I know I’ve talked a little bit about hoping for a natural birth here on my blog and have reviewed some of the books I read supporting that goal, so I thought I’d share my birth experience. It is always good to hear positive stories about childbirth… especially because I did what I’d heard would be nearly impossible: had a pain medication-free birth on pitocin.
When I was at 34 weeks, a sonogram revealed that my amniotic fluid level was low and that my placenta looked much older than it should. I was monitored very closely (2 sonograms a week, non-stress tests weekly), but warned that induction was likely to be recommended at the point my placenta failed to provide the baby with all she needed. I wasn’t thrilled to learn I’d have to be induced– I really had wanted to let labor begin naturally. However, at 37 weeks, a sonogram showed the baby’s growth had become a real concern– she’d only put on about a half a pound in three weeks and was measuring about two weeks behind her gestational age. The high risk OB I was seeing recommended induction that week and called my midwife to let her know. Within two hours, the midwife called to tell me to come to the hospital that night to begin the process.
The plan was to insert a double bubble/Foley bulb to get my cervix dilating, but the double bubble wouldn’t stay and was just irritating my cervix. Luckily, I had started dilating some and was at 2cm on my own. They decided to just start a low slow dose of pitocin around 9pm and forgo any cervical ripening drugs. The low pitocin caused really mild contractions and I was able to sleep on and off from about midnight until about 5:30am. At that point, they started upping my dose of pitocin and the midwife came in the early morning saying they could break my water if I wanted to get things moving along. I decided to hold off another hour to see what happened with the increased pitocin. When the midwife came back, they told me they couldn’t track my contractions with the external monitor and thus couldn’t increase the pitocin any more. My best option was to have my water broken and have internal monitoring. My water was broken around 9am and things began progressing from there. I walked around the halls a while, sat on the birth ball, sat on the bed, stood for a while, sat in the rocking chair… all the while using yoga breathing and telling myself “I am strong” or “I am stronger than this contraction.” My doula (who was also my prenatal yoga teacher) and my husband used counter pressure and massage and reminded me to take cleansing breaths. After a while, my doula told me I was in transition and quickly thereafter I starting feeling a lot of pressure and the urge to push. The nurse came to check on me and I was 10cm and the baby’s head was coming down– they quickly got me in the stirrups on my back and had me blow through a few contractions until the midwife got there and I could push. This was really difficult– the urge to push is probably the strongest bodily urge I have ever experienced– but luckily the midwife got there pretty quickly. After a few more contractions and lots of pushing, Lydia was born at 5:16pm!
While I never imagined myself getting induced or having a baby at 37 weeks, I have no regrets. The birth was unmedicated like I wanted and a really empowering experience. I am so proud of myself for getting through labor without medication. Best of all, though, I have my sweet daughter Lydia out of the whole experience. I am glad she was able to come into the world healthy, safe, and in a way that honored my wishes.