So you have decided on your care provider, Congratulations!
Now you arrange your prenatal appointments. Up to 28 weeks you will probably see your provider once a month. Then at 28 to 34 weeks you will more than likely see your provider every two weeks. At the 34 week visit you will start seeing your provider every week until you give birth. Your provider will also schedule you in if you are having problems or if you need the extra support.
If your care provider doesn’t have an office then you can expect to have your appointments at your home. This allows for several things, you to be comfortable, typically more time to discuss any questions or issues and your care provider will be comfortable knowing where your home is when it is time for baby to come earthside.
Go back to: Step #3: What If My Partner/Family Disagree With Home Birth?
Go ahead to: Step #5: Tests and Ultrasounds
Go to: Birthing Methods Main Menu
This is a hard question to answer. You are going to need to have open dialogue and find out why your partner or family has reservations. There are tons of home birth videos on Youtube that you can watch to see the what a homebirth looks and sounds like. There are also documentaries out there like The Business of Being Born, More Business of Being Born, and Pregnant in America which go through many of the common misconceptions of homebirth and the risks of delivering in a hospital. Some answers may come from looking at statistics of risks. Those can be harder to find but they are available. Reading books written by Ina May Gaskin or Jennifer Block’s Pushed are a good place to start. Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May is one of the first recommended titles to mothers to be who want home births and Pushed looks at the history of birthing in America and where it currently is.
In the USA the CDC has a list of the statistics of home birth from 2009 and according to it, preterm home births was 6% compared to 12% at hospitals, low birth weight is at 8% for hospitals and 4% for home birthers. Here is the link for this data and also to see what some of the other statistics are. These are American statistics and the data is much different in other countries. Europe has a much higher concentration of midwives to OB/GYN’s and has a much higher home birth rate.
When it comes to family it can be difficult for them to understand your needs and to remove their own fears from your particular situation. Having open conversation is again the most important thing to do. You need to stick to your guns and hopefully they will respect your decision regardless of their personal feelings.
Go back to: Step #2: Whether to Find a Care Provider or Not
Go ahead to: Step #4: Appointments
Go to: Birthing Methods Main Menu
If you have made the decision to have a midwife-assisted or unassisted home birth, there are a few things you will want to consider.
If a midwife-assisted birth is what you've chosen, you will want to research the midwives in your area and possibly talk with other women who had a positive experience with them. The regulation of midwives varies in the U.S. Some insurance policies may cover midwives, and some families choose to incur the cost.
In Canada, midwifery is regulated in many of the provinces and costs covered by the province's health insurance coverage.
Once you've chosen your midwives, discuss any questions or concerns you may have. Developing a good rapport with your midwife will help you feel at ease during labour and postpartum.
Your midwife office may have a lending library of resources for you to read while pregnant. Keeping current and informed will help you make the best decisions and give you suggestions you may want to implement into your birth plan. Here is a helpful list of things to consider when planning your birth:
Gathering your support is one key step in developing your birth plan. You may want your birth to be a very intimate affair with only your partner present, or you may choose to add others. Only you can make this decision and it is important that your wishes are respected.
Visualize exactly how you want your birth to go. Find the right music, scents, or comfort items that will help set the stage for the birth you want. Trust that you are capable and let go of negative feelings or misconceptions. Imagine the way you want to greet your baby, and make it happen.
Stress can be harmful to you and your growing baby. Whatever your emotional state may be, chemicals are sent through the placenta to your baby which can affect the baby's development.
Learning how to lower your stress through relaxation, meditation, and overall health, will give you and your baby the best possible outcomes.
Gathering your birth supplies a few weeks before your baby arrives will help you feel prepared and also give you something to do during the home-stretch.
In some cases, your midwife may provide you with a homebirth kit, or you may wish to purchase your own.
With a water birth, you may buy or rent a birth pool and liner from your midwife, or online.
Here are some great instructions on how to make the birth bed.
Make or buy as much food as you can before the birth. Choose quick, healthy meals that you can grab easily and require very little effort. Postpartum is no time to think about fat free meals or meal replacements. You need calories, and you will be HUNGRY! It is important to nourish yourself so you can take care of your child.
You may also want to treat yourself to a house-cleaner just before baby arrives. It will be one less thing you have to do, so you won't feel the need to scrub the toilet during labour.
Establish Breastfeeding Before It Starts
Get into contact with your local La Leche League chapter. Talk to a leader and let them know that you may need help in the next few weeks. Getting to know them prior to birth and attending meetings while pregnant, will ease the transition after birth.
Enjoy the last few weeks!
Make a list of the things you want to accomplish before baby comes, and start crossing them off. It may be a date night with your husband, a spa day, or just some luxuriously long naps. It will give you something to look forward to, and something to look back on once baby arrives.
This is the story of my third baby’s entry into the world, and how I gained respect for myself again. Evening, November 5, 2002: My membranes ruptured at nearly 38 weeks pregnant with my son Mathew. I wanted our birth to be natural and drug free, as this is what I had read what was best for mom and baby: to let your body do its thing during labor and childbirth. As soon as I arrived at the hospital I was on their clock. 1st intervention: Pitocin after an hour. Then more Pitocin and more monitoring. He was born the morning of November 7th, via ‘emergency’ caesarean. My recovery lasted weeks. (I finally started to have feeling in my lower abdomen around the time Matt turned 2 years old). He was weak, and bruised, and stayed at the hospital for a week for observation. Feeling as if I had already failed in providing a safe environment and a good start, I died a little inside then.
Morning, November 27, 2008: Contractions start at 40 weeks 5 days gestation with my daughter, six years later. I didn’t have much support. I received a lot of negativity from numerous people about my decision during my pregnancy. But I was hell-bent on having the birth women were intended to give their children. I was not going to take shit from anyone. When I felt ready to go in, my husband knew not to let me sign the surgery consent form. I go in to the hospital, and I automatically deny the surgery. The pressure’s on, along with comments of “you’re going to end up with a dead baby”, “you need to be quiet, you’re going to upset the other women in labor”, and “you need this IV and cervical check, stop squirming”, and “the anesthesiologist wants to send you to Spokane because he has to stay up here for you, away from other patients that need him”. My husband was scared and he had the bullying turned on him. He didn’t want to see me in pain. I was so vulnerable. I gave up, and gave in. And I died more. I feel they took part of my soul with the epidural insertion, along with my dignity. There was nothing left in me to care for my child, or myself. I was just a shell, walking around withthis vacant look in my eyes. Physically I healed slowly. I wasn’t strong as I had initially believed about myself, and most people let me know it.
At 1ish AM, December 1st, 2011: I am 40 weeks 5 days with my 3rd child, unknown sex. I have had consistent prodromal labor for what seemed like months (was more like a week, 10 days maybe),getting more intense each session. This one contraction woke me up. I went to the bathroom, walked around, chugged a glass of water. They kept coming. Meditative breathing techniques came in handy.
I was having back labor pains. Those are the worst! I woke Jon up in between a couple, told him I was going to get in the bath tub. He came in with me, and timed them. He called our midwife, Kristin. We were now in rush mode: him waking up the kids and shoving toothbrushes and phone chargers in the suitcase, I leaning over the side of the bed with each wave, and attempting to put pants on in between. We had a potentially long drive ahead of us.
When I found out I was pregnant with Jameson, I probably turned purple trying to not slip into a panic attack. I could not go through what I had before. I could not deprive my kids of their mother again. I would not. Jon and I discussed our options, and decided. We called the 1st midwife. Due to a couple technicalities, not health related, she was unable to take me on. The next midwife was at least 2 hours away. We decided to see if we could find an OB that would promise no pressure.
At about 5 months pregnant I had the worst appointment ever. I found that the OB I had chosen had gone on maternity leave herself until January. The other OB I saw at this appointment said I was stupid for wanting a natural birth after 2 surgeries. He ‘didn’t know of any studies anywhere regarding how successful they are, and frankly couldn’t see one done’. He actually believed that lying to me would make me comply with scheduling a surgery. Like women make decisions like this blindly. Dumbass. I never went to that office again.
I had emailed the 1st midwife and begged her for help. Jon and I had discussed unassisted birth, as a last resort, but I still needed the care and support. She gave my number to Kristin, a midwife a few hours away that was willing to talk with me to see what she could do. I am so thankful for her. We got my anxiety under control, my nutrition on a better track, supplemented by vitamins that made a world of difference. I was urged to do some sort of modified exercise.I was also given resources on birth and vaginal births after caesarean. My light-headedness stopped, I had more energy and could concentrate better. My outlook on this new addition changed to positive anticipation from dread.
Now that I was in labour, we were driving to our midwife. She couldn't come to me, but I could sure as hell go to her. During the drive, my 9 year old son slept. My 3 year old daughter talked. NWPR classical music was on the radio until we lost signal and couldn’t find it again. After that, silence. My husband drove and timed my contractions. I breathed through the quiet times, breathed and talked myself through the contractions, cluthing pillows or the dash. It was a 2-3 hour drive, approximately 180 miles. It sure didn’t feel like it was that long. My contractions were consistently 4 minutes apart. Baby was turned in a way to cause back pain. That was the worst part, besides having to make do with sitting up.
I kept chanting through my contractions: “I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m ok...” Jon would say, “You’re doing great,” and I would reply half the time irritably with “I KNOW...” It seemed to be the mantra of the whole incident. In the back of my mind, I was still worried something would happen and I would fail. I couldn’t fail.
We made it with no incident, between 3:30 and 4 AM. Kristin helped me inside, and then helped get kids situated. Lorri, the second midwife, helped me relax and move the baby by modified child’s pose, enough relief off my back. The tub was up and getting filled. I got my blood pressure taken, and fetal heart monitoring was done periodically by Doppler. I started losing the mucous plug about this time (obviously an indicator I was actually in labor). Kids were situated upstairs; Jon helped me by letting me hold onto him and talking with the midwives about what had happened so far. He also talked with me at this point, though I was not very talkative.
The tub was great. The warmth helped soothe, and the water helped lift some weight pressure off of my pelvis. At some point I just groaned in ecstacy: "I feel like I'm on druuuugs..." (Your body makes tons of oxytocin during labor). Apparently I was pretty funny. I was more comfortable during this time leaning over the edge of the tub on my knees. A few times I lost concentration and was unable to handle a contraction; either Kristin or Lorri was there to help me get back on track. Jon never left my side. Ella, my daughter, came down periodically to see what was going on. Matt, my son, stayed upstairs playing video games. I was worried that he would not go through it well, but he handled me screaming at the end. He didn’t care to be a witness to the dirty work though.
We could tell I was moving into the pushing stage when contractions slowed and came with more pressure. I feel like I dozed in between, alternating sips of water and juice. At one point I just started with this screaming that felt like it came from the very fiber of my being. I don’t know where it came from or who at the time. And oh God, it felt so good to let it all go. After that I felt detached but aware of what I was doing. Each wave came and went. The pressure became so intense. I kept trying to move around to get more comfortable. The head was moving down further and further, and I could feel everything.
During this time I remember sobbing a little, saying “I can’t do this” over and over. I’m not sure to what context I was talking for; I knew I still didn’t want to actually give up. Looking back I wonder if I was just getting impatient.
My body pushed a bit and out came a tiny head. At least I thought it was! What I had actually pushed out was a little bit of the amniotic sac. The flow of fluid in and out was the weirdest feeling! I thought constantly, ok, it just ruptured, it just had to have! It never did. Each time he moved downward fluid would flow back up, making room for his head.
I felt enormous pressure on my rectum. I felt the urge to push. I don’t think it was me that pushed. My body just did it on its own. I felt like I wanted to deliberately do something, but I couldn’t.I kept thinking, "This is taking too long!". I want to say it took 2 to 3 pushes for the head to completely descend out and replace the sac. I felt every little ridge of his face and head. I wouldn’t say it was excruciating, but it definitely was something new.
He stayed a few minutes that way, his head in the sac underwater. Lorri asked if I wanted Jon to catch our baby. I moved from my knees to reclining in the water. A contraction came, but nothing. Another, and I willed baby to come. Holy crap! Shoulders, chest, arms, bum, legs, feet! That push and he shot out of his warmth towards his father. I openmy eyes, and watch in daze as this other living part of me became separate, at full speed. Membranes ruptured at this time.
At the same time, I hear “oh no, Wow”, or something to that effect. Kristin had taken off from my side and Lorri’s arm shot in the water. The umbilical cord had ruptured completely, spilling blood into the water and from baby. Jon had already brought baby to me, and though there was this emergency, the product of my labor was in my arms- not taken to another place to be suctioned, scrubbed, wrapped, poked. Kristin got the cord secured. She had the oxygen tank on as well. Lorrie was holding the rest of the cord to ensure it didn’t go back inside me. Baby was pale, and not breathing as well as he should have due to the blood loss. I kept talking to him, though I wasn’t sure what to say. He kept coughing, upping a gob from his lungs each time. We did have to suction him.
It was decided that Jon should take him to work the crud out of his lungs while labor finished in the tub. As soon as the placenta was done (pains felt duller, and the birth was like a squishy baby mass), I was able to get up and out of the tub and into a robe- not wheeled to another completely separate lace down the hall to recovery. As I walked-walked!- into the rest of the room toward the bed, I got to see Jon, bare-chested with baby in his arms with the oxygen tube facing him. He coughed and a huge gob came out. His face darkened at least 3 shades immediately. Whew. Jon brought him back to me and I got to work on helping him adjust. His cry was bliss. (This is essentially similar to what a newborn in a hospital has to go through: look up benefits of delayed cord clamping
). I was still in a daze through this entire time, thanks to my natural hormones.
We were able to have our first breastfeeding session within that first hour. He stayed on me, chest to chest, 95% of the time after he left Jon. Lights were still dim, quiet, Lorri and Kristin going about their business, kids and Jon at our side taking and oohing. His initial newborn check was done in bed right beside me. So in awe of what I just did, and that he was here with me. We were exhausted. So ecstatically exhausted.
I had a ‘barely’ 2nd degree tear that required a few stitches. This was probably caused by my body involuntarily pushing him out. Other than that, I had a few scratches that felt like paper cuts. Postpartum pain was handled with comfrey compresses, arnica, rest, and hydration. No overkill pain meds that made me puke or break out in hives. I didn’t need anything else.
Jameson Luke was born at 8:48 AM, approximately 7-8 hours of labor, approximately a half hour of actively pushing, in water. He was a surprise gender, 21 inches long, and 8 pounds, 5 ounces. He was the largest out of my 3 total children born. His birth was everything I had hoped it would be, outside of the cord shredding.
The cord issue was something that couldn’t be avoided. There was no obvious cause for this happening, but there are a few theories. Could have been the force he was born with, a weak spot in the cord, etc. It obviously could be taken care of by midwives outside of a hospital setting, for which I am grateful they are trained so well. Jameson has had no effects to the temporary loss of blood and oxygen, though he missed the benefits of them.
I have so many things I am thankful for with this postpartum recovery. I am thankful for no IV’s, tubes, or monitors. I am thankful I was able to walk after, and the only ‘out-of-itness’ I felt was due to my own hormones and not anesthesia. I remember everything from his first days. I don’t feel violated. I feel my baby was treated delicately, as infants should. I had support during pregnancy and labor. I am still enjoying the benefits of proper postpartum care now. Breastfeeding has been more of a joy and bonding opportunity than something I used to dread (thrush, engorgement, mastitis, inadequate coaching of latch, depression). My overall mental health is positive, though I do get weepy when I’ve had very limited sleep. I am still worried ifI’m going to end up having postpartum depression, but if I do, I am positive I will not endure the severity of last time.
The bottom line: Jameson’s birth was healing. I have healed physically and mostly emotionally; some scars will take years to process. I am no longer as bitter toward the maternal care system, and those that told me to ‘suck it up’. I would still like to say ‘middle finger up to the man’ though. For that I am able to truly focus on my children and family, and myself. I am a better parent for this, and we have all already benefited. I exceeded my goal in so many ways, and for that I am grateful for the lengths many are willing to go to help a woman succeed in her most desperate time. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
It was a chilly morning in Topanga Canyon, California and I knew Skyler Jade, my third daughter was planning the next day for her arrival into this world. My mind went into an altered state, one of constant visualization and meditation. That precious moment, holding my baby for the first time, was what I had organically prepared myself and her for. Although it would be the first time I would hold her tiny body, I had seen her face a thousand times in my dreams and visualizations. Everyday for 286 days, I had meticulously envisioned all the tiny details of how I wanted her birth to happen. But I didn’t just think about, I felt it in every single nerve in my being, everyday... With this awareness, the next morning I awoke, armed with the strength of a trillion women who had born children before me, and the full support of my husband, Bryan. We walked up and down our long, steep driveway all morning, preparing my body for the massive stresses and beauty it was about to endure.
I calmly went into full-blown labor at 8:30 that evening as I was reading my daughter books to bed. Breathing through the contractions and trying to disguise the pain that I was feeling, I slowly turned the pages. I’d had two children already, so I knew the hormones flooding my body right now were the physical signs that Skyler was ready and coming, really soon. I looked over at Bryan, who was reading our other daughter a book, and very simply nodded my head; he knew exactly what that meant. It was now time to surrender to the many months of visualizations while trusting my body’s natural ability to birth our baby. I finished up the book and cuddled Zoe to sleep, knowing that this was the last night she would be my youngest daughter. I kissed my oldest child, Cassidy and tucked her in her covers, knowing that she was going to love meeting her newest sister in the morning. We left our two girls in their room, knowing that tomorrow, we would have 3 girls to kiss goodnight.
Together, Bryan and I were ready to embark on this birthing journey. We closed ourselves in our warm and primal birthing bedroom. The coyotes were howling more than usual that night. The entire pack sounded like they were in a choir, singing to Mother Earth as she welcomed a new soul onto her soil. Bryan began filling up the birthing pool with hot water from a hose connected to the sink. At this point I had been in labor for 40 minutes. 40 minutes of increasingly intense contractions. They started 5 minutes apart but very quickly, it seemed like they were happening within moments of each other. The pain was almost unbearable. I struggled to get comfortable, moving from side to side on my bed. Bryan rubbed my back with Arnica cream to help relieve some of the severe lower back pain. A powerful peace came over me for a few minutes when the owls outside began to hoot loudly in the trees around my birthing sanctuary. I kneeled on the floor with my forehead resting on a big red stretching ball while I struggled through a few more intense contractions. The rocking chair that had helped us put both of our children at peace before sleep for almost 10 years glowed in the corner of the room. I sat down in it and Bryan examined me only to find out I was dilated, a lot! He wasn’t sure exactly how much, but in his words, I was huge! I got up from the rocking chair after a few more intense contractions and Bryan held me up, my head on his shoulder. Thoughts and questions were racing through my head and hormones were rushing through my body, every nerve seemed to pulse with extreme pain, I wondered in these seconds if I could take this intensity for hours. My plan for my entire pregnancy was that I would give birth naturally at home with only my husband and children there.
Though I had never wanted nor considered a hospital birth, I knew that possibility was now gone, Skyler had embraced her freedom and nothing was stopping her and I was not about to deliver her in a car on my way to a hospital after all this. Because I had no artificial drugs of any kind, and nothing but bliss surrounding me, I was able to feel hers and my body acting as one, it was a natural, painful and magnificent process. In that moment I let myself absorb Bryan’s strength and support and a bond was created between us that became imprinted on eternity. I fully trusted myself to trust and surrender to him, I couldn’t do this without him, this was now his purpose as much as it was mine. I let go of anything an ego or mind would or could hold onto. I felt love replace it all.
After a relatively short eternity, as every minute seemed right now, my kiddy pool adorned with cartoon fish and seaweed, doubling as a holy birth bath was full of welcoming warm water. It was 10 o'clock, and I'd been in a fully immersive, drug free labor for an hour and a half. Both my previous births were hospital births with 4-hour labors, so I was expecting at least another two hours of this core-shaking pain. That thought was honestly terrifying. Could I do this? My strength was dwindling, it wasn't just the excruciating pain I was in, it was the expectation of it worsening even more that horrified me. As I immersed my utterly exhausted body in the warm healing water, Bryan knew instinctively what I needed right now. The beautiful, powerful and sacred necklace made for me by the most powerful women I know at my Blessingway ceremony, hung proudly on the wall. Bryan reached for it and placed it around my neck.
The centerpiece of the necklace was a small Buddha made from beautiful Jade. The whisker of a mighty Tiger was attached to the Buddha and hung down between my breasts. Intricate beads and charms, supercharged with female energy, were ornately handcrafted into this necklace by powerful women I love and respect. At that moment, I felt all of the positive blessings and passionate energies that each woman had put into that necklace. I felt the courage, power and strength of the Tiger. My body relaxed immediately as I entered the warm water with the necklace now energetically re-powering me. It was the first relief of pain that I had felt since the contractions began. My body melted into the water as I scanned the room around me. The flickering flames of countless candles danced around me to the melodious music of Enya, which brought serenity into the space that I had created for my angel to arrive. Bryan climbed into the bath and straddled me. All the pain became pure Euphoria.
Suddenly, the primal urge to push overcame my ripe body and mind. As I pushed, I felt a very distinct 'pop' and my amniotic waters burst out and mixed in with the bath water around us. Again, I felt the overwhelming need to push and trusted all the instinctual feeling within me. I trusted the intelligence behind birthing that has evolved in all women. I arched my back, and as I did I felt an intense euphoric feeling come through and over me as oxytocin and endorphins flooded my nervous system. It was the natural pain relief that I produced myself to help me cope with the next part of the birth. With the next contraction, Skyler was firmly on her way through my birth canal. I asked Bryan if he saw her head and he exclaimed excitedly that he could see way more than just her head! With all my strength and feeding off of Bryan’s energy of excitement, I pushed again and her shoulders slid out, she was now half way through the remarkable journey of birth that happens to every one of us only once. I felt like she was guiding herself out of the birth canal and I was helping her along the way. I summoned every muscle, every breath, and every bit of energy in every single cell for the next mighty push. As I did I felt no pain, none, just rushes of pure energy. It felt like she was pushing inside me too.
Then her body left mine, with only a small lifeline connecting us. She slid from my womb into her daddy's hands. I watched him hold her under water, in pure amazement of what we had all just accomplished. His tears joined mine and my birth fluids in the amazing soup of life that my pool water had become. He slowly handed her to me. I looked at her as the lights from the heavens shined down in the ever so blissful room that I created for the arrival of this little light being. We lifted her out of the water together. There she was... She took her first breath of life as she gazed up at my face. Our eyes locked and another eternal imprint was created. She was perfect and amazing! I cried as I repeated, “I did it, I did it!” 41 weeks of living with intention. All of the time I spent in the bath tub while I was pregnant visualizing how I wanted the birth to be all came to fruition. It was exactly how I intended her to arrive into the world. I consciously chose to have her at home without a midwife, doula, doctor or friend. I had her at home with my husband while our other 2 daughters lay peacefully asleep in their beds. The whole birthing experience in the pool was only about 10 minutes, with Skyler actually in my birth canal for no more than 3 minutes. The energy that night was crystal clear. I went to that mountain in Topanga Canyon to have my baby my way, which I believe I was called to do.
With another mild contraction, my placenta flowed out. We left the placenta attached to Skyler for about 15 minutes while we sat in the bath, gazing at her beautiful face. I used these special moments, watching her breathing air for the first time, to mentally and physically recover from the immense ordeal we had all just gone through. After I knew we had achieved the birth of my choosing I was ready for my bed. Bryan very carefully cut the umbilical chord with special weighted scissors and clamped the end, cutting the physical bond that linked us. He carefully picked up the placenta and put it into a bowl, which he later turned into capsules for my postpartum recovery.
I got out of the tub and into my bed with my brand new heaven on Earth baby. Bryan checked my body over to make sure nothing serious had happened and found a tear on my vaginal wall that really concerned him. He took a picture so I could judge for myself. I only needed to study the picture for a second to see the tear was deep and should have some attention. However I knew there was no way I was going into a hospital now, after my blissful birth. I told him, “it is ok, I’ll heal myself, I know I can.” My tear was healed in a week.
As my brand new baby so naturally and gently suckled on my breasts for the first time, my husband and I laid in bed, bathed in the blissful bubble that we had created from listening and trusting the intentions of our hearts.
Skyler Jade came to us on December 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm in the year of the Tiger. She was born naturally and without assistance, in warm water, in the same room which she was conceived in. She is my visual representation of the power of intention and I am so grateful that I trusted my self and the power behind the intelligence of birthing.
Read more from Alex on her website: http://www.allaboutbirthing.com/my-birth-story.html
I have now experienced a home birth for the first time. Having had four children hospital birth it was very hard for me to accept the idea that my wife had decided she wanted to have a home birth, let alone an unassisted birth.
My first child was born with no issues and everything went smoothly but the doctor had to cut my first wife saying it was needed as she wasn't dilated enough. Having no real issues our hospital visit was short.
My second child was born covered in green mucus and had to be suctioned right away as he had a bowel movement inside the womb. I remember I used to joke saying it was his way of saying I'm outta here, not aware of the complications we were fortunate to avoid.
I sadly missed the birth of my third as I was too far away to make it in time. By the time I had my fourth with wife and I had become very reliant on the doctors and thinking that it was nothing out of the ordinary as induced labor. This birth sadly had woke me up to many things I had never seen before. My son was born screaming and not a normal baby cry. The doctor in training dropped his head and he stopped breathing entirely. My wife and I were terrified and he ended up having to stay in the NICU. As the weeks in the hospital went by, they continued to try and feed him via tube feedings on top of his breast feedings. Each tube feeding resulted in him throwing it up but the health providers claimed it was necessary as the breast milk wasn't enough. They put him under lights for days on end claiming he needed it.
This was the birth that caused me to really look at the medical system differently. Soon after we had learned we were expecting our second child together, my wife's sixth. As the fears of our son’s birth ran through my mind, it was no surprise that my wife wanted to pursue another birthing method.
When she had approached me about midwife birth I was in full agreement, but as we learned it was difficult to obtain and too expensive to do privately. Suggesting home birth I can honestly say at first I was very much against the idea, afraid of all the possible things that could go wrong not only for our child, but for my wife. I had faith in my wife and went ahead on accepting her plan.
The more she studied, researched and showed me the more I was willing to accept the idea. It wasn’t until the last couple months before our daughter was born that I started taking the plan a little more serious. Until then, I was under the mindset that my wife would still go to a hospital to have the baby. I started watching birthing videos that at first were horrifying to watch but then I began to see how natural it was.
Eventually I expanded my learning and started reading about massage techniques to induce labor and reduce pain. Somehow I stumbled upon a site about the cervical lip and how after having so many induced births that it could hinder labor. Site after site, I read hoping to understand the female anatomy well enough to find this cervical lip. Video after video, site after site, I still was very scared about the idea of home birth but if my wife could be so strong to do this, then I must be strong enough to be at her side.
As she went into labor, all the knowledge I attained seemed to fade and my fears came back strong as ever but I did my best not to show it. With no real progress happening and my wife overdue, I found the cervical lip and did as the sites explained. Shortly there after my wife moved to the bed only to find herself on the floor on all fours. Next I knew the floor was soaked and she was starting to push. It was all happening so fast. From there it was a blur till the moment my daughter’s head appeared from within my wife, it was blue and she was not breathing. I panicked telling my wife to push thinking the worst had happened.
I caught my daughter! This was the proudest moment in a father’s life! Never did I imagine this moment to be this wonderful. Wrapping our daughter and placing her on my wife I noticed the blood fearing my wife's health. She kept reassuring me telling me that everything that happened with our daughter and her own body was normal. I still feel that to this day, it should have been me reassuring her. I am proud of my wife for her strength through it all that amidst the pain of birth, the chaos of the room and a scared husband, she managed to hold it all together. I am grateful for the experience of our daughter's birth and my wife’s courage to do this, no matter the views of our friends, family or myself.
Cerenity Mae Wilhelmina was born on August 1st, 2011, into her Daddy’s arms in our bedroom!
If there were anything I could have done differently or better, I would have read up on the possibility of the anal area ballooning out during birth. Nowhere did I see anything about this happening nor how to handle it. My wife did experience a fourth degree tear during birth and had I been calmer and more understanding that it was normal for our child to not breath as she was coming out she would have taking more time to birth her and not push her out so fast. If ever asked would I be willing to experience home birth again, I wouldn’t miss it for the world! No birth has ever been so beautiful as to be able to bring one’s own child into the world. It is an experience that a mother and father will never forget.
We are just a few days past one of the most memorable days of my life: the birth of my second child, Maddox Jay Raab. He was born happily at home, in water, March 17th, 2011. I am just AMAZED at the wonder and natural power of the female body and its innate knowledge on how to birth.
I had MANY (at least 4) false starts to labor where contractions would start, were timeable and consistent for many hours, but that always seemed to fizzle by the morning. It was a mind trip, as each time my body would gear up in anticipation of something I knew would be very intense. It was also good to practice resting in anticipation of it, since I was very conscious of how exhausting labor is. I eventually got pretty good at understanding the flow of contractions and relaxing with them. Of course it was also frustrating, and after the fourth time or so I began to give into some of my fears about going to the hospital, getting induced, and disappointment crept in. Thankfully, after a trip to my gynecologist (Dr. Anderson, who I highly recommend!), she assured me that I hadn’t stalled out, that I was progressing in all the expected ways, and she scheduled another checkup for the following week but promptly added that she did not expect to see me. The lesson here, for me, was that it is very; very important to have people who support your birth decisions and exude positive energy on your birth team. Birth is a team effort, and everyone on your team needs to be an all-star!
I want to pause here and say something I feel is important for mothers wanting natural births to hear: due dates are not expiration dates, and going past them is okay. The human gestation period is different for every woman, and while having a date when you expect to give birth is good for some things, having those expectations and feeling like you’re “late” can be a burden under normal circumstances. Hang in there, and remember to have positive, encouraging people on your team!
Finally! On March 16th, in the evening, I started having my normal timeable contractions. I went ahead and informed Missy (our assistant midwife), since Martina (our midwife) was out of town and she was taking the lead, and Missy informed Nikole (our backup CNM) that I may…or may not… be in labor (ha ha!). We did our normal nighttime stuff, and went on to bed.still having contractions every 8 – 10 minutes. Nathan and I slept until about 3 am, when my contractions started to get strong enough to wake me up!! So we let the midwives and the rest of our birthing team know what was happening. When morning rolled around, we did our normal routine, got Sienna to school at her normal time (8 am), and by then Missy (my Assistant Midwife), my Aunt Rhonda, and Lauren (my best friend) had arrived! Missy checked my blood pressure, the baby’s heart tones, and I believe we did an internal exam as well. I was about 4 CM at that point. J We made cinnamon rolls, coffee, cereal, and fruit…got out the tub and prepared the bed and laid out all of the gear.it was a birthing party!! My contractions were still coming on every 8 minutes, but by this time it had moved to my favorite phase: BACK LABOR.
The sensation of back labor was the exact same as it was for me in the hospital with Sienna, however, it was so much more humane I had several sets of hands willing to do the necessary counter pressure every contraction (and I mean they had to LAY INTO ME!) and I was able to walk about in my home, joke, enjoy myself and the ABSOLUTE BEAUTIFUL DAY we were so blessed to have. It was sunny and warm….70 degrees or so. This continued for a while... I got in and out of the birthing tub…and somewhere in there Nikole, the other midwife came.
Now, I really want to reiterate that the sensation of the back labor pains felt exactly the same as they did in the hospital with Sienna, that after only about 7 hours or so lead me begging for an epidural! I know this was because I had to FIGHT the whole time I was in the hospital with those contractions…FIGHT with the stupid IV, FIGHT with the continual monitoring, FIGHT with the nurses to allow me to move… I could only move about 3-4 square feet with the IV and the continual monitor and they wouldn’t allow me to be on all fours during the contractions b/c they would have to adjust the monitor. This was enough to drive ANYONE mad, begging for pain relief… but contrast to the hospital birth….my state of mind was SO much more wonderful at home. Nathan, Lauren and I were all in our room at one point, about ohhh 9 – 10 hours in and I even found myself making the comment… I’m BORED, let’s DO something!! This was with back labor contractions happening around every 5 minutes!
Lauren and I took a little “nap” on the couch around noon as we were both feeling a bit tired and it was my normal “naptime”(we all had a great lunch too…. I had cheese and crackers, grapes, and chips and dip…and of course I was drinking water and juice this whole time). Nathan also took this time to lie down and take a nap, the midwives walked around the block a bit, and Rhonda was checking on me and Lauren and cleaning and cooking in the kitchen. I remember lying down and really loving hearing Rhonda piddling in the kitchen during the naptime. Lauren was also SUCH a saint…at this point I really had to have someone rubbing/touching my back at all times… and pushing MUCH stronger during contractions. She laid with me on the couch for a good hour or so, dozing off in between contractions with me… windows open, birds chirping, and sun shining through the windows.
Now I will pause here again and just note that in normal, natural labor the body will pause and allow for the birthing mother to have a rest….the contractions may get less strong, they may space out a little bit. Where in the hospital they may view this as a “bad” thing or that labor has “stalled” and immediately start a Pitocin drip, midwifery finds this phenomenon quite common right before the next phase of birthing and embraces it….encouraging the mother and birthing team to take this time to rest before the next phase begins. This is nature’s way of helping the birthing mother cope with the trials of labor….
After we all had a good rest (around an hour or so) and I felt great, Nikole explained to me that now was the time to go ahead and get labor moving again… by simply getting the body moving again. Once I got up on my feet and walked about a bit, labor quickly became what we call “active.” Havingarrived at the “active” part of my labor with a fresh start, I was ready to cope with the intense, sometimes overlapping, longer contractions. This was about 12 hours after the “early labor” phase had begun.
And that active back labor, I tell you, was intense. I needed every single person that was there so desperately! The encouragement and physical presence of everyone there really helped me cope with both the pain and any sort of doubt that crept in my mind. I was able to immediately vocalize any sort of fears that I had to the team and they all helped me work through them…. Then I just simply let that fear go! One thing that TRULY and amazingly helped my ability to cope through the contractions coming ever couple-few minutes and lasting for a good minute-minute and a half was the practice of living “in the moment” that I learned and perfected through meditation and yoga. This ability to only live in this nanosecond of time kept me from worrying about when the next contraction would start, when this contraction would end…. And so on. So I was still able to fully relax through the resting moments and even still relish in the simple physical… I remember the sensation so clearly of the open window blowing wind on my wet back and how good that felt, of Nathan continuously rubbing my back and Lauren holding my hand….. It was these pleasant sensations that helped me to relax and continue on….. Labor was an intensely sensual experience. All the sights, smells, sounds, textures around me were so intensified that never, even through the hardest contraction, did I want to stop this process…to numb myself against it. It was truly the most spiritual experience of my life…..
Continue on, after laboring in the tub for a bit, we decided that it was time to move to the bed and check my progress…. I was complete with a little lip! We also discovered Maddox’s position was all sorts of wonky at this time. He was, what midwife could feel…side lying posterior.meaning the back of his head was toward my spine but he was facing my left hip and he was also floating higher in my pelvis. So, though I wanted to get back in the tub immediately, Nikole had me lay on my side to help move him more centered in my pelvis and help the labor progress better. Also during this time they did the MOST AMAZING thing ever…in a few spots along my back they administered little bubbles of sterile water along specific nerve pathways. The idea here, so well as I understand it, is that your body can only understand one type of pain in the nerve ways….so putting these bubbles of water under the skin confuses the body. The relief was IMMEDIATE!!! The back labor contractions went from the knife stabbing pain to the oh so much easier sensation of a normal contraction. It was positively the most amazing thing EVER! So after the water bubbles were in my back I labored on my side for a good hour or so and was so encouraged to actually feel the progression of a contraction pulling the baby down.
After a while I really did want to get back in the tub. It was amazing, moving from the bed to the tub pushed my labor into hyper drive and this is where I hit several walls emotionally. …and had to talk through them. I remember having the conversation with Nikole that I thought once you were complete that, bam, it was time to push…but she explained to me that just because your body’s cervix is complete you may not feel the urge to push until the baby’s head has descended far enough into the pelvis and pelvic floor for you to feel that urge. Also, encouraging to me at that time was her explaining that just by giving us more time, adding some different positions and such, the baby will work his way down. Nathan and I had the cutest moment in the tub, I don’t remember what on earth he was saying but he made me laugh and snuggled it was a wonderfully tender moment! :-D
I was complete for about 4 hours and laboring HARD in the tub when Nikole suggested I try sitting on the exercise ball in the shower. This is actually when I think I hit my biggest mental block. I knew that I was coming onto the next phase in my labor...that what I had grown accustomed to during this 18 hours of labor was soon going to end and the pushing phase was going to start. However, I had to admit I had grown comfortable with the labor, I knew it; I knew what to expect so the thought of doing something new actually scared me a bit! So in the shower, I went round and round in my own head…knowing and feeling that the pushing phase was going to start. And then all of the sudden…BAM…. I snapped out of it and into go mode.
My eyes flew open, I jumped up, swung open the shower door, marched over to the birthing tub, exclaimed, “Let's do this!” and sat down on my next contraction, pushing began. Now, this was the absolute COOLEST and most AWESOME part of the whole labor. The water bubbles on my back were still doing their voodoo magic so the intense back labor was a dull roar, but the feeling of knowing my body's ability to push was so empowering and comforting. And the MOST amazing thing was there was absolutely very little coaching. The midwives understand and know that your body tells you how and when to push and very little coaching is needed to get the job done. My body didn’t tell me to push every contraction, my body didn’t tell me to push for “x” amount of seconds. Also, everyone was so very supportive that there was no doubt in my mind that I COULD do this and no one had told me otherwise!
I pushed around every other contraction for maybe 30 minutes and Maddox’s head made its appearance! The pushing phase didn’t hurt the way you might imagine… it was just a lot of pressure but felt really good and productive. Now, to explain his position in text is difficult, but instead of me pushing out the back of his head (the smallest part) I actually pushed him out forehead and face first… and when the midwives evaluated how he was right when his head came out, they immediately had me flip over to my hands and knees and had me push hard as he also had both of his hands up under his chin and his arms crossed! I know my ability to push him out in this all sorts of wonky way is because I was never told I couldn’t do it. There was never any doubt about my body's ability to birth naturally from my midwives and I was able to present to the world my 10.5 pound huge wonky positioned baby with the confidence and peace that I had been dreaming of for years before his birth. The water had also allowed for ease of passage in the birth canal with absolutely NO tearing or damage for such a large baby and strange presentation!
What was absolutely the most amazing thing was instead of the mad rush that I experienced in the hospital when Sienna was born. Maddox, Nathan and I simply stayed in the tub for as long as we wanted while the midwives did all of the necessary examinations of Maddox while he laid in my arms! They kept the chord in tact until it stopped pulsing with blood allowing for the healthy full transfusion of blood from the placenta to happen and also allowed for the celebration from all of the birthing team to be so inclusive and wonderful! We all marveled at the new baby for a good half hour until Nathan and I got up and went to our own bed and after the placenta was delivered (spare you those details) and the linens were changed we simply laid back in our own bed while I fed the new little dude!
At this time, Nathan went and got Sienna from our babysitter’s house and she came and met Maddox just a couple hours after he was born. She got to help take his temp, measure him, and listen to his heart beat. She was immediately smitten with her baby bro. And when it came time to weigh the big dude, we all could NOT believe his size!! Then the midwives cleaned up...Sienna went to bed…Nathan and I with our new baby, Maddox, cuddled up in our own bed and slept.
The midwives were on call overnight, Rhonda was in charge of checking on me and Maddox throughout the night making sure we didn’t have a temp, Maddox didn’t have any respiratory symptoms and all that and the midwives came back the next day…a few days later….and were always on call.
The recovery was so beautiful…I felt “other worldly” for the longest time after Maddox was born. Like I had somehow, for just a little second, felt the power of our nature … like I had brushed the side of Heaven and took it down and shared it with my new little guy. I cannot fathom the thought of numbing myself against this most empowering, emotional, and spiritual experience… nor can I imagine allowing the medical industry to take away from me the most wonderful process of natural childbirth. It saddens me to no end to hear these most terrible birthing stories as to birth naturally is to truly feel your own glory as a woman…all the emotions, weakness, sensuality, love, and power.
A further note:
“We welcomed Maddox into our family that night without a circumcision. We decided that we want him to live in a world without violence, so we welcomed him without violence. We decided that we want him to live in a world in which he is free to experience the fullness of the pleasures of his body, so we welcomed him with all his fleshy nerves intact. And we decided that we want him to live in a world in which male entitlement is a waning memory, and in which women and men are seen--in both ritual and in reality--as full equals and partners. So we welcomed him equally."
Here are the 7 Reasons We Chose NOT to Circumcise Our Son
More and more woman are chosing to use doulas when giving birth, whether they give birth at home, in a hospital, with a midwife or with a doctor. A doula acts as your support system when you may need it the most and are a great resource for new moms and help guide the mom through the birthing process. This seven minute documentary discusses the role of doulas during childbirth.
You may also find this article helpful: What Qualities Should I Look For In a Doula?
This is a powerful video! It is a teaser for the upcoming documentary the Face of Birth. A documentary about pregnancy, childbirth and the power of choice. Home birth IS a safe choice!