Everyone’s labor story is different. Mine started with my water breaking at 10am while at the office. Luckily I had just finished adjusting a patient and was upstairs using the restroom. I stood up, felt the plug fall out and a bunch of water came rushing with it. I called for my husband and after telling him my water broke we just stared at each other with smiles like “ok what now”. I had patients in my office so my husband finished getting everyone adjusted and I got lots of hugs. About an hour later we drove home so I could shower and change and eat something. We got to the hospital around 3pm and I was 4cm dilated and contractions were minimal. I felt good, I was smiling and walking around.
At 5pm I started using a breast pump to get my contractions moving forward. It worked. A few hours later I moved to the shower to let the water help me through transition. Transition lasted a long time. I sat in the shower, on a ball and let my body shake through contractions. I moved in and out of the shower several times. My night nurse was also a doula and she was wonderful. Holding my hand when my husband had to update the family or get a snack. My husband was amazing. Coaching me and helping me with whatever I needed. I finally hit 10 cm around 2am. Yes! Now it would only be a little longer and some pushing right? But the urge to push never came. Finally around 6am they had me push for an hour to see if anything would happen. Nothing. At 8am they gave me Pitocin and I pushed for 2 more hours. I kept telling my husband “look down there and tell me if you see anything happening”. I was sad when the midwife checked and told me that he had not moved down at all. A few doctors came in to assess the situation and they determined he was posterior. There was no way to manually turn him and we opted not to try due to stress it can cause on the baby. We were not in an emergency situation and wanted to keep it that way. I cried as they told me I would need a C section. I was disappointed, tired and hungry. Even though baby was fine and I was fine, they moved quickly and he was born at 11:03am. An 8 lb. 1 oz. baby boy. Dane John David. What a crazy day!
As you move throughout pregnancy something that your OB or midwife will check and comment on is baby positioning. They will palpate to find the butt, spine and head to determine if baby is in the optimal head-down, face in position. If they are unsure sometimes an ultrasound will be ordered to verify. Just about every week I get a call from a panicked mom asking for help because her baby is in a breech position. This is something that is ideal to find out ahead of time and sooner rather than later. I have had success with women very late in pregnancy, but ideally, the more time we have to reposition the pelvis into optimal alignment the better. As a chiropractor I am never touching or moving your baby. I am using a technique called Webster’s which is a specific analysis and adjusted used to put your pelvis into an optimal position and create the largest pelvic opening possible. When baby has room to move they will often choose to move into the position of head down. While the word “breech” is very scary for parents, it is less scary for me because for over 10 years I have had a lot of success adjusting pregnant women and typically within a few visits they come in with the exciting news that baby has turned.
A different positioning issue, like I had, is when baby is posterior, also known as “sunny side up”. This is when the baby is head down but facing out. Baby can be in this position prior to labor starting or move into this position during labor. While as many as half are posterior when labor starts, only 4 to 10 percent of babies are posterior at birth. (The percentage of babies who are posterior at birth is higher among first-time mothers.)
In these situation you may have a random pattern of contractions or, like me, have clustered contractions where they would peak, start to go down but then peak again – my oh my was that fun!- and once you hit 10 cm you may never had the urge to push. The biggest issue when baby is posterior is that their head circumference is larger because they don’t tuck their chin. This increases the chances of having an assisted vaginal delivery or c section. It also can increase pushing time and need for Pitocin.
Working with a chiropractor during pregnancy will help to keep you active, adapting to the changes with more ease and keep you in proper pelvic alignment. Talk to your chiropractor about your concerns so they can address them properly. Working with your OB, midwives and/or doulas during labor will help you to have the best experience possible regardless of how things progress. It is most important for moms and babies to go home healthy. Postnatal chiropractic is also very important. Pregnancy is work, labor is work, motherhood is work, so we need to do work afterwards to take care of our body. In my next blog I will tell you all about how postnatal care works and why we do it.