Tag Archives: Midwife

How to Help a Woman in Labor

7 Dec

All Photos by Lena Pettus Photography

Should I Buy a Heating Pad?

I think so. One of the things I use most for moms in labor is a large heating pad. This is especially helpful in early labor when the mother has contractions that feel like menstrual cramps. A heating pad is also great to use on mom’s lower back if that area is hurting during labor. I prefer a heating pad over a rice sock because a heating pad stays consistently warm. An added benefit is that I don’t have to leave the laboring mother to heat it up in the microwave for five minutes. Though it could be a good idea to have an extension cord in your hospital bag if you plan on using it where you birth.

I’m waking in the middle of the night with mild contractions. What can I do?

I tell moms if they wake in the middle of the night contracting to ignore it till they can’t ignore it anymore (unless your water breaks, then you need to notify your care provider). Go back to sleep if you can. There’s no use in staying up all night timing contractions, the better thing to do is to rest and sleep while you can. If you’re too uncomfortable to get back to sleep, go ahead pull out the heating pad and place it on your tummy. If contractions are strong enough to keep you awake and you can’t rest sometimes getting in a DEEP, full bath works wonders to stop false labor (I like to call it practice labor) long enough for you to get some much-needed sleep.

What about dealing with back pain in labor?

I use a paint roller with a good handle to apply counter pressure on mom’s back. The paint roller is cushioned so it prevents bruising and when applied to the lower back in a firm rolling motion it can offer some relief.  Typically, I use the paint roller over the heating pad placed on mom’s back. Plus, you can also use the paint roller in the shower or tub, which is nice too.

For a comprehensive PDF file filled with suggestions for comfort in labor please go here: http://www.childbirthconnection.org/pdfs/comfort-in-labor-simkin.pdf

I’ve heard that I’ll work up a sweat in labor. Is this true?

Yes, you will likely sweat once you are in active labor, and you might even get downright drenched in transition. It’s a sign that your body is working hard. I ALWAYS use a hand-held, battery-powered fan. I keep it near mom’s face especially during transition or when mom is pushing. It’s not a bad idea to have a small bucket with chilled ice water and a wash cloth to place on mom’s forehead or the back of her neck if she needs it, too.

What about that big ball I’ve seen pictures of, should I have one too?

Yes, we ALWAYS use the ball in labor, it’s an excellent tool for coping. If you don’t have one yet, you can get one at Target or Wal-Mart in the fitness section. It’s a good idea to have one at home that you can use before you head to the hospital. In fact, when you go to the hospital, place the ball in the back seat and lean over it during your drive. And bring it into your hospital room so you don’t have to worry about whether or not the hospital will have one for you.

For a comprehensive PDF file filled with suggestions for comfort in labor please go here: http://www.childbirthconnection.org/pdfs/comfort-in-labor-simkin.pdf

When should we leave for the hospital or birth center?

Keep in mind that the longer you are able to labor at home your odds of having a successful, un-medicated, vaginal birth will increase. However, if your water has broken, you will need to check with your care provider about when to come in. Especially if you are GBS positive.  Most of the time, you want to leave for the hospital once you are in active labor. Active labor usually presents itself with signs like this:  you are not laughing or talking in between contractions, the contractions are lasting about a minute long and are coming every 5-3 minutes and have been for about an hour, and the contractions are getting progressively stronger and longer.

What’s going on ‘down there’ while I’m in labor?

Once you’re in active labor you’ll have lots of birth goo leaking out of you. Especially with your contractions. You will also have some light bleeding called bloody show. Don’t freak out about this. As long the bloody show  is pink and light and not looking like more than a period, spotting in labor is normal. Bloody show is a result of your cervix dilating and thinning out, the blood vessels get aggravated near your cervix and bleed. So, it’s a good sign, it is a signal that your cervix is changing. With that in mind, I like to encourage my clients to wear Depends while in labor. They work like a charm.

What should I do if my labor stalls when we leave for the hospital? Why does this happen?

One thing that is helpful is to bring your favorite music, fragrances and massage lotions with you to the hospital. They’ll help you make the transition from home to hospital, which often causes a mom’s labor to slow down. Labor stalls because of the adrenaline effect. We get excited that we are finally going to have our baby, this is really happening, we get nervous, we’re leaving our cozy environment at home to go to our place of birth and we have a surge of adrenaline. Adrenaline is known to slow labor. In the hospital, Terbutaline, which is a drug used to slow or stop labor, is almost identical to our body’s natural hormone, adrenaline.

Likewise, Pitocen, which is the drug used to increase the power of our contractions, is almost identical to our body’s natural hormone, oxytocin, which keeps our labor strong and active.  So, when you need to ward off your adrenaline … soothing music, familiar scents and low lighting help reduce its effects. However, keep in mind if your labor starts to slow down after too much calm music, switching up the music with a good, strong beat can also help get your labor energized again.  Also, it’s good to remember, if you’ve stalled out, use of your breast pump in labor helps to increase your contractions if they’re slowing down.  Nipple stimulation releases oxytocin.

What’s the best way to breathe in labor? 

There is no one right way to breathe in labor. In fact, there are many ways to approach your breathing. However, what we have found is having a rhythm in our breathing is a key to coping well. One type of coping tool that I have seen work with a lot of moms is called “breath awareness” basically that’s a fancy term for focusing on your outward breath through a contraction (like your life depends on it). I often tells moms to “push out the pain with your breath.”  Or “make your outward breath stronger than the contraction.” If you can manage to stay on top of the contraction through your breath you’ll do just fine.

Can you tell me more about rhythmic breathing?

I’ll count in rhythm with the laboring mother’s inhalations and exhalations through a contraction. We’ll count to four. This way all mom needs to focus on is getting to four. That means we’ve just broken up her contraction into smaller bites of four seconds. Usually, I’ll count very slowly like this, “One and two and three and four…” keeping my eye contact strong, my head the same level as hers, nodding my head in unison with her breathing. A lot of moms respond really well to this. I will also pat on her leg or arm through the contraction in rhythm with her inward and outward breath and or have her pound on something in rhythm with her breathing. For example, in my second labor with my son, I clung to my husband and swayed back and forth in rhythm with my breathing while pounding on his back a beat that matched the pace of my exhalations.

What’s the best thing do to with my body in labor?

Whatever makes you feel the most comfortable.  Your body will tell you how to move and what positions to get in. However, you want to remember is to keep your body soft throughout your contractions. Which means, lower your shoulders, keep your jaw loose and your legs limp, and if you’re standing keep your hips wide and rocking. An open, soft body, especially at the top of your body, somehow allows the bottom of your body to stay soft and can help your cervix open faster and baby to descend quickly.

What should I do in between contractions?

Drink sips of clear liquid and or take small bites of easily digestible food, like non-acidic fruit. Did you know that woman in labor should drink about 4 ounces of fluids an hour?  Also, be sure to empty your bladder if you have the need- an empty bladder will lessen the pain of the contraction and give more room for baby to descend when pushing. However, once you’re in heavy labor, often none of that sounds appealing, that’s when it’s good to avoid thinking about the next contraction or the last one. I encourage mothers to let their bodies go limp and sink right into the tub, bed, ball, partner’s arms, etc. I remind the mom to let go in between contractions, breathe out any remaining tension from the last contraction and simply focus on her baby. I encourage her to shut her eyes and slow her  breathing down. Now is the time to go inward. Deep breaths in through the nose and out of the mouth. This is when I tell moms to “breathe all the way down to your baby, let your breath bring strength and life to your baby.” Sometimes we forget that our baby is going through labor with us, so this helps us stay connected and purposeful in our labor.

What if I make loud noises in labor?

Vocalizing in labor is a wonderful tool for coping. If you make noise during labor, as most of us do, remember to let the noise be low and loose. Typically it is best to avoid high-pitched, tight sounds, as these normally can keep your body tense. (There is always the exception to the rule, though). A good goal is to keep your jaw as loose and soft as possible and allow the sound to come from lower part of your throat – almost as if you’ve swallowed a large apple and it’s sitting in the back of your mouth. If you are already vocal person, it’s likely that you will be vocal through your labor so, don’t be afraid to use this wonderful coping tool. Just remember a low sound doesn’t mean it has to be a quiet sound. I yelled in my labor with my son, I mean threw my head back and yelled out like an animal bellowing, but my sounds were low and almost primitive – roars. They were not distressed sounds. I think it helps practicing making low grumbling noises from the back of your throat to get an idea of how that sounds so you’re ready to go there in labor.

What about being relaxed in labor? Is that even possible?

Yes, relaxation is a place of the mind, and our minds have a great impact on our body during labor. When we keep our mind free from fear our body will follow suite. Sometimes, though, we need a little help getting our bodies to stay relaxed. That’s when I very gently and respectfully touch a mom’s cheek and remind her to “soften here” or I lovingly place my finger tip on her furrowed brow and say “release here” or I rest my hands on her shoulders and say, “loosen here.”  Those words make so much more sense in labor than “relax.” Saying, “Just relax!” can really can frustrate a woman when she’s laboring. I encourage moms to discuss with their support team ways that already help them remain in a calm, peaceful place. We have found that often the tools that  help us stay peaceful in everyday stressful situations are the same tools that we will use to cope in labor. Is it touch? Is it words? Is it music? What do you already use to cope with pain or stress in your life? Make sure that your partner knows what tools you like best.

What else can my partner do to help me?

It’s not rocket science, simply be present. That’s the key. Support people should stay away from the phone, TV or computer (unless asked otherwise). They should remain close and connected to the laboring woman. They should watch her and respond to what they believe she may need. A strong touch, a loving word, a calm presence, eye contact, a hand to squeeze, a back to pound, a quiet presence of love and safety. Also, don’t wait for a the laboring mother to ask for things like a drink, place a drink in front of her mouth with a straw, and suggest she take a sip if she wants to (in between contractions). Offer her chap-stick if she’s been breathing forcefully. Suggest position changes if she’s been in one longer than 30 minutes. Also remember, the less questions we ask the laboring mom, the better. The last thing a woman in serious labor wants is someone to ask her, “Do you want the apple juice or the ginger ale?” Or “Hey babe, do you want Michael Jackson or do you want Reba?” Don’t interfere with a woman’s concentration once she has gone inward, simply be there to watch and cover her sacred space.

Is there anything about the pain of labor that I should be aware of? 

Keep in mind that coping techniques never fully remove the pain – they simply help you cope with the pain. The truth is when we think there is a way around the pain of labor rather than through it, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Thinking that we can escape the pain by just doing something right in labor can leave us feeling defeated during labor, which is not what we want.

I’m scared that I can’t do it.

I actually prefer working with moms that are afraid that they won’t be able to manage the pain of childbirth rather than a woman who thinks that she’s got it in the bag already. What I sometimes see with the over-confident mom is that she tends to get upset and angry with herself quickly if she doesn’t think she’s coping well and this can cause her to be overwhelmed by the pain (which she didn’t imagine would be as big as it is). This distraction can cause the rhythm of labor to be lost. The mother that has a healthy respect for the reality of the pain of labor tends to dig a little deeper in search of ways to cope with labor before hand. She often has a better understanding and acceptance of herself if she freaks out and tends to reach out and seek help from others in labor faster and gives herself room for loosing it in labor.

What do if I decide I want an epidural?

It’s a good idea to have a code word in place that you can use if you truly get to the point where you are laboring where you are no longer coping with the pain, but you are suffering. Penny Simkin, the founder of DONA, says it best, “No one wants a woman to suffer during labor. On the other hand, no supportive person wants a woman to have pain medication that she had hoped to avoid. A previously agreed-upon “code word” provides a safety net for a woman who is highly motivated to have an un-medicated birth. She says her code word only when she feels that she cannot go on without medical pain relief. The code word frees the woman to complain, vocalize, cry, and even to ask for medications, but her support team knows to continue their pep talks and encourage her to continue, and suggest some other coping techniques. However, if she says her code word, her team quits all efforts to help her continue without pain medications and turns to helping her get them.

Why is a code word better than continuing to help her cope without medications when a woman (who had felt strongly about avoiding them) says she can’t go on, or vocalizes her pain loudly? It’s because some women cope better if they can express their pain than to have to act as if it doesn’t hurt. It also guides the team much more clearly than her behavior. As one woman said, “I shouted the pain down!” It’s really important for the nurse to know and understand the purpose of the code word, or she’ll feel the team is being cruel. If a supporter wonders if the woman forgot her code word, he or she can remind the woman, “You have a code word, you know.” One woman, when reminded, asked herself, “Am I suffering?” She decided she wasn’t, and went on to have a natural birth. Of course, a code word is unnecessary if the woman plans to use an epidural.” SOURCE

What things should be said to me in labor that will help me?

Well, that really depends on what you respond best to. However, I like to remind moms in labor that they are “stronger than this is hard.” I like to focus on what they’re accomplishing and how powerful their body is. And, when they are pushing, I prefer not to say “push harder” I like “push as strong as you are.” Sometimes little things like that can make a difference. During the pushing stage, your support person should remind you to keep your chin to your chest, gently supporting your head for you, reminding you to let your body make a “C” shape around you baby. This is when you should envision the power of your push taking the shape of a “J” down and out of your body. However, some of this may not apply if you are pushing on all fours and or squatting – which are wonderful positions to push in.  But I got a little distracted. Back to the question at hand, at some point you will likely say things like, “This hurts so bad.” That’s when it’s a good idea for your support team to respond with, “I know it does, labor is hard work, but you’re stronger than this is hard and you can do this.” Or when a mom says, “I can’t do this anymore.” I tell her, “But you are, we are watching you do it, and you’re doing beautifully.” I like to remind mom that the contractions are bringing her one step closer to holding her baby in her arms. Your support team should always appeal to your strength and not your weakness.

My mom/sister/friend wants to be with me while I labor/give birth.

Keep in mind that if your mom is going to be your support person in labor (or sister, etc) that sometimes it’s hard when we are emotionally involved with those who are laboring to see them go through the pain of labor and not get scared. When someone in the room get’s scared, the emotional atmosphere in the room changes, and the laboring mother responds to it poorly. It’s best to remember to have compassion towards the laboring mom, but not feel sorry for her or get scared by the intensity of her labor.

Also, this is not the time to have your friend in the room who has never seen a baby birthed naturally and wants to have a new experience to tweet about. Everyone who is present with you in the birth room should have a supporting role and or job to do (they would also do well to have seen some video clips of birth if they’ve never seen real birth before.) Your support team needs to be those who fully support your choices in labor. Your support people should have realistic expectations of what labor looks like and how long it can take. They are there to serve you. If they aren’t doing that, they do not need to be in the room with you. This is the time for you to be selfish and not distracted by those around you. Be very selective of who is present with you when you labor. Talk about this before hand with your family so that no one is surprised on labor day who is and who isn’t in the birth room with you.

What else can you recommend?

I like to tell moms and their support person to have a phrase that they can say to themselves or to the laboring mom to get through labor, like a mantra or a confession of faith. In both of my labors mine was, “My body is created to do this, I have nothing to fear.” Find something that works for you, words that inspire strength in your heart and mind. Sometimes you can write them down ahead of time and have your support person read them to you while you are in labor to give you a fresh perspective, or speak them over your body while you labor. Our words hold great power and connection to our bodies and what better time to use that power than in labor!

For other tips and suggestions on labor, please read these other topics I’ve written on:

How to Tell if it’s Labor and other Tips

Pushing and Beyond: Tips for the second stage of labor

The Birth of the Placenta: Tips for the third stage of labor

Noah Luke’s Birth Story. Part 3.

20 May

Read Part 1 Here ||| Read Part 2 Here ||| Read Part 4 Here

Sometime around 5:25ish we left for the birth center, I got in the Odyssey and leaned over on the seat, pressing my face into the bottom of the chair and rocking through contractions.  I remember Peter telling me, “Don’t worry, no one can see anything.”  I didn’t have a clue what he meant by that, and at the time I didn’t care. Apparently my butt was up in the air and my lovely, attractive depends were there for anyone who looked through the windows of our car to see.  Contractions were raging through me, at less than 30 seconds apart and more than 90 seconds long, I was in labor land.  He kept saying, “Hang on, we’re almost there, the traffic is really bad, but we’re close.”  Apparently driving down Locust Street in Denton at 5:30 isn’t exactly traffic free.

Somewhere near around 5:35 ish (no one knows for sure) we arrived at the birth center.  I stepped out of the van and had two HUGE contractions.  A low and loose primal sound came out of me, while I leaned over onto the back of the car.  Patty, who works at the birth center in the office, my friend and fellow birth assistant, later told me she looked out the door and saw my butt up in the air and my depends hanging out for all the world to see, and thought, “that right there is a woman in serious labor.”  Jean was right by my side and led me into the birth center.

I walked into the labor room and saw they had lit candles, the tub was already filled and Enya was playing (yeah, we changed the music quick).  A sigh of relief filled my heart.  Okay, I am in my safe place now…let’s have a baby.  Jean checked my blood pressure, my temperature, my heart rate, and the baby’s heart rate.  Everything looked good.  After that she had me get up on the bed to check my cervix.  I was just 4 cm, baby was at -1 still and I was 80% effaced.  “WHAT?!” I thought to myself.  I pounded my fist about three times on the bed and said, “Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t! I thought I was further along than that.”  Jean agreed saying she thought that I was further along too.  Patty was right next to me on the bed holding my hand and said to me, “Don’t worry, Joy, you are going to go quick.”  I remember thinking, “Don’t feed me that line, Patty!”

For a moment my heart sank.  I thought that if I was already feeling like I was in transition and this was only the very beginning of active labor and my contractions were already this HARD and INTENSE, then there was NO way I could do this. They better take me to the hospital and give me an epidural because I cannot make it if it gets worse.   The truth is, I got really scared and started to lose my focus.

So, I knew I had a decision to make.  I got off the bed and put my game face on.  I had Peter put on some music, music that we listened to together the first weekend we met (True Love Waits Christopher O’riley plays Radiohead), and I began to pace the room saying to myself, “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.” During contractions I held on to Peter and pounded his back through the peak of them and literally yelled out my vocalizations, still low sounds, but LOUD sounds.  I remember at one point I yelled and lifted my head up to the ceiling, while I clung to Peter and shouted, “LORD, LORD, LORD!”  I had to say that because what I wanted to say was the “F#CK!, F#CK, F#CK!”  (yes, I typed it, sorry, but that’s what I wanted to say, but I didn’t, aren’t you proud of me?)  I remember thinking, I’m loosing it.  This is me loosing it.

Around that time, Lynne the co-owner of the birth center, my friend, employer and fellow birth assistant, came to me and asked me if I wanted to get into the tub.  I was leaning over the bed and before I could answer a contraction raged through me.  I grabbed her hand and held on for life.  Just as one finished another came rushing through me again.  Lynne was eye level with me and her presence was peaceful and calm.  I said to Lynne, “I’m only 4cm, I shouldn’t get in the tub, it will slow me down.”  She said, “Don’t you want to slow things down just a bit to cope better?”  “Yes, I do, good idea.”  Before we moved, I asked Lynne, “Please tell me, is he OP?”  I was concerned that I was laboring like this because my baby had turned back to OP.  Lynne said, “No, He’s still ROT.”  The relief that washed over me in that moment was tangible.  Now I knew I could do this. So as fast as I could, I changed out of my clothes and got into the tub.

When I got in the tub, I asked Peter to put Emmylou Harris’ Angel Band on, the same album that I listened to while laboring with Zoe. I turned to my left side in the water and clung to the back edge of the tub while I pressed my forehead into the cool ceramic of the tub.  I talked myself through each contraction, again saying, “I can do this, I can do this, my body is created to this, I have nothing to fear.”  And then as the contractions came, I vocalized the word “open” through the contraction and imagined my cervix dilating and my baby dropping down.  I knew my body had quite a bit of work to do yet if I was still 4cm.  So anything that I could do to relax and trust birth was needed.  Saying “open” as cheesy as it sounds helped me cope.

Breathing through a contraction

I was burning up - transition is hard work! Peter is keeping me cool.

Clinging to the edge of the tub

Just them my Mom arrived.  I remember hearing her say, “Oh wow, you have her in the tub already?” Lynne mentioned that the goal was to slow things down a bit to help me manage.”  My contractions spaced out just a touch enough to give me an ability to catch my breath in between them and soften my body in the water. However, with my next contraction, I felt the urge to push and at the peak of it, loudly grunted out the words,

“Involuntary pushiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!”

Patty tells me that she was in the hallway when she heard me yell that out through my contraction and couldn’t help but laugh.  I laugh now when I think about it, too. Who says that in labor?  Leave it to a doula to identify her stages of labor while laboring!  :)

I can do this...I can do this...I can do this

The power of a mother's touch in labor, while Jean, my midwife looks on.

Lynne said, “Good! Let me check where baby is at!”  Lynne let me know that baby was sitting at +2 station!  YES!  That’s what I’m talking about!  Jean was there right next to Lynne and asked to confirm my progress.  I was curious to know as well, so I had Jean check my cervix. Jean let me know I was 8cm dilated. I remember her saying, “Joy, you’re going to have this baby soon!”   Now that was good news.  I was ready. They encouraged me to follow my body’s urge and to push lightly at the peak of my contractions.  This felt really good, and actually lessened the intensity of the pain and pressure of these fiery contractions.  About two more contractions passed when I literally roared through my next contraction.  I remember hearing my mom say,  “Oh, that sounds like she’s ready.”  Jean checked me again (I wanted to know), I was complete and ready to push.  Jean said, “Your baby is siting right there, Joy. Go ahead and push!”

Just after they let me know baby was +2 and I was 8cm. They're staying close by.

Jean, my midwife, watching patiently.

And that’s what I did, I sat up, brought my chin to my chest and bared down.  I won’t lie, I was feeling scared and a little intimidated. This was happening so fast. This was not how imagined it would go.  But I pushed through my fear and my pain and knew it was time to bring my son into the world.   My bag of waters was still intact and I remember as I was pushing I felt it burst open.  I actually thought that I had birthed Noah’s head because it hurt so bad. I popped my eyes open to look down to see what was going on and I was annoyed, what you mean that was just my bag of waters, that HURT!”  There was just a touch of meconium when the bag burst open, it wasn’t enough for Jean to feel concerned so she kept me in the tub.  In fact, she didn’t even mention it to me.


The hard work of pushing!


Another big push and I was crowning.  Oh my Jesus in HEAVEN.  That hurt so very bad.  I actually had to stop for a moment and pant through the pain…which is exactly what you should do when crowning.  My body did it instinctively and I think that’s pretty cool.  His head came out easily, with one more push, his shoulders and body left mine and Jean swept Noah up out of the water and placed him in my arms.

He's here!

I did it!



Getting a closer look.

Introducing Noah Luke Kusek

Noah Luke was born at 6:14pm on April 13th, 2011, after 4 hours of total labor and less than 45 minutes of active labor and with just three pushes. And the song that was playing when my son entered the world was, We Shall Rise. Indeed, we shall.


Read Part 1 Here ||| Read Part 2 Here ||| Read Part 4 Here


Noah Luke’s Birth Story. Part 2.

19 May

Read Part 1 Here || Read Part 3 Here

At around 1:30ish my mom and I left Inanna Birth Center and headed home.  As I stepped out of my car taking a few steps towards my house, I had a light contraction.  I didn’t think much about it because it knew it was normal to experience cramping as a result of having your membranes swept, but it was strong enough to give me pause.  I stopped for a few seconds and simply breathed through it and then headed inside.

By 2pm the cramping intensified and they were coming in waves fairly regularly.  I had my mom begin to time them for me.  Three minutes apart and anywhere from a minute to 90 seconds long.  The pain was tolerable. It wasn’t enough to make me feel that I was in real or active labor yet.  I actually considered that this was possibly another false start and tried to focus on other things, like putting my daughter, Zoe, down for her afternoon nap.

Once Zoe was asleep, I decided that I should help things along since it was the middle of the afternoon, after all.  I pulled out the ball and began to rock through the contractions on all fours while leaning over on the ball.  The contractions were still coming every 2 to 3 minutes and continued to keep a momentum of a minute to 90 seconds long.  Really things weren’t changing too much, however, it did seem like they were getting just a touch stronger (or was that my imagination?).

Laboring on the ball in early labor.

Early labor. Breathing through a contraction.

At around 3pm, my mom asked me if I wanted to call my sister in Austin and tell her to come. The plan was to contact her once I knew I was in labor and she would make the four hour road trip from Austin to Denton so that she could be present for Noah’s birth.  I told my mom to wait, because I still wasn’t convinced this was the real deal.  I had experienced so much practice labor the last few days, that I didn’t want to have Alysa come all this way for a false alarm.  I suggested that we wait and see what was happening around 4pm before we made any phone calls.

My contractions stayed at the same pace, and remained tolerable on the pain scale, meaning I could talk in between them and cope through them without having to give much thought to it.  I knew it wasn’t anything serious yet.  In fact, at this stage, when I wasn’t contracting, I was cleaning the living room, sweeping the floor and singing along to music.  I remember thinking that if I was going to have a baby today then at least I could come home to a clean house.

Around 3:45 I went to use the rest room.  It was then that I knew I was indeed in labor.  I had obvious bloody show. Bloody show is light bleeding that occurs as a result of a woman’s cervix dilating in labor. I came out of the bathroom, pulled out the bag I was planning on bringing to the birth center, changed into my “birthing outfit”  and put on a pair of depends.  There, I thought to myself.  Let’s do this….I am in labor.

Here’s a fun Facebook interaction that happened right around that exact time that I realized I was in labor:

The Mommypotamus:  Dear Joy, please have your baby soon so I can host another birth story bash. There are so many breathtaking stories to share, but I’m waiting for you. :)  

April 13 at 3:49pmJoy: pretty sure I am in labor right now.

April 13 at 4:50pm: The Mommypotamus:  SERIOUSLY??? Oh that is amazing Joy! Praying for beautiful birth and perfect positioning for your little one! Does this mean I get to be in your birth story???

Yes, The Mommypotamus, you are officially in my birth story! Around 4pm, I texted Jean, my midwife, to let her know things were cooking and texted my sister to come.  I also let Lindy, our good friend, know that tonight was the night we would need her to watch Zoe.  I turned up the music and begin to read some positive affirmations over myself for this birth.  And like a switch, when I finally recognized that I was in real labor, my contractions picked up intensity.

However, in between contractions I was still fine…texting and updating Facebook even.  I even decided that the dining room floor needed to be swept and did so in between contractions. Obviously, there was a part of me that wasn’t 100% committed to being in labor.  Which is why by 4:30 my contractions slowed down to five minutes apart and the intensity of the contractions lessened as well. I think this was a sign that I wasn’t allowing myself to really let go and surrender to the work of birth. Zoe had also woke up from her nap and was wondering what was going on with mommy. Around that time, our friend Lindy texted to see if she had time to go home and grab a few things before coming over to watch Zoe.  I told her sure,  she mentioned she would come by the house around six.

I remember going into my room to get some space, when all of a sudden the next contraction I had knocked me in the gut and took me apart from end to end.  I leaned over my bed and pushed out the pain with my breath.  The contraction had a nice bell curve to it, starting out small and peaking at the middle with lots of pressure in my lady garden and then slowly fading out.  Oh yes, this is it.  I stepped out of my room and my mom looked at me and said, “I heard that, sounds like you’re picking up.” I nodded my head, and was still trying to catch my breath.

The next few contractions were following suite.  I now knew without question we needed to leave for the birth center ASAP.  The pressure I experienced with these contractions was very intense, to say the least, and I began to wonder if I was in transition.  I needed help getting through these contractions.  It felt like a mac truck was barreling down through my body and trying to make its exit between my legs. Peter was right by my side.  I  held on to him for dear life and I vocalized as we slow danced together through each contraction. After the contractions ended, I asked Peter to call Lindy and tell her to come right away,  we needed to leave NOW –  this baby was coming quick.  That was approximatively 5: 15 pm.

Vocalizing through my contraction while holding on to Peter. Zoe doesn’t seem to be bothered.

Slow dancing through contractions with Peter.

Just then, Jean, my midwife, called to check on me.  I could NOT answer or talk on the phone, so Peter answered.  She didn’t even need to ask what was going on, because she could hear me in the back ground bellowing through my contractions, as I leaned over the dining room table.  She told him to get me to the birth center right away.  He let her know we were leaving just as soon as Lindy arrived.  The next contraction the pressure intensified and I told Peter, “We have to leave RIGHT NOW!”  My mom agreed to stay at the house with Zoe and wait for Lindy to arrive.  According to my phone we called Lindy, at 5:20pm to tell her to come ASAP. The plan was to have Lindy drop my mom off at the birth center, which is about a 7-10 minute drive from our house.  Good.  Shortly after that we were out the door and on our way.

Read Part 1 Here || Read Part 3 Here

Noah Luke’s Birth Story. Part 1.

4 May

Read Part 2 Here || Read Part 3 Here

On Monday, April 11th I had my 39 (and 3 days) week appointment with my midwife.  I went in to see Jean.  I had lost three pounds (mainly because my swelling went down), my blood pressure was great, my urine was good (we check for sugar and protein, among other things).  Noah was measuring perfectly. I was having lots of practise labor, making my cervix soft as butter (to quote Jean). I was two cm dilated, 50% effaced and baby was -1.  The bad news…he turned. From LOA to full on OP.

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