On December 16, 2011 early in the morning (I guess about 5 in the morning) I woke up, as usual, with light cramps. I had been having cramps and Braxton Hick’s contractions on and off for about a week. That morning I decided that rather than staring at the ceiling I was going to do something about this. I drank some water and started tweaking my nipples (per recommendation from my obstetrician). At first the cramps became more intense and wave like until real early labor started.
I waited through several contractions simply laying down waiting for them to become more intense. Then around 6, I woke my husband up and told him to make himself some coffee. “Why? What? I already set the alarm for 6:30.” “Well that doesn’t matter because I’m in labor.” “Oh, you are?” It was a Friday and my husband was thinking about going into work.
Prior and during labor my mucus plug was slowly disintegrating. Periodically I would use the restroom and noticed a mucus discharge tinged pink (the mucus plug). I attempted to eat breakfast, but was largely unsuccessful since breakfast and I don’t usually get along.
At 7:00 am, we paged the midwife and obstetrician at our birthing center. We elected to give birth at a birthing center instead of a home birth or hospital birth because our hospital birth experience was less than stellar and we currently live in an apartment. I wasn’t so sure that our neighbors would appreciate screaming. Our obstetrician answers the page and says to eat a big breakfast and to call the family who was going to watch our oldest son. Then she tells us to call back in an hour to talk about the progression of labor.
At that point my husband feeds our oldest son and gets him ready and drops him off. While he’s gone, I labor on the couch in a kneeling position by myself for about 20 minutes.
At 8 am, we again call the obstetrician who asks if I want to come in. My response is that I not sure so she puts me on the phone with her partner, the midwife, who tells me to go ahead and come in. There’s already another lady at the birthing center in labor, and the midwife in the one on call.
After loading the car, we arrive at the birthing center by 9 am. I immediately hop in huge birthing pool which only has cold water in it because they ran out of hot water for the other lady’s pool. I feel so much better even without the hot water, but they add boiled hot water later so that it’s not so cold.
Soon after getting in the pool, the midwife pushes through two doses of antibiotics in a small iv through my hand for about half an hour. I was Strep B positive and elected to do this rather than retest. I realized that there are other methods to deal with Strep B, but to me this was the easiest. After the medication was pushed through, the midwife removed the iv.
I continue to labor the rest of the time while they fed me and keep me hydrated. I spent much of labor kneeling at the side of the pool while using my arms to support myself and rest on. Occasional I would sit or float in the warm water. Labor felt only slightly uncomfortable in the pool. Anytime I would climb out to go relieve myself I could tell that the contractions were far more intense outside the water. So naturally I preferred to stay in the pool.
At 11:30 am, my husband and I are thinking that it’s still very early so he decides to grab a sandwich for lunch possibly dinner. While he’s gone, labor becomes more intense. My husband comes back and scarfs down his sandwich, and my midwife suggests checking me. I guess that at this point I’m now in active labor. Because I’m in the water and contractions aren’t that bad, I’m very wrong. The midwife says that I more like close to transition. She tells my husband and I that it could be one more contraction or it could be two hours before the baby is born.
At 12:30 transition is really happening. I get no relief between contractions and start crying and screaming too. Then things suddenly shift into pushing. I remember a birthing video where the woman describes this stage of labor as giving birth to a pineapple. I totally agree and would add that it felt more like a burning pineapple. I have to keep asking the midwife to stop touching me in the area. However, I get relief between each contraction where the midwife’s assistance talks me down to relaxing state. At this point I start contemplating drugs (I had previously had a medicated hospital birth), but remember that it’s a little late in the game for that so I decide to suck it up and just push at each contraction. Transition was way worse than pushing because all the contractions just kept coming at once.
I should mention that the midwife had already jumped into tub with me was blind because of the blood in the tub. Her assistant also rips my shirt off, which was odd to me. My first birth I had a hospital gown on and there was little skin-to-skin contact. They basically whisked him away and swaddled him.
During the last stage of pushing, my water finally breaks. At 12:58, I push the baby out. At this point told I’m told to turn around. Remember I had been on the side of the tub in a kneeling position while the midwife was behind me.
And there he was….the midwife hands him over to me (afterward my husband told me that my son took an accidental dip in the water as the midwife was trying to stand up). The midwife, her assistant, and my husband then lift me over the side of the tub to deliver the placenta on the bed. This took a couple of contractions so she went ahead and tied off the chord early. Then she later retied off the chord so the stump was shorter and stitched me up. They also don’t take my son from me at any point. Rather they put him on my chest and cover him with blankets while periodically checking his temperature.
Would I do a birth center birth again? Hell, yes!!! I felt so much better even without the epidural. No crazy monitors going all the time. They were able to check the baby’s heart rate while I was in the tub, and they only did so periodically. I got to eat so my blood sugar was stable. During my hospital birth, it was a full 24 hours without food. The birthing center had low lighting, and there was always someone in the room with me even when my husband went and got lunch. Someone would help me to the toilet; at the hospital I had to unplug myself from the monitors and wheel the iv pole over to the toilet on my own. I also got to go home five hours later and be with my older son before he went to bed. The after affects continued. No swelling. Apparently they use too many IV fluids during hospital stuff and so I swelled real bad. I only received one stitch from small tear as opposed to episitomy that was given without my consent. So now you understand why I feel that this birth experience was monumentally better compared to the one I had previously experienced in the hospital.
Article by Laura Weirich
Laura Weirich has been married for four years and has two sons. She's been breastfeeding for nearly two years and currently tandem nurses her toddler and infant. A big proponent of breastfeeding, she's been educating her friends and family about the benefits of breastfeeding and helping other women along the way. When she's not nursing, she chases a toddler all day, washes cloth diapers, tries to catch a few zs and reads up on the latest research about children.
Laura has written 33 awesome articles for Natural Family Today.
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