After Ethan was born, it took about 45 minutes for my placenta to detach and be birthed. Shortly after that I began to hemorrhage. We are not certain what prompted the hemorrhage, although we have our suspicions. For one thing I remained in the tub for a long time, rather than getting out… warmth of water may have triggered it, although that seems unlikely to me. The more likely culprit was no strong massage right after birth of placenta since I was still in the tub. Contrary to what many books say, I was not anemic. I had a hemoglobin level of around 14.4 throughout most of my pregnancy. I normally operate at a high level. To give you an idea of how much blood I lost; a week later my blood levels tested at 8.1… so I am certain I was in the 7s or lower directly after birth. What ever it was… it was low. The hospitals give transfusions in the 7s since a reading of 10 is considered anemic. If I would have been at the hospital I know they would have intervened and given me a transfusion, which has its own set of complications.
I don’t remember much about the three hours after the placenta was birthed. It felt like 10 minutes to me. Apparently, I never lost consciousness, although I don’t remember much. I remember my vision going in and out, losing eye sight in one eye completely (blacked out), feeling dizzy and sick to my stomach, but most of my focus was on the intense contractions or after birth cramps that were helping me birth huge clots. I know this is grouse, sorry. I just feel as though I wasn’t prepared for this b/c most of the books I had read usually mention postpartum hemorrhage as being an issue if you are anemic, so I never was concerned. I am sharing so that people are aware that this can happen to anyone at any point. My midwives both assured me it was very random and that they see these kind of hemorrhages 20% of the time.
After I came home, things were a lot harder than I expected. And I have really struggled at times with this. I will share on this in a different post. I continued to have intense after birth cramps even though my uterus was back down and firm. The next weekend I ended up going to the hospital bc one lasted 38 minutes long and I had a fever. The did exams, ultrasounds, and blood work and wanted to give me antibiotics for the few clots that were still there, but my midwives convinced them they would work themselves out on there own and they sent me home. Relieved I didn’t have a membrane from the placentas caught up in my uterus (that causes infection), we went home. A few hours later I did pass a big 1/4 cup clot. Aside from the cramps and clots, I was dizzy every time I stood up and my feet would swell if I sat up in a chair or stood for longer than five minutes. This was clearly going to be a longer recovery. =(
Here were some of my questions- My hope is that this can be educational for those of us still in our birthing years.
Does a postpartum hemorrhage mean you will stay anemic?
Not at all! Even though my blood levels were reading low… it doesn’t mean I will be anemic in the future. Not even for future births, if we are blessed with more. All it means is that I will have to continue the iron supplements and treatment my midwives suggested until my blood levels are back to my normal. My midwives have been at births with mothers who had a bad hemorrhage and then went on to barely bleed at all after another baby. It really is that random.
I just need to work on building red blood cells back.
Do I regret having had the baby at the birth center rather than at home or at the hospital? This was the right decision for us, for this pregnancy. I am very sensitive to this subject because I feel like there are 2 side of the road on this issue. There are those who only have hospital births and always plan on getting the epidural because “why would you experience pain when you don;t have to.” Then there are those on the other side of the road who think that you are more “spiritual” and trust God more if you have only home births. These people also contend that God can only be present in a home for a home birth. I land in the median really. I don’t think it is our right to judge anyone either way. I have had both hospital births and water birth center births, no home births yet… however… I have experienced God at all of them. Some have been more “spiritual” than others for sure and they were all different, but God can be in a hospital and if you are giving it to God he can use you to witness to people there (nurses, doctors, etc…), that is the same for a birth center, although I have found it easier to find like minded people at them. My prayer is that more people in the Christian community begin to be in the median. Not judging, but looking to find God in the experience. Dedicating and preparing for the birth just as you would a wedding. It is one of the most intense experiences a woman can ever encounter. It is physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually challenging, and it is natural. God designed our bodies to give birth. Yes sometimes things do go wrong, but God is in control. Our responsibility is not to play dumb, but to take action and prepare for what could happen but walk in faith, trying to give control to the Lord in all our ways. What ever that means for each of us individually will look different, but we who give birth are all sisters in that God created us with a womb. To give birth!
We had been praying about this issue a lot over the course of my pregnancy. I had desired to have a home birth since my forth pregnancy, but when I had complications with my back last January -March that dream died. I had doctors recommending a scheduled cesarean, but in my heart I didn’t trust their diagnosis. If I would have had a cesarean and had a “bad bleed” who know how the recovery would have gone? I might not have had the hemorrhage, we will never know. What I do know is that after much prayer and meditation over the issue, the Lord seemed to raise me up and comfort me from much of my pain. The Neurosurgeon had told us to expect my back to get worse in the 3rd trimester and that I may need to be on bed rest again then. To our amazement in the Lord, I was able to function at a partially normal level. Yes, I still had massive back pain, but not like before. Yes, I could not bend or lift or take care of my family the way I normally did, but God provided 2 sweet girls to minister to our family coming on board to help us out for this season. Plus our own children really rose up and began to take on more responsibility. So in faith we trusted that my back would be ok and proceeded to go to Andaluz, knowing that it was just 3 minutes from OHSU.
My midwives were awesome, I am so glad I was at Andaluz. They were so calm b/c they had dealt with this so many times before. They were prepared with pitocin and IVs; however, I was having intense cramping already and wasn’t really in need of pitocin. As far as an IV goes. That would have routine at the hospital, but bc I was already swelling up in my legs and around my eyes… my midwives decided it would have been worse for me bc I most likely would have puffed up everywhere retaining water. They gave me protein & fruit smoothies with herbs right away, Cramp Bark tincture, heating pad for my back and hot water bottle for my uterus and started me on Chlorophyll & iron supplements. I doubt I would have gotten such careful, sensitive care, with all the more natural supplements at the hospital. I think I might have been scared at home, maybe even panicked. I know that no amount of birthing books would have “trained” Isaac and I for what we encountered, so I am very thankful that I didn’t birth at home. Plus what a mess! We wouldn’t have been prepared for that and I most likely would have transported to the hospital if we were at home.
So yes I am so glad to have been where I was, with whom I was there with. I am so impressed with Andaluz Waterbirth center… they have now handled 2 extreme issues with me in my past 2 births so well. Luke was posterior and nearly 10 lbs- big guy… bc of their expertise his head was beautiful and the birth was only 4 hours long with no interventions (vacuum). Now this post partum hemorrhage.
I am also so thankful to the Lord for leading us to this decision for this particular birth. He was so present and I did get to have one of the best birth experiences I ever have. It was incredible and my faith has been strengthened!
So what am I doing to Build Blood Cells? I drink a mixture of Coconut MIlk with ChlorOxygen (chlorophyll concentrate) to build red blood cells -2 times per day, I also take 10ml of an iron & herb suppliment called Floradix before every meal ( both of these are found at New Seasons). I also take iron suppliment (pills), prenatals, a Calcium, Mag & Potassium suppliment at night bc Magnesium and Iron fight for minerals when digesting. My diet has been largely red meat and green leafy veggies until recently. Kelsey has been juicing Kale, spinach, along with yummy fruits to help me as well. A friend of ours also brought us Amaranth (pig-weed), which we sauteed with Kale and chard until it was gone! I have also been drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea since about 4 -5 weeks before I gave birth. I believe it really helped in making the delivery easier and it is known as being the woman’s womb tea.
Amaranth and Alfalfa have the highest levels of iron than any other veggie!
I will post about her yummy Kale Scramble another day!