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I don’t know how I could have given birth without a doula March 31, 2008

Posted by guinever in : birth, birth stories, birth story, doula, health, labor, midwifery, pregnancy , comments closed

mollyThanks to Molly for sharing her birth stories with us:

When my first son was born, I was living in post-communist Eastern Europe. Think America in the 1940s and you’ll imagine the situation in the hospital correctly. I had already suffered a miscarriage while living there, which was devastating. I tried to prepare myself for natural childbirth by reading a book about the Bradley method, but I was young and didn’t really know anyone who had done natural childbirth. In the hospital the nurses told me they were going to give me a shot which would make everything better, and I wouldn’t have any side effects from it at all. I didn’t realize that they were giving me a narcotic until it was too late. I had the strangest out of body experiences and felt convinced that I was dying and no one knew it except a big dog that was beside my bed the whole time. Of course, no one saw the dog except me, LOL!

After the birth, my baby was taken away from me and I didn’t see him again for about 12 hours. He had Strep B so they made him stay in the nursery and I could only see him when I wanted to nurse. My confidence as a mother was pretty low. I had already lost one baby, then I didn’t have the victorious birth I was hoping for with the 2nd, I couldn’t nurse very well and his health problems prevented us from bonding the way I had been told we should. As a new mother, far from family and home, I felt very isolated and insecure.

hiring a doula for her second birth

It was almost four years before I would birth baby #2. I felt that my poor birth experiences had robbed me of much of the confidence I should feel as a mother. I was 100% committed to having a natural birth this time, and I felt sure that it would be very empowering. I was back in the USA, and I decided to use a doula. She encouraged me to write a birth plan and submit it to the hospital when I came in for the birth. Part of my birth plan stated in large, clear type that I did not want any medication and that no one was to offer me medication at any time. I didn’t want to be tempted.

using a midwife

I also decided to use a midwife instead of a doctor. I was a little worried that having the doula there would take something away from the experience I hoped to have with my husband. Nothing was further from the truth. The doula enabled me to have a much better experience with my husband. During my first birth I felt like I barely saw my husband…he was too busy rubbing my back and applying counter-pressure for me to see much of his face.

With the doula, she rubbed my back and did a lot of the physical things I needed (getting ice, heat packs, etc) and my husband was free to totally focus on meeting my emotional needs. He was always right there where I could see him and talk to him, and I was able to hold his hand and feel his reassuring presence. My doula handled the nursing staff for me as well, which allowed me to turn my focus more inward and just relax and think about the task at hand.

As it turns out, I don’t know how I could have done it without the doula.

I was in the transition phase for over 2 hours….I think transition isn’t supposed to last more than about 30 minutes! It’s the time when you are sweating and cold at the same time, and the contractions are so intense. All you want to do is push but it’s not time yet. My doula enabled me to take each contraction one at a time.

thanking the Lord for a natural birth

I feel confident the staff would have pushed me toward C-section if she hadn’t been there, because it was almost unbearable and it just took so long. But between the doula and my husband, I had plenty of support and was able to make it through. The doula also suggested that my husband sit behind me on the table and I leaned against him. During the contractions I dug my fingers into the knees of his jeans. When it was time push, he leaned forward and I leaned forward with him and bore down. When the contraction was over I could lean back against him for a moment to catch my breath.

It felt so safe and secure to be so close to him.

When I finally was able to push my baby out, I felt so great! I was so thrilled that I had accomplished my goal of having a natural labor and birth. I immediately felt much more confident as a mother…as a person. I can honestly say that the Lord used this birth experience to redeem much of the loss and frustration of my previous one. I felt very exhilarated and empowered by the whole thing. It was like being on top of the world. I was fully alert and could immediately nurse my baby and bond with him.

an epidural after the birth for repair

All my sons have been big, and baby #2 was no exception. I had a rectal tear when he was born which necessitated a trip to the surgeon when he was a few weeks old. They gave me an epidural and I got to find out all about what I had missed out on. It made my legs all trembly, and they had to catheterize me, as well. When the catheter came out it was painful, and I couldn’t make myself pee. It was so uncomfortable to have the urge and not be able to go. This further strengthened my resolve to NEVER have an epidural during birth.

You can read more of Molly’s birth stories

You can submit your birth story too; please click here for guidelines.


top 10 things you should do to have a natural birth September 21, 2007

Posted by guinever in : birth, doula, health, labor, midwifery, pregnancy , comments closed

jsleepingSo you’re pregnant, and you think you might want to have a natural birth. Having helped many women have natural births in my role as a doula and having birthed 5 babies naturally myself, I’d like to offer what I feel are a few of the most important things to do in order to achieve a drug-free birth.

1. Going natural is a mindset. Make the commitment during pregnancy that drugs are not an option for labor. Believe that you can do it, and you will. If you have the feeling that you’d like to try it to see how it goes, but you’re open to getting an epidural, I guarantee you that you will have the epidural. Labor is hard work and to get through it, you can’t be wishy washy going into it. One medical intervention leads to another.

2. Surround yourself with friends and family who believe that you can have a natural birth, who assume that you can do it. Tune out the negative birth stories that some girlfriends might tell you about how awful labor was until the epidural took effect. Instead, seek out labor stories from women who have had natural birth and you’ll hear how awesome the birth was, how the baby latched on right away, how the nurses kept making comments that the baby was so alert. You’ll hear how proud her husband was, what a great help to her he was during labor, and that the birth was an empowering, amazing experience.

3. Take a private, independent childbirth class. (in other words, don’t take the birthing classes offered by the hospital.) If this isn’t possible, prepare yourself by reading several pregnancy books and learning labor coping techniques. Consider my list of recommended books.

4. Choose your doctor or midwife carefully. If you don’t know where to start looking for a care provider, ask your local childbirth educators and doulas for ideas. Ask lots of questions in your first few pre-natal visits so there aren’t any surprises later on. Be wary when the answer is always, “I only do that when its medically necessary.” You need to ask them, “How often do you feel its medically necessary?” (to do inductions, planned cesareans, episiotomies, etc) You want to find someone with a low induction, low cesarean, low episiotomy (and low tear) rate. Don’t be afraid to switch doctors or hospitals no matter how late it is in your pregnancy. Remember, it is your birth, and you are hiring them to work for you. There should be a mutual respect.

5. During labor, just take one contraction at a time. Don’t worry about the length of labor–how long it has been or how much longer it might be. Women talk about their long labors, but remember, its not as if they were in constant pain for 18 hours. Contractions only last for about a minute (longer during later labor) and you get breaks in between. Don’t let anyone tell you that your body isn’t working if your labor slows down. That is just the body’s way of giving you a rest. Be thankful for the break because labor will pick up soon enough.

6. Stay home as long as possible once labor starts. Nothing slows down labor as much as going to the hospital too soon.

7. Don’t be induced unless medically necessary. About half of all inductions done on first time mothers result in cesarean birth. This is because inductions are done too soon, before mom and baby are ready for labor.  Read think twice, no think three times before being induced for labor.

8. Consider hiring a doula. Read what is a doula and should I have one?

9. Consider having a homebirth or going to a birth center. It’s so much easier to have a natural birth when you’re not in the hospital.

10. Read birth stories. Learn from the mistakes and successes of others. Be inspired from women’s birth stories. Here are a few to get you started:

Birth is a natural process and women have been birthing babies for thousands of years. You can do it too. During labor, as long as you are doing alright and baby is alright, there’s no reason to intervene in the process if you don’t want to.

Please refer to my welcome page for more articles on labor and birth.


what is a birth doula and should I have one? July 12, 2007

Posted by guinever in : birth, doula, labor, midwifery, pregnancy , comments closed

your questions answered about the purpose and value of labor support

What is a doula?

doulak1A doula is a trained birth professional who is knowledgeable about the progression of labor, pain management and coping techniques, and breastfeeding. She is familiar with your local hospital or birth center routines, medical terminology and procedures. She offers continuous support during labor and the immediate postpartum period.

What kind of support does the doula offer?

She offers physical, emotional and informational support. She will do her best to meet your needs during labor. Physical support during labor can include shoulder and foot rubs to help you relax, and counter pressure to help ease the pain of back labor. She can suggest position changes that will help your labor progress or ease your pain. She can go find more pillows or blankets, get you a cool wash cloth, re-fill your water cup or get your husband a cup of coffee.

Labor can be emotionally challenging especially if you are having your first baby. She can talk you through those really hard contractions. Labor can be especially difficult if you have a long labor or an unusually quick labor. Having an experienced woman there who you trust has a calming effect on both you and your husband. When you think you can’t possibly labor anymore and you want to give up, she’ll be beside you, the voice of experience, reminding you that you are doing it and that you’ll meet your baby soon.

Although not a medical practitioner, she is knowledgeable with medical terminology and procedures and can answer your questions or clarify something for you. When you’re in labor, you may be afraid of the unknown. A doula is there to reassure you that everything is alright. And if something isn’t progressing as it should, she’ll help to explain your options. If you have family members in the waiting room, your doula can give them periodic updates especially if you don’t want them in the labor and delivery room with you.

What are the benefits to hiring a doula?

The benefit is hiring someone who will always be with you. Nurses are busy and have many patients to help. Your midwife or doctor checks in with you only occasionally. Research indicates that when a doula is present, labors are shorter, less pain medication is requested, fewer births require forceps, vacuum extraction or cesarean. Additionally, more women breastfeed, and women are more satisfied with their birth.

What about my husband? He thinks he might want us to be alone during labor and birth. Will the doula take his place?

One of the best thing about having a doula at your birth is that she can help your husband help you if that’s what he wants to do. When hard labor kicks in and you start moaning, she can give him the thumbs up, letting him know that everything is ok. She can show him just the right place to do counter pressure on your back. A good doula stays in the background and jumps in when needed.

Understanding how labor progresses and knowing the physical changes that will take place, she anticipates your needs and is able to meet them. You don’t know how long your labor will be. Your husband may need to step out for a few minutes. With a doula there, you’ll never be alone, and if your husband never wants to leave your side, your doula can go get him coffee or dinner if necessary. It’s important that your husband meet your doula during one of your pre-natal meetings so the three of you can clarify what both their roles will be during birth.

What are the responsibilities of a doula?

A doula will be on call for you around your due date and come to your house or meet you at the hospital when you need her. She is available for phone support in those last days of pregnancy and in early labor. She stays with you during labor, birth and a few hours postpartum. She’ll come back and visit you in the first couple of days to answer any questions you might have about the birth. You’ll meet with her one last time after a few weeks postpartum.

What are some of the things a doula will not do?

A doula does not perform any clinical tasks including taking your temperature or blood pressure, monitoring your baby’s heart tones, or doing cervical checks. She also will not give you any medical advice or make decisions for you. A good doula will accept the kind of birth that you want and not try to force her own birth philosophy on you.

doula200I’m planning on having an epidural. Could I still benefit from having a doula?

Absolutely. Even if you can’t feel the physical intensity of your labor that can often be overwhelming, you’ll still experience the intense emotional changes. Your doula can help put your mind at ease and of course she’ll be there after the birth to make sure breastfeeding gets off to a good start.

It turns out that I’m going to have a cesarean because my baby is breech (or some other reason.) Can a doula still help me?

A doula can be very helpful during surgery to help you stay calm. If your husband wants to go with the baby to the nursery after the birth, she can stay with you so you’re not alone during recovery. When you and baby are reunited, she can help you position the baby for breastfeeding. You won’t be very mobile so she can grab pillows for you and make sure you and baby are fully supported so you can nurse more easily.

Can a doula help me if I’m having a homebirth?

Of course! Most doulas love having the opportunity to attend homebirths. In addition to all the duties already discussed, your doula might cook breakfast or tend to your other children if needed (although if other children are there, you should have someone at your birth whose specific job is childcare). Just remember, a doula does not take the place of a medical care giver so you will need a midwife and, if applicable, her assistant there as well.

How can I find a doula?

You can find a doula through DONA International or by calling 1-888-788-3662. If you can’t find one in your area, ask around. Your friends, childbirth educator, doctor or midwife might also be able to recommend a doula.

It’s a good idea to talk to more than one potential doula so you can see the differences in philosophy and personality to find the best choice for your birth team. Your doula should meet with you a couple times during your pregnancy to discuss your expectations for birth and her role in it. These getting to know you sessions are crucial for her to be able to offer you the kind of labor support that you need.

Do you have another question that isn’t addressed here?

I am a birth doula in Lexington, KY.


12 days overdue, but who’s counting? the diary of my pregnancy and homebirth of baby number five March 20, 2007

Posted by guinever in : birth, birth stories, birth story, home birth, homebirth, labor, midwifery, pregnancy , comments closed

ballbirthSo do you want the short version or the long one? The story of my actual labor and birth is quick and to the point. Light contractions started at 5:30 p.m. Active labor kicked in about 8:30. The baby was born at 10:36. Keep reading if you want the long version. If you already got through the title, congratulations. That was quite an eyeful! Other possible headlines for this birth story might be:

the day after Christmas 2005 Today I was certain I was pregnant. I hadn’t told anyone, not even my husband. It’s been several weeks now where I’ve thought that I might be pregnant.

a few days later I had never waited so long to take a pregnancy test. I’m usually one who tries for a positive result before a missed period. This time, I just wanted to “treasure” in my heart the possibility of being pregnant.

January 2006 I had lunch with a friend and told her the wonderful news. I asked her if she wanted to come to my homebirth, and of course she did!

First trimester This pregnancy was the only one where I didn’t feel nauseous all the time. I was grateful, yet tired, and I had cervical pressure which could be partially relieved by getting in a hands and knees position. I met with my friend Kendra, a student midwife, and discussed my plans for birth.

Second trimester When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I prayed for a labor that I could handle; I didn’t want to get an epidural. For my second birth, I added something to my prayer: Lord, could you make my labor a little shorter this time, please? Nineteen hours was a long time. For my third birth, I prayed that I wouldn’t have the same struggles with medical caregivers for a natural birth so I switched to a different midwife and a hospital a lot further away from home. For my fourth birth and first homebirth, I prayed that my midwife would arrive in time and that we wouldn’t have any complications.

Now I was pregnant with my fifth child, and again I had new hopes and prayers for my labor and birth. I prayed that everyone who was supposed to be at my birth would be there. I also prayed that I wouldn’t need any stitches. With all four of my previous births, I had torn and needed more stitches than can be counted. My perineum had suffered enough trauma and I wanted to protect it.

August 12 36 weeks. The baby dropped. I was so hormonal. Feeling absolutely yucky. I had crossed the emotional threshold. I wanted to meet my baby. I gathered all the supplies needed for the birth. I was ready for labor to start.

August 21 I had contractions every night this week as I drifted off to sleep. I was curious to know what my cervix was doing, so I asked my midwife to check me. I was 3 cm dilated. In my previous pregnancies, I had always refused all but one exam at the very end of pregnancy because of the slight risk of breaking the water or introducing infection.

Tuesday, August 22 38 weeks. I was feeling yucky. Totally tired. I was having lots of Braxton hicks. I really had the feeling I was going to have the baby in the next day or two. This was my fifth baby, so I knew that feeling well. I threw up twice. I needed to get a lot of things at the store including my traditional after-the-birth bagels and orange juice, so I took my oldest son with me to help out while my sister stayed home with the other two kids. I had seven hours of light, yet persistent contractions that day. I was exhausted and went to lie down. I called my doula and midwife to tell them what was going on. Tonight could be the night, so be on the alert. My nap was refreshing, and my contractions stopped. No baby today.

Friday, August 25 Still 3 centimeters. I was thinking that it would be a perfect time to have a baby. I went to a friend’s house Friday night. Out of the blue she asked me how I would handle Beth’s declining health and eventual death. What? I told her I didn’t need to worry about that just yet; I just needed to get past having this baby first. Besides, Beth was doing OK, I had just talked to her yesterday about a birth she had attended. I went home that night, feeling relaxed, in the right frame of mind to start labor.

Contractions started soon after my head hit the pillow. More than ten minutes apart, but they were not painless. I moaned at the peak of one, and my husband asked me if I was having a contraction. I told him yes and to just go back to sleep. He didn’t remember asking me that the next morning. I was beginning to think that this might be the real thing. Then my phone rang which confused me. I was in labor; I would be the one making calls soon, not the other way around. I answered the phone. It was the news of Beth’s death. The cancer had finally won after a nine year battle. I was stunned.

What should I do? If I was going to have a baby soon, I didn’t want my midwife and doula grieving over Beth, unable to help me during labor. But if I didn’t tell them, then I would be the only one who knew. That would be worse. And Beth was planning on coming to my birth too. With her absence, they’ll be asking if I called her yet, offering to make the call for me. And when do I tell them–after my baby is born, drop the bomb that our favorite midwife died. That wouldn’t work either. So I picked up the phone and made the midnight calls. I didn’t let on that I could possibly be in labor. They were just as surprised at the timing of her death that I was.

When I got off the phone, I pulled all my birth stuff into the living room and set it out because I didn’t want to get caught off guard like I had the last time. I even added water and plugged in the crockpot full of neatly folded preemie diapers to get ready to use for hot compresses. I laid down on the couch. I was thinking I can have a baby tonight then go to a funeral in a couple days. I might not be able to make the visitation, but I can definitely go to the funeral. Yes, I can have a baby tonight. That became my mantra.

I can have a baby tonight and then go to a funeral.

But my contractions slowed and eventually stopped.

Labor day approaching 39 weeks. My mother-in-law had plane tickets to come for a visit. I was eagerly anticipating her arrival. Then I panicked. I realized I was still pregnant. I was supposed to have had the baby before she came, so I walked to the store and bought some castor oil to take before bed. I mixed it with OJ and managed to drink it down while pinching my nose shut. I went to sleep, confident I’d be waking up with contractions. After all, the castor oil had not failed me when I had taken it with three of my other four pregnancies. I woke up the next morning still pregnant. hmm. I guess the baby isn’t ready.

We had Chinese food for supper, another thing proven to jump start labor. The next day I decided to try castor oil again. Yuck. I took it before bed and set the timer for 2 o’clock. If I wasn’t in labor by then, I was going to take another dose. The alarm went off and I changed my mind. I didn’t want to drink the slippery liquid again and gag.

September 1 For four hours, I alternated taking black cohosh and blue cohosh every15 minutes before going to bed. I also did lots of walking. In the morning, I was still pregnant. My mother-in-law arrived.

September 4 I didn’t sleep well. I was restless in my bed. I got up at 3 am and did some deep knee bends and walked outside.

September 7, the night of the full-moon. 40 weeks, 2 days. Todd and his mom took the kids out so I had the house to myself for a couple hours. I put on some lively Elvis music and danced and bounced. I was determined to get this baby out of me. When I was tired, I got out my ball and bounced and swayed on it for awhile. When the kids came home, they thought it looked like a lot of fun so they joined me in dancing to Elvis. I laughed and laughed; they were so funny.

Yes, this must be what my baby and body were waiting for. The full moon. I walked in the darkness, back and forth under the light of the moon, swaying, thinking of the ocean. I closed my eyes and tried to smell the salt-air. I was at the ocean, the moon was pulling the tide forward. The moon was pulling my baby out. Back and forth I walked and swayed outside my house. No contractions. I went to bed and woke up again the next morning, refreshed and still pregnant.

September 14 41 weeks, 2 days and 5 centimeters dilated. I wasn’t surprised at this news. I had light contractions all the time. The baby is so low, Kendra told me I could just reach up and feel the baby’s head if I wanted to. I’ve decided that this is the longest labor in history. I’m just going to continue dilating about 1/2 centimeter a day without ever really going into labor. Then I’m going to stand up and the baby will come out. No pushing necessary.

September 15 –Ten days past my due date I’m not pregnant, I decided. It’s an illusion. There is no baby. There is no pregnancy, therefore, there will be no labor. I tried to convince myself of this. I e-mailed the ladies on the natural birth list I’m on, telling them of my predicament and seeking encouragement. They told me the words I needed to hear, the words I’ve told many women before: just be patient. Labor will start when you and the baby are ready. They told me how great it was going to be that I could now empathize with women who go over their due date.

Kendra came over and she rubbed clary sage on the uterine pressure points on my ankles. We watched birth videos, and I felt incredibly relaxed.

Sunday, September 17 I woke up and was extremely achy. I wondered if it was my birthday. How old am I now? Todd gave me a box of truffles. There was no way that I was going to sit through church. I was hot and tired and my back was sore, very sore. After church, Todd called me and wondered if I minded if he and the kids went to the pastor’s house after church. Mind? No, I don’t mind. Are you kidding me? Stay as long as you want! I was enjoying alone time in the quiet house and had gotten some much-needed rest and now I could rest some more in the afternoon. I called my midwife or maybe she called me and said she was going to drop off some Cimicifuga; I already had Caulophyllum. She explained that I should alternate taking them every 15 minutes. These were the homeopathic form of black cohosh and blue cohosh. I lit a candle and poured some lavender bubbles into my bath. And I listened to music from Enya.

5:00 I took my first dose of the C & C. I had a light contraction with the third dose 30 minutes later. I continued taking the tablets and my contractions continued 5 minutes apart. Occasionally, they jumped around from 3 minutes or 7 minutes apart, something common during early labor. I quickly realized that finally I was having a baby so I had a few things to do. I sat at the computer, bouncing and rocking on my ball and did the lesson plans so Todd could teach the boys the next week if the baby did finally come.

7:15 I called Jan and left a message that I was probably in early labor and she should plan on coming tonight. Around this time, Todd called to let me know that he and the kids were on the way home. I didn’t tell him what was going on.

Lauren called to let me know I could go to the massage school the next day for a pregnancy demo. Ha! I told her I was in early labor and I had better still not be pregnant in the morning. I’d call her a little later when things picked up.

I called Shelly and she asked me if this was it. She hung up pretty quick and must’ve hopped in her car immediately because she was the first to arrive right after my midwife even though she was the furthest away.

I also called Amy, my sister-in-law, and my mom to let them know I was in labor. I had never done this before–had so many people at my birth nor called family members while I was in labor.

a little after 8 P.M. The family burst in the house to find me with some upbeat music on, bouncing on my ball. Contractions were starting to get a little edgy but I was coherent in between and kissed the boys goodnight. Twenty-two month old Mary stayed with me, but soon I didn’t like her around because she wouldn’t stop chattering or touching me during contractions.

I called Jan again to let her know I’d like her to come over. While on the phone, I had a contraction and fell silent. Then I had another one that was much lighter and that I could talk through. I decided I had better get off the phone and concentrate on being in labor or it might stop again like it had been doing all month!

8:40 Kendra, my midwife, arrived. My contractions were short and intense. I couldn’t talk during them, but I was still chatty in between them. She took my blood pressure. Great. She listened to the baby’s heart tones. I had a happy baby.

9:15 We called Lauren. Then Shelly arrived. Contractions continued. Then Linda, Jan and Marje arrived. The boys were already asleep, but Mary didn’t want to miss the party so she came out and went back and forth between Shelley and Jan.

I sat on the floor, leaning against Todd in between contractions. I asked him to rest his hand on my sacrum when I leaned forward for contractions.

I went to the bathroom and Todd followed a few minute later. My contractions were harder and my moans became louder and longer, matching the intensity of the labor waves that were overtaking me. I took my pajamas off and put on a nightgown so I wouldn’t have to do it later.

I went back to the living room, and had a flashback of my last birth where the end of my labor came upon me very quickly and there was a rush to get something under me. I didn’t want that to happen again, so I asked if someone could put the vinyl tablecloths on the floor. I mentioned there was duct tape. Marje jumped into action. Boy, she was really good with the duct tape. Maybe that’s why she was at the birth. Nearly everyday of this pregnancy, I had prayed that whoever was supposed to be at the birth, would be at the birth. Marje wasn’t even on the list of invited guests and here she was, my duct tape angel. She also brought me water and a washcloth when I needed them.

10:26 I went to the floor where I had been before and my labor intensified. Anne, my friend and doula arrived. I was glad that she was here. I chanted,

“Baby come out.”

Active labor slipped into transition. I glanced behind me at the clock. 10:30. I thought I had better have this baby today because there’s no way that I can be in labor for another hour and a half plus. While anticipating the next contraction, I decided I would push with the next one, just to see what would happen. I had not felt the physical urge to push yet, but all of a sudden, I was having an overwhelming mental urge to push. So I waited for the next wave. And I bore down.

I must have made some type of birth is imminent noise because my birth team–my midwife, the more experienced midwife and doula were all hanging out in the kitchen just a few steps away from me, but they came running when they heard my grunting. Kendra pulled on her gloves and asked me if I wanted her to check me.

Did I want her to check me? Uh no, I didn’t want her to check me. I was about to have a baby.There was no need to check me. She wondered if she needed to put her gloves on yet, if she was about to catch a baby. So I put my hands between my legs and I told her that I could feel the baby’s head. I withdrew my hand and it was all goopy so I asked for a wipe. I’m not sure why I was so obsessed with cleaning my hand at this point, but I was. Lauren walked in. I said,

“OK, everyone’s here. I can have the baby now.”

10:33 Anne asked me if I wanted to lie on my side. We had talked about it a few times during my pregnancy. I had told her to remind me to lie down, I told her to make me lie down. I had failed to lie down with my fourth birth even though I fully intended to…The reason for side lying in my case was so I would put pressure on a different area on my perineum to decrease the chance of tearing. Anne said “We’re going to lie down now,” and she grabbed my shoulder and pushed me down to the floor, guiding me to a side-lying position. I said,

“Pray I don’t tear. Pray I don’t need stitches.”

I am very grateful that Anne made me lie down and didn’t take my no for an answer! Thanks Anne!

I pushed. I was crowning. Anne held my leg back a little more. Todd was right beside me. Kendra used hot compresses to provide counter-pressure as I pushed. She told me to stop pushing. I breathed in and then blew out and blew out some more, waiting out the contraction. I pushed again for a couple seconds before Kendra and Linda told me to stop. Kendra supported my perineum, holding everything in. I took a deep breath and exhaled and exhaled. I lay on my side and felt my baby’s head. I wondered if this baby were Ruth or Jackson.

10:36 I waited for the physical urge to push and followed the cues from Kendra. The baby’s head emerged. I breathed and waited for the next urge to push a few seconds later. Then the body followed. Todd announced that it was a boy. It was Jackson. I took him to me and sat up holding him. I leaned back on Todd. Jackson was crying. He had pinked up immediately and he had perfect 10, 10 Apgar scores. Healthy lungs. I called my parents and told my dad it was a boy.

This had been my most peaceful, quiet birth. This was the first baby that I hadn’t roared out of me.

10:56 The placenta released and third stage was over. Jackson latched on and was nursing beautifully. The placenta was smaller than my other ones at only 6 1/2 inches diameter. And it was an unusual battledore, left spiral attachment (this last bit of info is for all those quirky midwives who keep placentas in their freezers and then take them to meetings to show off). For the rest of us, this means that the cord was attached to the side of the placenta instead of in the middle.

And I didn’t need stitches. Thanks, Kendra.

Everyone retreated to the dining room for chocolate and orange juice so Todd and I could be alone with Jackson. A few minutes later, I hugged everyone goodbye on my way to the shower. My two midwives stuck around.

11:49 I asked Todd if he minded if I cut the cord this time. Jackson weighed in at 8 pounds, 8 ounces. I was tired drifted to sleep in beside Todd with Jackson in the crook of my arm.

Read my other birth stories.
diary of a primipara
my second labor–a lot quicker than my first
the labor that kept on stopping–my third birth
born in our living room-the story of my fourth birth


born in our living room: the birth story of my fourth baby December 17, 2006

Posted by guinever in : babies, birth, birth stories, birth story, home birth, homebirth, midwifery, pregnancy , comments closed

born-in-the-living-roomMary Suzannah was born Thursday, November 18th at 3:04 a.m. in our living room. She weighed 9 pounds and was 21 inches long.

On Wednesday, I really wanted to have this baby so I did several things to help bring labor on! A few trips around the block throughout the day. Eggplant Parmesan for lunch. Todd massaged the acupressure points above my ankles. Hot salsa at dinner time. Braxton Hicks started about 7 P.M. while doing the hokey pokey with the kids.

I was feeling “yucky” between 10 and 11 and just laid on the couch. I don’t remember having any contractions–just an unsettled feeling. Did I mention I took a teaspoon of castor oil with OJ too? I went to bed at 11 P.M. Contractions immediately started hurting (finally!). I called Anne (my friend and doula) at 11:30 to have her head on over. After talking, I wondered if I had called her too soon. But it’d take her about an hour to get here, and I just had a feeling that harder active labor could kick in any time. I didn’t call Todd at work because I didn’t want him to be anxious or bike home before his shift was over if I didn’t really need him yet. I stayed in bed another 20 minutes.

Anne arrived at 12:40 am to find me pacing the living room, eating a frozen juice bar. We talked between contractions for awhile, but Abby (21 months old) was crying so Anne went to rock her. At 1:30, Todd came home and held Abby for a little while before putting a vinyl table cloth under the sheet to protect the mattress for the birth. Abby kept calling out my name.

Mommy. Baby. Mommy Baby.

So we let her join us in the living room. She was a little doula/midwife, lying down next to me with her baby doll, rocking on all fours like I did and moaning with me. Abby also mimicked Anne; when Anne pressed on my back, Abby pressed too.

Soon, I settled down on my knees leaning over the love-seat in the living room. I didn’t want to move. At 2:00, Anne called my midwife to alert her that I’d be having the baby that night. We didn’t necessarily need her to come right away. But when she asked me if my contractions were up front or down low, I said they were low and I could feel them down my legs. Maybe she should come, I thought. I asked her what she was doing and she said, it’s 2 am; I’m in bed sleeping. (Right, duh!). I said well you can sleep over here if you need to. At 2:30, we called two more of my friends that were planning on coming over. I didn’t dream birth was only a half hour away.

I started sitting more upright toward the end of my contractions moving my hips forward. I was feeling a little “pushy” but I didn’t tell Anne or Todd because I didn’t want to say I was pushy only to find out I wasn’t “very far along.”

But just a couple minutes later when my midwife walked in the door, I knew for sure this was it. Another contraction hit and I yelled,

I’m pushing — you’d better get something under me.”

Todd was already on his way to get a vinyl tablecloth and the basket full of chux. I really don’t know how they saved the carpet in time because I had everything gushing out of me! I heard my midwife say, “There’s a baby. There’s a baby.” I rubbed the top of my baby’s head until I felt the next urge to push. And out the head came. A few seconds later, I pushed hard again, and the baby slid right out of me. I heard someone say, “It’s a girl.” I scootched back and the midwife passed her to me under my legs and I picked her up. I took a deep breath and whispered, “It’s Mary.” Then I turned around so I could lean back against the couch. Abby was right beside me. I laid down on the floor so we wouldn’t have to cut the cord right away. When we put a hat on Mary’s head, Abby pointed at the hat and to her head, indicating she wanted a hat too.

Mary didn’t nurse right away like my other children had. About 45 minutes after birth, she was lying on my chest. She opened her eyes, lifted her head up, saw my nipple and dove for it. (Very cool!) Just like I had seen before in the video Delivery Self Attachment.

Alex came out of his room just in time to watch Mary being weighed and diapered. He said he had heard the baby crying. Later, Caleb came out too. About 3 hours after the birth, we all climbed into bed for a family picture.
Anne and the midwife went home, Todd put the kids to bed, and then he went outside to bury the placenta in the rhubarb patch (gotta love a man who doesn’t procrastinate on stuff like that!). Holding Mary, I rested a little while before calling my parents to tell them the happy news!

Read my other birth stories:

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