Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Following Your Intuition: The Key to a Safe Birth

Many women who give birth in hospitals or with doctors and midwives in attendance rely upon the information obtained from technology, or from the experience of these so-called "experts" to guide them in how to safely give birth.  No machine, such as an electronic fetal monitor, and no person other than the birthing woman can really know what is right for that woman.  Only by looking within herself and consulting her inner wisdom through intuitive insight can the woman know what is right to do in her particular situation.  Sometimes, she may sit down, close her eyes, and actually seek this insight in order to solve a perceived problem in the birth.  But most likely, as the following birth story will depict, that which must be done is instinctively or intuitively made clear to the mother at a time of emergency, without her actively seeking such information.

The reason that hospital birth, or any birth attended by a doctor or midwife is inherently dangerous, is that it causes the woman to not trust or listen to what her body is telling her to do, and it causes her to listen to others and accept their assessment of her situation when there is no possible way they could know what is best.  By doing this, many complications often occur.  The medical establishment tries to convince us that only through medical tests or the experience of professionals can a mother really have a safe birth....but it is reliance upon those very experiences which can actually cause complications.   Your body knows what to do....if you will trust this process, and not try to second guess what your body is telling you, just trust it, you will avoid complications the majority of the time.   When someone suggests a procedure to you, or a particular course of action, and it doesn't feel right to you, makes you afraid or causes you to feel unsettled, your intuitive wisdom is telling you it's not right.....

The following story of a beautiful, unassisted birth depicts just how listening to your body can help you deal with situations in a home birth which are considered "complications" by the medical establishment.  We just call them "variations of normal."  Your body can deal with these spontaneous occurrences very well if you let it.

Katherine's Birth Story - by Emm

Katherine is my 4th baby and My 6th pregnancy.  I became pregnant with her after 18 months trying (charting and all..)  My third was born UC (unassisted childbirth) and we had not really decided whether this one would be UC until after conception.  I believe a mother KNOWS intuitively what her baby and she need. After conception, I knew she too would be UC.  So goes the pregnancy, I did my own care.  My hubby occasionally listened to the baby's heart and we palpated carefully as I already had one breech.
So, I was due on June 10 2000.  As with  all my others, that date came and went without event!  My last one was 4 1/2 weeks overdue!  The eve of June 14, ( my mothers birthdate) I started some light contractions.  They stayed for 2 days, getting quite heavy and strong at night, but tapering off in the daytime. Around 8am June 16, My water broke.  It was pea-soup consistency and color.  It gushed with every step I took and poured out every time I sat down!

Contractions stayed about the same.  By the afternoon I had lost a lot of fluid and the consistency seemed to be getting thicker.  After consulting with a few books I decided not to worry about the color.   The fact that my water broke was no biggie with me because my second child's water broke 4 days before his birth (at home too).
The contractions were getting so heavy at night that I could not sleep!  But, inevitably, they would peeter off at sunrise!  Any way,  June 17, they came and went all day, I was beginning to get tired.  But, really it wasn't so bad - I am used to looong labors!  June 18 was Fathers day.  We went to church and a few friends that knew of our plans and that I had been having lots contrax and water breaking etc...reassured and lightly teased me about coming next week still preg.(hehe)  Any way, I was not having any contractions during church, but felt very uncomfortable and exceedingly restless!
By 1pm June 18, I had sent my other 3 children over to play at my friends house.  All I could think about was peace and quiet!   I found it very relaxing and comfortable in an old upholstered swivel rocker in our living room.  That was surprising to me as I stood the entire labor with my last baby!  Around 7pm, I really felt like going upstairs to my room.  I told my hubby that I really wanted to go, but also wanted "my " chair.  He offered to carry it upstairs!  It is quite bulky and heavy!  He carried it up and up I went too.

Once in my room, I found that at that moment I really desired seclusion.  My always accommodating and tremendously supportive hubby left me alone and went about feeding and putting the kids to bed.  While he was lying with my 3 yo, My contractions became so strong, I could not get up. I had laid down on the bed for a while.  I could not call for anyone either, I just banged on the wall.  After a while hubby came and helped me out of the bed!  Back to the chair I went!  I was so hungry...The only thing I could think of was the oranges and Clif Bars in the pantry!  Hubby brought them to me, he sliced the oranges paper thin. Later he told me he did that so I would not have to use too much energy chewing! (how thoughtful!)  I ate them a little at a time.. They tasted sooo goood!

My friend was to come over and help watch the children during the birth.  I wanted them all there but felt that my 3yo especially could benefit from having an adult caretaker.  Plus, she is my good friend! and..I knew she would stay out of the way and leave us alone!  Contractions were definitely coming very strong, and quick, I requested my hubby to call my friend.  He says it was about 11pm then.  I was still in the chair, managing quite well.  HE made the call and she came.  She waited downstairs with my 11yo dd who couldn't sleep because of all the excitement. (She desperately wanted a sister)   At some point I called for the children to be awakened and brought in.  I had promised them they would get to see some labor and the birth!  They all came in and piled up on the bed- behind me.

It was about 20 minutes after the kids came in...I suddenly felt a change.  NOT the normal change of transition.  Something almost desperate.  A  horrible, unmanageable pain was shooting down my legs and originated at the sides of my hips! It did not subside between contractions.  It was NOT normal...I could feel deep inside myself  something just was NOT right!!

I really had a very hard time keeping on top of things!  Really, I was barely holding on after that pain started, where I had been doing quite well before.  I just HAD to get out of that chair, but moving brought on that pain--intensified!  IT never stopped..only got worse and worse.  Hubby helped me out of the chair, I immediately went to hands and knees--instinctively!   With head on the floor and butt in the air, I felt an urgent need to push.  UNLIKE any I had felt with other babies.  IT was bordering on panic.  By the way, when I stood from the chair..blood poured down my legs and pooled on the floor!   I KNEW I had to get the baby out NOW!

Now...This is where I almost kicked my dear hubby in the head....going on all my other really long labors, he kept telling me to NOT push, he said...wait and remember you don't want to tear ( that was my only request, was for him to help me not to tear..this time).   I just had to push..... and PUSH I did!!!  ( And BOY did I tear!)

Baby Katherine came shooting out like a bullet. She never even crowned.  I pushed her out in one mighty contraction-2 pushes!  I mean, really, I felt her coming down the birth canal like a cannon and then she was out!  She was covered in blood- I mean a LOT of blood and she breathed within 3 seconds!  I never had one to breathe that fast!  and...HER cord was limp and NOT pulsing!!!  I was thankful she breathed so quickly. But she pinked right up and was beautiful.

I could not seem to get the placenta out even after an hour and a half!  it did not seem to detach, you know, the gush!  NO gush.  We believe in not cutting the cord, so she was right there.  BUT, I had sooo much pain, the same pain I had during the end of labor.  I was restless and doing very badly.  I could not even hold her!  I had to get up and try to get this placenta out!  MY intuition kicked in!   My hubby convinced me to cut her lifeless cord and go to the bathroom and try to get the placenta out, after all I could not even hold her I was in so much pain!  All I could do was pace, standing hurt, sitting hurt.  I took some herbs and squatted over a bowl and tried with all my might to push..the pain was so intense I could not push effectively!  After a little more pacing I thought maybe the placenta is already detached.  Squatting over the bowl I gave the cord a little tug.

After that, the pain went away immediately.  When I went to the bed to rest I passed two huge clots...I mean huge!!  They each fit in a pint size jar alone!  Together, They were as big as the placenta!

Of course I researched what had happened.  I called a midwife friend a few days later, she confirmed my diagnosis of ABRUPTIO PLACENTA (detachment of the placenta before birth)  She also stated that if I had of ignored my instincts and NOT gotten in the hand/knee position or waited to push,  I would most likely have a dead baby.  She even said in a hospital, the outcome would not have been as good either!  Because they would try to interfere with surgical means which would not have been as fast as I pushed her out!  She even admitted that a midwife might have caused enough interference that the outcome would not have been as good!

The intense pain I felt was nerve pain.  As the site bled where the placenta was attached, the blood pooled around the nerve channel in my uterus, thus causing pressure on the main nerve----causing intense nerve pain!

What I want women to realize from my story is that TRUST in your body's ability to birth is paramount to the outcome.  Even a bad situation can be avoided or handled well if we can just trust our instincts!!  Even UC birth.

I do not feel I can convey the more intense moments properly!  But, I have tried to.  I, too, feel that each birth teaches the mother something, a lot of growth is done if you allow it to happen!

What caused Katherine's placenta to separate too soon?  I thought you could benefit from knowing this.  When you do your own prenatal care, it is good to know a little about this one.

Although it is hard to say...most cases of abruptio placenta are ultimately a result of an undernourished mother.

Although My diet is actually pretty good, I was most likely malnourished!
I had severe pneumonia that began at 23 weeks and I finally licked it at 29 weeks!(with the help of much PROTESTED AND ABHORRED antibiotics!)  During the worst part of it, I lost 20 lbs in three weeks because I would cough until I threw up.  I would do this about 15-20 times a day!  Remember, this is the stage when I should have actually gained about 15-20 lbs..not LOST weight!  I couldn't even walk across the room without getting short of breath and dizzy for lack of oxygen.

By the 34th week, I was showing early signs of toxemia.  Like very painful scant urination, waking many times a night and not being able to fall asleep again, lack of appetite, lack of thirst, swelling (I never swelled with my other pregnancies) and a whole slew of others.  I was pretty much "by the book" as far as early stage toxemia.  And, I had not regained the weight previously lost.

I began on an emergency eating plan...uughh!  I ate 250 grams protein daily.  THAT is a LOT of food, ladies!  I pretty much had to eat a high protein food every hour and even wake up twice during the night and eat!  I really did not want to see any food after that!  I drank a ton of water.  I took, calcium and magnesium, alfalfa, and B complex.  I took extra vit c and vitamin E.  AND  I gained 18 lbs in 7 weeks!  My baby more than doubled in size, she was way small for dates before this!  This still only put me 5 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight!

I became an expert in Dr Brewer's research on liver dysfunction and nutrition!  You know, when a mother is undernourished during the critical 24-28 week time frame, she doesn't produce enough blood volume to support the pregnancy in the later stages.  And, it is very difficult to "fix" it later as the developing baby puts so much stress on the liver when the blood supply is low, that the liver just cant keep up! It is the overstressed liver that causes all those toxemic symptoms!  The solution...build more blood volume!  Build blood volume by eat..eat..eat..protein! And water.

So, you see, this is probably the cause of the premature separation.  The placenta was quite small.  Only about 6-7 inches across, and showed all kinds of signs of trauma and stress!  The retained membranes were most likely also a result of the poor development of the placenta during that time.  It just plain did not look healthy!
I was waiting for the gush of separation, but it never came.  In hind sight I know why- it had separated before birth!

The placenta wouldn't come out because I couldn't push!  The nerve pain was incredible!  I couldn't push effectively at all!  That is why I pulled on the cord.  Usually cord traction is something to avoid!  But, In this case, after I felt the placenta right at my cervix, I literally pulled it out. Also, behind the placenta, were two huge clots and a lot of blood pushing  it tight against my cervix.  I guess this created a sort of seal.   Also remember that it finally came out after an hour and a half, that means that my cervix had begun to close some.

I would like to make some comments about Emm's story.  First of all, Emm educated herself.  She invested in some books, studied, and knew the reasons why things happen.  When her body began to behave as if there were a problem, she knew what to do.  Now, when you consult books, the answers they give you aren't always right.  You have to take that information into your mind, and evaluate it based upon your own intuition.  Emm knew that she needed nutritional support, she studied and found the information she needed, and her body responded favorably to her nutritional program.  90% of all problems in pregnancy can be alleviated or improved through some form of change in the mother's diet.

So my first point is, in taking responsibility for your own health and birth, you have to do the research.  Yes it's work.  Yes, it would be easier to rely upon a medical professional who has been to school and supposedly knows what is best.  But the reality is, what they suggest isn't always best in your particular situation, and only YOU can tell for sure.  So don't be lazy, do your homework!  All the information you need is out there.

My second point is, Emm was able to evaluate just how much medical intervention she needed.  After trying to lick the problem of her pneumonia on her own, she opted to receive antibiotics, even though they have their own consequences.  She knew this was right for her at the time.  Many people look at those of us who are into alternative health care and say that we are just against all medicine and medical care.  No....we are just against UNNECESSARY medical care, which 95% of it is.  We want to be the ones who decide when we need help.  She was able to decide that medicine was necessary, and used it to her advantage.  I'm sure she would be the first to tell you that medicines have side effects and should not be used regularly or freely.

My third point is, when the emergency arose, she did not have to stop and consult a book about what to do, or call someone.  She intuitively knew what to do.  This is one of the common questions about home birth in general, and unassisted birth in particular.  What do you do if a complication happens and you don't know what to do?  The answer is, you will always know what to do.  You will receive that information when you need it.  Your body knows what to do, and your unborn child can even communicate to you its needs.  So if you just trust that everything you need to birth this baby is available to you, you'll probably be ok.

My fourth point is that, by acting immediately upon her instincts, she birthed her baby in the safest, fastest possible manner.  If she had been in the hospital, even with everyone hurrying as fast as possible, they would have had to get an operating room ready, make some kind of preparations, and even if they already had all that ready, actually doing a c-section would have taken at least 5 minutes, even in an emergency situation, and that may have been too long.  By pushing her baby out immediately, even though she tore, that was the fastest that it could have been done.  Being in a hospital or having a birth assistant there would NOT have made if safer, or gotten her baby out any faster.  In fact, it would have actually taken longer.  There is no doubt in my mind that having an unassisted birth saved her baby's life.

When you have a home birth, it isn't about avoiding medical care.  It's about you getting to exercise your right to choose.  When women birth in the hospital, their right to choose is often compromised.  If you think you need medication or intervention, you should be the one to decide that and not be pressured into something you don't want. 

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