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How to Handle the Unexpected When Giving Birth

 

 

http://www.parenting.com/article/giving-birthBefore I had my first baby, I knew exactly how my labor and delivery would go. I wouldn’t use drugs, I’d remember my breathing techniques and my husband, Tony, would be by my side, cutting the cord and presenting me with an adorable cherub. My exhausting and painful laborbring on the Demerol, stat!ended with an emergency Caesarean section as my blood pressure spiked.

Before I had my first baby, I knew exactly how my labor and delivery would go. I wouldn’t use drugs, I’d remember my breathing techniques and my husband, Tony, would be by my side, cutting the cord and presenting me with an adorable cherub. Well, not exactly. My exhausting and painful labor—bring on the Demerol, stat!—ended with an emergency Caesarean section as my blood pressure spiked. I barely remember Tony being there. About the only thing that went according to plan was ending up with an adorable, healthy baby. The lesson? While it’s fine to have a birth plan, sometimes sticking to it isn’t an option. Read on for a look at some of the most common snags in labor and delivery, and why it’s not the end of the world if they happen to you.

No matter how many books you read, websites you visit or classes you take, you don’t know what labor is going to feel like until it happens. “Throughout my pregnancy, I was determined to have a drug-free birth,” says Cincinnati mom Marcy Hawkins. “My mother and sister gave birth without drugs, and I was certain I could too.” But after eight hours of excruciating back labor with her son, Jackson, Hawkins had a major change of heart. “I remember looking at my husband and saying, ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore.’” She asked for an epidural—and the pain was much more bearable. Soon after, her son Jackson was born.

Repeat this mantra: There is no one right way to give birth. “We’re taught that if we breathe right, it won’t hurt,” says clinical psychologist Shoshana Bennett Ph.D., author of Pregnant on Prozac and past president of Postpartum Support International (postpartum.net). “There is absolutely no failure in asking for an epidural. Many women are so relieved once they get it that they start to enjoy labor and are able to participate more. Having some medication can be the smartest thing to do.” Once her son was born, Hawkins felt an overwhelming sense of joy—not guilt. Her advice for other moms-to-be? “Listen to your body. It’s OK to change your mind about using or not using drugs. None of that matters after you hold your baby for the first time.”

Repeat this mantra: There is no one right way to give birth. “We’re taught that if we breathe right, it won’t hurt,” says clinical psychologist Shoshana Bennett Ph.D., author of Pregnant on Prozac and past president of Postpartum Support International (postpartum.net). “There is absolutely no failure in asking for an epidural. Many women are so relieved once they get it that they start to enjoy labor and are able to participate more. Having some medication can be the smartest thing to do.” Once her son was born, Hawkins felt an overwhelming sense of joy—not guilt. Her advice for other moms-to-be? “Listen to your body. It’s OK to change your mind about using or not using drugs. None of that matters after you hold your baby for the first time.”

Like it or not, Caesarean births are still near an all-time high—a whopping 33 percent of U.S. births in 2010 (the most recent figures available), says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Even elective C-sections are on the rise, says Pamela Berens M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical School, Houston. “Some moms are requesting to schedule C-sections instead of going into labor,” she says. “It’s a trend that’s growing in some parts of the country.” There are also many medically necessary reasons for having a Caesarean, including fetal distress, breech presentation, an abnormally placed placenta or labor that simply isn’t progressing.

If you’re disappointed that you didn’t deliver vaginally, look at the big picture: You did what it took to have a safe birth. “Any way that you end up with a healthy baby is fine,” says Dr. Berens. “We don’t get to choose what labor is like, and the experience is very seldom what moms think it’s going to be.” Instead of dwelling on what didn’t happen, focus on the positives, she says. “I try to discuss recovery after a C-section with the whole family present,” Dr. Berens notes. “For six weeks after the birth, a C-section mom should recover, sleep and nurse the baby. That’s her job, period. It’s someone else’s job to cook, clean and entertain relatives.” Via parenting.com

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