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labor

Today I am 38 weeks 4 days, the most pregnant I have ever been. Both Maya and Anna were born by this point already. Maya at 38 weeks 2 days and Anna at 38 weeks 1 day. So, really it wasn’t any surprise to me when I awoke to contractions in the middle of the night on Sunday (38 weeks along). Turns out it wasn’t the real deal since I’m still very much pregnant, instead I had my first ever experience with the not very aptly named, false labor.

In the wee hours of the morning on Sunday I awoke to find myself having some pretty uncomfortable contractions every 5 mins or so. I tried, to no avail, to fall back asleep. After a couple of hours I noticed that the contractions seemed to be coming more frequently so I got up and used my phone to time the contractions for a bit. They were every 4 minutes so I decided to wake up Lorne so we could head into the hospital because I was certain this was the real deal. We arrived at the hospital about 5 am (I’d been having contractions for 4 hours or so at this point). They brought me into a room to be evaluated to see if I should stay or go home. I was definitely having regular contractions according to the monitor but I was only 2.5 cms dilated, a mere half centimeter more than at my doctor appointment earlier in the week. I was bummed to hear that news.

After a bit of consulting between my doctor, the house doctor and the nurse it was decided I should walk for a bit to see if that helped move things along. So off we went to roam the halls of the maternity ward. After an hour of walking I made my way back to the room. My contractions had increased in both intensity and frequency during our walk so I walked in with fingers crossed. They hooked me back up to the monitor and checked me again only to find out I had not made any progress. I was sent home and told to return if things progressed or my water broke. But things didn’t progress, instead a couple hours after I got home the contractions completely stopped. Turns out I had false labor, which, while you are going through it doesn’t feel false at all, it feels very real.

Since the contractions stopped on Sunday I have had only occasional cramping and contractions, other than that just regular old Braxton Hicks. I had an appointment with my doctor today and I’m still only 2.5 cms, but she said my cervix was “very thin and stretchy” so it is primed and ready to go. She figured it was a matter of days at most, but there is no way to predict it for sure. I’m definitely ready to be done being pregnant and finally meet this little girl, but I also know she won’t come until she is good and ready. Let’s just hope she is ready sooner rather than later 😉

Last Thursday I was getting ready to post an update on here about my 38 week prenatal appointment but instead I had a baby!

Anna’s birth story really begins on the day of my 38 week appointment. I was still feeling really good, but having random contractions more frequently so I figured my body was probably getting ready for something but didn’t expect anything to happen in the near term.

My doctor and I had discussed the possibility of an induction during my 39th week as a means to have greater control over my delivery and help ensure the baby wasn’t too big given the tearing and related complications I had post-delivery with Maya. We decided at my appointment last week to go ahead and schedule it for July 19th. I was all set for that to be her birthday, I really didn’t think she would come earlier than that since when I was examined I was still only about 1.5 cms dilated and I wasn’t feeling like labor was eminent.

The next day, Wednesday, Maya and I had our regular play date with our best buds Heather and Claire. I was feeling good that day. We took the kiddos to the park and between carrying Maya back and forth to the bathroom and running up a hill to save her from the monkey bars by the time we headed home I was feeling really uncomfortable. My hips and pelvis were killing me. I still didn’t think anything of it because I remembered the pelvic pain and hip pain in the late days of my pregnancy with Maya as well. I figured I had just over done it and I would feel better in the morning.

I went to bed Wednesday night exhausted and very uncomfortable from the hip pain. Luckily the exhaustion won out and I was able to fall asleep easily.  A couple of hours later, at midnight, I was awoken by a contraction (a definite real deal contraction). I fell back asleep only to be awoken again 10 minutes later. I dozed on and off for the next couple of hours with contractions steady at 10 mins apart. Then all of a sudden I woke up to a contraction and glanced at the clock only to discover it was only 5 mins since the last contraction. I convinced myself I misread the clock and closed my eyes again. Sure enough 5 mins later I woke up again to another contraction and there was no question the time frame had switched to every 5 mins.

I decided at that point to go ahead and get up and lay on the couch to time my contractions. I tried to doze off but the contractions were consistently coming every 5-6 minutes. After the first hour of that I convinced myself that I needed to keep timing them to make sure. I was trying to avoid waking up Lorne and Maya in the wee hours of the morning. So for another hour I timed my contractions only to find they were getting even closer together with contractions coming every 3-6 minutes.

So, at 4:00 am I decided it was definitely time and woke up Lorne. He figured something was up because he heard me up and walking around so I don’t think he was entirely surprised when I woke him and told him the game was on.  I also called my friend Heather, who was going to be watching Maya for us, to give the heads up that I was on my way into the hospital and Lorne would be dropping Maya off with her within an hour or two, assuming I was admitted.

When I woke Maya and told her she had to get up because it was time for Mommy to have the baby she said “No” and rolled over.   That happened twice before it dawned on her what I was actually saying. Once the thought settled in she became super excited and was ready to go. We loaded our bags in the car, which I had just hurriedly packed before waking up Maya because my plan was to pack our bags that day in preparation for my induction on Tuesday not thinking the baby would be arriving any earlier than that, and headed into the hospital.

It didn’t take long before they decided to admit me. My contractions were strong and frequent on the monitors and I was about 4 cms dilated. This was definitely the real deal. So, I got settled into a room and Lorne headed out to drop Maya off at Heather’s house.

I spent the hour or so that Lorne was gone bouncing on a birth ball to help get the baby engaged because when they first examined me they told me she was “bouncy” which meant she wasn’t yet well engaged.  When Lorne got back my nurse came in and examined me and sure enough the ball had worked, the baby was way down and I had already progressed to 6-7 cms.  They decided they would probably break my water shortly to get things moving along instead of hooking me up to Pitocin, so I decided to order my epidural before the contractions got too crazy.

Boy was getting my epidural a fun experience. The first time the anesthesiologist got the catheter into a vein. He worked it a bit hoping to get it out and did his test shot. My heart rate sky rocketed from 63 beats per minutes to 102 beats per minute in about 30 seconds and I was extremely light headed as a result. It was obvious his manipulation hadn’t worked so he pulled it out and had to start again. Lucky me! The second one got into the right spot and the test shot didn’t affect my heart rate so we were good to go. I started to feel some relief immediately.

Shortly after my epidural was in place my nurse examined me and my water broke during the exam. Things progressed quickly from there. Unfortunately I also started to get some feeling back. During the roughest phase of my labor when I was getting double dip contractions every minute or so I could feel EVERYTHING. I was in a lot of pain and the anesthesiologist had to come back in and up the dose along with giving me a booster shot for some immediate pain relief. He told me it was take about 10-15 minutes to kick in and boy were those the longest 15 minutes of my life considering I had at least a dozen or more contractions in that time frame.

Shortly after the epidural started working a bit better I started feeling a lot of pressure. My nurse examined me and sure enough I was completely dilated and the baby was right there. She called my doctor and told me he would be there in about 15 minutes, this was at around 11am. I thought the previous 15 minutes took forever to pass, they had nothing on these 15 minutes. The pressure was so intense. I got to the point where I didn’t think I couldn’t not push and the nurse said she would get the house doc to stand by in case my doctor didn’t show up in the next couple of minutes. About a minute later he walked through the door and we got the show on the road.

I pushed for about 10 minutes and the baby was out. Unfortunately that boost in my epidural was not very effective so I felt a lot of pain and burning during the actual delivery. That was not fun.  But the end result was all worth it.

Anna Lily was born on July 14th, 2011 at 11:26am weighing 6lbs 4oz and is 20in long.  She has a full head of dark hair, and big gorgeous dark eyes.

Even with her being super tiny I still tore. I tore internally in the exact same spot that I did with Maya as well as a 2nd degree perineum tear. Luckily, this time around my swelling was minimal so my doctor was able to get things stitched up much better and there is no indication that I will have any of the post delivery complications that I had as a result of my tearing with Maya’s delivery.

Anna and I spent the first hour of her life skin to skin. It was an incredible experience and I just stared at her and marveled at how adorable and tiny she is. She looks a lot like her big sister Maya did when she was born with a few of her own individual traits thrown in.

She is a tiny little thing, such a little peanut.  She is a calm, relaxed, laid back baby so far. We love her so much and are having so much fun getting to know her. She completes our family perfectly.

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.

As the end of your pregnancy approaches you are probably becoming a little nervous about what to expect, what early signs of labor, and when the call the doctor. Every new mother has these same fears and worries. Knowing how to identify “real” labor, having all the phone numbers handy of who to call when your labor starts, and talking to your doctor about your fears will all help to ease your worries.

So what is labor? Labor is what your body does in order to prepare for and deliver your baby. The contractions help to thin and open the cervix so your baby can move down and out of the birth canal.

Labor will generally start around your due date. If you are experiencing labor symptoms early call your doctor right away. Each pregnancy is different, some women have quick labors, while others will labor for much longer. Just like with everything else about pregnancy every one is different.

Your body will begin doing things to prepare for the labor and delivery any where from a few hours to a few days before your actual labor will begin. This is commonly known as pre-labor. Here are a few early signs of labor to watch out for.

  • Your may notice that your baby seems to have “dropped”. Some time during the last few weeks or days of your pregnancy the baby will begin moving into position for delivery. This is known as enlightening or “dropping”.
  • You may notice that your Braxton Hicks or false labor pains are becoming stronger. These are not actual labor pains but they do work to help begin thinning out the cervix in preparation for the real thing.
  • Many women experience an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea in the days leading up to labor. Your body is getting ready for the pushing that will take place by cleaning out your system.
  • You may experience bloody show (a blood streaked mucus). This typically happens as the cervix begins to dilate. The bloody show is also know as a mucus plug, which plugs the cervix during pregnancy to help prevent infections and bacteria from entering the uterus during pregnancy.

Given all the symptoms that your body is going through to prepare for “real” labor how will you know when the real thing has started? It can be difficult at first to know if what you are experiencing is indeed labor, in no time you will figure it out. Here are the signs that “real” labor has begun and it is time to call the doctor and head to the hospital.

  • Contractions are coming with some frequency at regular intervals, don’t subside when you change position or drink water. When you begin to feel contractions you will want to begin timing them as the doctor will want to know how far apart they are and how long they are lasting.
  • Unlike with false labor pains (Braxton Hicks contractions) you will feel real labor contractions in your back as well as your stomach. The contractions will typically begin in your back and move around to the front.
  • You may feel abdominal cramping or an upset stomach, as well as experience diarrhea. This is thought to be caused by the increased hormones that prompt labor to begin.
  • Your water will break, also known as ruptured membranes. Not all women will experience this, some women will have to have their water broken after arriving at the hospital.

If you experience any of these symptoms, or you have other indications that labor has begun contact your doctor. Your doctor will likely get some information from you to try to determine if this is the real thing and how far along you are. If this is indeed the real thing the doctor will advise you to head to the hospital.

Knowing what to expect and how to identify the early signs of labor can be a little nerve wracking for new mothers. Talk to your doctor or midwife about your concerns and fears. They can help educate you so you feel better prepared.

Here are a few helpful websites.