As it turns out, I am closer to an endurance athlete than I ever imagined. That’s not my opinion, that’s what six researchers found in astudypublished by Duke University that focused on finding a limit to human endurance. Apparently and shockingly, pregnant and lactating women live in the limit zone. What the what?!?
The third stage of labor is everything that happens after the baby is born, the part of childbirth that doesn’t make it to the movies. The delivery of the placenta, the most taboo part of childbirth, encompasses the third stage of labor.
Compared to the rest of labor, the third stage of labor is the shortest and easiest of all the stages. Labor is over, your baby has arrived, and now everything is over. Or is it?
Laboring with my first daughter was not easy. After being sent home from labor and delivery for following my doctor’s advice (given as he boarded a flight to Aruba) to “go straight to labor and delivery” because my contractions were regular, things ramped up again and so I headed back to the hospital… and was sent home from the hospital, again, at midnight. This time I was bleeding, weeping and yelling through contractions that were 3-5 minutes apart, but was turned out because I hadn’t hit the magic 4 centimeters of dilatation. “If we admit you now, your chances of having a c-section will double,” the triage doctor informed me. Perhaps I imagined it, but I could swear the nurses smirked each time they informed me that this was my first labor, it could go on for days.
I hobbled away with a bath towel between my legs, enraged. My cervix might have failed to fulfill the textbook definition of active labor, but I was certain that my baby was coming. Sure enough, I was back four hours later, and by the time I got the epidural I’d been demanding for hours, I was close to eight centimeters; it was almost too late.
(click link at top to read the rest of the blog on romper.com)
Any woman who has ever carried and birthed a child, in whatever fashion, deserves her own ESPN highlight reel — blood, sweat, tears and the eventual triumph of holding her newborn baby. To be clear, childbirth isn’t a game. You can’t plead with the referee when you don’t like a call or leave the field when you’re tired.
Still, as a lifelong athlete, I saw childbirth, especially an unmedicated one, as the ultimate challenge of physical endurance, mental stamina and my ability to handle pain.
When I became pregnant in January 2018 and set about preparing for the monumental task of birthing a human, I loaded up on prenatal vitamins, kept a daily routine of birthing stretches and exercises, and endured an eight-week birthing course. An image of the lead female competitors in the New York City Marathon, who bring me to tears when they run past my Brooklyn apartment each year, filled me with confidence for labor. Washboard-like abs. Lean legs showing off every strand of muscle. Calm, focused and confident expressions on their faces.
However, as my due date came near, I clung to a fear of pain and the unknowns out of my control. How long would my labor be? Would my mind fall apart? What if my pelvis wasn’t the optimal shape or I stopped dilating?
If there’s one thing the experts agree is guaranteed about pregnancy and birth, it is that “it will likely be very different from whatever you might be imagining.” This is Julia Bower, a CNM (certified nurse midwife) in Austin, Texas. Bower has delivered over 800 babies in her over her twenty-plus-year career. In case you are unfamiliar, certified nurse midwives like Bower are health care professionals who have a graduate degree in midwifery and have passed a certifying exam. Certified nurse midwives (as well as certified professional midwives, though they don’t necessarily have a degree) are licensed by their state* to provide much of the same care as ob-gyns and are experts in low-risk births.
We asked Bower to give us her unfiltered play-by-play of childbirth.
“THE notion that nothing good happens after midnight does not seem to apply to times of birth. Around the world the peak hours for vaginal births that have not been induced by drugs fall between 1am and 7am; the numbers then dwindle throughout the rest of the day. This has led many scientists to believe that giving birth during the early morning offers some sort of evolutionary advantage, perhaps gained long ago when hunter-gatherer mothers and their infants would benefit from having their group reunited during the small hours to help with care and to defend them against any predators.
The problem with this theory is that almost all the information on the timing of human births comes from modern, urban settings, such as clinics and hospitals, which could produce artificial conditions that skew the variation in timings. Not so, it turns out. As Carlye Chaney of Yale University shows in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, early-morning births are common to communities with both modern and traditional lifestyles.”
(click link at top to read this fascinating article on economist.com)
“The birthing plan: Whether it’s set at home with a doula or in a hospital surrounded by family members, many expecting women have their perfect version in mind. And the location and company one keeps during delivery are just the beginning—with highly curated extras like pressure-relieving birthing balls and soothing “push playlists” growing in popularity. But the reality is that when it comes to child birth, there’s only so much you can control.”