I’m having an epidural, I don’t need a childbirth class.
Childbirth education does so much more than prepare you to deliver unmediated. In fact, you will leave prepared for all delivery scenarios, be it an unmedicated, epidural, or a cesarean birth!
Birth Boot Camp childbirth classes focus on maintaining a healthy pregnancy through exercise and a whole-foods diet. We teach couples the stages of labor, practice comfort measures and relaxation techniques, go over common tests and procedures, practice labor and pushing positions, and more!
Why do I need to know comfort measures and relaxation techniques if I’m planning to get an epidural?
I recommend every couple learn comfort measures and relaxation techniques for labor. Sometimes a mom in labor will plan on an epidural, and won’t receive it as quickly as she’d like, or they don’t receive it in time at all. At times, conditions arise preventing an epidural, such as low platelets. Or for some, like my sister, the epidural doesn’t even work.
We know that birth doesn’t always go as planned, and if that happens, we want you and your birth partner to have the information, tools, and communication skills to help you to make informed decisions as your birth progresses.
Birth Boot Camp is dedicated to bringing couples the most up to date, scientifically based information!
Birth Boot Camp’s trainer guides, and student workbooks are updated to reflect the most up-to-date research. The curriculum was designed by a group of birth professionals, including is based on the MFCI (The Mother Friendly Childbirth Initiative). For more information on Birth Boot Camp’s Philosophy, click here.
My Struggle With Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.
I read an article in 2018 that really hit home for me. After reading it, I had this sudden urge to write about my own experience with Postpartum Depression (PPD) and Postpartum Anxiety (PPA). I had intended to share this much sooner than now. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t. Maybe because sharing my experience makes me feel vulnerable. More vulnerable than most other struggles I’ve faced. Even re-reading this nearly two years after I originally wrote it, brings tears to my eyes.
If you haven’t read Vayda’s birth story, you may do so here.
Below is what I wrote.
I suffered with Postpartum Depression after Vayda was born. I felt so guilty and ashamed that I was having such a difficult time connecting with my baby, which in turn made my Anxiety go through the roof. I tried to overcompensate and be “perfect” for fear that she wouldn’t feel loved by me. The only person I felt I could confide in was my husband. I remember clearly, bawling in his arms when she was only days old.
I was always told how magical a feeling it is to be handed your baby for the first time. How no other love could ever compare. That it would be instantaneous. I would be overwhelmed with joy. I wondered what was wrong with me…
“Am I a horrible person?”
“What kind of mother doesn’t have feelings (negative or positive) towards their child?”
“Am I some sort of sociopath?”
“No one can find out, or else they will take my baby”
Even though I lacked the expected feelings, I still WANTED this baby. I had prayed for her, and dreamt of becoming a mother for so long. I WANTED to love her. I wanted her to grow up feeling loved. And I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to provide that for her. The feelings I had (or lack there of) still haunt me at times. I tear up as I type this, because the pain and shame of that isolating experience is still here.
BUT I refuse to let that guilt and shame silence me. It is SO important to me that other new moms know that they are not alone if they experience the same or something similar. That they are not a horrible person or mother. That it is OK to ask for help. In fact, they should definitely get help – Whether it is from a family member, your church, a friend, counselor, or neighbor. Talk to someone about what you are experiencing. I wish someone had told me about this possibility before she was born. I didn’t realize that Postpartum Depression could look or feel like this. I didn’t feel “sad”, and it wasn’t the “baby blues“.
My Postpartum Depression symptoms seemed to hit me immediately. I remember feeling so underwhelmed and confused after Vayda’s birth. When she was handed to me, it was as if I was handed “A baby”. Not “MY baby”. I didn’t recognize her. It probably didn’t help that she looked absolutely NOTHING like me, or that the fact was brought up to me by multiple, well meaning people. My own mom even said if Vayda didn’t look so much like Zane, she would question if she was even mine. My mom and the others didn’t mean any harm with these statements, and I do not hold it against them. In fact, I’ve exclaimed the same. Although I know this didn’t “cause” my postpartum depression; I believe I would have had it even if we looked near identical- it certainly didn’t help.
By the looks of it, there wasn’t an ounce of me in her.
The hospital was slow the morning Vayda was born, and an unmedicated birth was a rare-ish occurrence during this time, at this particular hospital. A nurse actually told me she had never seen anyone use the squat bar yet. Because of this, a few nurses dropped in, and one offered to take pictures while they weighed, foot-printed, clamped and cut the umbilical cord, etc… There are a few pictures in particular from this time that are difficult for me to look at, even 4.5 years later. I felt the need to force expression on my face, but I didn’t know what expression to make. I have never before posted some of these pictures. I am not sure if I’ve even shown family (Besides Zane).
These are obviously some of the most unattractive pictures of me, but hey, I had just delivered a beautiful baby girl.
I ended up tearing pretty badly during pushing and needed stitches. I had also had a primary postpartum hemorrhage, and required Pitocin after delivery – I had originally planned to forgo the routine Pitocin and trust my body’s natural production of oxytocin. My midwife with my second pregnancy told me that my Postpartum Anxiety and Depression, and the delay of my milk coming in, was likely the result of the hemorrhage.
Thankfully, I had a good support system. While my mom and sister, Madelyn, were unaware of my Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, they were a HUGE help when it came to breastfeeding. My mom breastfed Madelyn, our brother, and I, and my sister was currently breastfeeding my 9-month old nephew. Their experience and support, along with the breastfeeding class I had taken during pregnancy are the reasons I believe I was successful in my breastfeeding journey.
My “milk” came in the evening of September 4th, after a much needed nap while my mom, Madelyn, and my best friend, Bri, took care of Vayda. Zane and I woke from this nap, and he exclaimed, “Kate, your boobs!” with a wide-eyed look on his face. I look in the mirror and it was clear my milk was finally in. I ended up not needing the pumped milk my sister brought me. And best of all, at Vayda’s two-week check up, I was able to proudly tell Vayda’s doctor that he was indeed wrong. she had gained her birth weight back, and then some.
All of my struggles didn’t pass then. I still had a lot to work through. My anxiety really took a toll on my day-to-day life. I still had difficulty bonding with Vayda. In fact, I often wonder even now, how our relationship might be different had I not suffered with Postpartum Depression. I know that I have always been a bit more protective of her. I know I tried to compensate for the lack of emotion I was able to show by going overboard on basically everything else. I’m unsure when I “stopped” having Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. I do know that the understanding and support of Zane, my faith in The LORD, and the therapy I received helped me get through that trial of life.
I breastfed Vayda until just four months shy of her second birthday, and only stopped because I was pregnant and developed major nursing aversions. Vayda is now a very smart and happy four year old. She brings our family so much joy. She still challenges me daily, but thankfully not in the same way.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is depression that occurs after having a baby. Feelings of postpartum depression are more intense and last longer than the “baby blues,” which symptoms typically resolve on their own within a few days. Using the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), CDC research shows that nationally, about 1 in 9 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression. Estimates of the number of women affected by postpartum depression differ by age and race/ethnicity. Additionally, postpartum depression estimates vary by state, and can be as high as 1 in 5 women. [CDC]
Risk Factors for Depression
Experiences that may put some women at a higher risk for depression can include
Stressful live events.
Low social support.
Previous history of depression.
Family history of depression.
Difficulty getting pregnant.
Being a mom to multiples, like twins, or triplets.
Being a teen mom.
Preterm (before 37 weeks) labor and delivery.
Pregnancy and birth complications.
Having a baby who has been hospitalized.
It is important to note, that depression can occur among women with a healthy pregnancy and birth, who have no previous history of depression. Postpartum depression can happen to anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, marital status, or income. It is believed that the dramatic drop in the hormones estrogen and progesterone in a women’s body after childbirth may contribute to the development of postpartum depression. Other hormones produced by the thyroid gland may also drop sharply — which can leave one feeling tired, sluggish and depressed [Mayo Clinic] Depression that occurs during pregnancy is called Perinatal Depression. Other perinatal and postpartum mood disorders include:
***Disclaimer*** These thoughts and experiences are my own. I am not a medical provider, and this is not intended to be medical advice. If you are experiencing postpartum depression symptoms, or if you believe you or a loved one may be experiencing this or another perinatal or postpartum mood disorder, please contact your medical provider and/or look at the resources linked above.
It was August 27th, 2015. I knew I wouldn’t be going out again for quite some time, so a few friends and I went out for one last ‘Girls Night Out’ before baby arrived. Of course, I was trying to induce labor through dancing. I was so disappointed when that didn’t work. I had been 2-3 cm dilated and a little effaced for a few weeks now. A couple days later, Zane and I go on a walk. He reluctantly agreed to take the 3 mile hike to the park. We made it about halfway back home, at which point I’m so exhausted from the hot humid Texas September evening, my hands and feet are swollen and in pain. I start crying thinking there is no way I could make it the rest of the way home. I beg Zane to just leave me and go get the car. It is now getting dark out – There was no way he would leave me alone in the condition I was in. He refused. After what seemed like forever, we made it home. The following day, I thought it actually might have worked when I started feeling this intense pressure every three minutes while walking around shopping. I had just met with a student doula, Lexi, that morning who had been referred to me by a mutual friend. She was very nice and wanted to help. I have this dislike for hospitals, I can’t pinpoint why exactly, I just do. Maybe its my slightly type – A personality. Anyway, despite these sensations not being “painful”, I was encouraged by family to head to the hospital since they were so close together and had been consistently coming for over forty – five minutes.
I arrive at the hospital, and BAM, as soon as I’m in a room, the ‘contractions’ are gone. I was so frustrated. Of course the nurses are looking at me with annoyance. I was the crazy first – time mom coming in for possible “labor” with no contractions. After about an hour or so, I’m sent home, embarrassed and irritated that family insisted on my going there in the first place. I go home and after dinner with my husband, I stayed up late cleaning (Hello nesting!) and watching one of my favorites, Gilmore Girls. The next afternoon I see an ambulance across the street. My neighbor’s boyfriend was being transported to the hospital, and knowing she had young children, I offered to watch them when they arrived home from school. Really, all I wanted that day was to sleep, and I had this intense thirst like no other. I was guzzling water like crazy, with little relief. But, I forgo my nap and babysat anyway. It was the neighborly thing to do, and I love kids. The girls arrive home from school and we ordered pizza and watched cartoons until their mom arrived. By this time, I had gotten my second wind. There would be no sleeping until around 11 PM
Its around 1:30 AM. I’m awoken by cramps. I thought the pizza may have upset my stomach. At some point, I realized my “cramps” were actually contractions. I text Lexi, woke Zane so he could notify his boss, and drew myself a bath. I had planned to labor at home for as long as possible, because I planned for an unmedicated birth. I was so unprepared for the pain. The water wasn’t delivering the relief I had expected. For some reason, I couldn’t get the water hot enough. The bathtub in our duplex was tiny and I was unable to fully submerge myself. Zane talks me into going to the hospital. I put on my favorite maternity shirt, which said “LET ME OUT!”, and a pair of running shorts. Off to the hospital we go…
The twenty or so minute drive feels like forever. Contractions consistently continue every three minutes, lasting for about a minute and a half each. We see our exit… It is CLOSED! I’m angry. The exit being closed means we have to do a turn around and go over train tracks THREE times. In case you were wondering, going over bumpy train tracks while in labor is no fun. No fun at all.
At the hospital
We finally arrive at the hospital around 3:30 AM. Because it is the middle of the night, the L&D doors are closed. We park and get enter the hospital through the ER. I remember being irritated by the intake questions. I’m thinking, “Can’t they see I’m obviously in labor”. I am so thankful once we are finally moved to L&D. Lexi arrives shortly after we get a room. I don’t remember much about this part, other than the frustration of even more questions and several pages of paperwork to fill out (which had surprised me, because we had pre-registered and signed something during our hospital tour). All I wanted was to labor in peace. My OB (Who has since retired), Ok’d Intermittent Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM), and a hep-lock in place of an IV.
At some point, I needed to use the restroom. I was happily surprised to find a bathtub. At my tour a few weeks prior, I had only seen showers, and the nurse who gave the tour acted as if bathtubs were not something utilized in L&D. I instantly insisted that the water be turned on as hot as possible, to which my husband responded he would ask our nurse if that was OK. I roared like something ferocious and said “Watch them try to pull me out” as I tore off my hospital gown. Let me tell you, sitting in that bath was the best part of my labor. Unlike at home, the temperature felt perfect. I was so relaxed, I was dozing off between contractions. I was finally able to cope with the insanely painful back labor I was experiencing from baby being in an OP (occiput posterior) position.
I was allowed to stay in the bath for around 30 minutes. I complained as it was time to monitor baby again, but I complied. I was offered the gown back, but I refused it (I was wearing a hot pink bandeau top). I could feel a contraction coming as I walked back to the bed. I managed to make it there just in time to lean over it as my contraction peaked (At which point my husband almost lost his life by making a sex joke – Yes I still hold this over him 4.5 years later!). The nurse hooks up the monitors, and my doctor arrives to check me. I had not progressed. She tells me that she thinks breaking my waters will speed things up. She said she knew I was going to have a quick labor. I originally did not want my waters broken, but I was disappointed to have not progressed, despite all of my body’s hard work. I reluctantly agreed. My water was broken.
Breaking my water intensified my contractions in a way I hadn’t expected. I had no idea my labor would change so drastically, so quickly. While the contractions were more intense and painful, they remained 3 minutes apart and a minute and a half long each. There was vomiting and toe curling. I instinctively moved onto my hands and knees as I gripped the head of the bed. Zane and Lexi took turns bringing me water (The thirst from earlier that day had continued). They tried rubbing my back and putting pressure on my hips, but I wasn’t tolerating any touch well. My gown was offered a few more times, but even the thought of the gown touching me, made me cringe. I struggled to remember how to breathe effectively. I roared and cried with each contraction, probably sounding like a badly wounded animal. I had had enough. “I WANT AN EPIDURAL!”, I cried. My doctor came in and assured me It would not be much longer, that I could make it through this last bit of labor. I remembered all of the people who told me I couldn’t have a natural birth. I wanted so badly to prove them wrong, but I couldn’t take the pain any longer. Because I had only a hep- lock, I had to take IV fluids before the Anesthesiologist could administer the epidural. I kept asking if the IV fluids were almost done. Knowing that I had no sense of time, everyone kept assuring me it was almost through. “Ten more minutes”. I was checked and at a 6 or 7 dilation, then not even ten minutes later, I get the sensation to poop. I call to the nurse to get my doctor. She insists that I’m OK, I had just been checked, but when I told her I had the needing to poop/ push sensation, she hurriedly called my doctor to the room. To everyone’s disbelief, I was at a 9.5, just a little cervical lip was left.
Time to push
I asked for a squat bar to be attached to the bed, and tried using that to assist in pushing with each contraction. The doctor suggested laying on my back, which I didn’t want, but I just wanted it all to be over, so I obliged. I remember being annoyed because my nurse kept telling me when to push, but I couldn’t find the words to ask her to stop. I could feel the contraction coming on, and I’d say that one was coming, and she’d say “No, not yet. its not here yet”, but what I was trying to convey was that I was at the beginning of a contraction. I could feel it building up, but she misunderstood me, and I couldn’t explain it better in that moment. My doctor did a perennial massage, and warm compress. As I pushed, she helped pushed the cervical lip over baby’s head so she could be delivered. I could feel it all, but pushing gave me a somewhat unexpected relief that almost competed with the bath. I pushed with such focus. I was determined to finally hold her in my arms.
Vayda Olivia was welcomed into the world on September 1st, 2015 at 7:57 AM, weighing 8 pounds 3.3 ounces and just under 22′ long.