What The Heck Happened When I Gave Birth?!
When you give birth, be it a vaginal birth or cesarean, it’s freaking out of this world crazy (as in there’s nothing like it).
Whether you’ve had kids before, whether you are a birth worker and have seen a thousand births- I don’t think it matters. It’s insane for everyone. Birth is wild and surprising and watching a NEW HUMAN enter the world is earth shattering. It’s the coolest, hardest, most awe-inspiring thing to behold. And when you’re the one in it, it’s hard to take it all in.
I’ve heard countless women tell me over the years, “I just really wish I knew what happened during my labor. So much was going on even if someone did tell me how long my labor was or what happened while I was pushing, I just don’t remember. And when I think to ask, it’s too late.”
Seeing a whole person make their way into the world is enough to wipe out all memory of what came before it; let alone the sleep deprivation, physical pain and mental adjustments you’re going through. There’s a steep learning curve where you’re figuring out how to care for your own wobbly body and a NEW HUMAN. Plus, someone is in your room every 5 minutes waking your baby or taking your blood pressure.
After you give birth you pretty much feel like:
-A bowling ball is falling out your vagina
- Your abdominal incision is 10/10 and the pain medications you were given make you feel like you’re in a hazy fog and you’re not quite sure where you are or why you’re shopping online and eating a hamburger
-Your boobs feel like they might explode or have rug burn
-Oh, and there’s a tiny baby who needs you
Is it any wonder it’s hard to keep track of (or even think to ask) what happened during labor? And even if your care team tells you exactly what happened, hello?! Did you just read the above and hear what I went through?
To help you out I created a Labor and Delivery Fact Sheet for you to take when you’re in labor. There’s one for vaginal deliveries and one for c-sections.
Ask your nurse or OB provider to fill it out so you can take in the facts of your birth story when your mind is ready. If you recently gave birth, take it to your 6-week postpartum visit and have your provider fill it out.
I hope knowing what happened during labor helps:
Integrates the ‘felt’ experience of giving birth with the facts. I really do believe this can be a guiding light in helping you understand why certain decisions were made and how they might be affecting you emotionally.
If you have anger/anxiety/frustration/joy/relief about certain decisions that were made during your birth, you now have information to pull from, to ask more questions about, to review with your provider or future provider. I hope the knowledge and discussion around these decisions empower you and give you clarity if you need it.
Getting a full picture of your birth story, even a positive birth story, and talking about it with a therapist, doula, OB provider (or me!), might help you make sense of the care you received during such a vulnerable and intense moment in your life.
If you have an additional questions you think should be added, let me know. I’m happy to include them.
1. How long was I in early labor?
2. How long was I in active labor?
3. Did my water break on it’s own or was it artificially broken?
4. Did I receive any antibiotics?
5. How long did I push for? What positions did I push in?
6. Did I tear? If so, what type of tear? Degree?
7. Did I get Pitocin during labor? After?
8. How much blood did I lose after I gave birth? If I had a postpartum hemorrhage what medications were given?
9. What position was my baby in when he/she came out?
10. Did my baby’s shoulders come out ok?
11. Did my baby’s heart rate drop at all during the labor and require intervention?
12. Was there a cord around my baby’s neck when he/she delivered?
13. What was my baby’s APGAR score?
14. Was NICU called for any reason?
15. Were there any other issues with my birth I should know about?
1. What was the indication for a c-section?
2. How long was I in labor before the c-section was called?
3. Was I in early labor or active labor before the c-section?
4. Was it an emergency c-section? If so, why?
5. Was I on Pitocin?
6. What interventions were taken to prevent a c-section?
7. Did my water break naturally or was it artificially ruptured?
8. What was my baby’s APGAR score after delivery?
9. Was my baby able to be placed skin to skin after delivery?
10. How was the abdominal incision repaired?
11. How much blood did I lose after delivery?
12. Anything I should know about my pelvis shape and the size of baby?
13. Were there any other issues with my birth I should know about?