Written 12 September 2010 Our Unassisted Child Birth Story
By the end of this pregnancy I was the largest I have ever been and had lots of back ache and pelvic pain due to relaxed ligaments. I also had many nights of prodromal labor which would last for a few hours and then fade.
Finally, at 1h45 on 08/09/2010 I was woken by strong contractions. As usual they were about 10 minutes apart. I lay in bed timing them and dozing in between for about an hour and then got up as I usually do with the false labor and had a cup of tea here at my computer.
A few hours later, they still had not faded, but I was sleepy so I went back to bed, wondering if they'd stop once I lay down. I managed to sleep a few hours, although I did wake every now and then with a strong contraction.
By morning, the contractions were still going, still 10 minutes apart, but I was delighted to observe that I was losing the mucous plug. I was still not sure if I really was actively in labor as I know that sometimes the plug is lost days before the actual birth.
I was expecting this to be a slightly longer labor as the baby was in a Right Occipital Anterior position and would have further to rotate than if he had been lying on my left side.
Well, the contractions continued all day. I managed to have a sleep in the afternoon and then climbed into a warm bath for about half an hour to freshen up.
At 16h00, we had an appointment with the leaders of the cell group we attend who wanted to pray for me and the baby and the birth. We had a pleasant visit with them, and I had a couple more contractions during that time.
Then I went out to do some shopping errands, made supper and by early evening the contractions seemed to be coming closer together. I had more of a show, so now I was finally sure that I was definitely in labor.
After supper I made sure that all the necessary birth supplies were ready.
I spent most of the evening in the study at my computer, replying to emails as I usually do. After a while I took another bath, hoping that would speed up the labor but it didn't.
Then I came back to the study. I struggled to get any work done and eventually sat beside my husband watching some You Tube videos with him.
Later, I was drowsy so I sat with my head laid on a pillow on his desk beside him. The contractions were coming faster (4-5 minutes apart) stronger and more intense, so he would rub my lower back or apply pressure at my request with each one. I found that standing was the most comfortable position to be with each contraction. I wanted as much space around my pelvis as possible.
I started feeling very tired and wondered if I was just sleepy or nearing transition. That's the thing with a UC - no one checks to tell you how far dilated you are. In any case, with my previous labor, my contractions were still 10 minutes apart when the baby was suddenly born, so I knew that there is no set pattern for my labor to follow. I would just have to wait and see.
At about 23h30 I decided to go and fill the bath tub again and use water for pain relief, before baby perhaps arrived and it would be too late. I had recently written the page on water birth and wanted to enjoy the benefits of labor in water. I had been in the bathroom alone for about half an hour, when Riaan came to see how I was doing and he then stayed with me.
After some time, I could feel a change in the contractions. The back ache had eased up and now the pain and pressure was mainly low down in front. I could feel that the head was starting to enter the birth canal and soon I felt pressure on my bowel.
Most of the time I would sit on my knees and heels, legs apart and then rock forward into a hands and knees kind of position using the edge of the bath during contractions, moaning deeply. I found that deep breathing during the contractions would relieve the discomfort.
Eventually I felt I wanted to get out of the bath and be at the toilet, "just in case". Two of my other babies have been born over or in front of the toilet bowl - its a convenient place for water to break and any other 'spills'.
As the baby's head descended I started feeling the involuntary bearing down sensation - an uncontrollable pushing feeling. I knew I must resist this and my husband reminded me not to push too soon as baby's head was still not visible.
I knew it was close. Soon the bearing down started and I began panting madly, to resist pushing. I had been told by the sonographer that this baby had a large head and I really didn't want to tear.
The head soon crowned and we had to wait for another contraction before it was completely out. Riaan checked that there was no cord around the neck. I noticed that as the head crowned, the water had broken slightly and there was a patch of brown fluid on the floor - a sign of meconium in the amniotic fluid. (Refer to right-hand column for more about meconium.)
This is usually a sign of a baby in distress, but somehow, I kept calm and knew it would be fine.
With a final contraction at 0h54 on 09/09/2010, the baby's shoulders and body were born, amid a mass of soiled brown water, which splashed all over the tiled bathroom floor.
What struck me immediately was how pink and good my baby looked. He immediately gave a whine and started breathing. I wiped his head and face clean, wrapped him in a towel and just held him and looked at my beautiful boy, while Riaan took some photos.
I was sitting on the toilet holding him and decided I better move so that we could catch the placenta when it delivered. I sat on a step that is in our bathroom, placed the plastic bowl below the step and within 3 minutes of the baby's birth, the placenta slipped out.
We waited for the cord to go limp, tied it with dental tape and then I cut the cord - my first time!
Next I climbed back in the bath so that baby and I could rinse off. Riaan then had his first chance to hold his son, while I dressed and got into bed.
We put a diaper on Jason and I then held him skin-to-skin. Riaan also had a turn.
I applied a perineal cold pack too. Although Riaan had brought me a lovely cup of rooibos tea with honey, after a while I had a couple of bouts of vigorous shaking. I was neither hot nor cold, nor feeling usual at all, so I just kept warm in bed. All I can think is that it was either triggered by the cold-pack or just the after-shock of the birth. A lot of changes happen in a woman's body after giving birth as the uterus contracts and blood circulation returns to normal.
A little while later, Jason started looking like he wanted to feed. I helped him find the breast and latch himself on and then we cuddled up for a long-awaited night's rest.
Below is a short video clip that I captured of Jason at about lunch time on his birthday. See how alert he was after his drug-free birth. At the end of the clip, he shows classic signs of a baby wanting to feed - sucking his fingers, so we cuddled up for some more skin-to-skin contact.
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The presence of meconium in the amniotic fluid is sometimes a sign that a baby is in distress, but not always, as I found when I did some research on this.
A distressed baby may experience hypoxia (decreased oxygen), which may cause relaxation of the anal sphincter - the muscle that controls the passage of feces.
Apparently, in utero, the baby passes meconium in utero all the time and macrophages "clean up" the amniotic fluid.
As the baby gets older, the macrophages decrease, thus leaving meconium in the waters and so this is commonly found in babies that are born post-dates.
Meconium in and of itself does not always mean distress (pathology). Often, when there is severe pressure on the baby's head, such as during the pushing stage of giving birth, the baby may pass meconium.
The concern is that some babies may aspirate the meconium at birth and then suffer from meconium aspiration syndrome or MAS.Infants that have inhaled meconium may have a blue-ish skin colour, may be limp, may breathe with difficulty or not at all.
Of an estimated 500,000 infants born through meconium-stained waters each year, about 10% develop meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS).1
In the case of our baby, I do not believe that he was stressed. I would say that he passed the meconium as he was being born, due to the pressure.
1. Pediatrics, 2000 Jan; 105:1-7.
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