My Natural Home Birth-
Labour Without Medication Or Intervention
I’ve seen so many birth stories featured on blogs over the past few months and love that women are sharing those moments. I think it’s incredibly important to talk about birth, especially natural births, and you can read why in this post. I haven’t really talked about my home birth, or posted the absolutely stunning pictures taken by Kate Eybel from Studio 221 Photography, so I thought I might try my hand at sharing.
Preparing For Birth
My Reasons For Choosing A Natural Birth
Having an unmedicated, natural birth is no longer the norm. Actually. How strange is that, to think we more likely to rely on someone else’s expertise or assistance than our own bodies when it comes to giving life?
I, myself, have had 2 births involving pain management and interventions of some kind. Both of those were traumatic, I felt unsatisfied and I was worried about the impact on my babies. In one of them, I bled out and my blood pressure plummetted so severely that a crash cart was brought in. The room filled with a team of people before I even got a chance to hold my daughter and it wasn’t until I saw my husband’s fear and emotion when he informed me, “Your lips are white” that I grasped there may have been an issue. I attempted to hold onto consciousness, with my concern being that there was something wrong with her, as I watched blood quickly running from the birthing table into a pool on the floor. I wasn’t able to understand it until afterwards and my recovery from that birth took months. I wasn’t doing that again!
One of the things I kept replaying in my head throughout my pregnancy was a quote by Judith Lothian, RN, PhD, LCCE, FACCE that I read, where she said;
“Women are inherently capable of giving birth, have a deep, intuitive instinct about birth, and, when supported and free to find comfort, are able to give birth without interventions and without suffering.”
She later goes on to conclude;
“Some women choose to give birth naturally because they love the challenge. Others find great satisfaction in working hard and “getting the job done.” Many women are eager to avoid anything that might harm their babies or themselves. But the most compelling reason to choose natural childbirth is a universal one. Women know how to give birth without machines, epidurals, and fear. Why natural childbirth? The more important question might be “Why not?””
And that’s exactly what I thought- Why not?
My Birth Team and Location
I decided, for this birth, that I wanted to go with a midwife again. I had one child with them previously, my other natural birth, and was thrilled with the prenatal care in particular. However, I gave birth in a hospital and one of the midwives couldn’t make it there in time so I also had a nurse present. She was a royal pain in my ass, to put it bluntly, and my husband had to hold my hand down to prevent me from decking her. Thank God for a midwife and my own ability to advocate, as she would have caused me to tear by attempting to jam my leg up, by force, in an unnatural manner while delivering. I also wasn’t doing that again…. so, this time, I decided to try a home birth. I wasn’t completely thrilled with the last experience I had with a midwife (much better than my OB/GYN encounters but not exactly what I had hoped for) so I went with Renaissance Midwifery because they have an outstanding reputation with mothers in my area. I did thorough research on how I could improve the experience myself, or what I could request to make sure that happened and walked in with prepared questions for my team.
I can’t say enough about the level of prenatal care I received from Renaissance, the supportive staff or the information provided for new mothers. Their offices are also warm, inviting and beautiful. I especially loved the binder they give to each woman for her pregnancy, which details far more information than you’ll ever receive from an OB/GYN and appeals to my slightly neurotic side. I didn’t even know I was immune to the chicken pox and had been tested for it until the Renaissance staff went over my previous pregnancy charts. I was also never told what, exactly, went wrong when I gave birth to my oldest daughter until their staff filled me in on the details in my file. Every midwife on my team was phenomenal and made me feel confident enough in their abilities, and my own, to have a home birth without worry.
I decided that I wanted my husband as the only additional person in the room. It had been hinted that perhaps I could include my mother in the moment and, although I truly appreciated having an extra option for support, I’m a very private person. I also don’t like distractions while focused on giving birth and would happily do it entirely alone. My hubby is there because he’s the father of the baby, not because I actually enjoy a companion in the moment. That’s just my own personal feeling, how I cope with pain and my primal instinct at the time. I joke that I’m like a cat and would be happy to hide away in a closet, birthing alone, then let someone discover me holed up with a baby later 😛
Going way out of my comfort zone, we also included Kate as our birth photographer. Holy hell, was I ever nervous about that! I gave very specific dos and don’ts, with Kate being the utmost respectful professional and she made me feel so at ease. We didn’t have maternity pictures done and, at the time, I thought Aradia would be our last baby. As a result, I wanted something special for her to look back on down the line. Kate made me feel excited during planning for our shoot and her pictures are stunning, so I was willing to take the chance.
As mentioned, I did a lot more research this time around. I looked into various types of pain management, including hypnobirthing, massage, various types of breathing techniques, affirmations, aromatherapy and naturopathic remedies. Here’s a great list of options available that are commonly used by many women. Although many on it weren’t my cup of tea, you may find one of them to be exactly what you were looking for.
I opted to use aromatherapy and massage, with clary sage and lavender essential oils being the go-tos for birth. Clary sage can actually help to naturally induce labour or help it progress once labour has started. When I knew it was the real deal, my husband gave me a magnificent foot massage with clary sage and applied it to acupressure points.
Throughout the duration of labour, I opted for counter pressure and only focused breathing as my main sources of pain relief. I get incredibly grouchy if massaged during labour and prefer to be left alone. Bear was awesome this time around, in the moment with me but letting me do as I wanted to do instead of doing what he thought may help.
Evening; It was during our evening routine with our children that I realized my Braxton Hicks contractions, which I had been having for months, were… different. There was a building pressure in my pelvic region and each tightening was longer, more focused, than the typical feeling of my body practising. I let Bear know that we needed to get the children in bed and I wanted to relax, so he handled all of the little ones solo that night. I tucked up on the couch and tried to determine how long between contractions, which was about 40mins by then.
Around 10 pm; Things had progressed to the point I could time contractions and we were about 20 mins between the irritation that is initial labour pains. I got some things done that I wanted to complete in order to prepare, and let each wave wash over me with as much stillness and peace as I could muster in the moment. I closed my eyes, breathed slowly and thought about holding my sweet girl.
By 11 pm; Bear had come to the realization we were definitely having a baby and he went to Sobey’s to get fresh fruit, as well as continental breakfast items for our children and the birth team. We laid out a spread of fruit trays, croissants, mini muffins, fresh orange juice, cinnamon rolls and yogurt with granola. I wasn’t baking during labour, in the middle of the night, so we went the pre-bought route. She was two weeks early so I was a wee bit unprepared and unenthusiastic about the idea of cooking by this time.
Around midnight; As my membranes had not ruptured, we opted to do my last perineal massage, which lead to my husband deciding that was foreplay and going further was in the best interest of progressing labour quicker.
By 2 am; It had seemed that his idea did the trick, the contractions had ramped up considerably and I figured she could be coming soon. My husband started to get a little panicky, suggesting we page the midwife. I told him I wanted to labour on my own as long as possible and we were still okay. Secretly, I thought maybe we were not okay but I wasn’t worried in the slightest. We decided to Netflix and Chill, only not in the same way she was conceived, and put on a movie. Bear was tuckered out at this point and stole a small cat nap before jolting back to life with profuse apologies. I didn’t mind- he was far better this time around than he had been with Charlii.
By 6 am; Contractions were nearly back to back and Bear was insistent we call the midwife. I wanted to wait, to be polite, and not disturb anyone’s much-needed rest. It was going to be a big day, after all! We called an hour or so later and our awesome attendant gave me a lot of reassurance, asked if I figured she may have time to hop in a quick shower (I wasn’t worried) and then she would head over. We called the birth photographer then too, to give her the heads up that she may want to get ready.
By 7 am; Birth team, assemble!
Kate, our talented photographer, arrived right about the same time our awesome midwife Krystie Alexander did. After my initial check and Krystie asking a few questions, as well as timing my contractions, she decided it was best to page a second midwife because birth was imminent. Annie arrived soon enough and, although she wasn’t a member of the team that I saw throughout my pregnancy, I was just happy to not have a hospital nurse as the second attending.
Around 7-8 am; My daughter, Cadira (aka Chicky) woke up right about then- which wasn’t typical for her at all- and I was somewhat distressed about it to start with. As she was only two, a fortnight away from her 3rd birthday, I was worried about what she would think or how she might react. She was a bit nervous and alarmed by what was going on but, in all of her sweetness, tried to run to me to give me a hug during a particularly painful contraction. She head butted my stomach midway through, causing me to vomit, and I think that’s what put me into transition. That was the worst part of my labour (more for pride than pain), especially as our photographer walked in all of a literal minute before I upchucked in a bowl in my living room. Oh the glory that is childbirth! But I had a good sense of humour about it, although I wanted a moment to collect myself without assistance- and to brush my teeth! Looking back, it’s kind of funny now.
The Birth Of Our Daughter
Around 9:20-9:30 am; I figured I would try going to the bathroom one last time, just to make sure I wouldn’t have to go closer to the moment. Pretty typical of me though, sitting down ends up with the baby coming and I knew it was time to push. I actually chose to lie down, rather than give birth in any other position, because that’s what felt right to my body this time around. Oddly enough, it’s the first time that would have been my preferred position and the first time I had a choice to do as I pleased! Chicky was in the room and watched her little sister enter the world, remaining cool as a cucumber and patting me gently between contractions. While pushing her out, I actually made a noise that I can only describe as primal (I normally don’t make any sound at all, except an expletive during the last birth :P) and A LOT of it. The poor girl didn’t freak out, just covered her ears and waited for her sister’s arrival with focused curiosity.
By 9:35 am; Our little Aradia was welcomed earthside, en caul, and as you can see by the pictures she was a perfect, little 7lb 9oz princess. I won’t add the more graphic photos, out of personal preference, but our spectacular birth photographer captured the rare en caul arrival, my unique placenta and the additional amniotic bands it contained. The midwife ended up examining it for quite some time, really thinking it was “cool” because she hadn’t seen one with all of the additional pieces before.
After The Delivery
The great thing about midwives….oh, should I say, ONE of the great things… is that you’re immediately left to bond with your baby. In a hospital, they often usher away your newborn to weigh and check them before you get to nurse them, look at them properly or have some time alone together. Nowadays, they do attempt to allow about half an hour to an hour before letting others into the room but you’re still interrupted, instructed, poked or prodded in that timeframe. We weren’t.
It took me a while to deliver the placenta, which I think was because I clued into the fact that a whole group of ladies (including one with a camera) just watched me give birth. At that point, I was feeling a wee bit awkward and being informed that my placenta hadn’t come out yet, or having it suggested I “cough it out”, while all three stood at the end of the bed and started at my nethers made things funny to me on top. *facepalm* My contractions stopped as a result so I nursed Aradia to help things along and coughed out my placenta in between embarrassed giggling. I include this because being able to give birth naturally, without pain medication and while at home in my own environment, ensured I was “with it” after delivering and truly in the moment. I don’t recall the details of the moments and feelings immediately after my epidural births with such complete clarity.
My Final Thoughts On Home Birth
Of all of my birth experiences, I feel most fulfilled and pleased with my natural home birth. It’s a truly empowering accomplishment, leaving one with a real sense of pride. I almost felt like I joined the sisterhood of my ancestors and my inner, primal warrior goddess was now one with my modern being. It sounds so corny but you do it and come back and tell me you don’t know what I mean 😉
Aradia was actually supposed to be our last baby, in part due to past birth experiences, but having a home birth opened me up to the idea of doing it again. I felt far better than I had after any other pregnancy in the moments right after birth. Even though I am older and not in as peak shape as I had been with any of my others, I recovered much faster.
So what’s your story? If you don’t have children, what do you hope for if you ever do? Have you started your birth plan?
If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check out my other thoughts on natural birth here.