The Birth Interview Project consists of 17 simple questions designed to help mothers process their birth story & share it with others. All mothers are invited to take part in this project. Born out of Joy’s desire to help women discover, process and express the feelings surrounding their birth experiences, The Birth Interview Project strives to offer a platform for mothers and readers alike to share and be heard, to search and to discover, to identify and to heal, and to exhort and remember. The views and opinions expressed here are unique to each woman who takes part in the Birth Interview Project and may not always reflect the values of the blog author.
Please give a brief description of yourself, and what number baby/birth you’re sharing with us.
I am Sara, 32 years old, married for 5 years and a stay at home mom going back to school for lactation consulting. This is our second baby, the first was born in the hospital, this one was an attempted homebirth.
What was your due date, and what was your baby’s birth date?
The first due date given by my OB was March 23rd, they later changed it to March 30th. When I switched to my midwife we decided that March 27th was my EDD. Max came into the world March 27, 2011 at 1:54 AM.
What was your baby’s weight and length?
Max was 8 lbs 3 oz and 19 ½ inches long.
Please give a brief synopsis of your birth.
We planned a home waterbirth. The people in attendance were: me, my husband, our 2 ½ year old son, MIL, midwife, midwife’s apprentice, doula, and photographer. I had not experienced labor with my first son (got the epidural too soon) and was not sure what to expect. So when I started to feel different at 1:00 AM, March 26th, I wasn’t sure what to do. I got back in bed and decided if it didn’t stop in an hour to wake my husband, but I fell back asleep.
At 8:00 AM when I told him about that he said to call our midwife, but I didn’t want to wake her for nothing. But I did call and everyone was gathered by 11:00 AM at our house. It was great! We took a walk around the block in the rain, the mailman chuckled the third time we passed him.
By 4:00 PM I decided to get in the pool. Everyone had dinner while I relaxed in the pool. The contractions were pretty bearable. Around 9:00 PM I still hadn’t progressed past 9 cm and the baby still hadn’t dropped. Off and on throughout the day his heart rate would go up but when I changed positions it would return to normal. Around 11:00 PM his heart rate went up but wouldn’t go back down no matter what we did; he still hadn’t dropped and I was still at 9 ½ cm.
So the decision was made to go to the hospital. Because it was not an emergency we went to one farther away that would respect our decisions. It was a 30 minute drive in the dark, cold, rain. Of course, our transmission gave out 100 yards from our exit off the interstate, but our doula was right behind us. At this time contractions were more powerful and intense.
At the hospital, 12:00 AM, March 27th, I insisted on pushing the wheelchair to the L&D room, it took a while. They gave me fluids and once his heart rate normalized they removed all the monitors, IV and BP cuff and let me do my thing. I all went really fast after that. I felt him drop, the CNM had to push a cervical lip out-of-the-way, my water broke, and a couple of pushes later I was pulling Max onto my belly (1:54 AM, March 27th). He just laid there looking at me.
They let the cord finish pulsing (20 minutes) before having my husband cut it. Then the placenta delivered naturally on its own. Max got nothing, no ointment, no shots, nothing. He stayed on me and nursed. It was only after almost 2 hours that I let go of him, they weighed and measured him, put on a diaper and discharged us. I walked out of the hospital carrying him. We were home in time for Max to meet his older brother when he woke up.
What did you do to prepare for your labor and birth? Did it help?
I read every book I could get my hands on about natural birth. I especially loved Ina May; she helped me to understand and believe how beautiful and wonderful natural birth can be, she is an inspiration. I really paid attention to the Bradley Method; I found it very useful in understanding my body and the birthing process. I also did the home study of HypnoBabies. I did not commit completely and did not really follow it during labor, but I do believe that it did help me to go inside myself and cope with my labor. That, along with my twice a week prenatal yoga, helped me to learn how to control my breath and work through my contractions. I constantly verbally told myself and others “I can and will do this.” I think this constant affirmation did wonders for me.
What did you like about your birth experience, if anything?
There were many things I loved about my birth experience. I loved being home and being surrounded by people who I fully trusted. I loved the comfort and familiarity. I loved having my 2 ½ year old with me and loving on me. I loved that he took a walk around the neighborhood with us at the beginning of labor and that he was able to be in the birthing pool with me later on. I love that he was able to participate as much as he did, though he may not remember it, we have plenty of pictures. I love that we had a birth photographer. I am so sad that we didn’t know about her with our first child. I loved being surrounded by love and trust. I loved being able to do whatever I wanted. I loved that when things weren’t going as planned, that I could trust what we did was the best thing for me and baby.
What did you not like about your birth experience, if anything?
I really wanted to have a home waterbirth, but was not able. But our midwife’s apprentice made arrangements for us to go to a hospital that would respect and honor our choices. Because of her we were able to get everything, labor, birth and newborn procedures, that we would have had at home.
What surprised you about your contractions/labor?
I was surprised at how long I was in labor. It was 24 hours, we were expecting a couple of hours and for it to be fast (family history). I was surprised at how easy the labor was. The first 21 hours were very easy, they could not believe I was even having contractions. The last 3 hours were harder, but in no way what I thought they would be. I was so amazed at how not scary the pain was; how it was there and then it was gone again.
In reflection, would you do anything differently, either before the birth, during or after?
The only thing I would change is my reaction to the news that I needed to go to the hospital. I was devastated, completely heartbroken and scared. It took everything I had to keep it together. But again, I trusted my people and knew it was right. I think that Max’s birth happened the way it was meant to happen.
What do you remember the most about your birth?
The thing I remember most is the minute he was born, how amazing it was, how wonderful it felt both emotionally and physically. I remember pulling him up to me saying “It’s Max, he’s so small.” Although not only did we not know he was a boy (for at least 5 minutes after birth!) but that he was only 6 oz smaller than his brother.
How was your birth experience different from what you imagined it to be?
I had imagined bringing Max into the world gently and calmly in the water in our own home. I imagined going up and getting into my bed right afterwards. Instead we ended up at the hospital and driving home a few hours later.
What were your immediate emotions about yourself and or your birth experience after the birth?
My baby, I did it, I really did it! This is the most wonderful thing ever! I want to do it again! I am so lucky! I also remember walking out of the hospital carrying Max a few hours later and saying to my husband “I feel great! I don’t even feel like I just had a baby!”
How would you describe your recovery?
My recovery went pretty well. We were only at the hospital for about 6 hours total – no drugs. So I was back home and in my own bed with my baby and my toddler almost right away. I was lucky enough to have my MIL staying with us for over a week after Max’s birth so I was able to stay in bed and rest and nurse my baby. Those were my only two jobs. Of course a day after his birth I was quite sore, my whole body but that only lasted a couple of days – like an overdone workout. I also had my placenta encapsulated; that helped more than I ever could have imagined with my emotional well-being! I will do that with all futures pregnancies.
How has your perspective of your birth experience with Max changed since the first week of having him?
I don’t think my perspective has changed, maybe grown stronger in my convictions. I went into this birth fully trusting my caregivers. I went in knowing that if they told me I needed to do something then I needed to do it. They were with me, helping me, supporting me. They empowered me. Today, 9 months later, I feel as empowered as I did the day I gave birth to Max.
Did you learn anything about yourself through this experience?
I learned that for me to truly be in control of my birth experience I have to give up control. I learned I am a very strong woman. I learned that my body CAN do this.
Would you recommend having a natural childbirth or medicated childbirth to other women?
I have had both and the benefits of the natural labor, birth, and postnatal period can not compare. Your hormones are there for a reason, pain control, bonding and breastfeeding – they made all of these things easier. I will strive for natural births with all future pregnancies, I can’t say enough about them.
Any further thoughts, comments or advice you would like to share?
Birth is about bringing a baby into the world however you so choose, but it is also about the mother, which is all too often forgotten. We need to take birth back and make it our own. There are two people involved working together. Women need to be empowered to work with their bodies and their babies.
- The Birth Interview Project | Rachel’s Homebirth (thejoyofthis.com)
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- The Birth Interview Project | Jody’s Homebirth (thejoyofthis.com)