It's been a couple months since the birth of my daughter, but I thought I should share my story because people who are facing induction and want a natural birth are often nervous about Pitocin. I was one of them, and was able to work with my doctor to avoid using it. Here's how:
On my due date, October 26th, I went in for my weekly OB visit. An ultrasound found that the fluid around baby was low. OB warned that this could be due to an aging placenta and recommended that we get labor started. I did not want to be induced whatsoever. We had taken Bradley classes planning on a natural, low-intervention birth, but when your care provider is a doctor, it's sometimes hard to get that. I was also worried because LO had turned sunny-side-up the night before (keeping me wide awake for hours because I knew exactly what she was doing!), and that can make labor much more difficult. Fortunately I was already 3 cm dilated and had been for a couple weeks, so there was a good possibility that induction would be successful.
We arrived at the hospital at about 4:30 p.m, and was given the cervical ripener about an hour later. I was technically too far dilated for the hospital's protocol for Cervadil, but my OB fudged the numbers a little so we could use it (we were hoping it would kick-start labor on its own). I expected it to work slowly overnight (it is meant to be left in for 12 hours), but that's not quite what happened. After an hour or so I began to shake uncontrollably and feel waves of nausea. It felt like active labor had hit in seconds! It had dilated me to 4 in just an hour, so they removed it. I continued to have mild early labor contractions throughout the night, but was able to get some sleep.
At 7:30 the next morning (October 27th), OB arrived and broke my water. Very soon after, the contractions became more intense. I had only progressed to 5 at my next check, so they brought in the breast pump. I had actively refused to be given Pitocin since we first discussed a birth plan around 20 weeks, so OB gave me the option of doing 10 minutes on/30 minutes off the pump. It produced strong, painful contractions and it started to become difficult to breathe and relax through them, but after several rounds of pumping I hadn?t made much progress at the following exam. The nurse was having trouble identifying a pattern from the external monitor, but it was clear to us that this was strong, active labor. I could feel my will to do things naturally crumbling after being checked and not progressing, but MH was a huge and crucial support both physically and emotionally. At one point I did ask the doctor what my pain control options were aside from an epidural. Bless her heart, she was incredibly vague, knowing that we wanted a natural birth, and did not put any pressure on me or recommend anything at that moment. I knew deep down that I didn?t want any medication, but it was so tempting to quit when I had been working hard and nothing had changed! To make it worse, the nurses would not let me move around much because the monitors would lose signal anytime I changed positions. Most of my laboring was done lying on my left side in bed, which was painful and frustrating.
At about 11:30 I started bleeding. The nurse and doctor warned me that this could be cervical swelling from inadvertently pushing. Soon I realized that the increasing pain I was experiencing was different from the tightening and stretching of the earlier contractions?I really was fighting an urge to push. When I told the nurse, she checked and found that I had progressed to 7 cm. That?s when I realized that I was in transition and if I could will myself not to push from here to 10, I would be able to deliver naturally. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do! Every contraction was pure agony as I worked against my body?s urge to push. I begged and screamed with every one that I needed to push?all the relaxation techniques I had practiced went right out the window! By the time the doctor arrived around 1:15 (she ran three red lights to make it!) I had reached 8 cm, and by the time she came back in at 1:30 I was almost completely dilated. At that time LO turned to the correct position. Time to push!
The neonatal team had been brought in because the baby?s heart rate had begun decelerating through contractions. When the baby was almost out, I became exhausted. With the next push her head receded slightly, so OB made the decision to use outlet forceps to assist her out. The forceps worked in one push with no bruising or injury to the baby. After 22 hours in the hospital, 6 hours of hard labor and 45 minutes of pushing, my baby girl was out, safe, healthy and drug-free! She was 19 3/4 inches long and weighed 7 lbs, 0.9 oz. H cut the cord and she was taken to the warmer to be assessed immediately because of the forceps delivery. I was given Stadol (without anyone asking me) while being fixed up. I hated the Stadol?it acted quickly, but by the time my baby was brought to me I was dizzy, delirious and cross-eyed. I was the last one in the room to get to see her and by the time she came to me I couldn?t even focus on her properly, and passed out shortly thereafter. It was a disappointment after a hard-fought natural birth!
When I was brought to the postpartum room the nurses noticed that I was losing a lot of blood (this may also have something to do with not remembering the first two hours of her life!). I was given an injection and a huge IV bag of Pitocin. The injection caused shaking and pain similar to the Cervadil the night before, but it helped stop the bleeding. When it was time for some pain medication an hour or so later, I finally managed to rest. After a couple hours, around bedtime, I felt much more human. I was able to take a shower and really start bonding with my beautiful baby girl!
Even though it was grueling at times, I am thankful we were able to do it naturally. I really believe that was the reason my labor was so short, why DD was born so alert and aware, and why we have not had any real issues nursing. I plan to use a midwife and birthing center for my next child to avoid some of the hospital protocols that made this birth difficult (fetal monitoring, regular exams, etc.), but I am so grateful to my OB for doing everything in her power to help us achieve a hospital Bradley birth!