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pain management

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Birth induction methods you may (not) want to try


a glass of wine may help

It was exactly this time during my first pregnancy that I gave birth to Tru. 38 weeks on the dot. But that was a c-section so I could pick an auspicious date to give birth. Waiting for the contractions to kick in is totally different. I feel so powerless. I’ve got my baby bag and all the baby stuff all ready and packed and it’s like waiting for Santa Claus to appear on Christmas eve. The anticipation is killing me. It’s my control-freak nature kicking in and I  just need to know exactly when it’s gonna happen.

Apparently for VBAC, a medical induction of labor increases the chance of womb rupture so it’s off limits. But I hear there are a few ways to induce birth and give the baby a little push as it were. It’s called ripening the cervix (it’s true!)

1. Acupuncture

It’s a tried and tested method by the Chinese and it’s supposed to be highly effective. Back when women used to bind their feet and slice off their pinkies, they realized that somehow jabbing a bunch of needles into various parts of the body triggers the contractions. It’s ingenious, don’t you think?

But seeing that pain avoidance is one of my life’s goals, acupuncture is in my list of Top 10 things NOT to do before I die (along with bungee jumping and eating fire).

2. Castor Oil

It’s a quick and painless method. Just take a few spoonfuls of it neat and wait a few minutes for it to take effect. It’s primarily a laxative, so there’s that nasty side effect where you lose all control of your bowels and start crapping involuntarily. It’s probably good if you hate the gynae/nurse and want to use it as a way to give them nightmares for days.

There’s no guarantee that it will work though, so you may just end up with a severe case of diarrhea.

3. Walking

This sounds pretty harmless. How it works is that it puts pressure on the cervix, causing it to dilate. Anyway it’s the kind of thing you can try without worrying about nasty side effects.

4. Nipple Stimulation

Touted as one of the most effective methods of natural induction, it’s definitely one of the most wildly popular. Mostly because no dude will turn down an invitation to engage in some nipple stimulation – “Boom-chica-wow-wow”.

But seriously, this causes a release of oxytocin, which causes contractions and lead to labor. (See, I’m not a total airhead, I actually know words like oxytocin)

5. Sexytime

As they say, what gets it in also gets it out. (who says that kind of thing anyway?) This is the next most popular method of birth induction, following closely behind the nipple stimulation.

The difference is, while most women are willing to tolerate some mild discomfort to the boobs, certain invasive methods at 38 weeks of pregnancy are too much of a hassle. There’s also the whole foreplay thing to contend with, and by the time there’s any action, you’re way too exhausted for the time to be the least bit sexy. And the focus is to get something out of there, not put something in, if you get what I mean.

I suppose the best thing to do is to sit around and wait till the baby is good and ready to come out. There’s a Chinese saying that goes something like “When the fruit is ready, it will fall off the vine”. Meaning that there’s no point rushing nature, cos all you’re going to end up with is an unripe fruit. Don’t ask me what that means. It’s too deep for my 38-week-pregnant brain.

If it’s up to me, Kirsten will be born on the 4th of July. So who knows, there might be some serious action on the 3rd. Woohoo!

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Labour Pain Relief Measures

Yesterday was one of my final few visits to the gynae. Kirsten is doing well. She says hi, but I shan’t bore you with more ultrasound pics that look exactly the same as the last one. Anyway, it was time to discuss my birthing plan and decide on pain management options during the labor.

When Tru was born, I didn’t have to go through the whole labor process. I was at the gynae’s office for a routine check in the morning and decided on that day to have the c-section at 5 in the evening. No bursting of water bag, no contractions, none of that drama that makes the whole process so exciting. The only thing even mildly interesting was the fact that I snuck out for a final decent meal despite being told that I wasn’t supposed to eat before the surgery. I couldn’t bear the thought of not having real food for the next month without any mental preparation.

The experience was rather sterile actually. I was given an epidural to numb the nerves from waist down (which HURT LIKE CRAZY) and after that, I pretty much just stared at the lights above the operating table while the OBGYN did his thing.

This time, I’m determined to go experience what it’s like to push a child out from my va-jay-jay and do the whole crazy woman scream with sweat pouring down my face thing. It’ll be so much more fun.

So the birthing plan goes like this. When the water bag bursts and I start contracting, I’m going to take a shower, wash my hair, grab some ice-cream, drop Tru at my mom’s place and then fly down to the hospital. The moment I get in, I’m start hollering for an epidural (when else can I get away with screaming at people just for the fun of it?) and demand for ice chips, magazines and my Nintendo DS. With the epi, it’s practically a walk in the park after that. I only hope I don’t poop on the table.

Props to the gynae for keeping a straight face when he heard my plan. And double props for actually agreeing to go along. He says it’s my delivery, I should get to do it my way, as long as I don’t insist on giving birth at home.

He did however, ask me to consider the various pain management options before I decide. So I’m considering.


and the greatest of silent birth

1. Deep breathing.

Seriously. Deep breathing. The only way breathing is going to take away any pain is if I take a deep breath and hold it in forever. Then I might pass out and die and feel no pain. Other than that, deep breathing is rubbish. I did hear some new age, mind-over-matter techniques that can reduce pain. You’re supposed to take deep breaths, close your eyes and imagine your cervix opening up like a flower. Yeah, right.

2. Laughing gas.


its funny, i'm in so much pain but i don't seem to care?

There’s nothing funny about it though. The effect is like smoking weed – it makes you high and you can then actually imagine your cervix opening up like a flower. Or a butterfly. Or the mouth of a giant T-rex eating up half of Singapore. The thing is, some say it doesn’t actually block the pain, it just makes your brain a little fuzzy in the hope that the pain signals get all mixed up and gets sent to your big toe instead of your cerebral cortex. Except that when it doesn’t work, you end up being high and in a lot of pain. Not a good combination.

3. Epidural


the epidural needle, actual size

This is the only method that is guaranteed to take away the pain. But to administer the epidural hurts big time. They have to inject a tube into the spine in order to pump in the meds, so at the end of the day, it’s a matter of using pain to counteract the pain. But once it kicks in, you can practically chill out, have a cuppa and read a book while your cervix will take its time to open up like a flower without having to imagine it into existence.

I’ve got a fourth method which I’ve worked out with the husband. After I get to the hospital, he’s supposed to knock me out with a small dose of chloroform and pretend that I’m asleep while the doctor administers the epi. Once it’s all good, I’ll wake up and deliver Kirsten without any pain at all. We’re still in the process of determining the right amount of chloroform to use. The last trial run, I was out for 2 days, so we’ll probably have to dilute it a bit more.

Just make sure you don’t try this at home.