Dilation DOES NOT Equal Progression

Dilation DOES NOT Equal Progression

This client was a second time mom whose husband encouraged her to seek out a doula to help him support her better.  They both wanted a better experience than their first birthing experience and they just so happen to know a friend of theirs that was a childbirth educator and doula (me!).  It probably helped that at our mutual friends wedding my husband talked me up a bit, thanks honey! 

It’s a little more of a special birthing adventure when the clients are friends, so I was very excited when they reached out to say they were interested in me being their doula.  I met with them at their home a few weeks prior to their due date to discuss what happened at their last birth that they enjoyed and what they would like to avoid this time around.  The husband expressed he just really wanted to have additional support for his wife and she expressed she wanted a better experience all around.  I went over some comfort measure techniques she could use during the pregnancy and during labor and then walked them through what it would look like for me to be with them for the journey. 

I left their house that morning waiting for the big day when finally it came.  I received a text that contractions had started and they would call me when they were ready for me to meet them at the hospital to await the arrival of their precious second baby.  When the text came through from her husband to head over I expected to walk into full blown labor with all the wonderful laboring noises but instead I was greeted to a very peaceful room full of family.  Little did I know things were picking up but as I continue to learn with each birth I attend, they all look so very different.  Mom was handling the contractions so well that at times I wasn’t sure she was as far along as she thought she was.  We all walked the halls and it was not just one of the quietest labors I’ve attended but also one of the quietest hospital visits.  She was one of only two laboring mothers that evening.  After a few rounds of walking and contractions she was ready to head back to her room and set up the atmosphere the way she wanted.  She had a lovely essential oil blend she put in a diffuser and it filled the room immediately with a lovely calming scent.  All of the nurses and doctors that came commented on how lovely it was. 

She continued laboring in the room very peacefully only closing her eyes, lowering her head and breathing down and out when a contraction would hit.  She never frowned or burrowed her brow, never groaned or made that infamous low groaning noise, just peace and quiet.  She then looked up at me and said I think things are moving forward.  She felt pressure building and thought she was experiencing transition.  We called the doctor in and a quick cervical check was done but she wasn’t fully dilated.  This was disappointing for mom to hear, you could read it all over her face.  She knew she had done a lot of good hard work and should be further along.  You could see she felt defeated, as if her body didn’t work and things were going to look like her last birth.  The nurses and doctor offered Pitocin to help things along and she reluctantly agreed after some talking with her husband.  As they were speaking I quietly stepped in and gently reminded them dilation does not equal progression.  If she knew her body was doing good work then it was and she could go to 10 centimeters within minutes, but I also let them know that I’m there to support them no matter what decision they made. 

The nurses came back with the Pitocin and got her arm and IV’s all set up and ready to be administered and then she felt a sudden urge to push.  She was in what I refer to as the classic position in the bed (sitting up with the head of the bed elevated around 45 degrees) and when they did a quick check she was fully dilated.  The nurses didn’t even start the Pitocin yet!  This mama jumped to 10 centimeters super fast and was ready to deliver.

The most noise I heard this mama make was right at the time of pushing, but even then it was very quiet and peaceful.  She needed little hands on help or encouragement during labor but during delivery she needed an extra set of doula hands to help coach and encourage her.  She did amazing and I was beyond thrilled for this family to have such a great experience for their second birth to redeem their first birthing experience.  I was so happy they were able to live out what I spoke of about tuning into your body, relaxing, trusting yourself, and getting that encouragement and support you need during the times you need it most.  It has been a great joy to watch their newest little one grow and to know that this mom and dad got the birthing experience they wanted! 

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