Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Birth Experience: {Induction vs. Natural}

This post is mostly for myself so that I can remember specifics things about my deliveries. Plus, if this helps someone somewhere during a late night Google session thanks to pregnancy insomnia, then that's fine too :)

{Disclaimer: This is what happened in my personal experience. Not every labor and/or delivery are the same for every woman, or even every pregnancy for the same woman.}

Now that I have experienced vaginal delivery two separate ways, there are many differences and similarities that I notice.

With my first child, I was induced at 40 weeks and 2 days. There was no medical reason for inducing. The reasons were: I was past my due date, had limited time before my mom had to go home, and my body was already favorable for induction. {The term "favorable" is subjective, but the hospital I go to has an actual point system to determine favorability. Basically, you have to have a high enough score and be past 39 weeks before they will be willing to induce.} And before you ask, I did need my mom with me. I know I'd be able to do it without her, but that was my first choice because I desired her support.

I checked into the hospital the night before my induction. After giving a urine sample, I was shown to my room. They hooked me up to an IV, and I filled out a ton of paperwork. I was given Cervadil to ripen my cervix because I was only 1 cm dilated, and barely effaced. After an hour on Cervadil, baby's heart rate dropped significantly. The Cervadil was removed, and I was repositioned until her heart rate was in the normal range again. After a long night of worrying on my part, I was given Pitocin. After about 2 hours on Pitocin, my doctor came to check on me. I was 3 cm, and little more effaced. The Cervadil had irritated my cervix enough that I was told I'd be getting an epidural soon. I never felt a true contraction because of this. The epidural felt like a big bee sting on my back with a warming sensation that spread to the rest of my lower back. Within 20-30 minutes, I did not feel any pain in the injection site, and my lower half was completely numb. I was then given a catheter, which I didn't feel at all.

It was a little over 10 hours from starting Pitocin to the time I delivered. I know this does not ring true for everyone that is induced, especially if you are a first time mom. Phil didn't get to cut the cord because the syringe bulb to suction out baby's mouth and nose fell on the ground. The doctor cut the cord so that baby could be taken by the nursery nurse to be suctioned and cleaned off. I had tearing that required stitching. However, I didn't feel any of it due to the epidural. I was never told the degree to which I tore, but it was obviously not more than a second degree tear.

It took about 4 or 5 hours for me to get up and go to the restroom, which required my nurse and a good friend of mine helping me walk. The next morning, I could walk slowly without help, but my legs were very swollen. I ended up using compression socks for the next 2-1/2 weeks to help with the swelling. It also helps that my husband was willing to massage my feet and legs :)

Overall, my recovery took some time. I felt pretty exhausted, and it hurt to laugh/sneeze/cry/cough for the first month. I also had a little swelling in my face, particularly my eyelids, for the 2 weeks following birth. The thought of having another child was not appealing in the slightest for the first 8 months of my daughter's life. I knew I'd get there eventually, but the memory of the recovery was powerful enough to make me consider making my daughter an only child.

{To clarify, I'm using the term "natural" to describe my experience where labor started on its own, and I had no pain medication at the hospital.}

I was 39 weeks and 5 days when I woke up to pee as per usual. It was 4:45 am. I walked to the bathroom feeling like my lower half was so heavy, that I could have almost crawled to the toilet. It felt like gravity was pulling me down hard. Once I went back to bed, I had about 10 minutes before I felt my first contraction. It felt like menstrual cramp, but much stronger. For me, it was like my muscles were squeezing, but continued to squeeze past the point I thought they couldn't squeeze any further. It was also a pain literally brought me to my knees from the moment they began. After timing only 3 of the contractions with an app, I woke up Phil and told him he better get ready. We took a final bump picture, and I called labor and delivery. I was told I could come and be observed, or drink water and wait an hour. I had a contraction during the conversation, so I decided to go ahead and get observed.

I was hooked up to a monitor for about 90 minutes at the hospital before my water broke. I did feel it break, as I described in my long birth story. By the time my cervix showed progress after my water broke, I delivered 30 minutes after that. I was hooked up to an IV, but it came out of my wrist by the time I was pushing. I didn't have time for any anesthesia for the pushing part. It took about 4 pushes, and maybe 5 minutes before my son came out sunny side up. My husband got to cut the cord before baby was taken to be weighed. After my son was born, the IV was put back into place, and I received some local anesthesia shots to stitch me back together. I did feel some pain while they did that part. However, in comparison to giving birth it was not too back. Even them taking blood samples from me later didn't even seem like anything in comparison.

I was ready to get out of bed and use the restroom within 3 hours, and only required the nurse to help me in and out of the bed. I felt well enough to take a shower by myself the next morning. I had hardly any swelling in my legs, and felt like walking down the halls within 24 hours. I felt like I was able to enjoy visitors, including my (almost) 2 year-old daughter, and could keep up with conversations much better than my previous delivery experience.

My recovery felt much faster. I had more energy, less swelling, and I felt more like myself after just 2 weeks. The thought of having another child was physically appealing within 4 weeks of my son's life. The part of me that would have to chase around 2 toddlers while pregnant is still not considering any more children. We'll see what the future holds :) I will say that, if we do have more children, I will most likely request some time of pain medication if there's time.

- With both pregnancies, I went to the same hospital.
- There was a small baby boom each time I went to deliver. Enough of a boom that I had to switch rooms the day after delivery to make room for new babies being born.
- I had the largest delivery room both times, and I'm quite glad of that.
- My experience with the hospital, nurses, and doctors were fantastic. I don't want to ever deliver anywhere else!
- I needed to use the oxygen mask before, and during the pushing stage of labor. I was told this happens 50% of the time and seems scarier than it actually is. I could tell you myself I wasn't breathing well, so I was more than happy getting some extra help.
- Even though the second time was stronger, the sensation I felt when it was time to push was the exact same. It feels almost like the same pressure you feel if you're straddling a fence post. The only difference is, it only gets more intense, and feels better when you are pushing the baby out.
- I got skin-to-skin time with both children. I believe this really helped with bonding, body temperature for the babes, and feeling at ease after such an incredible, yet intense experience.
- I utilized the nursery with both my children and do not feel guilty about it. Mama needed some rest.
- I only stayed for 2 nights at the hospital, and got to take whatever recovery supplies I didn't use up home with me.

Even after comparing my two very different deliveries, I am very grateful that I had a great experience both times. I felt God's presence during these times, and I am so thankful for that comfort! I know anything can happen, and things can change in an instant. As long as you surround yourself with doctors and nurses you trust, (and express any fears and concerns to your delivery nurse), you can at least have a small sense of peace during this crazy, beautiful, and sometimes scary experience.


  1. I love hearing birth stories! Like you said they are all different! Mine was pretty boring, but Parker got here safe and sound! You will love looking back at this someday.

    1. I find them interesting too! Boring or not, it was still a great story, especially because you got an awesome son at the end of it :)


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