Some questions about whether or not I can hack it... — The Bump
Natural Birth

Some questions about whether or not I can hack it...

We are planning a natural birth (my OH is still questioning it but respects my decision). I plan to deliver at a hospital with my OB, but we will likely use either the Bradley method or a doula. I want to do the best possible thing for my LO, and minimal intervention definitely seems best.

However, I have some nagging doubts/questions and am curious if any of you with experience have any input. Not trying to sound like I'm paranoid, but I know my body pretty well...

 1) I have *ridiculously* tight hips. I have started doing daily stretches/squats and prenatal yoga once a week, but mostly when I stretch I just get pain (lingering issue from running). Is this going to make it harder for me?

 2) I do absolutely terribly without food. I have a very high metabolism, but the down side is that I can get migraines if I don't eat every 3-4 hours. Will this cause me issues during labor? My sister had a natural birth and was vomiting for hours - this would kill me!

3) I have read the natural birth stories (amazing!) and all about the tremendous pain during transition and pushing. I have passed out once from being in so much pain (back injury). It may sound silly but I'm kind of concerned that I'm going to crumble under the pain - get dizzy, pass out, have a heart attack (LOL). Is this a realistic concern?

 I have run a marathon before, so I know I can push through some discomfort. This seems like an entirely different ballgame, though, and part of me worries I literally won't be able to handle it. Sorry to sound like such a weenie but coming from a position of total ignorance it's so hard to know if this is something I should get myself into! 

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Re: Some questions about whether or not I can hack it...

  • 1) Stretching can't hurt, but I doubt it will hinder you in any real way.

    2) I ate in my labour up until transition and never had any nausea. I continued to drink water all the way though - and that could have been powerade if I was concerned about my blood sugar. You won't know how you'll be until you get there, but just as it could be terrible it could be totally fine.

    3) The difference between something like a back injury and labour is that generally labour pain has breaks. Like, total breaks where nothing hurts. The space between contractions makes it manageable, no matter how bad a contraction is.

    All you can do is prepare, and then roll with it. I had a relatively short labour (about 5 hours of hard labour and 9 hours before that of pretty light cramping / small contractions). I was open to the fact that if I went super long or if I had terrible, terrible pain that I would consider an epidural or pain meds. I didn't need them, which was awesome. It's okay to see how you're doing and adapt your plan. I did have a doula - she was great for helping me through and making me feel more in control and comfortable.

  • Hi! Congrats on venturing down this path! I will try to answer your questions based on my experience and what I've read/heard:

    1- as pp says, stretching, yog and the like is always helpful. Unless you've had some sort of surgery that has altered the normal positioning of your hips, I do not think that it should be a problem (I am not a hip specialist though Wink ) Labor hormones do some amazing things to help with the tremendous (but natural) feet of delivering a baby- making your ligaments more "stretchy" is one of them! Thus, helping your hips open to allow passage of the baby. I don't know how far along you are, but you migh experience hip pain towards the end of pregnancy from your ligaments loosening in your hips!

    2- Talk with your DR/MW about eating during labor (one of the reasons to labor at home for as long as possible- no one to tell you that you can't eat). BUT, with their permission, you can eat in a hospital too. I am like you- I fall apart at the seams without food every 2-3 hours. I ate for the first 20 hours of my labor, but for the last 8.5 all I had was water and gatorade. I gave birth in a hospital. I had severe shaking (normal) but no vomitting. Besides, you now, not in labor, may be very different than you in labor! Still, have that conversation with your provider, and let them know that barring any medical emergencies, you would like to be able to eat and drink in labor (granola bars, yogurt, I wouldn't recommend McDonalds!)

    3- I thought of labor pain this way: It is something that I am genetically designed to handle. My body was designed for this. This is NOT like breaking a bone, or having a tooth pulled with no meds. My body will not create more pain then it can handle, and it will produce endorphines to help me and baby cope with the pain of contractions.

    Good news: There are breaks between contractions, and if you have the tools to manage the pain of contractions, the rest is not that bad. Seriously. When I was 9.5 cm, my water just broke and I was 10 minutes from pushing, I looked at DH between contractions and cracked a joke about how his hamburger earlier left him smelling like onions. Unless you have a serious heart conditions, I imagine that the chances of having a heart attack doing anything are very slim (again, I'm not a cardiac specialist either!)

    Just like you wouldn't show up for a marathon without training, you won't show up to labor without training. You're already doing some great, very helpful exercises (don't forget Kegel's!!). You mentioned taking a class (those are great too), and even if you can't/don't, there are a lot of videos and books that you can read to prepare yourself! A friend of mine often says that if you go into birth thinking " I don't think I can do this without meds", probably won't. So stay positive, have faith in yourself (you ran a MARATHON for goodness sake. Um, 26 miles?!?!? I gave birth without meds, not sure I could do that!!!) and make informed choices. You can do it Momma!

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  • I agree a lot with what PPs said.  

    As your body creates more relaxin, the hip issue might resolve itself.  It sounds like you're doing what you can, so it might be best to cross that bridge when you get to it.

    As far as eating...what the nurses don't know won't hurt them, know what I mean?  However, I was allowed to eat and drink whatever I wanted, and all I ate once real labor started was an apple on the way to the hospital and a Luna Bar after transition, and all I wanted to drink was water.  Food was the furthest thing from my mind.  You never know.  Being able to eat and drink whatever and whenever was one of the reasons I decided to go med-free, but it turned out to be a moot point (still I was glad to have the option).

    What really helped me was taking full advantage of the relative sense of well-being I got between contractions.  I got serious during contractions, so keeping it light in between helped surges seem shorter.

    I agree with PP, you ran a freaking marathon.  I couldn't do that.  You got this.

  • 1.  You'll probably be fine.  You may want to use positions like squatting or hands and knees that help the pelvis open up more, but it's very rare to have a pelvis that won't stretch enough to let the baby through.  Ultimately, the only way to know is to try.

    2.  It's good to get some kind of sustenance during labor.  I drank apple juice during my labor with my second and it helped keep me going.  ACOG recommends clear fluids be available to laboring women (including juice, broth, jello and popsicles).  I think if you feel hungry during labor, you should eat!  Even if you give birth in a hospital, you are not their prisoner--eat what you feel like.  Vomiting is common in labor but even if that happens to you, you will be fine.  I threw up a lot during my first labor and lived to tell the tale :)

    3. Remember, labor pain is normal.  It is not something your body is producing because you are injured or sick.  It's part of the way labor works--your body won't make you pass out.  And like pp said, it's not constant--in between contractions you typically won't be in pain at all.  Labor is intense and yes, it's painful, but it's nothing you can't handle.   

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    Big sister {September 2008} Sweet boy {April 2011} Fuzzy Bundle {ETA July 2014}

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  • The PPs had great advice I just wanted to add:

    Take the Bradley class AND get a dolua if you still think you need one after the class.  The Bradley prepares you mentally and somewhat physically for birth.  It teaches exercises you can do to help open the pelvis during pregnancy such as tailor sitting (sitting "Indian" style), and squatting.  It also teaches various techniques to help relieve pressure on your back (pelvic tilt exercises) and relaxation exercises.  It emphansizes the role of the husband or partner in labor and birth as the mother's support and encouragement.

    Half the challenge of having a natural birth is mental.  If you think you can do something you can.  If you doubt yourself it will never happen.  Education is impowerment.  The more you know about what to expect the better you can prepare yourself for the actual event.

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  • The last thing I ate in labour was a Dairy Queen Blizzard.  Stick out tongue

    I think that's what gave me the energy to go to the end.

  • Just a comment on the vomiting - I tried to go natural with my first and ended up getting an epi.  I vomited before I got the epi once and vomited after once so I don't necessarily know if it correlates with going natural or not.  Whether or not your brain can feel it, your body is still doing it so its reaction may be the same either way. 
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  • 1.  I wouldn't worry about this at all.  Plenty of women with tight hips or no hips give birth all the time =)

    2.  I am the same way, but when I was in labor I had zero desire for anything heavier than broth, and once I was in transition food was the furthest thing from my mind.  I only threw up once, it's just that you are so focused that it doesn't enter your mind

    3.  You will not have a heart attack lol.  I am the biggest pain weenie ever, seriously.  I survived and you will too, luckily the transition period does not last long (at least for me didn't) and just keep reminding yourself that the pain is a good pain.  Your body is doing what it's designed to do and it's nothing to be afraid of.  Once your baby is born all the pain is gone instantly and you can get up and about so much faster than if you have a epi.  On my BMB alone I cannot tell you how many ladies who complain about lasting effects and sensitivity on their backs from their epi's. 

    For me the idea of a needle in my spine far out weighed the fears I had about natural childbirth.  You can do it!  Good luck!!

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  • Please read Ina May Gaskin's book. I had some wild thoughts about what my body was capable of and what others experienced. It helped put things into perspective. I also adopted the hypnobirthing mantra "My baby will be just right for my size".
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  • imagevszapp:

    We are planning a natural birth (my OH is still questioning it but respects my decision). I plan to deliver at a hospital with my OB, but we will likely use either the Bradley method or a doula. I want to do the best possible thing for my LO, and minimal intervention definitely seems best.

    However, I have some nagging doubts/questions and am curious if any of you with experience have any input. Not trying to sound like I'm paranoid, but I know my body pretty well...

     1) I have *ridiculously* tight hips. I have started doing daily stretches/squats and prenatal yoga once a week, but mostly when I stretch I just get pain (lingering issue from running). Is this going to make it harder for me?

     2) I do absolutely terribly without food. I have a very high metabolism, but the down side is that I can get migraines if I don't eat every 3-4 hours. Will this cause me issues during labor? My sister had a natural birth and was vomiting for hours - this would kill me!

    3) I have read the natural birth stories (amazing!) and all about the tremendous pain during transition and pushing. I have passed out once from being in so much pain (back injury). It may sound silly but I'm kind of concerned that I'm going to crumble under the pain - get dizzy, pass out, have a heart attack (LOL). Is this a realistic concern?

     I have run a marathon before, so I know I can push through some discomfort. This seems like an entirely different ballgame, though, and part of me worries I literally won't be able to handle it. Sorry to sound like such a weenie but coming from a position of total ignorance it's so hard to know if this is something I should get myself into! 

    1. I have tight hips too. I started pre-natal yoga early. Not sure if it helped (i don't think I am that much more flexible) but I had a natural birth no problem. 

    2. I don't really know. I ate throughout labor. And honestly probably could have ate through transition. I never felt sick to my stomach. 

    3. To be honest I was never really in pain during transition. I actually didn't know when it happened. It was just like BAM ready to push. I also didn't think pushing was that horrible.  I mean it wasn't a walk in the park, but it didn't really register in my head as pain. I could have been extremely lucky but I do think its possible to get yourself into the right mindset where your body doesn't really process what your feeling as pain.

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  • imageangelina477:
    Please read Ina May Gaskin's book. I had some wild thoughts about what my body was capable of and what others experienced. It helped put things into perspective. I also adopted the hypnobirthing mantra "My baby will be just right for my size".

     I agree with reading Ina May's book.  It helped me to think about the pain in a different, much more productive way.  You will be amazed at how strong you are.  

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  • On the subject of food, I am definitely someone who needs to eat frequently as well. My water broke as I woke up in bed at 8am, and my baby was born that night at 7:30pm. The only thing I ate that day (until after birth) was a granola bar I forced myself to eat onthe way to the hospital. I was offered Popsicles and I had snuck in my own food just in case, but honestly I didn't want anything. I would eat about half a Popsicle and forget about it. I think my body just was in a different mode. (Now the fried chicken I had after the birth, on the other hand, was the most welcome and best tasting food I've ever had!)
  • I gave birth in a birthing center attached to a hospital. For that reason, I had to jump through numerous hoops to use it, including taking two introductory courses while I was pregnant.

    This might help:

    While there were numerous reasons first time moms could "risk out" of the birthing center (including "failure to progress" in labor, being more than 40 weeks, six days gestation, or even having a baby that was estimated as more than 9lbs.), only 1% of women who wanted to deliver there changed their minds because of pain. That's the hospital's official number.

    In other words, the vast majority of women who were determined to deliver naturally -- barring any confounding factors -- were able to "hack it."  Good luck! 

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  • 1) Stretching is certainly not a bad idea, I wouldn't worry about it though, I'm not at all limber and still did fine.

    2) I would take small bites of things, suck on Popsicals, etc., this should help.  I never threw up when I was in labor, so everyone is different.  

    3) First of all your experience will be your own.  I know it's hard, but try to remember that as you read birth stories.  For me labor was intense and took all my concentration, but it wasn't bad.  The only part I would label as painful was the last three pushes where I could feel that 'ring of fire' everyone talks about and when I tore.  But that  was a matter of a few minutes.  I am actually excited to do it again when the time comes!

    As pp mentioned contractions are totally different from other things.  Your body is made to handle it.  Contractions are like waves coming and going and keep in mind you will always get a break.  Just take it one contraction at a time and don't worry about the next one until it's here.  I remember reading a birth story about a girl who kept telling herself, I'm just going to get through one more contraction and then I'll ask for an epi.  She seriously did this for hours until she was ready to push and never asked for the epi.  

    I have also run marathons in the past, and I think that did help me stay focused and determined.  In a way running a marathon is harder because every part of your body is screaming at you to stop and you have to fight against that or you won't finish.  Having a baby is different because you are working with your body.  You have to totally surrender to your body and trust that it knows how to bring your child into the world.

    Best of luck to you!  

  • imageILoveRunning:

    imageangelina477:
    Please read Ina May Gaskin's book. I had some wild thoughts about what my body was capable of and what others experienced. It helped put things into perspective. I also adopted the hypnobirthing mantra "My baby will be just right for my size".

     I agree with reading Ina May's book.  It helped me to think about the pain in a different, much more productive way.  You will be amazed at how strong you are.  

    I totally agree!  These stories are beautiful and inspiring! 

  • Wow - thanks for the support and inspiration! I do have Ina May's book and spent a lot of time with it last night. I think the key will really be to ensure that I have someone there to support me through the process. I am definitely one of those people who does a lot better with education, and the more I learn, the more I am excited instead of apprehensive. 

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  • Honey sticks and orange juice boxes kept my energy up.  I tried eating a trail mix during my labor, but honey, oj and water were about all I could tolerate.  Honestly, I never got hungry during labor and I was in labor for 25 hours.
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  • OP, you run marathons.  You push through to the finish with every opportunity to say eff it and quit.  Birth is easier in the sense that your body will do what it has to, with or without you.  You totally have this and don't even know it.

    As far as food.  As long as I had appetite, I ate anything that would go down relatively easily with some sugars, carbs and protein.  Yogurt smoothies worked great.  Def. a good idea to eat something healthy and easy to digest while you still want to.  During hard labor, I wanted nothing to do with food.  I even snuck it into the hospital bag.  Didn't hardly touch any of it.  And during pushing, I didn't even want much water other than to wet my whistle.  At the point of hard labor/transition/pushing your body is seriously exerting itself.  Human bodies don't tend to manage serious exertion and being in a feeding state simultaneously.  Your body will adjust as it needs to.  You don't get the munchies or low blood sugar issues in the middle of a marathon to stop, why would you get them in the thick of hard labor?

    As far as pain management, I internalized this mantra: NOBODY ever died of pain.  It also makes it easier to tolerate when you know it will NOT be forever and that you have a little while to get used to the escalation. 

     

  • Just wanted to say I've had "pass out from back injury" pain...and it was nothing like labor...so you are good there! :)

    And if you can run a marathon you've got the right skills for mental coping and endurance already. I ate right up until active labor too...no nausea. 

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  • I didn't read all the responses, so hopefully this isn't too repetitive, but:

    1) Chiropractor, preferably one certified in Webster's technique. This will help you open your hips, in addition to the squats.

    2) I ate during early labor, and had food available to me during my entire labor (just wasn't really hungry). The hospital didn't "allow" food or drink, but my doula made sure I had access to both. I had some peanut butter toast, yogurt, almonds, etc. And I never vomited at all during labor, even transition. Every mom responds to labor differently.

    3) I am a total wuss. I kid you not, I almost went to the ER for gas this pregnancy. (It was awful, okay! :) And when I was 36 weeks last time, I had a leg cramp so bad, I was screaming and crying and later told my hypnobirth instructor that I couldn't do natural birth. But you're right in that birth is a different ballgame ... pain that your body is equipped to deal with. In fact, I would describe it as more of an "intense" experience than a painful one. Your ability to handle pain in any other circumstance is really no indicator of how labor will go. Just like a marathon, you take birth one mile at a time and don't let the idea of doing the whole thing overwhelm you.

    You'll do great! Good luck!

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  • imageTheQuietGrrrl:

    Human bodies don't tend to manage serious exertion and being in a feeding state simultaneously.  Your body will adjust as it needs to.  You don't get the munchies or low blood sugar issues in the middle of a marathon to stop, why would you get them in the thick of hard labor?

    Oh yeah, I *totally* got low blood sugar during the marathon, and ate the whole time! Jelly beans, power gels, etc. No way I would have finished without that sugar. But seriously, I am so appreciative of all of the helpful comments. They really do help to put things in perspective!

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  • imagevszapp:
    imageTheQuietGrrrl:

    Human bodies don't tend to manage serious exertion and being in a feeding state simultaneously.  Your body will adjust as it needs to.  You don't get the munchies or low blood sugar issues in the middle of a marathon to stop, why would you get them in the thick of hard labor?

    Oh yeah, I *totally* got low blood sugar during the marathon, and ate the whole time! Jelly beans, power gels, etc. No way I would have finished without that sugar. But seriously, I am so appreciative of all of the helpful comments. They really do help to put things in perspective!

    I would have the same foods available to you in labour, then. You know they work for you when you're working hard and your body is in need of sugar. 

  • I have super tight hips too and didn't have any problem delivering naturally. I don't know why, but there wasn't any kind of issue. I DID do pilates and yoga up until the end of my pregnancy but I don't know if that is why. 

    I ate a huge burrito the night I was in labor and I ended up throwing up, but it wasn't like "oh god I'm in so much pain I'm going to puke" it was more like, I just felt nauseous and threw up and then felt fine the rest of the night. I honestly had no idea I was that close to having the baby. I was just sitting at home avoiding the hospital, haha.

    I never thought any of it was painful to the point that I'd want any kind of medication. You sound like a healthy, strong and fit person, I'm sure you will do great!  

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