With my first, 2 1/2 years ago, I had a hospital birth only because I was unable to find a home birth midwife in my area.
Fortunately, I had the next best thing – a midwife at the hospital who used to do home birth. So that said, I gave birth naturally and had a good experience overall. But since then, (having seen The Business of Being Born), my determination to have a home birth increased.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant with my second I immediately started my search again. This time I was more successful and thus began my home birth experience.
Prenatal care went very smoothly. All signs looked really good and we had no need for any ultrasounds or even vaginal exams. It was so awesome having my appointments at my house, instead of the hospital!
After having a few weeks of prodromal labor (which wasn’t bad at all), I went into real labor one week after my “expected” due date. At 10 pm I noticed the contractions changing from what I had been experiencing the last few weeks.
I began timing them to see where they were heading.
When I noticed them at 3 to 4 minutes apart I called my midwife. She and her assistant both arrived by 11:30 pm (even though they came from as far as an hour away). In the back of my mind I was still concerned this might be a false alarm (more prodromal contractions), but my midwife felt she should come (and she is the expert on these things).
My midwifes assistant is also a doula, and both of them began coaching my labor, making me walk around, eat appropriately and what-not. I was in general really tired and did not feel like starting labor at the time I usually go to bed, so I needed someone to make me walk around.
My son was asleep upstairs and my husband was just trying to stay out of the room (I was watching the A&E version of Pride And Prejudice – a movie he hates).
My co-sleeping and breastfeeding toddler woke (like usual) around 12:00pm. I nursed him back to sleep and then continued to labor downstairs. He woke up again around 1:00am and this time it was just too overwhelming to have the nipple stimulation of him nursing during a contraction so I quit and transferred the job of getting him back to sleep to my husband.
Labor was getting more intense so I got into the bath for a little while.
Then I think my midwife suspected (based on constant observation) that I was getting close to transition and suggested I get out and walk around some more. This was something I did not feel like doing, but I followed her instructions and went back down stairs. I was on the lookout for transition (the way I remembered it with my first) but wasn’t sure I was seeing any signs.
Only a couple of contractions after going back downstairs my water broke (sign of transition for me). My midwives immediately started to get out the bedding and covered a large bean bag in my living room with plastic and a mattress cover.
I moved onto the bean bag and in an all-fours squatting position, I pushed.
It couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4 contractions till the head was out. Then my midwife asked me to give a really hard push to help her get the body out. The baby was so fat she had to give her a little tug under her armpits while I pushed.
I can not imagine it was more than 10 minutes from the time my water broke the baby was out, and very healthy – 9lbs 4o, and my perineum was completely intact (unlike my first birth which I tore delivering a smaller baby).
As I was holding my new baby girl skin to skin, my midwife became alarmed by a portion of the sack that had come partially out, and was filling with blood like a balloon. She confirmed with her assistant that this was something they were not sure what it was and gave me a shot of pitocin to be safe. It turned out that I was able to push out the placenta.
Meanwhile, my husband was already back downstairs and helped my midwives clean up while I rested in a clean bean bag (we have two matching) with the baby. Nursing started easily only about 15 minutes after birth and has been going strong ever since. My son remained asleep though this whole thing and didn’t wake up till 7am, at which point he met his new sister and I nursed them both.
The midwives arrived at 11:30pm and were gone by 5:00am.
The house was clean, quiet and dark. As I lay there with my new little one I could hardly believe it had all happened. There was absolutely no comparison to the comfort and peace of giving birth at home as opposed to the hospital. During the whole birth I never even thought, ‘oh my goodness, I am giving birth at home!‘ It felt totally natural. I wouldn’t consider doing it any differently in the future.
Another major perk of home birth was having my midwife come to my house for our 24 hour, 4 day, and 2 week appointments. Especially having given birth during the start of flu season I was very glad not to have to drag a newborn into a pediatricians waiting room.
I also hired my midwife’s assistant as a postpartum doula for the first night since my husband had had to leave on a business trip the next day. She was such a big help being not only knowledgeable about my healing after birth, but also experienced in attachment parenting and tandem nursing. This was something I would do again even if my husband was home!
What I learned is that you do not need to know how many centimeters dilated you are while you are in labor. You are better off not knowing because A) it doesn’t matter, and B) you can always think “I might be 10cm right now for all I know”. and C) every vaginal exam increases risk of infection. So why do the hospital midwives do it? My guess is because, A) the OB’s tell them too, and B) because they might not have seen you in the last 2 hours. What an amazing difference to have two skilled midwives at my side every minute observing (with their eyes and ears) what stage of labor I was in.
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