What I Learned: Labor
For a long time before I was pregnant the idea of something as large as a baby exiting my body completely freaked me out, but something funny happened when I got pregnant, all that fear left me and was replaced by anticipation.
Every time we talked about contractions, or waters breaking or any of the other gross things that happen to a woman’s body when she is birthing, I would get excited. Yes, I would think about meeting our baby, but honestly I was most excited about not being pregnant anymore. The idea of being able to once again walk at a normal pace, eat runny eggs, soft cheeses and not needing to pee five times a night was very appealing to me. I was also excited to see what all the fuss was about, to join this secret club of women who’ve gone through this crazy experience. And now that I’m apart of that club let me tell you what I’ve learned.
1. Go to every class you can: Hospitals offer free classes for a reason, because you have no idea what’s happening to your body otherwise. Caleb and I went to as many classes as we could, even when we didn’t want to and when they were super boring. I figured the more information we had the better. This way when odd things happened to my body I didn’t have to be scared, I knew what was happening was normal. I didn’t watch the videos though, I wanted information but seeing other woman in large amounts of pain wasn’t going to help me at all. Also when you’re giving birth you’re away from the ‘business end’ of things and I didn’t want to see that mess…Caleb and I left class early that day.
2. Be relaxed with your birth plan: Parenting guilt starts early, women tend to spend a lot of time envisioning this perfect birth with no drugs or intervention and if that doesn’t end up happening they feel like they’ve somehow let down their baby. Let it go. The most important thing is that both you and your baby are healthy. Don’t beat yourself up about how it happens. We had a birth plan that we talked through with our midwife and mostly it went to plan, but when Walt came out he was having trouble breathing and we didn’t get as much ‘skin to skin’ time as they wanted because he was whisked away to the nursery. But let’s be honest I’m not going to stress about us bonding when breathing is way more important and we’ve bonded fine since then even though the little guy spent the first 5 days of his life in the nursery.
3. Find out what works for you: Giving birth is one of those things that everyone has an opinion on, someone will think you should give birth at home with no intervention and someone else will think that you should take every drug available. The question is what do you want? Caleb and I made sure we didn’t let anyone bully us into a decision, I vaguely remember one of the midwives holding out Walt and asking Caleb “Do you want to cut the cord?” and him replying very quickly “No thank you, you can do it.” “Are you sure?” she replied obviously very surprised, “the dads always cut the cord.” Caleb politely declined again and even in my post delivery haze I remember smiling to myself because even if every dad had cut the cord at every birth in history, Caleb would still decline and I don’t blame him, those things are gross.
4. Sing if you need to: I hummed all the way through my labor, the only reason being that in my yoga class when they were teaching us breathing techniques we were told “make your exhale as long as possible” (I don’t even remember why now.) I realised very quickly that I sucked at long breathing, obviously my short stint playing the recorder in kindergarten hadn’t carried it’s breathing skills on over into my 30’s. I started to get a little worried, what if I was terrible at breathing during labor? I needed to stay relaxed, how was I going to stay relaxed if I couldn’t breath? Then I remembered I love to sing, I sang in musicals at schools, at church, in different bands during my teens and 20’s, in the shower, in the car, when I’m taking photos (I’m not joking about this, many of my brides and grooms have experienced me making up songs for them) you get the idea. So instead of doing a long exhale I would breath in and then hum for a long as possible, it seemed to work cause I didn’t get stressed and my baby came out.
5. Don’t get mad at your partner: Your partner doesn’t know what it feels like to have a baby exiting his body, he’s doing his best, so be nice. I gave Caleb the instructions “don’t talk to me, just hold my hand or let me lean on you” and he did just that, it was perfect.
These photos are from my birth if you want to see more you can go here (don’t worry they’re very tasteful), also if you’re interested in having your birth photographed let us know…it’s pretty much our new favourite thing and we’re super pumped about the ones we have lined up for later in the year.