I actually wasn't planning on writing about my home birth, at least not on the blog. There is so much controversy about home birth and since Calvin's birth was such a personal, amazing experience I didn't want to put something that special out there for everyone to read. However, there have been a few women that have asked me to share my home birth story, and I thought that it might be good for people to hear a positive experience surrounding home birth.
I think when people hear that we are having a home birth they think of an unassisted birth or assisted by an under-experienced midwife who has little or no training in the medical field.
Aaron and I did our research and found the Birth and Beyond Midwives and if we hadn't found such amazing, experienced midwives we wouldn't have even considered a home birth.
Why We Chose a Home Birth
The main reason I wanted a home birth is because I experienced three of my siblings births at home and that gave me a very different view of birth than most people. It was calm, family-oriented, and very natural. The other reason I wanted a home birth is that I was hospitalized three times growing up (one of those times was for two weeks), and three of my siblings were hospitalized. My brother was in a serious car accident and when I saw him in the hospital it was pretty traumatizing. For me, the hospital and modern medicine are major blessings (me and siblings wouldn't be alive if it weren't for modern medicine) However, I get pretty anxious and stressed in hospital settings from my past experiences. I just couldn't relax and feel comfortable giving birth in the hospital. Personally, if there is no medical reason why I need to go to the hospital to give birth, I'd rather be at home where I feel comfortable and relaxed.
For those of you who wonder about the safety about home birth, here is some information that helped us make our decision:
The midwives are all nurse practitioners (Masters in Nursing) and a few have taught nursing classes at Yale. They were all Labor & Delivery nurses before getting their Midwifery degrees. They work under the direction of an OB/GYN at a hospital 45 minutes away from our home and have rights there, so if I needed to be transferred for a non-emergency they would be able to seamlessly transfer my care to that hospital. If there were an emergency they would take me to the closest hospital.
We asked how many emergencies happen on a regular basis, one of the most experienced midwives (she has been doing home births for 20 years) said she has only had to transfer three women for emergencies, and all three were transferred long before the situation became a true emergency. The midwife said that because midwives are only caring for one woman at a time they catch abnormal signs long before they become an emergency. Whereas at the hospital she said she was caring for three women at a time and during the 40 minutes she wasn't with a woman something could (and sometimes did) go wrong. She said she started doing home births because she said that she felt she could give low-risk women better care than at the hospital.
Only women who are considered low-risk are allowed to give birth at home. The midwives perform all the same tests that you would receive with an OB. I was tested for Group B Strep, and if I had tested positive they would have administered IV antibiotics during labor. They carry most drugs that are used for birth in the hospital; Pitocin, Lidocaine, the three of the most common anti-hemorrhaging drugs that are used for birth, and others. The midwives are also trained in infant resuscitation and carry the same equipment used to revive infants in the hopsital. Because they delay cord clamping, the baby receives oxygen from the mother until the placenta detaches, so they have 5-10 minutes to get the baby breathing efficiently before they need to use their equipment.
Home birth does not guarantee a risk-free birth, nor does a birth center or hospital, but we felt that this particular group of midwives are highly-experienced and conservative when it comes to home birth. Their priority is the safety of mother and baby, and if it seems that the hospital would be the safest place for the mother and baby at that moment they don't hesitate to transfer.
Another advantage is that the midwives visit you 24 hours and 72 hours after the birth, so you don't have to leave your home for check ups. They also administer all the infant tests and treatments (antibiotic ointment, vitamin k shot, HEP B vaccine, hearing test, PKU test, etc.)
That being said, I dont' feel that home birth is for everyone, but for me and this particular birth it was exactly what I wanted and needed.
Calvins' Birth Story
I had a feeling that the baby would wait until my mom was here before making his/her appearance, but my pressure waves (contractions) started on my due date, Wednesday July 29th and I was excited that the baby could come soon, but nervous because I wanted my mom to be there to watch Sawyer. They were about 7 minutes apart and fairly strong, but by the evening they disappeared and we were able to get a good night's sleep.
The next day they started again and I lost my mucus plug, Aaron and I were getting excited! But they slowed down that evening and I was disappointed. I called my doula and mom and they helped me feel better about my body slowly preparing for a fast active labor.
The next day (Friday July 31st) my mom's flight was scheduled to arrive at 5:00 pm. My pressure waves (Hypnobabies term for contractions) were strong but sporadic all day, but I felt relieved that my mom would be here soon to help out. My mom got to our house at 5:30 and I made a big pan of taco meat and tortillas, the whole time I was having strong pressure waves, about 5 minutes apart. We all ate dinner together and by 7 pm my pressure waves were 3-4 minutes apart. Aaron didn't think I was in labor because I was walking around and talking in between the pressure waves haha, but I was sure this baby was coming tonight! I called my midwife and doula and let them know my pressure waves were regular and I wanted them to come. They got here around 8 and started to set up.
I hired a doula at the beginning of pregnancy, mainly because I'd read the statistics of how doulas help shorten labor, and heard from other moms that a doula makes a huge difference in their labor and birth. I didn't quite know how she would help because I thought that if I read up on ways to help labor I could just tell my mom or Aaron what to do. I couldn't have been more wrong! During the first stages of labor my doula, Lindsay, knew exactly what to do to make the pressure waves easy and manageable. She would press on certain points on my back and hips and the pressure would melt away. She would also press my shoulders when she noticed they were tense and remind me to relax. The early stages of labor lasted longer than I was expecting, and I asked the midwives to check my dilation (they only check if asked) and I was 7 cm. The only problem was that the baby wasn't moving down very well. He was still floating high up and didn't seem to be making progress downwards.
I was relieved because the pressure waves were still very manageable and with Lindsay and the assistant midwife (she is finishing her training in massage therapy) there to massage and press on my back and hips I could walk around and chat in between each pressure wave. Aaron admitted later that he wasn't convinved I was in labor until transition because I was so calm and didn't make any sounds during pressure waves. Thank goodness for Hypnobabies!
It was actually quite a laid back, relaxing labor. However, there was still the little problem of the baby refusing to move down. Lucky for me my birth team always had a plan. They had me squat on the ground by the bed, wrapped a rebozo (woven scarf used in labor) around my belly and with each pressure wave they would pull up and backwards to make the pressure wave more efficient at pushing the baby down. After about 30 minutes I stood up to change position and WOW that baby dropped right down and I could barely walk. I went to the bathroom to sit on the toilet (sitting backwards on the toilet seemed to make the pressure waves more effective) and immediately started throwing up. After a few minutes I was completely wiped out. I started shaking and my pressure waves had stopped coming. I was so discouraged because I was sure I was close to transition, but since my pressure waves stopped I wasn't sure what my body was doing.
Lindsay and my midwives knew exactly what to do and say; they said "Listen to your body, it needs a rest. Lay on the bed and take advantage of the break. Your body is preparing to push and it is giving you a rest to get the energy you need to push this baby out." I was excited and scared at the same time. After throwing up and shaking so intensely I was worn out and didn't know if I could finish. I felt so alone. Transition/pushing is the time when no one can help you. You are on your own and you have to dig deep to find the energy and mental focus to stay calm. I remembered this point with Sawyer and I felt scared. I had had so much support throughout the early stages and I wanted that to continue. I told my mom I needed Aaron (he had been taking a short nap) and I looked at him and, I don't remember what I said, but I remember the way he looked at me and held my hand. It made me feel better, but I was still exhausted and scared.
Then I remembered something I had told myself to do when I came to this point: I prayed. I asked for strength and I asked Him to remove my fear. Before this point I hadn't felt the need to pray, I had things under control and I had outward support from my birth team. But at this time, Christ was the only one that knew how I felt and how to help comfort me. It was a simple prayer, but it was powerful. This is one reason I chose to have another natural birth, there is just something amazing about being in such an overhwhelming situation when Christ is the only person you can turn to. Wih both births I felt so much closer to Him after reaching my limit and needing him to help me through it.
Pushing was difficult and intense, and it was painful, but it only took about four big pushes and he was out! My water didn't break until he crowned, so all Aaron saw was the sac and he was a little freaked out haha. As soon as he was out I yelled to Aaron "What is it?!" He said, "I don't know! I can't see it yet." The little guy had wrapped himself up in the cord and the midwives were quickly unwrapping him, which seemed like an eternity! But as soon as he was unwrapped they set him down under me (I pushed on my hands and knees) and Aaron said "It's a boy?!" His voice sounded a little confused to me, probably because he was convinced the baby was a girl)
I reached underneath and pulled him and held him for the first time.
It was beautiful and wonderful.
I tore just a little, so after stitching up, cleaning up, and checking up, the midwives left our family to bond and awe over our little miracle.
The birth was so peaceful and calm. The midwives took turns sleeping, with one being with me every moment, unless I asked for some privacy. And Lindsay was there by my side the entire time. It gave Aaron and my mom a chance to rest, which ended up being wonderful because Sawyer woke up an hour after Calvin was born and they needed sleep to keep up with his energy the rest of the day.
The midwives cleaned up COMPLETELY, leaving the house exactly as they found it. The laundry was done, the trash was taken out, and I had a clean bed waiting for me after I took a shower. They even made a bunch of "padsicles" to help with postpartum recovery :)
I couldn't have asked for a better birth experience.
|Sawyer was THRILLED to meet Calvin for the first time|
|Our Birth Team|
|My doula, Lindsay|
|Such a proud daddy!|