Back in the 1940’s a man named Mendelson found that there was an increased risk of aspirating food or stomach acid during general anesthesia if ones stomach had food or drink in it at the time of said anesthesia. I’m not sure about today, but back when I graduated from nursing school (2001) no eating was allowed if a person was about to have surgery that required anesthesia. It is a practice that was always particularly difficult for me to agree with, especially with laboring women. Labor is hard work and women need nourishment during the process. Low blood sugar makes the whole experience much more difficult. To me it seems a no-brainer. However, the minute a fetal-monitor strip started looking bad (which could mean a c-section in your future) we were instructed to discourage the woman from eating or drinking anything. In fact, there were many nurses who didn’t want any laboring woman to eat or drink. If a laboring woman got one of these nurses, and say they labored for 12 hours and then had a c-section due to complications, it would sometimes be nearly 20 hours before they ate a thing. I always thought that something was wrong. It defied logic. Especially since a body needs nutrients-and lots of them-to heal from surgery.
My first child, born just a little over 14 years ago, was 11 days late. As any pregnant family knows, the waiting game can be tough. Babies are usually born right on time, but sometimes they just aren’t. I was pretty sure of my dates back then, yet I had absolutely no cervical effacement or dilation after 10 days past dates. My midwife suggested a pitocin induction. Pitocin induced labor can be brutal as the contractions tend to come more quickly and forcefully with little to no break in between. Because I was hoping to have a ‘natural’ birth with no drugs, I was dismayed by the thought of induction. All in all, it worked out in the end. I labored for just 4 hours to complete dilation, and did it without an epidural (although I pushed for another four-a story for another day).
I have only delivered a few babies in my life, and all have been ‘by accident’. Basically, the doctor failed to show up on time. Obviously, with these children, there was no issue of malpresentation- they were COMING OUT- no matter what. : )
However, one of things that keeps me up a night when I think about embarking on a career as a midwife (the person actually in charge of helping the baby come out-yikes) is what we called ‘asynclitic’ babies- those who’s heads are not in the preferred position to get born. Their little heads are turned in such a way that it can make labor long, dilation difficult and can result in c-section if not resolved. There are lots of ways to deal with minor malpresentations, and in this post, I am gathering up tips and tricks to educated myself, so every birth IN my dreams, comes out like the birth OF my dreams.
The Health Day Reporter posted an article today citing statistics from the report: Born A Bit Too Early: Recent Trends in Late Preterm Births, issued by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, stating that “The percentage of babies born preterm in the United States rose by more than 20 percent from 1990 to 2006, most delivered at the end of the preterm period, federal health officials report.”
Wow! Did you hear this? A 23 year old woman from Minnesota broadcasted her labor and delivery on the internet. Thousands of people signed up to watch the 7 hour labor. She even ‘chatted’ with many of the viewers until things got too intense! Oh, and this was a midwife assisted birth! YAY! This is believed to be a first. It’s so hard to believe that just 40 years ago, the dad was typically not allowed in the room during a hospital birth, and now this……amazing. Here’s the recap– in her own words.
I have quite a few friends who never considered birthing without pain management. They share stories of playing card games and reading magazines until it was time to push. Their births were a big ‘ol party. Heck, I have attended many such births when I worked in Women’s Services at St. Vincent Hospital. On a 12 hour night shift, I would be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes I though epidurals were a blessing. As a nurse, it’s not nearly as hard to attend an epiduralized labor. You can leave the room, and usually the birthing woman could care less.