you because I could not understand how birth pictures could be beautiful like you shared in class but, truly, this captures the beauty of the experience.
Susan and Jace's Birth
Susan woke up around 2:00am having what she believed to be pretty strong and regular contractions. She started timing them by herself for about an hour and they were coming every 5-7 minutes apart. Susan called her doctor and woke her husband. They arrived at the hospital at 5:30am. Susan was checked and found to be at 2 cm and 70% effaced. Susan was not admitted immediately but walked around the hospital until her midwife arrived at 8am. At this point, she was checked and at 4cm and 100% effaced. She was admitted and continued her walking. As walking proved too difficult because she could not find a relaxing position while standing, she returned to her room and laid down. Susan felt at this point she was losing control, but her husband and mother continued to re-assure her that she was doing great and this was totally normal. Because she wasn't hindered by any monitors or drugs, she was able to get into the labor tub and that seemed to relax her a bit. She spent 30 minutes in the tub when she began to feel the urge to push. Once she returned to the bed, she was checked and fully dilated. On her first push, her bag of waters broke. As her midwife was seeing patients at the office, Susan was told to try not to push, but her body knew what it was doing and was pushing anyway. The baby's head was crowning as the midwife arrived. After 3 good pushes, Rylee Maleah was born at 10:24am. She was immediately put on mom's belly and nursed. Mother and baby are doing great!
Catherine and Tom's Birth Story
This was their first Baby. Her bag of waters broke at 4 am followed at 5 am by first early stage contractions. By 6 am, contractions were 45 seconds long, and 4 to 5 minutes apart and she was having bloody show. She took a shower while contractions were 3 minutes apart. By 6:20 am, contractions were farther apart and very light, but by 8 am, they were 3 minutes apart, and 40 seconds long. By 8:30, it was uncomfortable for Catherine to move during contractions. Catherine's demeanor was upbeat, and doing excellent! Relaxation techniques were helping. From 9:45 to 10 am, contractions were ranging from 40 to 70 seconds long, 2.5 to 3.75 minutes apart. By 10 am, the contractions were becoming much stronger. Catherine felt she must lay down, becoming confused. MD called, and they went to the hospital. The couple was forced to go to Trident, even though everyone was set up for St. Francis. The on-call MD was not privileged at St. Francis. Arrived at Trident at 11 am. Contractions were 85 seconds long. She had 6 contractions between the parking lot and the hospital room. By 11:45 am, she was in transition. A nurse checked dilation, the first check, and it was determined that Catherine was 10 cm dilated. At 11:50 am, she was having increased rectal pressure, the possible beginning of the second stage. Birth was at 1:10 pm, with placenta delivery at 1:20. 7lb 2oz 20-inch baby girl! Apgars were 6/8, and breastfeeding began at 1:40 pm. Only possible complication: Cord had a knot and was wrapped twice around the baby's neck. No distress noted, and no episiotomy. Some slight abrasions along vaginal wall, but no treatment required. The second stage was undefined. Catherine never did get the urge to push. She had very strong and very uncomfortable rectal pressure which was for her, the sign to push. She had about 6 or 7 contractions with pushing for birth.
Another thing, during the strongest pre 2nd stage contractions, no relaxation techniques were effective or tolerated by her. She instead had me breathe low, long and deep with her, and count during the inhalations and exhalations, i.e. breathe in 1,2,3, breathe out 1,2,3 and count very slowly. She stated later that the concentration on correct breathing got her through. She also later stated that she did not experience that much pain. This is funny because, on discharge, the MD wrote her prescriptions for anti-inflammatory and narcotic drugs for pain. Catherine did 1000s of Kegels, pelvic rocks, squats and tailor sittings. We did not do as much walking and butterflies as we should have. Post note: Birth was totally natural and drug-free. Trident was great, they respected all our wishes. They even suggested a possible discharge the same day, but the pediatrician insisted 24 hours to obtain blood from the baby for PKU test. So 24 hours after birth, we went home. The staff did suggest an epidural and/or drugs. They also seemed to want to push oxytocin to deliver the placenta. We strongly refused all.
Laurie and Marshall Millligan's Birth Story
At 6 am Laurie woke up feeling uncomfortable. She soon timed contractions. They were 3-4 minutes apart, 45 seconds long. The doctor checked Laurie at 10:15. She was 3cm, +1-+2. 10:45 Laurie was admitted. 12:45 she was 4cm. At 3pm she was 8 cm. There was some swelling of the cervix. Due to a great nurse, Donna, they overcame that obstacle. She suggested they get in the tub and use a variety of positions. At 4:45 she was 8 cm and the cervix is thinned some. Amniotomy was decided on to make things keep on. Pushing contractions began immediately. At 5:40 Laurie was 10 cm. She pushed for 2 hours. There was no episiotomy, no drugs, and breastfeeding is going well.
Leah's Birth Story
I woke up at 4:30am after dreaming I was in labor and that my parents were driving me to the wrong hospital. I tried to go back to sleep or at least stay in bed and relax, but it quickly became too uncomfortable. Since the contractions were in my lower back and not in my abdomen like my Braxton-Hicks contractions were, I knew it was actual labor. At this point, I had been dilated to 4cm for 2 weeks and was 9 days past my due date and scheduled to be induced the following day. Needless to say, I welcomed the good strong contractions. James woke up when I got out of bed to do some yoga, but I told him to just rest since I was able to handle the contractions easily. Of course, he couldn't sleep, so we had a light breakfast and began making preparations for laboring at home. We called our parents and went out for a walk as the sun came up. It soon became necessary to stop and breathe through contractions while James applied counter-pressure to my back. Back at home, I continued drinking water and had another snack. Contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and lasted about a minute, so we called Low Country OB/GYN and left a message for Deborah, our midwife, to call us. I got in the tub while James loaded the car. The warm water really caused things to pick up, so I was ready to go and get settled at the hospital before it came time to really get serious.
At the office (now 9:30am), labor was quickly confirmed, and we walked across to East Cooper Hospital and straight to a room where James and I immediately went back to working through contractions. The paperwork was brought up to us while we had the required 30 minutes of monitoring. We hung a shirt over the clock and started playing the music we'd brought along. I squatted, spent time on the birth ball, leaned over the bed, rested in James' arms, and took another shower. My parents arrived when I was almost fully dilated and stood by the bed massaging my hands, adjusting the bedsheets as I got alternately hot and cold, and helped me relax by singing and using guided imagery.
The pushing contractions were intense, and although I was tired, I was ready to see our baby and be done with labor. Deborah and her student midwife, Blythe, were very patient and encouraging as we began trying to push the baby out. They had me try several different positions and techniques (such as pulling on a towel), but the baby didn't seem to be going anywhere. The monitor showed my uterus was no longer contracting with force, so we and our birth team decided that IV fluids and a very small amount of Pitocin might be all I needed to get the baby out. After what seemed a short time, the baby's head was visible, and soon I felt the head emerge, followed by a gush when the rest of her body came out. We were elated, relieved, exhausted, and immediately in love. After a quick check of her vocal cords to make sure she had not taken in any meconium, Leah was placed on my chest and we stared into each other's eyes.
I was glad I didn't know what time it was once I learned that Leah had been born at 6:13pm after almost 14 hours of labor including 2 hours of pushing (since she had her hand wedged next to her ear)! We were so happy that our birth plan had been followed as much as medically possible, and were thankful for our wonderful, creative, and patient birth team. Our hard work and education during pregnancy paid off. Next time, more walking, more fluids, and a home birth!