There are countless couples I have helped prepare for labor, in a multitude of ways, over the last thirty years. There are also those extra special couples of whom I share the love of Jesus with. Tony and Emily are devoted Christians. They're confident in not only their faith, but also in their decision making. They would tell you that's because they regularly take their concerns and petitions to the Lord in prayer (not just in the aspect of labor and birth), but in general. Likewise, John 16:21, is a scripture reference this couple is very familiar with. They combined their Faith with their training and successfully birthed their son drug-free using the techniques they learned in their Bradley Method® 12 week course. They know firsthand the benefits of childbirth education and preparation of the body, mind and spirit for such ennobling yet difficult work. This pregnancy would have its own unique challenges for Emily including things like varicose veins, chasing a toddler around, the concern of possibly birthing at home (since they lived about an hour from their birth place) and even hospital restrictions due to the Corona Virus, masking, etc., but as. you can see below none of those things robbed them of the Joy of their baby's birth. Now, continue reading. Remember, the work doesn't stop just because the baby exits your womb, nope... in fact, the work is just getting started. In the world of medicine and science, second stage labor is known as the push phase. Third stage labor is known as the birth of the placenta, but are you aware the hours and days to follow postpartum are now more specifically labeled the "Fourth Trimester." Emily had an amazing birth, but little did she and her husband Tony know what the coming days would reveal and what new challenges would lie ahead.
Regardless of unforeseen challenges, religious beliefs, marital status, etc., I gladly serve all people regardless of their religious preferences, but there is something extremely unique and difficult to describe when I get to attend a “BIRTH” day party where our Savior is glorified, welcomed and present. Such as the special invitation from Tony & Emily extended to me, to accompany the couple as Doula for their second birth!
Emily, Tony and River (their three year old son) was very excited to learn a new addition was on the way. They also learned they were having a GIRL! Emily continued good nutrition throughout and met her exercise and relaxation goals as best she could daily.
The two, after prayerful consideration of their options, with confidence passed on offers to have internal exams during late pregnancy. They also decided to pass on the offer to “sweep her membranes and get into labor sooner.” Tony and Emily had prayed in advance of this offer and just didn’t feel comfortable abandoning the natural process. They felt more comfortable allowing baby #2 to cook a little longer and wait for their estimated due date to come and go, just as it did the first time. They knew the statistics have shown a healthy mom will usually carry 8 days over her anticipated due date.
Their due date was officially on July 31, 2020. Emily had continued prepping her own body for labor with several natural methods including: primrose oil capsules, red raspberry tea, eating dates, walking, etc. and her final midwife appointment was the morning of August 7th. Since she was beyond her due date, they lived so far away, the couple brought their things and planned to remain in Athens and take the midwife up on the offer to check her cervix and potentially sweep her membranes, if her cervix was favorable. The two did all the things they could to help her uterus along and baby down.
It wasn't long after they had lunch and began actively working together to get into active labor before they called me to meet them in the parking deck. Tony grabbed a wheelchair, because Emily's contractions were starting to change from classic contractions to expulsion contractions and we still had to get from the parking deck, through first floor clearance to enter hospital during pandemic not so fun protocol and finally, we were all reunited in registration on the third floor of Piedmont Athens hospital, formerly known as, Athens Regional Medical Center in Athens, Georgia.
Much to Emily's surprise she was 9.5cm dilated and while the nurse was getting her twenty minute strip of monitoring we began to labor down. Emily's contractions were like clockwork and very close together. She was finding it more and more challenging to relax and not actively push.
Despite Emily's calm and kind demeanor, she did manage to tell the staff several times to please be quiet, (she preferred complete silence during contractions) of course, she still used her manners. She enjoyed the cool cloth especially during an occasional wave of nausea. At one point, she opened her eyes and asked, "Why does this have to be so hard?" Tony and I, calmly reassured her baby would be in her arms real soon!
Admitting at 9.5cm dilated can have its advantages, especially when you are healthy, low risk and desire a low intervention natural birth. However, laboring down and waiting for an overwhelming urge to bear down instead of just pushing at 10cm dilated, also has its challenges. For Emily, having her quiet environment TESTED with constant questions regarding Covid_19 testing, further affected her ability to completely relax. Not having any symptoms of the virus, the couple chose to decline multiple times. The nurse gave numerous reasons as to the "why Emily and Tony may want to change their mind." Emily replied, "No I don't want it." Again, "No Thank You." And, lastly after the nurses last explanation, "No Thanks." Then the midwife entered and proceeded to push for Covid testing after the couple had declined three different times politely. It wasn't until the final Covid_19 test sales speech, that I felt compelled to intervene on behalf of the couple. Seriously, imagine walking into to hospital ready to give birth and the last words you hear before pushing your baby out is, "There is absolutely No benefit in declining the Covid test, we are not going to take your baby from you if you test positive for Covid." Emily had said, No, No Thanks, No Thank you...geez how many more ways may one say "I do not consent" before a realization is made the couple has been informed and has repetitively declined the test. Let alone the fact that test results would take approximately two hours or more and this baby was ready to be born. I expressed to the midwife, as soon as I flip her over you are going to need to catch a baby. The only reason she is still sitting here is we were trying to let you get your 20 minutes of base line monitoring of the baby. As soon as I flip her over, get ready to catch! Alexa had the nurse remove the electronic fetal monitor. Tony and I assisted Emily into a raised hands and knees position over top of the bed and pushing immediately commenced. A few short pushes after her baby girl began to emerge...
Rotating as she exited, the midwife helped guide her as Dad's eyes began to swell and a huge smile lit up his face!
Most women wait for that moment when their baby emerges and is placed upon their chest for initial bonding. However, every so often the umbilical cord is shorter than normal and baby can not be placed on mom’s chest until the cord has been cut. This was the case for Baby #2 in this story. That’s where Dad comes in.
After a few minutes of delayed cord clamping, midwife Alexa holds the umbilical cord so Dad can set his baby girl free. Tony makes the cut just above the clamp and baby was finally placed on mom‘s chest for the golden hour.
Welcome to the world Baby Willow!! Your parents did an amazing job of bringing you into the world completely drug and intervention free, having only one internal exam, admitting upon early urge to push and twenty minutes of external fetal monitoring. The timing of their arrival was key to reducing routine medical interventions.
Mom, Dad and Big Brother are happy to present...
Willow Lucille Rudolph weighing in at 8lbs at 6:21p.m. on August 7, 2020 making the Rudolph's a party of four!
The couple was back home the next evening, but little did they know more challenges were on the horizon. I asked Emily to share her postpartum challenges after her second birth. You see many people think the process gets easier with each child. Well, that is not always the case. The second labor does tend to be shorter in length than the first, but every body is unique and every baby is unique. For example, just because you had one baby and everything went smoothly, does not mean your second pregnancy will also be free of challenges, nor the labor, postpartum or fourth trimester. In fact, we have no determining factors to know this ahead of time, with the exception of doing what you can control in terms of overall health of mom, good nutrition, daily exercise, etc. what we can do is our best to stay healthy and low risk. Some moms have an easier birth, but maybe endure postpartum blues, breastfeeding issues, sleepless nights, etc.
I asked Emily to share her personal challenges with baby #2 to give readers a more accurate view of what women could experience, although it varies greatly from pregnancy to pregnancy, labor to labor and beyond...
Emily shared her initial postpartum challenges:
The morning after birth I had a Monster varicose vein show up. I had dealt with them all during my pregnancy, but the new one came down both thighs extending from the pubic area. They were super red, very painful and hot to the touch. I requested to see the midwife on call that morning which was Janna. After examining them she was very concerned especially because they were so red and hot to touch. She requested an ultrasound and thankfully it revealed they were not in an important major vein. That eased my immediate worry. The monster varicose veins have since diminished more and more during my postpartum weeks. The ultrasound tech shared it occasionally happens during the process or after pushing a baby out. After being home a few days, we went in for our first well baby visit at 1 week and were sent directly to the hospital that day by the pediatrician. Our daughter was experiencing an eye infection that was concerning to the doctor. The hospital staff was never fully able to determine what type of bacteria specifically caused the eye infection, because all of the tests kept coming back negative?? The doctor guessed it was a type of newborn conjunctivitis or more commonly called pink eye . We did decline the routine administration of erythromycin after birth and it is unknown if that could have prevented my baby’s eye infection or not. Just something to consider when determining which routine interventions are right for you and your baby. Also, I am pretty sure I was on the verge of a postpartum infection from my perineal repair/ sutures. Having to sit at the hospital with our one week old baby and not having the comforts of home didn't seem to help with the discomfort. My perineum was crazy painful. I chose to apply colloidal silver topically and it cleared right up. Initially it was very red with foul smelling discharge classic signs of infection. I am sure being back in the hospital with our sick baby didn't help my healing in those first two crucial weeks which are supposed to be rest for mom. Maybe, more challenging than the physical discomfort was the mental exhaustion of being back in hospital after having such a wonderful birth experience. I am still wrestling daily fears, if something were to happen and we have to go back to the hospital. Sadly, it is very mentally straining, to date, even with our now healthy baby.
Emily’s tips for moms:
I used something for breastfeeding that helped tremendously with preventing pain and damage for nipples. They were called Silverette nursing cups...worth every penny! I attribute the use of those to nursing going way better this go round. I also purchased a tincture called Happy Ducts from Wish Gardens (ordered both these items from Amazon) the tincture helped prevent mastitis and relieve any clogged ducts. I highly recommend them.
Congratulations Tony, Emily on your second low intervention, drug-free #SymbioticBirth
Thank you for entrusting Doula Your Birth Helper for your second happy "BIRTH" day! The pleasure was all mine and Congrat's to you too, River, on being such an awesome big brother already!!!!