Darcy's Natural Hospital Birth
Rebecca was due on Friday, September 11. On the evening of Tuesday, the 8th, she started experiencing some menstrual-like cramps and other pre-labor symptoms. Cramps subsided overnight and showed up periodically over the next few days. The evening of Saturday, September 12, at 6:00 Rebecca's water broke (though not nearly as dramatically as Bree's), and at 7:00 she started experiencing mild contractions. By 9:00they were coming every 3.5 minutes and lasting 30 - 40 seconds but were still very mild. By 10:00, they were still coming every 3.5 minutes but were lasting 60 - 70 seconds. At 11:30, we decided to head to the hospital, even though the contractions were still mild enough to talk through, since they'd been so regular and since Rebecca's water had broken.
Rebecca was 3+ centimeters when they checked her into the hospital circa 1 a.m., and contractions continued to be 60-90 seconds long, every 3.5 minutes or so. Soon after being admitted, the intensity of the contractions increased such that Rebecca was no longer able to walk or talk through contractions comfortably. After a very short time trying to walk or lean on the birthing ball, Rebecca lay on her side in the bed and stayed that way the rest of the labor. She was very soon unable to relax through the contractions at all. She moved throughout the contractions and tried to relax between them, although she was shaking convulsively for much of the night. She also threw up several times throughout the night, although her pain level never exceeded an 8.
At 2:30 they checked Rebecca again, and she was dilated to 6 centimeters. We were really glad Rebecca's dilation was progressing well, as we were concerned that her inability to relax would hinder her progression.
There was no distinct transition period, and contractions would come one after the other occasionally throughout the night. Around 5 a.m. Rebecca began moaning through the contractions, along with moving. This was the only discernible change the whole night.
The nurses soon began asking if Rebecca had an urge to push, but she was not experiencing any urges. After Aaron had Rebecca use the restroom around 5:15, Rebecca thought she had a slight urge to push. The nurses checked, and at 5:25 they said she was fully dilated and could push any time. We asked for the squat bar to be put on the bed, and they called for the doctor. Rebecca's first "practice push" moved the baby's head down 2 inches, and they said she was crowning. Three contractions and 11 minutes later, Darcy Grey was born, measuring in at 8 pounds, 20.25 inches. Rebecca had a small tear but no other complications.
Aaron was a fabulous coach, keeping the atmosphere peaceful, feeding Rebecca ice chips after each contraction, and maintaining physical contact the whole night. Both mother and baby were doing well immediately after the birth. We felt very lucky to have had such a positive and relatively easy birth experience.
We had a bit more of an adventure after we got our baby home. We had Darcy Sunday morning and were released on Monday afternoon. We went for our pediatrician followup at 1:00 on Tuesday afternoon, where we were told Darcy was slightly jaundiced and had lost a significant amount of weight. They did a heel prick to check her bilirubin levels and then sent us home. We received a call at 5:00 that night that her bili levels were high enough that she needed to come to the hospital for phototherapy. We didn't realize until we arrived that we were being admitted. Once there, they ran her blood work and found that her sodium levels were high due to dehydration. Despite having visited with a lactation consultant before leaving the hospital, we didn't realize that Darcy wasn't actually transferring milk well, despite having a good latch. We tried to avoid an IV by supplementing with expressed breastmilk but when her numbers didn't respond, Darcy received IV fluids. After a second visit from a different lactation consultant (Missy at Scott & White - she's fantastic), we had a lot more tools to keep Darcy hydrated and gaining weight well after we were released again that Friday morning. We were initially worried about my milk supply, but once we were out of the hospital and able to sleep and eat better, things sorted themselves out quickly. Darcy has since gained weight well and is doing fabulously!
We have four major recommendations from our experience:
1. Don't tell anyone until you're for sure in labor. We had people flying and driving in, and we wanted to let them know we were probably going to be in labor within the next few days when we started experiencing pre-labor symptoms - so they could arrange work schedules and start checking flights. My brother (against my explicit instructions) bought a ticket immediately for the next day, and everyone else we'd told proceeded to call and text multiple times a day to check on our nonexistent progress. It was super stressful.
2. Trust your body during labor. Rebecca was unable to relax through the contractions, but her movements helped her get through everything, and her body was still able to progress through labor well. 3. The "cascade of interventions" doesn't end with labor. We experienced it firsthand when we went back to the hospital and were luckily able to employ B.R.A.W.L. to great effect to keep Darcy safe without giving in to recommendations such as formula supplementation. We only wish we'd realized the path we were starting down sooner. 4. See a lactation consultant, even if you think things are going well. We had no idea we had a problem until our followup appointment and we received so many useful tips from our visit from the second lactation consultant. Also make sure you click with the consultant and get what you need from the visit, as we had a horrible session with the first consultant we spoke with before being released initially.