Let me start by defining what is a happy "birth"day. First, the definition can vary greatly among couples. Gwendolyn and Jonathan's target "Birth" day is defined below in her personalized birth plan, but if you want to see what a happy "birth"day looks like (in one photo)... Willard party of four!
Our Your Birth Helper team members encourage all couples to learn their options, choose where to birth based on their preferences of what is important to them and create a personalized birth plan with their wishes of things important to the care of mom and baby. Midwife, Kelley Christian, of Summit Midwifery was so impressed by Gwendolyn's birth plan, that she actually asked in the LDR room, if she could take a copy of it with her, (sharing she had never seen one like it). She loved the quick view of choices with icons and that feedback helped put Gwendolyn and Jonathan at ease! For a great start to encourage support of your personal choices: Create a one page Birth Plan of your wishes (learn those ahead of time) for your target birth and don't forget to include protocol for baby such as delayed cord clamping, breastmilk only, skin to skin, PKU, etc.. We also highly suggest you always include a generic line that reads, "In the event of a medical emergency, we will GLADLY alter our preferences for safety of mom and baby."
Most would agree their main goal is to have only medically necessary interventions based on personal needs, (not routine protocol for hospital), they are able to labor feeling supported throughout, (not faced with combative staff members demanding their own way- especially, when we are the ones paying the bill) and lastly, that mom and dad are given the opportunity to not just have staff go along with their birth plan, but actually labor in an environment in which the staff encourages them to meet their individual goals during their labor marathon, even if mom herself should be struggling during the self doubt phase of labor.
When it comes to being supported and encouraged by a medical team, let me further explain. It doesn't mean mom and dad always get a gold star beside every line item on their birth plan, but in the second birth story of Gwendolyn and Jonathan, they were given the opportunity to be part of decision making- not bullied, nor felt rushed to make decisions that were not emergent, they received informed consent for any issues that presented along the way, they understood the situation and they also understood what the medical staff wanted to do to resolve it. Lastly, maybe more importantly (the one many medical professionals leave out) they understood all their other options.
Initially, after having their first child feeling less than prepared for labor, the couple could not believe despite desiring a different experience, many couples refuse to attend a childbirth class/training. This time around, they were more than willing to acquire the skill set needed to help Gwendolyn achieve certain birthing goals. Some have misconceptions that the best plan of action is allowing the medical staff to make all the decisions of what is best. Luckily, for Gwendolyn that was not the case this time around. It is also a common misconception that the second baby should be easier. Simply put, the majority of us work for our babies. Now, labor can give mixed signals for example, an unusual lengthy contraction early on, contractions that remain close together the entire time even during early labor, etc.. Sometimes, men find it comforting to utilize the nearest hospital logistically speaking, that’s not the answer to all your birthing problems and sometimes cause even more, you must be realistic some birth places are more supportive of low intervention, than others. Now, Jonathan would certainly agree he felt more comfortable using the closest for them which was CaroMont Regional Medical center, a quick five minutes from their home. They also had their first son, Benjamin, now 2 yrs 10 months old there. The benefit to Gwendolyn was being able to labor at home as long as possible and transitioning to their chosen birth place closer to late labor. Gwendolyn had planned to attempt natural birth, but had not completely ruled pain managment out. She had utilized epidural for her first labor very early on and wanted to do things different this time. Second Step: HIRE the right Birth Team: They had also attended a YBH workshop and Jonathan was able to learn a skillset of how to personally help his wife better manage contractions at home. They decided to add doula services to their second birth, as well. Gwendolyn also felt more confident because she knew she had 24/7 support from our team for tips and questions. Gwendolyn loved the #BirthFamily concept of being connected and empowered by other women and we do not make decisions for mom and dad, we educate, train and support the decisions they make as educated consumers. Our motto is this, As support people we do not have the right to GIVE up on mom, because labor is taking too long or we are tired, however, MOM has every right to give up on herself. It is up to the couple how they proceed from there. We just support their decisions. But, this time Gwendolyn didn't give up early on, in fact, quite the opposite. She began texting me around 8:42pm and said she was going for a walk in her neighborhood before bed. Contractions were kind of all over the place, not consistently 60 seconds or more, but frequency and length was picking up with the five things to determine real labor. And, definitely the contractions were not slowing or going away despite her due date being ten more days out.
Shortly after midnight, the couple was really having to work through the contractions. Jonathan supported his wife throughout reminding her to focus on her relaxation and release and sink with each contraction. The couple used positions they learned in their YBH workshop to relieve discomfort for mom and progress the labor at home. Gwendolyn decided to have Nancy come to their home and she arrived around 1am to lovingly guide, direct and assist them.
Words Nancy used to describe Gwendolyn: Calm, Inward, Receptive (to drink, change positions, restroom, etc.) Focused on her goal, Her Family, Her Faith. She was cherished and lovingly supported and encouraged constantly by her husband in every position, determined to have a different experience this time around! And, boy did they!! Gwendolyn is still in shock she walked into the hospital already 7cm dilated. She was so proud of herself as she should be! What a difference some education makes. In triage the couple, informed of their choices, made a decision to move forward with an epidural as they were both physcially exhausted from no sleep for nearly two days. Remember, expectant couples, we always suggest an earlier bedtime near term, because you just never know when labor will sneak up on you. Gwendolyn and Jonathan well... there were not prepared for the moon to take control over her uterus that weekend. Surprise! Sometimes, the universe has a way of bringing a baby before our due date...lol. Gwendolyn shared, "I just remember telling Jonathan on way to hospital, I just want to fall asleep and telling Nancy, I really need a nap."
After the initial internal exam, fetal monitoring and IV administration process, Gwendolyn had a contraction and was quite surprised that her epidural was not bringing relief or the ability to allow her to sleep that she had experienced the first time around. To be more specific, she still felt the contractions, the complete numbness was non existent this time around. The lack of relief, coupled by contractions kept her awake, her baby was coming and the nap would have to wait! Now, uneducated she would have been in panic mode, but instead her doula team reminded her of the many benefits associated with "feeling what is going on" especially when it comes time to push a baby out! This created a perspective shift and contributed to the JOY of her birth experience.
She, in her words, expressed the lack of epidural relief this way: "I was told by the nurses there was a "hot spot" in my epidural, which is why I could still feel the contractions intensely in my pelvic area. I'm glad and thankful for that hot spot, because I could feel my body working and I actually felt the urge to bear down and push! I also felt the euphoria and the overwhelming relief and bliss that women talk about experiencing when the baby exits their body! I was so numb with my first delivery, that I did not feel any of that euphoria or amazing feeling of actually BIRTHING my OWN BABY! I mean, I could actually feel her come out and it felt sooooo good to push!”
“Pushing took the pain of the contraction away... it was INCREDIBLE!”
Congrats again Mom, Dad and Big brother Benjamin! It was our pleasure to serve you!
Welcome to the World, Vanna-Grace, no doubt you will live an exciting adventerous life!
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