Thanks for all the good info and tips!
That’s really helpful.
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How I did it: Before labor began, I did my best to stay active. I took long walks, rode my bike, and did a prenatal workout 1-3 times per week. I read a bunch about labor and delivery, had long conversations with my husband, and hired a doula. Hubby, who was very active in reading about this with me, was incredibly supportive of my decision to avoid drugs if possible. We had a code word, "Rubik's Cube," so if my labor got too painful, I could use it, and he would know that I really needed pain meds. (The reason for the choice: those things frustrate me to no end, and if I needed meds, then I was truly at the end of my rope.)
When the big day came, I labored at home from 2:30 a.m. until about 1p.m. During the early hours, I sat at the computer doing last minute work and timing contractions. I got hubby up at 5:30 a.m. when contractions were pretty steady at 5 minutes apart. (We live very close to the hospital, so Doc wanted me to go in when they were about 3 minutes apart.) At about 9 a.m., we took a walk after checking in with the doula. Then we went out and ran errands! I checked out some books at the library and hubby went to the grocery store.
I laid down after eating some toast, and the doula arrived while I was in bed. After I got up, the contractions doubled in strength and were suddenly 1-2 minutes apart. Off to the hospital we went, about 1 p.m.
At the hospital, they checked me in at 8 cm! Those last two centimeters were hard, and I used the whirlpool, which was wonderful. It made the contractions have a longer build-up and let down, but shorter peak. During the contractions, I squeezed my hubby and doula's hands, tapped my foot, and grunted/panted.
While in the whirlpool, I had the urge to push, so they got me back to my room. My water broke just after the nurse determined I was at 10 cm. Doctor came in, and I pushed for about 40-60 minutes. And there was my little girl. Hubby sat behind me the whole time, offering support, encouragement, helping me relax between contractions and pushing.
I will be honest...I didn't think labor and delivery hurt very much. It was the hardest thing I'd ever done, but it was more about stamina, endurance and mindset than pain. And I hurt something awful afterward. It is like running a marathon...if you prepare for it, plan for it, and understand that there is a finish line, then you can realize that it is pain/pressure with a goal. It is all about your muscles working overtime.
Lessons & tips: One of the biggest lessons I learned from my reading was the difference between pain and suffering. You can be in physical pain, but not be suffering, like when you are exercising hard. You can also be suffering without physical pain, like when you lose a loved one. One is physical, one is mental. When in labor, think "am I suffering, or am I just in pain?" Labor is pain with a purpose, and if you aren't suffering, than you can probably get by without drugs. That being said, some tips.
Before Labor Begins:
That’s really helpful.