I read many many birth stories in preparation for my labor and birth. I believe there is tremendous power in a positive natural birth story. Dear precious pregnant Mama, may I share my birth story with you? Please accept my humble contribution to to that beautiful genre. What follows is my painless birth story.
It seems that most of the time moms-to-be are told only horror stories about labor and birth. It fills them with fear and dread of pain.
I’ve even heard women say they wish they could keep their babes inside forever just to avoid having to go through labor. Instead shouldn’t we share positive birth stories to empower our sisters?
Painless Birth Story of BabyE
On Monday at about 4:30am I awoke with light contractions, the same kind I’d been having the last couple of weeks. For some reason I decided to time them and found that they were consistently ten minutes apart. When DH’s alarm went off at 6:30am I told him maybe he should stay home from work that day. It was easy to convince him as we were now fifteen days past our due date, and he wouldn’t have been able to focus on work wondering whether today was the day we would have a baby. We got up, had some breakfast, and then did a three mile walk to try to keep the contractions going.
Early labor and still smiling. See not too scary, eh?
I was in early labor strictly speaking, but it didn’t look anything like “labor” as presented on TV or in movies. We were just going about our day. The contractions were extremely light so that I had to stop what I was doing to even feel them enough to time them. I did not have any discomfort what so ever. While watching a movie that afternoon, the contractions got as close as seven minutes apart, but by that evening, they were starting to space out and get more sporadic. We decided to keep our acupuncture appointment for 6:30pm. I had two other acupuncture sessions over the past two weeks with no effect. This time though, I had about four strong contractions while I was on the table, nothing like the easy ones I’d had before. I used the bathroom on my way out, and there was some bloody show. Still, I didn’t let myself get too excited after waiting for so long. I was enjoying my extended pregnancy and wasn’t too uncomfortable. I knew that both Baby and I were healthy and well. My only fear was that I would go too far beyond my estimated due date and have to be referred to an OB and a hospital.
By the time we made it to the car I was having more strong contractions. DH timed them as we drove to the grocery store, and I was surprised when he told me they were three minutes apart. They continued through the store and on the way home. Being stuck in the car unable to move was the most uncomfortable part of the whole labor.
I’ll pause here to describe what “strong contractions” felt like to me. It seems more appropriate to adopt the term rushes than to call what I was experiencing contractions. Technically muscles were contracting, but that term has such fear and negativity surrounding it. To me it was the rush of power through my body. I did not feel them as pain or cramps. The thing I can most liken it to is lifting very heavy weights. Like a good workout, it was hard work, but it was good and healthy. My body was working hard, it knew exactly what it needed to do. I could not do anything to either resist the power or to help it along. All I could do, all I needed to do, was let my wise body to its work. And I suspect this was one of the benefits of having a water birth, too.
Eyes wide open. Hi Mom & Dad!
Only an hour later DH decided to call the midwife back to report contractions were two minutes apart. By that time I was totally in the zone, and didn’t have much awareness of what anyone else around me was doing. Luckily I didn’t have to because DH was taking such good care of everything. My midwife listened to me through a couple of contractions over the phone, and she informed me they had already increased to only 90 seconds apart. She said she’d be over within the hour. I continued to labor until about 1:00am, switching between the toilet and the labor tub, all the time making loud “O” sounds trying to keep everything open and relaxed. I’m a pretty reserved person, so I never imagined I’d be such a vocal laborer.
When we arrived home about 8:00pm, I was so happy to be out of the car! The contractions quickly had me doubled over the counter to cope. Soon after our midwife just happened to call to check on us and to schedule the next biophysical profile and discuss options for my care. I was so happy and relieved to be able to tell her we might finally be in labor. She said the contractions might just be due to the acupuncture and could fizzle out, but to call her back in a couple hours if they continued. When I told her there was bloody show though, she had us go ahead and have the labor tub delivered. We were finally going to have this baby!
There was never a time during first stage where I felt like I was in pain or wished I could have an epidural. I never really felt like I couldn’t go on anymore, but there were three contractions that were right on top of each other when I told DH I needed a break. I think that must have been transition, because soon the contractions started to space out again and my midwife asked if I wanted her to check me to see if I was ready to push.
Ready to Push
I couldn’t believe it all happened so fast. The first time she checked me there was just a little cervix left, the second time she checked I was ready to push. These were the only two times she did a vaginal check in my whole prenatal care and labor and even then it was completely up to me. Since I knew dilation isn’t a linear process, I didn’t want to get discouraged by not seeing enough progress during the end of my pregnancy and labor. I knew how important it was to stay relaxed and positive.
Because everyone always says pushing is their favorite part of labor, I thought I was home free, but the hardest part was really ahead of me. I pushed and pushed, but I was afraid I wasn’t doing it right and couldn’t tell at all if I was making progress. During a couple of contractions my midwife used her hand to show me where to push and assured me that I was doing just fine. She repeatedly told me I was laboring beautifully and she prayed over me that I would have the strength to continue. How encouraging and meaningful her words were to me!
As time went on I started to get tired and discouraged. I just remember telling everyone I was so tired over and over again. Luckily my midwife suggested DH give me some Goo which we just happened to have, and she helped me find some effective positions to help get the baby’s head under my pelvic bone. I could finally reach down and feel the smooth round bulge of the baby’s head.
When my midwife, her assistant, and her student all started to sit up around the labor tub with smiles on their faces, I knew we were getting close. My midwife helped me grunt through a couple of contractions instead of push to minimize tearing. A few more pushes and Baby’s head was born. It was the most amazing and powerful feeling to push him out.
Newborn exam on our bed.
A Big Blessing
Then I asked, rather incoherently I think, whether the bag of waters had ever broken, as I had never felt it. It turns out it was still intact, so they broke the bag, un-looped the cord from Baby’s neck, and then I pushed him out. The cord being looped around was a total non-emergency, and I didn’t even know it was until later. Before I knew it, I was holding my baby, and he was announcing his arrival loudly to the whole neighborhood. Our little boy was born 16 days after his due date at 3:23am after just 8 short hours of active labor.
The real shock came when they put him in the scale sling. It took quite a lot of effort to lift him up off the bed. He weighed 10 pounds 11 ounces ! (That’s 4.85 kg to the rest of the world.) I don’t think I would have been so impatient with pushing if I had no known how big he was! We praise God for blessing us with our wonderful birth experience and our healthy little boy!
Big strong BabyE. Check out my muscles!
I realize that not everyone will have the same quick and painless version of birth. I just need you to know, dear Mama-to-be, that hours and hours of extreme pain in childbirth are not a foregone conclusion. There is nothing special about me that makes me good at birthing. The very concept that I had any control over labor process is laughable. All I could do was prepare mentally and physically. Beyond that I could only put my faith in the fact that God had created women to safely and successfully birth their babies naturally almost all of the time. I have every confidence that you can have a positive natural birth experience, Mama, if that’s what you desire. While the world is yelling about miserable pain and the inadequacy of your body, hear me gently whispering, You can do it!
What is one positive memory (or hope for the future) that you have from your birth experience?
Love reading birth stories? Check out my book, Natural Birth Stories: The Real Mom’s Guide to an Empowering Natural Birth.