Birth Story: Mentally Preparing for Her Unmedicated Birth Experience as a Single Mom by Choice with Melissa Kidd

Show Notes:

[2:16] Our Reviewer of the Week is Kentest, and she said, "I was planning on winging it for my first birth but I am so thankful I didn’t. I came across this podcast by chance early on in my first pregnancy and couldn’t stop listening and absorbing everything these ladies had to offer. Even though my options are slightly different being in Australia, I am so grateful to have these birthing tools and knowledge. I manage to have a beautiful unmedicated hospital water birth for my first despite having to face challenges including active contractions during early labour. I couldn’t have done it without listening to you Stephanie. I am currently pregnant with my second due near the end of August and have tuned back in to prepare myself again. Definitely hoping to go unmedicated and know that my body has done it once and can do it again."

[3:20] We have a birth story for you! Melissa Kidd is a single mother by choice, with a 10-month-old son who was conceived with donor sperm. She did the IUI process five times before she became pregnant in February 2022. She is a big organizer and researcher, and she likes to know all the things be in control, both of which came into play a lot for her during her pregnancy and birth story.

[5:08] Melissa went through 3 rounds of IUI unmedicated, but she did the 2nd two cycles medicated. Her fifth round was successful! She waited two weeks after insemination and took a pregnancy test. Once that was positive, she had an ultrasound to confirm. 

[6:13] Melissa's pregnancy was fairly normal without anything unusual. She remembers being super hungry and very tired early on and then toward the end. The only food craving she had was watermelon. She also got a few skin tags on her face, had bleeding gums, nasal congestion from the swelling, and some round ligament pain in her abdomen for a few weeks in the second trimester. In the second trimester, she had itching all over my body, especially at night. Around the third trimester, the four symptoms she had were severe back aches, rib pain, swelling in her fingers, which kind of pinched the nerves and caused symptoms that were similar to carpal tunnel syndrome.

[9:03] For pain relief in her back, she managed the pain by trying not to sit too long, used her lumbar support pillows as much as possible. Heating pads sometimes helped.


[11:48] Melissa began listening to the My Essential Birth podcast around 20 weeks, and she started to binge the episodes for weeks and weeks. She choose to give birth in a hospital setting and picked the one she was told was better by the people that she knew. She chose her OBGYN based off of patient reviews and who she felt she might get along with the most.

[14:08] Melissa's chosen provider answered all the questions she had asked. The hospital did seem like it was a bit more progressive than some of the other ones that she'd heard about in the podcast and from friends. Around 39 weeks, her provider wanted to do a membrane sweep, and she kind of startled her with it and did a cervical check. She said something to the effect of "I really want to do a membrane sweep next week at 40 weeks, because I don't want to have to induce you." She really didn't want to be induced. Melissa wanted to do a natural birth if she could. In her research, it seemed that it's much harder to do a natural birth if you're induced, and it made sense that if you're forcing your body into something, it wasn't actually ready for, it's going to be more painful and take longer.

[17:28] Melissa's prepared by bingeing the podcast. There was such a wealth of information, especially at birth stories, which is what she gravitated towards because it helped her understand all the different ways birth could happen. The podcast also allowed her to be flexible when she wrote her birth plan and go into the birth thinking "here's what I want, but I can't control what's going to happen." She also read a lot of books and recommends Expecting Better by Emily Oster. Preparation is two part: physical and mental. What we're putting into our minds, the stories that we're listening to, and then our own thoughts, the stories that we're telling ourselves, trying to find, like, peace and comfort, and feeling comfortable in our own bodies and in our own ability to do it, especially when we haven't done it before.

[21:58] Physically, Melissa prepared by doing lots of walking. 

[24:52] Because she's a single mother by choice, she didn't have a partner and wasn't going to have a partner in the birthing room with her. She felt like she needed to figure out who was going to be with her and who was going to be the support. She ended up bringing her mom, and she was integral part of that birth. A third party person can look at the goals that she set prior through the birth plan and through the conversations she had with them. She hired the team, and they rotated who was on call.

[27:27] One thing that really stood out to her was they had a bunch of flashcards, and on one side, it says something like "vaginal birth" and the other side said "C-section." They gave them to her, and they told her to pick out 10 things that are important to her. Do you want to be able to move while you're laboring, do you want continual monitoring or intermittent monitoring, things like that. So she'd flip the cards and kind of figure out what was super important to her. The purpose of that was them helping her be more flexible and think more about being flexible about what's going to happen and accepting that whatever does happen, that it's going to be okay.

[29:29] At Week 38 or so, she had her first cervical check, and she was two centimeters dilated and 70% effaced. Six days before her due date, she was still two centimeters dilated, but she was 90% effaced. One day past her due date, she was three or four centimeters dilated and a hundred percent effaced. That was incidentally also the day that the doctor wanted to do that membrane sweep again because she had refused it the week prior. After the membrane sweep, she started to have some cramping. It was definitely different cramping than she had prior in the pregnancy and  had Braxton Hicks since week 30 or so, but they were mostly painless.

She started to time her cramps. They were 8-10 minutes apart, and they seemed like they were fairly consistent. She lost her mucus plug around 4:30 AM, but contractions/cramping stopped. Around 9:00, she was sleeping in her bed and heard/felt a popping sound, but she didn't have any rush of fluid, but contractions started up again after that. 30 minutes later, fluid did start to leak out.

[33:47] She started having contractions around 12-15 minutes apart. Melissa said it felt like a charlie horse pulling her inward into her abdomen. She texted her mom and her doula throughout this. She was sitting on her birth ball at home and just kind of trying to sway. About an hour after they started, very suddenly, they nosedived from 12 to 15 minutes apart to 4 to 5 minutes apart. No transition whatsoever in between. Her mom took her to the hospital and they had the doula meet them there. 

She got into labor and delivery triage, and they said she was six centimeters dilated. She got into the delivery room at 12:30 PM. She sat on the birth ball with her elbows on the bed for basically the rest of active delivery. Her mom did counter pressure on her hips during the contractions. Her doula at some point had to remind her to vocalize low instead of high because it would help her ride through the contractions. She felt like it was really intense pressure almost, involuntary, like her body was just doing it and she just had to go with her body, cause it was going to do it with or without her.

She was breathing and focusing on her breath. She kept her eyes closed for the majority of labor and delivery. That helped her focus on her breath rather than being distracted by what she would see.

[48:07] Melissa announced she had to push, and her doula was surprised because it had only been two hours. She went from five or six to a nine and two hours. They called the doctor. No one was prepared. They wanted to put an IV in, but they couldn't get it in. She spent the next two hours pushing. She did some time on her knees, where she was upright and hugging the bed. She moved from there into an upright seated position, and she stayed in that position for the rest of the birth. She remembers there was some relief once her body was ready to push. She kept trying to stay focused and relaxed and just ride the contractions out. As soon as her body was ready to push, she just went with it.

She had gone into the birth wanting to do it unmedicated, but she wasn't adverse to an epidural. Her thought was that pain never really stopped her before. If the pain gets to a point where it turns into suffering, that's the point where she felt like she would probably get an epidural. She wanted to see how far she could go. It never did turn into suffering, but she really attributes that to being able to stay in the moment and not getting caught up in that panic because of the lack of control that she had.

It felt like the baby crowned forever. They asked me at some point if she wanted to reach down and touch his head, and she said, No. She thought that it would break her out of her concentration. They unwrapped him, and put him on her immediately. Melissa said, "It was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I'm already getting emotional about it again. He was such an abstract thought before and I knew he was coming, but I couldn't prepare for how it would feel to have a little human being put on my chest and know that I just pushed him out and that he'd pushed himself out. And now he was mine to care for."

[55:57] Advice for moms: "If you don't have complications and maybe even if you do is just being able to have that mentality of staying in the moment, and not passing that threshold of panic. If you can stay away from that and you can stay away from tensing up, if you can stay as relaxed and just kind of ride through everything with your body, your body knows what it's doing. Your baby knows what they're doing. If you just trust that, then, it makes all the difference. 

Don't sit on any pain for too long. I know we're all busy with newborns, but make it a priority. I guess those three things, the mentality during birth, don't sit on your pain if you have any after birth (the same with breastfeeding, if breastfeeding hurts, then something's not going right and get it looked at.) Don't just let it go on because you think that you need to or you shouldn't. If mother's have children with severe tongue ties, please just take a look at that release. It's worth it. 

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