MAYD to Birth: At Your Doorstep

Promoting gentle, empowering mother journies…

There are none so blind as those who will not see

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Recently, I read an online article that I can’t find any more, but haven’t been able to get off my mind. It was written by a man who chose to have himself circumcised as an adult. His father was intact, and left the man intact, but apparently he had some problems with his foreskin tearing [...]

Join me on facebook

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I haven’t been blogging as much lately. Every so often, I think back to when I blogged every day for over a year and I wonder, “How on earth did I do that?!?” But I’ve been doing other things, including being on the Board of Directors for MS Friends of Midwives, home-schooling my children, trying [...]

I laughed until I cried!

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A Man’s Guide to HomeBirth on Dr. Momma [Update: it was removed from Dr. Momma, but here it is in full.] This is hilarious! Simply hilarious. I’ll give you a taste, but you must read the whole thing: These are the items that men need to assist in a homebirth (not in order of use [...]

Eliza

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Becky, age 26

The day before our daughter’s due date, my husband and I walked quite a few miles hoping it would get labor going. The next morning about 5 am I woke up feeling different and after a few minutes realized I was having contractions. I was thrilled that my body had gone into labor on its own and also anxious knowing that this meant that I had to birth the baby!

Around 11 I called the hospital to pre-register and told them that I was in very early labor and wouldn’t come in until I couldn’t walk or talk through contractions because I had previously decided that I wanted to do everything in my power to have an unmedicated birth. A few minutes later, my doctor called me and asked what was going on. I told her and she told me to go walk for an hour and then come up the hospital to be checked.

We had lunch and then took off on the walk. After a few minutes of walking, we decided we should just walk to the hospital since we assumed it would take about that long. So we did! We got there and they said I was at a 3+. I had been at a 2 three days earlier so I was excited to hear I had progressed a little. They had to monitor me in another hour so we walked around the Labor and Delivery floor for an hour. They checked again and I was same. Bummer!
They asked what we wanted to do and I said we wanted to go home and labor there. My doctor didn’t agree and came in and told me that I could be in early labor for days and asked suggested she strip my membranes to see if it would speed things up. We agreed and soon I was at a 5+, and then after another two or so hours of walking around the floor, was at the same. We were given a couple of choices and decided breaking my water was the best idea.

At this point (5:00 pm) we were admitted so my husband called a friend to pick him up and take him home to get our stuff since we had walked there not expecting to stay! Luckily we had everything pretty pre-packed so he was able to get back quickly. My doctor broke my water and the contractions came harder and closer together almost immediately. Laying in the bed was the most uncomfortable and made me really nervous so I asked to continue to walk.
Soon I couldn’t walk during the contractions anymore and had to put my arms around my husband’s neck and sway back and forth breathing as hard as I could and focusing solely on swaying back and forth. I had to be monitored again but they couldn’t get a good reading since I was moving so much. The nurse told me that as soon as we could get a reading that she suggested I get into the bath and see if the water would help. I agreed but as much as I tried, they couldn’t get a good reading because there was no other way for me to get through a contraction than to lean on my husband and sway.

I was getting to the point where I didn’t know how much longer I could make it when I noticed that I felt like I had to push to make it through parts of the contractions. I mentioned it to the doctor. She was a bit surprised and ordered me onto the bed to check me.
I was at a 9.5! I had never heard better words in my life! I had almost made it! They told me to turn on my side and that they thought one more contraction would complete me. It did. They had me push when I felt like pushing (10:30). It was the hardest physical labor I’ve ever performed in my life and at times incredibly painful, but I knew there was nothing else I could do. My biggest fear of the labor process had been the ‘ring of fire’ and it was definitely painful and I even screamed through part of it which surprised me because I’m not a screamer! After over an hour her head came out. I had no idea we were that close! It was thrilling and so relieving to feel her come out. She was born at 11:40 pm on her due date July 5, and weighed 7 lbs and 10 ounces and was 20.5 inches long.

They put her directly on me and let me hold her for quite a few minutes. She screamed and screamed and screamed and was just so beautiful.

A couple hours later when we were taken to postpartum, we just kept staring at her and saying over and over that we couldn’t believe we had done it. I feel so blessed that our Heavenly Father allowed me to have the birth experience I had wanted and prepared for. I was also incredibly grateful for the hospital staff and my doctor who were 100% supportive of me and never tried to talk me out of an unmedicated birth.

1. When did you decide you wanted to deliver your baby naturally?
All my life I’d considered a natural birth, but it wasn’t until I got pregnant that I decided I was really going to prepare for it and go for it.
2. What reasons or factors went into your decision?
My main reason is that I am terrified of epidurals. I know that like 1 out of 7,000 women have problems with epidurals, but I thought for sure I’d be that one woman! Some women fear the pain; I feared the epidural! Also, I really wanted to have control of my body. I’d heard so many people say that they couldn’t feel their legs and that terrified me!

3. What did you do to prepare for natural childbirth?
We read “Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way” and my husband read “Husband Coached Childbirth”. My other preparation was reading every natural childbirth story I could find and talking to everyone who I knew had had a natural birth. Everyone’s labor is so different so I wanted to have the knowledge of as many stories as possible. I looked into Lamaze but didn’t feel it was for me. My husband is a runner and he said, “When you run a marathon, you don’t go “hee, haw, hee, haw; you breathe deeply and fully.” So we liked the Bradley Method for us.

4. What was the hardest part of your experience – before, during, or after childbirth?
It wasn’t so much the contractions I was afraid of, it was the pushing. I had dealt with rough menstrual cramps before so I had an idea of how those would be… and I found that once I was in labor, the contractions were actually pleasant compared to the cramps I’d had previously! These cramps went away after a minute-ish!, unlike those pesky menstrual ones that stay for hours! I found that I could count down to the peak of the contraction and that if I could make it through the first 30-ish seconds getting to the peak, I could for sure make it for the rest because it started subsiding!
Pushing was hard and it took me awhile to learn what a good push was. I was absolutely exhausted near the end when I knew it would hurt the most as I really started to stretch and she crowned. It did hurt. A lot. But I knew there was no other way than to just push her out to get it to leave! And the pain did leave!
Delivering the placenta was a very empowering moment for me for some reason. I thought the doctor had taken it out so when I felt the urge to push again and asked her if it was out and she said ‘no’ and I said, “I need to push”; I felt like a million bucks. It was absolutely amazing to me that my body was made to do this work and knew what it needed to do.
What surprised me though was how painful the afterbirth was. When they punched down my uterus I was flailing like I’d never seen myself flail before! But that ends quick enough and the ability to move pretty well afterwards makes up for all the pain!
5. What was most helpful to you during labor to help make pain from contractions manageable?
I had read every birth story I could find and took all of their ideas and had them ready for myself. For example: I had my laptop with my favorite Hymns on it. I had a birthing ball. I had pages of printed material with different positions to try. I had lists of places my husband was going to help me visualize. And a few other ideas too.
And what we’d practiced most was laboring through the contractions as the Bradley book had told.
And then when the moment came, none of those really mattered! I found that for me, I had to move! I walked and walked to keep time moving and gravity on my side. Time went so slowly while laying there being monitored, but moving kept my mind on something else. The nurses suggested crouching would help when a contraction during transition came, but I found it too uncomfortable and ended up finding that only draping myself over my husband’s shoulders as he rocked my hips back and forth worked for us.
Although I didn’t really use any of the prep we had made, I feel that just the prep and thinking about using those options really prepared me.
6. What do you wish you would have known going into delivery?
I wish I would have known how supportive the doctors and nurses would be. I had so many people tell me that I would be talked out of an unmedicated birth and that I needed a doula to be our buffer between us and them. For me, it wasn’t true. I told them I wanted unmedicated and they never offered anything different. I feel that a doula would have been awkward for us… I loved having my husband being my “doula”.
7. Is there anything you would have done differently?
I’m thrilled with how our birth turned out. But I had THOUGHT I wanted it to go differently. I thought I wanted to labor at home and was really frustrated when my doctor told me I was staying at the hospital and keeping things going. I thought that staying meant a less chance of a natural birth. Instead it was just the opposite. I feel that if I would have gone home like I “wanted” I would have worn myself out and that I might not have been able to have the birth I wanted.

8. What did you feel were the positive benefits to your natural childbirth – were the benefits what you expected?
Definitely, there are benefits. I was up within hours and around within days and was so grateful for that. I did have quite a bit of episiotomy pain, but then I realized I wasn’t taking my full dosage of ibuprofen… hooray for medicine to help with that!

9. Is natural childbirth something you recommend to other mothers, or something you’d do again?
For sure. You feel like a million bucks and are more proud of yourself than you’ll ever be! And it’s wonderful to talk with moms who have had a natural birth or who want one… I feel that it is an incredible and the most important support system possible.
10. What advice do you have for other mothers interested in natural childbirth?
Get all the reading in you can. If you go in with the attitude of “I’ll see if I can do it”; I bet 99% of the time it won’t happen. You have to prepare. And get your husband to believe it in as much as you do so that he will be your coach and you will both have the joy of a natural childbirth together.

Contact Becky via her blog: http://dontblink18.blogspot.com

Waiting Game

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While we’re waiting for the next batch of birth stories… you can’t hurry a new mom, we all know this!

I wanted to link to an absolutely beautiful birth story by Courtney Kendrick. Please note, I do not have her permission to post the whole story, but maybe if she gets enough comments from us she’ll surrender and fill out the survey.

Read her story here.

Her description of contractions, to me, is spot on:

“They felt like my uterus was turning to concrete–churning and hardening–and melting. Repeat.”