4 Things I Learned From My Birth Giving Experience

Hello!  I was on a bit of a hiatus because of this little guy!  I would like to introduce our new bundle of joy (and sometimes pain in the bottom, especially when he cries), Damien Fajardo!

beanie the booh

June 12th was supposed to be our baby’s due date, but he decided to come early and arrived on Jun 2nd. We’re at the three week mark now! This is Damien practising his smile during sleep time, so he can impress the ladies!  And this is him making fish face while his daddy was styling his hair after his bath!

beanie the booh

You can now follow Damien on his Instagram account, Beanie The Booh!

These past three weeks was filled with many new learning curves. Definitely makes it challenging and frustrating at times. But gotta love this cute face (yes I am biased, LOL)!

While I was pregnant, I didn’t do a lot of research, but I looked up some information on child birth, because I was really concerned about perineal tearing and having incontinence. My friends would tell me stories about how they have stitches down below, some had pain from the stitches, some didn’t heal from the stitches. It sounded kind of scary. Other than that, Anthony and I got some general information from our prenatal class and from workshops at the baby show. I stopped looking things up because I felt a little overwhelmed with so much information. We opted for going with the flow as things happen. Today, I would like to share four things I learned from my birth giving experience. Even though they may be small tips, I hope they may help you in your journey.

4 Things I Learned From My Birth Giving Experience

1) If you are opting for epidural, get it as soon as possible!

One of my friends kept telling me to get the epidural as soon as possible.  I’m not going to go into the details about epidural, the side effects, or facts/myths. There are many great articles about it, so you should do your research to make an informed decision.  If you believe epidural is for you, then I also urge you to get it as soon as possible.  The reason for some people to delay getting the epidural is because once the epidural is administered, you will be bed ridden. The downside is you won’t be able to help the baby turn around if he/she is in the posterior position.  At the prenatal class we attended, the instructor told us that walking or moving around during initial contractions may help bring the baby into the anterior position, which is optimal for delivery.

For me, I knew I would be getting the epidural. Although I didn’t know when was the best time to get it. Unfortunately, it was out of my hands in terms of timing, because the delivery ward was super busy and all the rooms were full when I arrived. I had to wait for a delivery room to become available before I could be brought in!!  My initial contraction started at around 5:30am. When they examined me in triage at 9am, I was only 2cm dilated. They wanted me to walk around before reporting back.  I attempted to walk at 10:30am, but the contraction was starting to become unbearable, so we went back to wait in the “Early Labour Lounge”. Unfortunately, I had to wait until 1:30pm before a room was available for me! It felt like my entire lower body was wrapped in a bowl-like vise. Each contraction would slowly squeeze from the outside into my core from three directions, lower back, abdomen, and between my legs. I screamed and cried through each contraction, and I thought I would pass out from the pain every single time. When they finally brought me into the room, the anesthesiologist prepared my epidural right away. I was scared of the epidural. When the anesthesiologist gave me the freezing and putting in the catheter, I could feel some pain and pressure, but the pain was small compare to the contractions. Once it was administered, it was instant relief for me. I was so glad it worked right away. The feeling I got from the epidural was equivalent to having pins and needles from a numbed foot. When the nurse tested for the effectiveness of the epidural, she would use an ice pack on my skin. I could feel the pressure of the icepack, but I didn’t feel the cold. It was the greatest thing invented by man! The only side effects I felt from the epidural were itchy skin, and light nausea. The itchiness is a normal side effect, and I felt nauseous because I was really hungry (I hadn’t eaten since the night before)/due to lower blood pressure. I really don’t know how people can give birth without epidurals. Hands down to those of you who did it without! If you think epidural is for you, definitely get it as soon as you can!

 

2) Postpartum swelling is normal after delivery

During my pregnancy, I only experienced swelling in my ankles if I sit for too long. But I usually get swollen ankles anyway if I sit for too long, especially on long flights. I call my swollen ankles “fankles”, or short for fat ankles. Because I knew of my fankle problem, I got myself two pairs of compression stockings early in my pregnancy to help prevent them. It was only during the last week or so of my pregnancy that my ankles would get somewhat swollen by the end of the day. I was happy, because I didn’t experience a lot of swelling. Until two days after delivering Damien, I was so shocked to find my ankles, my fingers and my face swollen!!! Apparently, this is called postpartum swelling and it is a normal experience for new moms. Basically, the body produces more blood to deliver more nutrients to the baby during pregnancy, and to protect the mother’s joints during delivery. In addition, I was given extra IV fluid because of the epidural. These extra fluid apparently gets pushed to the limbs and face when the mother exerts force to push the baby out during delivery, thus causing the swelling. I had fankles and swollen face for about a week before they started to subside.  In order to get rid of it, I elevated my feet a lot while lying down. Anthony also massaged my feet and legs for a few nights. Here’s a great video on how to perform postpartum massage for swollen legs. There are also other techniques to get rid of the swelling.

3) Make sure you take care of the perineal tear (for natural birth)

I experienced a second degree vaginal tear during delivery.  This was one of the biggest concerns I had before giving birth. Apparently I had a lot of bleeding and both doctors had to team up to stitch me up. The first time I looked and touched myself down there, it was so swollen, firm and out of shape, I thought I would forever be disfigured down there! It was difficult to sit because it was putting a lot of pressure on the spot. It was also difficult to stand and walk, because gravity was putting a lot of pressure downwards, making it super uncomfortable. So ladies, if you can, lie down to rest a lot! After a few days, I noticed a strange smell coming out. Since it was painful and there was still bleeding, I wasn’t sure if the odor and bleeding were from the tear, or from the vaginal discharge (lochia). I got really concerned, and ended up booking an appointment to see my OB. When my OB examined me, he said everything was fine. I just have to do more sitz bath. My friend gave me a bottle of betadine solution, and I got a squirt bottle and a small sitz bath tub from the hospital. To make the sitz bath with betadine solution, you add 10mL of betadine into lukewarm water bath. I also added some betadine into the squirt bottle. After every #1 and #2, I would squirt myself first, and then sit in the sitz bath for about a minute. It is recommended to sit for 10-15 minutes, but it was too painful for me to sit for too long. If you can sit for longer, it’s better to sit longer. Afterwards, I would use the cool setting of the hair dryer to air dry the area. At this point (3 weeks), pretty much all the swelling is gone, but the area is still healing, and at times a little itchy. The stitches haven’t dissolved yet. I hope they will dissolve soon! For the sitz bath, you can also use epsom salt. Doing the sitz bath takes dedication, because it takes time, and who has time when you already have a handful to deal with! But trust me, I would rather spend a little extra time to take care of it than get an infection! So take some time to take care of yourself! Here’s a great article about taking care of yourself down there after giving birth.

 

4) Special tip to jump start your kegel exercise

Kegel exercise is something that my OB keeps mentioning. I tried to do kegel exercise before delivery, but I’m not going to lie, I forget/get too lazy to do it. Then at the discharge class before we were sent home, the nurse told us the importance of kegel exercise. I’m going to tell you the following, and this actually freaked me out. After delivering Damien, my entire perineal muscle was gone! What I mean is, you know how when you put your hand on a muscle (any muscle), and when you contract it, you can feel it tighten? When I put my hand against my perineum and tried to tighten it, nothing happened! The entire area was so swollen and so stretched out from giving birth, all the muscle in that area was loose! It was so scary because I don’t want to have incontinence (my other biggest fear)! I was eager to start doing kegel exercise, but I felt like it’s not working. Then one time, as I was lying down with my legs propped up, I put my hand against my perineum and pushed upward into my body, and when I contracted the perineal muscle, I was able to feel something! That was how I kick started my kegel exercise after delivery. I know the muscle is still loose in that area right now, but at least I am trying to do my kegel exercise more consistently. I don’t know if that trick has any scientific background to it, but since it worked for me, I hope that will help kick start your kegel exercise too!

 

5) Bonus – Just relax and go with the flow

I would like to thank my wonderful husband for his support through this journey. If you can, find someone who can be your coach/support, and make sure that they know one of their roles is to advocate for you, especially when you’re in a lot of pain. While I was having the contractions, Anthony kept going back to triage and talked to the nurse for me, and I really appreciated that. Even though they didn’t have a room available for me, I knew that his action made a big impact. You may want to go through a birth plan and decide which items are important to you, and let your coach/support know.  But no matter how much research you do, your experience is going to be unique. Things may happen, and it may end up out of your control. Anthony and I looked through the birth plan, and we agreed that most of the decisions listed were something that could only be decided when the time comes. We didn’t want to fixate or get worked up on something that may not happen, and in turn cause unnecessary stress. I hope that your delivery goes as smooth as can be!

That’s all the lessons I learned from my birthing experience. What about you? What are some of the things you’re most concerned about? And if you’d given birth before, what are some of the things you’d learned from your experience? If you have other tips you would like to share, please let me know! Also, I’ll be doing more updates as I learn about being a new mom! If you want to read more about my journey, follow my Pinterest and Facebook account!

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