Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mom's Birth Stories: First of Eleven

The following is my Mom's first birth story, set in 1972 (she was almost 23 years old at the time).  For a little background, check out my first post about this new series, Mom's Birth Stories.

Her story is broken into 4 sections: Pregnancy, Labour and Delivery, Breastfeeding and Reflections. I have also provided some of my comments and reflections at the end.

Our plan was to have our first child when I had completed two years of teaching elementary school and have my permanent certificate in hand for possible future use. Little did we know then that (my Husband) would start a new job and so we weren’t very prepared financially to begin a family, but begin we did.

We were both so happy to find out that the following month I became pregnant. My Husband wanted me to have a small girl so as to have an easy first birth, but I was hoping for a boy to carry on the family name. During the first couple of months I felt nauseated in the mornings but never to the point of vomiting. 

A scary time was at 6 months pregnant while wall papering my living room. I had been climbing on and off a chair. I started to bleed (spotting) so I contacted my Doctor and he ordered bed rest for three days. My mother-in law came over and told me of her miscarriages (to prepare me for the worst I guess), but it made me worry more. All was well and I learned a valuable lesson on what I should and should not do.

Labour and Delivery
My due date was September 29th, 1972 according to the wheel. I learned later to monitor my cycle and discovered that I ovulated a week later most months so he was right on time as far as I’m concerned. Baby Boy #1 arrived on October 5th at 11:15pm weighing 7 lbs 10 1/2 oz. My labour length was 8 hours. 

He was the only one born in a Catholic Hospital because they moved the maternity ward to the General Hospital by the time I had my second 16 months later. The nurses were great at the Catholic Hospital and seemed to have more time to be with me. Back then, the Father was not allowed in the delivery room. The practice then was to shave the pubic area and give an enema while in labour to prepare for delivery. One nurse held my hand and coached me through the birth like a mother (my Mom had died the year before). I was surprised to see my legs shaking uncontrollably when the doctor asked me to put them up on the stirrups (nerves I guess). The nurse put warmed up flannel sheets next to me (maybe she thought I was shivering?). The delivery was painful and the nurse told me she was going to give me something to relax me. I didn’t know any better at the time and I wasn’t prepared to discuss their reasoning so in my thigh went a needle and some Demerol . I understand it’s banned now? My doctor was accustomed to giving episiodomies so I had a small one (few stitches). It wasn’t too uncomfortable (I think he gave me a local anesthetic).

Hospital stay was 5 days which was standard at that time. I had to have a bowel movement before I was allowed to go home and of course waterwroks had to be working well too.

Breastfeeding was introduced on the next day and it went well. Scheduled feedings every 4 hours were recommended and actually worked for this easy baby. While baby was in the nursery and while I was sleeping, he was given sugar water.

Advice given in the hospital: Some babies sleep a lot so keep trying and don’t let baby nurse too long or you’ll get cracked nipples. Do not wash your nipples after each feeding, but allow them to air dry and let your breast milk keep them moist.

Baby #1 was breastfed for 6 months as which time the Doctor recommended weaning.

I didn't know how to do it gradually and he didn't tell me so I quit cold turkey and that was a little sore, but no real problems. I sure was a "green horn" and too shy to ask for more information then.

Mom's Reflections
The best part of this pregnancy was delivering a healthy baby after only gaining 16 pounds and feeling well most of the time with a quick recovery after the birth. The worst part was not being able to share the labour and delivery with my Husband, the pain during the intense labour and delivery and not having my baby in the room with me. I had to go to the nursery and see him through the glass. They only brought him to me for scheduled feedings. 

I didn’t really have a birth plan accept that I would listen to the doctor and not take anything that would jeopardize my child’s health. In later pregnancies I would be more confident to make decisions on my own. This birth experience made me a happier, extremely grateful and humbler person because I had a lot to learn, a huge important responsibility and a lot to look forward too.

My Reflections
Wow, how times have changed AND stayed the same in 39 years! I really enjoyed going through this first story with my Mom and learning everything she has gone through. 

  • I had to laugh at how kind hearted my Dad was in hoping Mom would have a small girl for her first birth. 
Labour and Delivery
  • I couldn't even imagine not having my Husband or anyone I trusted by my side during labour. I am grateful for the nurse my Mom had that day.
  • I couldn't even imagine going through pregnancy, birth and new motherhood without a Mom to support and assist me with all my questions.
  • Thank god the shaving, enema and episiotomies aren't standard or normal practices in most Hospital's anymore.
  • I can't believe they used to send babies off to a nursery away from their Mothers. Mom said it was very stressful not knowing if your baby was okay. It almost felt unreal that she was a Mother because she didn't have a baby to hold. Now,  immediate skin to skin and introducing breastfeeding within the first hour is highly recommended.
  • Sugar water was given between feedings - yikes!
  • We know so much now about on-demand breastfeeding. I can't believe that this 4 hour schedule actually worked for my Mom. She said she was lucky to have a happy baby that stuck to the schedule once she went home. I was lucky to have 2 hours between feedings with E!
  • The breastfeeding advice she received in the hospital is still somewhat relevant today.
  • The Doctor recommended she wean her first son at 6 months old. Now, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended until 6 months (at which time solids are introduced) and continued until 2 years old.
  • I had to look up "green horn" which actually means inexperienced and immature. I feel terrible for her that she stopped breastfeeding so quickly (ouch!) and grateful that she didn't have any serious issues or mastitis because of this.
Looking forward to hearing more about how she grew to make more decisions on her own and how she learned from her previous experiences!


  1. That's a great story! Thanks for sharing. The hardest thing for me to read was definitely the baby being in the nursery. How long was your mom in the hospital? I remember my husband's mother in law telling me a few years ago that when she had her babies, it was customary to stay in the hospital for two weeks. Two weeks of barely holding your baby! Crazy.

  2. Very interesting attractive post regarding mom's birth thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks for the heads up Lynn! I edited it to show the length of days in hospital - 5 then! I just had to ask her because I forgot about that part!