I have had the pleasure of attending several births in that last 2 years. All of them beautiful, in their own right. As mentioned in my last post, I will be sharing one birth story a month. My intention is to empower and educate in the diversities of pregnancy, birth, and doula support
Today I am going to share with you the most recent birth I have attended. To uphold privacy we will call mom Carrie and dad Eric. I met this couple through Enlightened Baby's doula date night. Living in Austin has really offered up great resources in being paired with new clients. Carrie had shared with me a sizable list of concerns, and I did my best to help alleviate some of her anxiety. She was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia early in her pregnancy. This immediately labeled her a high risk pregnancy, which for a first time mom can be very scary. On top of that, she also has a list of allergies that needed to be advocated for, and is not a candidate for an epidural. This couple was facing a little more complicated situation from the beginning, so they set out and learned more about birthing. I hope to share more on Blissborn, the practice in which Carrie and Eric learned in their birth class. In a nutshell, it consists of a list of things that partner reads to mom, with the intention of guiding her to a meditative state.
With pre-e, majority of physicians will induce around the 36-40 weeks depending on the stability of your blood pressure. Carrie was induced at 39 weeks, this is incredible for pre-e mamas. This meant that her blood pressure was remaining stable. The OB even made a comment during labor about Carrie's BP making her look silly with how well it maintained.
Carrie had a pitocin drip and broken waters early in the morning, so she was experiencing some sizable contractions when I arrived. Her choice methods of relief were heat on her lower back and counter pressure/massage. She seemed motivated, so I suggested we do hands and knees, so I could use my rebozo and shake her hips for a bit. A rebozo is a large scarf native to Mexico, I anchor it around mama's hips, and shake it (sort of like those old cellulite shakers from the 50s) in order help relax the muscles of her cervix and hips. The more relaxed your body, the further baby can come down. She felt the position had her too engaged, so I recommended the birth ball for a more supported position. We spent a good amount of time here, rubbing her back and encouraging moans. Eric was insistent on stepping in and helping massage and hip squeezes. I really appreciated it physically and mentally.
What a testament to their love for each other. It is certainly common for a partner to participate, but this was my first experience with a partner that insisted upon helping. Carrie's cervical check was slightly disappointing for her, she was still -2 effacement and only 3.5 cm. It just didn't seem like enough to her with the level of contractions she was experiencing. It's not uncommon for laboring mamas to feel discouraged by cervical checks, luckily some OBs and LD Nurses try and avoid them as a means of support.
With most every cervical checks comes the discussion, what to do next. In any case with previously broken waters, labor gets put on a schedule due to the risk of infection. Majority of care providers will give you a full 24 hrs before recommending any serious interventions. So, for Carrie they suggested doubling her dose of pitocin in order to avoid the drastic options down the road. Carrie calmly obliged, with a look of defeat. I suggested she lie on her left side, with a peanut ball between her legs so she could take a moment to catch up after all that work. I asked Eric to read some of the material from their Blissborn class, while I applied counter pressure during contractions. The reading walked her through an activity step by step. It begins by describing your environment and how that feels as you go through each suggested motion(all visual of course). The most amazingl thing happened, she looked like she was sleeping... I mean the monitor suggested avalanches of contractions, but she was calm and restful. It was like magic, and you best believe I praised partner for such an awesome job he was doing. They really had to dedicate some time to this practice in order to get such excellent results.
Soon, Carrie complained of feeling fully engaged in her pelvis even between contractions. I was stumped, how is she still so engaged in a rested position, and how can I alleviate this for her. I tried some more hip shakes, but by this point is was hurting more than helping. So, I asked the nurse what she thought. This is the beauty of having your doula, they can utilize your nursing staff in ways you never thought. They have seen everything, so when all else fails we ask for help. She suggested a rocking chair...huh...a rocking chair, how simple. In my head I thought, "well okay, we'll try it, although it seems it wouldn't allow for enough space for baby to come down..." Thankfully, the nurse made an executive decision to reduce her pitocin back to the original dose. The combination of all our efforts offered a form of relief for Carrie, and opened a space for her to trust her body.
The Rocking chair made room for Eric and I to apply massage on her lower back, it even made for a space to hang a towel with peppermint oil on it near mom, in order to help cleanse her space and clarify her air. Doulas make it their mission to create an environment for your birth. This process begins in our discussions leading up to labor and delivery. Essential oils are just part of what I bring to help augment the space. I also have a play list of binaural music (mostly white noise tone, and rain drops), I often put this on when mom hits active labor and doesn't already have something filling the space. It's a magical playlist, I use it to soothe myself to sleep and have had partners asleep within moments after proclaiming, "there is no way I can get any sleep right now." I was in no way prepared for the effect it had on Carrie.
Soon after she settled into a rhythm with the rocking chair, she began humming a lyrical tone in between contractions. Eyes closed, jaw dropped, and almost a wavering rocking in her voice carrying her away into the abyss. She was so in it, I had to reassure Eric that she is in the zone and doing amazing. There soon after the wavering humming turned into big wide open moans, I knew then she was making incredible progress. I was so floored by her focus and beauty in sound, it was clear this was one of the most indigenous births I will ever witness. I'm not joking, it was as if she was calling on her ancestors to carry her boy lower and lower!! Her nurse kept coming in to adjust the monitors, which is always a good sign. This means we have action and baby is moving. Such grace this nurse had, you could see in her face she knew it was going to happen soon. So, she slowly closed the gap in between visits and finally calmly asked, do you feel like you're pushing? The answer was yes!!!
It all happened so fast, Carrie got up mid screams to get on the bed...it was obvious that her baby boy was right there...CROWNING!!! Dr is being called, baby nurses coming in, surgical tech comes in.... I'm looking around and Eric has decided to go to the bathroom, so I hold my breath so as to not alert Carrie. I did one of those panic stricken reactions where you grab your phone to call, then take two steps, and then look at your phone... and then decide to go get them.... luckily him and Doctor had met in the hallway and returned soon after. I got Eric over to Carrie's side, Doctor sits down throws on gloves and 3 pushes later baby boy arrives. She had gone from a discouraged state of mind, to zen focus, to being completely enthralled in her labor, and finally pushing in a mere 5 hours! An entire 6.5 impressive centimeters!!
I'm so proud of Carrie and Eric, they are a true example of perseverance. Their road to meeting their boy was a rocky and sometimes unsure, but they harnessed all the knowledge necessary to help empower their very own birth experience.