A Midwife-Attended Birth Center Story

Leslie | September 15, 2007

I wanted a natural childbirth and chose a birth center. My son was born 10 days past his guess birth date. I was in labor for 2 days.  My water didn't break until just before he was born. Here is our story:

After the first full day of contractions coming every 10 minutes, I took a warm bath and the contractions subsided enough to allow me to sleep that night.  The next morning, contractions began again and lasted throughout the day.  Again, they were 10 minutes apart.  And again that night, I took another warm bath.  However, this time the contractions continued to increase in frequency to every 5 minutes.

A significant change in how I handled the contractions occurred after talking to one of my friends.  Previously during the day, she called to see how I was thinking and feeling during the contractions.  I replied that I would count through them so that I would know how soon they would be over.  I also was gripping the bed posts through some of them.  My friend turned the whole process around when she said, "It sounds as though you're fighting the contraction instead of welcoming them as a sign of your baby coming." The truth rang inside of me.  It made sense.  I knew I needed to practice my visual imagery, relaxation techniques, and positive affirmations.

My husband brought out my printed list of positive affirmations that I had prepared after reading the Hypnobirthing book.  He read through them one by one and waited for me to repeat each one after him.  And example is, "I welcome this contraction as a sign of my baby coming to me."  Or "My baby is perfectly positioned for each phase of labor." Once I began reciting these to myself and fully relaxed, my husband could no longer tell when I was having a contraction.  I was calm and cool as a cucumber.  At this point, he stopped timing them and trusted me to tell him when it was time to go to the birth center.

Still, I thought I was in false or prodromal labor because I wasn't feeling any pain or tightness in my back. Several people had said I would feel the tightening around to my back. Thankfully, my friend who had called earlier in the day, called again that second evening.  She said she had had no back pain for any of her 3 children's births.  All her pain, as was mine, was in the stomach area. After hearing that, I decided I was not in false labor. I told my husband it was time to go.  It was 8pm at night.  On our hour's drive, some of my contractions were 2.5 minutes apart. I watched the full moon during our drive, made up a song to sing to my son, and smiled through the contractions.  My contractions were not translated or interpreted as pain. On the contrary, I felt pure joy during that drive. Truly, I have been in much more severe discomfort and pain with lower back issues that have plagued me for years.

We arrived at the birth center shortly after 9pm.  The head midwife did an examination and said I was only 2 cm dilated.  I didn't believe it, so I told her to do it again, only this time I focused on relaxing.  She was surprised to discover I was 6cm dilated. These two examinations were performed within a minute of each other.  This proved to me how connected my physical state was to my mental state.

The birth room had a big bed, private bathroom, and a big bathtub.  For the first hour or so, I stayed upright, leaning on a bookcase when I had a contraction.  I tried sitting on a yoga ball and although I thought I'd love it, I absolutely hated it.  I felt like I was sitting on the baby's head, preventing his entrance into this world. For the next hour between 10-11pm, I reclined in bed on my left side with pillows between my legs. My husband and another friend of ours took turns rubbing my back and reciting the positive affirmations to me. We had music playing in the background, candles were lit, and the lights were dim.  I had brought a few things from home as my "lucky charms" and comfort items.

Around 11pm, I got in the big, warm bathtub.  I was giddy with excitement because of how good it felt.  I have always loved soaking in bathtubs.  I spent the next 2 hours in the bathtub, with contractions increasing in frequency and strength. From time to time, they monitored the baby's heartbeat rate with a Doppler underwater.  Another midwife performed a vaginal examination on me, while I was still in the tub. I had dilated to 8 cm.

For the delivery, I transferred back to the bed. I pushed for 30 minutes. At first, I was breathing wrong with puffed out cheeks and bulging eyes. The midwife corrected me, but I had had already burst a couple of tiny blood vessels in each eye.

Our son was born on September 25 at 2:13am, 5 hours after we had arrived at the birth center.  He weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces.  My husband cut the cord when it was white and no longer pulsating.  Our little son had arrived—perfect and beautiful. Soon after his birth, I nursed him. Although I was tired, I had endorphins and hormones racing through my body. My legs ached, although I was grateful that between contractions, the midwives had straightened out my legs and massaged them.

I delivered the placenta about 20 minutes later. I had to have 3 little stitches.

The three of us had an hour's nap together. Afterwards, one of the midwives went over some of the new baby stuff with us. By 7 am, we were headed home.  Less than 12 hours after leaving our home the previous night, we re-entered our home and we went straight to bed for a long nap.

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