30 Weeks

Ol' Pointy and I went on a date with Sean to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art last night, where I stood in front of this Damien Hirst piece and smiled awkwardly at passersby who may actually have thought I was part of the exhibit. 

At 30 weeks, Hamish really hates it when I sit down. This is problematic in that I tend to do a lot of sitting down in my day-to-day life, and while I’m able to get around this somewhat at work by using my standing desk—although barely, to be honest, because my belly now protrudes in front of me to a degree that makes it awkward for my hands to reach the keyboard, kind of like a pregnant Tyrannosaurus Rex—it’s slightly more difficult to avoid sitting while driving, eating at a restaurant, commuting to work on the shuttle bus, and attending meetings. (“Oh, don’t mind me, guys. I’m just going to stand over here in a corner and take notes / eat my Cobb salad / brace my hands against the ceiling while we take a particularly sharp corner.”)

The problem is that he’s growing (good) and running out of room (bad…. and even worse when you consider he’s still got ten more weeks to go in there), which means that every time I’ve been sitting down for more than two and a half minutes, I’m reminded of his discomfort—and, in turn, my own—with a swift kick or three to the ribs and then a little foot (I think) lodged permanently under my ribcage to show he means business. I can usually make things a little better by sitting up straighter or putting one hand at the top of my ribs in a soothing gesture of conciliation—sorrysorrysorry, Hamish, this isn’t particularly pleasant for mummy either—but I can’t get out of my head, every time it happens, the voice of bossy Judith from the BBC’s Come Fly With Me, who tells her husband “Peter, I’m talking and you’re talking. We can’t both be talking.” In my case, however, the voice is saying “Hamish, I’m sitting and you’re sitting. We can’t both be sitting.”

Unfortunately, however, we do both have to be sitting, and—short bouts at the standing desk aside—there’s nothing that can be done to avoid it. I’m trying to think of this as Hamish’s first lesson in sharing, as well as my own introduction to that well-known aphorism that babies turn your life upside down by taking everything you once thought was your personal property—like, say, your internal organs—and kicking the living shit out of it.

30 weeks seems like a monumental landmark, seeing as we’re now into a whole new set of digits—and properly into the third trimester—and I am alternately struck by thoughts such as “awww, ten weeks to go, still so long until I can meet this little guy” and “TEN WEEKS? TEN WEEKS ARE YOU KIDDING ME. TEN WEEKS DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I HAVE TO DO BETWEEN NOW AND THEN.” This is very restful and calming, as I’m sure you can imagine, and I assure you that I am a real joy to live with right now, particularly as it relates to my mile-long to-do list, several items of which are major home renovations requiring the service of actual contractors (“Yes, Sean, it’s imperative that we re-tile the front hallway before the baby comes, obviously.”) I mean, what, do I think the baby’s going to pop out and be a photographer from Architectural Digest with impeccable taste? Does it matter that we landscape the back garden before his arrival? (Yes, actually. Yes, it matters very much.)

Conversely, I would like to note that, with ten weeks to go, I have made absolutely no progress whatsoever on the nursery, aside from pinning a few vaguely nursery-ish things to my Knocked Up board on Pinterest and making a lot of confusing lists on post-it notes. The room is not even functioning as my office anymore, but instead as a dumping ground for the increasingly adorable baby clothes I find myself unable to resist buying, the coats we moved out of the hall closet in preparation for the aforementioned hallway tiling—they’ve been piled on the couch for a week, like we’re having one very long, very awesome party which nobody wants to leave—and any other baby-related paraphernalia, which at this point includes only one (1) gently-used Ergo given to us by my generous friend Diane and one (1) Chicco Keyfit Caddy stroller frame, which I purchased second-hand on Craigslist last week for less than half the selling price and which made me feel—as I wheeled it out of a fancy apartment building in the Mission, where I’d bought it from a bearded hipster who I was 99% sure wasn’t just pretending to sell stroller frames on Craigslist in order to lure pregnant women into his home and kill them—more like a mother than anything else has done yet.

(Considering it didn’t yet have a car seat in it, and was basically just an empty stroller frame, it also made me feel more like a crazy bag lady than anything else has done yet. I detected a slightly pitying look from a tattooed young man who held the door open for me. Like, awww, are you going to put your cat in a bonnet later and take it for rides around the neighborhood?)

Despite my efforts to be what my new favorite book Bébé By Day describes as “a zen maman”—in order to produce, I assume, a zen bébé—30 weeks is also freaking me out a little bit in that I have started to think about the eventual end of all this, the eventual end being GIVING BIRTH, a prospect I had hitherto been priding myself on feeling fairly relaxed about, but which I now recognize wasn’t actually admirable nonchalance but instead straight-up denial. I mean, now that I’ve started to think about what actually needs to happen before I can hold this baby in my arms and dress him in the adorable little anchor-covered onesies I keep buying for 40% off at Baby Gap, I have found myself confronted with the irrefutable fact that there are only two ways this thing is coming out of my body, and neither of them is particularly appealing. Reader, I am beginning to grow concerned.

While I feel fairly confident that my “birth plan,” such as it were, is going to be GIVE ME ALL THE DRUGS, GIVE ME THEM NOW—I am really quite bad at managing pain, and really quite good at taking proffered medication—a small part of me is wondering if there are other things I should be doing to prepare myself for the horror—did I say horror? Ha! I meant to type miracle—of labor. We have childbirth classes coming up in the next couple of weeks, of course, and I have also bought—and carried around with me quite diligently without reading—a book about hypnobirthing, but I guess what I am looking for is someone to tell me how it’s actually going to feel. How painful is it? On a scale of one to ten: like drowning in a cauldron of bubbling oil....or more like drowning in a cauldron of bubbling oil, coming back to life, and then being buried alive because nobody realizes you’ve come back to life and also there is a hornet’s nest? I mean, feel free to use your own words to describe the level of pain we’re dealing with here, but I feel like mine might be pretty accurate too.

California Gal
May 23, 2013

Truly? Very painful. Take the epidural and don't let any of those overzealous earth mothers in the Bay Area make you feel bad for doing so. Why not enjoy the benefits of modern medicine?

All that said, one forgets the agony rather quickly. Proof? There are many people in the world with more than one child. And you'll have Hamish in your arms at the end!

May 23, 2013

Like the worst, sharpest gas pain you could ever have, plus a little bit extra pain for good measure. Driving over bumps in the road makes this especially fun, as I'm sure you can imagine. I can't speak to the pain of actually pushing the baby out because EPIDURALS ARE MADE OF MAGIC and I didn't feel a thing. Glorious.

I felt like I did a good job mentally preparing for the birthing process, but what I didn't prepare for at all was what happens immediately after. I felt like I'd been hit by a car, and I was sure I'd ruined my body forever. It was kind of traumatic, and most definitely unexpected. So be ready for that. Be ready to say to yourself, "Whoa, I totally wasn't ready for this," and then to know it will get better and soon be a distant memory.

Mrs G
May 23, 2013

It is intense, exhausting, and super painful. However the difference between childbirth and the cauldron of bubbling oil is that the pain of childbirth is for a good cause and is your body's way of progressing and delivering your baby. You can plan until you are blue in the face, but you can only control so much. Trust your body. The pain is completely worth it once you meet that baby boy.

May 23, 2013

So, I had a med-free birth. And I am not really all that crunchy or granola, nor was it really a THING I had to do. I had no little hill to stand on after the fact to crow about it. I just figured I wanted to do it in the least medically invasive way possible and that epidural needle they showed me in baby class scared the bajesus out of me.

It hurt. I won't lie to you: it hurt. And for me it felt like the worst menstrual cramps you've ever had in your entire life. And then double that. My labor was all in the back and around the sides, so it honestly felt like my body was slowly squeezing a watermelon out a small hole. Which ... Is essentially what it was doing. Crowning was the most horrible part-it's like burning only much worse.

But I always felt I had control over it. I had control over what my body was doing, how the pain was being managed, and what my end game was. I also had a textbook labor-baby progressed, I was managing the pain and keeping upgrade endurance, and we all came our perfectly fine.
For me, I had a safe word (yes, really). It was a word that I would tell to my mom and husband when the pain got too intense and they would get me the drugs. Until I said that word, I would do it myself. And because everything was so smooth, the fear of taking drugs or getting an epidural that could slow down my progress was a scarier thought for me than to just keep going.

My little boy will be 2 next Thursday. I plan on going med-free if/when we have a second child, but only if things were as easy as the first. If it does, great. I had a terrific experience and am no longer scared of doing exactly what my body was programmed to do. But if it's different, that will be okay, too.

May 23, 2013

The day I gave birth, I call "my happiest day." I'm actually a smidge excited to do it again. I went the all natural route but I think drugs seem like a good idea too. The early labor was so mild to me I didn't even really believe it was happening although it was like every 4 minutes all day. The middle and later parts, now that is some pain. Puke inducing pain. What it mostly felt like to me aside from the obvious worst period cramps+intense tightening is like someone producing a really loud noise over and over again. And by that I mean your senses are just repeatedly overwhelmed in that way that a loud clang would be. However I think the pain is not about how bad. Everyone seems to think its about the level of pain. It's not. It's how long. I was only in the painful part 8 hours. And I wasn't like "okay, enough" until about hour 7. Do the drugs though. That sounds nice.

My one natural mamma plea is that you research induction, when it's favorable, etc. I've had many friends have some really regrettable birth experiences because they agreed to induce uninformed.

Jenn T.
May 23, 2013

Depends. I've had three. One was bad, but there were issues, one was okay, one was completely pain free, even though I didn't get an epidural for the first 12 hours. Don't let people freak you out - your body will know what to do more than you may think. Horror stories are common, which is unfair and makes for more worry than necessary.

Jenn T.
May 23, 2013

Gah, that made it sound like there are a lot of horrible stories ... I meant that people like to share their stories, and make them sound horrible.

May 23, 2013

It feels like, well, like something way too big to be inside you is trying to get out. Haha. It really is unlike anything else you will ever experience in your life. It is pretty INTENSE. Searing pain. Bone crushing pressure. My whole body shook involuntarily for who knows how long (because, who can think about time when you are just trying not to die?) until I caved and got the epidural. They told me to sit up and hold still. Sure. After that I was pretty certain I didn't have any legs. Somehow pushed out a baby by thinking about what it _might_ feel like to have a lower body, and then, suddenly, they hand him to you and you get to enjoy your baby while the doctors take care of whatever needs to be patched up down there. Also, the nurses who take care of your poor lady bits afterward are angels. Angels. You'll need those weeks of maternity leave. You'll be scared to have sex ever again. And maybe not poop for five days and start to agonize about that. All that stuff surprised me, probably more than it should have given what just happened to my body, but yeah.
Ready now? :-) You can do it!

May 23, 2013

It's painful, but since it's not constant, it's manageable. It's also exhausting. The person who invented the epidural should be given some sort of prize or medal. Ask for the drugs as soon as you want them - if it's too early, the nurses will let you know. Also, if your water breaks they may not check your progress as frequently as they otherwise would (risk of infection) so speak up if you want the epidural and haven't been checked in awhile. If you can, once you have the epidural, take a nap and let your body do the work while you rest.

One other little piece of advice, if I may be so bold - if given the option, let the nurses take Hamish to the nursery so you can get some sleep. They'll bring him to you to nurse if you're planning to breastfeed, but what no one tells you is that it's day three or so when babies start to be a little more aware and start mixing up their days and nights, which is just about the time you get him home. Take the opportunity to sleep in the hospital. Also, Sean should bring a change of clothes, even if he thinks he'll go home during your hospital stay. Despite only living two blocks from the hospital, my husband never left while I was there and ended up wearing the same clothes for three days.

Jennifer Gilbert
May 24, 2013

I have nothing to offer you, but I enjoy Pamie of Pamie.com, and this is how she described contractions: "It feels like I’m getting all of my periods I didn’t get this year all at once, and at the same time a baby is desperately trying to shoot out of my butt."

I have no idea whether that's accurate, but it ... at least sounds as if it ... could be.

May 24, 2013

I'm probably the only one to say this, but I honestly didn't think it was that awfully painful. I had one birth with an epidural and one without. If the birth takes a little longer (first babies tend to take their time) an epidural might be a good idea, personally I felt I could gather a little strength and was not that exhausted when it finally came to pushing.
But even the second drug-free birth wasn't that bad. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the maximal pain I've yet experienced in my life) I'd say a 7, maybe 8.
As you may have noticed people tend to dramatize... giving birth is really a huge accomplishment, there's no need to exaggerate the pain to look more "heroic".
Relax - you'll be fine...

Barbara Handley
May 24, 2013

Contractions feel like getting a Charlie horse, without the part where your muscle gets stuck in the painful knot. It's intense because it's the entire middle of your body tensing up.

I understand that back labor can be quite painful. I didn't think the pain part was worse than bad period cramps.

You'll probably have Braxton hicks contractions for weeks before the baby comes, so you'll have some idea of what it will be like, just not how intense it will be.

I'm one of those earth mamas....delivered two kids without mess of any kind and I had short, very intense labors. Without drugs you can get a pretty incredible natural high from all the chemicals in your brain.

Whenever I felt nervous about labor, I reminded myself that I come from a long, long line of women who successfully gave birth.

Good luck!

May 24, 2013

Holly, Do not even think about this. It's pointless. Honestly, ignorance is bliss. It'll be fine. Get back to that tiling !!

May 24, 2013

The contractions got pretty bad for me pretty fast, but I had a really short labor with my daughter. I was fine when my water broke, and then my body went into hyperdrive to get the thing done. My daughter was born within 7 hours. I had an epidural as soon as they would let me and just breathed through the contractions until then. It wasn't really a huge deal to me because I'm one of those people who gets really ill when I get overheated or too hungry and have learned to breath in certain ways to avoid throwing up. It was pretty similar, though I'm guessing if the pain was enough to make me feel like I was going to vomit it was probably actually pretty bad. Haha. Not comforting, sorry. As for the actual pushing, I'd had an epidural so I only felt one hot white flash of pain when I tore - sorry for the visual - but it was over in like part of a second and then she was here. And I really didn't think recovery was all that bad as long as you follow the nurses' instructions. I was in Wal-Mart 2 days laters because with a deployed husband you do what you have to do. All in all, I really don't think it was as bad as a lot of people made it sound, but I also did not have any complications or a very long labor. I was very zen about it, though, going into it. That baby was coming out either way because my body would do what needed to be done whether I wanted to participate or not. So I just went into it knowing it would be a memory by the next day, and that it would be so worth it once my daughter Anya was in my arms. And it so was. She's the best thing I have ever done and the light of my life. I would, and will, do it again in a heartbeat.

May 24, 2013

I never actually went through labor with either of my girls. I had preecclampsia with both and had c/s with my oldest at 30 weeks and my youngest at 32 weeks. Obviously, I don't recommend that route.

C/s recovery was different for each time. The first time, there was just a bit of soreness and learning to use my abdominal muscles again. The second time it was pretty ouchy for about a week and I slept in the recliner for a few nights. The first time, I got by with just taking ibuprofen for any pain.

Also, my oldest daughter was brought home to a nursery with just the subfloor. Projects can happen after the baby comes home. My husband also replaced all of the pipes in our house when she was 4 months old. I went to my inlaws' house for that project.

May 24, 2013

Contractions felt, for me, like period pain. As labour progressed, that pain intensified. If you have back pain when you get your period, there's a chance you could have back contractions. They are more painful than 'regular' contractions, but that's not to scare you. Just something to be aware of and discuss with your doctor if need be. The only preparation I did for labour was per-natal yoga, and which taught me how to breathe through the contractions. It helped me labour as long as I could, then I had the epidural which I was grateful for.

You'll be great, and don't listen to other people's horror stories. It's painful, but not awful.

Sarah Wynde
May 24, 2013

I didn't do the epidural, despite needing pitocin (which I'm told is a rare combo) and it was totally worth it, because the oxytocin high at the end was amazing. I was stoned out of my mind on joy and madly in love with the baby from moment one. I've seen pictures and that was definitely chemical in nature cause he was not nearly as pretty as I remember. I asked my midwife if it was normal to feel so deliriously ecstatic and she told me it was a side effect of a long labor, like runners high after a marathon.

As for the pain, yes, it hurt. A lot. Sort of like an iron band pushing in on your abdomen while your hips try to push out. But the great thing about contractions is that it's not consistent pain. You have time to rest between them and remind yourself that its not going to last forever. And the slow steady build up means that you get used to it. At every stage, you can think, okay, I did that, I can do the next one, too. If you have someone with you, like a doula, who can talk you through it, you'll do much better and feel much safer than if its just you and Sean. He's likely to be more worried than you are and that's not so helpful.

May 24, 2013

There isnt much to say that hasn't been covered already. It hurts - it hurts like a son of a bitch. My one advise to you is to be prepared for anything. My birth plan was the same as yours: "drugs - a lot and right now!" But when I went in to labor my hospital was booked and I spent the first 14 hours on a cot in someone elses room. I didn't get an epidural until nearly 24 hours in and then for reasons that are still unclear they took me off of it when it came time to push - which I did for 4 exhauting hours until they finally made me have a c sections 33 hours after labor started.

I am no super woman and pretty whimpy when it comes to pain but I got through it just fine - I only wish I had been aware that this situation could have even happened I would have paid more attention to the breathing excersices and other pain management options.

And the good news is that the worse your labor is the more you can lord it over your child when he is being bad later on.

It will all work out and be absolutly worth it in the end!

May 24, 2013

My births were nearly pain-free - I mean, with Asher there were a couple of hours of pitocin contractions before I got an epidural, but then there were c-sections, so... yeah. What I will tell you is that there will be a horrible, HORRIBLE moment after birth (maybe day two or three afterwards?) where you will poke at your belly and it will feel like... well, it will feel disgusting. Like a big jello blob and it will horrify you and you will despair over ever having a stomach that isn't made out of wobbly lard for the rest of your life but IT GETS BETTER AND IT WILL GO AWAY. Eventually. I promise.

Just wanted to let you know it will happen. XOXO!!

May 24, 2013

Epidurals are awesome. After that I giggled and chatted and had a FABULOUS time giving birth. Before that it was like diarrhea-from-hell kind of pains.
The free birthing classes from the hospital were ENTIRELY USELESS, but I felt like I needed to check that box, and I felt better after I did. My husband almost stabbed his eyeballs out just for distraction-sake in the middle of those classes.
Tracy is right. Just don't think about it. You can't prepare for it. Get the drugs and you'll be just fine. :)

May 24, 2013

Don't even go there! Stay in your bliss of not caring about the actual labor (I know it's hard but necessary)and keep your mind busy with other thoughts. The more you over think it, the easier it is to imagine the worse. I managed to suppress the labor worries while I was pregnant because I knew I had a very low tolerance for pain but you know what... nature has this way of giving us what we can handle and then science has this even better way of giving us drugs to handle such things.

It really will be okay. =)

May 24, 2013

I think if you go into your labor having given yourself permission to take relief from the pain (and it sweet, sweet, kiss-the-anesthesiologist-cliche kind of relief), you will be in less dread of it and it will be less overwhelming. And if you get the epidural, you can be present, calm, and focused for the birth. This is just my opinion. But I second the previous poster who said to try not to think about this. Labor is inevitable, and once that baby is in your arms, you could not care less about any discomfort you feel. Your body was made to do this. Also, don't watch "Call the Midwife".


So I've never had a baby (which means you're probably not going to read the rest of this comment, but I'll keep going anyway), but my best friend in the world is about to give birth to her second. (When I say "about to," I mean she's due. Like right now. But she hasn't started labor yet as far as I know. I keep sending her "vagina check" text messages, which I'm sure she really loves.)


Her birth plan with her first was that whole push-it-straight-outta-the-vag-with-no-drugs bit, and she's totally one of those women other women hate because she actually did it. And while she said the process itself was incredibly painful, she was up and walking around and pretty much good to go within an hour. So at least in her case, there was that benefit of going au naturale.

But the scary truth is, every woman is different. Your body, your mentality, your baby, etc. - all different. So I think trying to be zen is the way to go. That way, when you're in there, you can focus on YOU - and not the experiences/stories of everyone else. Wishing you a pain-free, straightforward, SAFE birth for you and your baby!!

May 24, 2013

Yep, everybody's different. And sometimes you get differnt than what you planned on (like laboring for awhile, then a surprise! C-section). But it's all good in the end. I can tell you somewhat what(my) contractions felt like. Low grade building pain that cause you to moo involuntarily, like a oow. When it's occurring, you can concentrate on nothing and nobody else. But when it ends, you can chat it up like nothing is going on at all! Very strange jutaxapositions...... And after the drugs, it all goes away. Mooing? What mooing? I wan't mooing. I feel FABULOUS! Best wishes, all will go well, we just know it!

May 24, 2013

Just get the epidural. The only thing I can tell you is to be prepared to speak up if it isn't working. With my first, the epidural didn't take. I went through an additional 12 hours of labor with my epidural not working and no one doing anything to help the situation. If it doesn't work, make them come back and place it again.

Birth with my second was amazing. I got the epidural two hours after getting to the hospital--there was pain, but it wasn't horrendous. Got the epidural and was all excited to take a little nap--but then they checked me and it was time to push. I was actually kind of sad it didn't last longer--I had such a bad experience with the first that I wanted more time not feeling anything.

It will be okay! Don't freak out about it now--there's no use!

Jan Ross
May 24, 2013

Everyone is different, but prepare yourself for at least some serious, period cramp type pains when you go into labor before you get some drugs. I had both my children back when everyone used natural childbirth so I had no drugs at all and it wasn't that bad. Now most people have the drugs and it's no problem at all so why not take them? Honestly, it's like no other pain because you forget it immediately when you are handed your baby. Honestly, the memory has to fade or everyone would only have one child!

Stephanie S
May 24, 2013

I honestly have no recollection of the pain of childbirth. None. I got the epidural when I was 5cm and "labor" was a piece of cake (relaxing even). I then pushed for 3.5 hours which, at the time and for a couple weeks thereafter I thought was "so hard" but now, 19 months later... can't even remember what it was like. So, I guess my advice is, don't worry, it will be just fine. And also, get the drugs. :)

Anna Louisa
May 24, 2013

Sounds like everyone else is covering it, so I'll just echo that even if it hurts, you CAN do it, and you'll forget about that part quickly :).

(And just out curiosity, what's the difference between Bringing up Bebe and Bebe Day by Day?)


May 24, 2013

I read 10 books on the subject of birth. When I went into active labour I promptly forgot everything. The contractions weren't so bad and I could handle them but, strangely enough, I had excruciating pain in my thigh muscles. Nobody ever mentioned this to me. This was the most intense pain I have ever experienced in my life. The only way to make it manageable was to walk. At one point I was too tired to walk so I decided to have the epidural. I wasn't progressing much anyway so they gave it to me and then put me on pitocin. I was able to take a nap after that. Drink prune juice afterwards if you don't want to get constipated. It would have been impossible to poop afterwards without it. TMI. Don't worry about giving birth, you will be fine. Our bodies know what they are supposed to do and then there's modern medicine to help when needed.
You look beautiful, btw.

May 24, 2013

I don't mean to scare you, but only help prepare you: I was absolutely on board with taking any and all pain medication offered to me and, as such, I did very little in terms of learning pain management techniques. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on all you look at it — my baby — now 19 months old and not such a baby anymore — came so fast (3 hours from the time of the first contraction to the time I was holding him in my arms; and the hospital was a 45-minute drive from home), that there wasn't enough time to get an epidural. By the time I got a room and got undressed, his head was already coming out. There was no choice but to start pushing.

I was not prepared for the pain, which was unlike anything i could have imagined. What finally helped was when a nurse told me that the next time I felt a contraction and wanted to scream — oh, was I screaming! — I should hold my breath, bear down, and push with all my might. What a difference!! I wouldn't go so far as to say the pain disappeared, but it was a remarkable improvement. And ten minutes later, Jackson was out.

Most likely, you will have plenty of time for an epidural. But even if you do get one, I imagine there will still be pain. So remember: hold your breath and push!

May 24, 2013

Jenn, commenter #15, said exactly what I would have said. I didn't kiss my anesthesiologist, but I did tell him that, if I wasn't already married, I would marry him. I didn't go in with a plan to have an epidural but, like Jenn said, I went in having already given myself permission to get one if I needed/wanted it. That plan worked for me (with both deliveries) and I have no regrets. Now, 6 years after my first and almost 4 years after my second, I hardly remember what it felt like to give birth. Thank goodness for oxytocin! http://oxytocincentral.com/2011/03/daniel-amen-md-discusses-oxytocin/

Good luck!

May 24, 2013

I remember that feeling of impending doom...like OK, can I just sign up for a C-section? But that's equally as scary too.

I was in the don't want an epidural (the side effects, including possibly getting a migraine that lasted for days, freaked me right out) camp but was willing to get one if I couldn't endure the pain. Honestly, contractions weren't that bad for me. They took my breath away, I definitely couldn't be laying or sitting down, but I managed to get through them. Whatever you do, do not just try to lay down. It doesn't work. I squatted and did all sorts of not very pretty and ladylike things but that's labor.

That part that really sucked was pushing. I just wanted to die BUT my daughter was born face-up so I had to push for 2 hours. If it would've been 15 min. it would have been bearable. Also? Pushing out the placenta/afterbirth was even worse because my baby was born so the good part had already happened and I was totally worn out.

SO anyways, go to the classes, get yourself an epidural if ya want one, and yeah it's not gonna be fun and you will tell yourself NEVER AGAIN but then you have the sweetest little baby in the world to cuddle so yeah I would do it again :)

May 24, 2013

I tried really hard to mentally prepare myself for what labor might be like and for me, at least, there just wasn't any real way to do that, you can't really wrap your mind around it until you've been through it. My friends all offered the same word "intense" and I certainly found that to be true! I think it was Dooce that compared the sensation to feeling like it was the biggest poop of her life and I found that fairly accurate :-)

I do also want to say that I'm a serious wuss about pain but I had an epidural-free birth. It was tough but doable. Barring complications, your body just does its thing, which I found pretty comforting, even while I was freaking out (I was moved in and out of my room several times because at two different times during active labor, tornado sirens went off!).

May 24, 2013

You're going to get lots of advice with that question. :) Honestly, my first thought after seeing that blue line and feeling excited was, "Oh crap. Now there's something in there that will eventually need to come out!"

In short:
Pitocin = more painful contractions. Avoid it if you can.
Not everyone is guaranteed an epidural if they want one. Timing and spine anatomy can prevent epidural delivery. It's better to know that now than to find out during labor (like I did!).
Delivery without drugs hurts. Things stretch (cervix, bones) that don't normally stretch. But as long as you don't tear (google perineal massage!), the pain only lasts a few minutes.

Even though during delivery I thought it was the worst and I swore I'd never do it again, three years later, I did. Thinking about women who chose to conceive and deliver subsequent children really comforted me about delivery. :) You'll do great!

May 24, 2013

Two things, Holly: 1. The huge to-do list including major home renovations that must be completed before the baby arrives is not a bad thing. We purchased our fixer-upper/money pit in July, did as much renovating as we could before the baby came in late November, and have done nothing of any substance since. Did I mention that it was November 0F 2009???? I am sad every time I look at the holes in the kitchen ceiling and half-painted hallway. WE have not found enough time since our son has been alive (3 and a half years as of yesterday!!) to finish any other projects. The house is in a frozen state, Miss Havisham style. And like her, it's not cute.

Okay, and 2. As for the pain, I don't get the menstrual cramp comparison at all. It's like horrible gastrointestinal distress. Imagine a time when you maybe ate something terrible or had norovirus or something and your intestines were revolting against you and you had to find a toilet immediately. It's like that. Awful ungodly gas pains. The epidural is awesome. Mine even wore off on one side and I just quickly got another one. I felt no pain but was still able to push, and it wore off super fast and I was up walking around 20 mins after he was out.

Congrats on 30 weeks!! Can't wait to see the anchor-onesie-clad little lad in a couple of months!

May 24, 2013

I agree with the commenter who said don't think about it. The truth is it IS terribly painful, but women are tough and you just get through it. Because you are Hamish's mother, and your mother's daughter, and your grandmother's granddaughter, and this is what we do.

And then your husband is there, and the baby is there, and you feel like you understand the meaning of life and it is beautiful. When I can't sleep at night I remember the mornings that my babies were born. They were the most perfect mornings of my life.

May 24, 2013

I said I'd go as long as I could manage without an epidural, and I did just that. When it got to the point that the pain felt like it was taking over the experience, I got the epidural and life became lovely again. Seriously, I took a nap. A long one.

Actual birth with my particular epidural hurt less than my second tattoo, no kidding. Some pressure, and I was sick on the delivery table, which wasn't such a picnic, but the actual pain wasn't bad at all.

Now, a natural birth I have no experience with and I am really quite fine with that.

May 24, 2013

Denial. It's important, valuable and nothing to be sneezed at. It will feel like it's not your body while it does this thing it has never done before. At least that's how it felt to me. Pain, yeah whatever. The hormones and the uterus are now in charge, the baby is at the end and it's all okay.

May 24, 2013

Oh and I'm a believer in holding off on the epidural if possible. Leave my spine alone please.

May 24, 2013

Don't listen to me. I have a fairly high pain threshold and gigantic birthing hips and my babies were done from start to finish in 6 hours each. I think it was closer to 4 hours for the second. All that stuff is true, but I think the real key to my births was that my nurses were awesome and my husband was phenomenal. Birthing is not something to do by yourself.

What I really wanted to tell you along the lines of unasked for advice, start lifting small weights with your arms if you aren't already. The weight of a baby after walking around with it for 20 minutes is shocking.

I love your update pictures so much!

May 24, 2013

Know your hospital's pain management policy. Ask that specifically, "What is the pain management policy?" Most of them want you to go through at least one bag of IV saline before you get an epidural. They can run it through pretty fast (20 min, I think?) but the point is you want to have had that bag WELL BEFORE you actually want the epidural.

Also, read up on how they administer the epidural because you have to sit on the edge of the bed and lean over kind of hunched up and be still for a bit, so it's best to get that done BEFORE the contractions get out-of-your-mind crazy and you can't sit still very well.

It's also a weird procedure and I am the kind of person that likes to know what's happening so I can tell that it's almost over soon. (Yes, there's a big needle involved, but the part that hurts the most is when they administer the local anesthetic at the start. Like a bee sting. Can't feel anything after that.)

Also, it is not uncommon to sit around for an hour or so after requesting an epidural because yo, the anesthesiologist has to finish what he's doing and pending no emergencies he will THEN bring his trolley to you and it still takes 10 or 15 minutes to get it done once he shows up.

(I made ALL OF THESE MISTAKES with Claire.)

After delivery, make sure to ask the same question about pain management. Once, I had to ASK for all my painkillers EVERY TIME and keep an eye on the clock or they wouldn't bring me my drugs and it was awful because OF COURSE I was not good at time management at that point in my life.

May 24, 2013

I have experienced both childbirth and a kidney stone, two things that are often compared to one another on the grand scale of Things That Hurt Like A MoFo. Childbirth pain is more of a wide, round, all-around pain, whereas a kidney stone is a sharper pain that feels like sheer evil. Having said that, however, I'd say that childbirth pain is worse. I do not mean to frighten you at all, but it is merely the truth. However, you are totally allowed to manage that pain however you see fit, it being your body and all.

If you want an epidural, you should totally get one. You should do whatever you feel is right for you. Your personal decisions about your body are more important than what anyone else thinks about your pain management decisions during labor. I did not get an epidural, but that was just my own preference. Pretty much everyone else I know did get an epidural, and their labors were fine, and their babies lovely and healthy. Whatever decision you make will be the right one, no doubt.

May 24, 2013

Stop watching all those birth story shows and listening to horrid old biddies telling horror stories pronto! I was scarred for life in my twenties from the stories but my delivery one year ago was great. I am not a joiner so I dreaded childbirth classes but picked one that sounded down to earth and it was terrific - some very simple pain management ideas (imagine a water jug filling and emptying with each breath) and I left feeling very confident I could do this. So much so that I got to the hospital at 9.5 cm dilated and had a baby 25 minutes later! I am no hero, but I honestly felt more intense pressure (yes like trying to get a big poop out) and discomfort than any real pain. I am bad at coping with stomach cramps but had only the slightest twinges at the start (which I thought was last night's fish curry!). Like someone said, you feel just fine between contractions, a bit high with nerves and excitement and hormones probably. I could feel the stretch when the head came out and that didn't feel good but was brief and the rest was easy (and so cool - I could tell his shoulders were coming out). So I really would not worry. Take the drugs if you feel overwhelmed or in need of rest, don't if you don't want to, you may be surprised how you feel. Know that the nurses and doctors will make you feel so secure and looked after, even I relinquished my control freak tendencies. Also, the nurse tidied up and tucked me in a warmed blanket after and I felt fantastic, yes there is bleeding but it really was not that icky and I felt great. I was dressed to leave 24 hours later. None of this is to make those with more difficult experiences spit and hiss, but to say giving birth can be a very manageable and smooth thing. I hope it will be a great day for you, and like a wedding, it is only a day, focus on the lifetime after!

May 24, 2013

Its not as bad as all that. I did it sans drugs. But if you want them, go for it. Just be aware of the slippery slope you tread upon. Drugs lead to c-sections. Period and end of story. If you don't want one of those, consider reading up on the whole thing or even hiring a doula. I had one and she saved me from the system and from myself. She was fantastic for my husband too, who couldn't remember all the stuff from birth class and I was too busy to remind him.

I did have a thought about the sitting thing that relates to the birthing thing...have you considered seeing a chiropractor? I didn't until the last couple of weeks, but next time will start going during the 3rd trimester (at least). A chiropractor who specializes on pregnant women can help to get baby to, well, schooch over and give you a little more (literal) breathing room. It will also help make sure that baby is in the optimal position (yes, there is more to position than head up or down!). Time is now to do this, as there is still enough room for him to move around.

All that said, seems like you are doing beautifully and you are certainly looking beautiful. Keep it up!!

May 24, 2013

I also panicked when I had the wait-a-minute, he has to come out of there somehow! realization. As it turned out, I had to have an emergency c-section (only six days before the due date) and it went fine. The recovery was no fun; painful, especially if I laughed or, god forbid, sneezed, and I couldn't sit up without help for about a week, but it was of course so worth it. And a good excuse to just sit still and hold and rock my baby boy!

Margie K
May 24, 2013

A lot of people complain about the pain, but I think it varies a great deal from person to person and also depends on how the baby is situated/oriented, and how large he is.

I managed to have all three of my normal-sized (6.5 to almost 7 pounds) babies vaginally without drugs, and felt the discomfort was akin to the agony one gets with horrible intestinal distress (diahhrea? constipation? food poisoning? something like that). You also have a lot of adrenalin, and the "pain" is not constant. It comes and goes in waves, and is not a stabby pain, more like "pressure," like when you're carrying a heavy backpack or package and your muscles get weary. At least that's how it was for me; others have a lot more difficulty (obviously).

Doctors, nurses, and others will tell you that these meds are "perfectly safe," but depending on what it is and when you take it, some of it DOES get to the baby, making him lethargic or fussy the next day (Or who knows what else? I preferred not to take any chances, and luckily for us I didn't have to).

I say read all you can about hypnosis, or the breathing techniques (that are essentially designed to distract you, imo), and go into this with the confidence and expectation that millions (billions?) of other moms have done this without drugs and you can too. Then, if things don't go as expected, your labor is long, your baby is facing the wrong way (aka "back labor), you'll still have the option of drugs (unless you're so close to crowning that there's no point).

And after he's born, you're on this amazing "high." You're so thankful and elated, that any "pain" is forgotten almost instantly.

If you're intent on an epidural or some other pain reliever, do read up on what to expect. I hear post-partum headaches are to be expected with epidurals. And if you're allergic to anything they might use, you want to know that in advance, too.

May 24, 2013

Labor feels like the largest, stronges period cramps possible to have. That said, the scale of how large and strong they get varies greatly by each person - as does if they stay in the front/uterus or add-on lovely other options like back labor, etc. All to say that the best advice (if you are looking for some), is to not think about the labor as a whole, but one labor pain at a time. You get through the one and think, can I do another? If yes, proceed. If no, ask for an epidural (I don't tend to dole out prescriptive advice, but it's much better for you and the baby drug-affect wise than the other options).

Labor varies GREATLY and it also depends heavily on if you are induced (hopefully for a medical risk instead of impatience) and how your body responds. Induced or not, there is no controlling how quickly your labor progresses and how that matches with your and your OBs philosophies about child birth. If you have strong preferences about what you do and do not want as part of your birth experiences that can be controlled, that's where a birth plan is most helpful - for instance, I want to be asked before anyone examines me (no surprise internal inspections unless it's an emergency), I want to tear naturally instead of having an episiotomy, etc.

Go with what makes you feel comfortable, in control, and cared for. The best situation is to assure you have what you need to be in control of your labor, whatever that looks like for you, rather than have things "done to" you - which regardless of how much you like your OB or hospital is the situation which tends to cause the most tension.

May 24, 2013
May 24, 2013

the only thing i know about the pain of childbirth comes from the video featuring 2 men going through simulated childbirth. just type "men experience simulated contractions" on google and you'll find the video.

May 24, 2013

I opted for a home birth, and drugs weren't an option. Knowing that sort of... helped, I guess? I knew I could do it and, in reality, knew that I had to do it. And yes, it was painful, but nothing insurmountable. I went through transition really quickly and then sort of mentally got stuck, I guess. The best way I can think to describe it is to say that my brain got in the way of what my body needed to do. Anyway, I faffed about like that in the birth pool for quite awhile and then, after the midwives suggested a change of position and scenery (I moved to a bed rather than the pool), the baby came out with just a few pushes. In retrospect, I wish I could have figured out how to get past that brain block earlier, because I think the end result was more painful than it otherwise would have been (because he came out so very quickly and, as a result, I tore). But! Really, honestly, the pain is soon forgotten. Your body knows what to do and knows how to heal.

Operation Pink Herring
May 24, 2013

I was mostly worried about the actual "transition" -- baby's head ripping it's way out of my poor you-know-what and all that -- and that turned out to be the least bad part, at least in my experience. I was not at all worried about contractions (why? because I am stupid.), and those bitches hurt like... well, a bitch. Also, back labor. No fun. BUT! Epidurals! They are the best thing ever!! I went from thinking I might actually die to feeling like things were great and I could give birth all day every day. Seriously. Epidurals, man. Power to the people who want to go drug free, but... drugs are great. REALLY great. The rest was still really HARD and tiring and oh my god, just pull the damn baby out I can't push any more (which is exactly what ended up happening, because seriously, after two hours I just could not push any more), but it didn't HURT. In sum: epidural! You can do it! And even if it is terrible, your brain will erase that and one day you'll decide you can do it all again (oh my god help me I am not sure I can do it again).

May 24, 2013

My advice to you is that if you think you *might* be leaking amniotic fluid, don't be as dumb as me and incessantly Google "what does amniotic fluid look like" for two days before calling your doc. JUST GO IN AND GET CHECKED, as I did not until two days later, which no doubt was the reason I got a pretty bad infection a couple days after Milo was born, landing me in the hospital for two days on IV antibiotics. My water never broke with my first son, so I had no idea what it was like to experience childbirth that way vs. gradually intensifying contractions (which yes, hurt like a mo-fo until I finally got an epidural around 7cm). Basically, never feel bad or stupid or lame for calling your doc to ask questions or get checked out.

Red Boots
May 24, 2013

To be honest, I didn't find it as bad as I thought it might be. Each contraction was one step closer to meeting my baby for the first time, and I focused on that one sole thought throughout my whole labour, and that (and gas and air!) was enough to get me through.

And you know what, that moment when you make that last push and all of a sudden you hear your baby take their first cry and they are put into your arms is the most amazing amazing amazing experience you will ever imagine. When my baby was placed in my arms I felt like a super woman - completely and utterly invincible. Like I could do anything. And looking at my baby's beautiful face, and my boyfriend's incredibly proud and amazed and in love face, meant that any pain I had just melted away. At that moment I felt no pain, only love, and I'm sure you'll be exactly the same.

May 24, 2013

A lot of people describe the pain as being like menstrual cramps or sharp pain, but that wasn't my experience. For me, it felt like I was in the fist of a giant who squeezed my whole body with increasingly greater intensity and occasionally he would let go and I'd be okay for a minute. I was in labor for a total of 35 hours (water broke), but I honestly didn't feel a thing until they started me on pitocin (at the 24 hour mark) despite being told I was indeed having contractions. Once the pitocin kicked in, I was able to manage the pain with breathing and focused relaxation for 5 hours. I demanded an epidural when they said I was only 5cm and I thought for sure I was 9-10cm because of the intensity of the pain. I had hoped to avoid an epidural, but I don't regret getting it one bit.

I'd like to echo agirlandaboy's comment in that I wasn't prepared for the physical recovery after giving birth. It's different for everyone, of course, but my entire body ached so much that I had to have help getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom. Even just rolling to my side for the nurses to check things out was challenging. Not to mention your lady parts. Again, different for everyone, but I took Colace everyday for at least a month starting the day I gave birth. I wish I had been mentally prepared for that challenge because during my recovery I wondered if my body would ever feel normal again, and now I know that it will (and does). It just takes time and patience.

I took hypnobirthing classes, and I found them to be a huge waste of time. I learned more about managing discomfort just by doing yoga before I was even pregnant.

May 24, 2013

So one thing a two-time mom recently told me (a to-be mom) that was both helpful and reinforced what I observed when I was in the room 2 years ago with my BFF for delivery of her first is that labor is very "ass focused." I think it helps to know that because it isn't necessary intuitive but be prepared for a lot of the pressure and pain to be more rectal than vaginal. I even recall one of the L&D nurses telling my friend that she would know it was time to push when it felt like the baby was trying to come out of her bottom. And sure enough she hit that point and BOOM. (Of course the way my friend verbalized that sentiment in the throes of labor pains was way less proper and way more awesome.)

My other observation from being a witness to my friend's birth is that you should make sure your husband (or other person in the room) is empowered to act as an advocate for you and your needs. My friend's epidural had totally worn off when it came to pushing time and the nurse basically talked her into not getting a re-up--said it could slow labor down and make her pushing less "efficient." At that point, all my poor friend wanted was for baby to be OUT so she elected for no more drugs but as a result, the experience was way, WAY more painful than it needed to be, especially since she had already opted for drugs. The pain at that point was definitely of the vomit-inducing variety and I just felt terribly for her. But I also didn't feel like I could contradict the nurse and her poor husband was clueless. If I could have gone back, I would have said something to her or the nurse because I know it wasn't the experience that she wanted to have. And I've had other friends say how important it was that their husband advocated for them (in whatever way--insisting on an epidural, insisting on no drugs, insisting on no pressure around breast feeding for a mom that wasn't going to BF, etc) because you're just so out of your mind at that point. However, ALL THAT said re: my friend's story and I will tell you that when I went to her house to visit 3 days later, she remembered NONE of it. She was happy as a clam, albeit tired, and the less than ideal birth had just totally receded into the depths of her memory. So there's that.

May 24, 2013

I've been reading your blog for years but only comment sporadically (if ever)...I feel like I need to put a disclaimer lest you think I'm some sort of troll who has a bizarre compulsion only to comment on posts related to labor pain or something. I'm not, I promise! I just need to comment more often. :)

Anyway, the worst part of labor for me was the fact that my (gigantic, as it turns out) daughter was positioned directly on top of my bladder, making each contraction feel like I needed to pee really, really horrifically badly. Once I had the epidural, though - no worries. Those things are the BEST.

Before she was born, this same gigantic child (seriously, almost 10 pounds) made me uncomfortable in the same ways you're describing. The ONLY thing that really helped was to get down on all fours like I was going to crawl, and just chill out there for a while. That's about the only way gravity works in your favor at this point in a pregnancy.

May 24, 2013

Yes to what Julia #4 said about the description of the pain (bad menstrual cramps) and also feeling like it was something I could control. I had Stadol with my first, just "a little something to take the edge off" as the nurse put it, and nothing with my second. However, you do what's right for you.

And also, someone else said what they weren't prepared for was the change to their body afterwards. Especially your, um, lady parts. How to put this delicately? They get really stretched out during delivery, so afterwards they look really terrible. Purple. Um, saggy, not to put too fine a point on it. They go back to normal after a few days, but holy bejeezus that scared me more than just about anything else.

May 24, 2013

Even though my "baby" turned 7 in February I still, very vividly, remember having to push his little head out of my liver when I would sit down for very long. He was breech and very content sitting in there Indian-style. As far as labor pain goes.....we had a planned C-section due to the orientation of the baby. I'm so excited for you and Sean and have enjoyed reading about your journey so far. :)

May 24, 2013

It's painful, but it's a manageable kind of pain, you know? It's not constant, and you know there's an end point. This is coming from someone who's gone natural twice. My advice is to keep moving as long as you can--it's way worse once you're lying down. The pain starts out like bad cramps and gets worse--it's like a really intense pressure on your uterus. Lying down totally increases the pressure, IMO. Standing/swaying really helps, and it sounds like you're getting a lot of practice with that already! And this is different for everyone, but while contractions/transition were painful, the actual pushing felt good.

My yoga teacher always said the best way to deal with contractions is breath, sound, and movement. Deep slow breaths, low noises (think mooing, not screaming) and moving however feels best to deal with the pain.

The second it's over you'll be on the biggest high of your life and not even care.

May 24, 2013

I had back labor, so I'm not the best authority to comment on what typical contractions feel like (and I read a Babycenter post on it beforehand and the answers ranged from "it felt like being sawed in half" to "eh, it didn't really hurt that much" so... I think it is different for everyone), but I did get an epidural, in the end. I'll echo what someone else said about it helping them rest and relax. My pain was just bordering on unmanageable when I got it, but I was so, so tired. With the epidural, I was able to sleep my way from 7 to 10 centimeters in a couple hours, and pushing was physically taxing but not painful. I was like, what did I wait for??

May 24, 2013

Holly, is there a good birthing doula community in your area? I would think so, but I've been surprised. Anyway, I would strongly encourage talking to and hiring a doula to help you. Even if your plan is to get an epidural/use available narcotics, like many have stated above (and to quote the Rolling Stones) - "you can't always get what you want." I've had way too many friends and family members prepare for birth by figuring they can just get an epidural and then be completed unprepared when it just doesn't work out and they have to do it unmedicated.

For us, we're striving for an unmedicated birth because we want as little intervention as possible. I do believe that pain is something that can be 80% in your head and with the right support and people around you, can be reduced to a manageable level. Of course, I say all this 3 weeks before my due date, so maybe talk to me after and I might have a different opinion. :)

As for the house projects, it's something to take your mind off waiting for the baby to arrive. That's why my front porch is currently ripped off and we have tons of paint samples on the side of our house. Fun times.

May 24, 2013

I have to agree with everyone else & say you really can't prepare for it. It is as horrible as you imagine & there is nothing to do but just get through it. I have had 2 drug free & 1 epidural birth & I must say I preferred the non epidural births much more. They made the post birth bit easier.

I think by the time I went into labour with each of my 3 kids (& I had a tv worthy waters breaking moment with each labour which was handy- no confusion about if it was time!) I was so over being pregnant that the thought of going through the labour bit seemed a small price to pay for getting the baby out of there.

I agree with what someone said about nobody preparing you for the aftermath of birth. I found breastfeeding, going to the bathroom, looking at my post birth body (oh man so horrid) & just my emotional state so much harder to deal with for say the first week afterwards (bit longer for breastfeeding- that shit HURTS). Just take it a minute at a time & just get through it because it won't be long until it feels like a distant memory.

May 24, 2013

Drugs are the marvel of modern medicine; even with an epidural, you will still FEEL, so don't worry about having the "full" or "right" birth experience - you will ultimately have YOUR OWN experience (your - plural!) and in the end, that's what counts. The outcome of a healthy baby and healthy mommy is really all that matters. Classes will help just prepare you for the different options, which will help alleviate stress during the actual time if they say "we have to to such-and-such" and you already know what it means.
What the books don't tell you - or maybe don't emphasize enough- is the recovery you need afterwards. Whatever you do, don't plan any projects for maternity leave, unless that project is watching TV on your iPad while the baby nurses. I was SO surprised at how painful the hemerrhoids were - there, I said it. The "second childbirth" was way worse than the first - although thankfully it has gotten much better, it just took time. Take stool softeners right away, drink lots of water and eat all the fruit you can!!!

May 24, 2013

The only thing I would say is you need to be prepared for the fact that any and all plans might not work out. So even if you plan to get the drugs, knowing a little something about other pain management options in case that doesn't happen is never a bad thing.

May 24, 2013

I ran across this today on Facebook. You need to watch. Stop motion of all mine months - belly shots. Enjoy.

May 24, 2013

Then I forgot to post the link. Classic. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=480609552005519

May 24, 2013

Meh, it's not that bad. Would there be so many people on Earth if it was that bad? And I'm not talking post-drug-invention.
Here's the deal: HORMONES. There is no other pain in your life that comes with a healthy dose of hormones to get through it.
And? When it's over? It's OVER. Pain is totally gone. It's incredible.
Dunno what doing the drug version is like, I just know that the drug version often leads down a scary path.
Stick to the hormones. They'll take care of you.

Happy Labor Day, when it comes. It's a trip. (Not kidding - totally high afterwards.)

May 24, 2013

Before i had my daughter, I was open to taking any and all drugs available. However, I found I honestly did not need any drugs. In fact, I would not describe labor as painful. Intense and uncomfortable but not painful.

May 24, 2013

First of all, the female body is amazing. After having my boys, I was just so proud of my body for doing such ridiculously awesome things during both pregnancies, deliveries, and aftermaths. So cool! But yes, it does hurt. A lot. More so with the first; second time around, my body was all "oh, this again? I know how to do this!" I went the drug free route, with the plan to medicate if the babies or myself were ever in danger. Both times, I used laughing gas and some painkillers toward the end. It was painful, but manageable.

My three best labour/delivery tips:

1. Bring ice chips (a lot of them) and chapstick in with you. All that mouth breathing leads to some serious sandpaper tongue and dry (think running a marathon in the desert) lips.
2. Childbirth is ... gory. Prepare yourself for what your delivery room will look like after your precious angel's made it to the outside. My husband and I were both like, "wha--?" because it looked like a crime scene. But don't worry, you'll be so smitten with your little one that you probably won't even notice :)
3. Make sure someone's monitoring your laughing gas intake, if you choose to use that method to "take the edge off." At the height of pushing, I had pretty much stuck the mask my face and would've passed out if the doc hadn't told my husband to take it away (which, in the moment, REALLY pissed me off, but once my brain cleared, I realized it was for the best).

Good luck!! Xx

May 24, 2013

Just be a "zen maman" as much as you can. The actual birth of my daughter basically went exactly opposite my "birth plan." A year and a half later when I ran across the file on my computer I actually laughed at myself. :) Just do what feels right for you in the moment and tell Sean it's his job to speak for you if you're having a hard time. He'll know what you'd want if you can't verbalize it yourself at the time.

May 24, 2013

Why am I always #onezillion to comment so you'll probably never even get down here? Oh well. I'm really happy you have an Ergo as that would have been my number one recommendation of Things To Get. In fact, I just sold my beloved Ergo tonight, probably two years after I last used it, and it was a wrench because I'd say I wore that thing every day for four years between two children. Ergo good, is what I'm trying to tell you.

Hypnobirthing good too, even if it all sounds like twaddle right now. Get yourself a copy of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, ignore the dated hippie clothing in the photos and read the wonderful inspiring birth stories and her tips on ways to manage the contractions. Your mind really does have an influence on your body - believe it and let it do some of the work. If your top half is all "No, no, ow, don't do that," your bottom half can't relax and let the baby down. Also, stay upright as long as you can - don't lie down on your back if you can avoid it, because hey, gravity. If you hire a doula you'll not regret it, no matter what sort of birth you plan/hope for/get.

I'll stop now. Sorry. Soapbox issues.

Kristin H
May 24, 2013

My first kid was a c-section, which--do not recommend. Then again I didn't have much choice in it so, que sera sera and all.

For my second I was determined to avoid a repeat of child #1 and wanted (and did) do the whole thing without drugs. I would describe it as only a very short time of the most excruciating pain I ever felt. Like out of my mind with delirium sort of pain. But seriously, that part was only at the very worst of it when he was crowning, and it only lasted a couple of minutes. I mean, the rest of it wasn't a picnic or anything, but it was do-able. And! And! I would absolutely do it that way again. It's true, what they say: that you forget the worst of it right away. I remember it in theory, but not what it really felt like.

May 24, 2013

We mommies love to talk about our births! I second (third? Fifteenth?) the avoid induction commenters. I had three babies, one induced and two not. The induction could have been avoided and saved both me and baby a lot of pain and trouble but I didn't do my research first. Check out induction before you have to decide because once you get in the position it can be scary and hard to say no/ object with docs and nurses. I had a doula for my third birth, and that was the best choice I made. She helped advocate for decisions in the hospital hat we made ahead of time and didn't let the docs and nurses persuade me in the heat of the moment.

May 25, 2013

I just gave birth, on Monday, in fact, so this is all fresh in my mind. All I can say is that it's very intense, and was completely different from how I imagined. I read a lot of birth stories, and I thought I knew what to expect but I really didn't. You see from reading all these comments that everyone's experiences are different, and you can't know what it will be like for you until you're doing it. I do think it's good to have a plan for how you're going to deal with the drugs. I wanted to do it without medication, and put in my birth plan that I didn't want to be offered any during labor. At several points during my three hours of pushing I thought it would be really nice to have a little something to take the edge off, but couldn't get that from my brain to my mouth. Later my nurse told me how impressed she was and surprised I didn't ask for anything, and that she was trying to honor my birth plan by not offering me any! Oops.

May 25, 2013


Thank goodness for comment 17 (Sarah Wynde)!
I near gave up reading right before.
There truly is no better feeling than having a baby.


Better than _______ ! (feel free to insert all previous good times...)

Rely on your breathing and have really low expectations of everything else. Things in life never seem to go exactly as planned; it can be distressing if you expect something, or someone to do X and that doesn't happen.

May I offer this as guidance? I'm pretty sure it is right in front of you, but perhaps not so obvious as guidance when it comes to having a baby:

-and whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should-

As will your delivery.

You will discover you already have the resilience to manage this event, it simply hasn't been called upon until now.

And you will be just fine.


May 25, 2013

Oh my Goodness, Holly, why are you asking people this?!? Denial is a far better option. It hurts SO, SO f*ing much. I have had one vaginal birth (epidural) followed by a c-section. Can recommend neither, but the C-Section recovery was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. The thing is, you get a BABY at the end of it, A BABY. And they are the best best things ever, so as much as it DOES suck, it is just a day and you get this whole person that you get to love forever in your life, so I would just focus on surviving and knowing it will be worth it.

Lydia Basham
May 25, 2013

I had a med-free, intervention free birth but I don't really want to talk about how painful/intense/wonderful it is. I don't think it's ever REALLY possible to understand it until you go through it...as much as that sucks to say. I will say that the pain is not like any other pain you experience, in part because it is not a useless pain, it's a natural process your body is supposed to go through. It's also not constant - you get a good break between contractions, which CAN be managed. My labor was CRAZY long, like days, and my son was posterior so I don't speak from a place of "quick, easy birth," nor do I have a good pain tolerance - at all. When I say, "If I can do it, anyone can," I mean it. Pushing was a relief after the pain of contractions. When it's over the pain is immediately gone (although the memory lasts for quite a while) and that intense high is like nothing else I've experienced. God, I guess I did end up talking about it. Oops!

I just want to say that one of the first responsibilities of becoming a mother is understanding what the birth process is. So many friends of mine wish they had focused less on the nursery and baby gear and more on what was going to happen. Do your research, talk to a doula (even if you don't hire one - although that would be a fantastic idea, even if you plan to get an epidural - doulas aren't just for those who want a natural labor). Hospital birthing classes are generally useless, if you really want a good birthing class you'll have to look elsewhere (Bradley method, Lamaze, etc.). Even if you know you're going to get an epidural, it can't be wrong to be over prepared, can it? To know what you're up against and how to not freak out? Fear only makes birth more difficult.

In my area (south Florida) hospitals have a c-section rate over 40%. That's largely due to the never-ending interventions - induction, pitocin, etc. These things are great if you really do need them, and epidurals are WONDERFUL for many women - but they do come with risks and side effects. Know the risks and benefits, know your RIGHTS in labor (you DON'T have to do everything the nurses and doctors pressure you into, despite how they made word it). Motherhood is a job like any other - education and preparation go a long way, even if there is no way to really know what you're preparing for. You are smart, strong and capable - you got this! No fear :).

May 25, 2013

I delivered two 9+ pound babies, one in a hospital with drugs that didn't work very well, one at home with no drugs. So I can tell you, yes, it hurts. A lot. Worse than the worst menstrual cramps or gas pains you've ever had. A kidney stone was the only thing I've ever had that was similar.

One thing I'll say is that fear makes the pain worse. With my first, I felt terrified and that made everything harder. With my second, I had taken hypnobirthing classes, and while the hypnosis part didn't really work, I did feel very confident that I could get through it. So I still felt the pain, but I wasn't panicking about it. Even if you plan to use drugs, it's still good to learn other pain management and relaxation techniques.

Home Sweet Sarah
May 25, 2013

I didn't find it to be that painful (epidural what what!) but no one warned me that I'd feel her head pop out. Still not painful, but I definite POP! I wasn't expecting.

May 25, 2013

I couldn't do the med-free birth... I had an epidural. I did, however, ask the anesthesiologist to dial back the drip on it, as I didn't like not feeling anything and staring at the machine thinking "I didn't really have a contraction just now, did I?" They backed it off a little until I could feel the contractions but weren't painful at all. I felt a little more in control in that instead of having them tell me when to push, i could already tell when I needed to.

One thing no one ever tells you is how annoyingly painful the week following childbirth is. between healing up "down there" and learning to breastfeed (baby and mom, both) that was (for me) the worst part. On the (sort of) plus side, you have a baby that needs you, so you can't dwell too much on your own discomforts and learn to ignore some of it.

May 26, 2013

So I was only in labor for 12-ish hours, but I didn't find any of it unbearable. I went the natural route and really the worst part is the shoulders. OH THE SHOULDERS. I don't think you need much other pain language than that...just picture a kid's shoulders coming out of you and you'll understand, I think.

Really though I am much to big of a control freak to be drugged during that sort of thing, but that's just me!

May 26, 2013

p.s. The pain afterwards for a week or so was the hard part. Witch hazel on maxi pads is something to purchase!

May 26, 2013

I got an epidural and it was a seriously fabulous thing. A fabulousness I was made fully aware of when it wore off partway through, and I had a half-hour or so until it could be reinjected.

However, I fourth (fifth? dozenth?) the other posters saying that you should really try and not spend too much time thinking about it. The baby will be born whether you plan it or not. :) Some women have birth plans and they go perfectly, and that is awesome. Others of us do not have deliveries that go according to plan. I ended up with an unplanned C-section, and when they told me at the time, I was devastated.

And you know what? It didn't matter a bit. Because at the end of it, I still had my beautiful healthy daughter, even though she wasn't born the way I had thought she would be.

Are you doing the McMoyler Method for your birthing classes?

May 26, 2013

I really have to agree with the ladies who have mentioned their husbands advocating for them during labor, delivery and your hospital stay afterwards. During both of my deliveries, it seemed that I could only hear my husband's voice...so the medical folks would tell him what was going on or what I needed to do and he would repeat it to me. Once we all figured out that system, it worked like a charm!!

He also helped me explain (a lot) that we had chosen to bottle feed, and tthat we had already chosen to not circumcize our son. He was very firm when explaining, but in a very nice way. I, on the other hand, was just a bundle of crazy hormones and really appreciated him there for me.

I managed both deliveries drug-free, but looking back on my first delivery, I would probably have benefited from an epidural, just for a bit of rest. The first delivery was a tough 26 hours, and my second was a grand total of 86 minutes. The moment they handed me my babies were two of the very best moments of my life!!!!

You look absolutely amazing, and I can hardly wait for your big moment!!

May 26, 2013

I'm not an Earth Mother at all, but I had 3 kids drug-free--including twins. I read all these crunchy earth-mother books, about babies named Sunday Peaches, or books by Amish midwives, and they were so happy and gentle and did a lot to take away the fear. Then I read a book on the Bradley method (I think it was) which is the one where you totally relax your body and the contraction doesn't hurt as much.

Here's the deal about labour: yes it hurts, but you also get this incredible adrenaline rush. Your body is doing something it was made to do, and it sort of takes over. If you can deeply relax and just sort of go along with it, it really helps the pain. I don't think it's any worse than a root canal! Plus, it's pain with a point--Hamish! I will admit that I had short labours, and I think that helped me go med-free. But I was also really happy to be alert right afterwards, and to not have to worry about the baby (or babies) being exposed to drugs. (I'm not trying to talk you into going natural--drugs are fine in their place. Just telling you my thoughts).

Regardless what you decide, be informed. All those medical interventions are great and have saved lives, but they are often used unnecessarily. Do your homework and talk it over with Sean so that he knows your wishes and can help you communicate them. Doulas are great too.

One more thing--if you learn those deep relaxing techniques, they'll come in handy the rest of your life! ;)

Good luck! So excited for you! it really has an element of fun and excitement to it too--I think you'll do great!

May 27, 2013

I came to a very crunchy-granola perspective on birth sort of accidentally - like you, my plan was "all the drugs, as soon as possible," but then I started doing some reading and decided that some of the standard interventions had too little evidence supporting their benefits for my liking. So then I read some more with the thought that I would aim for a low-intervention process and see how things went. Then I ended up having my baby at home - not exactly planned, although the midwives did make it and our doula was with us - and it was really, really great. It was hard work, but I really surprised myself.

SO, my stranger-on-the-internet advice is similar to Lydia, above. If you think more information about your options would make you feel more comfortable or confident, there's lots of good stuff available. I liked "Thinking Women's Guide to a Better Birth" and also the super-crunchy midwifery stuff by Ina May Gaskin. Also, you might consider reading any type of positive birth stories (there are a bunch of blogs that can be found with that phrase. Bithstories.co.nz isn't being updated anymore, but I loved it). Even if you decide all the drugs, right away is best for you (it might well be!), I don't think the message that birth is an awful, scary, medical emergency is helpful to most of us. Best-laid plans can go awry, but for lots of women, birth is something they can do, how they want to do it. Oooh, final thing, to echo an earlier commenter. Even though my kid's birth was great, I did feel after like "things were never going to go back to normal" down there. They did, like it never happened. So try not to worry about that aspect, even though the initial recovery can be a bit of a shock.

May 27, 2013

You know how our mind retains only the good memories? That? THAT happens with labour pain. Period. And there are tons of medicines around that help in the birthing process. Why take the stairs to the fiftieth floor when you can take the elevator?

May 27, 2013

Oh my gosh, all these scary stories!
I'm retired, 60+, and have 5 great sons. Yes, 5 - how bad could it be, I did it 5 times.
Yes, it hurts - I thought it was more like gas pains form eating too many tacos. Very bearable, even at the end.
Had epis with 3, 1st one they still gave you "laughing gas". Last one was born at home - on purpose.
You are going to come through just fine - and as soon as Hamish is in your arms, the pain never happended - honest.
Truthfully, with each one, it was the days after - when all things private are swollen and sore that bothered me the worse....

May 28, 2013

I say go the no drugs route! I know, I know, sounds crazy but hear me out...yes, the pain is unbelievable. I did a lot of research and didn't like what I found out about epidurals. But I definitely recommend staying in a tub/jacuzzi/WATER as long as possible - it really helped my labor go quicker and not hurt so bad. And it was amazing the way my body handled it like it knew what the heck it was doing - when it was time to push, my body went for it, which you'd miss with an epi. Note: I am not a big fan of pain, I usually am quite happy to take a tylenol for a heachache, etc. Also, my labor was relatively short - approx 9 hours.

Oh, and my pain was centered in my legs/thighs. I have no idea why, but I didn't expect that at all, and it really bothered me - my legs hurt something awful, until the babe's head was crowning, that is. Then I didn't notice it so much. LOL!

May 28, 2013

OMG- DON"T believe the horror stories you read/hear. It is sooooo different for every woman. I was pro pain meds, and got an epidural. Waited for an hour "for it to work" when they had to come back and readjust, then I felt the contractions but the back labor dissipated. During that time it was not that bad and I am not some super person; I was already in transition and didn't know it. When you move to the final stage and are pushing, the contractions did not hurt at all.

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