by Dana, USA
We had a fabulous labor and delivery experience at home and at the hospital with the birth of our 2nd son; it could not have been anymore peaceful or natural which is EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED!!!
Laura, my doula & dear friend, arrived at my home around midnight. I had been in active labor since about 7pm and started breathing through contractions as she arrived. It's almost the exact timeline of events as Levi's birth but this time much more peaceful & calm instead of writhing in pain through transition labor on my back in the hospital bed tethered to an iv and belly bands and monitors while getting frustrated at my husband because he wasn't counting out the breathing properly! My doula & my husband were amazed at how quiet, calm, & peaceful the whole experience was.
My slow, cleansing, and calm breathing was what I focused on. And I kept envisioning Jackson just slipping out of my body and into my arms, kind of like an artistic portrayal of the circle between a mother and baby. I didn't practice any type of numbered or patterned breathing; I just determined to keep my breathing calm & steady. Other helpful laboring tools were being very mobile and free to do any number of things I had practiced & prepared for such as squatting on a ball or pillows, walking, having my doula apply pressure at certain points and having my husband support me & hold me up under my arms so I could kind of just fall on him and really relax between contractions.
Except for the lack of a jacuzzi tub and actually having to drive to the hospital, I would have been just as relaxed at a birthing center or home. No drugs, no medical intervention, and no pressure from the staff in any way or at least that I was aware of – thanks to my doula! The nurses were very supportive of our birth plan, albeit surprised & admittedly not used to “natural births”.
We arrived at the hospital at 2:30am with Laura & Mike carrying everything from a crock pot with hot towels to a CD player and lots of pillows. Laura gave the nurses our birth plan as I answered the initial questions & signed on the dotted lines. The administrative intake process was the only thing that broke my peaceful state of laboring. Mike was getting my music going and setting up the camcorder – oh yeah baby!
Because I was Group B Strep positive, I had to have an iv right away. In my birth plan, I requested a hep lock iv, the type of iv that can be detached from the tubes for more mobility. As soon as the antibiotics ran, they disconnected it and I was free to move about.
I was a 6 when I arrived at the hospital. They monitored the baby with the bellyband while the iv was running and then only one other time when I chose to lay on the bed for a while. (By the way, during the Labor & Delivery Hospital tour I was told it was mandatory that the mother & baby be monitored every 30 minutes. When I asked what the options were with that, I was told that it is hospital protocol and that it is done for the safety of the mother and baby.) They let me walk, lay, squat, use the ball, and were fine with the use of the shower as well but I just didn't want it by the time I got to the hospital.
The lights were dim and my Jim Brickman music was playing. I didn't know this but the nurses were hardly in the room at all and would just kind of peek around the corner of the curtain and watch us. We asked in the birth plan for as little staff presence as possible. My doula & my dear friend Laura, was fantastic, beyond belief. She helped my husband in his desire to be supportive & confident. I highly recommend having a doula. I'm just shocked at how smooth it all went. It was polar opposite of the tour's standard policy & procedure schpiel the admin nurse gave!
Around 3:30am, shortly after I was checked and found out I was dilated to an 8, my water broke on its own, to which I exclaimed, “What was that? What's happening…it's really wet!” The following contractions were of course the most intense ones but I focused even deeper on just getting lost in the rise and fall of the motion & sensation that was preparing my body and my little guy to come out. My favorite thing my doula did for me was to just continually use light stroking motions from my head down my back all the way down my legs, I think this helped me to keep my breathing from getting too heavy or fast. She tried different types of pressure and strokes but all I wanted was soft flowing touch, which is odd because I love deep tissue massage.
At about 4:30am I wanted to lie down on my side. We put the squatting bar on the bed because I had every intention of delivering in a squatting position. I remember thinking that it was so odd that the more intense the contractions were, the quieter I became. I knew he would be here soon so I said, “I think if I lift up my leg, he'll come out.” My husband helped hold my leg up and the most beautiful, exhilarating, empowering, and triumphant moments of my life followed…I felt this burning sensation, a lot of pressure and very euphoric as my body was pushing Jackson out. I took in a really deep breath and just let it escape from my body with no holding back and amidst a maternal groan of release, pain, and excitement, Jackson was thrust into this world at 4:45am, absolutely fresh and perfect. He literally shot out with a big audible whoosh of baby juice that splashed all over everyone! He was ALMOST NINE POUNDS…8.13.5oz, 21 inches!
I wanted to leave the umbilical cord attached until it stopped pulsating but in the midst of the excitement of it all and because my Dr was a bit harried by the quickness and unconventionality of Jackson's birth, he handed the scissors to my husband and the cord was cut without us really even realizing that's not what we wanted to do. I got to have him on my chest immediately even though the nurses and Dr were warning me that he was slippery and still covered with vernix and blood but all I could think about was that I wanted to be the first hands that held him and touched him. I had him there for about 45 minutes while I was stitched up from a small tear, with NO painkiller by the way. And that certainly was not my choice, I only wanted a natural delivery not natural stitches! I screamed out at the OB once that my delivery didn't hurt that bad! But having my little vernix covered guy who was just staring at me with his big dark blue eyes was a great “sedative”.
After having him on my chest for about 45 minutes and nursing him a bit, they took him to the little warmer bed for about 3 minutes to assess him and then I got him back for a total of 2 hours in the delivery room. He nursed for about 30 minutes on both sides during that time while I was sipping on a fabulous restorative recovery drink. Then, they took Jackson and Daddy to the nursery while transferring me to post partum but brought him right back to me because they weren't ready for him and knew I wanted him with me – thanks to my birth plan and educated-advocating doula.
It just doesn't get any better…oh wait, it does! THEN…they let Mike & I go into the nursery & give him a bath and I got him right back for skin to skin to warm him up and it was just PERFECT! This is the same hospital that told me during the tour, “we've never heard of parents giving their child a bath and I suppose it depends on how busy the nursery is and who your nurse is.”
The day before I went into labor, I went to a favorite place of mine, a little beach area within walking distance from my house and visualized a beautiful, peaceful, and smooth delivery of my baby. I kept on thinking of just going with my body's rhythm and urges until he slid out of me and into my arms…and we did just that.