Labor/Birth Q&A

As mentioned in a previous post I anticipated that there would be a lot of questions. I decided it made the most sense to consolidate all of the information in one place, and so this post is your opportunity to let loose and ask all of those burning questions. I just knew someone would be asking about pooping while pushing.

Below are the questions that have already been asked, with my answers. I’ll be answering those asked in the comment section when I can get to them (ummm, T1 is pretty demanding FYI), and I may be bringing up a few common/interesting inquiries up and adding them into the body of this post later on. I won’t be answering questions about breastfeeding or the recovery as I plan on writing separate posts on those topics later. Please take the time to read the questions that have already been asked to prevent duplicate questions as much as possible. And Kelli/Mom/Shay/TH, feel free to chime in and add in your own thoughts wherever you please!

I had a few questions about the delivery of the placenta, which I somehow forgot to add in to my birth story. See Part IV of my story where I added in a small paragraph about pushing out the placenta.

You said that the pressure didn’t necessarily feel like you were going to have a BM, but at any point during labor did you have one? – Em

I knew someone would ask this question! Not offended in the least and I only didn’t include it in my birth story because I didn’t really want to have it there. If you were reading your own mother’s birth story would you want to know if she pooped all over the place? :) The answer to your question is yes, several times during the pushing stage. I never would have known that though if I didn’t have a video of the birth. I made That Husband promise to never, ever talk about my bowel movements during the pushing stage, as I didn’t want him teasing me about what happened and then have me feeling stressed about it happening again during the next labor. I didn’t feel anything coming out of my bum at all (just the baby, ha!) and honestly even if I had known at the time I probably wouldn’t have cared. I was past the point of dignity and caring and embarrassment, I just wanted baby to be out. The midwives were very discreet about taking care of the little pooplets that came out and I actually can’t see them on the video, just the midwife reaching down with a paper towel and picking something out. My advice to other women who haven’t experienced labor yet is to get your labor team to agree never to talk about it, and then don’t stress about it. Birth is raw and a bit messy and gross, but even more so it’s pretty wonderful, and your labor attendants will take care of you so well that you’ll likely never know what’s happening. And all you will care about is the baby anyway!

Is it common for contractions to begin and then die down again? – Cecy

Somewhat. If this happens the contractions that were occurring are considered pre-labor, which refers to the work a pregnant woman’s body does to prepare for labor but contractions will either stay spaced apart or die off completely. Pre-labor pains can be felt for days or weeks. Sometimes even months!

How painful were the middle-of-the-night contractions on a scale of 1 to 10?-phruphru

This question was in reference to my first night of contractions, Saturday night. I’d put them at about a 3. More uncomfortable than painful.

Did you tell your neighbors (the ones you share walls with) that you were laboring at home? – Katy W

No. This is something that a lot of people asked about, I’m guessing because there are assumptions about screaming and the amount of noise made during labor. Some women scream, some women don’t. I made a little video of the different noises I made during labor to help people better understand what my neighbors would have heard. The last clip of me during the pushing stage is pretty painful to listen to, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Sounds of Labor from Jenna on Vimeo.

(Katy has actually given birth three times. Don’t think I’m trying to tell you “how labor goes” Katy, as  I’m sure you already know! Please consider this question directed toward all, both those who know what labor is like and those who don’t. :) )

Also love your iPhone case with your logo on it. Where did you find it?!-Valerie

My sister gifted that to me! It’s from http://www.pexagontech.com/

Do midwives typically not coach you when to push?- Emily

I think you are asking if they coach you when to start pushing, not how to push once you’ve started doing so. TRUST ME, when that baby is ready to be pushed out, you will know. There is no way you can mistake the feeling for anything else once it gets really strong.

One last thing, do you remember what brand of protein bar you had? – Emily

Ideal Protein

How was the pain with the hook? – Emmie

The actual rupturing the membranes didn’t hurt at all, but it’s not comfortable having someone stick their hand up your vagina, you know?

One question– is it typical for a midwife to wait until you are so far progressed into labor to arrive? Or is this just how your midwife does it? Or is this just how it worked out in your case? 8 cm seems like pretty late in the game to me. – Turtle

Kelli Nicole answered this one in the comment section: Sarah said that she didn’t think Jenna was that far along! She didn’t even believe Jenna was in labor the night before because she sounded so good over the phone. Sarah was genuinely surprised that Jenna was so far along, so I don’t think it’s typical. Sarah kept telling me that Jenna has a really high pain tolerance and was just doing so well.

Maybe a midwife/doula will chime in and correct me, but I imagine a midwife aims to arrive when her laboring mother is at around 5-6 centimeters, but they are really just trying to guess at progression based on the way a mother sounds over the phone. Other than the emotional turning point her arrival gave me, I really didn’t need her there until that point anyway, as it was just a lot of buzzing and waiting and moaning. If it was all happening again I’d probably have her arrive about that time once again.

Regarding the pain, do you normally have a high pain tolerance, or do you believe that somehow your body gains more tolerance as you labor?-Cecy

I think I normally have a high pain tolerance. Although I kind of wish I would stop saying that because I think i’m discouraging other women from thinking they can birth naturally! As someone else mentioned in the comments section, one really amazing thing about labor is that the pain starts spread out and slight, and then builds over time. The women who talk about how their labor being very short and the pain coming very fast are the ones to be admired as it would be difficult to prepare emotionally for that. I, however, had several hours to adjust to things as my contractions built up over time, and I hope as other women are thinking about their own pain tolerance that they will keep that in mind. I think we as women are stronger than we know!

How long after giving birth did you deliver the placenta? -Jessica

Just over 30 minutes.

I was also wondering about his head being under water while she was taking a break. – Sarah for Real

This is a really common question some I’m going to answer with an excerpt from waterbirth.org:

There are four main factors that prevent the baby from inhaling water at the time of birth:

1.  Prostaglandin E2 levels from the placenta which cause a slowing down or stopping of the fetal breathing movements. When the baby is born and the Prostaglandin level is still high, the baby’s muscles for breathing simply don’t work, thus engaging the first inhibitory response.

2.  Babies are born experiencing mild hypoxia or lack of oxygen. Hypoxia causes apnea and swallowing, not breathing or gasping.

3.  Water is a hypotonic solution and lung fluids present in the fetus are hypertonic. So, even if water were to travel in past the larynx, they could not pass into the lungs based on the fact that hypertonic solutions are denser and prevent hypotonic solutions from merging or coming into their presence.

4.  The last important inhibitory factor is the Dive Reflex and revolves around the larynx. The larynx is covered all over with chemoreceptors or taste buds. The larynx has five times as many as taste buds as the whole surface of the tongue. So, when a solution hits the back of the throat, passing the larynx, the taste buds interprets what substance it is and the glottis automatically closes and the solution is then swallowed, not inhaled.

If you would like to see the dive reflex on video (it’s pretty cool!) find the video titled “Babies” on this site.

Do you plan on showing any clips from the video? -Tamara

Yes, I want to make a short little birth video with the footage Kelli recorded. Unfortunately the actual moment of birth and his first cry didn’t get recorded. I’m kind of bummed about that. :(

I guess the best way to know is, would *you* say the benefits greatly outweighed the pain, and of course, will you definitely be doing it this way again? – Sophia

To answer your last question first, yes, we will be pursuing a home birth with baby #2. The only reasons I can think of that we wouldn’t choose this route would be because of problems during my pregnancy or a lack of funds to pay out of pocket for the prenatal care and birth like we did this time.

But I think your first question is even more interesting, because not very often do women ask about the benefits of natural birth. We as a society focus so much on the pain, on telling women they are “brave” for choosing to go epidural free, but I didn’t choose natural birth because I wanted a badge of honor. I’ve talked a lot about why I chose home birth for the actual birth experience, but now that all is said and done I think there is an even greater reason to strive to avoid interventions. As I will write in my post-partum recovery post, at about 18 days, I was completely pain free. 100%. (In fact, I think I would have been pain free even earlier but I had a nasty UTI that burned really bad). I can walk, run, play dance dance revolution, split my legs open as wide as I like, bounce T1 on the birth ball when he is crying, you name it. We as a society focus a lot on the pains of labor, which can certainly last for days, but we don’t talk much about the pains that come after a birth filled with interventions. I believe there is a correlation between getting an epidural, the use of pitocin, episiotomy rates, and c-sections. The more interventions you have, the greater amount of recovering you’re going to have to do.

So yes, I do think the benefits of enduring the pain before baby comes are worth it because I so loved being completely “there” for the entire experience, but also because I was able to move on with my life so quickly afterward. As someone who is currently in the throes of it, I can assure you, caring for a newborn is no walk in the park and I would like to make the newborn caring part as pain free as possible.

66 thoughts on “Labor/Birth Q&A

  1. Wow – thanks for sharing all of this! You have definitely taught me so much about pregnancy, you’d think women would be better prepared for this! I bet if teenagers knew that sex lead to all of this, they might be more willing to wait… umm… but maybe not.

  2. Ok well I’ll ask it since I don’t think I have seen anyone else… the EpiNo… You had mentioned you had practiced pushing it out, and hypothesized that it may be similar to birthing. But now you have gone through labor/birth… Any reflections on the EpiNo use?

    You mentioned you tore a little. Do you think the EpiNo helped? Or do you think having your midwife’s supporting the perineum helped more? Did you ever mention it to your midwife your use of the EpiNo after the fact like you said in a previous post?

    I didn’t see a follow up comment on this, so I thought I would just ask.

    Jenna Reply:

    I think the Epi-no was a good choice for two reasons. First, because working on pushing helped me come up with techniques for dealing with the pain. I started doing horse lips while pushing out the epi-no, and because I was used to doing them it came pretty naturally to do them when I was really in labor. Second, even though I haven’t started using it yet, the epi-no is also intended to be used after birth for strengthening kegel muscles once again. As someone who pees her pants on a daily basis this is pretty important. :)

    As far as understanding what pushing would feel like…. it didn’t even come close to comparing. I’m not sure it’s possible to duplicate that burning/pressurized feeling in any way.

    I think that having my midwife support my perineum and give me tips and pointers during the pushing is what really helped with the tearing though.

    No I haven’t ever talked to her about it.

  3. I loved how TH was holding you so sweet. I am so glad that you feel so comfortable sharing all of this because it is so enlightening.

  4. What a super cool video to post on the Eve of Mother’s Day Eve…a great reminder that we should all be extra grateful for our mothers for getting us here:) (and I always remember that my poor mother went through labor with me and then had to get a c-section, the old-fashioned huge incision kind). I also again think that video would be really helpful for women who haven’t delivered to get an idea of what it’s like. Did knowing you were videoing your laboring help you control your reactions?

    Jenna Reply:

    No I don’t think it had any effect. Everything you see there was Kelli’s footage and I didn’t have any idea when she was taking pictures and when she was filming.

  5. You talked a lot about what the contractions felt like and what it felt like when you started to push (burning. ouch! ouch! :-( ). Will you tell us what it felt like to actually give birth?
    Sorry to be gross but I remember reading OMG Mandy and she mentioned it sounding like you were ripping apart a whole chicken. What was this part like for you? Did you feel everything as the baby was coming out? Was it weird feeling? Can you describe it?

    …..watching that video was painful. Wow. I know that I will use drugs and I am STILL terrified of the pain I will still feel. I can’t imagine feeling it ALL. I know it’s so normal and natural but I am such a wimp it’s hard to imagine withstanding that much pain and not losing my mind. I want babies but birth seems scary!

    Jenna Reply:

    Other than a very intense burning, i don’t really think there is a way to describe it. I actually thought once I got past the head that it wasn’t as bad, because the head is very slow, but the shoulders really only take one good push.

    I wouldn’t compare it to ripping apart a whole chicken for me though. It was a bit more isolated than that, you know?

    Laura Reply:

    Thanks for the reply! I have one more question.

    I do not have kids yet and like most people, I have ideas about what I will do….how I will raise my children..what I think is right and wrong, etc. BUT at the same time I have this feeling that once I have a kid I will be eating my words A LOT. I have a feeling that I will laugh and say “oh, I had NO idea!”

    So my question to you is this: What about having T1 is making you realize that you had no idea? What is different than you expected? So far…how many things have you realized that you changed your mind about once T1 was here? How many times have you felt like you were eating the words you said pre-T1?

    You don’t know…..what you do know. I am VERY opinionated person (like you) and I have to remind myself that I havn’t a clue what it will be like and I have a feeling I will look back and laugh at the ideas and “plans” I had pre-baby :-)

    Jenna Reply:

    The lack of time. I didn’t understand what women meant when they said they couldn’t even shower, go to the bathroom, etc. It’s true, there are periods of time where I don’t have a moment to myself. I’m so impressed that there are women who are able to get anything done.

  6. Thanks for answering my questions! I did wonder about the neighbors and the bowel movements, along with my other questions. And wow, thanks for sharing that video. It does look painful! I could just hear myself saying that, “it hurts so bad!” I’m a wuss with a low pain tolerance. Not sure that I would be able to handle a natural birth. It sure is appealing after seeing your positive experience. Can’t wait to see more footage and answers to others’ questions!

  7. Wow, super helpful. Thanks so much for opening up and sharing with us. I am absolutely intrigued/terrified about the idea of birth — natural or not. This has opened my eyes a lot. I’m also curious about the epi-no.

  8. More questions for you:

    – what was the plan if T1 was more than 2 weeks overdue? Would you have been induced or just try to let nature take its course?

    – was there ever a time during labor where you thought you’d reached a breaking point and couldn’t imagine the baby coming out without intervention/an epidural?

    – how did your mom hold up?? It must have been hard for her to see her own baby in pain.

    Thanks, Jenna!

    Jenna Reply:

    1. I would have gone to the hospital and been induced.

    2. I remember wanting an epidural, but not for the pain, for the exhaustion. I was really tired and would have loved to have a break to get some sleep.

    3. I think she did pretty well, she was so good at making me stop and breathe and focus. I really needed her there for that. As far as the pain, I think she realizes it’s a necessary part of bringing baby into the world.

  9. So the day before do you think you had pre-labor contractions (braxton-hicks right?), or was it labor itself starting in your opinion?
    Thank you for all those interesting answers.

    Jenna Reply:

    Hmm, I’m not sure if it matters. BH contractions are really just your body preparing for baby to come, but not moving baby down into the birth canal (as I understand it). Even if they weren’t signs of real labor, they were a sign that my body was getting ready to deliver!

  10. wow! Great job, Jenna. You are a pretty amazing person! Also, thanks for all your posts! They are very informative and interesting!!

  11. OMGoodness, Jenna, are we long-lost twins or something?! Your labor sounded so eerily familiar- or maybe that’s because it was very natural- and normal-sounding. Seriously though, I think I sounded and was saying the exact same things through the “ring of fire” stage.
    Oh, and I have to second the question: Did you ever at any point feel like you wanted/needed the epidural? Do you know why women ask for drugs? Lol. Because I certainly did. During transition I was thinking, “Now I know why women get the epidural. “Now I know why women schedule their c-sections!” And at the very end of transition, I was begging my midwife to, “Just give the shot!” She had narcotics and had offered them to me earlier when I hit the 18 hour mark, but by the time I really thought I wanted it, I was too far dilated, thank goodness. Of course, much of this thinking and begging was the mentalness of transition talking, but, yeah, I know why women who are not prepared for this kind of intensity or don’t have good support go for the drugs. Not to say that going natural wasn’t worth it- it totally was! After that experience, I know I will give birth naturally to all of my children, if at all possible.
    But then again, maybe your higher pain tolerance means you never felt this way? Yeah, I’m a wimp when it comes to pain. *blush*

    Jenna Reply:

    No, I never asked for the epidural, all I wanted was a break to sleep. It wasn’t so much the pain that bothered me, just how exhausted I was. I wanted 1 hour of interrupted time to recover. Man, when those 30 minute long bouts of non-stop contractions hit I thought I wouldn’t make it out of there alive!

  12. I wouldn’t have thought to ask such reasonable questions but I’m so glad that you’ve answered them! I love how willing you are to step into these roles of sharing your info and experiences.

  13. JENNA, that video is so beautiful. I know you hurt but it is still so very beautiful. I think I want you as my coach if I am ever to deliver!

  14. Jenna so proud of you! That video is inspiring and amazing! Honestly I have been to some hospital births where women are making much more noise than that with pain meds the usual thing I hear screamed is not that it hurts but that they are scared. I believe being scared of birth plays a big part in pain tolerance.
    I have always wanted a home water birth and will(fingers crossed) be getting it this October.
    I hope that you inspire more women to at least look at all the options and make informed choices when they get that positive sign.

    My question is: Looking back what was the funniest/strangest thing you said during labour? And I know you dont swear but did you during labour?

    Jenna Reply:

    Shoot, I had a response to this, but I thought of it pretty late at night and now I’ve forgotten. I at one point said I really wanted him to be cute to make up for going through the whole experience. But there was something better… I’ll see if it comes to me again during one of my late night feedings with T1.

    And no I didn’t swear. After years of not doing so it doesn’t really cross my mind :)

  15. Thanks for being so honest and open about everything. And volunteering to answer questions. I can’t think of any myself just now (I think any questions I had have been answered or asked already), but I did want to say that it is so obvious that TH loves you. Anyone who watches that video – even if they don’t watch it to the end, though I’d recommend watching the whole thing – would see that in the shot where you have your back to the camera while labouring next to him on the bed (I think you were sitting on your bed, anyway). And then in the birthing pool when it looks like you’re going to rip out his hair? You could see how excited he was that T1 was coming. He was smiling! Even through the hair-pulling! Seriously – that is love.

    Congrats, again!

  16. I was afraid of the video but I watched it – it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Not to say it was pleasant, but….it was what I expected and what I’m expecting of myself.
    You are so open to talk about the poop! My husband is also sworn to secrecy, and our childbirth teacher joked “women can poop during labor, but no one knows if they’ve done it because all husbands are sworn to never, ever mention it”.

    Jenna Reply:

    Ahhh, that makes me so happy to hear! I worry that in an attempting to be honest about birth I will scare everyone away from it. It’s a really powerful thing, difficult, but rather magnificent also. I think it’s good for us to do hard things!

    Erin Reply:

    On the contrary – I just remarked to my husband, “she makes it seem so easy!” You’ve made it less scary. Having information relieves my anxieties – and this certainly has.

  17. Thanks so much for sharing everything about your first birth! Your journey has been exciting and inspiring to follow.

    The video was really great to watch. If it’s only at the end pushing phase where things get super tough and roaring is needed, I believe that I can also get through child birth without meds.

    You did awesome, Jenna!

  18. First thank you for being open and honest. I don’t know if a home birth is something I would want to do but I will definately educate myself when the time comes.
    You mentioned your dad and sis being on the webcams did you offer the same to TH’s fam and how did his dad react when you told him the middle name.
    Again thanks for sharing your story and answering questions and That Baby is just adorable.

    Jenna Reply:

    I didn’t even think to bug TH about trying to set something up with his family. In part because they might have seen me in ways I’m not really comfortable with sharing with them (like my bum or hoo ha), but also because I kind of just let TH take care of his parents and I take care of mine. I’ll remember to bring it up with him for the next birth.

    They loved the middle name, but I laughed when he told me that the first thing they said to him was “Why didn’t you call us sooner?” when the baby was born. He was a little busy and didn’t do it right away. Whoops!

  19. I just wanted to add another light on things. I have 6 kids, and I have had them all in the hospital. With epidurals for various reasons. Jenna, I am glad you were able to have the natural/home birth that you wanted. But I wanted to reply to some people who haven’t had babies that I have never felt pain after a few days with any of my kids (most of them were over 9 lbs) I think Jenna’s quick recovery was due to the fact that she only had ‘skid marks’ and not an episiotomy. (Which I too believe should be avoided if at all possible.) I have had 1 episiotomy, it was a legitimate reason. And the recovery with that one was longer but I was completely healed at 18 days even with that. Epidural’s and having your baby at the hospital doesn’t necessarily mena you will have a longer recovery. It’s just a different experience. And while I applaud any woman for doing what she feels is important to her (good job Jenna) I thought I would let women know that it’s possible for fast/healthy deliveries in the hospital, too.

    Erin Reply:

    Thanks for this insight. I have had a friend who had a small episiotomy (hospital birth) comment on her fast recovery – but then she later mentioned that she was prescribed narcotics/pain-meds that she took for a week or 2 post birth – so that was the reason she was pain free!

    Tiffany Reply:

    I had a C Section and after 18 days I was pain free too. and not on any more pain meds!

    Katy W Reply:

    I too have had epidurals in the hospital and had great experiences with them. Each subsequent baby (I’ve had 3) the recovery gets easier. Of course the afterbirth pains are worse. It takes more work to get the uterus back down to normal size after repeatedly streching it out.
    I am one of the bounce back mommas that likes to get up and moving quickly. I’m sure that regardless of delivery method I would still be the same.

  20. oh wow. Listening to your video brings up so many emotions and memories of my birth. Even though it was 8 months ago, the memory is still fresh.

  21. My questions (via my husband):
    1.) For TH – It must be hard/scary/sad to see your wife in pain. Any recommendations?

    2.) How do you monitor for postpartum depression.

    My question:
    3.) Waterbirth, doula, hypnobirth for T2?

    4.) I know you love your mom and Kelli – but did you like having ppl there or did you sometimes want it to be just you two. Thinking about how to incorporate my family, but I want everything peaceful and I don’t want to feel like a hostess.

    5.) Did carpet or bedding or anything get stained that you wish didn’t get stained?

    6.) Did it smell? I have a sensitive nose and want fragrant candles, lampe bergers, etc. – As my never pregnant friend said – “That stuffs been sitting inside you for 9+ months; it can’t smell pretty.” I’d never thought about the odors – any comments or advice?

    **I’m realizing that it is very difficult for my husband to see me sad/hurt – every. single. question. he’s asked me involves how to protect me from pain and sadness. I asked why he doesn’t have questions about safety stats for homebirths via hospitals, etc. – and he said that he knows and trusts I’ve researched all of that. We aren’t pregnant!

    Kelli Nicole Reply:

    I’m going to answer your question #6 as I get this question a lot. I’ve been to 6 or 7 births, including a couple in the hospital and one c-section and NONE of them smelled. The hospitals smelled somewhat, but that was the hospital smell, not a birth smell. It’s possible that other people have had different experiences, but I’ve never noticed anything!

    Valerie Reply:

    As a doula, I just wanted to chime in here: one of the things we ask women about when their water breaks is if it smells, because if it does, that’s a BAD sign. Kelli is right; if all is as it should be, there shouldn’t be any bad smell from the baby or placenta or anything like that.

    Erin Reply:

    This is such good news! Thank you :)

    Jenna Reply:

    1-I will *try* to remember to ask TH this and come back to this again later. I do think that helping one’s partner understand the purpose behind the pain might help them cope with seeing you endure it. TH is very logical and so even though he certainly wanted to do everything he could to make me as comfortable as possible, I suspect he acknowledged that this is something I needed to go through if we wanted to be a family of three.

    2-We had a plan, seen here: http://docs.google.com/View?id=dc9rk926_165tvn7x2g8

    3-Waterbirth, no question about it. If my mom can’t be there I would love to have a doula, but if we pay for the birth out of pocket again I’m not sure we can afford it. I don’t think hypnobirthing is right for me.

    4-I was actually SO sure I would want to have some alone time with TH (kissing and nipple stimulation can help with the progression of labor) but it never crossed my mind to ask people to give us some time alone. I think maybe that night we spent together with him holding my hand and me singing was enough. I wouldn’t be shy about kicking people out though if I felt like it during the next birth.

    5-Nope, no stains anywhere at all. I did end up making TH scrub down the new chair we bought, but that was during post-partum recovery and I’ll save that story for another post :)

    6-As the person enduring the labor, I’m not sure I would have noticed the smell. Take Kelli Nicole’s word for it.

  22. I love that you showed us some of your video! Here you are letting us in on some of your most vulnerable moments and I would kicked someone in the face if they had tried to film me in pain too much – I want to be like you when I grow up.

    I admit that I chuckled a little bit during the in-bath scene where all we see is TH’s head and he’s just letting you do whatever you need. Way to go TH!

    As for the poo, I don’t remember or know if I did any #2′s during birth…if I did no one even mentioned it and I certainly like to keep it that way! I do remember reading about impending labor signs and that one of them was loose stools usually within 12 hours or so of birth (a sort of ‘clearing out’ of the bowels) I remember with both of them I experienced that, plus both were born in the morning after an entire night of not eating, so chances are I probably didn’t.

    Jenna Reply:

    I watched for loose stools in an obsessive kind of way, but never really felt like anything changed.

  23. Thanks for taking questions Jenna… I feel like your GoogleAnalytics have to be off the charts! I know I’ve sent the site to friends already… Your honest retelling is so nice.

    What does it mean that Sarah supported your perineum during birth? How did that contribute to keeping it intact? You mentioned perineum massage in your pre-natal posts, but I don’t understand how that helps… Is “massage” a euphmism for “stretch”, like the gizmo you got from Canada? (I have told ny husband that his mum will have to send us one when it is time!)

    Jenna Reply:

    Simply placing pressure on the perineum (sometimes labor attendants will use a warm cloth), and also rubbing olive oil in (Sarah didn’t do this) can help the perineum prepare for the big push and stretch out a bit more.

    Perineal massage is though (I believe) to help prepare the muscles. Don’t think of it as attempting to “make the hole bigger” (I had to keep reminding TH of this) but helping the muscles learn how to relax, and helping you identify which muscles you will be using while pushing.

  24. i think i submitted this on your formspring too, sorry for being redundant. with all the preparation you did i’m wondering if there was anything about your labor/birth experience that truly surprised you. anything happen that you didn’t expect?

    Jenna Reply:

    I could never have anticipated what the burning of the head crowning felt like. There are no words for this.

    Also I thought I would be more creative with my laboring positions and coping mechanisms, but mostly I just reverted to the same things over and over, almost always in the birth tub.

  25. I had a hospital birth with an epidural(after 13 hours of back labor without meds and stalling out at 5 cm) and a second degree tear, and my uterus inverted when I delivered the placenta (thank goodness I had an epi or I would have been in emergency surgery) and I was mostly pain free at the 18 day mark too – I only took the pain meds for about a week. Just a little pressure from time to time when I sat down quickly, but my doc said that tears take longer to heal when breastfeefing because of the lower estrogen levels.

    Awesome story Jenna, I’m loving hearing about your beautiful home birth.

  26. Thank you for answering my question! Your answer makes sense. I find this Q & A post completely fascinating.

  27. I wanted to thank you for being so brave to share your birth story. As a woman who has not yet started a family (just a few more years I think) I was a little scared by your previous posts leading up to the birth.

    However, reading your birth story was very reassuring and actually makes me feel excited to eventually be doing the same thing.

    Thanks again Jenna, you are an inspiration.

  28. Thanks for answering my question! I figured if I’m curious there has GOT to be at least one other girl reading this with the same curiosity. Actually, my mom has told me that she had a BM while giving birth to me. She told me that a verryyyy long time ago (probably when I was maybe 7?) but I never forgot it.

    I was just telling Josh today about your birth posts and he seemed really interested in natural birth. I’ve said this a thousand times already, but you’re truly an inspiration and have opened my eyes to SO much. These ladies have asked some really great questions in the comments and I’m looking forward to reading the answers!

  29. You’ve already answered all the questions I had, leaving me to simply stammer like a broken record:

    You rock, you rock, you rock!

  30. THANK YOU for posting the video of sounds you made during birth. It looks like you did SO WELL, even when you got to the “it hurts so bad” part. Sometimes being free to express how you feel–that it hurts like heck!–is exactly what you need in labor. I loved being able to see scenes of you in labor. I think a mom giving birth is the most beautiful, incredible thing in the world, and TH was a real champ, too!

    Also wanted to say that typically doulas get there earlier (around 4-5 cm) to help moms through early labor, and then midwives arrive shortly after. Sometimes the doula will hang out with mom through early labor while the midwife gets some sleep so she’s rested for pushing! Doulas can do some of their best work during early and active labor, but it looks like you were doing just fine! It sounds like you were handling things so well, Sarah just couldn’t tell, as Kelli said, that you were so far along!

    Totally showing this to my first-time mom client who is terrified of birth!

  31. Pingback: Blooming Within » Blog Archive » Sounds in Labor

  32. I just thought I’d chime in on this question:

    Is it typical for a midwife to wait until you are so far progressed into labor to arrive?

    My birth will be attended by midwives also and I’ve been told they will usually come over according to the 3-1-1 rule: when contractions are three minutes apart, one minute long, for one hour. They also assess you based on whether you can speak on the phone or not but it seems mine also go by the contraction rule. Hope that helps!

  33. My question for you Jenna is, do you ever miss having a baby in your belly?

    I know cuddling him must be awesome in different ways but somehow I can’t help feeling like I’m going to really miss feeling those kicks and rolls, not to mention being able to carry him around and feed him and take care of him just by going about my business and doing what I do. ;) Do you miss having T1 be a part of you, literally?

    Jenna Reply:

    I miss having a baby who doesn’t ever cry :) When he was inside of me, we had such a sweet bond, and now he’s out and fussy and sometimes I just want to tuck him back inside and try to get that feeling of kicking and spinning back.

    But I never got to see his big blue eyes staring up at me when he was in my tummy.

  34. I am loving all of your candidness with the whole birthing experience. The whole home birth experience is fascinating. I know you said that you plan on doing homebirth with any future children, but do you think you will still do a water birth?

    Jenna Reply:

    Yes. Most definitely.

  35. Love your sounds and honesty in all that you post, I was the same way through labor, never really screamed… just deep labored breathing, grunts and complaints of pain! I just love you!

  36. i’m finally caught up on your birth story. my dear friend had her second home birth just after midnight saturday, so the past week has been busy helping her prepare. thank you for sharing your beautiful birth story. i think it is really important to share labor and delivery as candidly as you have. i wish that family much joy!

  37. You may have mentioned this before and I missed it, but you said that you and TH really didn’t want for you to have an episiotomy. I was just wondering why you (and TH, too) were so adamant. Is it just because it’s one more type of intervention?

    Thanks so much for sharing your story!

    Jenna Reply:

    It’s because of the recovery! Also, who would ever want to have such sensitive parts cut open?

    When I think of an episiotomy, I think of Russian Roulette. I can either give you a loaded gun and tell you that you’re going to get shot (i.e. get cut), or I can tell you to spin the bullet holder thingy and you can take your chances that you may or may not get shot (i.e. tear naturally). I’ll never understand why so many women advocate for just getting shot point blank?

  38. Pingback: That Wife » Blog Archive » Brain Dump VII

  39. I think I am started to understand what prevents baby from aspirating when born into water. Is there any chance that he or she could get an infection though? I’m thinking this because you said at different points you were urinating in the water, pooping, there is obviously blood, etc.

  40. Beautiful story – you did amazingly well! It really brought back memories of my own birth experience just a year ago.. my labour was 3 hours, very short and very painful, but I am glad I did it without pain relief. It’s such an empowering experience! I do not know how people manage with long labours – I admire you!

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