Today I had the most amazing experience of witnessing not one, but TWO natural births while shadowing Dr. Nwynn, an OBGYN doctor, in labor and delivery.
Being able to see first-hand the miracle of birth is so special. I don’t even know where to begin with recounting the experience! I guess I should mention that it’s not the doctors who deliver the baby- it’s the midwife. Doctors usually deliver the baby only if there is a complication with either mother or baby, which happened in the second birth I saw today.
Starting with some facts: in order for the baby to make its way into the world, the mother’s cervix must be both 100% effaced and dilated to the maximum 10 cm. Effacement is where the cervix stretches and gets thinner to the point where you cannot see it anymore. Fun fact: throughout the pregnancy, the cervix has been closed and protected by a plug of mucus; when the cervix effaces, this mucus plug is loosened and passes out of the mommy’s jay-jay. This discharge is commonly referred to as “show”, or “bloody show”. Dilation is where the cervix opens to allow the passage of the baby from the uterus. These two processes- effacement and dilation- comprise the first stage of labor. The second stage of labor lasts from complete dilation until baby is born.
When the first mother’s cervix had completely dilated, all the doctors and nurses were SUPER happy and started cheering!!
Then came the actual birth process. The midwives/nurses wanted me to assist with the birth, which was really awesome. Basically, when the mother experienced contractions and had to push, I helped with pushing one of her legs in towards her chest to make the pushing action easier and more effective. The mother only pushes when she experiences a contraction, or the periodic tightening and relaxing of the uterine muscle. Contractions come in waves, so delivering a baby is largely a waiting game, since the time interval between contractions may vary in length.
Honestly, when I walked into that room, I was expecting a lot of screaming and swearing and cries of pain. To my relief, though, there was none of that. None. Rather, when the moms had contractions and had to push, it looked/sounded like a really bad case of constipation (you all know what I mean). Hollywood most likely over-sensationalizes the process of labor… or maybe the two women I saw today just had relatively easy labors.
The first baby, Emma, was born after an hour and ten minutes of pushing. Considering that this was mommy’s first birth, the duration of pushing is considered good- first-time mothers can push for up to 4 hours! Emma is a very healthy and beautiful baby girl, weighing in at 7 pounds, 13.6 ounces. She got her mommy’s dark Asian hair and her daddy’s light Caucasian skin. The parents actually had three names picked out before Emma came out, and only decided on naming her “Emma” when they saw her face. The other name they were choosing from when they saw her face was “Korina”, but I definitely like the name Emma more. When Emma’s entire head popped out, her body flew out immediately. That’s something I noticed in both labors- the hardest part is getting the head out of the vagina; after the head is out, the body follows easily from all the lubrication. Speaking of lubrication, during the labor, the midwife would pour this mineral oil and gel all around the birth canal to make the passage of the baby smoother. Just a fun fact.
Actually being there to witness the baby gradually emerging into this world, the parents’ tears of joy, the baby’s first cries- it was a priceless experience. I feel so incredibly lucky to have been a part of it.
Gosh, I have so much more to say about today, which is why I’m gonna end here and make a new post for pt. 2: everything I want to recount to you guys but have yet to do so 😉