Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Labor Pains


Every week as I watch my yoga teacher's belly swell, I think back to my own pregnancies and deliveries. I find myself sharing little bits and pieces with her, like the fact that my husband actually caught our daughter as she slipped out of the birth canal. I also find myself wanting to remember things such as what it really felt like to have a baby kicking inside its home for 9 months.

Yesterday I asked her how she felt about taking drugs during the delivery. This question had been on my mind since my Thanksgiving dinner with the wonder baby who never cried. His mother said that EVERYONE takes drugs these days in an effort not to feel the pain at all. I was somewhat surprised.

In my day, the goal was a drug-free delivery. We went to Lamaze classes and practiced breathing with our labor "coaches", who in most cases were our husbands. I purchased a beautiful crystal (see the above picture) to use as a focal point during those sharp pains. My babies were born in a private birthing room that looked like a bedroom and had soft light. A combination of my coach, the crystal, the natural setting, and my sheer determination resulted in two drug-free deliveries. Were my babies any better off for this? Whoever knows? But I was only numbed by euphoria, not by pills or drips or shots.

My beautiful Iranian yoga teacher said that she was hoping not to take any drugs. Her bigger concern was that they would induce labor or worse still perform a Cesarean section. With about one third of all deliveries resulting in C-sections these days, her worries were not unfounded. But she has hired a doula to work with her and her husband. This is a person who is paid to keep a level head and be your advocate in difficult times during the birthing process. I could have used one of those at a couple of scary moments.

My teacher is hoping that her daily yoga practice, the classes she and her husband will take ahead of time, and her doula will assure them of a delivery that minimizes pain and stress. I am confidant that they will do just fine as they bring their little daughter into the world.

6 Comments:

Blogger Richard said...

While people do go for epidurals, not everyone I know has used them (mostly because the kid comes out too fast).

One friend gave birth twice without an epidural (she was fast both times). Another had wanted an epidural, but, again, the labour had progressed so quickly there wasn't time. And, finally, another didn't have time to even get to the hospital (she had an unplanned home birth).

Sofia gave in and had an epidural when Tania was born (of course, she had been sweating it out for three days). With Jason, it was just a few sweet hours and he was born.

We used a midwife for the second pregnancy and it was a significantly more positive experience. The doctors and nurses are strangers who come in say hi, smile and then disappear. The midwife was with us the whole time (actually, two midwives and one in training).

Pedantic note: for women who claim to be in labour for days and days ... ehm ... labour is not defined to begin until you are 5 cm dilated. Prior to that you are just in pain, but not labour.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

OK Richard, whatever you say. The births I've attended during which the mother was literally laboring for days felt a lot like they were in active labor whether or not they were in alignment with the 5 cm rule.

Barbara your Thanksgiving dinner companion is not correct in saying everyone takes pain medication. People do what they need to do in order to have a baby which sometimes includes no pain meds, sometimes does. Sometimes women go for Caesarian out of convenience, but in my experience that is a very rare occurrence.

I am a believer in following the lead of the mother. I don't think asking for an epidural is "giving in." I think women know what they need and when they ask for it (whether it's pain meds, or ginger ale even though they aren't supposed to, or to get their mother out of the room) I make sure it happens.

The doctors are definitely strangers, but the nurses I've worked with have all been spectacular.

I love your crystal, Barbara.

8:56 AM  
Blogger steve said...

I DID OK AS A COACH FOR TWO BIRTHS... THAT IS TO SAY I DID NOT GET CLOBBERED.
I may even have helped. i used to joke afterwards that it was "Easy as fishin'"; we all no what a crock that is.
Barbara, i just want you to know that as a very "unspiritual" human Being, i am drawn to your site and your perspective because I love the spirituality that you exude...it does seem to transcend itself and cross over as pesented by you. I just wanted you to know that.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Richard -- I imagine you as a level-headed coach who helped make informed decisions. You can't imagine how helpful that is when you are on the painful labor rollercoaster.

Reya -- I would pick you out of 1,000 applicants if I ever needed a doula. However, you're just about 25 years too late... And yes, I treasure that crystal today because of the memories it contains.

Steve -- I'm sure those positive feelings you had for your wife were important as you attended both births. And the bonding with your children (at least the band member) is certainly evident. As for spirituality, I'm not so sure. But what you read is definitely me -- sometimes raw, sometimes jubliant, but always anxious to share and hear what you and others have to say.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I wasn't able to have kids due to complications of diabetes, but had I been able to, I would have had a Caesarian for sure. Diabetics babies grow very quickly to a huge size, the heads especially, and they are usually born a month early.

I'm sure your teacher will be well focused as you were to have a natural delivery. The crystal is so neat!

5:51 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Reya: I am not trying to be dismissive. It was a tid-bit I learned with Sofia's first delivery. I am not saying it is a good definition, but it is the medical one.

6:14 PM  

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