Our Birth Story, the Bradley Method and a Little Bit of Hiking Too!

October 3, 2011 at 1:01 am 11 comments

On Tuesday July 12th, I had to call my Bradley Method instructor and let her know that we wouldn’t be making it to our evening birth class. We had a good excuse– earlier that day we had given birth! And even though we had only made it through eight of the twelve classes, we were able to follow through with our plans of a natural, unmedicated birth!

I had some “good” genes on my side. My mother and great aunt both had fast labors. My water broke at 4:30 AM. Contractions started shortly afterwards. We checked in with our midwives at the birth center before transferring to the hospital (because Sagan was 2 days short of 36 weeks). I was nine centimeters dilated shortly upon arrival at the hospital and fully dilated waiting for the urge to push at 10 AM. Sagan was born at 12:02 PM EST. The whole process was about 7 1/2 hours and not as hard as I expected it to be.

Vicky and Sagan! (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Afterwards I was energized and happy, able to post on Facebook, call friends and get up and urinate on my own.

Sagan - First Facebook Post
My First Postpartum Post to Facebook was 50 Minutes After Sagan’s Birth

When I got moved up to my postpartum room, a nurse came in to greet me and told me, “Now once you urinate twice, we can take this saline lock off of you.”

“I already urinated **six** times!” I told her. (See “Coach Tip – Orange Juice” below).

I also took pride when I walked over to the nursery and took the nurses by surprise. “You aren’t dizzy?” one asked and I heard another note that I didn’t look like a woman who just had a baby. : )

Background on Bradley Decision
Unfortunately, among my close female friends and peers, pregnancy and birth has had a little bit of a bad wrap. Everyone seemed to have uncomfortable pregnancies and difficult child birth experiences. Luckily, I had a solid role model in Ryan’s mother. She birthed all four of her children naturally after reading Grantly Dick-Read’s Childbirth Without Fear.

I also stumbled on a role model on the Internet! I originally subscribed to Kitty’s Heart of Nature for… well, great hearts in nature shots, but when she gave birth to her first child, I found her A Natural, Medication-Free Birth Story… the Bradley Way! post memorable. It would be eleven months later that Ryan and I found out that we were expecting, but that post was still fresh in my mind.

Ryan and I both did a lot of reading on childbirth and pregnancy and following Kitty and Gare, we added “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” and “Husband-Coached Childbirth” to our reading lists. We also read a book on Hypnobirthing, but I didn’t quite connect with some of the visualization activities (Rainbow Mist and the Cervix Ribbons).

I did connect highly with the Bradley Method. The needs of a laboring women made sense to me in the context of how other mammals gave birth. Relaxing and trusting your body seemed a good way to go.  I loved Dr. Bradley’s attitudes on preparation and exercise. And it didn’t hurt that Husband Coached Childbirth included THIS graphic:

Labor Like Climbing a Mountain!!!  LIKE HIKING!!!  HIKING!!!

To me, that illustration looked very much like the elevation gain of the Appalachian Trail’s Angel’s Rest. When you hit the Transition Stage, you’d be at the thick rhododendron patch near the top of Pearis Mountain. It’s the steepest part, but the shortest part. A few more hills and then you’ll be at a beautiful overlook! Then some more hiking and you’ll be at ANOTHER even MORE beautiful overlook.

And how many times had I been on a hike and wanted to cry and didn’t think I could continue? Each time my body knew its capabilities better than my mind. Each time my body could carry me to my destination with ease.

After reading both books, Ryan and I went ahead and signed up for some Bradley Method classes.

Prep – Exercise
We started the exercises well before our Bradley’s classes. Tailor sitting came naturally to me as I often sit that way anyway. I had to actively practice squatting and improvements came fast. I was secretly aspiring to be the best squatter in class before class even started. Although there was no opportunity for head to head squatting competitions, I suspect I could hold my own. : )

In addition to the recommended Bradley exercises (butterflies, heel points, tailor sitting, pelvic rocks, kegels), I tried to keep my aerobic fitness up as well. Alternating between elliptical, biking, hiking, swimming, weight lifting and walking, I was getting about 5 days of exercise a week in during the third trimester.

I don’t have a control group (a me in a parallel universe) to support it, but I do whole-heartedly believe I owe a large part of my easy pregnancy from start to finish to exercise.

Interestingly enough, one of the more direct perks I saw from exercise was with burping. That’s right. During Transition, I experienced that particular side effect. It wasn’t the most pleasant (or convenient) of sensations when your body is doing so much work, but thanks to exercise it was a familiar sensation. I found burping during labor to be very much like burping while lap swimming or during a long run.

(See Also Our Birth Appendix – Third Trimester Exercise)

Prep – Relaxation
Relaxation exercises we started back in February with Lent, again well before we started class. When we did start classes, I could tell immediately that Ryan was going to be an effective coach for me. His voice was soothing and easy to lock in on and forget our surroundings. Listening to his voice, I could easily tune out our classmates and instructor.

Prep – Nutrition
While we were taking Bradley Classes, we were filling out Nutrition Worksheets documenting everything we ate and their protein content. I found this process to be very motivational when keeping your diet in check. For example, if I was tempted with a dessert, I would think whether I would want to write that dessert down. Very often, I would forego that dessert so a few days later I could indulge in the ultimate dessert– the Tollhouse Cookiewich. : )

Week 7
Sample Nutrition Worksheet

(See Also Our Birth Appendix – Nutrition Worksheets)

Prep – Homework
I was advised by my aunt to not just take childbirth classes.  “Make sure to do your homework,” she warned, “because I didn’t!”

The night before Sagan was born, Ryan and I were doing just that.  We finished typing up our Birth Plan and made a trip to Walmart to pick up our all birthing and coaching supplies.  We almost didn’t go!  Right before we were leaving for Walmart, my brother surfaced with an invitation to see Transformers 3.  Ryan and I were tempted.  “We do have five more weeks,” we thought aloud.  But in the end, we followed through with our plans.  Good thing too!  : )

(See Also Our Birth Appendix – Birth Plan)

Labor – Premature Rupture of Membranes
I woke up in the middle of the night feeling a little discomfort. This isn’t unusual and I knew just what the doctor ordered. I got up and urinated. Only I still felt a little discomfort. I knew what that meant! The next likely culprit was GAS! I moved my hips and pelvis to help facilitate its journey and soon I felt better. I was just about to drift back to sleep when I became aware of a rush of moisture.

“OH NO!” I jumped up waking Ryan, “There’s fluid! There’s fluid!”

Right then our 14 year old greyhound mix, Jimmie, had an accident of his own. Ryan likes to speculate on Jimmie’s perspective of the night. “Jimmie takes a dump in the bed. Ryan and Vicky freak out, pack bags and leave.”

I ran into the bathroom and there was nothing ambiguous about it. My water had definitely broken. It was so far from ambiguous, I jumped in the bathtub to keep from making a mess.

I told Ryan, “It’s too early. It’s too early.”

This was in reference to BirthCare. We had just attended our Birthday Planning meeting the week before where we were told we had to be 36 weeks to deliver with BirthCare. We were 35 Weeks and 5 Days.

I also recall saying, “The wedding!” Ryan’s sister would be getting married 3 days later. Something told me we were going to miss it. 

Ryan called BirthCare.  The midwife on call was Alice.  Ryan told her how the fluid was clear and that I had felt the baby move recently.  She asked us to meet her at the Birth Center at 6 AM.  Ryan and I went on a mad dash to get all our supplies.  Since we had just done our homework the night before, we knew exactly where everything was.  : )

Labor – Empty Gas Tank
The first contractions (I was aware of) started as we packed up the car.  They weren’t painful, just sensations of pressure.  The night before when doing our Bradley class homework, Ryan and I had read how as your due date approaches, you should always keep a 1/2 tank of gas in your car.  Well, since we had just read that we hadn’t had time to heed that advice.  Yup, the Prius was low on gas.  So we had to stop at our local Shell station on the way out. 

Labor – Drive to BirthCare
We lucked out with the timing.  If this had happened any later, we would have been stuck in full blown D.C. rush hour.  Although we didn’t have bad traffic heading to Alexandria, it did look bad at first when we merged on 95 and were greeted with brake lights.

“It’s okay,” Ryan said, “It’s still moving.”  Right then he had to slam on his brakes to not hit the stopped car in front of him.  : )

That traffic thinned out, I worked on our Pre-Admittance form for the hospital and before I knew it, we were near our exit on I-495.  We had a very pretty sunrise to look at and as we neared our exit, I realized Ryan had changed the radio station from our usual CSPAN/NPR to Classical Music.  That was a nice sneaky touch of him.

“The universe always takes care of us,” Ryan reminded me along the way.  He’s right.  The universe does seem to be particularly generous to us.

Labor – Checking In at BirthCare
We got to the Birth Center and when the midwife, Alice, greeted me, fresh liquid was dribbling down my legs. “That’s definitely fluid” she said.

Alice was remorseful. She had reviewed our chart and noticed my belly had been running a little large the whole pregnancy. She suspected that perhaps my due date was off and that I was actually less early than we thought. Unfortunately, she couldn’t think of a way to admit us to BirthCare. She called ahead and arranged for us to go to Alexandria INOVA Hospital. She kept apologizing, but Ryan and I already knew that would be our fate and we were okay with it.

Meanwhile, I learned just how much amniotic fluid I had been toting around all this time. I had thought the bulk of it had already emerged back in Occoquan. Nope. As we talked to Alice, with each contraction, large amounts of fluid emerged out of me and I’m afraid made a mess of her poor office. So while she apologized for us having to go to the hospital, I apologized to her for making such a mess (which I’m certain she was used to).

Labor – Drive to Alexandria INOVA Hospital
Alice gave us directions to the hospital and we made our way there.  I ate 75% of a Chewy Trail Mix bar along the way.  Contractions were significantly more noticeable and they seemed to be quite frequent.  We weren’t timing them as Ryan was driving.  We started to get confused with the directions, so I programmed the hospital on my Android phone.  I remember during one contraction Ryan asked, “What does Google say?” and I was still able to answer him.

Speed Humps, which are normally an annoyance, I can report are SUPER annoying when you having a contraction.  I can also report when a dump truck stops right in front of you and starts to back up and take its time getting ready for its days’ work…That’s annoying as well. 

When Ryan and I arrived at the hospital, we had trouble finding the Women and Infant entrance.  “It’s okay,” I told him, “We can drive around the building.”  I didn’t feel like the situation was dire.  It’s funny how it only takes a few minutes for things to change.

After circling the building, Ryan parked at an entrance to go in and ask.  It was while he was gone, I had a pretty hard contraction and found myself whining outloud, “Hurry Ryan.  Hurry Ryan”.

He came running back and reported we were in the right spot.

I got out of the car and started to walk in the entrance and had another contraction.  I just stood there until Ryan asked, “Do you want to lean on something until it is over?”  That sounded like a fine idea, so I leaned on a nearby newspaper vending machine until it was done.  We started walking again and a stranger asked if I needed a wheelchair.  I told him I would be okay.

We got in the elevator and experienced another contraction on the way to the third floor.  We went to the intercom on the third floor.  Ryan announced “My wife is in labor” and they told us we had to go to the second floor.  I didn’t say anything, but I was not thrilled about having to get back on that same dang elevator.  : )

We got to the second floor, answered questions and signed paperwork between contractions.  At that point we were taken to a triage/screening room.

Labor – Emotional Sign Posts
The Bradley Method teaches the Emotional Sign Posts of Labor. In other words, ways to tell where a woman is at in labor based on how she is behaving. One of the most notable sign posts is the “Self Doubt” stage a woman reaches when she is in Transition (5 centimeters – 10 centimeters dilated).

Ryan and I had no idea how accurate that sign post would be. Shortly after we arrived at INOVA Alexandria Hospital, I had that feeling of self doubt. After a few hard contractions I told Ryan, “I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I can do this.” The reason I thought that was we had just gotten to the hospital. We were just starting out! If I felt this way now, how would I feel hours later? Ryan too was concerned I was feeling that way so early.

It turns out I was already 9 centimeters dilated! The Emotional Sign Post was DEAD ON. As soon as I found that out– self doubt was eradicated for the rest of the day.

Labor – Lack of Modesty
Perhaps Ryan and I should have suspected my progress. Another aspect of later stages of labor we read about was the mother losing her modesty. By the time we reached the hospital, I had absolutely NO modesty. After they checked me in, they took me to a screening area and a nurse asked me to put on a hospital gown.

I immediately stripped my maternity dress over my head, revealing my nude body to one and all.

“Hold on!” the nurse shouted, “Let me close the curtain!”  : )

Putting that hospital gown on was a pretty futile gesture. It wasn’t long before it was off again. I spent most of my labor completely nude and I never cared one bit.

Definite Lack of Modesty (Modesty has been subsequently restored) (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Labor – Transfer to Labor/Delivery Room
When I found out I was nine centimeters dilated, I relaxed quite a bit.  The nursing staff, on the other hand, had to get to work.  They needed to get me a labor room.  When it was ready, they wheeled me to the other room.   I was incredibly surprised and thankful I didn’t have to get up for that transfer process.  I had my eyes closed during the transfer.  I didn’t see where they were taking me, but I remember how purely refreshing the breeze on my face was.

Labor – Visualizations

During Transition and my Self Doubt phase (before we knew I was nine centimeters), a nurse did give me a visualization activity that I found effective. She told me to imagine a flame that I was blowing on and making flicker. That actually worked quite well and carried me until the moment I found I was nine centimeters.

After that— my mind deferred to my body. I really thought I would be relying on hiking and mountain memories and imagining floating on the waves at Assateague Island. But when the time came, I was really focused on what my body was doing and trying to accomplish. I feel like I was somewhat in a trance.

There were some things I was aware of, but never communicated externally. For example, at times I would think, “I’m doing good. This is going by fast.” Those thoughts, however, would stay confined in my mind and were never articulated to others. There were conversations I overheard, but never responded to. I recall our nurse complimenting our wedding rings and asking Ryan about the Vibram Five Fingers he was wearing. It would be hours later with the nurse long gone before I would address her comments. I also never bothered to tell the staff that I go by “Vicky” and not “Victoria”. 

On the other hand, as you’ll read below in “Needs of Laboring Woman – Quiet” and “Needs of Laboring Woman – Physical Comfort”, there were things I was definitely not aware of.

A couple of weeks after birth, I told some friends that I didn’t think labor was the most physically hard thing I’ve done in my life.

“Uh…” Ryan interjected, “I think you think that because you weren’t all there.” : )

Upon consideration, I think that is exactly WHY it wasn’t the most physically hard thing I’ve accomplished. I got my pesky mind out of the process. It wasn’t like a long run where I spend miles battling my brain and second-guessing myself.

Labor – Massage and Stroking
We practiced a lot of massage and stroking techniques in our Bradley classes. During labor, we found I didn’t like to be touched during contractions. Ryan would massage me in between. He quickly learned what it meant when I grabbed his hands and pulled them away.  That was his cue a contraction was coming.

Needs of a Laboring Woman – Quiet
Bradley teaches six needs of a laboring woman– one of which is “Quiet”. When I was in Transition and Second Stage Labor (aka The Pushing Phase), I was really only aware of two voices – Ryan’s and our Labor and Delivery Nurse, Heidi’s.  Other sounds didn’t quite make it into my realm of consciousness. As a result, I didn’t really need the traditional quiet. Twice Ryan told me he was shutting a door because of all the background noise– both times I was unaware of said noise. I was slightly aware of an OB/GYN coming in with medical students, but I wouldn’t know what he said until later when Ryan told me (it was very complimentary! The doctor was telling the students I was the ideal women in labor and what they want to see in a patient!!! I really wish I did get to hear that!).

Needs of a Laboring Woman – Physical Comfort
Bradley teaches that physical comfort is important so that the woman can fully focus on relaxing and letting her body do its work. Part of the practical applications of physical comfort are avoiding continual fetal monitoring and IVs, both of which could affect the laboring mother’s comfort and distract her. Here again, I got off pretty easy. When I was in Transition and Second Stage Labor, I was so focused on what my body was doing, that I was vaguely aware when they were monitoring. Because Sagan had arrived before my Group Beta Strep test, they did have to put an IV in me and do proactive antibiotics. Ryan watched them do it and said it looked painful.  They put the needle in and wiggled it around until it was in position.  I was so into what the other parts of my body were doing, I didn’t flinch or respond. Later, during one of the rare cases where I opened my eyes, I remember being surprised with how extensive the work on my arm was.

Labor – Importance of Positions
I can strongly testify to the importance of trying different positions. So quickly did I learn the connection between position and comfort that when I was situated where labor was manageable, I was reluctant to move for fear of getting in a bad position. Luckily, Ryan still motivated me to get up and urinate. 🙂

I enjoyed the side lie during Transition and my favorite position during Second Stage was the sitting squat. Twice during the pushing phase Sagan’s heart rate concerned our nurse and she moved me into a side lie pushing position. OOh, I did not like that and Ryan could tell I was miserable. I believe my legs shook during those contractions! Ryan could also visually see how the effectiveness of my pushing plummeted in that position. Luckily, Sagan’s heart rate picked up and I was able to get back into the sitting squat I loved. I can’t remember the exact position, but there was one that made me say, “It hurts my back.” Ryan’s calm voice told me to get through the contraction and then we moved into a different position. It was like night and day– one position would be completely manageable… another one amazingly tough.

So the big lesson here for other mothers– don’t succumb or give up or feel you have failed until you try different positions. It really can make all the difference in the world.

We had originally planned to deliver at BirthCare, but it turns out there was a nice perk to the hospital.  I found our badass hospital bed to be a great assistance to the different positions. It was amazing how many different ways they could configure the bed.

Second Stage Labor – “Gotta Go” Feeling
The Bradley books and numerous birth stories I read talked about how when you feel the urge to push, it feels like needing to take a bowel movement. In my case, this sensation was unnerving. I had not yet taken my morning dump that day. I may have lost my modesty about nudity (see above), but I hadn’t lost that much modesty!

The one thing of my labor experience I believe I could improve on was the start of the pushing phase. I was so concerned about taking a dump, I didn’t give my early pushes the adequate vigor. Ryan was RIGHT there. Ryan was watching the WHOLE thing. Did I really want Ryan to be looking when a poop popped out?!? Luckily, I was able to build up some confidence. “Welp, you didn’t take a dump last time, so it must be safe.” Also as Sagan descended down, I was able to really feel and focus my pushes better, knowing I was working in the right orifice. 🙂

P.S. I can report when you do give your pushes the adequate vigor— the experience is much more pleasant.  I found when I held back on the pushing, my body would do it for me.  It was almost like a sling shot inside.  I could feel my stomach snap to push… and from what I understand from Ryan, you could apparently see it too.

Second Stage Labor – Bradley Pushing Technique
Once I did start pushing with confidence, I used the technique we learned in class– chin to chest, legs pulled back and elbows out. Ryan had to remind me to keep my chin down and I got busted a couple of times by the midwife “pushing with my face”. Ryan reported that I looked like an athlete pulling my legs back and pushing!

A medical student was observing our entire birth.  During the pushing phase, I heard our nurse or midwife point out, “This is what medicated mothers can’t do.”  She explained that medicated mothers typically have to push harder because they can’t feel and direct their pushes in the same manner.

Ryan’s Mom had told me when she birthed Ryan naturally she had wished she had worked her arms out more in preparation. I can confirm she is on to something– the next day my biceps did feel like I had done my weekly Hammer Curls at the gym!

Second Stage Labor – Crowning and Birth
At one point during Second Stage Labor, the midwife or nurse pushed her finger in my vagina to see where Sagan was.  I was disappointed to feel their fingers go in deeper than I would have liked.  But it didn’t seem long before Heidi and Ryan reported seeing hair.  I still felt like Sagan was still far off when I was aware of a lot of activity in the room and someone made a call about how they were going to have a delivery in two – three minutes.  This was very encouraging.  I was also encouraged when I heard the midwife ask for baby shampoo and started massaging my perinean.  Soon I was able to reach down and feel Sagan’s head emerging.  Soon after that I was aware of stretching and slight burning, but it wasn’t as bad as the “Ring of Fire” I had imagined (keep in mind Sagan was so little).  I thought I still had a way to go to crown when all of a sudden I heard, “Whoa, whoa, whoa Momma.  Just breathe.  Just breathe”.  Soon after that, I opened my eyes and because of my upright sitting-squat position, I could see Sagan’s head and them using the aspirator to clean his orifices.  I think I must have closed my eyes again, because I don’t remember his body coming out. 

I had a small first degree tear which I can’t say bothered me either at birth or during recovery.

And so our little guy was born.  The umbilical cord was short– so short they couldn’t place him on my chest until after it was cut.  We had wanted to wait until the cord stopped pulsating to cut it, but due to Sagan being late pre-term the staff was anxious to do their assessments.  Ryan cut the cord, splattering our nurse in blood.  They put Sagan briefly on my chest before taking him for their tests and evaluations. I actually didn’t mind them taking him so quickly. I knew he was early and I wanted to know as much as anybody that he was okay.

Labor - Sagan Right After Birth
Sagan (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Third Stage Labor
Third Stage Labor was pretty uneventful.  I was chatting with the nurse when the midwife interrupted me and instructed me to push and just like that the placenta was out.  The placenta was completely in tact, but they did note an oddity– I had a battledore placenta.  Also known as “marginal cord insertion”, that’s where the umbilical cord is attached to the placenta less than 2 centimeters from the edge.

“It’s a good thing you were in a hospital,” the midwife pointed out, “this could have torn.”

ClintJCL had been lobbying for possession of the placenta so he could scratch an item off his bucket list.  Sadly (for him), he did not get his wish.  I let the staff keep it so they could show their students.

Labor - Team Looks at Placenta
Midwife Donna Explains the Battledore Placenta (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Coach Tip – You Can Override Your Partner
When we first arrived at the hospital, Ryan asked if I wanted him to take off my glasses. He said my entire face crunched up into a scowl.

Okay….” Ryan thought, “That’s a ‘no’…. but I really need to get those glasses off.

A few contractions later, he just took him off. When he asked, I didn’t want him to take them because I wanted to be able to see what was going on. BUT– I almost exclusively had my eyes closed during Transition and Second Stage. In that case, Ryan absolutely knew what was best.

No Glasses Necessary (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Coach Tip – Innovate
As we had been taught and seen in numerous videos, Ryan used a cold washcloth on my forehead. I thought that felt great. THEN between contractions, Ryan did something unexpected. He took that cold washcloth and put it on my neck and shoulders.  Holy. Cow.  I would almost describe that sensation as orgasmic. It felt so, so, so very good. And here’s the thing– never ever ever would I had thought to ask for that. Ryan’s innovation and thoughtfulness really paid off.

Coach Tip – Brush Your Teeth : )
Perhaps this can fall under the “Physical Comfort” need of a laboring woman. At first during Transition, I had some trouble focusing on Ryan’s voice.

Between contractions I whispered, “Ryan, don’t talk directly in my face…Your breath.”

Well, Ryan always goes above and beyond the call of duty! Between contractions he went and brushed his teeth. After that– I had no issues focusing on the sound of his voice…instead of smell.

Coach Tip – Camelbak!
Throughout labor, I would request some water from Ryan. Our Nalgene Camelbak bottle we use for hiking was absolutely perfect!!! It made it extremely easy for me to sip water when I wanted it.  I was surprised that I only drank about 8 – 10 ounces of water during labor.  In the weeks preceding birth, I had been downing nearly 32 ounces at my hour long gym visits.  Though, I did not sweat nearly as much during labor as I do at the gym.

Coach Tip – Orange Juice
Dr. Bradley recommends orange juice after labor to get the mother’s blood sugar up and replenish her fluids. I was pretty indifferent to the orange juice, even though I absolutely love celebrating a hot hike with a nice juicy orange. When we left for the hospital, Ryan brought a frozen container of orange juice. By the time Sagan was born, that orange juice was thawed and ready to drink. Whoa boy, that stuff was good. I chugged and chugged and chugged and chugged. It couldn’t have been more refreshing than if it was Trail Magic.

Coach Tip – Food, Food, Food
Ryan and I packed a lot of snacks for the hospital. Most of the foods were hike-inspired fares. Stuff I knew I would eat on a hard hike. I did eat about 75% of the granola bar on the way to the hospital. Once we arrived, I was so far along I didn’t have an appetite. Does that mean we shouldn’t have packed so much food??? NOPE! The twenty four hours after delivery I was FAMISHED. There was no way I could have relied on just the three spread out hospital meals. I was so glad to have so much food and to be able to feast on demand.

Our birth had a lot of surprises. We were faced with it much earlier than expected. We were with strangers in a hospital we had never set foot in. But the biggest surprise was how pleasant our birth experience was. It truly was an invigorating and beautiful event.

And here’s the thing– I’m just a normal person! Although I kept active throughout pregnancy, I am far from a super athlete. I once got beat in a 5K by a 79 year old man by over a minute! I’m thrilled whenever I run a mile in less than 12 minutes. I hike, but I’m almost always the last one up the ascents. I also had very little experience with pain. I’ve never had stitches, I’ve never broken a bone and I’ve often found menstrual cramps to be cause for Tylenol. To top it all off, I’m neurotic– I’m thirty-six years old and still scared of vomiting.

But, what I did have (thanks to the books, the classes, some supplemental pep talks from Ryan’s mom) was the knowledge that my body was designed to birth my son.  And I knew from my hiking experience, that this body of mine can carry me further than I expect.

Dr. Bradley believed that most women are capable of natural childbirth. I think I help support his case. : )

Entry filed under: Bradley Method, Hiking, Pregnancy, Sagan.

Our Birth Appendix – Third Trimester Exercise Our Birth – Ryan’s Post

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Christina  |  October 3, 2011 at 2:06 am

    What an amazing story! I’m so glad you guys got to have a natural birth. Thanks for sharing your experience with us 🙂

    • 2. tgaw  |  October 3, 2011 at 10:43 am

      Thanks Christina! I also need to thank you for loaning us “Breastfeeding Made Simple” AND your post on your breastfeeding journey with Oliver. When I was up in the middle of the night, pumping every two hours, I found a lot of solace knowing that others had been there before me! 🙂

  • 3. Denise  |  October 3, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    What a well-written and interesting account of your birth story. I really enjoyed reading it. I had never heard of the Bradley method. I am not sure it existed when I gave birth. It sounds great! I am really glad to hear that women are still interested in natural childbirth. I thought that these days no one attempted to go drug free anymore. It sounds like you had an excellent coach, too!

  • 4. Sarah  |  November 6, 2011 at 9:24 am

    I absolutely love this post! I was doing a search for pictures of Dr. Bradley and the mountain picture popped up, leading me here.

    I teach Bradley Method classes in Iowa, and I am wondering if I could have your permission to copy your post to share with my students? It is a wonderful first-hand account, and it does such a great job of summarizing what the Bradley Method is all about!

    Congratulations on your birth, enjoy your slightly-larger family!

    • 5. tgaw  |  November 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm


      Of course! Feel feel!

      In one of the Bradley books, Dr. Bradley talked about how when birthing started moving to the hospital, women were no longer witnesses to birth. As a result, they no longer learned from each other how the process works and how manageable it could be, which is why we have to do “Birth Classes” nowadays.

      When I was pregnant, I read tons and tons of Birth Stories. Although I suspect watching the live births of your relatives would be more informative, I think “Birth Stories” play an important role of returning the visibility of the process back to women.

      Share as much as you see fit!


  • 6. Emily  |  December 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Yes! With my first pregnancy I took a lamaze class and it was a total waste of time, beyond the stages of birth and some breathing exercises that was all we learned. I was completely unprepared for the pain which made it much more scary in the moment than I thought it would be.

    With my second I was taking a meditation/relaxation type of birthing class at first and my teacher kept talking about contractions as “feeling the light”. I raised my hand and said “Um, I’ve already given birth and it didn’t feel like light it felt like pain. When are we going to talk about how to deal with pain?”. She explained that she had a pain-free orgasmic birth and I could have one too. That is awesome for her – but suffice it to say I didn’t go back. Then I found an awesome Bradley teacher in my area and I was SOOO happy.

    All we talked about was pain, and how to manage it. I had pages and pages of notes on nutrition and exercise to prepare myself before the labor and then an extensive plan on natural pain relief measures for during. I’ve never felt so prepared for something in my life. We even did things in class that were intentionally painful (clothespins on our ears, holding ice) and then practiced our techniques to see which ones worked the best for us.

    My husband and I felt like we had a PHD in pain relief and my daughter’s birth was so much smoother. It was almost laughable the difference, I remember looking at my husband when it was time to push and saying “Really? That’s it?” If I have another baby I’m totally doing Bradley again (or maybe Brio I’ve heard they are excellent).

    • 7. tgaw  |  January 2, 2012 at 12:14 am


      Thanks for posting! I’m so glad to hear how effective the Bradley classes were for your second birth! And you made me laugh with your “Um, I’ve already given birth…” question to your mediation instructor. Again, I’m glad you had such a positive experience with your second birth!

  • 8. 6 Year Blogaversary « TGAW  |  March 14, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    […] Our Birth Story, the Bradley Method and a Little Bit of Hiking Too!It took me twelve weeks to finish writing up my post.  That labor of love took longer than actual labor! […]

  • 9. fetalflutterings  |  July 13, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Everything Vicky wrote and explains is exactly what I teach to my nursing students in “Family Centered Maternity Care.” It is all evidence-based information which hospitals tend to ignore. Vicky and Ryan did a great job and this is a phenomenal birth narrative!

  • 10. Baby Meets CamelBak, Baby Falls in Love « TGAW  |  September 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    […] just pretend that Sagan was destined to love CamelBak from the very day he was born… when his Mommy sipped from a CamelBak Nalgene bottle during labor. : ) Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  • 11. read only excel  |  December 23, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long comment
    but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that
    over again. Anyways, just wanted to say excellent blog!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Flickr Photos

3D Printed Products


%d bloggers like this: