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labor and delivery

After my little false alarm, what ended up being 1 weeks before Nora was actually born, I was a little worried that I would hesitate going to the hospital when the real deal finally happened. I figured since this was baby #3, and they notorious for coming out quickly!, I’d end up on the evening news after having delivered my baby on the side of the 405 or something. Luckily, the way things played out there was no question it was time to go to the hospital, and no worries they would send me home again.

All week, after my false labor experience, I was having contractions on and off. They would happened most often at night. I’d wake with contractions in the middle of the night, be up for 2-3 hours with them and they would suddenly stop. It was frustrating beyond belief, but I knew my body was just gearing up for the big day and I needed to get used to interrupted sleep anyway ūüėČ

The morning of September 14th I woke up after a particular rough night with contractions having been up at least half the night on and off and I was sure that would be the day. It was my brother’s birthday and I knew how honored he would be to share his birthday with his new little niece. I even had a big burst of energy and just HAD to vacuum my whole house. I continued to have random contractions on and off all day. We went about our day like normal and took Lorne’s parents downtown to Seattle Center to walk around, check out the Space Needle and have lunch. My contractions continued very irregularly with sometimes more than an hour between them. By the end of the day I gave up hope that the 14th was our day and headed to bed.

For a change I was actually able to fall asleep quickly that night, I guess being up several nights in a row with contractions and walking around Seattle Center helped. At just before midnight on the 14th I woke having to go pee (gotta love late pregnancy). I rolled over in bed to get up and felt a little gush. For a moment I just laid there and thought “Did my water just break?” I stood up and felt more gushing, my water had broken. I managed to make to the bathroom without getting “water” all over the carpet! I woke Lorne up and called Labor and Delivery at the hospital (I didn’t want to head in unless they for sure wouldn’t send me home since I wasn’t yet having contractions). With the “come on in” approval from L&D we headed into the hospital. We got there around 1am.

In the car on the way to the hospital (sitting on a towel to protect the seats in my new van!) I started having some mild contractions. By the time we reached the hospital they had become a bit more regular. They got me changed out of my very wet pants and into the ever flattering hospital gown and hooked me up to the monitors to see what was going on. I was having contractions, mild ones, every 4-5 minutes and the baby was tolerating them very well. I had tested positive for Group B Strep so I was hooked up to an antibiotic drip and told not to have the baby before 5:15am so the meds would have time to work ūüėČ The waiting began. We dimmed the lights. Lorne fell asleep in the ultra comfortable recliner and I tried my best to rest (I couldn’t really fall asleep, too much adrenaline). After a few hours the contractions picked up a bit and I asked to be checked so I could decide if I wanted an epidural this time or not. The nurse checked me and I was only 4 cms (just one more than I had been at my appointment 4 days prior). I opted to go ahead and get the epidural since I wasn’t progressing very quickly and the contractions were really picking up on the pain scale. I crossed my fingers that the epidural would work this time, unlike my experience with Anna’s delivery.

The anesthesiologist came in and administered the epidural. Pretty quickly my right leg went completely numb but I could still feel my left leg and I could still very much feel the contractions, not a good sign. With help from the nurse I rolled over onto my left side to see if that would help better distribute the meds. After a little while on my left side there was no improvement and my contractions really started to pick up. My legs were completely numb but my uterus and hips were not, not a great thing when having contractions. At around 8:15 my nurse checked me and I was 6 cms dilated. Almost immediately after that exam the contractions began to come every minute or so and intensified quite a bit pain wise. At 9 I called the nurse back in because my epidural, even after hitting the little buster button was not helping and I was starting to feel the urge to push.

Sure enough, after a quick exam it was determined I was 10 cms and the baby was very low. The nurse had me do a quick “practice” push to make sure I was at the point where I could move the baby down with a push. After determining that the baby was likely going to come very quickly they called my doctor’s partner (my doc was out of town) and asked her to come in ASAP. I spent some time doing a little pushing while we waited on the doctor. Once Dr. T arrived I pushed a few times and at 9:32am on September 15th, 2013 our little Nora Viviann was born.

Right after birth she spent about an hour on my chest for a little skin to skin time before they weighed her, measured her and cleaned her up. She was a total champ from the get go score high scores on her apgar screening and taking to breastfeeding right away with no troubles at all.

After spending a couple more hours in the delivery room so I could get some breakfast and be monitored to ensure everything was good after the delivery and epidural we headed to our mother/baby room. We spent a day there before heading home. I am not a fan of the hospital so getting to go home after 24 hours was nice. I enjoy the fairly good food delivered to my room whenever I’m hungry, but the constant noise and people coming and going from the room make it impossible to get any rest. So, once Nora and I were both checked out by our doctors we gladly headed home.

We are settling in nicely at home. Maya and Anna seem to be enjoying their new little sister. Most of the time they just go about their days as normal, but occasionally they will stop and give Nora a little kiss or a snuggle, it is so sweet. Nora is adjusting to life here at the Mitchell house very well. She is a very good baby so far. She eats, sleeps and poops like a perfect little newborn. I’ve even been getting 4 hour stretches of sleep at night. I can live with getting up once or twice at night at this point!

She is so adorable and sweet. The perfect addition to our group of princesses. I think we’ll keep her ūüėČ

 

 

In those late weeks of pregnancy with all the aches and pains that go along with carrying a full term baby, the anticipation of finally getting to meet this little person you have been cradling inside for 9 months now, and the anxiety that comes along with not knowing what to expect from your labor and delivery can make the wait for your child’s birth day seem endless. Every little ache, every little twitch, every little pain that wasn’t there before makes you wonder if it is finally time, if your little one is about to make their appearance. We all spend those final weeks trying to¬†patiently wait for those first early signs of labor.

The home stretch can seem endless, the wait unbearable, but don’t worry your baby will make their appearance eventually. You can’t rush nature, that baby will come when they are ready. As the final weeks and days of your pregnancy draw to a close there are a few early signs of labor that you can look for that can indicate your body is in the final stages of preparing for labor. Our bodies go through a lot during pregnancy and those finally weeks and days are no exception. Here are 5 signs that your body is getting ready for labor.

  • The Braxton Hicks contractions that you have likely been experiencing for several months now will change. In the final days of your pregnancy you will likely notice an increase in both the frequency and the intensity of these contractions. Braxton Hicks are your body’s way of practicing for the real thing.
  • You will likely lose your mucous plug. This can happy several weeks before your labor begins or only a day or so. Your body will start to expel the mucous plug when your cervix begins to change. Some women walk around for weeks at 1-2cms dilated.
  • The baby “drops”. This is the term used when the baby moves further into the birth canal in preparation for the impending delivery. Sometimes this “drop” is obvious and you can see that you are carrying the baby lower than previously in your pregnancy. Sometimes the only thing you notice is increased pain and pressure in your pelvis.
  • An increase in the pain and pressure in your pelvis and hips. During the final weeks and days of your pregnancy your pelvic region will begin to prepare for the delivery and this often makes you even more uncomfortable than before. Your hips and pelvis will begin to move and separate which results in increased pain and pressure.
  • You may notice some digestive upset. Many women in the final days before labor experience vomiting, diarrhea and upset stomach. ¬†There are several cause for this digestive upset including changing hormones and added pressure on your stomach and intestines from the growing baby.
There is no way to know for sure when labor is going to begin. You may have all of the early signs of labor listed above and yet still not go into labor for several weeks, or even need to be induced. Our bodies are unpredictable. It would be nice if we could know for sure when the show was going to get started and prepare as best we can for it, but really that would kind of take away some of the fun.
The best thing you can do as you try to be patient and wait for the arrival of your bundle of joy is to rest, eat a balanced, healthy diet, get plenty of fluids and get some light exercise. Although it may feel like that baby is never going to arrive they will be here before you know it.

 

 

Labor inductions are much more common nowadays than they used to be.  Today approximately 1 in 5 births are induced, about double what it was just 20 years ago.  While most labor inductions are medically necessary and increasing number are done electively.  So what is labor induction?

Labor inductions are done when your body does not naturally go into labor so your doctor decides to artificially start your labor.  Sometimes medication like Pitocin is used to fool your body into thinking it is in labor so contractions will begin and your cervix will begin to dilate, other times your doctor will use techniques such as stripping the membranes or rupturing your membranes to trigger labor to start.

There are many reasons that your doctor and you may decide that inducing your labor is necessary, they include:

  • When a pregnancy has lasted more than 42 weeks and labor has not started naturally on its own.¬† The placenta usually stops functions after 42 weeks so it is no longer safe for the pregnancy to continue.
  • Your pregnancy has resulted in high blood pressure and your blood pressure is getting too high and the doctor feels continuing the pregnancy is no longer safe for you or the baby.
  • You have an infection in your uterus.
  • Your water has broken but contractions have not begun.
  • There is a growth problem with the baby.
  • You have a pregnancy complication such as gestational diabetes.
  • There is some other risk to the mother or the baby if the pregnancy is continued.

Most labor inductions go smoothly and the baby is delivered complication free through a normal vaginal delivery.  However, with induced labor there is an increased risk of a prolonged, difficult labor that can lead to complications and the need for a caesarean delivery.  Your risk is highest if this is your first baby and you are not full term yet.

Inducing labor is not without its risks and should be considered only if medically necessary.  There are sometimes stories out there about women who request that their labor be induced if they have not delivered by a certain date because of other events they do not want to miss or interrupt.  Babies will come on their own time and if there is no medically necessary need for your labor to be induced it is always safer and better to let your body start labor naturally on its own when your baby is ready to be born.

The rise in induced labors is a contributing factor in the continuing rise in c-sections.  C-sections account for nearly 30% of all births here in the United States.   Induced labors are also contributing to the rise of late pre-term births, babies born between 34-36 weeks.  Though these babies are often born healthy there is the risk for breathing problems, added breastfeeding difficulty, digestive issues and more when a baby is born pre-term.

If your doctor is recommending a labor induction be sure to get all facts including why it is necessary, what you can expect, and what you should do before the induction to be prepared.

I came across this article yesterday regarding an ethical dilemma that researchers are finding themselves in surrounding the use of left over blood from newborn screening tests. ¬†At question is whether or not researchers should be allowed to use the blood samples left over from newborn screenings as a research tool without written consent from the parents. ¬†Currently, most states allow these blood samples to be banked and used in research. ¬†All the identifying information is stripped from the sample and there is no real way for the information gleaned from the research to be traced back to the original person. ¬†However, parents are up in arms about this and have taken the issue before the courts in several states, arguing that it violates their child’s privacy and puts their child’s genetic information out there for anyone to find. ¬†Courts in several states, including Texas and Michigan, have agreed with the parents and forced millions of leftover samples to be thrown out and have developed a consent form so that parents have the option to opt-out if they do not wish to have their child’s sample stored and used for future research.

Although I see the point the parents are making about the privacy concerns, I think the benefits of this program far outweigh the risks, especially since the there is no identifying information attached to the samples once it is banked.  Newborn screening tests are vital for identifying potentially life threatening illnesses and conditions.  Through these screening tests doctors are able to identify illnesses and treat them right away in order to save a life, when before these screening tests were routinely done the child would likely have died.  My fear, and the fear of many, is that this current uproar will result in parents opting out of getting the screenings done all together and will result in too many babies leaving the hospital with potentially life threatening illnesses and conditions.  Also, the additional research done on the left over samples is essential to developing new screening tests, learn more about the illnesses and conditions we currently screen for and identify new conditions and illnesses that need to be added to the screening.  Our babies lives depend on this research.

I think what states, doctors and researchers need to do is to educate the public on the importance of these screening tests and the importance of the additional research being done on the left over samples. ¬†Probably every state will need to develop a consent form and give parents the option to opt-out of the program as some parents just won’t be comfortable knowing their child’s left over blood sample is being used. However, I think most parents, if comfortable in the knowledge that their child’s information is stripped from the sample before it leaves the hospital, will opt-in to the banking program and researchers will be able to continue the research that allows for groundbreaking, life saving discoveries.

What are your thoughts on this topic?  Do you think it okay to use the left over samples for research?  Do you think there should be a consent form developed?   Would you opt in or out if given the choice?

pregnancy

Any woman going through her last trimester of pregnancy knows that there is a reason women are so “ready” to have the baby by the time delivery day roles around. ¬†The aches and pains of late pregnancy are enough to make even the easiest pregnancy a challenge. ¬†From the sleeplessness to the back pain, to the practice contractions to the heartburn; it is all enough to make us beg that little one inside to hurry up and come on out to meet the world already.

When I was pregnant with Maya I was one of the lucky ones.  I had a textbook easy pregnancy, even my late pregnancy was fairly easy.  However, I remember the annoying lower back pain, the pain in my pelvic bones and hips as everything began to stretch and the difficulty sleeping.  I just wanted to know what it all was, why it was happening and how to make it better.

Here are a few of the most common aches and pains from late pregnancy, what they are, what causes them and how you can relieve them (if possible):

  • Sleeplessness: Insomnia is common in late pregnancy. ¬†Some women are just so exhausted they can’t sleep, others just simply aren’t tired and thus can’t sleep. ¬†Add to that the pain and discomfort you are feeling in many parts of your body and it often results in a lack of sleep. ¬†Many doctors recommend exercise in the evening (if you are cleared for exercise), avoid caffeine and eating lots of food right before bed.
  • Exhaustion: If you can’t sleep than it isn’t any wonder you are exhausted. ¬†Not to mention that with everything going on with your body you just don’t have the energy reserves to accomplish all your usual tasks. ¬†Try cutting back on what you do during the day (if you can), take a nap during the day if you are able (I used to nap in my car during lunch breaks). ¬†Eat a balanced diet, exercise and get sleep when you can.
  • Back Pain: Back pain is common throughout pregnancy, but tends to get worse during the last couple of months. ¬†Your growing abdomen and changing posture is putting a lot of pressure on your back and the baby is growing and putting pressure on your back. ¬†Stretching, a warm bath and a massage are all great ways to help alleviate back pain.
  • Leg Cramps: Leg cramps are caused by the changes in your muscle tone and elasticity during pregnancy and the added pressure from the baby. ¬†Women often experience them most often at night. ¬†Leg stretches before bed, putting your legs up when you can, and avoiding pointing your toes are all great ways to help avoid leg cramps.
  • Shortness of Breath: As they baby grows it crowds your lungs and puts additional pressure on your diaphragm making it more difficult to breathe. ¬†As with many of the late pregnancy symptoms this is often felt while you are trying to sleep. ¬†By sleeping propped up a bit you may be able to breathe a little better. ¬†Stretching can also help.
  • Heartburn: Again, that growing baby putting pressure on all your insides results in yet another common complaint, heartburn. ¬†The best ways to avoid heartburn are to avoid the foods that give you heartburn and staying upright after eating. ¬†You can also try drinking a glass of milk to calm the stomach acids.
  • Pain in the Pelvic and Hip Bones: This pain is caused when the ligaments and tendons in your pelvic region begin to loosen and the bones begin to spread in preparation for your upcoming labor and delivery. ¬†Some ways to alleviate the pain include light stretching and a warm compress. ¬†Swimming can also help.
  • Braxton Hicks Contractions: Also known as practice contractions. ¬†These contractions are happening throughout your pregnancy but often aren’t felt until late pregnancy. ¬†These contractions are preparing your muscles and uterus for the real thing. ¬†You can help alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by these contractiosn by changing your position, drinking a large glass of cold water, taking a warm bath or taking a nap.

Your body is under going a lot of changes during the last couple of months of pregnancy and the growing baby is putting a lot of pressure on a lot of different areas result in pain and discomfort.  Do what you can to stay comfortable, rested and relaxed (I know easier said than done sometimes).  Talk to your doctor if you are worried about any particular symptoms you are having.