I was pretty determined to have a safe and healthy birth. That was priority number one – safe, healthy birth, baby, and mama. My husband, Chris, and I got educated and fully informed by taking a Bradley Method class. I also wanted to do everything to avoid a long labor. I learned in my Bradley Method class about some tricks and tips that could help labor progress well. One of the tips was based on a study that found that women who ate 6 dates a day in the last 4 weeks of their pregnancies had more cervical dilation when arriving at their birthplace. 96% of those women also had spontaneous labor and did not need induction or artificial oxytocin to speed up labor. So, I made sure I ate my 6 dates a day for 4 weeks. I was even eating dates in early labor!
I also learned about Nature’s Sunshine 5W. This herbal formula is known as a uterine tonic meant to tone the uterus and make uterine contractions more effective during labor. I followed the instructions on the label and took 2 tablets of 5W 3 times a day for the last 5 weeks of my pregnancy. I was also known to guzzle quite a lot of Red Raspberry Leaf tea! I was using all the tricks. LOL!
Lots of Prodromal Labor
Since April 29th, before labor truly began, I was getting lots and lots of contractions on a regular but intermittent basis. I even sat in my last Bradley Method classes having regular contractions for a while. All those “false” starts were really messing with my head. I kept hoping it was really labor starting but, much to my frustration, it was not. I was taught in my Bradley Method class to ignore my labor as long as I could. But, let me tell you, when you think you’re going into labor on a daily basis, it can be impossible to ignore. This kind of labor is known as prodromal labor. Prodromal labor isn’t really “false-labor”. The contractions are real but they start and stop and can last days or weeks. They usually start and stop the same time every day.
One Day Before His Due Date
After weeks of all those contractions, you can probably imagine how happy we were when our little boy, Vinson D’Amaro was born May 7, 2017, one day before his due date, at 3:10am, weighing in at 7lbs 3oz and 20 inches long! The real contraction waves began on Friday the 5th. I lost my mucous plug and had my bloody show, which continued to come out throughout my labor. We were thrilled because this felt different. This must be the “real deal” finally after all those “false” starts!
This Pain Wasn’t For Nothing
But…labor pains began to drop off in consistency again! It was frustrating but I knew the pain wasn’t for nothing. So I went to bed knowing I’d need sleep. Saturday I woke up at 7:00am, the contractions were strong but inconsistent. I spoke to Liza, our Bradley teacher. I had told her I was having a lot of pain in my back. She said, “It sounds like your baby may be posterior or not in an ideal position to put pressure on the cervix.” She told me to do a couple of rounds of the Miles Circuit and some inversions to get baby in a better position. So I began the Miles Circuit, which is a 90 minute circuit to get baby into a good position. I did inversions and belly lifts for about 20 contractions, had red raspberry leaf tea, walked the curb, and real consistent contractions began at 7:00pm – finally!
Dilated to 6 Centimeters!
I used meditation, and music to relax through each contraction. We left our house at 11:30, arrived at 12. When I checked in, I was dilated 6 centimeters. All those inversions, Miles Circuit, relaxation, and hard work paid off.
I made sure I told the nurse no medication, no IV, limited monitoring. When I dilated to 8 centimeters, I had the urge to push. They recommended to not push. It was too early to push, and they told me to get in the shower. This was a really challenging part of labor – transition (also known as the hardest part of first stage labor) – and I thought it wasn’t a good idea for me to get in the shower, but I did as I was told. I had two contractions in the shower, got to the toilet, and my water broke. I had another cervical exam and was dilated to 10cm – ready to push! No wonder that was so hard! I pushed for 15-20 minutes, and he was here! He had the cord wrapped around his neck once, but it was no big deal. We delayed cord clamping and immediately had skin-to-skin contact. He nursed right away. I had really lucked out with getting a midwife to attend my birth at the hospital, because I had gone to an Ob-Gyn group throughout my pregnancy. Lucky for me, none of the doctors were on call that night! An amazing midwife was on call. Susan Melnikow, a midwife who owns Tree of Life Birth Center, also works at Scripps Encinitas. She was incredibly supportive and encouraging.
We later realized he was tongue-tied. Which made nursing hard and painful. He had gas, long feeds, was swallowing lots of air, and had hiccups. We took him to a pediatric dentist and had his frenulum clipped with a laser yesterday. He is doing great and his latch has already improved. “Pregnancy and birth have been an amazing process and journey. I am really glad my husband and I chose to take the Bradley Method® course which ultimately prepared us for pregnancy, birth, and parenthood.” Anna D’Amaro