Is This Labor?
I was 37 weeks' pregnant when my beautiful daughter arrived. There had been some minor complications the week before her birth (I was leaking small amounts of amniotic fluid), and my doctor thought we might have to induce labor. But after a nonstress test and an ultrasound, he decided it was best to wait.
The night my water broke I was awakened by cramps, but I wasn't sure whether these cramps were contractions. Looking back now, it seems kind of funny that a woman experiencing pains in her abdomen during her ninth month of pregnancy didn't realize she was in labor. Just like in the movies, my husband and I paged our doctor in the middle of the night and left for the hospital.
When we arrived, the nurse asked if I was in labor, and I told her I didn't know. Her reply: "If you don't think you're in labor, you probably aren't." We were both wrong.
Once in the birthing suite, my contractions and fetal movements were monitored. Because my contractions were erratic, the nurses thought I was having false labor and they wanted to send me home. We weren't sure that was a good idea, because it was a 45-minute drive from our house to the hospital. It was finally agreed that an internal examination would be the deciding factor. Everyone was surprised to find that I was already 6 centimeters dilated!
I panicked when the nurses confirmed I was really in labor. It was nothing like what I thought it was going to be. I thought I would be in more pain. I was frightened, but my husband helped me focus through my contractions. His calm support made labor a pleasant experience for us. I progressed quickly to 9 centimeters, but then hit a plateau. After a while, I was given oxytocin to get over that last centimeter.
Then I started pushing. The first half hour I was in a sitting position, trying to use the force of gravity, but it was exhausting and I needed to lie back and rest. I pushed for about 11/2 hours — and then I was rewarded with the most unbelievable being I had ever seen. I couldn't believe the little person I was now looking at was inside of me only moments before.
All the mystery of pregnancy was over when I finally saw my baby: what she looked like, her hair color, her eye color, everything. As soon as they told me I had a girl, I shouted her name and started crying.
I was so grateful, not just because we had a healthy daughter, but for other reasons too: because having a baby wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, because I did it without medication, and because my husband was so loving and supportive through it all. Giving birth to my daughter was the greatest accomplishment of my life.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2011
|International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) ICEA offers professional certification programs for childbirth educators and includes a list of ICEA-certified educators for expectant parents wishing to attend prepared childbirth classes.|
|American Academy of Husband-Coached Birth This website describes the goals of the Bradley method of childbirth and can help expectant parents find an instructor in their area.|
|American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) This site offers information on numerous health issues. The women's health section includes readings on pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum care, breast health, menopause, contraception, and more.|
|American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) The ACNM supports the practice of midwifery through research, accreditation of midwife education programs, and establishment of clinical practice standards.|
|National Association of Childbearing Centers The National Association of Childbearing Centers is an organization that supports the midwifery model of care for expectant parents, birth center professionals, and health policy advocates.|
|Natural Childbirth Some women choose to give birth using no medications at all, relying instead on relaxation techniques and controlled breathing for pain. Get more information on natural childbirth.|
|Inducing Labor Find out why doctors may induce labor if you're past your due date, how it may be done, and how it may affect you and your baby.|
|A Guide for First-Time Parents If you're a first-time parent, put your fears aside and get the basics in this guide about burping, bathing, bonding, and other baby-care concerns.|
|Birth Plans In the happy haze of early pregnancy, the reality of labor and birth may seem extremely far off - which makes this the perfect time to start planning for the arrival of your baby by creating a birth plan that details your wishes.|
|A Week-by-Week Pregnancy Calendar Pregnancy is an exciting time. Our week-by-week illustrated pregnancy calendar is a detailed guide to all the changes taking place in your baby - and in you!|
|Pregnancy & Newborn Center Advice and information for expectant and new parents.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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