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06 March 2010

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Jamie

Oh, SO satisfying. Thanks for taking the time to write it all up, Erin.

ambrose

Great series. I have to hand it to you home-birth mamas. You are amazing

rachel

Sorry, forgive me if this is - what? inappropriate for a rare commenter? - but your face in the picture, it's stunningly beautiful. I remember thinking that when helping a friend in labour, and I then remembered my husband telling me so about my own labours: that these are the moments when you are so stripped of anything else, only beauty comes through.

Mark

Rachel, thanks -- not inappropriate at all. I was sort of stunned to see that picture myself.

Don't I almost look -- made up? I suppose that the look women are going for, when they apply color to lips, cheeks, eyelids, is something like that -- labor is an emotionally and physically arousing experience (using the word "arousing" broadly).

bearing

Oops, that was me, not Mark, posting. HE doesn't look made up.

Alicia

Thanks for sharing. FYI, you missed omitting your midwife's name in the paragraph before the picture.

Jenny

This was a great set of posts! One point that stuck out to me was that you had forgotten the pain of crowning. That's one bit of labor that I will never forget and I know exactly why I won't forget it.

Before my oldest was born I discussed with the doctor how I didn't want an episiotomy. She gave some minor reassurance about how she wouldn't cut unless necessary and I took her at her word. Famous last words.

During the pushing phase with no epidural, I was having a general hard time figuring out what to do. Of course they had me on my back and the baby wasn't descending very quickly. When finally the baby was beginning to crown, I was having a very hard time pushing her out. So the doctor starts in on how she has to cut. I am obviously not going stretch and cutting is the only way. I am arguing with her to give it more time. She is impatient and wants to cut. I am in pain and discouraged that I'm not getting it done. After several back and forths and unproductive contractions, I relent and she cuts me from here to there and then the baby is born two or three pushes later.

It took forever to heal! And in retrospect I don't know what her big hurry was because my entire pushing phase was only 45 minutes even as I wasn't doing a very good job of it. And in every subsequent birth, I have torn exactly where she cut me. So I apparently get to live with her impatience with every child I have.

Anyway, fast forward to the next pregnancy with a different doctor in a different city. I again tell her that I don't want to be cut and she looks at me like I'm strange and basically says why would I cut you?

I again am laboring with no anesthesia and working through the pushing stage. I was doing a much better job if I do say so myself. And then the moment she begins to crown comes and I am SHOCKED by how much it hurts. Really shocked and completely unprepared.

I had already given birth. I was supposed to know how it feels, but I hadn't felt anything like it giving birth the first time. I start to panic a little and am really pulling back from the intensity of the pain. The nurse leans down to me and says, "You can do this. You are almost there, but you can't pull back from the pain. You must push through the pain." And two or three pushes later, my baby was born with no scalpel assistance from the doctor.

After the fact I realized what the difference was. My first doctor had already decided that I was going to need cutting and had completely numbed the area before the baby had even descended. I don't know when she did it and I don't remember consenting. That's why I was so shocked by the pain of crowning because in reality I had never felt it in the previous birth, but I thought I had. That numbing agent is why I had such a hard time pushing out my oldest. I couldn't feel what I was doing! I had nothing to push against and was getting no encouragement from those who were supposed to be helping. Even with the numbing agent, I might have been able to do it if I were getting real help instead of arguing with the doctor about consenting to surgery under duress. UGH! It makes me angry now just thinking about it.

And that's why I will never forget.

bearing

Ugh. It's like laboring women aren't allowed to make decisions for themselves. I'd say your story is horrifying except that I hear stories like that all the time.

The sensation of pressure in the perineal area is one of the things that prompts the pushing reflex. With limited sensation in that area it is not surprising that pushing would be difficult.

Jenny

Agreed. It happens way to often to be horrifying. Just another anecdote about the sad state of American childbirth.

Jenny

*too* often

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