Over the past 18 months I have LOVED coaching and educating women through their fitness and pregnancy journey. I am incredibly grateful to have seen my business grow locally in Scottsdale as well as online, both nationally and internationally. I love watching women experience the physical, mental and emotional benefits of a strong pregnancy and supporting them throughout the most incredible journey; becoming a Mom!
After my own pregnancy and birth experience, I have wanted to expand what Lift With Emily offers and provide women with more than just a pre/post natal fitness programs. My vision is to have Lift With Emily encompass it all; pregnancy, childbirth education, birth, postpartum, motherhood.
MY BIRTH EXPERIENCE: The Beginning Of My Why
My own birth experience was very positive; 16 hours from start to finish and 40 minutes of pushing. I prepped myself from a physical standpoint; continued strength training x3-5 days a week, worked with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, dedicated time to breath work, pelvic floor function and core strength. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I included birth prep movements throughout my week; getting comfortable in common pushing positions, relaxing my pelvic floor, hip mobility, curb walking (to get my baby to descend in the pelvis) and general movements that felt GOOD and released tension from my body. This absolutely helped me feel strong during labor and delivery. Knowledge was power.
That being said, there was a lot I was unprepared for; inductions, hospital procedures (the standard care they provide and what we can say yes and no to), how difficult making decisions are in the moment, the pressure you feel to agree with the doctor and how totally out of it you are the 5-10 minutes after giving birth.
My pregnancy was low risk until about 30 weeks when I was told my platelets were on the low side (but stable) and they were going to keep an eye on it. They told me not to worry, so I didn’t. Each check they continued to drop and they continued to tell me it was fine. They told me if they dropped below 80,000 I would not be eligible for an epidural and if they dropped below 50,000 – they would be concerned for hemorrhaging during delivery. Not being eligible for an epidural would also have meant that if things had ended up as a C-section, I would not be able to be awake for it and I would miss out on the first hour of birth.
At 38 + 6 weeks I got a call that my platelets were at 81,000 and I was to be induced in a few days. In the meantime, I was given steroids to help stabilize my platelets. 48 hours prior to my scheduled hospital induction they tried to get things going ‘more naturally’ with the foley bulb. The doctor inserts a catheter into your cervix which is meant to help dilate you to 3cm. Once you hit 3cm it will fall out or be removed by the doctor 12-24 hours later. 4 hours later, I was in agony. At the time, I thought my body was simply rejecting this foreign object inside me. The pressure inside my pelvis was overwhelming. I was shaking, sweating, nauseous and I could not speak. We were instructed to head to the hospital and once there they removed it and told me I was 6cm. This was at around 4:30pm.
I felt instant relief. I could actually feel the contractions coming and going. At this point they were totally manageable. Some contractions I could see on the screen, but didn’t even feel. For the next 6/7 hours, I felt pretty fine, my pain was probably a 5/10 in comparison to what I felt with the bulb inside. They hooked me up for constant monitoring, something I didn’t want but in the moment felt pressure to do as I was told. I asked if it was okay to take a bath, my request was brushed off. They wanted to keep me hooked up as at the time my platelets were 62,000 and they were trying to get them back up. Every time I disconnected myself, it wasn’t long before they would come back in and tell me ‘just 10 more minutes and then hook yourself back up’. They had stopped giving me anything via the IV to see if my body would naturally improve on the platelet front, so why was this so important? They also would not let me eat or drink anything that wasn’t ice chips or water.
At 11pm they told me that my platelets were 78,000. Still lower than the threshold but they would administer the epidural. It was now or never. When I look back, this is the moment when having a doula in my corner would have led me to go with what I actually wanted, instead of a fear-based decision. I still felt fine, I was 7cm, pretty tired (I had been up since 3:30am… nerves) but contractions were totally manageable.
I chose the epidural and they administered Pitocin to speed things up, knowing my platelets would take a pretty strong dip once we got going. I slept on and off for 6 hours, changing sides every 30 minutes. I am relieved that the epidural gave me time to rest and relax. At 6am they woke me up and told me I was 10cm and ready. I didn’t feel ready. No urge to push, a little bit of pressure but nothing that made me believe it was go time. I slept for another hour.
I woke up, feeling everything building. Pooping was a great sign I was close (sorry ladies, it happens) and I told the nurse I was ready. Pushing was pretty empowering. They turned off the monitor and let me take control and 40 minutes later, Theo Michael Vincent was born.
Now, let me preface by saying there is no best way to give birth. Totally natural, epidural, c-section.. whatever it is that brings your baby into the world while keeping you BOTH safe and healthy is the best way. However, we likely all have a rough birth plan in our heads of how we would like/wish things to go. The mama’s that I have spoken to that felt they did everything possible to empower their experience and had the knowledge and/or support to advocate for themselves had a way more positive story to share afterwards, regardless of HOW they actually gave birth.
My reasons for not wanting an epidural were based around: having the freedom to move my body into different positions (squat, hands and knees, standing etc) and feeling more in control of my body (I was worried I would loose all sensation with the epidural). This was 100% because I am someone that teaches movement for a living and I know how powerful both movement and breath can be during labor and delivery. I was not wanting to avoid an epidural for the title of being able to do it pain medication free. And actually, I was open to an epidural but I wanted it only when I no longer felt in control. I never had that option.
Who knows if my birth would have gone so smoothly if I didn’t have the epidural and that chance to relax. However, I would have liked to have know what options were available during labor so I could have made more informed decisions:
-I didn’t have to be hooked up to the monitors. Monitoring can also be wireless.
-I could have declined regular cervix checks (it’s so painful). This applies prior to labor too on the weeks building to your due date. Your cervical checks do not tell you when labor will begin. You could be 1cm and go into labor a few hours later, or be 3cm for a few weeks.
-I could have had a bath and stayed in there for as long as I wanted.
-I could have eaten food and drunk the orange juice I was desperately craving
-I could have made an informed decision on the epidural, rather than a panicked, fear based decision. Maybe I would have still got one, but I would have felt way less pressure to do it.
-I didn’t ask for other options of pain relief, because I didn’t know what else was an option.
-More skin to skin time after birth.
Giving birth is truly a moment you will never forget, good or bad. It is not just any other day in your life. Your birth and your experience matter. Being educated on your rights during labor, knowing what you can say NO to, what is available to you, what interventions are actually medically necessary, will allow you to give birth knowing it was you who made the choices that got you there, even if those plans need to be adjusted. And that is POWERFUL.
BIRTH DOULA: WHAT THIS MEANS FOR LIFT WITH EMILY
And so, the growth of Lift With Emily begins. I start my Birth Doula training June 2nd and I am SO excited to offer women an all encompassing approach to their pregnancy, birth and beyond. I care deeply about each and every one of my clients, and I am passionate about women having an empowering and positive pregnancy and birth experience.
I am here to be your advocate, your resource, your educator, your coach, your doula, your mama friend!
-Birth Doula Services
-Childbirth Education: Online and In Person + 1:1 and Group.
-Prenatal Custom Online Training
-Postpartum Custom Online Training
-Postpartum Programs (Non Custom): Return To Strength Training (6 Week & 12 Week Options), Core & Pelvic Floor Recovery, Monthly Non Custom Programs For The Mama 6+ Months Postpartum.
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I can’t wait for you to join me.