No amount of Lamaze breathing distracted me from the intensity of the feeling that the lower part of my body was in the grip of a vise. At one point, I looked at the clock and saw that it was 11:15 A.M. What I recall thinking was, "If this goes on for another fifteen minutes, I'm going to need an epidural anesthetic." I didn't know that I was in transition—the part of labor that is most intense, just before the cervix becomes fully dilated. Within the next twelve minutes I suddenly felt the urge to push. It was the most powerful bodily sensation I've ever felt, and I was powerless to resist it. The thought flashed through my mind, "If I ever tell another woman not to push when every fiber in her body tells her to push, may God strike me with lightning!"
In two pushes, Ann almost flew out of my body. My obstetrician quite literally caught her. Though I was laboring in the "birthing room," I wasn't laboring in the "correct" delivery bed, and I barely made it to the delivery bed in time. (Birthing rooms now are equipped with beds that adjust for delivery of the baby, so that moving from one bed to another isn't necessary.)
Ann cried and cried, and though I put her to my breast almost immediately, it still took quite a while to calm her down. I believe this was because the Pitocin made for a far too rapid second stage of labor. It was too intense both for Ann and for me. Neither she nor I had much chance to recover between contractions.
A primiparous patient—one having her first baby—usually takes an hour or more to push the baby out. From the time the cervix is fully dilated to delivery—the second stage of labor—I went from six centimeters to delivery in less than one hour; my uterus was being pushed by a powerful drug, a very intense and distinctly unnatural experience.
To this day, my daughter is not particularly "at home" in her body and is afraid to take physical risks, for instance in skiing or hiking. Though there are various reasons for this, I know deep within me that being propelled into the world with so little time to accommodate herself to the process of labor was a terrifying experience for her.
Dr. Northrup's advice for stressed-out moms