Part 2: Labor
- Labor is nothing to be afraid of. If you dread it and worry about all of the “what ifs”, you will probably have a terrible experience. But if you just think positively and let your body do what it was made to do (and knows how to do), things will most likely go smoothly.
- Like pregnancy, labor is different for every woman. You might be in labor for 2 hours (lucky you). You might be in labor for 2 days (God forbid). There is no way to tell, so just try to relax, and go with the flow.
- In my opinion, contractions don’t really hurt that bad. I can think of several things that I imagine would hurt worse – broken bones, burns, cutting off your finger with a chainsaw, etc. It’s the Ring of Fire that you have to worry about if you choose to go the natural route (more about that in Part 3). Actually, it’s more of a feeling of pressure than pain. The contractions come and they go, so you won’t be in constant pain – there will be breaks in between and you will feel completely normal and pain free during these times. And if you choose to get an epidural, you will be totally pain free! But there are risks with epidurals, and they don’t always work. You will have to be catheterized and you will be unable to walk for a while after the baby is born (no, it doesn’t magically wear off the second the kid is out). Epidural babies are also less alert and their sucking is affected, which affects breastfeeding and latching on.
- That due date that is circled in red on your calendar? You can count on that being the one day that you most likely won’t go into labor. Only 3% of babies are born on their due dates. And over 50% are born 1 week later!
- And really, what is 1 more week when you have already waited for 40? You can do it. I promise, that baby will come out eventually. Which leads me to say……
- Labor works best when it starts on its own – not when it is induced. Inductions often do not work and end in a C-section. Pitocin causes contractions to be irregular and stronger than normal, so if you are hoping to go drug-free, an induction will have you begging for that Epidural. Please, please, please educate yourself about your options. Your body (not your doctor) knows when it is the right time! Whats the rush? By the way, after that baby is has been out for a while, you will be wishing and praying to God that somebody will stick it back in!
- And don’t let your research end there. Educate yourself about ALL of your options. A lot of things that are routinely done in hospitals are unnecessary and can be avoided. Example: do you know why you are not allowed to eat or drink while in labor? Because back in the day when women were knocked out during their labors, somebody threw up and got choked on her vomit because she was unconscious and could not turn her head to get it out of her mouth. So from then on, no more ingesting during labor! How ridiculous. These days, women are awake the whole time – so no need to not eat and drink! Besides, you will need your energy when it comes time to push (but then again, that’s why they give you an unnecessary IV – so that they can pump liquid energy into you).
- If you do plan a natural birth, you can leave the games, magazines, laptop and DVDs at home. You won’t be needing any of those, and if someone else dares to entertain themselves in your presence while you writhe in pain, you might not be the only one in need of medical assistance.
- Water works wonders.
- The car ride to the hospital or birth center will be the longest, most uncomfortable ride of your life. You will be the world’s worst road raging backseat driver, so it’s best to just close your eyes and focus on your body – not the road. Contractions are twice as bad when you can’t get up and walk around.
Side note: Can you tell that I am not a fan of doctors and hospitals? Yeah, I thought it might be a bit obvious. But please do not think that I think that I am somehow “better” than anyone who has has a hospital birth with medication. Each woman is entitled to make her own decisions regarding her baby and her body, and I will not judge any woman for how she decides to labor (although I myself have been deemed crazy more than a few times). I just hope that each woman knows all of the facts before she decides which route is for her.
And now, a list of things that will not get that baby out any faster. Well, they didn’t work for me, so they probably won’t work for you, either.
- The clock striking midnight on your due date will not make you go into labor.
- Being sick and tired of being pregnant will not make you go into labor (although when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired of being pregnant and you have a meltdown in the shower and beg God to please get this baby out of me now! it just might happen. It did in fact work for me, but by that time the baby was 6 days past due, so maybe my meltdown didn’t have anything to do with it after all).
- Walking (even for hours at a time) will not make you go into labor.
- Having lots and lots of sex will not make you go into labor (although it will help ripen your cervix and could stimulate contractions – so it can happen, just don’t count on it. Timing is everything).
- Nipple stimulation will not make you go into labor, which is a good thing since your baby daddy won’t be willing to touch your leaky nipples. (Let me be a bit more clear; nipple stimulation can trigger labor if you have constant stimulation for 3 or more hours. Personally, I’d rather just wait it out.)
- Eating fresh pineapple will not make you go into labor.
- Riding along bumpy dirt roads and across plowed fields will not make you go into labor.
- A death in the family will not make you go into labor.
- Your father being 3 hours away at your family member’s funeral will not make you go into labor.
- Packing your hospital bag will not make you go into labor.
- Washing, re-washing, organizing and re-organizing every piece of itty bitty baby clothing will not make you go into labor.
- Drinking teas and taking herbs will not make you go into labor.
- A full moon will not make you go into labor.
- A drop in the barometric pressure might or might not make you go into labor. That happened a few times in the days before Emily’s birth, but I don’t believe that had anything to do with it.
And my last piece of advice is this: If you do not wish to notify family members about the impending birth until you know for sure that it is time and you want them to stay home until you call them right before the birth – do not under any circumstances post that you are having contractions on your blog! There are no secrets on the internet!