If you're just starting here, stop and go read my birth story! This blog post details the post-birth experience of my second child.
For anyone who is unfamiliar with labor, birth doesn't really end after the baby is born. You need to birth the placenta as well. The placenta is a large temporary organ that grows with the baby and manages the baby's nutrition and hormones. If the placenta isn't delivered shortly after birth, the uterus is not able to contract back down to size, leaving a massive wound which can cause hemorrhaging, a very serious issue.
Immediately after my baby was born, the midwives started preparing for delivery of the placenta. I had a failed epidural with my firstborn, so my memory of this procedure is more vivid than most. Within a few minutes of delivery, typically a nurse begins "massaging" your abdomen quite forcefully and you are instructed to push a few times to get the placenta out. The same procedures were followed this time, but the placenta was not budging. The midwife told me immediately that we could give it 30 minutes and try a few techniques, but if the placenta still wasn't moving we would need to head to the hospital. My condition was stable and it was not an emergency situation, but the placenta needed to come out and the hospital had resources beyond what the birthing center was capable of providing.
They followed protocol by injecting Pitocin directly into the umbilical cord, as well as prepared an IV to administer Pitocin into me directly as well. The midwives kept thinking the placenta was close to coming out and ended up letting me stick around for a little while longer with close monitoring. After one hour, some intense contractions, and way too many abdominal massages, the placenta still wasn't budging. It was time to go to the hospital.
The only downside to going to the hospital was that my husband and baby couldn't come. The baby was still a patient of the birthing center and needed to be fully evaluated and discharged. My husband had to stay with the baby, which left me heading to the hospital alone.
Honestly, I really didn't mind this whole ordeal. Obviously heading to the hospital was extremely necessary for my health and I didn't really have a choice either way, but also leaving my husband and baby behind for the first few hours after birth wasn't that big of a deal to me. I was actually really happy for my husband to have a good bonding opportunity and for me to have a final few hours of alone time before a baby is attached to me for... like 3 years? My toddler still doesn't let me use the bathroom alone without a meltdown.
While we waited for the ambulance to arrive, I called my mom and told her the good news that the baby was born. I also mentioned about the placenta and told her she was welcome to come to the hospital to keep me company there if she would like. In typical mom fashion, she rushed out the door with my son and was there sooner than I even arrived.
The ambulance got to the birth center 7 minutes later and I managed my way onto the stretcher. It should have been a very easy task since I was feeling great, but the hemostat that was keeping the umbilical cord clamped was still attached to me. I'll save you the graphic details, but use your imagination for what this entailed. I was wheeled outside onto the vehicle and got plenty of attention from all the cars passing by.
It was at this point that I realized how terrible it would be to actually be in labor in an ambulance. Maybe the ambulance was just very old and didn't have any shock absorbers; maybe the route they took had more pot-holes than usual, not an unlikely scenario in my city; maybe the ambulance driver was just trying to beat their previous record. Either way, I felt every bump on the road and got jerked and bounced around so much during that 7 minutes ride to the hospital. Contractions are painful enough when confined to a car seat, let alone Pitocin induced contractions while laying on a stretcher.
When the doors opened, I was so excited to be on solid ground again. I was quickly wheeled up to a room. No sooner than I gave my basic information to the nurse, my midwife and their consulting OB were in the room to evaluate the situation. I attribute the ambulance ride to the successful delivery of my placenta, because by the time the OB sat down to take a look, it was literally right there and practically fell out. I was instructed to push once and the placenta came out in one piece.
Thank goodness for an anticlimactic ending.
There were a few large blood clots visible, which can sometimes be mistaken for pieces of the placenta. Just to be safe and to make sure everything was out, the OB essentially took a sterile cloth, reached up, and swabbed the entire uterus.
I needed to stay for 2 hours and receive abdominal massages every half hour, but was told they would prepare my papers and discharge me as quickly as possible afterwards so that I could return to my baby. My mom and the rest of my immediate family had come to the hospital when they heard I had the baby. They were expecting to see the baby, but instead we spent those 2 hours retelling the events of the morning and celebrating an easy delivery. It was nice having some time to finally relax share the excitement.
When I got back to the birth center, I was given the first pain reliever I had all day, some Ibuprofen!
My family picked up some dinner for us on the back to the center, we showed off the baby, and prepared for discharge a few hours later around 7pm. Just as we were about to begin to pack up and leave, the nurse took my vitals one last time and noticed that I had a slightly raised temperature. This was mildly concerning and could indicate an infection, so we needed to stay for one more hour to monitor. The temperature raised another half a degree,
Due to the placenta being attached for so long, and because the umbilical cord was hanging out for a while, there was a small possibility of bacteria travelling up the cord and entering my body. A slightly more likely but still rare scenario would be that the swabbing of the uterus with the cloth opened up another entry point for bacteria. Either way, I was prescribed antibiotics just to be safe and sent home.
My temperature was back to normal the following morning and there were no issues.
My daughter is 8 weeks old now and I loved the entire birth experience. Labor and delivery rarely go as planned, a lesson I learned with my first. I hope everyone can ultimately come to peace with the way things happen.
Has anyone else needed to take an ambulance? Let me know if your ride was as bumpy as mine!