by Imee, Philippines
Deciding against the hospital
I knew wanted to have a natural, unmedicated birth with Quinn. That was my plan with my first child, Ino, however that didn't pan out. I labored and delivered in a hospital and, being inexperienced, I didn't know how to push too well so it resulted in a last minute epidural. The episiotomy was the worst part of my recovery. Otherwise, I was on my feet after just a few hours of rest.
My hospital experience was what triggered my desire to give birth at home. I wanted to have full control – no episiotomy and no medication. I didn't want to be anywhere near a hospital setting where there so many scalpels with doctors who were so eager to use them. I wanted to have the ability to move around and walk freely to help speed up labor and we all know that a hospital will not allow that to happen. It was also really important for me to have my loved ones there to share the beautiful moment of seeing my child emerge from my womb.
My prenatal check-ups were actually done with a proper doctor in a maternity clinic near my home. I had only seen the midwife once at her home before the actual day of my giving birth. She was recommended to me by many women in our neighborhood. She's a registered midwife who used to practice in a hospital in Saudi Arabia but decided to come back home to help our community. She is also a councilor in her barangay and helps to deliver babies at their health center at the barangay hall.
I discussed my birth plan with the midwife when we met and made sure that my fiancé was familiar with it so he could reinforce them if I was unable to do so while in labor.
Getting my wish: A natural homebirth
I began having irregular but painful contractions on the evening of December 30, 2009, though they weren't strong enough for me to be sure that I was really in labor. I just figured the baby would make his appearance within four days and just leave it at that, seeing as I was so eager to get him out and didn't want to become more frustrated than I already was.
By 1 AM on December 31, the contractions were strong enough to wake me up. So I got up, had an apple, and sat at the computer for a couple hours. Realizing that the contractions werent easing up, I decided to get back to bed and rest in case the baby was born within the day.
By 4 AM, I was waking up every ten minutes to contractions that were gradually getting stronger and more painful. I still managed to sleep between the contractions though.
By 5:30 AM, I could no longer tolerate the pain, timed my contractions at seven minutes apart, and called my midwife. She and her assistant came an hour later and by that time my contractions were coming every four minutes and becoming more unbearable. She checked me and I was already dilated to 6cm then told me to walk around a little if I could manage it. I offered them some tea and went to the kitchen. That's when the contractions were on top of the other and I began to vomit into the sink. I stood there and endured another two or three rounds of contractions and the urge to push suddenly came but I wasn't sure if I was just imagining it. My legs started to shake and I couldn't stand there much longer so I went back into the bedroom and laid where the midwife prepared the plastic sheet and birthing equipment.
By this time, I was writhing in pain from the contractions and was ready to give in to any kind of drug. Good thing I didn't verbalize it though and just breathed through the contractions. I was told to start pushing when I felt the urge as I was already fully dilated at this point but my bag of waters were still intact. She broke my waters and the contractions really got intense. The urge to push was so strong. It's true what people say about it being painful not to push. I don't know how many pushes later when his head finally came out. The midwife told me to relax. At 7:45 AM on December 31, 2009, I delivered my son, Quinn, on the bedroom floor. The midwife pulled Quinn out and immediately placed him on my belly. All my loved ones were present to witness my little miracle on that morning of New Year's Eve.
Quinn's cord was loosely wrapped once around his neck but no damage done. He cried a hearty cry and was a great color, very clean with hardly any vernix or blood on him. I was pretty much out of it at this point, and completely disoriented from the experience. After they cleaned up my son, I got up off the floor and walked to the bed to hold and breastfeed him.
My midwife was great. She followed every instruction to a tee. She did her best to help stretch my perineum to avoid any tears. She left Quinn's umbilical cord attached to the placenta for a while until it was necessary to cut. Quinn's cord was too short to reach my breasts so I couldn't breastfeed him immediately. The plan was to keep him attached until the cord stopped pulsating but we decided to cut after a few minutes so I could hold him close to me.
The baby only received an oil bath so that the vernix could remain on the skin and provide my baby with the moisture and protection his skins needs to adjust to his new environment.
He weighed in at 3.3 kg and I didn't tear, only a few scratches! I cuddled with him for a couple hours and rested and later joined the rest of the family at the dining table for lunch.
I'm so pleased that I had the strength to push through with the homebirth. I'm happy to have experienced every sensation of natural, unmedicated birth. It helped a lot knowing that what I was going through was only temporary and soon enough my little boy will be in my arms. Yes, it was incredibly intense and very painful. However, it was an experience that I was so intent on having and would not do anything differently. I used Vipassana Meditation which is an amazing tool and helped significantly. My yoga practice also ensured me an easy childbirth.
Another advantage is that I am able to move around and walk within two hours after giving birth and enjoy the comforts of my home with my family. And the best gift of all is having my little boy, Quinn, to enjoy and love without any doctors or nurses prodding at either one of us.