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I am a huge advocate of home birth and think it is fantastic. Both of my children were planned home births (neither were actually born at home though – that’s a whole other blog post!), but the more I work in the birth field, the more I am becoming convinced that it is not the actual place of birth that matters. It’s what and who is in your birthing space that has the strongest influence. Birthing in a hospital does pose some challenges to achieving a natural birth (if desired), but contrary to popular belief, it IS possible to have a good, enjoyable, and drug-free birth in a hospital setting.

 The Birthing Space

In my opinion, the absolute most important thing to consider is your birthing space. Feeling safe and comfortable plays such an important role in your body’s reaction to labor, and your environment has a lot to do with how you feel. So take the time to plan how you want to personalize your birthing room at the hospital. Always remember that you can control most environments and make them as birth friendly as possible. Whatever and wherever your original plan, it is always possible to retain some control over your birth environment. Lighting is key! Hardly any hospital rooms have birthing friendly lighting. Bright lights are a huge inhibitor of labor progress, which is why most women prefer a dimly lit environment to birth in.  In hospital rooms you are unable to light candles (compressed gas!) and so I love using of battery operated candles. So shut the blinds, dim the lights, and scattered some battery operated candles around the room to get that oxytocin flowing!
Play some tunes – My husband’s main job during labor was to be my DJ! I found music so relaxing. It helped me tune out all of the hospital hustle and bustle around me.  Some mamas-to-be make a ‘labour playlist’ containing their favourite songs. They don’t all have to be relaxing, either. Play whatever music will help you feel comfortable. I have even had some doula clients who preferred to play sounds, such as rainfall or crickets.
Get rid of that ‘hospital smell’ – Our sense of smell is closely related to our memory. This can work either for or against us. The smell of medical equipment, antiseptic and latex gloves can bring up unpleasant feelings for some us, which in turn can slow labor and increase pain levels. Whereas the smell of plants, flowers, the ocean and the smell of our home can all encourage us to relax and feel good. So, consider bringing some aromatherapy with you (but first make sure that you are not birthing in a ‘scent-free’ hospital). Ask for the staff to respect your privacy – The feeling of safety and privacy is so important when you are in the birthing process. Consider asking for the staff to enter the room as minimally as possible, and to limit vaginal checks. I’m sure you can imagine that an unfamiliar doctor entering the room, turning on the lights, and sticking his/her hand up into your cervix is not particularly beneficial to the birth process!

Stay Mobile

Don’t confine yourself to the hospital bed. If you require an IV, or need to be monitored continuously, there are lots of positions that you can try! I have been to many births where the nurse tries to convince the laboring mom that she MUST stay in bed because of the monitors. This is simply not true. Sitting on a birth ball and leaning on bed, hands and knees on bed, or standing up and leaning on bed are all positions you can try while trying to stay close to the bed/monitor. Being in the hospital also doesn’t mean you need to birth on your back. Speak to your caregiver in advance about other positions that they may be comfortable with, including hands and knees on the bed and squatting using squat bar.

Don’t Arrive at the Hospital Too Early

Early labor often moves slowly, and also starts and stops. Being at the hospital before active labor is established might make it more likely that your labor is augmented. Induction agents are so commonly used today, even for women already in labor.  If you want to avoid them, then you may want to get some of your dilation out of the way at home, where you can move freely and are not on the hospital's schedule. 

Be an Informed Birth Consumer

Though it may not often seem so, birth is a consumer issue. When speaking about their experiences with labor and birth, it is very common to hear women say, “they won’t *let* me do that”. Some women seem to have forgotten that they are customers receiving a service, hiring a service provider, not a boss. YOU are the expert on your body, your labor, your birth, and your baby. The rest are paid consultants, not experts whose opinions, ideas, and preferences override your own. You might frequently feel comfortable with your doctor’s recommendation, but if you don’t, remember your right to informed CHOICE.

Tackle Perceptions, Concerns & Fears

You may have fears about going to the hospital and the routines that may come with that birth location. You may feel as though these are the very things that may get in the way of you having an enjoyable experience. I can empathize with that worry (as I was once in your shoes) but want to encourage you by saying that when you are well prepared and educated, you will be able to negotiate, avoid or adjust to many of these procedures. It is important that you talk through your concerns with your partner, doula and care provider before your birth.

Be Supported

Whether you are at home or in the hospital, being surrounded by those that allow you to feel comfortable and uninhibited during labor is key. Consider hiring a doula! Doulas are not for everybody, but they can really help both mom and dad have a better hospital birth. Even when you have prepared for birth with a birth class, a doula can help you remember what you have learned. If you want your partner to be your main source of comfort, you can always talk to the doula about helping him, help you.  Labor can be long, and an extra pair of hands can be really helpful. If you don’t want a doula for one reason or another, consider asking your mom, sister or friend to be that extra support.

Published in Birthing Places




I had been having Braxton-hick for weeks. I never had them with my first so this was a whole new experience for me. I could feel her powerful kicks, and I knew she was strong. I talked to her often, telling her how excited I was for her to join our family. I started eating dates every day, and drinking Third-Trimester Tea. I was anxious about having yet another hospital birth, and even debated a last minute “unplanned” unassisted. But after much prayer, conversation, and thought, I decided it would be best for us to go ahead and go to the hospital. Michael promised me with the next baby, he would do everything in his power to make a homebirth happen. I knew I had to trust God to be my protector in the labor room, to be my Great Physician and Shepherd who would help, guide and protect me through the birthing process.

Friday morning, just over a week before her guess-date, I woke up around 3 am with fairly consistent contractions. I waited until Michael got up for work at 6 to tell him. He went on to work, and I made some tea and started getting things ready. I called my neighbor and friend who would be watching John, my oldest. After a while, the contractions tapered off. Disappointed, I walked the mile into town, hoping to kick-start labor again. While at my favorite thrift store, I ran into an acquaintance who’s wife was also pregnant. He shared with me that their baby girl had been born a few days earlier, in a beautiful unplanned unassisted birth. I was so encouraged and inspired by his story I almost didn’t mind that my labor seemed to have stopped.

 The contractions didn’t pick up that day, or the next. I tried not to be too disappointed and to make sure I really did have everything together and ready to go. I had been checking my cervix through my third trimester, and I was dilated to maybe a three and losing lots of clear mucous. I continued snacking on dates and red raspberry leaf tea. I knew it would soon.

Sunday morning around 1am I woke up to contractions about 7 min apart. I had to get on my knees in bed and quietly moan through them. I woke up Michael to let him know. We started to get everything together. I texted my doula and let her know what was happening. Around 5am the three of us decided it was time to make the drive. The contractions were about 5 minutes apart, and the hospital was a good hour and twenty minutes away, so we didn’t want to wait till the last minute. We woke up our neighbors and dropped off John. I was excited, but anxious as well.

Once in the car, the contractions stopped. I would have the odd one here or there, but nothing consistent like before. We stopped at a coffee shop so I could have some breakfast before we got the hospital, knowing we’d have to fight ridiculous “no solid food” rules once we got there. I had a couple strong rushes while we were there, but once again they stalled in the car. When we finally got to the hospital, we decided not to go into the labor ward right away. Instead, we walked the hospital grounds in the early morning light. We hung out in the hospital lobby. My doula had decided to wait before meeting us at the hospital, in case the contractions didn’t pick up again.

Finally I told Michael we should leave. Maybe I was just anxious about being at the hospital, and thought leaving would help. We went to a drugstore for some eye drops, a restaurant for some more food, and then tried to get a hotel room. Since it was still so early in the morning, they wanted to charge us for two nights. We decided against it. It was now about 7am and I had been awake for 6 hours with almost no sleep before that. We pulled into a park so I could lie in the back of the car and rest. After about ten minutes I decided this was stupid, labor had obviously stalled, and we just needed to go home. As we headed back up the hill, my contractions started again. I laughed at the irony. This baby just wanted to be born at home!

I picked up John from my friend’s house and walked home. Michael went to work to finish up a few things. I felt silly and stupid for having a “false alarm” like that. As John had been awake since we dropped him off that morning, we both laid down for a nap. I had a few more contractions but nothing I couldn’t sleep through.

Then around 11am they started to pick up again. I was annoyed. Couldn’t my body just make up its mind?! The contractions were very inconsistent. After consulting with my doula friends online, I decided not to encourage labor at this point. I took a warm shower and just tried to relax. No pressure points, no walking, just lots of water and rest, a Tylenol and a hot shower. The contractions remained consistently inconsistent. 12 minutes apart. 7 minutes apart. 10 minutes apart. 5 minutes apart. Michael came home, and he sat on the couch while I knelt over the birthing ball, just trying to relax. He would rub my back during contractions, and encourage John to help him.

Around 3pm I decided to go lay down again. I had to moan through contractions, and they were almost unbearable without Michael rubbing my lower back. But they were still so inconsistent. They definitely weren’t following a pattern of getting stronger and closer together. I had my parents on standby, as they had a six-hour drive ahead of them, I doubted they would make it in time for the birth. Then, at one point, I looked up to see John throwing up all over the floor. What?! He suddenly had diarrhea too! I called my mom and asked if they could come down. It could still be a few days before the baby came, but I didn’t want to have to send a sick kid to the neighbor’s house! Nor take care of one by myself in prodromal labor. So they packed up and started the journey down, not a moment too soon.

I texted my doula and asked her to come over so she could work on my back and give Michael a break. I decided to take another shower in the mean time to calm the contractions. I checked my cervix again, and it was still very high. So high I couldn’t tell how far dilated I was. But, I could touch her head! I had been having bloody show all day, so I knew my plug was gone, but thankfully my water was still intact. As I undressed in the bathroom, I happened to glance in the mirror and see a purple line on my lower back. “No way!” I thought. A purple line running up the butt crack is a sign of dilation. Once the line reaches the top of the butt, it signals that the cervix is at 10 cm. But I couldn’t be at 10cm already, could I? The contractions had been so inconsistent, and I didn’t feel like I was in transition, mentally or physically.

I stepped in the shower and tried to just relax. As another wave came over me, I heard myself pray, “Oh God, please let Michael forgive me for what I’m about to do!” That made me pause. What was I about to do? Suddenly I realized, “I’m going to have this baby right now!” I could feel her moving lower and lower into my pelvis. I stayed in the shower till all the hot water ran out, filled with doubt about going to the hospital still, half hoping that she would suddenly come and I would get my accidental freebirth.

I got out of the shower, and realized I couldn’t stand by myself during contractions. I had to lean on Michael and sway. My knees gave out with each surge, and they left me feeling weak and nauseous. They had all of a sudden jumped to three minutes apart, consistently. Michael asked if I wanted to go back to the hospital again. I was scared. I didn’t want another false alarm. It was such a waste of gas and everybody’s time! After Michael reassured me it was ok, we would make the drive 20 times if we had to, I agreed to go.

Getting in the car was the last thing I wanted to do at this point, and I was genuinely concerned we might have a roadside baby. But we called our neighbor to come get John again, and texted our doula and my parents to let them know what was going on. I found out later our doula was almost to our house, so she just turned around and followed us down. Thankfully the contractions slowed down in the car again, but stayed regular. I felt like there was a baseball between my legs the whole time. And of course, we hit every red light along the way.

At one point, as I felt another surge building, I said out loud “I don’t want to do another one!” Michael rubbed my hand, which helped distract from the sensations in my belly. But that contraction was definitely harder. I knew I had to keep a positive attitude. “Just one more,” I kept thinking. “I can do anything for 1 minute.”

We finally arrived at the hospital. Since it was after 6pm we had to go in through the ER. I had to fill out some forms, even though I was preregistered. They called for a wheelchair. I explained I didn’t need one, I didn’t want to sit down anyways, but the aide insisted she would get in trouble if she didn’t bring me up with a wheelchair. I told her she was welcome to bring the wheelchair with us, but I was not sitting down. We used it to bring up the luggage.

Once in triage, I changed into the hospital gown. I was too tired to protest or care at that point. I sighed and resigned myself to lie down on the monitors. It was awful lying down like that. When the nurse left, I turned to Michael and whimpered, “I hate this. I wouldn’t have to do this if we were at home.” He had already promised me our next baby would be a home birth, but that didn’t make this hospital birth any easier.

The on-call midwife finally came in to check me. I was only 6cm. I was so disappointed. I realize now that I had likely closed up from being in the car and at the hospital, and I probably was 10cm at home. But at the time I was only 6cm, and felt so discouraged. I didn’t even have an idea of how much longer we’d be there before she was born. The midwife informed me of my GBS positive status, which I knew about already, and mention the routine antibiotics. I told her I was familiar with the risks and had decided to forgo treatment. After a brief lecture, I was finally shown to a labor/birth room.

Once we were alone in the room, Michael asked me if I would reconsider the antibiotics. He had known my plans before hand, but hearing the midwife’s lecture had made him nervous. I agreed to go ahead and get treatment. I had been on the fence about denying the antibiotics anyways, so his request was all I needed to hear. We told my nurse we had changed our minds, and she went to tell the midwife, and also let my doula in. My doula instantly set up shop, setting up a diffuser with lavender essential oil and getting out her labor balls to massage my back. She also had some peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball, which really helped with the nausea I was feeling after each surge.

The nurse had asked me to lie back down on the monitors for a few minutes. I asked if we could wait till after the next contractions. She agreed and went about her business, setting up equipment and preparing the IV. Since she was so busy, I decided to stay standing up until she asked me to lie down again. She put the IV in my hand while I was leaning against Michael and my doula was rubbing my back. I stayed like that for a while, with Michael and my doula taking turns rubbing my back and being my support. As it turned out, I never did end up going back on the monitors.

Finally my mom showed up. My dad had dropped her off and gone on up to our house to pick up John. It was very special for me to have my mom there. She had offered to be there when John was born, but since I was laboring all night I felt bad and told her to go home. Now I realized how much it meant to both of us to have her there. My mom has always been a huge advocate of natural childbirth, having herself used the Bradley method. I have learned so much from her about birth while growing up. I loved having her by my side for this experience.

After a while I felt my legs getting tired. When my doula mentioned getting on the bed, I quickly agreed. I climbed up and knelt on the bed, leaning against the raised headboard. It felt so good to be able to relax my whole body against the sheets. I munched on ice, spoon-fed to me between surges, and I also asked to hold the cotton ball of peppermint oil myself, so I didn’t have to ask for it every time. I still had no idea how much longer things would be. I only knew I could do one more.

Suddenly I felt her head low in the birth canal, and I HAD to push. “UUUGGHH I’m pushing!” I moaned loudly. The nurse calmly asked me to roll over so she could check me. “Um, no!” I thought. When she asked again, my doula leaned down and repeated the question to me. I shook my head violently. No freaking way could I move right then. One contraction rolled into another as I groaned and pushed. I felt the nurse’s hand (I don’t know why she couldn’t have just checked me like that to begin with), reach in and touch the baby’s head. Obviously my back was turned so I didn’t see what happened next, but I was told later that the nurse turned and ran out of the room, ripping her gloves off and yelling for the midwife as soon as she hit the hallway. My mom turned to my doula and did a fist pump. The baby was coming!

With my first, I had a pushing urge, but it definitely wasn’t quite so intense. This time, it was like taking a giant poop. She HAD to come out NOW! “I want her out of me!” I yelled. I let out a growl/scream and pushed as hard as I could. I knew I was probably going to tear; I didn’t even care, I just wanted her out! I tried to breathe her down, to pace myself, but the urge to push was overwhelming. I don’t even remember a ring of fire, just an intense urge to get her out.

The midwife came in, and when she saw how I was positioned over the bed exclaimed, “Well, that’s one way to do it!” She asked if I wanted to deliver in that position. I nodded. Even if I wanted something else, no way could I move. I found out later she had never helped deliver a baby in that position before. I felt proud to have given her that experience.

When the baby started to crown, in my mind I could see her dark head of hair coming out. I wanted to ask what color her hair was. My son was blonde with blue eyes, but all pregnancy I had been dreaming of my brown haired, brown eyed baby girl. I just couldn’t get the words out. I was screaming as I pushed, gasping in air loudly. Any thought of keeping my voice deep and low was gone from my mind. Finally, I felt her slip out of me.

I instantly sat upright and ripped open the snaps of the hospital gown so it fell off of me, ready to reach down and grab my baby girl. “Don’t sit on her!” everyone said. “How silly,” I thought. I wasn’t going to sit on the baby I had just pushed out! I was much too aware of her for that! “Give her to me!” I kept saying over and over. But they didn’t give her to me, they were too busy suctioning and drying her off. Finally the midwife asked, “So, how do you want to do this?” “Just, pass her between my legs!” I said, while thinking “duh!” And finally they handed my sweet little girl to me. She had brown hair! I held her tightly and they helped me turn over and lay down. Baby Joelle had arrived at 10:05 pm, barely two hours after we arrived at the hospital.

We delayed cord clamping for a while, but the midwife was concerned about the amount of blood. She asked if I wanted a shot of Pitocin, which I declined, and then told me she needed to cut the cord and get the placenta out. I asked what the concern was, why the rush? She simply said she needed to make sure I wasn’t bleeding behind my placenta. (What? Whatever, I had just had a baby, I didn’t care). She put traction on the cord and pushed HARD on my stomach till the placenta gave way. I tried putting baby on my breast to help, but she wasn’t quite interested yet.

After the placenta was born, she assessed me for tears and informed me I would need one stitch for a minor tear. I asked her if it could be skipped. She left it alone for a while to see if it would stop bleeding, but after a few minutes told me that it had started bleeding again when she opened it back up (um, no duh! If you open up a cut again it’s going to bleed!). I begged her to not give me any stitches, that I would just keep my legs together. But she didn’t think much of that idea. I finally caved. She did one stitch, and then said I needed another. The second one hurt so bad. I could feel every tug and pull of the needle. “This is exactly why I didn’t want stitches!” I thought.

The stitches were the only real problem I had with my hospital birth; that, and the fact that my baby wasn’t passed to me right away. But overall, it was about as good of an experience as you can get in a hospital setting. It certainly wasn’t the home birth I had wanted, but it was still a wonderful, empowering experience. Even though the midwife hadn’t even had time to read my birth plan, she still respected me enough to ask for informed consent and respect my wishes. I really appreciated that. Thanks to her, my wonderful husband, my doula, and my mom, our family had grown to four with little drama. And for that, I praise God.

Joelle Akiko

March 30, 2014, 10:05 pm

5lbs, 15.7 oz, 17 in.   

Published in Birthing Stories
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 08:13

Conquering the Hospital




Picture your ideal birth, where do you envision it happening? Is it in a tub full of soothing warm water? Maybe it is in the comfort of your own home. Or is it at the hospital, possibly on an operating table?

According to the Center for Disease Control in 2012 98.6% of births occurred in a hospital within the United States. Therefore, if “in the hospital” was your first thought, then you are probably correct—ideal or not. With close to 2050 Free Standing Birthing Centers in the US (up from 170 in 2004) and only 27 of 52 states with legislation allowing for midwives to oversee home birth, birthing options other then the hospital are slim. Regardless of where you would prefer to give birth, if the hospital ends up being where you go, there are many things you can do before your big day to help yourself feel comfortable there.

First off, it’s important to come to terms with why you are birthing in a hospital. Do you believe it is the best place for you to give birth, because your health insurance provider doesn’t cover a birth center or home birth, or that you are considered high-risk? Whatever your reason, getting comfortable with it may be hard, as many people feel intimidated by the hospital setting.

Focusing on the positive attributes of the hospital setting will help you come to peace with the choice. It can be comforting to know that you will have quick access to pain relief or emergency medical care in the rare event something goes wrong. The NICU will be close by if baby should need help. Also many hospitals have lactation consultants on hand.

You are still in charge of your birth. You have the right to refuse tests and procedures you don’t feel are right for you. You can labor at home for a long time before you heading to the hospital—if you so wish. Once you get there, you will probably be so caught up in labor that you won’t care where you are, especially if you prepare yourself to conquer the hospital without fear.

Once you have come to terms with birthing in a hospital it’s time to choose which hospital will harbor you.  If you have a few options to choose from you should tour each of them before making your decision. Look at their caesarean section rates as well as their birth policies. Do they set a time limit on how long they permit you to labor? What is their nurse to patient ratio? 

If you want to try for a particular type of birth such as a VBAC, water or natural birth, the first thing you should do is ask your healthcare provider about the hospitals in your area. Find out which would be more likely to support your birth wishes. Some hospitals are much more supportive than others and that can make or break your birth experience. Unfortunately, many people choose their hospital based on appearance and amenities, but if you want a certain type of birth experience you need to base your decision on the hospital’s policies, facility, and support system.  

After you have chosen which hospital you will give birth in, it’s time to get comfortable in it. Being relaxed at your hospital is integrally important because labor can slow down if you are stressed. You will probably need to take a few tours to familiarize yourself with the labor and delivery unit. Take your partner along and assign him to knowing where to go and how exactly how to get there—guys are great at remembering stuff like that!  

Don't hesitate to ask questions while on tour, no matter how small or insignificant they might seem to you, and don’t worry if a couple of tours fails to make you feel at ease. Hospitals can be very intimidating! Most of us associate them with illness or preventative measures, not normal, natural events like birth, so it is no wonder some people have a hard time feeling relaxed there.

If you are having a hard time, wander around the main floor a few times. Spend some time sitting in a lounge and reading or people watching. Make a date of it and bring a girlfriend to the hospital cafeteria for lunch. Calm, gentle persistence is best when trying to familiarize oneself with a hospital. Rushing or trying to force yourself into feeling comfortable will only make you more anxious. Making repeated visits to wander around and spend time there is key if you are worried. With time and patience, you can come to accept and feel comfortable in your hospital.  

Once you feel comfortable in the hospital setting, you can start to think about how to make your actual room as cozy as possible. Bring a favorite picture to set up in your room. If your hospital does not have a fragrance-free policy and you are fond of a certain scent, get a diffuser or wall plug-in to take with you (candles are not allowed due to the combination of open flame and combustibles gases present in a hospital). Do you have a sentimental attachment to a particular pillow or blanket? Bring it along! If you want to listen to music while you labour compile a playlist of favorite and soothing songs, don't forget a CD player or iPod if your room doesn't have a sound system. Do you want to wear a certain piece of clothing in labor, rather than a hospital gown? Throw it in your hospital bag along with your favorite pair of socks or slippers! Surround yourself with things that will make you feel relaxed and at home, whatever they are. No detail (i.e. laptop, tablet, certain movies, etc.) is too small when it comes to making yourself feel relaxed at the hospital on your big day.

Choosing which hospital you birth in is an important decision. Just as important is familiarizing yourself with “your” hospital and getting comfortable in it. Even if the hospital setting seems intimidating and uncomfortable there are many things you can do to lessen your fears. Have faith, be patient, and keep trying. You will feel relaxed in a hospital and will have a wonderful birth there, too.

Did you give birth in a hospital? What was your experience? How did you familiarize yourself with the environment? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below!

Published in Birthing Places

"Natural Childbirth"…well that can only happen in a birth center or at a homebirth…right?

It is often easy to come up with an extensive list of questions when you are considering a home birth with a Midwife. We tend to think long and hard about the questions we want to ask to make sure we can trust her with our safety and the safety of our baby. During a standard home-birth Midwife appointment, you often get a minimum of an hour to sit and “interview” with a prospective Midwife. There is time enough to get a feeling for one another, a sense of whether she will provide the kind of one-on-one care you desire for your natural birth at home. Then you get an hour with them at almost every single prenatal visit, as well. This adds up to a lot of one-on-one time between you and your care provider to be on the same page, to know and understand one another.

For many families though, a home birth is simply not an option. Whether it is for financial / insurance reasons or for a health concern that puts them just outside the qualifying spectrum of the Midwifery Model of Care. Regardless of the personal circumstance, many women who either choose or need to birth in a hospital still desire to have a “natural childbirth.”

The kind of birth where there is no pressure to perform on a grid-line standard, and fit into a cookie-cutter diagram that has a one-size-fits-all approach. The kind of birth where they are free to listen to their bodies needs and respond to natural urges and do not need to feel stressed by the cascade of interventions which are routinely associated with a hospital birth.

Women do not often pause to consider what kinds of questions they would ask an OB or certified nurse-midwife (CNM), in the same way that they would ask a home birth Midwife. Women come up with a vast number of detailed and personal questions when "interviewing" for a Midwife, or even a Pediatrician for their baby, however, they do not usually do this when seeking care for themselves with an OB/GYN. There is often this sense of, "this is what I am faced with, so I need to find a way to make the best of it." Unlike Midwifery Care, you are not afforded an hour of time with an OB/GYN, or hospital staffed CNM. Most visits are generally anywhere from 5-15 minutes, on a good day. There just seems to be this “rush” factor, which often times, flows over into the delivery room.

~ There are many factors involved in the lack of communication between an OB and an expectant mother ~

-Many women become intimidated and shut down by the sometimes rushed and rigid demeanor of an OB.

-There is a sense that they went to school for this, they know what they are doing, "so who am I to question that...?"

-An OB might have a response to a question which makes the woman feel inferior or demeaned for even asking such a question. 

...just to name a few.

These situations often lead to a sense of not having ones own valuable input into the birth of their baby, whereby holding them back from really digging in and asking the probing questions necessary to build the kind of relationship where mutual respect is involved and a foundation of working together on common ground. Sometimes the connection between the two is so limited that neither even knows where to begin. It becomes a tedious process of coming in – doing checks – and going out – see you next time. Understand that an OB meets with countless women from day to day. Whereas a home birth Midwife, has a specific number of clients she will take on in a given month. An OB will often deliver multiple babies per day, and a Midwife, usually between 2-6 per month. The job of an OB can easily become a job that reflects the business of providing medical care, rather than a passion of providing health care. This is not their fault, it is simply the way that society has set it in motion.

It is important to recognize which care providers do and do not have the qualities you are looking for. There are OBs out there who "trust birth" and have a great respect for the power within a woman's body to birth her baby. They do exist and the numbers of them are growing as awareness and education grows, but also because women are finally being heard. Women are standing up and demanding better care, demanding that doctors recognize that they are capable beyond measure, and that birth is not an illness or problem which needs to be controlled, managed or fixed... and that a woman who is having a vaginal birth does not need to have her baby "delivered" from her body.

So how does one really know whether

they have the right OB/GYN or CNM for them? 

~ or ~

Where do you begin in finding

the care provider that is right for you?

One of the first steps is recognizing that you are never “stuck” with a specific care provider. You have a wealth of options and choices available to you! We are blessed to have a society full of highly intelligent Doctors, Midwives and CNM's, all of whom have individual qualities to meet the needs of each specific woman. You simply have to take the time to find what you are looking for.

Finding a Doula can be one of the best places to start! A Doula provides physical, emotional and informational support for women throughout their pregnancy, labor and birth, and into the postpartum, breastfeeding, and newborn care stage. A Doula also works with many different kinds of birth professionals, and in all different kinds of birth settings. It is one-on-one specialized care, at it's finest!

When it comes to your care provider…

A Doula Can: 

- Help provide you with guidance in making sure your care provider is the right one to meet your birthing needs.

You may have been referred to a friends OB/GYN, because they had the perfect experience that they desired with that care provider. Every woman's needs are different, and what is right for your friends, neighbors, church family, or sister, may not be the right fit for you.

Perhaps you have an amazing OB/GYN for all of your gynecological needs, or maybe they even played a crucial role in helping you during the family planning stage. Some women find that while their care provider may be perfect for their gynecological needs, they are not necessarily the right care provider for their pregnancy and birthing needs.

- Help you in forming your desired birth plan, and giving you the words necessary to communicate effectively with your care provider about areas of your pregnancy and birth which are important to you.

Forming the right birth plan for you, means fully understanding all of the options which are available to you. A Doula has this knowledge base and they can be a wealth of knowledge about areas of birth that many have never even taken into consideration before. Some of them also teach their own childbirth education classes. If you have a Doula who teaches childbirth education classes, taking their class, rather than a hospital based class, can be helpful in many areas, including creating a closer bond prior to your birth.

Doula's also understand the language that surrounds pregnancy and birth. They are good at reading between the lines, and recognizing "red flags" that might suggestion your care provider and you are not on the same page in a particular area so that you know to address that with them ahead of time, rather than in the throes of labor.

- Give you recommendations of the best hospitals locally, with a known record for helping mother’s who want to have a natural childbirth.

They have watched and supported other women through their personal experiences with local hospitals and care providers. They can provide guidance in determining whether your wants and desires can be met in a specific location, or with a specific care provider.

It is also important to note, that our birth system is changing, slowly but surely, changing for the better. Many hospitals and OB's who were not "natural childbirth" experienced 2- 5 years ago, are very experienced today. This is due in part to awareness being spread on natural childbirth, women speaking up for what they want, Midwife knowledge and recognition, the movement back to home-birth, and also because of the positive presence of "natural childbirth" workers, such as Doula's, being present in the hospital birth place.

- Provide you with names of OBGYN’s or CNM’s whom they feel might meet your criteria in achieving the birth you want.

Again, they have watched and supported other women through their personal experiences with local hospitals and care providers. This gives you an idea of where to begin the "interview" process, as you search for the right OB or CNM, and the right birthing location for you and your personal desires.

- Give you resources to local natural childbirth / natural parenting groups within the community, where you can find support and build relationships with other women and families along the way.

Connecting with other "like-minded" women who have walked the path before you, or are currently going through their journey at the same time as you can be one of the most amazing blessings. Doula's have many connections within the natural birthing community. Everything from breastfeeding support, essential oils education, alternative medicine, chiropractors, massage therapists, natural practitioners, cranial sacral therapists, and so much more!

Below is a list of accumulated questions which I have found to be very helpful for my Doula client’s to ask when “feeling out” a care provider, to see whether they can have their desired birth, while being under the care of that provider.

Already Have a Care Provider

You can take the questions which pertain to you from the list below, and prioritize them according to which areas are of the greatest importance to you. Begin to ask a handful or two of those questions at each prenatal visit.

Do not shrug off responses which do not meet your qualifications. The list of available doctors is lengthy. Of course there is always going to be a give and take when choosing to birth in a hospital setting. So a certain amount of flexibility is often needed, but know going into the situation which items are your priority and are not subject to flexibility, and which ones you can take or leave.

Looking For a Care Provider

If you do not already have a care provider, or have made the decision to find a new one, you can request to do an initial interview with potential care providers. At this visit, go through your top questions first, and then have a second set should time allow.

In any circumstance, you should always listen to your care provider carefully. They will often tell you exactly how they expect your birth will be, even if it isn't with their specific words. Always use your intuition. If it simply doesn't feel right to you, then it mostly likely is not right for you.

Respectful & Attentive or "Red Flag"

Be aware of how the care provider responds to the question. Do they seem confident and knowledgeable? Is their response calm and collected? Is the tone warm and understanding? Did they not know how to respond? Did the care provide have no idea what you were talking about? Did the care provider seem agitated or respond defensively? Was your question put off… to be discussed at a later visit when you are “farther along?”

Don’t be afraid to go after what you want. This is your baby and your birth!

~ Important Questions To Consider ~


  1. Why did you choose this profession and what makes it so important to you?
  2. How long have you been a practicing _______? (OB, CNM)
  3. What is your training/ education/degrees/certifications, etc. ?
  4. How many babies have you /witnessed / helped bring into this world?
  5. What is your philosophy on birth?
  6. What does “natural childbirth” mean to you?
  7. Where do you personally stand between medically managed childbirth, and natural childbirth?
  8. Are you connected with a natural childbirth / natural parenting community?
  9. Do you provide individual care based on the needs of each patient, or is care carried out on a standard protocol regiment?
  10. Have you had experience with a Doula before?
  11. Which methods of pain management do you recommend?
  12. Will I be expected to progress through my labor according to a specific timeline?
  13. What is your induction rate?
  14. What is your cesarean rate?
  15. Have you ever performed a “Family Centered Cesarean?”
  16. Is laboring in a water pool or bath tub an option? Delivery?
  17. How many births do you typically attend to in a month? Year?
  18. Are you planning any vacations, trips or other events around the time of my estimated due date that would interfere with your presence at my birth?
  19. Who is your back-up? When would I meet them? Do you work off a rotation schedule with other care providers?
  20. What kind of follow-up visits will we have with you after the birth?
  21. Have you had any loss of a baby or mother? If so, why and what happened? 


  1. What role do you feel nutrition and exercise play on a healthy pregnancy and the effect on the labor and birth process?
  2. What are a few of the top nutritional recommendations you have for prenatal health?
  3. Is there a set of routine tests which must be done during pregnancy? Which? When?
  4. Will I be required to do the Gestational Diabetes screening? What if I do not have any symptoms of GD? How is this test carried out? Will I eat a specific meal prior to testing or will I be fasting and drinking a sweet orange substance?
  5. How many weeks of pregnancy do you feel are crucial to having a healthy baby?
  6. If baby and I are healthy, can we allow labor to begin on its own? Even 1 week past our estimated due date? 2 weeks past our estimated due date?
  7. Will you deliver a breech baby? Frank? Footling?
  8. If so, what kind of training and experience do you have in the delivery of a breech baby?
  9. If my baby were to be breech, what recommendations would you have for encouraging my baby to turn naturally?
  10. What medical options would be available to turn my baby?
  11. Do you deliver twins? Experience? Cesarean necessary within your care?
  12. What risk factors do you look for when determining if a cesarean section is needed, prior to labor beginning?

Labor and Birth

  1. What are your recommendations for a family who wants to labor at home for as long as possible before coming to the hospital?
  2. Do you require a heparin lock be in place?
  3. Will IV fluids be necessary during my labor or may be allowed to drink freely on my own?
  4. How often do you feel it is necessary to have a vaginal exam during labor? May I refuse these checks?
  5. Are you familiar with other ways of determining dilation, besides vaginal exams?
  6. What risk factors do you look for in determining whether a cesarean section is necessary while I am in labor?
  7. How often will my baby be required to be monitored through Electronic Fetal Monitoring?
  8. Will I able to labor in any position I feel comfortable? May I move around freely?
  9. May I eat while I am laboring?
  10. Can I push in any position I choose?
  11. Is directed pushing typically done, or am I encouraged to push with the urges of my body?
  12. Will you delivery my baby? Would you assist myself or my partner in delivering our baby?
  13. Do you provide perennial support while pushing to minimize the possibility of tearing?
  14. Do you perform routine episiotomies?
  15. Would you be accepting of allowing me to tear naturally, rather than have an episiotomy?
  16. How do you handle a nuchal cord?
  17. What is your position on delayed cord clamping?

Immediately Postpartum

  1. Will my baby be given directly to me for skin to skin contact immediately at birth?
  2. Can routine checks of baby be done while my baby is in mine or my partners arms?
  3. Which test and routine practices will be necessary in the first few hours of birth?
  4. Which will be necessary in the first few days of birth?
  5. What is your position on delayed cord clamping?
  6. Does your practice / hospital have any standard procedures for families who desire to take their placentas home with them?
  7. Is it possible to fill out the paperwork needed to accept or decline certain routine procedures for my baby, before being in labor and before baby is born? That way our time immediately after the birth can be focused on bonding and welcoming our new little one into the world.
  8. How long will we be expected to stay in the hospital before being released?
  9. Will my baby have to go to the nursery during our stay, or can my baby remain with me for the duration of our stay?
Published in Birthing Assistance

At 41 weeks pregnant, I woke up late Wednesday evening feeling pains stronger than the "menstrual-like cramps" of Braxton Hicks.  I let my husband sleep as I started to get excited and braced myself for the journey ahead.  Thursday morning, I told him that he could finally stay home today, because it was time to start laboring!  He was so awesome through the whole pregnancy and I knew he was going to shine now, too.  So we started hanging out around the house, doing our pre-labor stuff.   I was feeling strong contractions that were starting to locate in my back, and we thought we would call our midwife to let her know what was up.  She came by a few hours later, and after checking my cervix for dilation, saw that I was 2 cm dilated (where I had been at for a few days now). Bummer.  No progress really then.  She said we should get out of the house and try to lose the labor focus.  So we went to the Lowes down the street to pick up a plant; we wanted to have a living reminder of this labor and something that our baby could see "grow up with her."  We came home; planted the bonsai juniper tree we bought, baked cupcakes, watched a movie, and then settled into bed.

I was still having contractions, but I was able to get some sleep, until around 4:00 am when my water broke!  I heard a pop and felt a surge of warm fluid while sleeping, and woke up to run to the bathroom, yelling, "Erich, wake up! My water broke!"  Thankfully, we had layered the bed with a plastic sheet the previous day in preparation of our home birth. As I sat on the toilet, leaking, my contractions were already getting stronger and closer together, so we called our midwife again to let her know what was going on. About 4 hours later, I was starting to enter labor land, so we timed the rushes again.  They were coming about 5 minutes apart and lasting about a minute each, so our midwife headed over to the house.  Once she was here (around 9:30 am Friday morning) I was really contracting, and the back labor was becoming very intense. With every contraction I would need my husband to push as hard as he could on my lower back until the rush was over.  My midwife seemed to think everyone was doing well, so we pushed on through the day.  We were laboring in and out of the house, walking around the neighborhood, still in good spirits. I was really looking forward to getting into the birthing tub!  However, knowing that it would be best to wait until just the right moment, I did not enter the tub that night. 

So now it is Friday evening, and I had been laboring through the day. The back labor was exhausting, and the rushes were coming close together, but they did not have a strong pattern to them.  We decided to try to get some sleep that night and start again in the morning.  By “we” I suppose I mean my husband and midwife, as they got some sleep; I was still laboring. I was attempting to rest in bed, with a heating pad underneath my back, but every contraction was powerful and I needed the counter pressure to be able to bear it.

In the morning, as tired as we were, we put on our labor hats and plunged deep into the canyon again. My husband and I went for a long walk, and I lunged on the walk. We went up and down the stairs, lunging. We tried every position known and unknown. We bounced on the birth ball, sat on the toilet backwards (I spent a lot of time there, with a pillow to lean into), got on my hands and knees, tried to dance the baby out.  All the while, I was experiencing the worst back pain I could possibly imagine. My husband's hands are probably still sore from the counter pressure. I moaned low and loud, I grunted, I sang, I focused my breath, my energy, I asked the baby to prepare herself. I clung to this process and hoped that the Goddess would deliver us from it. 

Around 5 pm Saturday our midwife checks my dilation again, and sees that I am at 5 cm now, and that our baby is OP, or "sunny side up" meaning her face was pointing towards my pubic bone. This is causing the hard part of her skull to rest on the bony part of my spine. Thus causing my back labor, and making it not ideal for her to come down into the birth canal. On top of that, her head was resting off centered on my cervix.  This was giving her a "top hat" and swelling my cervix without dilating (because she was not putting the right pressure, in the right place).  With this new information, we know I still have a ways to go, and our baby and I need to do some work to get her positioned correctly for the vaginal birth I so craved. When night came, we thought it best to try the "resting" thing again. I took some herbs to help strengthen the contractions, and my midwife and husband tried to lay their heads down.  I paced the house and eventually got in the bath. With each contraction I screamed to my husband to get out of bed and turn on the jets on our garden tub, and then turn them off again. Because my water was broken, we didn't want to chance an infection by leaving them on the whole time, so for three hours I sat in the tub, and my husband tried to sleep in bed, between helping me.  Looking back on it, we both think “Why the heck didn’t Erich try to sleep on the bathroom floor so he was close to the switch for the jets?”  The lack of thought process going on here shows how tired we all were at this point.

Come Sunday morning, I was suffering for lack of nutrition from not eating or drinking, so we started an IV of fluids (still at home.)  We also decided that getting some antibiotics into my system would be best for our baby and lower the infection risk, so we started that too.  Three bags of fluids later I was feeling better and a bit more energized so we started trying EVERYTHING again.  Because, damn it, I was going to have this baby at home!  I cannot express how much I wanted to sit in the birthing tub and push my baby out.  All I wanted was to feel an intense sensation to push, to feel my baby's head in my birth canal, to connect with every woman out there who has done this and will do this; I wanted to feel the energy of the world soaring through my vagina.  So we tried.  We walked again, we bounced, we sang and I moaned. I felt like my back was being split open, like an alien was about to rip its way through my spine!  I was still taking herbs, and homeopathic remedies.  I was visualizing, I was opening to my baby.  I was doing everything they said to do and anything I thought I should do.  

Sunday afternoon, after four days of active labor, our midwife checked my dilation again, (still at 5 cm! What!) and we decided to try to turn the baby to a more favorable position. Our midwife reached in through my cervix, and gently put pressure on our baby’s head to encourage her to move into the birth canal.  She succeeded in turning her a bit, and then the little butter bean moved right back into the same spot she had been in.  We tried again, but alas, she did not want to be in the "right" position.  So as I leaned on the bed, bracing myself through yet another mind bending, back searing, contraction, I saw what I knew to be a bad sign, fall out and onto the chux pad underneath me. 

There was meconium.  My poor baby was stressed (gee...I wonder why?).  I called for our midwife and we assessed the situation.  She listened to her heart tones, and felt they were dropping.  My husband and I were scared, tired, and starting to feel like we needed some help outside the house.  So tearfully, we decided to transport to the hospital.   

When we got to the hospital Sunday evening, I already knew I wanted an epidural.  I was in so much pain, I couldn't stand, couldn't  think, couldn't  see straight. After what felt like hours of questions, I finally got some relief as I slept for the first time in days, numb from the epidural.  We also started pitocin, as my contractions were still not consistent enough to position the baby.  At this point I still had hope for a vaginal birth.  I thought the epidural will relax me, the pitocin will work and I can push this baby out.  Looking back, I feel that my midwife and the doctor were probably thinking differently, and we started the pitocin just to be able to say we tried it.  Which I am thankful for; I know at this point I really did do anything and everything to try to have a natural, then vaginal, birth.  But two hours later, I am still at 5 cm, my cervix is extremely swollen, and there are no signs of things changing.  It's been almost 5 days of labor, and our baby needs to come Earthside.  So with a heavy, scared, and very emotional heart, we know that a Cesarean birth is our only option. I looked to my husband, and he said "this is the right thing," as we prepped for surgery.

I told my husband later how I am sad that I don't fully remember the next few days, and he said "Well, even if you don't remember, you knew how to do it!  As soon as she was out, you were telling me what to do!  Say her name, touch her, stay with her!"  Having the knowledge that she was never out of our sight, at any time, while we were at the hospital, helped to relieve some of the emotions from being there in the first place.  Also, the staff at the hospital understood our wishes, and never fought back on them.  The nurse even asked if I wanted to take my placenta home!

The hardest part of the whole experience came after the procedure, while I was in the recovery room.  Alone, but for the nurse, I had all these emotions and no baby to hold.  I will never forget lying there, feeling as though time had stopped and the agony of having to wait.  Finally she was brought to me, and I put her right to my breast. There she stayed for the next three days as we recovered in the hospital together, as a family. 

The last place I ever wanted to give birth was in a hospital, but if not for one, my baby and I might not be alive today. I learned a lot through this process. It taught me to trust my baby and my body.  Even though I was not able to birth vaginally, my body WAS working in harmony with my baby. If I had been contracting stronger, her little body might have been damaged, her neck might have been broken!  I know I did everything I could to birth my baby... and in the end I DID bring a beautiful, strong, magical being into this world.  Her path here was not mine to decide.  Her path around the Earth will not be either.  I am merely the platform from which she can jump from.  All I can do is accept her, love her, and foster joy every day, from now on.  And whenever I see her sweet face and smile, I know I would do it all over again. 

Published in Birthing Stories
I have been pregnant every year since 1998 with the exception of 2004. We lost 2 in that time, but I have effectively been either pregnant and/or nursing for the past 14 years.
Just because I have been pregnant and have birthed a lot does not mean the next one will be easier. Your body doesn't stay stretched out. You have to do it all over again. You have to contract, you have to open, you have to efface and dilate. My 7th birth was harder and needed way more intervention than my 6th, so when #8 came around, we really had no clue what to expect!
I was due July 14th, but was walking around in labor for 2 weeks prior to the 4th of July. I was dilated, stretchy, 4-6 centimeters and my bag of water was bulging- to my midwife's amazement. I had bloody show, I passed the plug constantly (as it renews itself). My pubic bone was separated so I was super uncomfortable. I PRAYED for it to end, I had never felt so 'done before!
Late on the 3rd of July, I noticed the contractions I had been enduring for the past two weeks were every five minutes now.  I started timing them at midnight and finally decided to call the midwife at 1 AM to discuss if I should come in. On one hand, the contractions were regular and, knowing I had Group B Strep and needed the antibiotics, should get in sooner than later so I could get the full two recommended bags of IV fluids in before birth. On the other hand, I didnt want to be premature and drag everyone in only to have everything stop, like it had in the past.
By 2 AM after chatting with the midwife, she finally said, "Jyn... come in and have your baby!"
I gathered my husband, woke one of my daughters and got any last thing we needed which felt like the equivalent of a backback prepared for a week's stay in the wilderness. I texted my mom to come stay with the rest of the kids, and we left.
We got to the hospital at about 2:30 AM fully expecting it to be busy because, after all, it was now the 4th of July. It wasn't.
They had the birthing pool ready and hot- but I couldn't get in yet. They had to monitor me first. I actually didn't even get into the tub until 3:30 AM. Enduring contractions in the hospital bed was awful.
As the contractions came closer and harder and he moved down more- the pain in my back got worse and worse. I attribute that, now, to my separated pubic bone which was probably pinching in the back. I was worried about a stretchy but not fully dilated cervix being dragged down with the baby's head. This is what happened two years earlier with my 7th. So I was prepared with some Astroglide to help ease the baby's head through the cervix and out with minimal scraping on the inside. With each contraction I eased the cervix around his head myself, but really- he felt more like he was going to come out the other end!
Finally, at 9 centimeters dilated my water burst with a sonic boom and he was coming and the contractions were harder.
With a primal roar, out came his head and shoulders at 6:17 AM on the 4th of July- and up to my bosom with a great big sigh of relief and "Ohhhhh!"
The water was quite warm as I had insisted and I started bleeding a little more than we wanted- so they had me get out to an awaiting bed. The whole ordeal, on video, looks so quiet and collected and calm- absolutely the farthest from how it felt! I felt, most of the time, like I was on the edge of insanity!
Jude Elias was officially 7 lbs, 9.5 oz and 19 inches long- beautiful and full of life! The placenta was huge, with 2 lobes (like a heart) and a very thick long  umbilical cord that pulsated forever, it seemed!
We rejected the Vitamin K injection as well as the silver nitrate. He was my second child to not receive the Vitamin K shot and my second child to leave the hospital with absolutely no jaundice! It also took them 30 minutes to get a proper PKU sample because... his blood kept clotting. 
Published in Birthing Stories
Friday, 14 June 2013 08:50

My Empowering Night & Day Birth Story

After fourteen months of upsetting and beating myself up from the birth of our first born I finally gained an understanding that each and every birth is unique and beautiful, and is one’s own. Until then, I wasn’t comfortable sharing about the birth of our first born because of the choices I made prior to and during labor. If anyone one would have told me the following birth stories were going to be night and day to one another prior to our second pregnancy I would have laughed under my breath while thinking they are crazy. I couldn’t get past myself until I had that pivotal ‘ah ha’ moment that changed my perspective. I realized nothing had to be the same and that I can and will make this second pregnancy everything I wanted it to be. Yes, I had a decision and I was sure to make it different. This is my journey.

While pregnant with our son in 2011, I had a pretty horrible diet. We ate out two to three times a week, I drank soda and coffee like it was going out of style, and I had a very difficult time hydrating myself with water. Around seventeen weeks I started retaining water on my ankles and legs after walking for any decent period of time (which lasted the remainder of the pregnancy.) I did not make the mistake of ‘eating for two’ but eating fast food was bad enough. During this pregnancy I did not exercise, I made sure to walk daily- just not enough to increase my heart rate and not a significant distance.

As the pregnancy progressed I managed to set myself up for my own failure. I read and prepared for labor using the Bradley Method, but my husband had very little time to read and prepare. I recall all too well being 35 weeks pregnant and being more than ready to have our son. I was beyond miserable! As the time progressed at 37 weeks pregnant I remember going into my appointment thinking ‘I must be at least 2cm dilated and about to have this baby.” Little did I realize the duration of first time pregnancies extended well beyond that ideal ’40 week’ mark. My mom carried both my sister and I twelve days over but I was certain genetics would not affect me and when our baby would come. The days and weeks drew on and on… soon 38, 39, 40, 41 weeks passed and there were still no signs of labor. At this point one of my midwives and I set the date to be induced two days prior to 42 weeks.

I had no knowledge about the increased risks of pitocin or how it would affect my body (other than it seemed the baby would be here sooner than waiting on my cervix.) Looking back this was one of my many errors.

The days progressed and the 29th was only a few days away, and I began to have contractions. They started out really faint on Saturday and over the next two days became more intense and closer together. I was certain this was it and I could not make myself sleep. I put myself on a liquid only diet because I feared pooping while in labor. I was way too anxious and I anticipated the contractions to add up more rapidly, not take their time. I went in on Monday once they were drawing closer together, but the contractions had a weird pattern (2 really close and then 6-10 minutes between each pair.) As previously mentioned, I had no sleep.

By the time I realized I needed sleep it was too late and the contractions were too strong to sleep through. After talking with and being checked by my midwife I decided to go over to the hospital so I could get some sleep medicine to rest up for labor (I was 3cm and 90% effaced.) After 4.5 hours of sleep I was discharged from the hospital because I was not progressing any. After getting the sleep medicine from the pharmacy, getting some food and returning home my contractions were getting back at me and within an hour or two we were back at the hospital with contractions adding up. When admitted this time they stopped my contractions and gave me some sleep medicine (again) to hold off until the morning (the set date to be induced.) They told me to be up around 6:30 to shower and be prepared for my long day of labor. It was 9:30 (give or take a few) that pitocin was finally administered. Around 11:45 my water finally broke and we were then waiting on the anesthesiologist to receive an epideral I did not want (originally) but due to lack of sleep I thought I was too tired to labor.

We also found out at this time that Jeremiah was in the posterior position so I laid on my left side while having contractions to try and get him to turn naturally, luckily this worked. I did not forgive myself for getting an epideral until many months later of feeling like a failure for not having the birth I wanted. After hours of slow progression my midwife stretched my cervix to full dilation and then it was time to see how the we progressed when pushing. After trying for about thirty minutes, I took a nice break… It was about 4:00 or 4:30 that evening when I began to push at the coaching of my midwife, husband and mom. It was around 6:50 that my midwife decided it was time to take me off of the epideral to see if I progressed better naturally and she sent for the doctor on call to come in to see what needed to happen to progress labor. Upon their arrival I began to feel the contractions and the need to push, the doctor informed me they needed to use forceps and to do an episiotomy. At this point I told them thats fine but I had to keep pushing. Our son was born at 7:49pm weighing 8lb 15oz and 20 3/4in.

I had a third degree tear and we wanted delayed cord clamping so while waiting on it to stop pulsating they had to administer some more pitocin to get my placenta released from uterine wall to deliver it faster so they could stitch me up. I had a very long recovery which lasted the whole 6 weeks postpartum, trying to recover from a 3rd degree tear was not fun! I do not recall a ton from those first weeks other than taking pain meds, nursing our newborn, and barely being able to walk.

There are many things I learned from the birth of Jeremiah. The beginning of which was to learn my body and trust it! I set out to study what I can do to make it the best body possible and how to maintain optimal health. Once giving birth to Jeremiah, I fought vaginitis for eight months. It was every other week if not every week my midwife was seeing me because of the infections my body was failing to fighting off. In those eight months I began to exercise (4months postpartum), change my diet, and cut out a major impact to my health-caffeine and sugar drinks. It was not until conception of our second child that the infections stopped.

With my newly found knowledge and resources, I knew exercise was completely safe during pregnancy and was in fact encouraged. This changed everything! I was not going to stop at anything to make sure this second pregnancy was everything I wanted it to be! I was determined and encouraged by the birth of Jeremiah to make the change in myself to ensure a different pregnancy and delivery. After all, this is my body, I have the ultimate say on what impacts or influences it. I clearly was in for a positive journey and wanted to see how much I could change from last time. The birth of Jeremiah completely changed my life and inspired me to become a midwife one day.

I am determined, I am stubborn, and I am strong. When I become aware of facts and are convicted in them- there is no stopping me from accomplishing my goals. I become focused and will not lose sight.

I was shaken eight months postpartum from a dream (more of a nightmare) in such said dream, I dreamt that I gave birth naturally to a 14lb 9oz baby girl, her name was Prophecy Grace. Once this dream came to an end, I woke up and clearly I thought we were pregnant. A week later the soreness began in my breasts and I knew we were pregnant, luckily for me my hormones changing pushed the infections away. In the meanwhile I was persistent to continue to exercise and eat healthy, as I was determined to have the best health possible. It wasn’t until a few months later we announced our surprise pregnancy to friends and family. I was told and encouraged by family to stop exercising because it could (somehow) cause harm to the baby. The goal weight gain I set for myself was 15-20lbs, according to my pre-pregnancy BMI I few pounds overweight.

As I became more comfortable with my workout routines I increased the load. I made sure not to overdo it and to listen to my body. If I had any discomfort at all, I would slow it down or take it back some. I would go to the gym four to five times a week, each time burning about 600-700 calories each time. I had a very difficult time eating 2,000 calories a day (because of eating healthy) let alone adding the burnt calories to my diet. Around six months pregnant I had to increase my protein intake because dizziness began and was persistent. When at my 39 week check up my midwife discovered that this baby was also in the posterior position. I’m so glad we discovered it at this point, because it gave me ample time to do exercises and stretching to try and turn the baby prior to labor.

One and a half days prior to my 40 week check up contractions began. My bag was packed for a long labor including three different snack foods, sandwiches for my husband and I, massage lotion, essential lavender oil, tiger balm and of course my own clothes so I could remain comfortable if I choose to wear any. I headed to my appointment and my contractions were about 4-6 minutes apart, they weren’t very strong but this was improvement from last time! It was rather encouraging being in inactive labor and not ten days over my EDD and by no means miserable. When checked I was only 2-3cm and 70% effaced. This is where pregnancy hormones came in and I pretty much broke down because I was scared of labor ending up just like last time and I questioned if I did everything possible to turn baby to proper positioning and to prepare my body for labor.

After all, I had done so much during this pregnancy with preparing my body by exercising, eating healthy, and I was now an educated woman making informed decisions. My midwife knew all of this and told me to come back before the office closed in hopes that I would progress more before then. As I went home to relax my contractions slowed down some and returning before four seemed silly. But I did exactly that. Upon returning my midwife told me there was no progress…however, if I wanted her to she could strip my membranes and see how that progressed things. She stretched me to 4cm and then did so per my request. Within one hour of having this done my contractions had completely stopped. My impatience began to creep in and I thought I should walk and get some exercises in to start the contractions again, but upon my midwives’ wisdom I relaxed the whole evening and stayed close to the hospital. I was also given a prescription for Ambien so I could get some good sleep before going into labor.

Around 10:00 p.m. my contractions started back up but were 10-15 minutes apart. We returned home around 12:30 after eating a nice steak dinner with my Grandma and spending some time with friends. Around 12:50 I took the Ambien in hopes to get some good sleep. Within the 1 hour I woke up with contractions that were really strong four or five times. At this time I started my contraction time on my phone and tried to soothe the pain by switching to all the positions I could think of… none of which helped. The contractions were about 4-6 minutes apart and 45 seconds to 1 minute long; they were really strong and nothing I tried was helping. So after one pretty long contraction I decided to jump into the shower and turn the heat up all the way while massaging my belly through the contraction.

When it lasted 2 minutes and 14 seconds I knew it was time to give her a call. Sure enough, that contraction ended the less than two minutes apart phase and time was of the essence. I got dressed and woke my husband up… it took him almost thirty minutes to get ready (granted he was tilling the garden the whole day before, so he was extremely sore.) Not only did he seemingly take his time to get dressed and collect himself but he drove the speed limit almost the whole way to the hospital. It wasn’t until I started to feel the need to push that he ran two or three stop lights and got me to the ER. {In the process of him driving and my contractions, I somehow managed to call my mom, sister, and the ER to tell them I was on my way and needed to get to L&D ASAP upon arrival (in between contractions.) }

We entered the ER and told them my name and “labor and delivery now”, they called for a nurse to push me in a wheel chair… This was not a great plan! Me sit!!?! Are you kidding me??? So I politely told him I don’t think I could sit (in between contractions and that he needed to wait.) He made me sit (their policy) and took his time strolling up to the third floor. Upon entering the birthing suite at 4:40 a.m. the ER nurse then informed me that I “needed to quiet myself down because there were mothers and babies sleeping.” All I could say was “I’ll try my best…” We got to my room and I was told to get out of the wheel chair and go leave a urine sample. #1- I could hardly sit down seven minutes ago #2- It hurt to sit so how was I supposed to leave urine when I couldn’t sit on toilet? #3- I really needed to push and I wasn’t going to somehow magically stop.

I started to strip down my clothes so I could push this baby out and urine wasn’t on my mind but I tried none the less. I got up and began pushing while instructing my nurse to get my midwife now. She told me she had to check me and I needed to lay down on the bed before she could call for my midwife. I agreed after talking and pushing through two contractions. Somehow, I managed to lay down still encouraging the nurse to get my midwife- still informing her that I was pushing and needed her immediately. She checked and I was fully dilated. At this point I have NEVER seen a L&D nurse move so fast. She darted across the room, called for immediate help, and threw the gown, gloves and cap on in a matter of seconds. When no one was coming and I was still pushing she called again over their headsets.

Within two or three minutes two nurses came rolling in with my midwife behind them. When my midwife asked how I was progressing and informed I was fully ready, she gloved up and sat down to begin. I was already pushing and within a matter of two or three minutes my baby was crowning. I listened to my midwife and took my time pushing so to prevent/help with tearing. I got to feel my water break, I got to feel my baby crown and fully come out. All while directing my husband to take pictures, but it happened to fast we didn’t get pictures. After pushing for five minutes altogether my baby girl was in my lap.

Apparently the nurses tried to IV me while the baby was crowning but my midwife told them to just let me be, that I would be fine without. We were admitted to the hospital at 4:40, by 4:50 I was in my room, by 4:55(ish) my midwife was coming in, and by 5:02 my baby girl was in my lap. Holy cow! My thoughts were did this really happen? I was so ecstatic and I was (and still am) in complete awe of what really happened. While waiting for the cord to stop pulsating sat and chatted about everything. My midwife stayed in the room for the first hour while I nursed our newborn four times and she filled out her paperwork. We delayed their routine at the hospital and I bathed her four hours after her birth and didn’t get her measurements until two hours after her birth. She weighed 7lb 4oz and was 18 1/2in. Her brother sure did ready the path with his large build!

I was/am so blessed to have the midwives I did each time. They are such amazing women and beyond supportive!

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

My midwife and I less than an hour after giving birth.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

This one is my best friend and her daughter on the left, in the middle is our midwife that delivered Jeremiah (holding Prophecy), and me on the right four days postpartum.

Published in Birthing Stories

If you opt to do a hospital birth, you will most likely be faced with the choice to either consent or deny the placement of an intravenous catheter (IV). The IV is sometimes not attached to any tubing or fluid. This is called a saline lock, or hep lock. It is usually placed in either the hand or the arm and provides easy access for the administration of fluid or medication. 

Medications administered via IV are instantly absorbed into the body, making it ideal for quick results. However, this instant action means that once the medication is administered, there is no time to correct any possible errors. Errors could include wrong medication, wrong amount of medication, or medication administered at the wrong time.
Women are often told they cannot eat or drink during labor. This is due to the fact that if an emergency cesarean becomes necessary, having an empty stomach reduces the risk of vomiting and possible inhalation of vomit while under general anesthesia. However, the laboring woman needs to stay hydrated. In order to do this, the IV is placed and fluids, usually a saline solution, are administered. So instead of allowing women to eat and hydrate themselves, they are forced to have an IV placed on the chance that there might be an emergency. 
Let us compare this emergency example with another situation from every day life. For example, we do not have IVs placed every time we get in our vehicles and drive somewhere “just in case” we get in a car accident. We wait until there is actually an emergency before allowing such invasive procedures. Since labor and birth are not medical emergencies in and of themselves, it might be in the best interest of the woman and baby to wait until the need for an IV actually arises. 
Another reason for IV placement is for medication. However, if a woman is wishing to have a non-medicated birth, having the IV access is just one step closer to having medication. It makes it that much easier for the provider to order synthetic oxytocin or some other drug that may or may not be truly medically necessary. If there is no need for medication yet the IV is placed anyways, the woman is then unnecessarily exposed to the risk of infection, fluid overload, and pain associated with IVs. Additionally, the IV poles, making it difficult to walk and otherwise move around, limit a woman’s mobility. This can lead to women becoming bed ridden during labor, which can cause malpositioning of the baby, stall of labor, and other negative effects on labor.  
Other possible complications of an IV or Saline lock include: fluid leaking out the vein into surrounding tissues (infiltration), infection of the vein (phlebitis), bruising from blood leaking into surrounding tissues during IV insertion (hematoma), piece of IV breaking off into vein (catheter embolus), air bubbles entering blood stream (air embolus), infection of surrounding tissues (cellulitis), infection in the blood stream (septicemia), and too much fluid in blood stream (fluid overload) which can lead to heart, lung, and kidney problems.
Finally, if a woman is being pumped full of fluid, it is important to remember that the baby is getting excess fluid as well. This can lead to a false birth weight. Once the extra water weight has been lost, the baby may then be classified as having lost too much weight. This can lead to a vicious cycle of formula supplementation, inadequate breast milk supply, and continued “inadequate” weight gain. 
As a general rule, a woman should have a thorough discussion with her care provider and ensure that the risks and benefits of either option have been fully discussed. Additionally, it may be a good idea to discuss the issues of IV placement with her care provider prior to labor and birth to determine her provider’s protocols and standards. When necessary, IVs are a great asset to both care provider and patient. However, unnecessary placement means unnecessary risk. Ensuring the actual, medical necessity of IV placement is the best way to ensure your risks are limited. 
Source: Fundamentals for Nursing, Version 6.1. Assessment Technologies Institute, LLC 2000-2008. 
Friday, 09 March 2012 18:00

Evangeline's Birth Story


I had an appointment with my midwife on Friday (39w2d) and baby was super low. It was getting difficult to walk around between the SPD and having such a low baby. We went over my birth plans which essentially came down to " don't touch me unless you need to or I ask for help" I laughed and told my midwife that I would see her Sunday (my last 3 babies before Evie were born on a Sunday). I left and double checked my appointment for the next week and told the receptionist I likely wouldn't be there for it. i just really felt like baby was going to come very soon. 
Saturday I didn't even have so much as a Braxton Hicks and I was not thrilled. i was starting to wonder if my intuition had been off. My 8 year old son had a major behavior and as a result broke his brothers metal toddler bed. We decided to go shopping at an IKEA for a bed set I wanted for the boys to replace it. I had no idea that IKEA was like the Labyrinth and you couldn't get in and out quickly. The littles had a blast and we found what we needed. It took us hours to find the exit and then the lines were INSANE so we opted to leave without what we came for because at that point my hips hurt so bad I wanted to cry. I lost the remainder of my plug while walking around IKEA. We stopped at a panera on the way home and I had half a sandwich but didn't really feel that hungry.
Suddenly I began to have a panic attack and I realized baby would be coming sooner rather than later. I felt that way before each of my babies births. We went home collected the older children and went to church. I met up with people I hadn't seen in a while and they were all asking when I was due. When I told them Wednesday but I felt baby was coming tonight everyone was excited. I felt especially anxious this time and asked our deacon and priest for extra prayers.
We got home and fed the kids and I just wasn't hungry. I kept going back and forth to the bathroom. I also felt like I had a hand poking me really low and as a result also needed to pee every 10 minutes. Around 11, I started to feel some real contractions and really got nervous. I just felt like something wasn't right and there was some sort of impending doom. I tried a half glass of wine and all it did was give me heartburn. I started to feel hungry but everything I tried to eat made me gag. I was so mad that I didn't nap earlier because now I was tired and too keyed up to sleep.
I put on my birth music (full of eminem and fort major as well as some great praise and worship music) I sat on my ball and tried to be calm. I wasn't in any pain yet and the contractions weren't even time-able yet. I just wanted to nap and it was making me so mad that I couldn't. Around 1 am we called the midwife to let her know that yes I was in labor and would head over when I felt ready to. At about 1:30, my legs started trembling and I started gagging after every contraction. The hospital was 25 minutes away and it was snowing so we called the midwife and let her know I was heading in.
I got in the car and prayed a rosary with my husband and that brought some relief of the fear and feeling something just wasn't right. I didn't have one single contraction in the car at all on the ride there. As soon as I got out of the car however I had one on top of the other across the parking lot into the ER. It was now just after 2 am.
I got up to L&D on my own without a wheelchair but had contractions every 10 feet. It felt good to be moving and to have something to focus on outside the fear. I got hooked up to the monitors and had my stress test (hospital policy) it felt nice to hear squish on the monitor and see baby was doing fine. it calmed my fears some thankfully. i was still gagging and puking after every contraction at this point. My midwife checked me and said I was 4 stretchy to 6 so we were in business.there would be no other checks for the rest of labor! I got in the tub and it felt lovely for about 30 seconds.
I started to feel trapped in the water and wanted to get out it was now 3 am and my contractions were every 7 minutes or so, some worse than others. I was still feeling the need to pee every 5 minutes so I sat on the toilet and had a wonderful strong contraction. We listened to baby for a second and everything sounded great. I tried the ball but baby was so low it hurt. I could feel squish filling my hips at that point. I got something to help with my nausea since I couldn't stop gagging and it was making me crazy. I needed to stay hydrated if I wanted to avoid an IV. I decided to go for a walk and got about 5 feet from my room when I had to pee again. I tried a few more times to go for a walk but had to pee constantly. I felt like I had something prodding my bladder constantly.
I figured out that raising the bed and leaning over it felt awesome.The contractions weren't super painful except for the very peak of it. sometimes I pictured god hugging me, sometimes I pictured random sexcapades DH and I had embarked on. So i did that for the next few contractions it was now 345.I asked them to lower the bed so I could sit on it one contraction later I had to pee again and went over to the toilet. DH informed me that I had a bunch of bloody show on the pad on the bed. I figured I had about another hour or so to go. As I sat on the toilet I suddenly felt my body push and felt Squish slide down and I found myself growling. The midwife came in and checked just to make sure baby wasn't going to be born in the toilet.
There was baby crowned and ready to go. it was now 3:55 AM.
She asked if I could get up and I told her I couldn't move. Her and my Hubby picked me up and moved me to the bed where I asked to be. I could not move on my own and they helped me position myself so that I could push when I was ready. The pressure was intense but not painful I felt full and slit in two along my pelvis. then my water broke as my body pushed on it's own again.. I remember saying "oh that took care of some of the pressure" then in the same moment baby came out with her hand by her face and she kicked at the same time. She flew out of me as the midwife tumbled her out of the cord that had corkscrewed around her body.
I looked and realized what I saw and asked " DID I JUST SEE BABY VAGINA?" (hows that for tact?!?)
Baby was placed on my chest and latched right on. I squealed with absolute delight over baby. She was latched on cord intact for about 15 minutes. Then I cut the cord (first time in 6 babies) and about 10 minutes later the placenta came. 
Everyone was happy and then the temperature in the room changed and my midwife was telling the nurse to start an IV right away. I started shaking violently. I couldn't talk and I could barely breath. My midwife looked me in the eye and explained I was bleeding really badly. She told me quickly what was happening and assured me we were fine. I got a shot of pitocin in my leg. another shot of something else in my leg (methagin I think).I received cytotec as well, plus some other meds that they had to put in my bum. an IV in both arms and hands and 4 bags of fluids with pitocin while they got blood. I had an oxygen mask placed and I kept asking if I should give baby to DH but they assured me the best place for her was on me. Dh and my nurse helped keep baby latched on. at one point DH asked "what was that" and was told it was a clot bigger than my placenta itself! I started to feel a little faint and told him if anything happened to me to not leave the baby's side. I told the nurse she had pretty teeth .They called in the OB and prepped the OR. 90 minutes later everything was stable without them having to truss my uterus like a turkey. the OB was awesome and very caring, even came to check on my later and bring me info about what options were if the bleeding continued. My midwife at one point stood there rubbing my hands.
Despite all of it, I felt very cared for. and my birth was freaking amazing. i refuse to allow the drama to color that in any way.So I'm on bed rest for 2 weeks to ensure no issues. I am so in love with this little girl but struggling with being a mother to 6 children and 2 girls. Tandem nursing and supply issues from blood loss are not making it any easier.
Published in Birthing Stories


Oh Mylanta! I can't believe my little baby is here in my arms!!!
It all started when my water broke Friday night. I had been eating labor-inducing foods like eggplant and basil, bouncing on the birthing ball, and swaying my hips all day. I remember that I had been thinking all day about how random events would be funny if I went into labor that day: like the fact that my parents were out of town and we were house-sitting for them while watching my memory-impaired grandmother. Later that night, I realized it was a full moon. And not just any full moon, a blue moon!! I got SUPER crazy excited, texting Michael at work and posting on FB that maybe it would be my night! 
As the evening wore on, I started to get grandma ready for bed. While waiting for her to get out of the bathroom, I did a deep squat in the doorway for a moment. When she went into her room, I walked over to make sure she was getting dressed ok and suddenly felt like I had peed my pants. GASP! Could this be it?! I texted Michael, "HOLY SHIT MY WATER JUST BROKE!" I put a pad on and told Michael that no, he didn't need to come home from work. I still wasn't having contractions. I stayed up waiting for him, hoping my contractions would start. I took a hot shower, hoping to relax my body into labor. I laid on the couch and watched tv. At one point I stood up to go to the bathroom and had that classic water running down your legs moment. I could see the little white flecks of vernix in the fluid. No doubt in my mind now. But where were those darn contractions?!

I didn't sleep well at all, anxious and excited about everything I suppose. The next morning we called my midwife, Rita, around 8:30am. It had been almost 12 hours post ROM without any sign of labor. She had me meet her at the hospital for a non-stress test to see how baby was doing and make sure my water really had broken. It felt good to finally be doing something. I was glad to hear my water really had broken and baby was doing fine. But no contractions. Rita told me she would give me 12 more hours to see if labor would start, but if it hadn't, we would need to take steps to get him out due to infection risks, even though I hadn’t been checked yet. So we went back home. I bounced on the ball all day. Baby hadn't really descended super low, so i was trying to get him to come down. I ate more eggplant and chocolate "labor cake." I paced the house. Nothing. We returned to the hospital at 7:30pm, as Rita instructed. I was either going to be induced with Cervadil, or end up with a C-section if my cervix was closed and baby was still high. It was still so surreal that we were having a baby this weekend, one way or another. Even though my mom had driven back into town and Michael's parents had met us that day, we agreed it would probably be better if they waited at home for now. 
I was admitted into the hospital right away, and Rita checked me. Baby had dropped lower, but my cervix was still thick and closed. Soft, but thick and closed. And, baby was Sunny-side up. Rita placed Cervadil up under my cervix to encourage it to soften and open up. And then we waited. We tried to sleep a bit, but of course I couldn't. My mom stopped by for a bit and brought us some snacks. I ate more of my labor cake. Mom left, and we tried to sleep again. But at that point the contractions started! It mostly just felt like uncomfortable cramps. But I couldn't sleep. I'm hazy on the details now, but I think I just paced the room while Michael slept a bit. Around 12:00am, I started timing them. They were about 5 minutes apart. At this point, I think I was still deep breathing through them. I told the nurse, and she put me on the monitor for a bit. The contractions barely registered at all. She suggested a shower, but I didn't feel like it at the time. Michael fell asleep again, and I continued to labor away. I eventually started to moan through the contractions, constantly reminding myself to keep my voice low and exhaling all the way with them. I started lying on top of a bunch of pillows in the bed, sleeping between the contractions and moaning and swaying my hips through them. When that stopped working I moved to the counter. I held on and swayed my hips in circles. I didn't consciously think about the fact that this would turn the baby, but it was exactly what I needed to be doing. Eventually I timed the contractions as 3ish minutes apart for about an hour. The nurse came in to check on me again, and I could barely focus on what was going on through the contractions. She wanted me to go back on the monitor, but I refused. I also refused to be checked. I didn't want to be disappointed if I was only at 2 cm.


Eventually the nurse did put me back on the monitor. Again, the contractions barely registered. I didn't know it at the time, but both Rita and the nurse believed I wasn't progressing. Even though I was obviously in active labor and could barely stand to be on the bed during contractions, because the monitor wasn't showing them, my nurse seemed to think they didn't exist. (She wasn't mean or anything. Rita just told me later she felt that she hadn't been fully informed about my progress.) I continued to labor standing by the countertop, swaying my hips and moaning. I was constantly moaning by this point, just getting louder and more deliberate with each contraction. I sat on the toilet for a while, falling asleep between contractions and trying to "hee-hee-hooo" my way through them. At some point I threw up several times, probably 4 or 5 times total. It was worse when I was on the monitors. The hee-hooing eventually stopped working and I went back to moaning.
My morning nurse came in and asked me to go back on the monitor. She was very technical and lacking in people skills. I felt like I was on the monitor forever, pushing my hips up so I could still sway them with each contraction. If someone came in the room in the middle of a contraction, I would lose focus and it was so hard to relax and breathe again. I remember thinking, "I must be in transition, because I'm telling myself, 'I can't do this anymore.'" I also remember thinking, "Where the f*** is Rita!" as she was supposed to be coming in at 8:00am to check me. My mother eventually came. She told me later she was very worried when she saw how hard I was laboring and how little the contractions were showing up. Then the baby's heartbeat started to drop after contractions, a bad sign. My highly techincal nurse was very worried, and when she saw my blood pressure (I had been borderline pre-eclamptic for the past few weeks), she started an IV. At this point, we were all sure that I was not progressing, and that I was going to end up with a C-section. I just remember thinking, "I wonder what it will be like to have the epidural for the c-section.” Rita finally came, and with a "That's enough of THAT" she finally let me off the monitor. I jumped to my feet and leaned over the bed, barely making it before the contraction hit. When it was over, I climbed back onto the bed so she could check me.


SURPRISE! I was 8 cm and 90% effaced!!! We were all so shocked. I don't think I even registered what that meant. I barely had time to flip over onto my hands and knees before the next contraction hit. It felt like just a few moments later I told Rita I felt like I had to push. She said "Go ahead! If your body is telling you to push, push!" I was soooo surprised and grateful that she didn't make me wait till 10 cm. I gasped to her, "Am I having this baby right now?" I couldn't believe I had made it and I was actually going to deliver him! I started pushing and noticed the contractions changed. They no longer hurt like they did before. It was nice to do something different. But it felt like nothing was actually working. Michael and Rita and my mom kept rubbing my lower back and dabbing my face with a cold cloth. Apparently I was sweating a lot. I also remember that I was pressing my IV hand into my face and it hurt. I kept asking if he was crowning yet. Rita told me I would know when I felt the burning. She encouraged me to wait for the impulse to push and to breathe with the urge. Her encouragement meant so much to me. I could hear her telling me and my family how in control I was, how I was so in tune with my body, how I knew exactly what I was doing. It was SO encouraging to hear that and gave me the strength to go on. I finally realized he was crowning. I didn't know it, but as I was waiting for the urges to breathe him out, I was keeping myself from tearing and allowing the skin to stretch. I finally reached down and was able to feel his warm squishy head!!!! I waited for the next urge and pushed again. I remember feeling like Rita was shoving her fingers around the baby's head and it hurt SOO BAD. It burned like nothing else!!! I remember yelling "OW OW OW OW" and wishing she would move her fingers!! I don't remember feeling the head come out, I just remember Rita saying, "There you go! Finish! Finish!" and she pulled him out as I gave a final push. Actually, I almost think he was out in one all happened so fast. My mom accidentally filmed the birth because she didn’t know it was happening!
I had been kneeling over the raised head of the bed, and I didn't even realize he was out until she passed the warm little slime-ball into my arms saying, "Take him take him!" I went up on my knees and just said, "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god" over and over again. He was a little blue, and Rita kept telling me to talk to him and rub him. I looked up at Michael like "look!" It was incredible. I also peeked to make sure they were right about the "boy" diagnosis. =) I remember thinking, "When did the bed get to be so high??" I was scared to turn over and sit down, but kneeling hurt! They finally helped me to flip over and sit, and they put blankets over baby and me, and Michael just stood there next to me as we admired our little boy. I remember thinking, "Aren't you supposed to forget the pain when they come out!?" as it still hurt pretty bad. Thankfully though, I hadn't torn at all!! We let the cord pulse, and then Michael got to cut it after John had gotten all the cord blood. Birthing the placenta was so warm and gross. Michael was absolutely disgusted that I wanted to make pills out of it.


We got to nurse and do skin-to-skin for almost 2 hours before they finally took him to weigh and measure. He was a tiny 6lbs 4oz, 18.5 inches long! He screamed at being taken away from me. It made me cry. He peed on the mean nurse though, which made me laugh. Michael went over and started talking to him and holding his hand and he instantly calmed down. So cute and precious. They got me up to pee, and HOLY COW did that BURN! Hurt worse than labor in my opinion. I peed 3 drops and that was all I could manage. I remember the mesh panties with the thick pads just looked super comfy. I loved those mesh panties.  Then they wheeled us off to the Mother-Baby unit where grandpas and aunties got to come see us. As comfy as my own bed is, I almost wished we were back in the hospital our first night home. I didn't mind not sleeping then. I didn't mind anything. All that mattered was that I had done it, and my son was in my arms. He was held virtually non-stop the entire first 24 hours of his life. I want him to feel and know he is loved beyond anything else.
I'm still in awe of my body and my mind and what I was able to accomplish as they worked together. I can't imagine doing it again, but at the same time, I'm excited to go back into that special place of strength and power. The fact that Rita told me later that I could have done it without her (though I doubt it; I needed her verbal support, if nothing else) and that I could "write the book and teach the class" still makes me swell up with pride. I almost feel bad about how proud I feel, but at the same time, I think it's ok to be prideful about something like this. ;)

Published in Birthing Stories
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