Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weird, but true.

I actually meant to write about this right after Lucy was born, but I *somehow* forgot. Anyway, I was re-reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth last night, and came across the same line that led to my epiphany the first time, so I'm going to hurry and write this out before I forget *again.*

I think that one of the major reasons birthing in the hospital is difficult for women is because most of us have difficulty being uninhibited around others, especially people we don't know (this includes doctors, nurses, midwives, etc.) Some of us are even somewhat uptight around our own spouses!

When I was pregnant with Lucy, I read over and over again that one of the keys to natural, as-pain-free-as-possible birth is being completely uninhibited. To not worry about what you look like, how you sound, *gasp* if you poop, etc. So I really practiced focusing on what my body would be experiencing, and sort of separating the mental from the physical. I strove to push aside any insecurities and fears I had and embrace the waves (I hate the word "contraction," by the way).

When it came time to go to the hospital, I put my plan into action. I rocked, I moaned, I got in the tub. When I decided to get out, I *politely* declined a gown. No clue why. I just didn't want it. I must have been a sight- laboring, naked, preggo woman walking around the room, squatting periodically and circling my hips, making crazy, low, moaning sounds . (This is cracking ME up just writing this!)

Then, transition hit. All the information I read prior had indicated that most mamas having unmedicated birth don't throw up. Well, I guess I an am exception, because I puked my guts out. Granted, it only lasted a few minutes, but it was crazy how violently sick I was. Since I had declined the iv and was, as a result, drinking tons of water, dehydration wasn't an issue. And because I was busy pushing my baby out a few minutes later, I didn't have time to think about it.

Later, though, I wondered why I had been so sick. It's silly, but I almost felt like it was a sign of weakness.

Then, I came across a quote by Ina May. In her chapter on "sphincter clause," Ina May describes how certain parts of our bodies are connected. Loosening one end of the sphincter subsequently loosens the other. This is one reason doulas encourage laboring mamas to loosen their mouths- to not hold tension there. Relaxing the mouth "above" relaxes the mouth "below."

Here's the connection. What's going on during transition? The cervix is working to dilate those last few centimeters, and pushing is imminent. Ina May writes that "Vomiting normally helps the dilation of the cervix, a la Sphincter Law" (221). I think that if we (as birthing mamas) can let go of our inhibitions, our bodies will find their own way to birth. For me, it was throwing up. That's what my body needed to dilate those last few centimeters.

Getting sick wasn't a sign of weakness at all. Instead, it was a sign that my body knew what to do, and I was able to let it happen.


Jenny said...

Yes, definitely. Ina May's discussion of Sphincter Law really spoke to me during my pregnancy with Ivey, too. That, and how she said "let your monkey do it." It was something like that I think. This is kind of embarrassing, but if I hadn't been willing to poop in front of all my birth attendants, BOTH of my girls would've been born via c-section. LOL. It was totally worth it though, and honestly I'd probably rather do that than puke.

Jenny said...

What I meant is that I'd rather poop than puke during birth. I would NOT rather have a c-section than puke. Sorry if this is gross and TMI, but just wanted to clarify :-)

Kacie said...

I puked! I was pretty close to transition at that time, I do believe. It happens!

Ida Mae said...

I was butt naked, the whole entire time I was in my room, they wouldn;t let me wader the halls naked though, ;-). I never even thought once about it. But I am a naked kind of girl. I often think now that I might have made some people uncomfortable but there was no way, no how I was wearing a gown.

Emily said...

haha Ida I should clarify- i walked around the room naked, not the halls- lol. i am the au natural type too, and there was no way i was putting on a gown, either.

jenny- i totally got what you meant! i know, of course, that you'd rather #2! which is sort of funny, 'cause i'd rather puke. then again, i did drink all that castor oil before hand, so it wasn't really a concern.

kacie- i'm finding out (more and more) that plenty of natural-birthing mamas do puke. i think that is an old myth ... no drugs = no puking.

Denise said...

I found this really interesting... And honestly I wish I had puked or something to help allow me to transition/push a bit quicker. But then again, my body did what it had to. I wonder if no food for 30 hours or so worked against me in this area... I had been so afraid of #2 in labor that once I started labor at 5am Sunday, based on how far apart the contractions were, I let myself eat until about 12pm that Sunday morning and then quit until after I birthed her at 4:10pm Monday afternoon. Plus I took an enema as well on Sunday. :/ Thoughts?

I feel bad I've never heard of Sphincter Law. I'll definitely need to read more and talk to you before I try to have another birth.

I would have never thought of your throwing up as weakness, though, Em. Just how your body prepared/dealt. Just like morning sickness isn't weakness in pregnancy.

I despise hospital gowns, so I brought two Victoria's Secret cotton sleepshirts that were SO comfy. A little above Knee-length, so fine enough to labor in. Then as soon as she was born, I got changed into the other clean one. I felt so good in "normal" clothes and it helped me a LOT, since I'm a pretty self-conscious person. Every time a nurse walked in the room, I literally felt myself clam up and "stall" mentally. That's why we told them we didn't need anything, and it really helped for me just to labor myself with Jonathan's assistance when asked.

stella said...

i puked twice. once on the way to the hospital (around 6cm) and again RIGHT BEFORE I PUSHED. in fact - i got checked and was 'almost fully dilated with a lip'. then i puked. then the midwife said 'you probabyl don't have that lip anymore'. lol. interesting though - i had always thought puking was a sign of transition. didn't realize it had anything to do with medicated vs. unmedicated. i had none.