I have two wonderful little children. My first born, Foster turned three years old last month. My second son, Finnian (Finn) is seven months old. Both of my pregnancies were extremely different and rewarding in different ways.
I had an elective induction to deliver Foster at 39 weeks and 4 days. I woke up around 5AM the morning of my scheduled induction and called the maternity ward to see what time I could come in. We drove to the hospital and I was admitted at about 8:30AM. Of course I had not slept more than a few minutes the night before, I was shaking from my nerves. I went into this experience with no sleep and no food (I cannot eat well when I feel anxious).
I was hooked up to an IV and given Pitocin within the hour and started feeling slight contractions. At admission I was dilated to just 1cm, but I slowly progressed with the Pitocin. My contractions picked up and at about 1:00 in the afternoon I was ready for my epidural, dilated to 5cm. From there my body relaxed more and I was ready to push at approximately 5PM. Due to the excessive numbness from the epidural I pushed for 2 1/2 hours. I was very swollen and required an episiotomy and the length of pushing exhausted me so much. I came close to needing a C-Section. My OBGYN used the vacuum tool and with just two pushes I was able to deliver my son. I had requested delayed cord clamping but due to initial breathing difficulties his cord had to be cut right away.
I had a very short amount of skin to skin before he was whisked away to have his airways suctioned out. Following this he was returned to my chest for more skin to skin. My recovery was very difficult from there on and I experienced post-partum depression. We did not have an instant bond that many moms talk about. I loved him so much but I also was frightened and exhausted. I didn’t feel connected to him initially. However, my sweet first born and I grew our bond over time. Breastfeeding was difficult with him but I found ways to love and develop and strong relationship.
As I approached my due date with my second son, Finn, I was determined to not be induced again. I went into labor at 40 weeks and 4 days. Leading up to this I had weeks of Braxton Hicks contractions. A week before going into true labor I had a full day of false labor where we thought it was the real deal. We walked and walked to try and pick things up and I had a dull pain that did not progress. The night before real labor I started having my usual painless Braxton Hicks at around 10PM. They began to happen closer together and as we went to bed that night, I did not fall asleep. I started timing them on an app on my phone and stayed awake. The pain increased and at 1AM I woke my husband up to let him know that they were five minutes apart and lasting about 30 seconds each. We called his mother to come watch Foster and once she arrived we headed for the hospital.
When we arrived they admitting me right away because I was full term and it was my second baby. They let me skip triage. The nurse checked and I was already at 5cm dilated. Woohoo! It all happened so quick. By 2:30AM I had my epidural placed and I was able to get a small amount of rest. I was checked at 6AM and I was at 10cm dilated. My OBGYN came and he turned the intensity of my epidural way down, almost off. I pushed for just 20 minutes before delivering my baby. Unfortunately I was not mentally prepared to feel that much of the birth and it was very hard on me. However the relief was instant. Finnian also had initial breathing difficulties. We were able to do a small amount of delayed cord clamping, skin to skin, and then he was brought to the nursery for a full hour for monitoring because they thought he might have meconium in his lungs (which he didn’t). It was very difficult for me emotionally to have my baby away from me so soon after delivery and I was told that he struggled too. As soon as he was given back to me he calmed down and had his first nursing session, which lasted a whole hour!
Finn and I have a very strong bond together. I was lucky to have this experience be so much better than my first birth. At seven months old now, he still loves his mommy more than anyone else. He is still exclusively breastfed, which I am very proud of as Foster was not. My births were very different. I am considering trying to have my next baby with no epidural in a few years when that comes.
I believe that a large part of a mother’s connection to her baby stems from the amount of care given to let her bond and nurse her baby right away. With Foster I did not understand how to breastfeed and it was a huge stress trying to make it work. With Finn, I researched my entire pregnancy how to succeed and I had a blissful hospital experience nursing my newborn and cuddling. I also believe that mother’s should have the proper care for their post partum depression. My doctor disregarded my thoughts and did not get me on the proper medication when I had my first son. As a result I had months of darkness and did not begin to feel myself until at least six months post partum. I had a game plan with Finn and got myself on the proper medication at just two days post partum. This has made a world of a difference. Moms NEED to be heard.
Birth in Rural China
To learn about birth in rural China I read a blog from an American woman (Anna Z, 2016) who was living in China during her pregnancy and birth. It was interesting to see how much less they monitored the baby and how most routine tests she had to ask for. When it came time for her to go to the hospital in early labor, it was overcrowded and she was offered a bed in a crowded hallway filled with other women and their newborns. She wrote that it smelled like a public restroom. She left and they searched to find a different hospital. With contractions just two minutes apart she had no choice but to check in to a private hospital. It was nearly empty and she describes her experience,
” The room itself looked like a huge dormitory. Around twenty beds lined up in the room. Only four of them were occupied. I took the bed on the very far end of the room. It really wasn’t a nice experience, and no way to relax. The other women seemed to be already going through the last stages and contractions made them fill the room with screams. Nurses scolded them for making such noise as it’s believed screaming during delivery will hurt the baby.” (Anna Z, 2016)
As it was time to push she had to walk herself to the delivery room which was shared with another woman. She was left alone to push while the other woman was stitched up. She was not allowed to hold her baby for the first few hours.
It’s astounding to me how much the mother-baby bond was not supported in her experience. She was not treated with any dignity or respect and was not given the tools to create a bond with her baby right away. This made me very grateful to live in the U.S and attend a clean and baby friendly hospital.
Giving Birth in Rural China Part I: My Experience. (2016, September 25). Retrieved from http://chinaslostpanda.com/giving-birth-in-rural-china-part-i-my-experience/