Pregnancy and labor is hard enough, let alone when it’s combined with Cholestasis, biweekly appointments, light duty desk work, medical induction at 38 weeks and back labor throughout. It seemed things hadn’t gone exactly how mom and dad would’ve liked, but training and preparing the body is of upmost importance to all who conceive a child. There are so many variations of normal and complications of pregnancy and labor, that if couples do not have a basis of understanding they can find themselves quite overwhelmed at times. They chose to educate in The Bradley Method® a 12 week course for natural birth with emphasis on how the coach can help.
They came once weekly to the farm #M2bFamilyFarm and acquired a skill set to best manage labor, no matter what they might face. I asked both Mom and Dad to share what they felt best prepared them for this long and tiring journey into parenthood.
(Wes and Virginia's personal suggestions and tips for success are shared in bold italics throughout the birth story)
Virginia: The Bradley course gave us the knowledge to know what was going on during labor, helped us with our nutrition, gave us effective exercises and relaxation techniques to help with labor, and helped us fully decide what we were wanting to accomplish with a natural birth. For us the main goal was to have minimal intervention as possible, no medication utilized, and no cesarean. It was very important to me to have these wishes fulfilled, and for the most part they were. Even though we had to induce early we were still able to accomplish most of our goals.
We definitely would not have been able to successfully accomplish a natural birth without first going through the Bradley® class. The Bradley Method® course was a huge help in physically and mentally preparing us for labor. When Wes and I, started out trying to decide what birthing class to take, we met with Pamela who broke it down for us as to what each type of birthing class had to offer. We wanted a course that was way more than just exercises.
Wes and Virginia had hoped for and prepared for a low intervention, natural labor (spontaneous labor & drug free birth). But, when we have to combine medically necessary interventions with the normality of the act of birthing, we call that #SymbioticBirth. The goal is to ensure she received not just support, but also encouragement. Therefore, she chose Women’s Healthcare Associates and to give birth at St.Mary’s hospital. The induction officially became medically necessary at 38 weeks. to protect baby. Therefore, she did her best to physically prep her own body for early labor at home, as well.
She reported to the hospital Saturday evening 9pm for Cervadil.
Virginia: We were very lucky to have help from Your Birth Helper doulas Pamela Sauls, Nikki Reeves, and Amanda Allen. They were a huge help. They were able to help us with different techniques to induce labor and they devoted countless hours to assisting us with whatever we needed. We can not thank them enough for all of their help.
When you learned you had cholestasis, what was your biggest concern?
Virginia: My biggest concern would be having to induce early. If my levels had been higher, I would’ve been more concerned with my levels and been more inclined to inducing earlier then what we did.
How did you feel about being put on light duty at work and any tips for other moms facing the same?
Virginia: Light duty was the only option for me or take off work for the remaining 4 months. I had a few draw backs with being on light duty but all in all it was for the best. My suggestion would be to effectively use your breaks and lunch breaks if you get them. Work on your Bradley exercises during those times. I would also suggest preparing and packing your meals so you know that you’re getting what you need each day and not resorting to take out.
One thing you definitely want to ask before choosing a hospital or birth place is will I be allowed to eat and drink during labor? Many hospitals to this day, do not allow laboring women to eat despite this no longer being evidence based. I asked Virginia, if she could even imagine, not having been allowed to eat while undergoing such a long induction? To be exact, Saturday evening until Tuesday evening! She replied, NO WAY! Special thanks to Chicken Salad Chik of Athens as Mom throughly enjoyed her protein packed labor fuel!
Virginia: One thing that really helps with the progression of labor is having a midwife/doctor and nursing staff that has a positive outlook and is willing to listen to your requests. I definitely believe, if you are not having a positive interaction with those surrounding you then definitely do not just “grin and bear it” because, it will make the process go a lot longer.
Class 1 of her training, I taught Virginia & Wes, our Bradley® pregnancy exercise program. When Virginia first learned and attempted to properly do a pelvic rock, being trained as a Medical Massage Therapist, it was very obvious to me, that her sacrum was completely locked up. She couldn’t even perform the normal range of motion, let alone the necessary movement her pelvis would need to help allow a baby to pass freely. I recommended a chiropractor who is skilled in Webster technique (82% successful) to properly align her pelvis and unlock her sacrum. In Virginia’s occupation, she has to do a lot of riding in car and most likely her hip flexors needed a good bit of work to release and give her the flexibility she needed to “give birth,” as well.
She chose Dr. MacKenzie Puckett at The Anthony Clinic in Athens, because it was conveniently located beside her OBGYN office and she had formerly been treated by Dr. Anthony himself. This proved to be important preventative treatment for Virginia with only one hiccup. Virginia shared, she certainly would’ve began sooner if she had realized how important it would be to her body and how wonderful she felt afterwards as she did not typically have routine chiropractic care.
Your Birth Helper #AthensDoulaDream team was happy to select Wes and Virginia, for our annual doula scholarship award. The two had invested many months into their training. Unfortunately, her induction was medically necessary and could not be avoided. My team and I, worked around the clock to best support them in their birth goals over a three day period. The most important for Virginia being: healthy mom, healthy baby, followed by c-section and epidural free coming in as close second. Amanda Allen and Nikki Reeves both near completion of their YBH Intensive Doula training program assisted on Sunday and Monday. We made sure everyone stayed fed, hydrated and on day two of no sleep, began rest rotation and relief efforts. Including encouraging short naps for Dad, as well.
This Man! Wow! What an awesome supportive coach he was. He shared, he stayed fueled with coca-cola and max and cheese! He was a constant source of support only taking breaks to get off his feet and car nap when I insisted. Most men can’t stay awake for one night, let alone two or three. I mean let’s face it there is not much uninterrupted sleep in a hospital setting hardly ever. They both agreed, they are not sure there journey would’ve been so favorable had it not been for the midwife suggesting they turn the pitocin off so the couple could recoup and get a few hours of rest/ sleep.
Dad had these tips for Mom’s labor coach...
Wes: For me, I think the most difficult part of the induction was the not knowing. There are so many different ways they can try and induce it’s hard to know what is the best route to take. Also it was hard to see Virginia in pain for such a stretched out period of time.
Wes: I think if there’s any advice I can give others facing medical induction, it would be educate, make a good birth plan and do research for the route that you decide to take. But, don’t be surprised if you get thrown a curve ball. Just know your options.
And, that’s great advice coming from a true Labor MVP or as Virginia described, “My Hero!” My team and I, could not have been more proud of either of these two. They both educated, prepared, researched and were solid in giving informed consent for their choices throughout their induction. I am just curious if Coca-Cola Company designed these cans specifically for husband / partner coached childbirth? Seems pretty fitting, and definitely came in quite handy, especially during wee hours of the night when coffee was not available in the hospital nourishment room.
Back labor is so challenging. Now, Virginia would tell you the struggle to avoid epidural was real, but with proper support, they rocked it! It was important to Virginia to avoid epidural and even more important to Wes, to help her meet her birth goals. And, he far exceeded his coaching role! When her baby was descending, the back pain intensified and her midwife suggested sterile water injections to her sacrum. It brought just the relief Virginia needed to finish the job drug free.
I call them “Bubbles” because, that’s basically what they resemble. There is an initial burning sensation, but work by misdirecting signals from the brain and bring up to two hours of back relief drug-free. More specifically, by use of the gate control theory or counter irritation theory, stimulation of specific areas can relieve a referred pain. The mechanism has been described as counter irritation, a process by which localized pain felt in one part of the body may be relieved by irritating the skin in same dermatomal distribution with either a hot, cold, scratchy, or electrical stimulus. The sterile water injections are thought to cause distension in the skin, which stimulates nociceptors and mechanoreceptors.
For Virginia, she found needed relief at times from constant position changes, the use of bath tub, along with the bubbles, helped her stay out of way of the cervix, reach 10cm and begin push phase.
Virginia: Back labor to me felt like my back was literally going to break. It felt like someone was pressing their fists as hard as they could into the lower part of my back without letting up. Our midwife Meredith Turner, was absolutely wonderful. She was able to give me a little relief from the back labor and still respect my wishes for no pain medication by giving me shots of water in my lower back to counteract the pressure.
Supported by Wes, Virginia utilized numerous pushing positions including squatting, classic and side lie. Meredith Turner, CNM was her midwife and worked her magic . Mom found great relief to her back from receiving her natural numbness during controlled pushing techniques and the progress was evident to all in the room. Mom was more determined than ever to finish her birth marathon.
And, finally the moment they had been waiting for... their little fella had made his way out. It was Tuesday evening. Over 60+ hours of labor induction all epidural and pain medicine free using skills she learned, coupled by supportive medical staff, her doula team and most importantly, her husband by her side coaching her all the way to the finish line.
Virginia: What helped me the most in avoiding an epidural and pain medication is having a strong support team, going over my wishes with Wes prior to going to the hospital, and utilizing the techniques that we learned in our Bradley class. Even though I felt like caving Wes would not let me. I could not have gotten through it without him. He was by my side the entire time encouraging me and tending to my every need. It is so very important to have some type of support person there during this time.
Words can not properly express the overwhelming JOY experienced, by all present, to witness such selfless devotion. These two excelled as students in childbirth class and they did everything our doula team suggested that was in their control to do in order to keep labor progressing. Way to go Shelton Family! Congrats again on such a bright eyed handsome addition and labor marathon well run!