My Natural Birth Story…
*My husband and I discussed our daughter’s birth in a YouTube video, but I wanted to put something in writing as well. You can view the video by clicking the link above.*
Dealing with Fear…
When I learned I was pregnant I was thrilled, but fear immediately set in because of my previous miscarriage. I was afraid of loving my new baby because of my fear of losing her. If you’ve had a miscarriage, I’m sure you remember how anxious you felt during bathroom visits. I leaned on God like never before during that first trimester! Remaining healthy and low-risk were the focal points of the natural childbirth class I completed. My husband and I decided to enroll in the Bradley Method course. The class teaches couples how to have a natural birth. Micah and I learned how to work with my body to reduce pain and make my labor more manageable and efficient.
My due date was May 28th, 2018. I was praying for a due date baby because:
1. I was over being pregnant by this point;
2. My doula was traveling out of town a few days after my due date.
I really wanted my doula (Elizabeth) present for my daughter’s birth because I was comfortable with her (she was also our Bradley Method instructor). On Friday, May 18th, I went in for a weekly prenatal visit. My doctor was out of town, so I saw one of her nurse practitioners. Up until this point I had declined all cervical checks, so I had no idea whether I was dilated or effaced. The nurse practitioner asked if I wanted to get checked and I declined. She was a tad bit pushy and could not believe that I declined. I learned in class that cervical checks don’t really tell you much. For example, a woman could be 1 cm dilated on Monday morning and have a baby on Tuesday, or she could be 4 cm on Monday and remain at 4 cm for the next 3 weeks!! Personally, I’d rather NOT know so I could avoid stressing about it. I was focused on eating well, getting my daily walks in (as close to 3 miles as I could get) and doing my pelvic rocks, squats etc. (Bradley Method exercises).
A Small “Pop”…
On Sunday, May 20th, Micah and I went for a walk (approximately 2.7 miles). When we arrived back home I showered and prepared for Monday’s workday. Micah goes into work super early, so we said good night and went to bed around 9 pm. Around 10:50 pm, I heard and felt a small “pop”. Then I felt a trickle down my leg. I immediately jumped out of bed (well I was 9 months pregnant, so jumping is relative LOL) and went to the bathroom. I stood over the toilet and the water kept flowing. I could not stop it. I knew for a fact this was my water bag! I cleaned myself up and ran back to the room (I really ran this time LOL) to wake Micah. He asked if I was certain my water broke and to give him a minute to fully wake up. I thought to myself, “Give you a minute? Dude, get up! My water broke”. But, I said okay and grabbed my cellphone to contact my doula.
My doula told us to get some rest because I was going to have a baby tomorrow. She also told us to call her when my contractions were 5 minutes apart and lasting for an hour. AHHHHH! This is really happening! It’s funny how you can dream about how labor will begin, but when it finally happens, there are truly no words. My contractions started early that morning (between 2:00 and 4:00 am), however they were really mild (similar to what I was feeling for the past few weeks—Braxton hicks). When the sun came up, Micah and I went to walk up and down our street.
My doula texted us around 7:00 am to find out how things were going. I explained that my contractions were still very mild with no consistent pattern. She suggested we walk again for 30 minutes, eat something, shower, and then lay on my left side for 40 minutes. She was hoping that doing so would push me into active labor. By this point, I was feeling somewhat discouraged. I was trying to get my body to “go into active labor” and I began to think the worst, “Why is this taking so long?” Micah could see that I was stressing and he told my friend Tiera (Tiera was on her way to observe and take photos for us) because she texted me a few minutes later. She sent a screenshot from one of her books. It said that for a woman to move into active labor she needs to give up ideas of how she thought her labor would be. In other words, I had to surrender. She also said:
“I’m praying you don’t watch the clock and try to fit your labor into whatever box you think it should be in. Surrender to the process. No comparisons” -Tiera
Here Goes Labor…
It was exactly what I needed to hear/read. Thank God for precious friends! I immediately prayed and asked God to help me relax. I sang worship songs in my head and completely surrendered. My doula (Elizabeth) arrived at 9:45 am and Tiera arrived shortly after. My contractions were still inconsistent at this point, but I felt more hopeful and was ready for Elizabeth to do her thang! First, Elizabeth used her rebozo to help with repositioning baby, since she was in a funky position. The technique is called rebozo sifting. Then, I went on her peanut ball around 10:00 am. This is when the ball got rolling! The peanut ball was like magic. I had the most intense contractions on that thing. I immediately thought, “Okay, these are labor pains!” The peanut ball opens up your pelvis (it’s like doing a squat laying down) and after spending 45 minutes on the peanut ball a few times, I was officially in active labor.
On the peanut ball
I drank water during my labor and I experienced a long and intense contraction on the toilet whenever I went to pee. Elizabeth reminded me to breathe my baby down and I visualized that very image with each contraction. Micah was also super supportive and encouraging! He reminded me that we were going to see our baby girl soon and told me I was doing so well! Elizabeth also gave me hip squeezes during a contraction which helped a ton! The added pressure on my back area was just what I needed—that and the rice pack (the heat was calming). Around 1:30 pm, I had a really intense contraction as I stood and leaned on Micah for support. I felt like it was a never ending pain and it was unlike my earlier contractions. Then I felt the urge to use the bathroom. I told Elizabeth and she said, “Okay that’s the one! It’s time”. I changed into a pullover dress, and Micah helped me to the car. Elizabeth explained I should lay down or kneel in the back seat. I was kneeling on the floor in the backseat (because Micah couldn’t remember how to take out the carseat —the nerves I guess LOL). My eyes remained closed the entire drive and I kept thinking, “Purposeful pain”. Thankfully, we were only 8 minutes away from the hospital.
The Baby Arrives!
Once we arrived at the hospital, I had to sign a few papers and the staff quickly got me into a room. I changed into my hospital gown and the nurse hooked me up to the fetal monitor and gave me a hep block (Micah had previously given them our natural birth plan which outlined my wishes, which included no IV). I couldn’t have asked for a better medical staff at Forrest General Hospital. They were so respectful of our wishes and were simply amazing! The worst part of my labor/delivery story was my cervical check. It was my first time getting checked, so I had no idea what it would be like. It was painful!!! When she checked me I was already 8 cm dilated and paper thin (her words LOL). Then, she checked me again and it was time to push. Pushing was hard because I was trying to push when they told me to push, rather than listen to my body. I also forgot the pushing technique we learned in class. Thankfully, I only had a small vaginal tear because Elizabeth was able to use a heat compress on my perineum before I began pushing. I was also super blessed because my OBGYN delivered my baby! When I first arrived she was in surgery, so there was a possibility she wouldn’t make it. But she walked in right before I began pushing! Talk about on time! I was so happy! I pushed for about 10 minutes and Amara was born at 2:56 pm. Overall it was a super quick process. The nurse said she hooked me up to the monitor at 2:17 pm and Amara was born 39 minutes later! She weighed 6.2 pounds and 18.5 inches. I did skin-to-skin immediately after and she found my breast like a champ!
All smiles after baby is born!
A few tips…
Overall, my labor was pretty short for a first-time mom (6-7 hours). I’m super thankful that everything went smoothly (i.e. no complications) and that we chose to have a natural birth. God answered our prayers! Here are my suggestions for first time moms or any mom-to-be honestly:
1. If you’ve never taken a natural birth class, consider taking one! Micah and I were prepared and could easily recognize the stages in labor. I knew what was happening to my body, so I was not “scared”. Yes, it didn’t stop the pain, but knowing what was happening to my body helped a ton!
2. Consider hiring a doula for emotional and physical support. Elizabeth was amazing! Between her hip squeezes, repositioning baby girl, and her encouragement during the process—she was worth it! I probably would have been in labor for much longer if we didn’t have her!
3. Laboring at home for as long as we did was another plus. However, I would not recommend it unless you have a professional present or if you know the stages in labor. At the end of the day, you want a healthy baby and mama! Use wisdom.
This was much longer than I wanted it to be, so if you have any questions please post them in the comments below. I’ll gladly answer! Thanks for reading.