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Plan, Educate, Prepare and Navigate Labor

Raeanne and Nick, understood the importance of being prepared to “give birth.” They understood the “why educate?” They chose to train with me in The Bradley Method®, a twelve week preparation for natural birth. Many think, oh no I want to have drugs so, I do not need a childbirth class. When in fact, nothing is further from the truth. There is so much to learn and childbirth class is a no brainer for all expectant couple's. It can be confusing on what class to take.

Many first time couples choose The Bradley Method®, because it covers everything from anatomy, nutrition, exercise and relaxation practice plans, to the coaches role, early, active and late first stage labor, second stage pushing and what to expect in third stage and postpartum, birthing options and creating a birth plan, emergency childbirth, and new baby and breastfeeding basics. The majority of all of that information is extremely beneficial regardless of your choice to medicate or not.

After several weeks of learning birthing options, they realized they desired a different level of support for their birth and would be better served by a Certified Nurse Midwife. Unless other medical complications occurred, of course. Raeanne's goal was to remain as healthy and low risk as possible. She switched providers to Women's Healthcare Associates of Athens. They are known for being overly supportive of low intervention birth and also of The Bradley Method® training program. They chose St. Mary's hospital system. The labor and delivery nurses are used to birth plans and doing their best to support the wishes of the family.

Mom and Dad admire their new baby girl
Photo credit: Here comes the sun Photography

The couple also understood her birth story would be made slightly more challenging due to her recent diagnosis of diabetes which ultimately during her pregnancy had to be managed with insulin.

At 37 weeks, Raeanne had several doctors visits, including Fetal Medicine where they had estimated her baby over 8 lbs. We spent the day after as her first official baby evacuation day. We walked over over downtown Athens and up all the slow graded hills. She was a trooper ate all sorts of weird things covered in all sorts of hot sauces, but being a "foodie" there wasn't much she hadn't tried. We did pressure point work and then I sent her home where Nick and Raeanne did their homework, including other natural ways to prep the body for labor.

Mom preps baby and her body for labor!
Mom Raeanne takes a quick break from walking to pose at The Arch (UGA) in Athens, GA

Her next appointment revealed her homework had paid off. She was 3cm dilated 65% effaced, but all the walking had her hips aching. I suggested she get a pelvic exam and adjustment from a qualified chiropractor. I met her at The Anthony Clinic in Athens, beside her midwife office, and they found one leg 3 inches shorter than the other. Fortunately, for Raeanne, it was found to be muscular not an issue with bone development.

With some TLC and about 30 minutes of her time on the table, Dr. Puckett was able to correct her hip imbalance and send her on her way to walk a baby out. Raeanne could not get over how much better her hips felt and how much easier it was to walk around.

We planned a second attempt evacuation day and the weather was so cooperative. It was a bright shiny day in the 60's and I took Raeanne to the State Botanical Garden. We hiked all the way down to the river and back up to the top. Raeanne was out of breath, but she did it! Talk about some hills!

Although her efforts did not result in full blown natural labor, the day of her medical induction, she walked in 4cm dilated. Her hard work had really paid off big!

The couple arrived for their medical induction 6am Monday February 3, 2020. They were prepared and ready to see and hold their daughter for first time. Midwife Diana did our first internal exam at check in and said we were at 4cm & 60% effaced.

Mom in full squat supported by Dad
Raeanne preparing her birthing muscles

Monday 9:24am (Pitocin began at minimal 1 drop around 7am) Raeanne beginning to feel little contractions, she says they don't feel very substantial, but she is definitely getting them. Monday 10:10am Water broke on its own

I popped in around lunchtime to check in and see how they were doing. Raeanne was all smiles and you could tell she and Nick were very excited to be meeting their baby soon!

Monday 6:22pm Raeanne took a big nap, we had kinda stalled for awhile. We're up to 15 on the Pitocin. She had a two minute contraction once, but on average we're about 40 seconds long every 2-3 minutes. We've had some bloody show, but nothing crazy.

Monday 8:38pm text from Nick: Midwife Diana checked us before end of her shift and we're 6-7cm, 70% effaced (and stretchy) head is down to -1 station. Contractions are getting more frequent and painful and we are holding steady at 16 drips of Pitocin.

Skin to skin contact helps babies maintain warmth
Mom meets her baby girl

Monday 9:47pm text from Nick: Throwing up. May be in transition. Contractions much more intense. Waiting for Midwife Hillary to come check. We are laboring in tub and she is feeling pressure in the front.

Hillary arrived at 10:12pm found that Raeanne was 8-9cm, 80% effaced and 0 station and said tell Pam to come (Thanks for not letting me miss this Hillary!)

Nick wrote:

And as far as the value of classes go, I can't say enough how valuable the knowledge is. I can't imagine doing what we did unprepared. All of the stuff that would have normally horrified me (seeing my wife in pain, the discharge in the toilet and bath, the grumpiness and discomfort) were a lot more palatable when I knew to expect them. Also, you saved my bacon at the end. I was exhausted and doing everything I could to keep Raeanne comfortable and still moving through the push phase, but even with all my preparation, I didn't think to recommend a position change at the end.

Mom hugs son after birth of grandbaby
Happy Grandma embraces Dad

For all the dads reading our story, I would like to impress the importance of training. It is so beneficial and helpful for men to understand their role and how they can help. I just really love being informed, but the personal tips from Pam and her doula experience really stuck out to me. Take the naps. After midwife, Diana checked Raeanne's cervix before her shift ended, she told us that we shouldn't expect the baby until sometime Tuesday. I forced myself to take a nap, and after two hours I woke up to find Raeanne approaching transition. I can't imagine trying to do everything after that without that little burst. You're going to see a side of your wife that you wouldn't be able to imagine. I've heard her pain noises before, but they didn't even compare to the faces and body language that she was putting out towards the end. I'm glad Pam warned me about the crankiness, it helped me to not take anything personally and just go with the flow. But when it was all said and done she still had that glow.

Mom and Dad admire their new baby
The de Melo family welcomes their new baby girl

Definitely give a lot of thought to the relaxation exercises. But don't be surprised if your wife changes her mind, and don't be afraid to improvise. After awhile, Raeanne got tired of the massage tools and only wanted me to rub her with my hands. A while after that, she just wanted me to press my hands against her face, neck and arms, no other movement. Moving her to the tub helped relieve a lot of the pain for transition, and our music helped keep her calm and relaxed. (I didn't notice how much of an effect it had until one of the grandmas put on her own music, and Raeanne made me get up and close the door). Also, do the walking. You can still do it if you have the IV stand, it really, REALLY makes a difference. Raeanne walked out of the hospital when we left, and the nurses were still gossiping about her. (One of them said "of course she doesn't need a wheelchair, she's the walker.") Also, before we got into the tub, the moms had let her labor in the bed in a position she didn't like from the classes, and once I got her into one of the positions she liked, I saw immediate improvement.

I'm not going to lie though, Raeanne knowing the signs of transitional labor (and how long it would take her to actually GET the epidural) kept her from even asking for it.

It’s a girl! Full head of hair!
New family celebrates birth

Raeanne shared the following...

I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in September of 2018. They attempted to control it using metformin, and had not been successful in doing so. My sugar was still not controlled when I became pregnant, so my GP sent me the Endocrinologist and within a week we had my sugar with in normal ranges.

Q: What did you find to be the biggest challenge of managing sugar and with insulin use? Raeanne: Biggest thing was the pregnancy cravings and remembering to check my sugar after every meal. Other than that was not to bad, until the end when I became super insulin resistant and was having to take copious amounts of insulin.

Q: What part of your labor and birth did you enjoy the most?

Raeanne: I love how empowering it made me feel. It still blows my mind I managed a drug free birth. I enjoyed listening to my body and knowing where I was in labor based of certain queues my body was telling me.

Born all natural at 38 weeks
Baby Calliope weighs in at 8lbs even

Q: Any particular thoughts you would like to share about medical induction did it make you nervous or anxious, etc.?

Raeanne: I really wasn‘t all that nervous surprisingly going into the induction. Since my body was showing signs it was doing what it was supposed to be doing prior to the induction date I just trusted my body would do what it needed.

Q: What part of your training (techniques, positions, breathing etc.) did you find most helpful during your drug free labor/ birth?

Raeanne: I think the biggest things that helped me with progression was walking around and rotating my hips on the birth ball. Some of my favorite positions were the squat and the backwards toilet sit. I also don't think I could have done the last part of labor and transition epidural-free without the use of the tub.

Thanks to Nick and Raeanne for sharing their personal tips! Thanks, as always, to the wonderful nursing staff of St. Mary’s hospital, and midwives and staff of Women’s Healthcare Associates in Athens, Ga. Special thanks to Taylor of Here Comes the Sun Photography for first 48 special moments!

Your Birth Helper & Teams are excited to share such a beautiful and brave natural birth story. Please help me welcome baby Calliope into our birth family! OMG That HAIR!!

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