Wednesday, October 17, 2012

10 Things I Learned from my First Labor

Even though, ultimately, I ended up with a c-section. I did experience 26 hours of epidural free labor. As I prepare for my VBAC this early spring, I have been reflecting on what I have learned from that experience. Here is a short list!

1. The pain is intense, but bearable as long as you only let yourself take it one contraction at a time and you do not let yourself get too far ahead of yourself. Live in the moment and don't worry about how much time you have left. Let the energy you have be all that you need.

2. Be open to whatever it is you feel you need. As much as you plan your labor ahead of time, the person you are when you labor is not who you are at any other time of your life. Give yourself whatever you need in the moment: time, a pep talk, a good cry, forgiveness, love, silence, music, a good swear, yelling, loud moaning. Don't judge yourself. Just let it be.

3. Let go of control. My first labor I was convinced that I could make my labor faster, easier, etc. as long as I did X-Y-Z. I thought only women who didn't know anything about how to have a successful, natural birth ended up with c-sections. I was wrong! That labor wasn't meant to be fast and labor is never meant to be easy. Trying to control it didn't do anything but frustrate me. This time I am much less attached to being in control.

4. The best thing a partner can do during labor is whatever it is that you like when not in labor. Before I went into labor, I had no idea what my husband would do while I was in labor. I had trouble seeing him as the "coaching type," but that's how I'd always seen fathers in movies. When the day came, my husband cracked jokes, made me laugh, and tried to be helpful. He was awkward at times, but he's like that ordinarily. Making me laugh is what I love most about him and that was the best thing he did during our labor.

5. Labor time is different. I used to wonder what the heck I would do with myself if I had a 15 hour labor. I ended up with a 27+ hour one and I can tell you that it was intense enough that I was never bored and although the hours were long, they just didn't pass the same way.

6. Turn off the outside world. I know the family members outside the state were all anxious to hear when the baby was born, but the check-in phone calls during labor were really disheartening while I was trying to make progress and more than a little distracting. This time, the ringer is being turned off! No one ever forgets to call once the baby finally arrives!

7. Bring a variety of different clothes if birthing outside the home. At times I was hot, sometimes I was freezing, I have never in my life before or since wanted to wear a bathing suit and a sweatshirt within ten minutes of one another, but man I was really sad I hadn't brought pants and a sweatshirt to my late July birth!

8. Protein is wonderful. Five hours into my labor, I cooked myself an omelet. Surreptitiously, I ate trail mix at the hospital. I wasn't all that hungry for the duration of that labor, so I tried to pack in energy food when I could.

9. Don't be too hard on yourself. Because I never gave up the illusion that I was in control, I also blamed myself when things didn't go as planned. It's important to protect your birth and its integrity, but part of that is not to judge yourself too harshly if things don't go as planned.

10. Everything will be okay eventually. I am not one of those who will ever say a healthy baby is all that's important. I think a physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy mom is equally important and that may not happen right away, but it will one day because you are strong; you are stronger than you could ever realize before you had children! Moms are the strongest people in the world.

Thanks for reading!


Becky said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for your advice! I'm trying for a VBAC late December/beginning of January.

Shawna said... [Reply to comment]

@Becky I'm sorry this has taken so long to post! I've been trying to respond since yesterday! I am thrilled for you and your planned VBAC! Congratulations! I would love it if you would email me after you have your baby to hear how it goes! I love hearing birth stories of all kinds!

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