After my induction and intervention-laden birth with my first daughter, I knew I wanted something different and more natural for my next birth. When I became pregnant three years later, I looked into my choices. What I hated most from my first experience was the way I felt focused more on other people in the room than myself. One of my options was unassisted childbirth (UC). Women who choose UC typically have their partner present and possibly a midwife and/or doula. I decided I liked the idea of having no one but my husband around so I could focus on my labor. I feel birth is a natural process, and if something should go wrong we hadn’t already prepared for in our natural birthing classes, we would have a midwife and doula on call just in case. Finally, I wanted my birth to be a special experience my husband and I shared together.
My next step was to talk to my husband. I knew he was on board with homebirth because we had discussed it as a possibility. My husband is much more mainstream than I so I anticipated some disagreement. When I brought up the topic I was very surprised that he liked the idea. I had forgotten was how much my husband likes to learn new skills and DIY.
With the type of birth decided, we needed to learn more about what to do during birth. We decided to sign up for a Bradley class. Bradley is a method of childbirth education that focuses on the husband as well as the mother. Together my husband and I learned about the birth process. He learned how to help me and I learned how to help myself. By the end of the 12 week course we both felt confident we were prepared.
The day after my due date I woke up to a few contractions. They were regular and about 8 minutes apart so I called Mom to pick up my older daughter and settled in to wait. Gradually they were six minutes apart; then five and about twelve hours after they began my contractions were every four minutes. I labored all night, trying different methods to ease the pain and help the labor along. I used my birth ball, walking, warm showers, rocking my hips and anything else I could think of.
At about 5 in the morning I started feeling like I needed my water broken. For over an hour and a half I kept having the feeling. Finally I called the midwife I planned to use as a back up. She stopped by to check me out and told me I was at nine centimeters. She broke my water at my request and asked if I wanted her to stay. I said I was fine, and my husband walked her out while I jumped in the birth tub we had set up and relaxed in the calming water.
By the time Chuck returned a few minutes later, I had the urge to push. I told him the baby was coming, but he didn’t understand that I meant now! I felt the baby’s head, and told Chuck to grab the camera right away. On the next push, baby slid out into the water and floated to the surface. It was a girl! I held her in my arms for a bit until we cut the cord. Daddy held her while I delivered the placenta. We called the share the exciting news and family began coming over.
Abby with her Mom and her sister, Ari, hours after birth.
Abby’s birth was the wonderful, peaceful experience I had hoped for. It taught me I could birth a baby on my own. I learned you don’t need anything to birth a baby except education, persistence and determination. My husband and I shared a very special, intimate experience which has brought us closer together. I wish others could feel the joy and accomplishment I felt by having our daughter naturally, in my own home, without machines, drugs and medical intervention. Some say childbirth is the a rite of passage into motherhood; a powerful experience that enhances personal growth, inner strength, and deepens family closeness. I couldn’t agree more.
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