Birthing when the Unexpected Happens

Birthing Among the Unexpected

Birth can often be slow, calm, and uneventful – You know, besides the beautiful newborn that is born. However, like life, sometimes crazy or unexpected things happen while in labor. So, I asked some of my fellow Birth Boot Camp  instructors and doulas for their stories. Here are some of the stories they shared:

POWER OUTAGE

For me, it got a little dark during my home birth – literally. The power company decided to schedule a power outage while I was in labor. After a couple of hours, our midwife finally called the company and said, “We need the electricity back on, this is an emergency; we are having a home birth”. Within minutes of her call, the lights were back on. It wasn’t exactly an emergency, but my birth team appreciated being able to see again!

ANIMAL INVOLVEMENT

What do you get when you combine a birth, donkey, and a good Samaritan? You get the birth of Hailie’s fourth child, of course!

With my 4th baby, we got held up in traffic in a residential area. There was an injured donkey standing in the road. Yes, in a residential area. Some good Samaritans got it moved and called a vet down the street for help.” – Hailie Sue Wolfe of Abilene, TX

FLOODING

“I had a client whose midwife flooded the birth room and water was going down the hall. She was at a 10 and pushing and got in the tub anyway but had to get out and go to another tub because the 1″ of standing water was obviously unsafe for everyone.” – Caren Nugent of DFW, TX

I’m sure I would have just gotten in that tub also, if I had been that mom. However, I can’t imagine being a doula and wading through water to assist my client!

DAD’S CATCH

Sometimes, labor just progresses really well, and the Dad has the unexpected experience!

“At my first doula birth, the dad had a phobia about hospitals so he waited until the last second to come to the hospital. Less that 20 mins after he got there, as his wife was on her hands and knees, he accidentally caught his son. The nurse had stepped out and the doctor wasn’t there yet. It was just me, him, his mom and my client. His face was priceless. He was in shock.” – Stephanie Trosclair of Lafayette, LA

ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN

And last, but not least . . .

“I delivered on a lobby floor, I had a client whose hubby’s appendix burst, one whose hubby fell and hit his head on the sink and got a concussion….power outages, tornado warnings where we evacuated to the hospital halls…” – Maria Pokluda of DFW, TX

Maria was one of my Birth Boot Camp DOULAS trainers, and has been to hundreds of births. So, I guess with experience, also comes the knowledge that the unexpected can definitely happen!

Did something crazy happen during your labor or birth? I would love to hear about it! Comment below!

I am a Nurse, Doula, Childbirth & Parenting Educator. I serve the Acadiana area of Louisiana, including Lafayette and Eunice. For more information about me and my services, visit M.Y. Birth & Baby.

Writing a Birth Plan

Why Every Couple Should Write a BIRTH PLAN

So, I’ve heard a lot of controversy on birth plans in the birth world lately. So, I thought I would contribute my 2 cents as well! A birth plan is similar to a 5 year plan – You know, that exercise that teachers make you do, so that you start thinking about your future . . . Yes, that! How so? Well, with a 5 year plan, you list your goals, research, and then plan the steps needed to achieve those goals. This is also true for a birth plan.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?

First – What are your goals? This will guide you. Do you want an unmedicated vaginal birth? Repeat cesarean? Medicated vaginal birth?

HOW TO ACCOMPLISHING YOUR GOALS

Each couple’s goals will be different, and so will the steps to achieving them. For instance, if your goal is a vaginal birth, you may want minimal interventions, such as vaginal exams, inductions (unless medically necessary), breaking water, or even no epidural (or waiting until at least 6 cm until getting one). If you are afraid of tearing, you may decline an epidural, refuse an episiotomy, and specify a pushing position. If you are worried about infection, you may decide to do a home birth and refuse vaginal exams. These will be the bullet points that you include on your birth plan.

There are so many things to consider, and each woman’s birth plan will vary.

Also, keep it simple and try to limit it to a page. Paragraphs are hard to read quickly. Also, if it is more than a page, it will be hard for everyone to remember everything on it.

COMMUNICATION TOOL

The exercise of creating your birth plan should ideally be done with your partner, especially if they are going to be at your birth. This is a great bonding experience. You may discover that you both have different ideas of birth. Talk and listen to each other now, when you are not distracted by contractions!

So, you and your partner have envisioned and planned for your ideal birth. Now what? Communicate it! This is the most important part. Talk to your care provider. If their birth philosophy is not in alignment with yours, you may need to find a new care provider. Or, maybe your care provider may have some other suggestions. Labor is not the ideal time to have this discussion.

So, you and your care provider agree on your birth plan. Great! Now, share it with everyone else that will be a part of your birth – Doula, nurses, family, friends . . . If any of these people are not supportive of your plan, you may need to rethink their involvement. Negative energy can really mess up the birthing atmosphere.

A BIRTH PLAN IS NOT . . .

A birth plan is NOT a contract; it is more of a guide. You are not guaranteed this birth plan. Most medical professionals will try to respect the plan as much as possible.

However, it is important to know what your birth place’s policies are. If your birth place does not allow things on your plan, they likely will not be honored. Tour your birth place, and find these things out ahead of time. If they cannot meet your needs, is there another place that will?

Also, like life, things may change. Every woman’s birth follows its own path, and things may happen that you didn’t plan for.

FACTORS THAT CAN AFFECT YOUR BIRTH EXPERIENCE

EDUCATION

Education is the most valuable tool you have when planning for a birth, and also when dealing with whatever may come your way. A comprehensive childbirth class is invaluable. Birth isn’t going the way you planned? That’s okay. With a comprehensive education, you will know what questions to ask, and be able to make an educated decision. YOU are in charge of YOUR birth!

CARE PROVIDER

Find a care provider that is respectful and supportive of your birthing goals. One care provider that was amazing for your best friend, may not be amazing for you. Every woman has different desires and goals, so not every care provider will be a good match for YOU. It is okay to switch care providers to find one that meets YOUR needs!

BIRTH PLACE

Each birth place will have different policies. Find one that fits your needs.

DOULA

An independent doula can help with and support any birth plan. Birth can be an emotional, intense, and wonderful time, especially with extra support. Like care providers and birth places, find a doula that matches your personality and needs.

Happy planning!

Did you write a birth plan? Did it help? Any tips for other couples? Leave your comments below!

I am a nurse, certified Birth Boot Camp Doula and Childbirth Educator, as well as a Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. I provide services in Acadiana area, including Lafayette & Eunice, LA. For more information about me and my services, visit M.Y. Birth & Baby. Let’s start planning for an AMAZING birth!

What to do when your water breaks to start labor.

Your Water Broke! Now what?

Due to media and movies, many people envision labor starting with a gush of water and then a hectic ride to the hospital. For the majority of women, this isn’t the case. 8-10% of women’s membranes will rupture before labor starts, but for most it usually happens in active labor or when pushing.

WHAT DOES RUPTURE OF MEMBRANES MEAN?

Inside the uterus, your baby is surrounded by the amniotic sac, which contains amniotic fluid. This provides the baby cushioning and protection from bacteria. Like a balloon, the sac, or membranes, surrounding the fluid can tear. If it is a small tear, you may notice some leaking. The membrane may even self heal. If there is a large tear, there may be a more noticeable gush of “water”. Your water breaking may not be obvious; some women question whether they peed on themselves before they realize that it is amniotic fluid.

If this happens before you are full-term (full-term is considered 39-41 weeks gestation by The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynocologists (ACOG)), call your doctor and ask what they recommend.

The focus of this blog is a full-term, low-risk mother and her “water breaking” to start labor.

SO, NOW WHAT?

Take a breath.

Smile. You are in labor!

Put on a heavy pad or a Depends (adult diaper). You will continue to leak as you hydrate yourself.

Follow your labor plan. Is it in the middle of the night? Try to go back to sleep. Early labor can take a while and rest is important.

Are you well rested and want to get moving? Go for a walk.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

What color is the fluid? It should be clear, maybe with white specks in it. It should also be odorless, or with a slightly sweet smell. If this is not the case, call your care provider and notify them.

What does your care provider recommend if your water breaks? This is a great question to ask your care provider during a prenatal appointment. If you forget to ask beforehand, you can also call the office. The answer to this question will vary among providers.

CONCERN WHEN MEMBRANES RUPTURE

The biggest concern is infection. The amniotic sac creates a barrier, protecting the baby from infection. Once the water breaks, this protection is gone.

Evidence Based Birth has a great article that discusses Term Premature Rupture of Membranes that discusses the fears of care providers and the current research.

HOW TO MINIMIZE RISK

So how can you protect the baby after this barrier is gone?

Drink tons of water! Think gallons. This may be easier than you think. During labor women often get very thirsty, so keep the fluids coming! Coconut water and laborade (water, raw honey, and sea salt) are also great alternatives to water. The amniotic fluid will replenish itself. If you have a small leak, the amniotic sac may fill again if the tear repairs itself. If it is a large tear, the fluid might just drain back out – that’s okay. If the head is engaged in the pelvis, it will also block some of the amniotic fluid from exiting.

Take your temperature. If you decide to labor at home for a while, take your temperature regularly. 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a fever. Call your care provider. Usually if the increased temperature is due to infection, there will also be other signs such as increased heart rate of mom and/or baby, and smelly amniotic fluid.

Take only showers; no baths. Germs have an easier time traveling up the vaginal canal when you are soaking in water. If your water breaks in active labor, it is considered safe to take a bath without increasing risk of infection.

And, finally, the number 1 thing you can do is say NO to vaginal exams, or minimize them. It does not matter how careful medical staff are and that they use sterile gloves. When they do a cervical checks, bacteria is pushed from the vaginal tract up to the cervix (the opening to the uterus). The number of vaginal checks is linked to increased occurrence of infection.

Feel free to share this image on social media (including your own blog!)

SO, WHAT HAPPENS IF AN INFECTION DOES DEVELOP?

Medical personnel monitor you closely, regardless of your birth place. If you show signs of an infection, they usually suggest antibiotics.

They will often give the newborn antibiotics, as well, and observe him/her in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after birth. If you do receive antibiotics, consider taking a probiotic to replenish your good bacteria.

If baby shows signs of distress during labor, such as the heart rate lowering at atypical times, or staying lower or higher than normal, they will likely suggest a cesarean if a vaginal birth isn’t imminent.

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS

Another factor to consider, is that the cushion is gone. Amniotic fluid provides cushioning for mom and baby. It is, also, easier for baby to get into a good position with the extra fluid to float in.

So, contractions may be intense sooner. Think about the comfort measures you learned in your childbirth class and use them! Also, if you hired a doula, call, and develop a game plan.

Also, if you are pregnant and reading this, start seeing a chiropractor. If possible, get a chiropractic adjustment during labor as well. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to improve fetal positioning. Ideally, find a chiropractor that has extra training and experience with pregnancy, like a Webster Certified chiropractor. To find a list of providers near you, http://icpa4kids.org is a great place to start. If you are in the Lafayette and Eunice, LA area, you can also contact me for suggestions.

Birth, like life, often does not go according to plan. However, you can still have an AMAZING birth!

Did your labor start with a gush? What did you do? Comment below!

I am a registered nurse, and certified Birth Boot Camp Instructor & Doula in the Lafayette and Eunice, LA areas. For more information about me and my services, visit M.Y. Birth & Baby.