Marathon Birth / 60 Hours of Determination; Sometimes Medical Intervention is Necessary

Sarah’s birth was unique in so many ways. There is so much to say about it, I don’t even know where to begin. You can probably see a bit of that from the title. My husband thought I should call it “Marathon Birth” I thought, 60 Hours of Determination; but I wanted something in there about the medical intervention. So I had to put them all.

Part 1: The events of labor
Sarah was planning a natural child birth using the Bradley Method. One big reason she wanted to do this was because her mom birthed her this way. There were, of course other reasons as well, but this was a big reason. Sarah’s mom had told her that her labors were fairly short and baby size was around 7 lbs. So, naturally Sarah thought she could expect a fairly short birth and a bigger baby because her husband was about 9 lbs at birth. She did however know that might not be the case, her birth could be very different then her mom’s. Little did she know it was going to be the exact opposite.

Wednesday, September 22, Sarah had her appointment with the midwife who told her it would be ok to take castor oil because her due date was Sept. 19th, 4 days prior. Being uncomfortable and ready to have her baby, she did. But there really was no effect except a slight upset stomach. Thursday morning about 1:45 am September 23rd, I received a text message from Sarah. I didn’t get it till my daughter woke a little after 2 am and I checked my phone. Normally I don’t hear a text message in the middle of the night, just a call. Anyway, she said she thought her water broke and her contractions were about 10 minutes apart. So, I messaged her back asking her some questions and telling her to do a few important things like drink water, rest, pee every hour and eat. That night she took baths, showers, and did everything else in the instructions. The contractions got a little closer together, but around 5 am, she fell asleep and the contractions slowed way down. All day on Thursday she had contractions mostly 10 minutes apart, but some 20 minutes. I suggested she and Ricky, her husband do something to take their mind off the labor like go to the movies. They watched a few at home, but didn’t go out.

Thursday night, her contractions picked up again but were inconsistent. She labored all night and tried to get the contractions stronger and more regular. It was about 12:30 when I got a call from her that she wanted me to come over for an hour or so, to help her relax while Rick was resting. I got there and gave her some suggestions. She was very uncomfortable laying down so I had her on her hands and knees doing pelvic rocks. Her back was extremely uncomfortable so we tried to get the baby off of it by doing the pelvic rocks. I ended up staying until the next day because it looked like her labor was progressing. But it would have periods of slowing down and we could not keep it consistent. Sarah kept getting so discouraged that she wasn’t progressing. I kept reminding her that things were happening in her body. Just not the expected way.

About noon on Friday, September 24th, Sarah decided to go to the hospital to have them check her progress. She went to triage and she was 5 cm dilated. The baby was doing good. She did not tell the midwife her membranes were ruptured, she didn’t want a time limit on her labor. The midwife recommended she check into the hospital, but Ricky and Sarah decided to go home. The midwife was not too happy about this. In-fact she was a little bit threatening about what would happen if they go home and don’t get back in time or can’t monitor the baby. The midwife was even more upset to hear they took Bradley classes.

Sarah and Ricky still decided to go home. She wanted to work on flipping Harper around and I went home to rest. About 3 pm I picked up Sarah to get an adjustment, which can help with the baby flipping but most importantly it helps with being aligned to minimize some pain and helps to open up the hips. After that Sarah went back home. They decided to go back to the hospital around 8 pm and I would meet them there.

When Sarah and Ricky got to the hospital, she was now 6 cm. Her contractions were still inconsistent. So we had a plan of constant nipple stimulation. Usually constant isn’t recommended, however she was able to start while on the monitor and we could see that the baby could handle it. Harper was doing great every time she was checked on. So Sarah kept that up along with walking and the shower. Her contractions were still so inconsistent, they would fluctuate from 2 or 3 minutes apart to 10 minutes apart. At 2 am, September 25th, Sarah was having a lot of pressure, so she was checked and was dilated to 7 cm. She got back to her routine of nipple stimulation (more aggressive this time), shower and walking. The midwife came in and checked her again and she was dilated to 9 cm. Wow, that was exciting! Finally, some encouraging news. This is the most progress she made in the last 2 and a half days! 2 cm in 4.5 hours. We were very excited. Sarah’s spirits were up. She was very motivated and encouraged to keep going.

Sarah kept up with her routine. However, all this time, the past 3 days, she wasn’t eating much. It was very difficult for her to eat. She was drinking tons of water, just no juice or food. She also wasn’t able to sleep. The midwife came in maybe around 7:30 to check her again before shift change and she was dilated except for a anterior lip of cervix. That was very exciting news. So now my plan was to keep her on hands and knees, walking or doing pelvic rocks. We needed to get the pressure on that lip to help it dilate.

At 8, there was a shift change and the midwife that Sarah originally saw Friday afternoon was back on. She checked Sarah and discovered she was 9 cm with an anterior swollen lip of cervix. The difference in 9 or 10 cm may be just how 2 different people checked her, however the swollen lip was defiantly going backwards. We were disappointed, but we still had a plan. Sarah was so determined to do this naturally. Now, we had to keep Sarah on her back or sides to stay off that lip. Definitely no hands and knees and no pelvic rocks. However, at the next check, Sarah was more swollen.

Now it was time for a decision. The way things are going are not good at this point. It was time for some intervention. The contractions would keep up with constant nipple stimulation. Even then, they were not regular or incredibly strong. Sarah had also been awake for 3 days now with little to no food. She needed fuel and so did the baby. After a lot of thought, Sarah decided to get pitocin so her contractions would get stronger on their own and keep up, she decided on the epidural because she definitely needed sleep and she needed to get that swollen lip to go down. They also gave her sugar water which helped both her and the baby. They needed that fuel. Sarah was administered all of this about 1:10 pm Saturday, September 25th, 59.5 hours after labor began.

After a few hours of rest and some awake relaxing time she was finally 10 centimeters. The midwife allowed her to labor down and she was finally able to push. After 1.5 hours of pushing, Harper was born just after 7 pm Saturday night, she was 9 lbs 14 oz and 21 inches long. Did I mention, Sarah is a small girl, about 5 feet 2 inches tall.

Part 2: Thoughts on the labor
This birth was so unique and amazing all in one. The main thing that was so different about it is the contractions were the same throughout, some close together some far apart, she’d sometimes get a group of good intense contractions all at once, then a half hour with maybe 3 smaller ones. The entire time, I kept thinking there has got to be a reason this is happening. Why does God want the contractions to be like this, why does he want the labor to be so long? I knew there had to be a reason. When Harper was born, I thought maybe this was the reason, Sarah’s hips needed that time to open up enough for her little body to fit Harper through. Harper even had her hand up by her shoulder. That makes it even harder to push her out.

To me this birth was so amazing. Sarah had such determination through the entire labor. She never wanted to give up after discouraging news every time she was checked. Sarah was discouraged and disappointed at times, but she kept right on working at her labor. She wanted so badly to have a natural child birth, that she said no to the doctors when they would recommend something over and over until her and her husband felt it was necessary. They really took a stand for what they wanted. It was amazing. That is such a difficult thing to do. I am so proud of them. If Sarah had gotten the pitocin earlier, maybe (I don’t know for sure) but maybe her hips wouldn’t have had enough time to open like they did. If she had gotten an epidural without pitocin, her labor probably would have completely stopped. But in the end, both were needed to finish the birth of her little girl. She waited until it was needed, so even through the entire birth wasn’t natural, the first 59.5 hours were and she was extremely happy with the outcome. To be able to deliver her baby vaginally was such a blessing.

I loved how this birth turned out and once again I learned so much from it.
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I received my International Doula magazine last week and saw on the front, “Is Pitocin Associated with Childhood Autism?” My first thought was this should be interesting, I can’t wait to see what it says. Then I started thinking more, if we say something else is related to Autism, people are just going to ignore it all. But in reality, autism cannot be explained by genetics alone, there are environmental triggers. So, needless to say I was anxious to read the article to see what it had to say. But, being a mom and a doula, it took me a week to find time to actually sit down and read it. Now that I finally did, I can’t wait to share it with everyone.

I have known that the rate of children getting diagnosed with autism has dramatically increased in recient years. I was amazed to see the actual numbers. According to the CDC, just one in 5,000 children were diagnosed in 1980. In 1990, it was one in 1,000 and in 2000 one in 500 children were diagnosed with autism. Then the numbers just keep increasing each year and currently one child in 110 are diagnosed with autism and one in just 70 boys. I couldn’t believe the numbers. That is crazy! We’ve got to do something. Can we go back to all natural? Stop giving our kids and moms all the chemicals in our foods, toys, makeup, dishes and furniture, some of those chemicals are known and some hidden in our environment. Now, I have to say, some people that know me think I may be a little extreme with the no chemicals, I won’t let my kids eat off any plastics if I don’t know whether there are BPA’s, I have all natural make-up, we eat almost all organic, I don’t like having plastic toys in my house and I won’t let my kids eat anything with food coloring, there are no pesticides or herbicides on our property... the list just goes on. But I feel better safe then sorry and I am confident I am not giving my kids some hidden disease.

So anyway, back to the article and the really interesting stuff. After showing the numbers, the article states that the rates of autism has steadily increased for 2 decades and so have the rates of labor inductions and the use of pitocin, but that autism is nearly non-existant in the home-birth community.

Autism Today is calling for more research on the pitocin-autism connection. They have published a letter by the American College of Domiciliary Midwives/California College of Midwives that you can read at http://www.autismtoday.com/articles/ATTN_Researchers.htm In this letter they are saying they need more research starting with the womb, they are thinking that it is possible since oxitocin is the “love hormone” (it is responsible physiological onset of labor, breastfeeding and sexual orgasm, all of which include important emotional bonding and loving connection), that pitocin from an animal has ramifications in the babies ability to love. Oxitocin is in-fact already being used therapeutically in a nasal spray for adults with autism and when it is inhaled there is a positive effect on the patients social behavior, sensitivity, generosity and trust. Some patients, eye contact, facial recognition , social cues and identification of emotions has increased. Also, previous research has shown that people with autism have low levels of oxitocin. Is it possible that pitocin messes up the newborn’s oxytocin system.

There have been recent studies to show, individuals with autism were more likely to have been born by induced births, to have experienced fetal distress and to have been born with low Apgar scores. Another study showed rates of birth complications were higher in children with autism then without. Birth complications are usually a result of medically managed births.

The article was long and there was more, but this was the stuff that really sat with me. So, my thoughts... the wide use of pitocin is increasing but it is still so new. Do you want to risk it with your child? If your doctor wants to induce labor, take your care into your own hands, ask, “Is my baby in distress?” Tell the doctors office you are willing to do a non-stress test and an ultra sound to see if your baby is still healthy in the womb. If he or she is still healthy, that is where your baby should stay until he/she is ready to be born.