I’ll never forget the moment our midwife handed me our baby whilst still sitting on our toilet. Yes, I delivered him on our ensuite toilet in our home, which isn’t quite aligned with that kinda romantic ideal of a home birth 🙂 but perfect none the less.
If you’re hoping for a natural birth, maybe even considering a home birth, here are some things you may like to know, contemplate or consider.
Eleven days overdue, and I decided it was TIME! It’s not that I was uncomfortable in any way, but had been told by our midwife that if we didn’t deliver within the next couple of days she was strongly recommending an induction and hospital birth, which we REALLY didn’t want.
Over the previous few days, I’d had acupuncture, massage & aromatherapy, walked for miles, eaten spicy food, the works! He was still happy in there 🙂
So it was time for the castor oil!
I took a decent dose at around 8 pm on a Saturday night and we settled in to watch a good movie.
I started getting a few gripey pains within an hour or so, nothing crazy. Within about another half hour I couldn’t deny that yes, these were labor pains.
I decided to go into our bedroom/birthing suite where I had set up a double foam mattress, yoga ball, oil burner, music & bag of tricks. I had some time stretching and relaxing while my partner started to organize the birth pool and called our midwife to give her a heads up since she was 2 ½ hours drive away.
My contractions were kind of all over the place initially then they started getting closer together & it became harder to talk.
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- Childbirth is a very internal process. A natural birth (particularly a home birth) allows you the time and space to go within, connect to your body and FEEL your way through the process.
I can only imagine that this must be quite difficult to do in a hospital ward with different people talking to you, in an environment not very conducive to a peaceful connected process.
Not to mention being at home allows you the space to MOVE freely.
I spent most of my time in labor on my hands and knees, moving, swaying and stretching my hips open, resting on a yoga bolster. The pushing stage was VERY active for me, but I’ll get to that.
Some hospitals and birthing centers are becoming more supportive of women being free to move around whilst in labor, and more sensitive when it comes to lighting, which is great …
- Keep in mind that if you have an induction for any reason, that you’re then usually bed-bound for a large part of the process, plus the chances of intervention are largely increased.
Most often this is because the Pitocin has interfered with the bodies natural process and production & release of the hormones that regulate the birth process, and the pain is often intensified becoming more unbearable, commonly leading to an epidural.
Then that further increases the chances of a forceps delivery, possibly caesarian, … and wow how did that happen?! You’ve lost total control of what is supposed to be a beautiful and empowering natural process.
Women have inductions for various reasons but commonly it’s due to concerns when baby is overdue. Sometimes due dates are miscalculated and there’s no issue but often it’s because mums are holding on for some reason.
For me, it was believing that he was safer in there than he was out here! I believe that the world is unsafe so I wanted to keep him where I had control and could keep him safe.
So it’s worth exploring what your fears are and why you might be holding on. Starting to own and explore and talk about the fear is often enough to start shifting it. Far better that than having a highly interfered-with birth process, and risking complication because of it.
So by this time, I was REALLY wanting to get into the birthing pool and I still feel that if I’d been able to, I probably would have given birth that night!
But our midwife was bringing the pool liner which she felt we needed, and without it, we couldn’t even start to fill it!
In hindsight, and if you ever find yourself in a similar position, FORGET the pool liner, it actually isn’t THAT important!
I had a bit of an attachment to giving birth in the water, so I was unconsciously holding back, and labor started to slow down. How I longed for that water!
By the time the midwives arrived and they began filling & heating the pool, I was tired. When finally I entered that blissful warm water I just wanted to float off to sleep.
Then the sun started to rise, my oxytocin bottomed out and I must’ve accidentally pushed the pause button. Everything stopped, even though I was quite dilated.
Then there was nothing. All day!
Amazingly I had maintained dilation the whole day and slowly started to labor again by nightfall.
But it was slow, and our baby had been sitting very low in my pelvis for a LONG time, so our midwife started monitoring him more closely and within an hour or two his heart rate told her we needed to move things along so she decided that breaking my waters would relieve some pressure and get things moving.
And yes it did, but Zyahs slight distress had triggered my fear which made my oxytocin levels go down which made the pain level go up!
- I learned from my experience that childbirth doesn’t have to be painful. Up until that point, I was managing the sensations REALLY well. It was intense but by using sound and movement I was able to keep it to an intense sensation and out of the pain arena.
As soon as my fear was triggered that changed!
So I got to experience how we could go right through childbirth without suffering if we can maintain an openness emotionally.
It wasn’t the fear that was the problem, it was the fact that I resisted feeling it fully which caused my body to contract, causing pain.
I have no idea how long it took to get to transition, but towards the peak of it, my midwife suggested that I get into a squat position. I tried it but it intensified the pain so I resisted.
She told me that this was exactly where I needed to go and I knew she was right. She rigged up a sling over the door frame for me to hold onto, resting my back onto my partner in between intense contractions. Huge rushes of energy pulsating through me.
I was grateful to feel free to express freely through each intense rush
Then came the point when I let go completely, 100% surrendered to the sensation and expressed the intense emotion fully, even just for a few moments.
But it was enough. My body started to fully open and into feeling like I wanted to push.
At around this point, my midwife suggested I go to the toilet before pushing him out.
What!? You can’t be #%* serious, you want me to walk to the toilet, NOW?!!!
But I thought there must be a reason for the madness, so I did my supported waddle, and just about as soon as I sat down, whoosh!! He was coming! My body was doing it all automatically.
My pelvis expanded beyond what I thought possible, and out he came, into the arms of the fastest midwife.
I’d only had him in my arms for a moment before whoosh, out came the afterbirth, just about as fast as Zyah had whooshed out sucking his thumb!
4. You don’t have to physically push. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Your body just does it. Pushing actually contracts the body and can make it harder, and increase chances of tearing.
Breathing and mindset are the key here – cultivating a feeling of allowing yourself to expand and open, rather than pushing and straining.
By the way, the reason for the madness was that my midwife knew that squatting on the toilet would help him out, though I don’t think she expected it to work so quickly!
“Our society has a bad case of chronic “Birth Constipation”, and all our straining and pushing and yelling and forcing the process isn’t helping anything. Maybe we just need to teach mamas to breathe, relax and patiently wait until it all comes out in its own time…” Lauralyn Curtis
5. A long labor is OKAY!! Allow it to unfold as it needs to be.
In hospitals, first-time moms generally have three hours to push their baby out if they’ve had an epidural, two if they haven’t, and beyond that, they’re thought to be experiencing a prolonged second stage of labor, and Healthcare providers might push for a C-section or an assisted delivery with a vacuum or forceps.
A recent study found that when women were given just one more hour to push, C-section rates went down by roughly half.
I‘m thankful to have had a midwife who had faith in my individual process, respected my preferences every step of the way, and afforded us the time needed to journey through our birth in our own way.
The magic of home birth is that it gives the power back to the woman and the wisdom of our bodies that were perfectly designed to birth OUR way, not necessarily the way currently pushed onto us by the medical establishment.
Have faith in the design of the female body. The knowledge of how to give birth successfully is in our design, in our cellular memories.
I really enjoyed this article by Kelly Brogan MD who believes it’s not possible to have a truly natural birth in a hospital. Kelly lists some good points about why a home birth is actually SAFER.
She says ‘…the consciousness of the hospital is about managing, suppressing, dominating the body...it’s about fear.’
Personally, I respect the individual choice of every woman, each to their own, and I do understand why many women want to take the middle road. Fear can be a powerful beast if we let it.
May your birth journeys be empowering and full of love xo