All About My Labor and Delivery

Pregnant women are “crazy” about searching online for the labor process and everything else related to pregnancy. They love reading comments and other people’s experiences and sharing them as well. I remember scrolling the web for hours searching for my symptoms and answers! One thing I found less of was the labor process. I think that’s because once you’re done with labor, you’re so overjoyed and busy with the baby, sharing your experience is the last thing on your mind and you don’t want to be reminded of the gruesome details of the pushing and the sewing and the blood and the horrible hair and the husband who was or was not there, fainted or not fainted, etc. etc. etc. All you can concentrate on is the baby. I know because it’s been 4 months since my labor and I finally am getting my butt off to share my experience so other women can know what’s coming (or not) for them. Every labor is different but here’s how mine went.

Everyone suggests a labor class. It’s become something to “do” and have to do since your doctors are suggesting it and it’s offered at the hospitals so you feel compelled to do it. Knowing me and not wanting more work than needed, I didn’t take one. I read books on childbirth. One of the books I liked the most that was easy breezy (not Cover Girl) was The Best Birth by Sarah McMoyler. I wasn’t into Doula’s and doing everything naturally and I had a GREAT hospital that’s one of the top 10 in the country delivering me so I felt comfortable without a doula. In addition, I’ve always been independent in handling pain and processes and having someone that’s not my husband there just makes me uncomfortable because it’s one more stranger than the doctor that’s there. The book made me fully prepared for birth right? NO! Nothing can make you prepared for birth! Every birth is so so so so different! Even if you go to class, your situation may be totally different. Timing contractions and all that jazz was not even in my head when my water broke. Every woman is different and no class can prepare you for that. For that comment, I’m so GLAD I did not waste time at a birthing class. That would have been wasted time for my husband and I and money. McMoyler’s book was really all I needed.

Things you need to know for labor only include the basics of signs to watch for. What do contractions feel like? What are pre-labor signs? What does water breaking feel like? Is it your water or pee? (I’ll put that on a separate post). Will you use epidural or not? If you use epidural, are you going to use pitocin (or oxytocin)?

My water broke at 4 am in the morning. My husband was in another country with a 3 hour difference so I just said goodbye to him on the phone as he left for work and my water broke after I went to the bathroom. I went to pee and then decided to lay back in bed for another nap before I get up. I was at 39 weeks and 2 days. My tummy wasn’t as big as other preggies so I figured I’m probably late since it’s my first baby. I laid back in bed and I felt my baby wiggle really (((fast))) and so I switched and laid on my left side. I felt liquid run out of my vagina as if I’m having my period. I immediately sat up and ran to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. It was clear liquid. I had this sensation before and it was (blush) pee. I thought “Crap, I just went pee and I peed myself again?!”

I wiped myself and changed a pantiliner and as I was getting up, more liquid came out. Uh oh I thought. Could this be it??? I quickly took the litmus paper I bought from Vitamin Shoppe and tested for the acidity of my liquid. Yup, it’s amniotic fluid!

I put in a thick pad and got up from the toilet and went to my computer to book my husband a return flight back right away. After I booked his flight, I called him and he freaked out. Good thing “I” booked the ticket. God knows if he was able to function to buy the right ticket. I got a deal too. While all other last minute tickets were $2000, I found one that was $745. I couldn’t believe I was price shopping at a time when my water broke but yes I was. Can’t get ripped off just because you’re in labor right?

After I called him and took care of that I woke my sister up from the other bedroom. She was on call for taking care of me while my husband was gone. She was surprised too. I said, “I’m in labor but take your time because I’m going to take a shower.” After that, I took my 5 minute shower, grabbed my hospital bag and we left. Oh, we stopped by McDonalds for my breakfast since I won’t be eating the entire day.

I felt trickling of liquid the entire time I was in the car. Good thing I had on a pad. It was quite gross since it’s like your never ending period.

When I got to the hospital, they gave me a temporary bed and area until one of the labor rooms was available. There was a lot of women who decided to have a baby that day or who’s babies decided to come out that day. They had me put on a gown and NO underwear. It was disgusting. As I was walking from the bathroom to the bed, I was dripping. Really gross feeling. At that point, I wasn’t in pain yet.

6 am came by and I was still okay. They were putting needles in me and listening to the baby to make sure everything was okay. I was having contractions and I didn’t even know it. My contractions were already only 5-6 minutes apart. I was probably in pre-labor before and I didn’t even know it! I was having night sweats 2 days before this and I was probably already getting contractions but didn’t know it. I called my husband who is now at the airport already and he freaked out because he didn’t want to miss the birth. The doctor told me I still had a long way to go. I was only 1-2cm dilated but they can’t send me away because my water broke. How convenient.

8 am, my contractions are getting stronger and stronger! Ok, I was in pain now. I was wondering when they would come and offer me epidural. I can still breathe through it. Boy I was glad I didn’t take a class because trust me, NO breathing is going to take away ANY of this pain. All that breathe away pain crap is essentially… CRAP when you’re in labor. The woman next to me came before me and they rejected epidural at first and started to cry and moan and cry and moan. 30 minutes later, she was being rolled into a room and she was crying for epidural. Lucky for me, 5 minutes after that, I was offered a room and offered epidural if I wanted. I asked them whether I should do I now since I can still breathe through contractions. They said I can have it anytime. It doesn’t slow down anything or prevent me from having my contractions so I said yes yes please please.

I know many women are afraid of epidural and what it might do to baby and mommy or pitocin, etc. However, if you’re at a really good hospital, they’ll know how to do it right. First of all, ask for a mobile or walking epidural. This means you can still feel the sensations in your legs when you do have epidural and you can move around at ease. This makes sure that you’ll also feel your contractions so you can push to avoid that C section. Next, I used pitocin because that makes sure that the contractions won’t slow down. My contractions started getting really painful. If you felt that the endometriosis monthly pain was bad, this was about 5 times that because you’ll start sweating and your whole body shakes and the wave could last 10-15 seconds each time until you felt like it was WAY longer than that. Bad menstrual cramping is pretty much how I would describe contractions.

After I got transferred to my room, the epidural people came in. For this procedure you have to stay still but it’s hard to since you’re also in pain. I don’t know how dilated I was at the time but it has to be more than 2cm because when the doctor checked an hour ago, I was at 2-3cm. The anesthesiologist had me sit on the edge of my table with my back humped. They inserted a needle and a tube. I felt “nothing.” They were that good. Plus, the pain probably was not existent compared to the contractions I was feeling.

Within 5 minutes of the epidural, I was feeling so good! Now contractions feel like just tightening of the abdomen. I was relaxed and my can still feel my legs. I was chatting with my sister and texting my husband and chatting with him online while I was in labor. Yup, it was heaven with epidural. However, 4 pm rolled by and I started to feel the contractions come back painfully. I kept pushing the epidural button but I still felt everything. Good hospitals make your dosage of epidural go down as time passes. That’s the right way to do it so you feel the sensation to push.

I called to the nurse and the doctor felt me and I was FULLY dilated! Then the doctor said I had another two hours until I had to “push”… I told her no way. She laughed and said we all say that. 10 minutes later I felt a sensation like a bowling ball was about to come out of my behind! I called the doctor again and I said I have to push. So I started pushing. I had them raise the bed a little to help me in my angle. The nurse walked me through the ENTIRE process. Whatever was in the books, etc., was pretty useless to me because my mind was all over the place. There was no basis for memory. I was so grateful my nurse was great. She had me hold my right ankle with my right hand, left ankle with left hand and as the contractions came, to push hard for 10-15 seconds and then breathe in. Rest, repeat until contraction over and you’ll relax as much as you can. The relaxing part actually helps your baby come out. The doctor thought I would be pushing for a while but it so happens that I have an extremely high pain tolerance. I pushed for 40-45 minutes and my baby was out! Right before she came out, I felt my vagina was going to explode! I didn’t feel like I could stretch it any further. It was that ball of fire everyone talks about. My baby kicked herself out at the last moment when I’ve lost all energy. She started kicking and she was out!

Then came stitches which for some reason for me took an hour. They placed the baby on me for skin to skin contact and it was the most amazing experience ever. My husband missed the whole thing because it happened so quick. My entire labor process was only 13 hours and with the airport and travel, he didn’t get to me until 2 hours after I delivered. Although that was sad, it went so quickly I felt okay about the entire situation because I had my baby with me. My beautiful beautiful baby. Her skin was clean and bright. She had very little blood on her if any at all. They wiped her head once and she was on me. As my stitches took so long, they also gave her a sponge bath.

That’s it for my labor!

I’ll talk about my after pregnancy pains later…

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Meat and Endometriosis (Beef, Chicken, Pork, and the other good stuff…)

One of the things I had to give up and “hated” giving up after I was diagnosed with endometriomas on my ovaries was “meat.” I loved beef, chicken and pork. I also loved fatty meat since I’m Chinese and pork belly is actually a delicacy when cooked right. Who doesn’t love Korean BBQ or that nice plate of juicy medium rare aged 45+ days prime rib eye steak? Just typing it makes my mouth water.

Here’s the scoop though. Estrogen estrogen estrogen! A study published by American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2010 showed that estrogen levels in beef and chickens had high levels of estrogen. Lean and fatty meat were tested differently and it showed that fatty meat had higher levels of estrogen. Leaner meat was better than fatty meats but both contained estrogen. I searched and it showed that the US prevents chickens from being hormone injected so why do chickens still have high levels of estrogen? Some soy protein and animal feeds may contain estrogen generators in chicken (just like us when we eat tofu and estrogen like foods, we retain estrogen in our bodies). We are what we eat and so are the chickens. They eat estrogen, we eat estrogen. That solved my question. As for beef, we all know that beef still has hormones that aren’t prevented by the US so beef is definitely a “no” for the endometriosis diet.

What’s interesting is this. They tested Japanese beef and Brazilian chicken muscle meat and they had nearly “ZERO” traces of estrogen. It was “lower” than estrogen found in Japanese women! For the most of us, unfortunately we’re not in Japan or Brazil so it’s better to stay away from red meats.

Ladies, hate to bring this up but studies also show birth control pills had higher levels of estrogen than any of the meats stated above. Prolong uses of birth control pills may make your endo worse. It really stinks to have to find other methods of birth control pills if you don’t plan on getting pregnant but it beats being in pain right?

So please refer to my post on the endo diet and my other posts on the foods to eat and not eat. Fish fish fish! Not only is it good protein but also great after you get pregnant to get that smart smart baby!

By the way, the trick to start eating these red meats again is when you’re pregnant as your body quickly stops producing a lot of the endo producing hormones. But please go back to the endo diet right after you stop breastfeeding! After delivery my baby, I’m easing back into my endo diet again. Preparing for baby 2 next year. Knock on wood!

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Pumping and Increasing Breastmilk / Milk Supply

Out of everything in trying to get pregnant to getting pregnant to taking care of the baby and getting “no” sleep, I have to say the thing I hate most is pumping. Pumping is such a waste of my valuable time but yet it is totally needed. Why do I pump?

  • My husband can do some feeding and bonding with baby.
  • I eventually need to pump and give the baby milk through a bottle so why not start now.
  • Even if I breastfeed directly, I still need to pump after each feeding so I don’t loose my milk supply.

Many people do only breastfeeding and I think they’re so awesome. I have to be honest and say as a time efficient person, I don’t see how I can breast feed baby for 40 minutes, take 30 minutes to pump, wash pump parts, and then baby wakes again since my baby’s on a 2 hour schedule. This means I get zero sleep. None functioning mommy means mommy with no milk. Milk supply goes bye bye with no sleep.

What did I do? I pumped every 2 hours after I got out of the hospital and pumped every 4 hours nightime.¬† I did this for 2 weeks and my milk supply went up to 950 ml a day! In the first day, I think I got only 5 ml out of each side at each session. Then it gradually increased to be about an ounce a side and finally, I got to a point where I was pumping 950ml a day and this took about 2-3 weeks of pumping on a 2 hour schedule. It was pretty brutal but I wanted milk supply. My baby was a lazy eater so she wasn’t much help in generating milk supply. Instead, the pump did all the work. I used the Medela Pump In Style Metro pump so I can take the pump anywhere without it being attached to a dumb backpack (in the other model). I pumped 15 minutes per side when I did my 2 hour schedule.

After about 1.5 months pumping on that crazy schedule, I went to pumping every 5 hours and my milk still stabilized around 900-950ml a day! After three more weeks of pumping on this schedule, I changed to pumping every 8 hours. I was pumping at 5 am, 1 pm, 9 pm. My milk was now at 850 ml a day. I lost about 100ml in cutting from 8-9 pumps a day to only 3 pumps a day and my baby wasn’t even 4 months at the time.

Recently, I’ve cut down even one MORE pump and I now pump every day at 9 am and 9 pm. I cannot explain how GREAT it feels to not pump so often! Once you’ve trained your body to produce milk, you can still get the same amount of milk if you train your body to stabilize.

Tricks? Lots of them. First, you HAVE TO MASSAGE your breasts while you pump!!! Many people say they can’t get any milk out from pumping. Well that’s because you’re not helping the milk flow! Have you seen a cow get milked? I know this is probably very graphic in your head but you have to do exactly that. Take the palm of both hands, put them on one breast first while you pump and push from under your armpits to your nipple while you pump. You’ll get milk! I’ve tried not massaging before and I missed out on 80% of my milk! The massaging action really helps the milk flow flow flow. Then after your flow is to a “drip”… a slow drip… then you stop the pump and hand express some more. Why? There are reservoirs near your nipple and when you pump, it leads the milk to these reservoirs. It leaves “some” milk there and as long as there’s “some milk” there, your body is saying it doesn’t need to produce anymore. By hand expressing the last few drops, your body is generating more milk! Only do this if you want more milk supply. Otherwise, you can stop or your milk supply will keep going up. Oversupply isn’t good either.

Other tricks: drink lots of water, eat protein, and stay away from cold stuff. Cold drinks seems to slow the flow of milk as a warm body more readily give a let down that’s faster and more efficient for pumping. Get enough sleep. Drink lots of chicken, pork, or beef broth. Broth contains protein and gives you hydration, both of which are important to milk production.

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Endometriomas and Endometriosis After Pregnancy

Sorry I haven’t written in so long. I’ve been busy having a baby! My baby girl was born in May at 7 pounds 3 ounces and she was perfect. When she came out, she was so clean with no blood on her body and two wipes and she was all clean and on my chest. Her skin was so perfect the doctor even complimented her. It must be all the fresh juices I drank when I was pregnant!

I had 2 ultrasounds that looked at my endometriomas during my pregnancy. They were not able to see anything on my right side anymore which is weird. It could have been due to the baby and my left one was only half the size it was before. For those out there that say you cannot shrink those endo’s, you’re wrong. I did it with diet, enzymes, and getting pregnant!

I will keep up with this diet after breastfeeding is over but even during breastfeeding, I’m still eating mostly my endo diet with the juices. I took off serrapeptase and nattokinase during breast feeding because studies don’t show enough on their effects while breast feeding. There is a study that shows it reduces breast engorgement, which probably means it’ll decrease my milk supply so I’ll stay away for now until I’m done breast feeding.

Ladies, there’s hope. Keep up the work and you’ll be paid with big rewards. Lay off the surgery for now?

Someone asked for the “brand” of serrapeptase and nattokinase. I purchased Enerex and AOP. Again, I don’t think the brand matters as long as it’s from a legitimate company and not some gimicky place.

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What to Do When Baby Kicks You in the Ribs During Pregnancy

Week 16 was when I felt tiny flutters in my stomach and find my baby is so cute and I can finally connect with her. I thought every flutter was so precious. I savored every time I felt her.

Week 20 I started feeling more flutters and the occasional bump out of my tummy.

Week 25 I cherished every kick and enjoyed her movements.

Week 30 I started playing with her as she kicked out, I would respond with a light touch. In the morning when she gave me kicks and turns, I said “good morning my little one.”

Week 37 (now) I swear she’s doing karate in there and trying to break her mother somehow. She’s saying, “I’d like to come out now because I’m stuck in here and very uncomfortable.” Sometimes I think she’s trying to swim butterfly style in there and extending her feet into my rib cage with a kick on the end into my liver and waking me up at night. Other times she’s trying to engage and sticking her head down into my lower pelvic area and wiggle out of my body only to find out my cervix is still closed!

This causes: my need to urinate every 30 – 1 hour in the night only to find that I have maybe 5 drops of pee. All you pregnant women out there: does this sound familiar?

I can bear with anything but the rib kicking. As she’s getting bigger, I constantly feel (about 90% of my day and night) that her feet is stuck in my ribs. It makes me want to hurl and she’s probably not comfortable (or is she?). Maybe she likes the feeling of finally being able to kick something concrete and hard instead of the other soft organs inside, who knows? Anyway, as I’m driving today through the drive through ATM, I got the worst kick and dig of all in the right rib cage and I think my liver as well. I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I took my four fingers of my right hand, put it right where the breast meets the belly along the rib cage and “slowly” and “gently” pressed down like a smooth massaging action. I repeated this 10 times and she “slowly” lifted her little feet and I felt her butt move from the right side to the left side of my belly button. I know exactly where all her parts were because we went through an ultrasound and I made sure I asked what part was where!

I find that if my movement on her was fast, she would respond playfully and kick me back even more forceful like she thinks I’d like to play with her. However, if I do a slow massaging action, she slowly moves it away. I felt like this was connection or maybe it’s all up in my head.

Same thing when we sleep and she’s going “crazy” in there. Pregnant women would all know what I’m talking about at 37 weeks and a few days pregnant in the third trimester, right? Just a few gentle rubs and they calm down… sometimes.

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Shea Prevents Stretch Marks? Wait… Also Improves Stretch Marks?

Right around 30 weeks in pregnancy, I found a small red line on the underside of my belly. I thought I scratched it and left a mark there.

Nope. Didn’t go away.

I thought I had a rash. Nope.

I searched on the web and found these are onsets of stretch marks! I gasped for air. I already had a smaller belly due to my inverted uterus but stretch marks? Didn’t I have enough fat to accommodate stretching of my skin?! I wanted to believe that my skin was more elastic than it really was. I also “believed” that stretch marks were hereditary because all medical websites tell you so. Hm…

I quickly phoned my mom and asked her about her stretch marks. She said she got “very little” but don’t remember.

At first I was relieved but then I thought: 10 more weeks. Baby was supposed to double in size. I started panicking. This little “inch” could be stretched!

There was nothing I could do (I thought). However, those of you who know my personality by now, I had to do “something” before I admit that I lose to this fate. I took my L’occitane Hand Cream (yes, the best 20% Shea kind) and used it as a belly lotion thinking that was the most moisturizing thing I could find. At this time, I was still in Toronto. My husband has said his skin was really dry from showering due to cold weather so that night, we went to L’occitane to buy the Ultra Rich Shower Cream. I used it too thinking of moisture. As I shopped there, I noticed a Mom and Baby Balm. The sales person came over and said they’re almost out of stock and mom’s swear by it. I thought it was a marketing thing so I ignored her.

Once I got home, I went on L’occitane’s review site and so many women who’ve used the balm said they got “no” stretch marks. Then I looked at their 100% shea in a tin can and found pregnant women also used that to prevent stretch marks and they seem to have succeeded! Hm, I thought. $40 for 100% shea balm is WAY cheaper than some of these dumb miracle get rid of stretch mark creams sold at mom and baby shops that sell for $80-$100. This seemed natural and affordable and if anything, I’ll just be moisturizing my skin in a dry country. Seems win win.

I went and bought myself 100% Shea and applied it every morning and then in the afternoon, I used the 20% shea hand cream to follow.

My stretch mark did not expand! The color got lighter after a WEEK. WHAT?!?! How is that possible?

However, I wanted something more “spreadable” than the 100% shea which I’m always struggling with melting in my hand first and then rubbing into my tummy. Although I know it’s the best, I wanted something creamier. I went back to the store and bought “Ultra Rich Hydrating Body Cream” in the Shea line with 25% Shea Butter (high content than the hand lotion). I now put this on 2-3 times a day on my belly whenever I think about it.

The texture is “so” yummy I just want to put it everywhere and it absorbs so fast, not greasy. The smell is light and refreshing. I just love it. I love it so much I started putting it on my face as facial lotion. I started getting this baby soft skin on my face too. I just couldn’t believe it. I don’t know if it’s L’occitane or Shea but whatever works I’ll keep doing right now. I’ve tried smelling other shea products and none smell as nice so I decided to stay with L’occitane. Although their lotions are more expensive than others, compared to stretch mark creams, they seem WAY cheaper.

I’m now a couple days from 37 weeks! Stretch mark still didn’t get bigger and the color is lighter. Really happy about it. Maybe it’s hereditary, maybe it’s the shea. Whatever it is, I did something about it. I wasn’t a believer until I started using it. Worth a try?

Oh, I also sent a can of 100% shea to my brother in law who suffers from eczema. All natural cures. I’m into anything natural and strong.

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Pressure, Stuffiness, and Clog in Ears During Pregnancy?

One of the most annoying things in pregnancy that comes and goes for me is “hearing my own heartbeat” in my ears. It feels like I’m on a plane and the pressure is developing and I can hear myself talk, hear my heart beat, or water got into my ears during swimming. I don’t know if you explain it as “pressure,” “stuffiness”, “a clog,” or whatever but those of you pregnant out there know what I mean if you have it.

Today I had the pleasure of having it for a a full day, yesterday for half a day, and other times on and off. I have it when the weather gets warm or after I walk around a bit, or for no good reason. Why is there this pressure? It could be due to several reasons. Some people really do have ear infections but for preggies, it could also be due to:

  • Excess fluid retained in the body during pregnancy
  • Increase in blood volume during pregnancy
  • Hormone changes and pressure baby is putting on your organs
  • The increase in estrogen that causes sinus problems by increasing swelling in the mucous membranes. This coupled with the blood volume mentioned above will also cause the blood vessel in the nose to swell and cause congestion.

I don’t feel like I’m congested but maybe I am and don’t even know it. One of my friends got congestion so bad during pregnancy she was using nasal sprays all day (which by the way is NOT recommended because you could end up relying on it and it losing it’s potency). Any medication to me is a big “no” during pregnancy if it’s not life or death situation. I read that some woman took prednisone (a strong steroid) to get rid of this during pregnancy and I ask the question “why would you increase any risk to your baby just to get rid of some small annoyance everyday that’s not life threatening but could be detrimental to your child?” I don’t understand some women. My suggestion to those women is please think again. It’s only 40 weeks but it could have lifetime effects to your child. Do you really want to see your child suffer?

Anyway, so many women are looking for ways to get rid of this. Some may work and others may not but these are safe suggestions you could at least try. If they all don’t work…sorry, please be patient. If it’s due to pregnancy, then it will go away right after birth. Hang in there!

Here’s the list of safe remedies:

  • Yawn – this could equalize any uneven pressure in your ears just like how you would on the plane to get rid of uneven pressure. Yawn long and hard several times.
  • Use Ear Candles – these are at some specialty health stores and they clean out your ear wax really good. Some women have had relief just by using this.
  • Blow Your Nose – get rid of that sinus or clear that pressure of your nose if you do have that sinus. Even if you don’t feel like you have clogged sinus, just do it and see if it would equalize the pressure or stir up something in there.
  • Use Vick’s Vaporizer – steam your sinus away. I haven’t tried this but worked for some.
  • Lean Forward and Invert Your Head a Bit and Breathe Deeply – this one sounded funny but it worked for some women! Doesn’t hurt to try! It may move the mucous around I guess.
  • Drink Lots of Water – if your problem is caused by water retention, drinking plenty of water makes sure you’re getting rid of excess water retention in the body and therefore, decrease that pressure in your ears.
  • Breathe in Fast and Deeply – do this like sniffing your snot down when you are sick. Do it a couple times in repetitive motion and see if it goes away.

I hope this helped somewhat. It was driving me crazy today to try to find out what it is. Please share any other remedies you guys may have!

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