I think I want to deliver naturally, but I'm scared to tell anyone in case I change my mind. What should I do?
Well, in my opinion, you should tell them exactly that. That you want to and are planning on delivering naturally, but you are aware that you might change your mind. I was reluctant to tell anyone about my plans for a long time, but I'm glad that I did because I received some invaluable advice from moms who had experienced natural childbirth that I wouldn't have received if I hadn't been open about it. Some people really like to discourage natural childbirth by saying things like, "you know if you have the option of an epidural, you'll take it" or "you're saying that now, just wait till the bad contractions come". I found that the best way to combat that was to agree and say, "You're so right. That's why I'm preparing early on. I hope I can do it."
How did you plan for your delivery? Is there really any way to prepare?
Yes, yes, yes! Preparation is KEY! I talked to everyone and anyone about labor and delivery. I checked out every book on natural delivery from my local library including The Bradley Method, which I highly recommend. I exercised as much as I was allowed to during the pregnancy to increase my endurance. I was very diligent about Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor (which made pushing Kjel out an AMAZING experience). Toward the end I regularly did perennial stretching (and I did not tear/need an episiotomy - I really think it's because of that).
I did have a birth plan, but it all went to heck when I had to get induced. Aside from my birth plan, I also typed up just a few key things that I wanted the nurses to take note of.
In the end, labor was obviously harder than I thought it would be, but I didn't really lose control until an hour or so before delivery. I was able to stay in control for almost all of my labor and that was amazing and completely due to preparation.
After your experience, are you planning on having any future children naturally?
I don't think I'll ever give a definite yes or no. I am going to go as long as I can through labor without an epidural - if that means I never have to get one, awesome. If not, that's just fine. If I end up in hard labor for eighteen hours, I will probably get the drugs. You know what I mean? I loved both of my kids' births, but I definitely see the benefit to natural, or close to natural birth and I'm going to strive for that.
How did you cope with the pain during labor?
Good, good question. Everyone does this differently - almost every mom I spoke to had different coping mechanisms. I tried to follow the Bradley Method as much as possible. As each contraction came, I tried to completely relax every single muscle in my body and breath deeply with my eyes closed. I also found that position had a lot to do with how I coped. I wanted to lay down (the Bradley Method has a specific position that is supposed to be the best one) but I hated laying down. Sitting Indian Style on the bed was the best for me. When labor became really intense, I prayed a lot (out loud and in my head) and I know that helped. I wanted to visualize what was happening in my body, but I just couldn't quite get there.
Why did you decide to get induced?
Okay, this might be the most common question I'm asked. At first I thought, Jeez, that's personal. But it's totally valid since I am so open on the blog about births and pregnancy and all that. So here's what happened: a few days before my due date, they did a non-stress test because I'd been noticing a little less movement. Kjel barely passed with the minimum movements. I met with my doctor the next day (I'd been seeing midwives, but decided to just pay a visit to Dr. L who I LOVE). He and I counseled about it and he told me that while an induction wasn't necessary, neither was letting a perfectly developed baby sit in my uterus when she was ready to emerge (and let her chances of health slowly diminish the longer we waited). So we set an induction date three days after my due date and hoped and prayed that she would come before then because I wanted so badly to avoid the dreaded pitocin.
Induction is such a personal decision, and one that people can be very snarky about. Babies do NOT always come when they're ready. Most of the time, they do! But sometimes they don't and that can lead to health issues and even worse, still births. If you know a couple that decided to induce, please be respectful of them and realize that they would never make a decision like that lightly. Some people choose not to share the reasons why they do things, so don't assume that the mom is just tired of pregnancy.
How did Pitocin affect your labor? Is it really as bad as I've heard?
Honestly, I don't know. I had an epidural with Gage, so I don't really have any basis for comparison. I will say that the stuff works! Ha. I did very well with everything until I didn't have a break between contractions and I was told that the intensity of the last two hours or so was due to the Pitocin. The major impediment with pitocin for me was that, because I was hooked up to it through IV, I couldn't get into the jet tub which was a huge part of my birth plan.
In the pictures that you posted of Kjel's birth, it looks like you had a lot of people in the delivery room. Who and why?
Yes, my mom, sisters and husband were in the delivery room (and the doctor and nurses too). Luckily it was a really big room, so it never felt crowded. Steven was there because he's my husband. Do I need to further explain? I don't think so. My mom was also at Gage's birth. I just love having her experience the miracle with me. Plus, while Steven is my sweet, comforting, tender support throughout labor and birth, my mom is the more intense coach/cheerleader. She's the one who talks common sense into me and gets me fired up to keep going.
My sisters. I'm coming to realize this is sort of controversial. They were 18 and 14 at the time. I invited them because, after having Gage, I realized that because I'd never seen a birth. I was kind of traumatized by the whole process. I invited them long before I was pregnant with Kjel because I figured they should at least know that seeing a birth before their own births might be helpful. They made the choice to come, and while I think it was kind of hard to watch at times, it was a very positive experience that made them both look forward to having their own babies.
That seems like enough for today! Whew! As more questions come, I'll try to answer them.