Today’s birth story is a guest post from Angela of Grassfed Mama.
This is my story of my daughter’s unmedicated homebirth from December 2010. This was my first labor experience and I am so grateful I was able to choose to have a homebirth with my amazing midwife.
I started having contractions early Wednesday morning around 5:30. I was 5 days post dates (or only 2 days late given due date based on conception/ovulation and not last menstrual period). I started timing them and noticed they were about 10 minutes apart. I had been having weeks and weeks of Braxton Hicks contractions so I didn’t want to get too excited. I just stayed in bed, glancing at the clock whenever I’d have a contraction. They weren’t too strong, but they were consistent.
When Adam, my husband, woke up for work around 6, I told him what was happening and to keep his phone close. I stayed in bed until 8 and then called my midwife, Becca. She told me to get my contractions going by being active. For the rest of the day I went walking (for two hours), skipping, squatting, shopping, and going to Starbucks. I was doing anything to stay on my feet.
Becca came by the house to check me around 5 or 6 that evening. My contractions were around 7 mins apart, still not strong enough to cause any pain. I was dilated to 3 and 100% effaced, but that was no change since my last appt. My contractions were real, but not painful at all. They just were not progressing to active labor.
I had previously had cryosurgery of my cervix when I was 18, and a side effect is for your cervix not to dilate and cause labor to be very drawn out. I had been coached by Becca to be aware of this. So, we all decided to go to bed and try again in morning. Adam decided to stay home from work on Thursday and help me get this labor going.
On Thursday morning, I woke up and went walking again. My contractions were weaker than Wednesday. Becca came over around 12. We talked about how my body was trying to go into labor, but my cervix wasn’t cooperating. We decided to strip my membranes, take homeopathics, use pressure points, and eat spicy food. Around 3:30, I ended up on my exercise ball to help ease the contractions. My contractions started getting stronger around 4 or so where I couldn’t talk through them. By 4:30 my contractions were in full bloom: harder and getting closer coming less than 5 minutes apart. Becca came over shortly.
Before Becca arrived, I moved into the bedroom. I labored on my hands and knees for about 2 hours. I had some heat on my back at one point. Becca and Adam fixed the bed for me, putting all the waterproofing on. During the contractions I would say “ooooh, ooooh, ooooh” in a low voice. I was in control of the pain for the most part. If I was prepared for a contraction coming, it wasn’t bad. But If I was talking right up to the contraction, I had a little more difficulty handling the pain.
I had three strong contractions back to back and I said “I need a break!” then I got about a three min break. I looked at Becca and said that’s a long break. She said “I know!” I went through transition right after the break. During transition I got the shakes very badly and I threw up all that good Pad Thai I had eaten for lunch (not at good the second time around unfortunately).
Transition was pretty quick, though. Becca asked if I wanted her to check me. She checked me and I was at 7 cm after about 2 hours of labor. I asked if I could get in tub ( Becca thought “if you make it to the tub!”) I got in the tub and labored there for two more hours. Adam ended up in the tub with me. At first I laid down in the tub, but the contractions didn’t seem like they were very effective in that position. I found some comfort in feeling the water run over my hand during a contraction. Then, I moved into kneeling on my knees and faced Adam. He held me through the contractions. Becca left us in the bathroom to labor by ourselves.
I started feeling the contractions lower in my pelvis. I remembered that these were the pushing contractions. The contractions seemed to be pushing too far back, so I moved into a position where I felt the pushing more towards the middle of my pelvis. I looked at Adam and said “I think she’s coming. I feel her head. Is her head out?” He kept telling me “no, no she’s not coming yet…” Then I finally convinced him that she was, and he called Becca into the bathroom. Becca was on the phone in our bedroom giving the other midwife directions to our house. (I had progressed so quickly she wasn’t going to make it!)
When Becca came into the bathroom, Aidalyn’s whole forehead had emerged already. When Becca looked, she saw that Aidalyn had her hand next to her face which explained why it had taken 2 hours in the tub (So theoretically I could have been in active labor for less than 4 hours, if Aidalyn hadn’t had her hand up!) Becca coached me to raise my leg to give room for her hand. In three pushes, Aidalyn was out at 9:10 PM on Thursday, December the 2nd. Becca passed her through my legs and I grabbed her and turned around to sit with Adam in the tub.
Aidalyn was in shock from such a quick labor, so we needed to get out of the tub to get her breathing and more responsive. Her APGAR scores were 5 and 6. We moved to the bed where Becca turned Aidalyn on her belly and got her to start crying. I held Aidalyn and laid in bed with Adam as the midwives left us alone. The other midwives arrived about 30 minutes after the birth. I was able to nurse Aidalyn for about an hour before we did anything else.
The midwives came back in the room and started doing all the measurements of Aidalyn: 9 lbs, 20 ½ inches, 14 cm head circumference. She was perfect! My mom arrived about an hour after the birth. I was a little scared for them to check me, because of how big she was. When it was time to check me, I only had first degree tearing and it wasn’t bad at all. Becca said I really didn’t require a stitch, but I would have to be on bed rest for two days for healing. The other midwife and Becca decided to give me one stitch just to be safe.
When we were settled, the midwives left and everyone went to bed. It was around 2 or 3 in the morning. It really was perfect and I wouldn’t do it any other way. The adrenaline was so high after the birth that I told Adam I wanted to do it again! I was in active labor for 4.5 hours and in the end had an amazing un-medicated childbirth
Some things I think really helped make this possible was having a great support team from my husband and midwife. I stayed active throughout pregnancy walking an hour at least every day until labor began. I also waited to go into labor naturally, although we did choose to help strengthen the contractions given my previous history. I drank red raspberry leaf tea during my 2nd and 3rd trimesters. I also ate a high protein diet in my third trimester. When I delivered the placenta, both midwives commented on how it was one of the healthiest placentas they had ever seen – I have to credit that to my diet and the nutrition I was getting throughout my pregnancy.
I want to thank Becca Price of Peak Midwifery and all the support and encouragement from my husband, Adam.
We are planning another homebirth this June (2013) with Annaleigh. I am praying for an experience just as rewarding as Aidalyn’s birth.
Angela Parker is by trade a Speech Language Pathologist who currently is a stay at home mom to a 2 year old and one on the way June 2013. She enjoys sewing, making crafts, cooking, travelling, and just spending time with her family. She and her husband are active in their local church serving in small groups. She writes for her personal blog at Grassfed Mama.