On today’s episode, Ariel shares her birth story. It includes laboring at home for a good, long time until active labor (6cm), then moving on to epidural once at the hospital, and an efficient pushing stage. She also details the importance of doula support and taking birth classes. Finally, Ariel describes her experience with breastfeeding, highlighting the importance of reaching out for lactation consultant support, shares her struggles with low milk supply, and explains her daughter’s diagnosis and correction of tongue-tie.
Resources in this episode:
Dr. Scott Siegel - NYC oral surgeon for tongue/lip tie
benefits of taking birth class
laboring at home, doula comes just before leaving for hospital
transfer to Weill Cornell hospital in Uber
arrive at hospital
administration of epidural
pushing & the birth
postpartum -- things she wasn’t prepared for
benefits of private postpartum room & hospital support
the surreal experience of leaving the hospital
comfort measures that worked for her
how she perceived the physical sensations of labor
specific example of the helpfulness of the doula to normalize things
breastfeeding - challenges of low supply and tongue tie,
lactation consultant support - recommendation to pump and referral to specialist to correct tongue tie
important concept of “sleep begets sleep” and sometimes babies need help to sleep
build your team in pregnancy -- start by taking birth class to start that exploration & education
You're listening to The Birth Matters Podcast, episode six.
"There’s a lot that you don’t know. There’s a phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” There's a lot of that, but there’s a lot that you can know and a lot you can learn to be aware of. So I’d say don't go crazy, but I think it's just having an understanding of some things will make everything feel less overwhelming. If anybody asks me, I highly recommend your class.
Hey, there, and welcome to The Birth Matters Show. I'm your host, Lisa Greaves Taylor, founder of Birth Matters NYC Childbirth Education and Labor Support. This show is here to lessen your overwhelm on the journey into parenthood by equipping and encouraging you with current best evidence info and soulful interviews with parents and birth pros. Please keep in mind the information on the show is not intended as medical advice or to diagnose or treat any medical conditions. Have you subscribed to the show yet? Please be sure to do that wherever you're listening to this so you don't miss out on any episodes. The birth story that you'll hear today shared by Ariel includes laboring at home for a good long time until things got really intense, getting an epidural once at the hospital, and a very fast pushing stage. She also details the importance of doula support and taking birth classes. Ariel describes her experience with breastfeeding, highlighting the importance of reaching out for professional lactation support, shares her struggles with low milk supply and explains her daughter's diagnosis and correction of tongue tie. I'll explain a bit more about tongue tie after Ariel shares her story. She also learns from the pediatrician that a newborn should stay awake for a smaller chunk of time than we might think and that often newborns need help to go back to sleep. Finally, Ariel gives tips for expectant parents on getting equipped with plenty of resources and support, being ready for whatever your needs might be since you don't really know what you'll need yet. Last, I want to mention that you'll hear a sporadic clicking noise from time to time. I hope it won't be too distracting. We edited out as much as we could. We're learning as we go along here.
Before we get started on the birth story, today's episode is brought to you by the Birth Matters Complete Online Course. If you can't squeeze in an in-person group birth class series, or if you didn't feel like the one you took was comprehensive enough, or if you don't even have a quality class available in your area, I have the perfect solution for you. Birth Matters Complete Course is an online recorded version of my in-person full series. It covers not only prep for an amazing birth with self-advocacy tips, best current evidence and tips for partners, but also holistic postpartum wellness, breastfeeding, and newborn care, and to top it off, you get lifetime access so that you can use it as a refresher later in this or future pregnancies. How awesome is that? For New York City locals, you have an option to add to the course an in-person one evening hands-on comfort measures workshop, which is a really ideal option for the more tactile parts of the course. Check it out at birthmattersonline.com. All right. I've made you wait long enough. Let's get started on today's birth story.
So glad to connect with you today. I can't wait to hear your birth story and anything you'd like to share that's happened since then, too. So why don't you go ahead and start from the beginning or wherever you want to start from.
Great, great. Your class was super helpful. We—Lou, my husband and I really didn't know much about, you know, the birth process, laboring, even about babies. So it was really helpful for us to get the perspective of what to expect even though there's still a lot more to come, but it really gave us a good grounding of what's leading up to it. So that's really just the different stages of labor. We didn't know about that. We didn't know about laboring at home, how important that was and I'll tell you about my experience, but those were just things that were super informative to us. Even a lot of the resources on breastfeeding and just having those behind, to go into it, even though we didn't need it right away because you know, in the hospital we did have support. But at least to see it and have some familiarity was helpful. And I, you know, one of our biggest takeaways from the class too, and I always tell people this, is learning about the physiological changes that your body's going through during labor. So that really played a big part in my labor. You know, I didn't know that and my sister-in-law had recently had a c-section and I think she didn't know any of this and she was super stressed and super tense and her body never reacted. She ended up having to have a c-section. She also didn't know what a vacuum, the vacuum was, and that sounded really daunting to her and her partner. And they opted not to do that because they heard "vacuum." And so things like that, just having so much knowledge about what to go in with and things to talk to our doctor about. So that was just amazing. And I really am so grateful and I feel like we went into it as prepared as we could be. Even though I had mentioned this to you, at least I, like, it was definitely more intense than I thought. I think a lot of us tend to think, you know, we have a high tolerance for pain, or some women know that they don't have a high tolerance for pain, but I think a lot of us think that we're strong. I can do this. Like I've done really hard things, but until that day comes, wow, it was like intense beyond what I thought it could be, but also makes it now like, wow, I understand why after the fact women are like, "I did that!" And it wasn't just because it was like some mild cramping there. Okay. So my birth story is, so we had...
Hang on one second. Can you tell us, I should have mentioned this, you, you had your baby pretty recently. You want to share how old your baby is right now?
She was eight weeks yesterday, so she was born on February 26. Yeah. Yep. She was, she's great. She's on me now sleeping or kind of sleeping. So I was due February 21st and I had my doctor's visit I think the Tuesday before. For a few weeks leading up, I had been one to two centimeters dilated, which they said could mean nothing, but you could stay that way the whole time. You could go into labor the next day. But you know, it sounded like it was a good sign that at least I was dilating. I knew some people that didn't even dilate when I've got to the hospital. So I was like, okay. So then my due date came and went. So on February 25th we had a non-stress test and so my husband and I went and one of my friends who was due had a baby three weeks prior. She went beyond her due date. She had the non-stress test, she was induced. She recommended I bring our bags with us. I was hoping not to get induced because that would throw off the whole plan of laboring at home. I mean it's, there was just a lot that I envisioned and—if I got induced it wouldn't have gone that way. We also had a doula, I wanted to mention that too. We didn't really know anything about doulas or what they are, what they do until your class. And that was also really helpful—my husband and I walked away from your class thinking that for both of us it could be really nice to have that support and just having an understanding of what it is. And we looked into it more and we met with some after. But just having that initial understanding was really helpful. I don't know that we would have sought it out if not for your class. And I'm really glad that we ended up having a doula and she was amazing. The non-stress test was good, there was enough fluid, everything. The baby's heartbeat was good. There was no stress there, so we were good to keep going. So that was exciting. Though the next appointment was the next day and I think at that point we would have talked about what we're going to do. So we hadn't even been, didn't really know at that point. After the appointment—we delivered at Weill Cornell. After the appointment we had decided to go to Bed Bath and Beyond on 61st and 1st to get a little heater because our room was a little chilly and we figured for the baby. So we're walking and as we're walking it was like a decent walk, maybe like 15-20 minutes. I felt a little bit of a pain just that I had to stop for a second and that hadn't happened to me at all during the pregnancy and I sort of was like, "Huh, that's a little weird, but okay. You know, whatever." Like at the very end, you know, I'm 40-and-a-half weeks pregnant and I'm going to feel things more now. It's just like I, again, I hadn't really felt that I needed to stop. Then my husband went to work, I go home, I pretty much laid on the couch the rest of the day and as the day went on, I had a little bit more bleeding. I had looked up more about like the mucus plug and I've, we'd learned about that in your class too and so I was like, "Huh, this is interesting." But again, like this doesn't mean that you're going to go into labor. Like there's all of these. So we have dinner, go to bed and it was about 10:20 we're in bed and I start feeling what felt like a cramp. Like, "Huh, that's interesting." I said, you know, I kind of woke my husband like "Lou, I feel something," and then we had an app to time contractions. We didn't time it at that point I felt another one. So he looked at the time for the first one and I said, "I feel another one" and that—it was like exactly 10 minutes and then we started timing them and that's when we're like, "Okay, this is happening" until about four in the morning. He slept in between, he kind of had his little like catnaps in between each contraction. I'm like, okay. Another one, he was timing them just so we kind of knew how far apart they were.
At about 4, I texted our doula to say "It's happening," but at that point they were about eight to 10 minutes apart. She said, "Wait until they get a bit closer." I called the doctor, they called me back, the doctor on call. Same thing, like the doctor said, "We'll wait till they're about, like—I think it was—three minutes apart" maybe. Oh, let me also back up. So as far as medicated birth, I wasn't sure I was going to decide when I got there and at that point in the middle of the night by like 4 or 5 in the morning, the contractions were pretty painful. So I kind of had decided at that point already that I was going to get an epidural because I was like, "They're eight minutes apart right now. I can't imagine what they're going to be like when they start becoming three minutes apart." So that was just something that I had made my mind over. It didn't change my mind to go to the hospital sooner because I knew that going there sooner as I learned in your class, like it was, you're going to be connected to tubes and or wire, you know like IVs and it's just not going to be as comfortable. So what we decided to do is just kind of keep timing at home and stay at home for as long as we can and we used a lot of techniques that we've learned in your class, which was great. Just changing my position and for the beginning I just really wanted to lay in my bed and I just had a robe on. I didn't need my husband there. I just wanted to like lay and almost take a little bit of a nap between each one and every time I had him when he came rushing in and we timed them, he helped me through it. I held onto him. I moaned on him but then when that sort of became—laying down became too much. Then I leaned over our chair in our living room and did that and that was really helpful just to have the positions. We have a scarf that we used as a rebozo and our doula also helped with that too and just being able to like be in my tank top underwear and a robe laying in my bed by myself was really nice. In a hospital, I would not have been able to do that. So then in the morning things are progressing. I know it's going to happen. It is getting more painful. They're not really getting much closer together but they are getting more painful. Our doula, I thought she was coming over around 10 and then...
That's what I was about to ask was, at what point did you call her and then did she coach you some by phone or text?
She coached us by phone and text. Both of them, like through, with my husband, and I was asking her questions through him. I texted her at like 4 in the morning to say what's happening? And then she had recommended, you know, to that like we'll keep her posted as they get closer together. And then about like 9 or 10 I said "It's really painful" and you know, but they still hadn't really gotten closer together. But I was like, "I think maybe I should think about going to the hospital soon." She's like, "Okay, well you really want to wait until they're consistently closer together." Because there were some that were close and then—a pattern hadn't happened yet where they were really regularly close together. I thought she was coming over around 11 I thought she said, "I'll start getting ready." I think that's what she said. A little bit of a misunderstanding. So, but it kind of worked out because in my head I'm like, she's coming, ok, Jessica, Jessica's coming. She'll help us through this and we'll, you know, we'll start getting going to the hospital. And then it was about, I thought that was, yeah, like 9 or 10 then like 11:30 I was like, "Okay, I really think I need to start getting to the hospital. Like it's really painful. I don't know if I can take it anymore." She's like, "Ok, I'll head over." You know? I'm thinking like, "I thought you were already heading over, but okay."
Sometimes that's a little bit of a doula trick to get you to stay home a little longer.
It totally was. Oh, now I know the secret. Right.
I'm not saying it was her trick.
Well because I did. I did think, you know it did, it did get me to stay home longer for sure. So then she came over and then she saw that at that point they were getting a little bit closer together. Not really, not at like the three minutes, but maybe like five to eight. But she saw that I was really intense, you know, each one that I had. And so at that point she also, I was like, "I need to go to the hospital." And she agreed. So we called an Uber and you know, my sister lives nearby. She was, she had offered to drive. But you know what? I thought my getting through these contractions, I don't, she doesn't really need to see me that way. It was sort of like, it could be a little traumatizing for her. I don't want her to get into an accident, let's do it. So we had an Uber come, which was also really helpful because our doula was able to go down, talk to the Uber driver, explain it. You know, while my husband helped me out of the apartment, which there was a contraction on the way out of the apartment, it was really helpful that she was in the front seat with the driver and my husband was in the back seat with me and just so nobody knows what's going on and no, it would be a lot for him to, but also so through this whole thing, just to back up being at home like it was a lot of the breathing, a lot of the like trying to let my body relax even though it's really, really painful. But just to kind of go with it—and that was also when our doula came—to kind of like ride it and it was hard, but it was, you know, I knew that that was gonna make it the smoothest possible labor that I could have. So anyway, so then we get to, we, we take the Uber and it was funny, so I ended up, so I remember looking at the driver's phone, which had like, you know, 20 minutes to get to the hospital. And I thought, okay, 20 minutes, my contractions are now like five minutes apart. I'm going to have like four contractions on the way, but okay, here we go. Like, nothing we can do about that, they're coming. And then it was just sort of the same, just kind of moaning through it, holding my husband and just sitting in the backseat, trying to get as comfortable as I could, you know, sitting was not, that's also something that we learned in your class, too, sitting is not comfortable, but you know, so I was kinda squirming around and lifting up and the driver, he was, he was a young Greek man. I think he was new to Uber. I was his first labor, it seemed to make his day. He was like really kind of, it was cute. He was sort of excited by it.
Oh, that's good.
Yeah, I was at, we were the first ride of the day and...
I thought you were saying at first you were his first ride ever. I was like, wow.
Oh, no. Yeah, no. But his first woman in labor, to give a ride, and he, you know, was like, "Wow! One second, you're really calm and everything's good. And then the next second you're like screaming. It's so crazy." You know? He was just sort of like, "Wow, that's kind of how it works."
Exactly. He was like, "Oh, that's really like, that is how labor is." So then we get to the hospital and I had a contraction on the way into the hospital and then, you know, in the lobby. At that point it was so interesting. Like I am, I'm not a shy person and I just, I really am not. And people had told me this, too. It's sort of like, when this is all happening, it's like you do what you need to do. You couldn't even tell me to be quiet if you tried, you know. It was just sort of like, and I really didn't care and it was sort of like, it just felt very natural and whatever and that's what it is. So I'm—on the way in, I had a contraction and then you know, on the elevator up I had a contraction. So I get to the nurses station at the hospital and they asked for my name, I sit down, your name, you know, and then I start having a contraction, like, "You know what, just give us your ID and your insurance card and we'll take care of the rest." Like they like wanted to get me out of the hallway. So I go into the room to the triage room and at that point I did ask for the epidural, like how—so they were going to get, you know, prepare for that. I also, I think that with the, the, with the epidural, I just, I didn't know how much more I could take. I didn't know how much more was left. I just really wanted to, like, I felt like I had felt a lot already and I was kind of done feeling it all. So at that point, so I get there and they're like, okay, we need to like see how dilated you are. And so at that point I was six to seven centimeters dilated, so it was like, "Oh my God." You know, I mean I, I hadn't really thought about how... I knew it had to be somewhat significant, but I didn't, I mean I, part of me felt like, because I really felt a lot like I felt my body like really working through this, but I think a lot of people feel that and they get there and they're like one centimeter or two centimeters. So I was like, it was really good there and everybody there, it was like, "Wow, that's amazing! Great job!"
Did you find, I was trying to get a sense of just then when you were sharing that, did you, were you encouraged or were you not, because I sat here and said "Yay," but that might not necessarily have been what you were feeling.
Oh, totally. Everybody was like, "You're amazing." You know, like there was a lot of like great sort of encouragement and support. People were impressed, you know, I think that,
Sure. Rightly so.
So that was really nice to know that, you know, like you kind of like feel like a bit of like accomplishment already at that point, which was good. So that was great. But I was still sort of like, "Okay, you know, I'm, when is the epidural coming and like, when can I get it?" You know, it's still so painful. Like I couldn't, I just like, I had to, I had to pee but I couldn't pee. I had to, you know, it was just all, you know. But again, just to go back to what, you know, we learned in your class, like had I gotten there sooner, I would've been in the gown sooner. I would have been connected to the IV sooner. It was already hard to go to the bathroom. At least when I was home I was, I mean I'm glad I went when I went, but I'm glad I didn't go sooner. I wouldn't have been able to, like I had to poop quite a bit for some reason that morning, you know, just because of all the pressure or I didn't even know that I had to, but I, just sitting on the toilet, which we learned in your class too, like was a comfortable spot and just because there was so much happening like just to, but in the hospital I couldn't, I really couldn't pee. I mean I just, I, whether it was like the gown or the things attached to me or, so it was just nice that I was able to do that at home. At the hospital, so then they're preparing, you know, they get a delivery room for us and they kind of bumped me up on an epidural list because they could see that I'm in a lot of pain. And I guess there was somebody next door who wasn't quite in as much pain as me. So they, they got me first. I didn't know much about the epidural. Getting it while I was having contractions was like a little bit scary. Yeah. I mean I had the—wow—that anesthesiologist nurse was—the anesthesiologist and the nurse—were amazing. The nurse was, I mean I'm, she goes through this all the time, I'm sure. But you know, as soon as it's like, "I'm having a contraction," they're like, "Hold still," "Wait, I'm, have you, you know, like how does this work?" I kind of planted my face in her boobs and you know, grabbed onto her legs and she gave me a pillow to hold onto and we just kind of got through it together. And that was really, really helpful.
And your doula had to leave the room.
Yes, exactly. So it was just us, it was just me and the nurse and the anesthesiologist. So she did it and you know, and five minutes later that was like, that was sort of the end of like the hard labor, I would say. Right until the epidural came. So then the epidural and then it was like, "Oh," I felt like I could really like breathe, you know, just felt, yeah, it was really intense. And then I, I, and I've never felt, I've never felt such extreme pain and then like relief before. Like it's just because I guess the epidural, I mean it's obviously, you know, it's like going right into your spine. So I guess that is the point of it. So at that point I was feeling good. My mom and my sister were coming and they were nearby so they were allowed in the room, in the delivery room while we were just kind of waiting, my mom was kind of shocked. She was like, "You sure you're in labor?" I'm like, and Lou and I both were like, "You should have seen me like a couple of hours ago." Because at that point after the epidural, like I was feeling, I was very relaxed. I could still feel the contractions, I could still feel, but just like they were like on mute. It was like, you know, like if your volume is on 35 then like the epidural, like the volume is on like 4, you know, like I could, I could kind of barely, I could feel it like I could feel something but not at that intensity of like what it was.
Sounds like it really took very effectively for you, yeah?
It took very effectively.
And was that like on the first try that it works really well or did they have to tweak it?
It was the first try. The nurse was telling me that the, the delivery nurse was like, "You have the best. She's the best anesthesiologist." And I'm like, "Okay, well I hope so because she's going into my spine." But I know that I've heard my husband's cousin, she had a bad experience. I'm glad that went well. Yeah. So the first try five minutes later it was like I was feeling, I was feeling good. So now it's about, we had gotten to the hospital about 1, I got the epidural probably like 2:30 or so. So the doctor comes in and she breaks my water and she did that because it hadn't, it hadn't broken yet. And when she does that, she said that there was merconium, is that what it's called?
Meconium. So that was, that had come out. So because of that and there was a good bit—she said they were going to have the pediatrician come into the delivery room just in case the baby's not breathing right away. Could just be stuck in its lungs so they'll have to get it out. So she did let me know that, that there were just going to have to watch for that. And if, if that were the case, if the baby's not—comes out and baby's not crying right away, then they can't put the baby on me immediately. They'll have to go take it to clear out its lungs and then bring her back in.
Do you mind me asking after they, you got the epidural, I assumed that you were on continuous monitoring at that point.
Yes. Yeah. Okay. Yup. And at Weill Cornell it was nice. They had, I don't know, again, because this my first child, I don't know what like the other delivery rooms are like, so it was a dedicated nurse in our delivery room. So that was nice. So she had her like little station next to me and it was, you know, it was a nice big room and Lou and our doula was there so it was sort of like the four of us. So that was, we had like our, you know, she was there the whole time, which was nice—the nurse. Although there was an interesting dynamic and we can, if you want to talk more about it after the, between the nurse and the doula, there was like a little bit of contention there. Yeah, it was sort of like, she's sort of an old school nurse and kinda like, "This is my delivery room." So that was kind of interesting. And our doula actually had never really experienced that before either. So that was kind of, I mean, it was fine, but I'm kinda like, I, at some point I'm like, "Hey ladies!" you know, like, yeah, it was just was a little bit odd, but really it was just like, I think like an old school nurse who likes to do things her way and like it's, and also I think just an ignorance of like what a doula is. I think she was feeling kind of threatened, like not realizing that the doula wasn't there to like pretend to be a medical professional, you know? But anyways, at that point I was nine centimeters dilated. So after like not that long—after, so I was like, "Oh, okay." Like that's good. Yeah. Moving along quick. Yeah. And then I sort of stalled there for awhile. So then it was about 5:30. The next, the doctor who was on call came in and said that, you know, they were gonna give me pitocin because, or maybe it was the original doctor, because it had, it hadn't progressed at all at that point. So because of the epidural, the contractions weren't, it just, I was sort of stuck at nine so that was, and it was also helpful that the doula explained, too, like just that, that little bit of pitocin just to kind of push me over that last hump. So we did that and then they were going to come back in, they said like three hours later, so it was about 5:30 so they said at 8:30 they were going to come back. And then, so we were like, okay, we're kind of like hunkering down. My mom and my sister were there, like, then they left and my husband and I, we watch Jeopardy every night. So we were like, "Okay, we can watch Jeopardy." So we put on Jeopardy and then, so now it's about seven and the doctor comes back in and he sees—just to kinda check and he's like, "Oh nope, you are. Yeah, you're, you're 10. It's, we're ready to go." So we're like, okay. So then he leaves. So they started, I think he said, "Let's set the table." Yeah, that's what he said. Set the table. I remember thinking like—he meant like the birthing table, but I'm like "Set the table?" Like it was sorta funny. So they start getting everything ready and then everybody's kind of like the whole team that comes, they, they were all getting together. The nurse said we're going to do some practice pushes and kind of teach me how to do it. So we did three practice pushes. On the third, she was like, "No more. I can see the baby. We need to wait for the doctor." So okay. Yeah. So and I'm laying on my side and it was also, she had, they had the peanut ball there, which we learned about in your class too. And the doula also kind of encouraged changing positions. So then everybody's there and ready. Then we start, we push. The first push, I think they could see the baby and then the second push, baby's like almost out, I can kind of feel it. And then third push she came out. So it was like five. Yeah it was so fast. It was like, I mean, because they said, you know, like they were prepping us and I, and I think we also learned about your class, like you can, they don't want you to push for more than like two hours or something. I think they said it was like, the average is like 30 minutes. It goes 30 to 90 minutes, it can go for. And so I was like, okay. And I, you know, I'm thinking like, "Oh my God, I can't imagine 90 minutes." But it was— yeah, it was like seven minutes or something. And so she was born at 7:32 and, yeah. So that was the whole, you know, and I could still, you know what I was, I was thankful that I still felt—her come out. I could still feel the pressure. It wasn't like, you know, I've, I have a friend who I had an epidural, it was just, I think she got it very late and it, she really couldn't feel anything and she couldn't feel the pushing so it didn't, I wouldn't say it hurt, but I felt like the pressure of it. So that was good. I had a little bit of tearing. So they kinda did the stitches and all that while she was on my chest and yeah, that was our story.
And do you remember any of the third stage? Any of the placenta delivery part of it?
I do remember them.
I don't remember much of that.
Yeah. I feel like, I feel like they might be more like pushing on my stomach maybe. Right to— that's all I really remember of that. I think I forgot that every, I mean, does every woman have tearing I guess or I...?
Not everyone, it's common to have them a tear the first time around especially, but not everybody does.
Okay, because I wasn't sure. And I think same thing as the active labor. I didn't realize how much pain I would be in down there. Like "Duh," of course. Like it's kind of a traumatic thing. Like there's a lot happening down there. But especially when I got home, that was a bit, one of my friends said, who—who has had two children, she said, "You know, one thing that I wasn't prepared for was the amount of blood." So that was her sort of take away. For me, it wasn't the blood, it was, well it was the constipation.
Mm. I've been realizing lately I need to talk about that more in the postpartum section.
Yeah. Yeah. Cause I'm on this thread with women who were all due around the same time on Facebook from the Momily Group and one—they're all, they were all like three or four weeks ahead of me with their, with their kids. And one woman said like, "Oh my God, I had my first poop," you know. And I was like, "Why is she talking about poop?" Like, I really didn't know that it was a thing, and it was, you know, and then they were giving me the stool softeners and it just, those weren't working. And when I got home, I mean, the problem is it's just, again, like just not knowing how your body is gonna feel. I felt like if I tried to push, I was gonna like poop out my insides, you know, like I felt like everything was going to come out, you know, I just didn't know. But you know, it, it healed. It was super helpful to have, we have a rocking chair and it was super soft on the bottom. So like that felt really good for me to sit in. Like it was just like really soft things to sit in was, was good. Sorry, I'm not sure if I jumped to there, but—but yeah, I guess like the, the tearing, it didn't hurt. The stitches didn't hurt. I think because of the epidural. Like it was kind of like that weird, like I could feel them poking around in there and I'm like, "Oh, if I didn't have an epidural it would probably hurt." But I don't know what's happening. I just feel them like doing all sorts of stuff. But yeah. And then we ended up getting a private, we were in the delivery, we stayed there for awhile. So it was just this, me and my husband and the baby and it was a girl. We didn't know what we were having. So it was a girl, her name is Zuri and my mom and my sister came in probably like maybe 45 minutes later and yeah. And then we got moved to a room. We ended up, Weill Cornell doesn't have all private rooms, so we put our name on a list and we were able to get a private room. So that was nice. Yeah, that was great. I was, we were so glad because you know, and then they had a cot that in there for Lou and it was just nice because then the three of us were in the room and it was nice having the nurses come in to help. But it was just, it's just nice having more space and we both have big family. So it was just nice, you know, to have the space to like have visitors when we wanted to or not and you know, just to order dinner if we wanted to and just not have to worry about like visiting hours or any of that stuff. So and then, yeah. And then I was, that was, so that was Tuesday night we got, went into the room and then we went home on Thursday morning and that was also kind of like, "Oh my God, we're going home. Like, oh my God, we're going home with a baby."
It's a daunting feeling, right?
That was really all that,
There's nothing like that. Like, "Are you sure you trust me?"
I know it's sort of like, wow, this is real. Like now we're on our own. Like you feel so supported in the hospital in so many ways. You know, like they have, they had a, you know, like a breastfeeding class. They had like a, like a general class. I think that they, you know, that was mandatory but they tell you about like bathing and like the nurses were just amazing to like come in even if you just want them to change the diaper they were and then all of a sudden it's like, "Wait, oh my God, we're going home." There's no one there to take—you know, it's like all us. So it just felt really like that was a moment of like, "Wow, this is really real." So that was in a nutshell I guess.
That's wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing all those details. Backing up to a couple of things that popped into my head, were there specific comfort measures when you were laboring at home that Lou helped you with, the specific hands on things or, or other non-hands on things?
The timing of it. Like that was something that was helpful for him, too. I know we did like the—we did the ice on our hands in your class, you know, to like, it helps. It really helped me to, to know how far I, how long the contraction's been happening or like if it's almost done. So that was something that really like, I'm like, "How much longer?" you know, like I needed him to tell me that I was halfway there, that like the minute was almost over, like 10 more seconds. So that was, to me that was a comfort measure because it was like, it was, it's very mental. So that wasn't like as much physical, but it really helped me get to the next, like it helped me get to the end of it. So that was one thing. He did like do a bit of massage on my lower back. So that was really helpful and I felt like we sort of like cycled through things. So the leaning over the chair, had a pillow on the floor and just leaning over that and having him and just sort of like leaning onto him was also really helpful. Just like hanging on him and kind of moaning onto his chest. That was super helpful. I can't think of.... I had an exercise ball, but I don't know that I used it. I might've used it towards the very end just to kind of, because I, I feel like every time I tried something new it was good, but then it's sort of like, it was like, "Okay, now I need something else." It was like I got, like I needed to like change it up and maybe it was just mental that like my body just like needed to do something else, kind of have a variety of things to like do.
And for you, what specific parts of your body did you feel your labor sensations in as things got more intense?
I would say it was really in my stomach. I guess like my front, I didn't feel it in my back. I know one of my friends had it like in her butt a lot, like her glutes had a lot of pain. It was really just like in my front area I would say and like lower abdomen.
So that kind of that achiness or heaviness in the, in the bottom of your belly?
Yeah. And like hips, I guess like that, like the mid region over there. Yeah.
And did you ever feel any of that really internal cervical sensation inside or was it just mostly the belly?
No, I think I did too. Like inside. Yeah, I think, yeah. Yeah.
Yeah, I, everybody describes it differently. So it's just really interesting to hear the, that variety. Yeah. How people perceive it. And another question that popped into my head when you were talking about getting the epidural it sounded like maybe they did not automatically pair it with pitocin, that they added that later?
They added that later. Yeah. I guess, I don't know.
Because a lot of our local hospitals do it just by default, just to try to help things along. But I kind of, I like hearing that they tried it without it and then only used it if needed.
Yeah. And it came much later on. They didn't force it on me either. You know, I was the one that was like, "I want an epidural." You know, I wasn't, I didn't feel like they were, they were pushing that, which was sort of nice too, you know, because it was like, I felt like it was more my decision. I mean I knew it was my decision because you know, when I was going I had kind of decided that, because then once I got into, once I had the epidural, then I was like, "Okay, I'm ready to like eat something now." And they're like, "Nope, you're not eating anything." And I—I just wasn't hungry all morning because I was just, you know, going through labor. So I didn't want to eat. So it's fine. I had chicken broth. Oh actually—this was something else I forgot about during the labor. The baby's heart rate was starting to drop a little bit and I guess, so then I was just breathing in the oxygen. So it was helpful to have the doula there in the room. So this was now at the end when I was about to, we were going to start pushing. So the nurse had me breathing in oxygen because she was monitoring the baby's heart rate and the nurse was a bit like panicking and our doula was like, "It's okay." You know like I think too, you know, she was so, it was just good to have her. Because if it was just Lou and I we woulda been like, "What's going on?" You know like so and then ended up, I think on her way down the umbilical cord got wrapped, loosely wrapped around her neck a couple of times. So everything was fine. But that was causing her heart rate to go down a little bit. But she was a little bit in a little bit of a panic. So I really liked the nurse. There were some things that were a little like intense, like that was one thing. But again, like, having the doula there who also could see the monitor, you know, and obviously if it was like a true emergency they would have done something. So it was just so, it was just nice to have our doula to like keep us calm and keep us kind of informed to like the point that where we understood what was kind of going on.
Do you have time to share about a little about your breastfeeding experience and I know you had mentioned that Zuri had tongue tie and ...if you'd like to share that. No pressure.
Sure. Yeah. Yeah. Happy to. So breastfeeding was also something that was, I feel like a mystery to me even though I, I, we learned about it in your class and I had, you know, I'd watched some videos. I just feel like a lot of this is just until you're doing it really, you know, like I always thought that the difficulty with breastfeeding was the baby not wanting to latch and also having to like be the sole source of food for the baby. So a lot sort of like, you know, like your partner can't help as much. I didn't realize that supply was an issue. I didn't even understand that supply. I just assumed all women have lots of milk. So that was a big like—and now I realize when there's that difficulty, like that's a big part of it. But that was just sort of my probably like similar to the, like, I have a high tolerance for pain, I can do this, you know, just not truly understanding because I just didn't maybe, I don't know, like for whatever the reason that like if you think you know something and you don't, you're not going through it. Like you don't maybe research it as much. So we, after she's born, we're doing the colostrum, she's sort of latching kind of, but like a little bit. But you know, like the lactation consultant came and was having me put it on my finger and put in her mouth. So that was good. So everything was good. We go home, I think they checked for tongue tie in the hospital. I'm, I'm feel like they said, I think the pediatrician who was there said she, I feel like she said, they said "She doesn't have it." But so then we go home and now we go home on Thursday and our doctor's appointment is on Friday. So we go on Friday and she's latching pretty well at this point. And then on Friday she had lost some more weight but that's normal. So that was fine. There was no reason for concern there. And then we went back the following I think Tuesday or Wednesday for the next follow-up. So then we went back to the doctor the next week and at this point I had made an appointment with a lactation consultant, which was also super helpful to have in your resource packet because I had reached out to Annie a few months prior just to be like, should I set that? Like you know, just like, "Hey I might need this." Like I figured my insurance covers it, like no reason not to tap into like a great resource. So I had made an appointment because my nipples were sore and I figured, "Okay, so it's just maybe like not a great latch or something." And then when I went to the doctor, I think I went to the doctor and that later that day I was having my first visit with, with Annie and thank goodness. So she had a cancellation, like there was like I was going to see another lactation consultant and, and again, I didn't think it was so urgent because like, you know, I felt like, okay, just some help with the latch.
Can you clarify how old Zuri is at this point?
So she's now about nine days old.
Okay. Had your milk come in by then?
You know, I don't, I think so. I, and that was the other thing, like I should've been paying more attention. Like it seemed like she was eating but like, because like I know they don't eat that much. I think like it seemed like she was eating, so I think it had come in, but then when we went to the doctor she'd lost more weight. So that was when the doctor was like, "Huh." You know? And when the doctor asked about, like, her pee and poop and she had been doing both. I, you know, in retrospect like when we were—what we were calling a pee diaper was like probably not much. Like it was just like a little bit of pee. Whereas like, like the blue line on the pampers was like that big instead of like, after it was like, you know, much, much bigger. But, so our doctor said that she thinks she has tongue tie, but Annie will really have a better idea. The lactation consultants, you know, they're more specialized in that. And now I've learned too that pediatricians are like, under—what? What are...
They're under-diagnosing. Pediatricians under-diagnose. So meanwhile the doctor said, "Do what Annie says, and keep doing what you're doing." I was feeling a little like, you know, it was, it was feeling that day was pretty overwhelming because my nipples were sore. She's losing weight. I'm not exactly sure what's next here because like I need to feed her more, but like, how do I do that? So I was really so glad that Annie was coming later that day. Meanwhile, also just part of the whole postpartum experience that morning I had Weill Cornell, they lost her, her—the blood that they collected. So I had to take her back into the hospital to get a new blood samples. So that was like, I was rushing from that to the doctor and then the doctor tells me this. Then I was having a meeting with Annie and then one of my friends and her mom were stopping by later that day. So like that's like a piece of advice is just like really manage your visitors. You know, like there's just, it's nice to see people, but it's also like too much, can't do too much. You can't do, like before I would, you know, before baby it was like, oh, I can go here and there and do everything in one day. And it's like, nope. I've, I've realized since like one thing a day is like good, you know? So then Annie came and you know, I told her what the doctor said. She had lost weight and she looked in her mouth and she confirmed that it was tongue tie and explained it to me and that, you know, that that makes it hard for her to latch. So she recommended two doctors. So then that was on Thursday. Okay. So then Friday, you know, so she, she also recommended that I pump. Right. So I pumped and again with my ignorance of breastfeeding and all of this, I thought, well you pump and you get like a big bottle of breast milk, you know.
Not at the beginning, anyway, usually.
Right, right. So, so I, so I ask Annie, I was like, what do I do? Yeah. She's like, okay so pump, you know like six times a day. And I'm like, "OK," and like, "And feed it to her. Just so you know, she gets something." "Well what do I do with all the extra? Do I put in the fridge?" She's like, "Don't worry about it," you know, she was sort of like, she was very sweet because I'm like I, she could sense, like, "I don't think you're going to have that much extra, but you know, just do it. You know, just, let's start with the pump." So then Friday, at this point, my husband went back to work Friday that next day I wake up and I pumped while she's sleeping. Okay. Things are good. I mean that actually that Thursday night I pumped and I got like little driplets and I was like, wait, this—is this pump, this pump is broken or something like this isn't working. Right. So I didn't know that's what it is. And then Friday morning I pumped, my husband went to work and then I'm like, okay, I got this, you know, so then I'm feeding her and then my nipples really hurt. I know she's like not getting enough food so, what they explained to is that she hadn't been, when she was sucking from me, she was just getting like little snacks. She also wasn't sleeping great. She wasn't eat—because she wasn't eating enough even though she was nursing the whole time. I just thought she's on the boob, then she's eating. So Friday morning I had a little bit of a, I wouldn't say breakdown, but I, and I emailed Annie who was amazing and—or, she emailed me like, "How's it going?" And I was like, "Well I pumped once and now I, I can't pump and—because she wants to eat and she's crying. I don't, I can't pump because I need to feed her and, but I'm not giving her anything." And she's like, "Okay, well just, you know, do what you can, just like, and if you need to supplement some formula, like, that's okay, you know, just to get her fed for now. We'll keep working on this." So that was really like encouraging to hear because I didn't know, even though I didn't want to supplement with formula from the beginning, like I didn't, like there was nothing else I could do at that point. Like, you know, it's just like, "Well we can work through this." So I ended up like in a slight panic calling Lou and he came home, got formula because I just like, I felt so bad she was hungry and I wasn't able to feed her and I wanted to get her some food. And I like...
Fed is best.
Right. And my nipples were so sore and I was like, I can't like keep her on my boob indefinitely because it hurts so bad. And then he came home, we gave her formula. So that was good. And then, you know, so that's been so, oh, so then that day, too, I had called the doctors about the tongue tie release and one of the doctors that—our pediatrician recommended and Annie also highly recommended does it by laser.
Dr Siegel, yep. But he wasn't available. He was out of town until the following Friday, so I'd be waiting a week. So at that Friday, I'm like, you know, I asked my pediatrician and she gave me the name of a couple of other doctors. So I made an appointment for that Tuesday and I emailed Annie and I said, you know, "Dr. Siegel's not around till Friday, but here, you know, I'm going to go to Dr... I forgot the name...maybe on Tuesday." She's like, "Okay." She said, "You know, you might want to think about waiting for Dr. Siegel to come back. It's only a few days. We'll get through this, you know, like it's not..." And I'm so glad she did, you know, and she explained that, you know, if a doctor doesn't do it often they might not do the full release and the importance of that. And so having her support and sort of like, you know, knowledge on that was really, really, really helpful. So I took her advice and I made an appointment with Dr. Siegel for the following Friday. I mean in that moment like a week felt like an eternity just because I didn't know what it was going to be like. But it was such a good decision because he's the doctor to do this. And it was easy. You know, it was quick. He explained everything. She also had—the lip tie on the top. He showed us everything. So that's been, you know, her latch was definitely better after that. It's still, we're still supplementing my, so in addition to that, my supply I think is just low. And I went to another lactation consultant who is able to recommend herbs and that kind of stuff. And other supplements. I don't think one of the herbs was working for me, but I don't know. It's like since going to her, if like some of the stuff that I'm doing is helping, I think one of, one of the things the, which is a popular one, I don't think that one was helping me. So I stopped and I think it was making Zuri a little bit gassy and I just, I didn't notice a difference between when I started taking it. So I stopped taking that one. I'm taking avasatil, I think it's called. It's like something, if you have PCOS, which I don't know that I have necessarily, but it's like an insulin thing, but I don't think it hurts either way. So just taking that and then—, and herb called Maringa so my supply isn't great. It's getting better. I mean like I would say between 10 and 12 ounces a day, so about half formula and I'm just pumping as much as I can. Like about six times a day, I'd say six or seven times a day. And I'm still nursing. I know it's a lot. It's a lot. And I would say for postpartum, that's probably been my trigger of stress. But I know that if I stopped it would stress me out even more. So I don't want to stop, but I want to like keep going. And I know and I, I joined one of the, that second lactation consultant that I saw had recommended, you know, there's like a breastfeeding and low supply group on Facebook. Like it's so crazy how many groups there are on Facebook. So that's helpful too. Just to like read other people's stories. One woman said like, it took her like three months to get everything in order. And you know what, like 12 ounces a day. I mean there are some women who get two ounces a day and they still do it and they still do it because they're giving their babies something. So, you know, so I'm like, you know what? Okay, so even though we have to use formula, like we're still getting 12 ounces a day and she's still latching, still getting something and you know, and it's still 12 ounces or 10 ounces less of formula that we need to do. So. So it's been, it's been a lot. But you know, I think like everything, it's, I was telling this to a friend, it's like it's not finding solutions, it's just understanding what this new adventure is like. You know, there's guidelines or there's, like, you have an understanding, but it's like, until you're really in it, do you know how to handle—these are, you're faced with problems that you've never had to solve before. I guess that's kind of, you know, so you're really navigating a new territory that you know it will work and you have to figure out what's best for you and you can't, one big thing was like, yeah, the pumping and like my husband comes home, sometimes he comes home at like 7:30 and like I don't, I can't pump. Okay. So now, like over the last month, it's only been eight weeks, but figuring out how do I pump, if I'm tethered to this pump, I can't, she's, and she doesn't, she wakes up. So now like what I'll do is while I'm pumping, she sits next to me on the boppy pillow on the couch. You know, so if she needs something, like I'm right there and we do it together and like, I'll read a book. And so you just learn these things and you can't really, you know, and just not to stress me out. Like I just won't let it stress me when he comes home. It's like he'll take over and I'll pump and that will make me feel better, you know? So, but we just, it's things to like we're gonna, it's important to have, you know, he's super supportive, like having a partner that understands and how and, and as best they can, you know, like he's, it'd be great if he got home at 5:30 every day, but he can't because of his job and you know, so we kind of work through that together and you know, just being home every day is a lot. I mean, luckily now the weather is getting nice so that's been pretty great. We got one—and one also thing about postpartum that's been really helpful. I just as far as like the baby goes that our doctor told us, and I don't know if this is something to mention in your class, maybe not, but it's something that I have found to be the best piece of like caring for baby advice is everybody talks about like the amount of sleep that they need, that the baby needs, right, during the day. Like infants sleep a lot during the day and Zuri slept a lot during the day. But I, after like the first month, I would say her naps weren't, she just wasn't always sleeping on her own. So the doctor, I was probably like maybe it was like at the one month had said like make sure she, make sure she's not awake for more than 90 minutes in between naps. So she should only be awake from 30 minutes to 90 minutes before taking her next nap. And she, it's really important and however she needs to get it, whether it's you wearing her or holding her or, so she said it a couple of times at like two different visits and explains that the more that they sleep during the day, the better they'll sleep at night because there are like, because their stress levels are lower. It's like us when we get over tired. So I didn't realize that. And I also didn't realize like that we would have to actively put them to sleep. So she said it a couple of times about the carrier and I hadn't held her yet because what was happening, and this was also making me a little bit crazy. I'd be holding her, she'd eat, she'd fall asleep and I'd go gently put her down in her crib or the rock and play, which we don't have anymore.
And then I know, oh my God. Yeah. And within like five minutes she'd wake up. So I was like, okay, she get needs sleep, but she's not sleeping like—every time I put her down she won't sleep. I don't know what to do. And it was like, so now the carrier has been amazing because she'll get like, she had a two hour nap this morning and now she's going on like an hour. And what a difference it makes for her sleeping at night. It really like, it's so much better. And just even in her, just her, her demeanor is like, she's just much happier because when she pushes through like a nap or two, she just, she's like struggling to like keep her eyes open and she does it and she pushes into, pushes and then it makes it so much harder to put her down at night and she just feels, you know, you can just tell the difference that it makes. So that was really helpful. So I'm just more mindful of like timing her naps and we're not on any sort of routine and I don't, but it's just making sure she doesn't stay awake for too long because she doesn't, she's just not the type of baby that puts herself to sleep. And then at night she's been sleeping. I mean at two months we've had like a nine hour stretch and seven hours. I know it's been, it's been really good, but that was just really helpful because you kind of feel like, what am I doing wrong? Why won't she sleep? Like babies are supposed to sleep a lot, but kind of not realizing that they sometimes need help to sleep. You know, like they'll, they might, you know, not just always sleep on their own. So yeah, some helpful advice to...
That's great advice. Sleep begets sleep for sure with these little ones.
That's a phrase that stuck with me. That's not, I don't remember who said it to me, but years ago and yeah, really was a hugely important principle, so thank you for sharing that.
Yeah, of course.
Yeah. Any last takeaways or tips you would give for Labor or early parenting?
You know, I would say like lactation consultants I think are a great resource and I think— so I, I highly recommend and so I would say like to build your team in a way I guess, and, and I think it really starts with you, you know, and your class and the prep of having the deep understanding of the whole process. You kind of set up the support team that you might want by talking about the doula, by the, the resources of the list of the lactation consultants. I feel like you don't know who you need to be on your team until, you know, you go through it after the fact, after you've had the baby, well first before you even know that you need a doula. So that's helpful. But then after, like you don't know that you might need a lactation consultant, you might not know how to go about finding one or, so I would say that's it. I would say like, I mean if anybody asks me, I highly recommend your class. I have a friend who's taking a hospital class. I think it's a mistake. But you know, there's nothing I can do about that, but there's only so much I could do. So I would say just making sure that—there's a lot that you're just, you don't know. You know, there's a phrase, like, "You don't know what you don't know." There's a lot of that, but there's a lot that you can know and a lot you can learn to be aware of. So I'd say don't go crazy. But I think it's just having like an understanding of some things will make everything feel less overwhelming. So, and having the support there.
Yeah, well said. Especially in a somewhat sleep-deprived state. I'm so impressed with you being able to share all of this so eloquently. Thank you again, Ariel. Give my love to Lou.
And I hope to meet Zuri at some point in person.
Yeah, for sure. I know I saw there was a reunion so we'll, we'll see if we can join.
Yes, I hope you can come.
Yeah, yeah. Alright, well thank you. I'm glad. Yes, no problem. Alright, talk to you soon.
So that was Ariel's birth story. I just wanted to teach on three quick things that Ariel mentioned before. We close things out today. On the topic of the pushing stage of labor, I want to be sure you're aware that the average length of the pushing stage is 30 to 45 minutes for first-time labors, and most hospitals set a rather arbitrary deadline of three or four hours. That means that if we exceed the deadline, there's pressure to move on to a cesarian. However, most care providers could override that deadline as long as the laboring person and baby are both up for it and doing okay. It's not super common to push for three or four hours, but it's also not rare and is completely within the range of normal. Please note, however, that we're not exerting ourselves nonstop as it seems in movies. Just like all the time spent in labor leading up to this, the contractions, or I like to call them waves, are coming sporadically, which makes it more realistic for you and baby to tolerate and have sustainable energy for.
Also for those of you giving birth here in New York, please note that private postpartum rooms are not the default, meaning they're not covered by insurance in most of our New York City hospitals. There's just a handful that do offer private postpartum rooms standardly covered, with a few examples being Metropolitan Hospital on the Upper East Side, Columbia in Uptown Manhattan and LIJ Katz out east just across the Queens Long Island border. In case you haven't ever heard of tongue tie or lip tie, I wanted to briefly talk about that. We all have several frenula in our mouth. The most obvious frenulum, for example, is the string or connective tissue underneath your tongue and also connecting each of your lips to your gums. When a baby's born with a frenulum that's too short, it can make it impossible for the baby to get a healthy latch while breastfeeding. A few symptoms of tongue or lip tie are pain for the breast or chest feeding parent, not enough diaper output from the baby, baby not gaining sufficient weight, and a number of other things that you can read about in the show notes. This condition is a prime example of the expertise that an IBCLC or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant can provide. Some pediatricians can also diagnose this, but right now we're seeing that a lot of pediatricians tend to be reluctant to make this diagnosis, for whatever reason. If a baby's diagnosed with a tongue or lip tie, the IBCLC or pediatrician would usually refer out to an oral surgeon, pediatric ENT or pediatric dentist who can do a procedure called a frenectomy or frenotomy. It's a simple outpatient procedure whereby the clinician uses either a laser or surgical scissors to make an incision in the tight frenulum to loosen it up. It's very important to work closely with a clinician and an IBCLC who are expert in follow up care when this procedure is done. Why? Because without doing regular followup exercises for a couple of weeks after the procedure and as it heals, the frenulum will often just fuse back, rendering the procedure useless. Also, many babies would benefit greatly from a few visits to a pediatric craniosacral therapist, gentle approach chiropractor, or osteopath who can do some gentle adjustments before ever going in for the procedure because some babies end up not even needing the frenectomy with a bit of adjustment. Please note that you won't be able to diagnose this on your own baby, so contact an IBCLC if you're having some symptoms and you want to have your baby's mouth checked out. A lot of my students have reported back to me saying that getting this properly diagnosed and then having the procedure done was a game changer and absolutely saved their breastfeeding relationship.
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Speaker 4: (56:51)
I think when I think back to the preferences that we had initially for Henry's birth, that barbecue was with all of the moms and all of our babies who are all the same age. And like that was my women's, you know, drum circle that I had imagined. And so looking back on it, I was really just so in awe of how many of the things I had envisioned came to pass, not the way that I envisioned them, but the way that they needed to.
Please tune in next week and remember that your body has the innate ability to birth your baby. ***END***