Surprises after delivery

After reading After-birth: 10 surprises from those first days after delivery by Meredith Bland who, by the way, is quite witty. I thought about it for a bit and decided I had to comment somewhere. She’s so right in that there are so many of the things that happen afterward that they don’t tell you about before.

Now, here’s the thing, I’ve experienced all the varieties of birth that, to my knowledge a woman can possibly experience. Cesarean, medicated VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), natural hospital VBAC, water HBAC (Home Birth After Cesarean), and HBAC.

I’d like to think that my experience is not to be discounted in the grand scheme of things.

Cesareans suck. At least, mine did. It also didn’t help that I wound up catching something nasty in the hospital – to be expected as, after all, hospitals are full of nasty germs and sickness – that took my voice away and made me miserable. Because that’s exactly how you want to feel when they’ve just handed you a baby to care for. In fact, the lovely OB chastised me the next day for not being up and moving. All I wanted to do was tell him to go to hell. But I couldn’t. I had no voice, remember?

I will tell you, however, you do not want to gaze upon your stitches those first several days. They’re not pretty.

Also, that tummy of yours? The one the baby just came out of? Yeah, you do not want to see it right away, either. They forget to tell you that it doesn’t just magically go away. No. You’re now the proud owner of a saggy, baggy belly. Nursing helps it lessen faster, I promise!

The super-augmented hospital VBAC wound up being awful in a multitude of ways. What many medical professionals don’t seem to understand is that a healthy baby is not the be all and end all of things. A healthy mama is incredibly important as well because, let’s face it, we’re the ones performing the majority of care for that healthy baby. Especially if we’re breastfeeding. If we’ve not healthy – physically and mentally – we’re not going to be doing a bang-up job of bonding with or caring for that healthy baby. But we may be doing a great job of having all sorts of negative thoughts or tons and tons of therapy bills and antipsychotics. Capiche?

After my (natural) VBACs, I was up moving around pretty quickly. As in, right after. Really. I’ve never felt so energized in my life.

Bleeding? Oh, yes, there will be blood. I didn’t really notice much difference in the amount between any of my cesarean or hospital births, but I did notice much less blood (lochia) after my home births. And, as the author pointed out, it is a very disconcerting feeling when something slides out of your vagina. *shudder*

Which brings me to pads. Yes, you can grab as many of those sexy mesh panties you can get your hands on before leaving the hospital. Heck, you’re paying for them all anyway, so grab what you can.

My CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife) also gave me a bit of an education on things. Two words: Adult diapers. No kidding. They’re a fantastic thing to behold for a postpartum woman. I know, you probably don’t believe me, and I admit that I was very skeptical at first, but I found out quickly just how effective they are.

The “uterine massage” is truly a thing of the devil. And it seems to get worse the more children you have. Bonus, I know! And, remember that feeling of something sliding out of your vagina? Two-fer!! For bonus points, do you know what else helps your uterus contract? Yep, breastfeeding your baby.

As far as breastfeeding goes, I lucked out with my oldest. At least in the beginning. Things were going great. Until I started a full time job. And had not a clue about pumping. And had little success. It wasn’t long before I found myself staring at different types of formula.

With my second, I wound up on the NuvaRing which dried up my supply. Not all women have this result, I guess I was just lucky.

With my third, I had all of the issues with the crazy doctor and the hospital that resulted in my milk drying up.

With my fourth, I was fortunate enough to have a CNM who is also an LC (Lactation Consultant). She was able to diagnose an issue (oversupply) that I didn’t even know I had. Had I not had her, I’m convinced I would have had a similar result as the others. I breastfed him for almost a year and a half.

With my fifth, I had the same midwife as my fourth and she was able to “fix” a bad latch. When I say bad latch, I mean bad. No exaggeration here, I was so close to calling it quits because it hurt so bad, and I was bleeding to boot. Every time I would feed him, I would curl up in a ball and cry. She made a trip out to see us just a few days after he was born – rather than having me come in to see her – and solved the problem nearly immediately. She also gave me some awesome things to wear on my nipples to help them heal quickly. We hit the year mark earlier this month and we’re still going strong.

Lesson learned here? It’s a very good idea to consult with an LC – and not a hospital LC, either as, I’m sorry to say, my experience with them was severely lacking – if you have any concerns. Or maybe even just to have them take a quick peek and see if everything looks good. If you cannot afford one, see if you can find a nursing support group that’s led by an LC. Obviously this would need to be an in-person group but you probably already sensed that’s where I was going. 😉

The author also hit the nail on the head regarding pooping afterward. At least after a cesarean or medicalized birth. There was no issue after any of my natural births. Although, after the first two, I thought sure there would be. I was nearly petrified with fear, only to realize that, hey, there was nothing to fear at all.

Yes, I’m partial to my natural births – especially the two at home. They were the only ones that I had some semblance of control, competency, and empowerment with/from. After all, if I can give birth, I can do anything! Well, maybe not, but it sure feels that way for awhile.

I must reiterate here. It’s far easier to care for your healthy baby when you yourself are mentally sound. A traumatic, unnecessarily-controlled birth does not do that. In essence, it robs people. It robs the baby of a healthy mother as well as the opportunity to bond more readily to her. It robs the mother of the opportunity to bond readily with the baby. It robs the father because he is left feeling uncertain of what she has gone through and what he “should” be feeling – he’s torn, and that should not be. If there are siblings, those siblings get robbed too, and might be more likely to have animosity toward their new baby.

With all that being said, yes, there are some super crazy things going on after a baby is born. Here’s hoping you didn’t find out the hard way.

Wanting to learn more about midwives?

Now’s your chance.

Here’s something you may or may not know: Midwives can also do Well Woman Exams, they’re not just for birth and pregnancy-related issues.

Many of you know that our youngest was born at home January 2011 and was caught by Holly Hopkins, CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife) at Believe Midwifery Services. Things actually happened too quickly for Penny Lane, CNM to get there or we would have been attended by both midwives – that seems to be  the norm at the practice.

For any of you who are interested in learning more about midwives and just what they do consider coming to what they call an Interview Session. Yes, you’re basically interviewing them.

Believe Midwifery offers one-hour, group interview sessions once each week as an opportunity for potential clients to meet with the midwives and discern if the practice would be a good fit for their maternity and/or health-care needs.

•    Thursday        January 26 – 10:00am        118 W Main St, Thorntown, IN 46071
•    Thursday         February 2 – 3:30pm        9322 East 100 South, Lafayette, IN 47905
•    Wednesday     February 8 – 1:00pm        118 W Main St, Thorntown, IN 46071
•    Monday        February 13 – 6:30pm        118 W Main St, Thorntown, IN 46071
•    Monday        February 20 – 6:00pm        9322 East 100 South, Lafayette, IN 47905

•    Thursday        March 8 – 1:30pm        9322 East 100 South, Lafayette, IN 47905
•    Wednesday        March 14 – 2:00pm        118 W Main St, Thorntown, IN 46071
•    Thursday        March 22 – 3:30pm        118 W Main St, Thorntown, IN 46071
•    Monday        March 26 – 6:30pm        118 W Main St, Thorntown, IN 46071

If you’re interested, RSVP to 765-436-7527 or e-mail gretchen@believemidwiferyservices.com.

If you have any questions about midwives and what they do, I will answer to the best of my abilities although, feel free to email – or call – Gretchen.

Please note: I’m receiving no monetary – or other – compensation for this. Midwives are something that I very much believe in and love to share my wonderful experiences with them with as many others as I can. When I learned about these upcoming Interview Sessions I felt as though I had to share.

Yesterdays Midwife Appointment

Yesterday evening I went to my midwife appointment. Although it was nice to be able to get out of the house by myself, I was quickly wishing I had Jon there with me. In addition to the concern about my blood pressure (that’s been high for awhile now), I learned that the ultrasound we had at about 18 or 19 weeks along, showed that the placenta was very low behind the cervix. The hope is that it has moved as it’s grown… the only way of knowing is with another ultrasound. This time I get to go to the Maternal Fetal Medicine of a nearby hospital to get a $1200 (or so) ultrasound. Youch. And, of course, worst case scenario is that it has not moved, is still blocking the cervix, and I will have to have a cesarean because such a thing would potentially cause hemorrhage and, most likely, death. How warm and fuzzy, eh? And, honestly, I know very little about placenta previa because I always kinda skipped that part in the pregnancy books because, well, it just didn’t apply to me. Ha!!

And, on top of everything, since after our weekend trip I got back off my meds again, she doesn’t want me to start back on them. She’s concerned about suicide risk – trust me, my meds are truly what keep me SANE!! I’m already starting to have the voice in my head that wants me to do nothing but worry and fret ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME!! – and the risk of respiratory issues in baby. Grrrrr.

I just kinda feel like I can’t win for losing, yanno? Pardon my French here but this fucking sucks!!!!

A tale of two births

All this talk about babies – okay, okay, I’ve been the one doing the talking – has got me thinking. Noah’s birth was so much more peaceful and calm than Elias’.

Prenatal care
With Elias:

  • I rotated through the three doctors in the practice
  • Appointments were quick, I spent more time with the nurse than the OB
  • I was told that I was in the minority for wanting to have a VBAC
  • I never felt as though I was taken seriously
  • I did not feel cared about, as though I was just a number
  • I felt like the doctors thought they knew my body better than I did
  • I really did not like the exams
  • The OBs freaked out when I went past the “due date”

With Noah:

  • Appointments were longer and spent with the midwife
  • I felt listened to and believed
  • I felt cared about
  • The vaginal exams were few and far between
  • It was made clear to me that I was not in the minority for wanting a VBAC, my choice was actually encouraged
  • No one freaked out when I went past the “due date,” we discussed things and they didn’t start to worry unless we approached 42 weeks

Labor
With Elias:

  • Went to hospital waaay too early – kind of got bullied into that
  • Labor was controlled and augmented with Pitocin that was not allowed to be turned off due to threat from the doctor that she would section me if it wasn’t turned back on

With Noah:

  • Went about my day, ate, drank, lived as normal
  • I waited to go to hospital until I was feeling the need to push
  • Mostly calm environment – once we got in the room

Birth
With Elias:

  • I was on my back with my legs being held up by my husband and a nurse
  • I felt very humiliated and embarrassed
  • The doctor told me to stop making noises when I was grunting as I tried to push
  • After I tore, Jon was shooed away from me while I was being sutured
  • The doctor sutured me up so tight that I had pain and tightness for months afterward
  • Elias was put on my chest momentarily before being whisked away

With Noah:

  • I laid on my side to push him out with Jon standing beside me
  • Noah was immediately put to my chest to feed where he stayed for some time
  • I was asked if it was okay to take him and weigh him, etc.

I attribute the difference between the two births to a number of things: The second time around I went to Nurse Midwives of Indianapolis where the Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) have views on birth that closely match my own, i.e. if it ain’t broke….

Also, we went to Methodist where the nurses are much more accustomed to seeing natural birth, unlike when we were at Clarian North. Clarian North would be later described to me as “perfect” for those moms who don’t want to mess their makeup.

I also read a lot. I re-read a lot of the books that I had read – or skimmed – before. I especially enjoyed reading Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and Penny Simkin’s The Birth Partner. I do firmly believe that both books played a large part in my having the natural birth I wanted.

If I do it again, I would like to consider a home birth. I definitely would want a water birth, regardless of where it would take place. But, of course, that all depends on whether or not we have another one. Now, I realize that realistically we don’t have space in our house for another person. I do get that. I have hopes – we both do – that we will be able to find some land within a few years and literally make a home for ourselves.