Childbirth can be fairly smooth, complication-free experience. But for some women it's downright terrifying, specially if your baby gets "stuck." Yes, that really is a thing. If you're planning for a vaginal birth know that your baby will more than likely slide down the birth canal without a hitch, but there's a chance that won't be the case. And when a baby gets stuck during active labor, well, panic usually follows. Trust me. Not only have I experienced a "stuck" baby, but I asked other moms to describe what it’s like to get your baby stuck during childbirth. Believe me, you’re going to want to hear some of these stories and be as prepared as possible before those contractions start and things start getting real.
When I was pregnant with my son I was not in the best state of mind. I had lost my daughter just a year prior, and the pregnancy itself was stressful. Toward the end, I wound up opting for a home birth, mistakenly under the assumption that it would improve my odds of having an easy and complication-free, intervention-free birth. I’d read a lot (too much, perhaps) and been influenced by folks who swore up and down that home births were the safest, and that hospital interventions were the leading cause of birth traumas.
So it was an unpleasant surprise when, about 10 hours into my labor, my son got stuck in the birth canal. Try as I might, I was making little-to-no progress in getting him to move. I could feel my baby’s head, but I wasn’t dilating enough for that head to move. So to say I was panicked is an understatement. It was frightening, but also frustrating to feel like I could do this, I should be able to do this, but my body was not cooperating. Eventually I was rushed to the hospital across the street, and the OB-GYN on-call basically reached inside my body and pulled my son out while I pushed with all my might.
That ambulance ride was one of the scariest, most surreal experiences of my life. I was in so much pain I could barely communicate, even though in my mind I was shouting at everyone I saw. In other words, having a baby "stuck" inside my body is not something I’d ever want to experience again. Here's what other moms had to say about their personal labor and delivery experiences:
“Nerve-wracking panic. I had an epidural with my first, and it was too strong so I couldn’t feel anything and wasn’t really pushing right, but she had her arm crossed over her chest. My doctor had to do an episiotomy, but right before that procedure her heart rate dropped (and so did mine) so they said I would’ve had to have a C-section. That scared the crap out of all of us and both our heart rates went back up and after he did the cut she came right out.”
“My daughter got stuck at the shoulders for a bit. Honestly, I didn't really know that until another nurse was called in to push on my belly-area to help her out. Everyone was super casual and upbeat about it, which is great because I didn't get nervous.
I got a little worried when I saw she was languid and gray (since she'd had a rough exit) and wasn't crying but, again, all the professionals were very calm and chill. Within a couple minutes she was fine and already pinking up nicely.”
“It felt like shoulders plus two hands were in my vagina. Really nothing to compare it to, honestly! Good news is I didn't know it wasn't normal for your midwife to need to put two hands in to retrieve the baby until later, when everything was calm and they told me [my son] had shoulder dystocia.”
“My son got stuck during birth. He was jammed in the birth canal and couldn't turn face down. They could see his forehead. I had an epidural so I couldn't feel much of it, but he was stuck there for hours. At one point, he stretched his legs out, trying to stand up inside the womb. That did not feel good at all. It also freaked me out, thinking that he was franticly trying to get out.
After six hours of pushing, he ended up being a C-section baby. Well, a C-section baby with a cone head. During the C-section, I could feel how hard they had to rock my body to get him unstuck.”
“I'm going to tell you what it feels like mentally. My doctors had tried to prevent an early delivery from 27 weeks, that when the time came at 38 weeks to deliver the nurses saw how dilated I was and said, ‘should be quick!’ After 28 hours of labor and three hours of pushing, [my son] was wedged. He was face-up and while my husband saw his hair the entire time he was stuck, no amount of pushing was going to work. After three failed suctions, he was delivered by emergency C-section.
I don't remember the physical pain as much as the emotional. I was incredibly worried for [my son's] safety and, at the same time, I felt like a failure. I blamed myself. Labor and delivery should be the most natural thing, and I couldn't do it. Now, six years later, I realize that is ridiculous thinking. But, at the time I was surrounded by a lot of vocal, overzealous natural birthers who were very critical of C-sections. The events of [my son's] birth and that environment definitely led me to have some baby blues which lasted until at my follow-up when OB-GYN said there was nothing more I could have done.”
“I had an epidural, so I didn't physically feel that he was stuck. Almost exactly 24 hours after being induced, I started to push. I pushed for 45 minutes and was told I was doing a good job, but he wasn't coming out. The doctor said he thought he could get him with forceps. After three failed attempts with forceps, and a resulting tear, the doc said, 'C-section.' I lost it. I started bawling through my oxygen mask. My body has been working for so long, but I'd 'failed' and my body couldn't do what it was supposed to do. Everything was a blur after that. The fact that my baby was 9 lbs 12 oz made me feel a little better. But recovering from an emergency C-section and a tear was an unpleasant double whammy.”
"Like you’re willing to send in an army of men with shields to rip it out of your body."
“Mentally, you feel just as stuck as your baby. With my first and third labors, they had issues descending and then couldn’t get under the pubic bone. Meaning even though I was fully dilated, I had to push for eight hours between the two of them. Physically, the exhaustion is worse than any of the pain (and I experienced back labor with both, so the pain was off the charts). You feel like it will never end, but you have to keep moving and keep breathing and keep pushing.”
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