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Home Water Birth in Ireland

Home Water Birth in Ireland

Birth really has been one of my biggest adventures and something I’ve become so passionate about. So, I personally have done it three times now, and ranging from horrific to brilliant, I reckon if I had a fourth go it could be pretty damn perfect! But, I’m not saying there’ll be a fourth!!! A positive birth is hands down one of the best gifts as a woman you can get. Positive comes in many, many forms and I believe it really comes down to what a great birth means to you!

The Background

So here’s the deal…..My first birth was traumatic, my second birth was better, but number three was, well, pretty amazing! My first birth took place in Holles Street as a semi-private patient, I didn’t have a clue! I thought birth was going to be horrendous. And guess what, that self prophecy came true. It was. Awful. But I got my baby girl at the end so I should be happy, right? Well yeah, but not actually. Of course I was happy with my beautiful child but the horrors of my labour really haunted me for quite sometime. Not long after I decided if I ever had another child it would be so different, and it was. I became really educated on birth and did a huge amount of reading and research.

On my second pregnancy, I booked in with the dominoes midwife-led care, in Holles Street. And this time I opted for a homebirth. I was low risk, so qualified for midwife led care and all going well I’d birth at home, in my own space. This REALLY excited me! Thankfully David was also fully on board. Like, we knew it would freak some people out and it does. But most people are interested, in my experience. We did the research, we knew the stats and they are really, really good and guess what, homebirth is safe! I know who knew?! Next part of the jigsaw was sorting out the fears that were still very much alive from birth number one.

That’s where Gentlebirth came in.

A friend mentioned it casually one day, well before I was pregnant. She kind of half muttered it, and later came clean that she was worried I’d think she was a hippie. Wrong. I thought she was a superhero! Birth number two, took place at home with the domino midwives. It was good, it was intense, more than it needed to be because I was afraid I wasn’t progressing quick enough and they had me squating. Yeah, not something I’d advocate! It got very intense, very quickly but overall was a good birth. What really was lacking for me was the continuity of care. That’s where I nailed it third time around.

As soon as we found out I was pregnant, I booked Liz from UK Birth Centres, also known as Private Midwives Ireland. The care I received was incredible from start to finish, and it was so hard to say goodbye to my midwife Liz, two weeks after Nathan’s birth. Liz did all my antenatal visits from 20 weeks at home, generally on a Sunday morning. When I say visit, it was more like a leisurely morning chat with a friend, who happened to really know her shit when it came to all things birth. She’d stay for two hours-ish at every visit and we discussed everything from my wishes for the birth, to my fears about the birth, to how all eventualities could be handled. I was involved with everything! We knew we were in the best hands, and that my friends is the best feeling, whoever your caregiver is. During the visits, Amelia got to play with the stethoscope and the whole family eagerly listened to the doppler echoing Nathan’s heartbeat. That sound is one I’d never tire of. Liz was able to recommend endless helpful things to me. One, amazing woman she introduced me to was Ros Drake from Drake Chiropractic. She works wonders with everything from SPD I had to optimal fetal positioning and has a very impressive rate of turning breach babies through her work. Definitely worth a visit pre labour to ensure you are all lined up for your best birth.

During Nathan’s pregnancy I listened to my Gentlebirth tracks, later did perennial massage whilst listening to my tracks (this really helped me relax and trust my body).

So, baby number three gave me a couple of false starts, I know you’d think you’d know it’s the real thing by your third but he was very convincing I swear! In the two weeks before Nathan’s birth I noticed a LOT of fears surfacing from big baby to fast birth to can I actually do this??! I went through the motions and listened to my tracks most evenings in bed, but worried was this enough! I did focus on some relaxation techniques and found counting down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 to bring me into a state of relaxation most effective! I did also this time use and practice a breathing technique called J breathing which worked for me amazingly in the second stage.

Finally, The Birth Story

On the afternoon of 18th October I started getting mild surges but put them down to strong braxton hicks and refused to think it could actually be happening this time. I was 40+2 and by 8pm I noticed they were coming every 3 minutes but still refused to even share the news with David! I was craving affection and love though and thankfully the toddler went down easy and we had some time chilling out together. At around 10pm he asked me if I’d been getting surges all evening. Turns out he can read me pretty well even when I’m trying to hide it! Anyway we went to bed but I wasn’t expecting to sleep as I was defintely uncomfortable by this stage but I put my Gentlebirth tracks on and I must have drifted off because I woke up in the middle of a dream timing my surges in my head lol! The surge that woke me gave me a fright as it just went on and on and another followed. I was a bit shaky and thought what the f@*# am I doing! I was freaking out as David fumbled with the TENS machine, and he timed surges. They were in fact coming every 3 minutes lasting 45 seconds just as I had been dreaming.. Weird eh! We decided we’d better call Liz but que in all the freaking out, I couldn’t remember where I’d left my phone. By this point my body was a bit shaky and in hindsight reckon active labour was kicking in although I feared transition for a moment. David found my phone which I had put into the wash basket. In my defence, It was 12am!

I spoke with Liz and she decided to make her way over, my mom was also en route in case the kids woke as my toddler regularly does and my youngest sister Sinead who was going to take pics for me.

We came downstairs & David started filling the pool. I put the TENS machine on too. So I noticed that I was going up the TENS notches quick and was at 5 (this is half way). This worried me, thankfully it was around this point I got my shit together and started breathing, and relaxing into it and generally calming down. This my friends made the biggest difference of all! I put the labour companion track from Gentlebirth on in the background, used my 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 relaxation technique and breathed. Now I was in control, now I was doing this, now I was enough!!

When Liz arrived I was settled and enjoying the surges, dropping my head and zoning out only for the “peaks.” I was enjoying the surges, feeling the power of birth wave through me. In previous labours I fought against this and that’s when I experienced pain. If you go with it, it’s completely different I swear! It’s really an incredible sensation and experience! We decided to do a cervical check and on first check she said I was 5cm, I then got a contraction and visualised my cervix opening (yup, full on hippy shit) and Liz said oh you’ve just gone to 6cm and it’s very stretchy could easily stretch to a 7.

This is the power of the mind I’ve no doubt!! Visualisation is an awesome tool to use.

For the next short while, I swayed my hips, leaned on David during surges, hugged and kissed and generally enjoyed the labour experience. I could sense things were changing and took a homeopathic remedy called aconite which was fantastic for keeping fear at bay. Liz told me if I’d been in Holles Street they wouldn’t have believed I was in active labour! Talk about empowering a woman, I believed I was going to rock this birth at this stage!! In between surges and sometimes during I was smiling and happy. One of my affirmations was to smile an David kept reminding me of this annoyingly, at times but it did refocus me.

The only sign of transition was a slight tear up in my eyes as I felt emotion rise up in me after a surge. Liz spotted it with her trained eye. There was a few surges at this point where I felt the energy change as it was directed downwards. This followed by that guttural birth sound at the second half of the surge, you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve given birth before naturally. It’s a mad sound, the first time on Amelia, I almost looked around to see who’d made the noise lol! This time I instantly recognised it and felt excited knowing we were getting close.

It was 3.30am and I knew it was time to get into the pool. I was nervous taking the TENS off but I shouldn’t have been because oh. Wow. That water felt amazing around my body! The warmth and support was incredible. My second midwife, Ursula arrived and was a lovely addition to the birth space. Everything was so calm and I felt excited as the second stage began.

I find it hard to explain the second stage as the energy was very powerful, but very empowering at the same time. I felt I was working with the energy and it felt good! I know, slap me. I’d have wanted to slap me if someone told me this after my first birth experience. But I swear, it’s true. This was very different for me from my previous births and I believe it was the absence of fear and the support I had that made the difference. My waters bulged and I could feel them and the head with my hand, I found this very encouraging and then there was a pop; my waters released! Again, on my previous two births I’d have been terrified to feel the head, but this time I was so cool about it.

As the surges came I dropped my head and leant into David, breathing and telling myself to open to birth. I cherish those memories as it really felt like we moved through labour and brought our baby into the world together. It felt very intimate at times and I forgot there was anyone else around. This I will say was short lived and as much as I was disappointed, I’m also glad of what came next. Amelia woke, yep my just turned two year old decided that just as mommy was starting to show signs of crowning that she wanted to watch her baby bro being born! I felt calm and that it was best to let her in. I had shown her some waterbirth videos in case this happened and thank God I did! When she came into the room she kinda knew what was going on, she wanted to be close to me and said “you ok mommy?” and rubbed my arm! Bless her! I asked my mom to wake our 10 year old daughter for the occasion seeing as the birth was taking this turn. I’m glad I did as she found it amazing and calm and is full sure she’ll birth her babies at home. I’m actually so glad she got to experience this, as she has no fear now. What a gift that is!

I had turned onto my back and baby was almost crowning with each surge, but it was only when I mentally decided that I was doing it NOW that he was born. I turned into my husband and zoned out from all the people. With the next surge I felt the power of birth rushing through me and using my ‘j breathing’ brought baby Nathan to crowning. Liz told me after my perineum didn’t stretch as such, she said it opened which I’d read about in Ina May’s book but couldn’t believe it happened to me. Liz said she’d only seen it once before. It did however still sting like a LOT for like 20 seconds and then I felt his head born.

Soon after the next surge came and before I knew it baby Nathan was swimming up to me in the pool! What an incredible sight and feeling! He was covered in vernix and appeared to be sleeping as he was so calm Liz reckoned it was so calm a birth that he hadn’t even realised he’d been born! To our shock we discovered we’d a little boy! Amelia was thrilled saying “baby baby baby!” His big, big sister Alannah couldn’t believe her eyes.

It was a bit manic I’ll say that and myself and David had really wanted that first undisturbed hour together with our new baby but it just wasn’t to be. Amelia was stripping off and joining me in the pool and that was that!

Within a few minutes I got more surges and at 15 minutes felt the urge to push and out came the placenta all by itself! Was seriously loving this birth!

I stayed in the pool for almost an hour getting to know my little prince and he did the breast crawl and fed, but he was so sleepy still no crying at all! We got some pics of us as a family of five and then my mom tried to bring Amelia back to bed. That wasn’t happening, so unfortunately David had to leave me at this point which does make me a bit sad.

Nathan had his chord ready and waiting for his Daddy to cut on his return and to my shock he weighed 9lb 2 almost 2lb heavier than my last! And this pregnancy I was a vegetarian…stunned doesn’t come close! It was also my easiest birth, no perineal trauma, no fear and I mean you just can’t buy that!!

A while later I had a gorgeous hot shower in my own bathroom and was tucked up with my two men soon after in our bed. My midwives were unreal and I honestly can’t thank them enough!

I’m trying to cherish the moments as you never know it could be my last but I’ve a sneaky suspicion with a birth that good it might not be…

Baby Nathan David Hamill born 19th October 2016 at 4:06 am in a room full of love

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Aisling Hamill

Riding the Waves – The Birth Story of Hailey Faith Part 1

Riding the Waves – The Birth Story of Hailey Faith Part 1

*It will be helpful to know that Amelia was born via unplanned c-section 22 months before I had Hailey. Amelia’s birth was traumatic to me for many reasons including copious unnecessary medical interventions and complications with anesthesia during my surgery. Hailey’s birth was a planned VBAC, vaginal birth after c-section.

I woke up at 3:30am, nine days past my due date. I’d been dreaming about waves in the ocean and I was having fun surfing. In fact, I was literally riding waves as my labor contractions had begun! I wasn’t thinking that it was definitely labor because I’d become used to routine practice contractions but these were coming about every ten minutes and they were stronger than before. I tried to go back to sleep but the contractions were keeping me awake, not from pain necessarily but they just took my attention.

I ended up taking a shower just to have something to do and decided to ask Jim to stay home in case it was baby day. His alarm went off at 6:30am and he decided to sleep in since he wasn’t going in to the office. Amelia got up and we did normal waking up and breakfast routines. Contractions were still coming regularly but not painful so I tried to just act like it was not a big deal.

I called my midwife Tracy around 8am because I had an ultrasound and appointment scheduled that morning since I was past my due date. She said to go anyways so Jim, Amelia, and I made our way to the birth center around 9. The ultrasound looked great and on we went. Tracy said we’d likely be back that evening in active labor. We stopped at Shari’s on the way home to get some breakfast and then headed home.

Jim and Amelia napped but again, I couldn’t sleep. So, I rested and watched Jimmy Fallon, all the while willing my contractions to get stronger and closer together. I was so ready to finally have the baby and I didn’t want this early labor to drag on for days. I was beginning to get discouraged and so I prayed that active labor would begin soon and decided that we needed to get out of the house. Around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, we packed up Amelia’s overnight bag and went to a big kid’s consignment sale to kill some time.

I wondered if people could tell; there I was in my labor shirt (I’d decorated a T-shirt with verses to encourage me) and stretchy pants, belly literally hanging out and trying to look normal as contractions became 3-4 minutes apart and much stronger. Jim and I laughed as I concentrated really hard on displays of baby socks and crib mattresses every few minutes surrounded by other mothers and children. We got out of there with a little pile of kid’s stuff; thank God it all was the right size and style because I really wasn’t paying very good attention! I felt excited and consumed by the process that was unfolding. Contractions were painful but in the way that a good run is painful or a deep stretch. We dropped Amelia off at my cousin’s house to play with their little girls for the night. I wasn’t worried about her or feeling nervous about our separation even though this would be our first night away ever. Lo and behold, that’s when active labor began!

Jim and I went back to the house to regroup and enjoy our alone time. Contractions were every 2-4 minutes now but still very manageable so I had Jim pack up all our stuff in the car and make me a snack. I called Tracy but she wasn’t available and so I talked to Carman, another one of my midwives, and she suggested that I get in the bath. She said things would either pick up very quickly or slow down in the water. Initially things felt much slower in the bath and I got a nice break to eat my toast and chat with Jim. I felt that I needed to get out and keep moving so we put on some Eddie Murphy stand up and I bounced on my yoga ball. I’m so glad that we were watching comedy because although my contractions were strong, I was still laughing and excited.

Eventually, I couldn’t sit on the ball anymore and shortly thereafter I couldn’t understand the jokes because I was “vocalizing” through my contractions. I was nervous beforehand that I wouldn’t feel comfortable vocalizing because I’m not really a yelling kind of person but it came second nature and was hugely helpful in managing my pain. I didn’t understand before that it’s not really yelling, it’s more like singing. At least to me anyways! I decided to give Tracy a call at that point and she said that we could meet at the birth center in an hour if I felt ready. I wasn’t sure but I said yes. For some reason, I still wasn’t thinking that I was really in labor or that I was very close to actually having a baby. The pain was real but I didn’t feel out of control or like I needed help. Honestly, I was nervous that it would all stop!

I wasn’t looking forward to being confined in the car but we made our way to the birth center (again!) at 8pm. The ride was fine and my labor slowed down in the car and upon our arrival at the birth center.

I really understand now why Ina May Gaskin and other midwives talk so much about the mental state of a mother and her level of safety and comfort affecting the progress of her labor. It took a few minutes but I began to feel comfortable to labor in the birth center. We were the only ones there aside from Tracy and my two birth assistants, Melissa and Kyla. We walked up and down the hall and then upstairs. I had Jim grab the stereo and put on Latin pop. It must have been a funny sight to see us walking in circles and dancing to Pitbull in between contractions! I remember the song Fireball was playing as we marched hand-in-hand. This is actually one of my favorite memories because it was such a sweet and happy time with my husband. I was still making jokes and enjoying our time together. Tracy came in every 20 minutes or so to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and everything was going great! Around 10:30pm, I was feeling pretty tired and the pain was beginning to be enough that I wasn’t laughing anymore. I still had no idea how far I’d come or how far I had to go.

I decided that I’d like to get in the tub to see if I could catch a break. Tracy asked if I’d like to be checked before I got in. I hesistated because I didn’t want to have her check me and then be discouraged. I thought I’d be something like 4 cm dilated. With Amelia’s birth, I’d only ever dilated to a 5 so I didn’t know what to expect. Tracy said I was a loose 7! I couldn’t believe it! Not only had I gone into labor on my own (and believe me that waiting nine days past my due date was extremely challenging), but I’d dilated all the way to 7 without even realizing it! I felt very encouraged and know that I’d be heading into transition which I’d heard was typically the most challenging part for mothers.

I had Jim change our music to Jesus Culture and I got into the water. It was very helpful to be there in the water with my music and candles burning. Still, it was so peaceful with just Jim and me in the room when Tracy left. I leaned against the side of the tub and sang a little bit with the music, “To You our hearts are open, nothing here is hidden, You are our one desire. You alone are holy, only You are worthy, God let Your fire fall down.” I felt God there with me and I began to feel weepy and shaky. I recognized these as signs of transition but I was also feeling a profound sense of God’s love and His faithfulness.

As the contractions continued to come, I could no longer sing. The intensity was through the roof! I have no words to describe that kind of pain other than to say it is at once excruciating, tiring, and fascinating. I told Jesus that although I could no longer praise Him through my words, I was praising Him through my vocalization.

Jim asked me what he could do to help and I said “You can have the baby for a minute.” But in all honesty, just having him there with me was the best thing. He couldn’t take away the pain at all but his support was what I needed. He said, “What are you thinking?” And I said, “I can do it.” He replied, “Ya, you can.” At that point, I feel like it was just me and Jesus in that tub working to get the baby out. I don’t think I’ve ever felt His presence so tangibly or heard His voice so audibly. I felt that He was right there beside me encouraging me and giving me strength.

The next time Tracy came in, I asked her if pushing was better or worse than this. I appreciated her honest answer. She said that, “Some people think it’s better, I think it’s worse. Do you feel like pushing?” Tracy and the birth assistants were so great. They were calm and realistic, silently supporting me and my body’s ability to have our baby.

In only a few minutes, they could hear that something in my voice had changed and the baby was coming soon. The three of them silently came into the room and sat on the sofa by the tub awaiting Hailey’s arrival.

home birth, jesus culture, birthing tub, birthing pool

Part Two will be posted tomorrow.

Submitted by Anna Ryan. 

Pushing Past Pubis Symphysis for a Natural Hospital Birth

Pushing Past Pubis Symphysis for a Natural Hospital Birth

I was dreaming that my water broke, with this odd sensation of fluid flowing from me, then I woke and it took me a second to realize I wasn’t dreaming at all, my water had actually broke!

It was 4:30am January 21, 2016, exactly one week before baby’s due date. I was very thankful I had placed a soaker pad under the sheets a few days before! I woke hubs and told him the news, he jumped out of bed and I reminded him we weren’t in a rush and to get back in. The first call I made was to my mom, she answered the phone screaming, and was so excited to hear things were happening. The next call was to the midwife. She was very calming and reassuring, and suggested hubs and I go back to sleep in preparation for little one’s arrival. We both laid in bed and nodded on and off, but we were so excited we couldn’t sleep. We got up and went about our day. I was full of energy, we cleaned the whole house, I made cookies!

Contractions had started around 6:30am but they were not painful and disorganized, My midwife would later tell me this was typical of early labor and that I wasn’t in true labor yet. Throughout the day I kept active, doing the stairs in hopes of getting things going. Around 4:30pm I was getting discouraged, the contractions were getting farther apart, though they seemed a little stronger. My midwife happened to call and check in at this time, I told her how I was feeling and she decided to come over and see how we were doing. She checked me and I was 3cm, did a membrane sweep and was able to stretch me to 5cm, and decided I was officially in active labour at around 5pm. She left and encouraged me to call her when things started getting more intense. Hubs and I decided to go relax and watch some movies, and the contractions slowed waaaay down, some even stretching to 30 minutes apart. This was extremely discouraging, I even cried a bit in fear that I would have to go to the hospital and get induced. I decided to try and sleep a bit and closed my eyes and then all of a sudden I was struck with the strongest, longest contraction yet, I had to moan through it and even swore a bit because it caught me so off guard.

That’s when things really started happening, the contractions all of a sudden picked up to 3-5 minutes apart and within 30 minutes I knew things were happening. I called my midwife around midnight and she decided to head over. When she arrived she checked me and said I was 7cm, transition had arrived! Although I didn’t have that breakdown that most women experience in transition, I felt energized! I was excited to know that our little boy would be arriving soon! Hubs filled the birth pool and I jumped in, and it was the greatest thing ever! Contractions picked up to about two minutes apart, we chatted, watched friends and laughed. It was all so relaxed and peaceful! Around 3:00 the contractions started feeling overwhelming and I decided to try and push, what a relief! I told the midwife and she was excited. I pushed for a little while in the tub, then she decided to get me out and check me because I wasn’t making as much progress as she would like. She found I wasn’t yet completely dilated and helped me along. I got back into the tub and pushed some more. About an hour into pushing I started experiencing excruciating pelvic pain, my midwife explained this was my pelvic bones (pubis symphysis) separating to allow baby through. This was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life! I tried to push through it, but it was so, so painful. The midwife saw I still wasn’t making much progress so she got me back out of the tub to try some different positions. It seemed like forever. We tried every position you could think of; squatting, hands and knees, on my back, on my sides. Nothing seemed to make any difference.

At about 5 am, I was exhausted. I had been awake for basically 24 hours, save for a few short naps. My contractions slowed to 8 minutes apart and I was literally passing out from exhaustion between contractions. Every contraction was a nightmare and I cried through pushing. The midwives suggested we try one more push then if nothing changed we transfer to the hospital to try a vacuum and give me some gas for pain relief. I was so over pushing so I said screw one more push, let’s go now! We quickly packed everything up, I managed to walk myself up the stairs, to the door and out to car, pausing for a few contractions along the way.

The car ride was awful. The longest 10 minutes of my life.

I had three contractions in the car and something felt different but I was too tired to tell what. When we got to the hospital and were on our way to the labour ward, the midwives heard me pushing and knew something was different too! When we got to the room, I tried to pee but couldn’t, and just ended up pushing on the toilet! They got me into the bed, and I pushed again and there was little to no pelvic pain, and they found that the baby was crowning! Something had shifted in all of the movement between the house and the hospital and he managed to get past my pelvic bone! They encouraged me that we were almost there, and after another ½ hour of very careful pushing, he was here! He cried immediately (before he was even completely out!) and it was the most profound sense of relief I have ever felt. I remember the moment so vividly. Nugget crying and being placed on my chest, and all I could say was “I did it! I can’t believe I did it!” He was a perfect 8lbs 1oz, 21 ¼” with the cutest little brown birth mark on his left arm. He nursed right away and we cuddled for 2 hours! Everything went perfectly, no complications for me or our little man, and we were at home in our own beds, off to sleep three hours after he was born!

I truly, strongly, 100% believe that being able to get up, move, and walk up those stairs and out to the car is what saved me. That amount of movement, plus pushing in odd positions was the key to get baby past my pubic bone and into this world. I am so thankful I chose to attempt a home birth and go as natural as I could because it saved me so many potential interventions!

hospital birth, birth, labor, labour

Submitted by Kirsten Carruthers.

From Niggling Pains to Quick Water Birth at the Hospital!

From Niggling Pains to Quick Water Birth at the Hospital!

I’ve always wanted a water birth, so I arranged to speak to my midwife about my birthing plan. The day I had my midwife appointment I started contracting (niggling pains) at 6am. I was really worried that I wouldn’t get my perfect delivery. After a couple of hours thinking about if I should go or not, I managed to get to my midwife appointment at 11am and told her what I really wanted. At this point my contractions were coming quick, but I wasn’t in that much pain.

After my appointment, my friend dropped me off at my mother’s. She told me to ring the ward because of how fast the contractions were coming, although I still wasn’t in that much pain. By 1:30pm, I decided I’m going to go to the hospital, because I was getting a lot of pressure and was worried that I was going to have my baby at home. My sister got me to the hospital, but I was scared that they were going say I was about 3cm dilated and send me home. The midwife checked me over and I was actually 6cm dilated!

That’s when the pain started to come. I asked about my birthing plan and luckily there was a birthing pool available! I was really happy to the point I wanted to cry. I got in to the pool, the midwife dimmed the lights, and I felt so relaxed. At 4:06pm my little girl arrived (she came so quickly).

birthing tub, water birth, hospital birth

A water birth was the most amazing experience of my life and the whole labour was so easy. Couldn’t ask for a more perfect labour and delivery. Amazing!

hospital birth, water birth, birthing tub

Submitted by Hannah Novak

The Birth Story of Violet Marie – Part 2

The Birth Story of Violet Marie – Part 2

*This is the second part of Violet Marie’s birth story. To read Part One, click here.

The Birth!

Neil came into the bathroom to check me at 3:00pm and sat beside me while I had five back to back contractions then transitioned and puked all over myself and lost my mucous plug. They got me out of the tub and told me the baby was coming and it was time I started pushing. I asked that my midwife check my cervix for the first time after I fell on to the bed. Her mentor, D, checked my cervix and said the babies head was already passed it and it was in the birth canal. I started to push at 4:00pm. At first they said to try and stand up and squat using the sheet we had hanging from the door frame as support. I was too tired to stand so I laid on the edge of the bed. They had an old school birthing stool that they also told me to try but I said I needed to be on the bed so I could rest between pushes. I only wanted to be on the bed and really felt like I needed everyone right there with me giving me instruction and progress reports. This was interesting because I initially wanted to have the baby in water and with no help. I think if I wouldn’t have gone into ketosis/exhaustion I would have birthed that way but due to my circumstances I needed them there with me and I needed to be grounded and on land.

Neil locked Laddie (the dog) into a crate because he was worried he was going to be possessive and concerned about me and didn’t want him biting a midwife or something if they were in my bubble. He hated being kennelled and howled the whole time I “howled” during my pushes. It was actually the most insane thing ever. I have no idea why this rescue dog and I are soulmates, but this totally confirmed it.

Between the pushes I would fall back into Neil’s arms and sleep/pass out for a few moments. My breaks between pushes were longer than the actual pushes and that was what got me through without having to be transported to the hospital. I pushed for almost an hour and a half. I’ve never grunted so hard in my life.

I kept trying to lift my hips and relieve the pressure but the midwives were telling me I needed to bear down and push into the ground like I was pooping if I wanted the baby to come out. It was so hard for me to push through all the pain. As my vagina stretched they chanted/sang “you’re stretching, you’re stretching, you’re open, baby is coming, you’re stretching”. They were so encouraging and it really helped me to keep my focus.

As the baby started to crown they saw that it was still in its water sack and that it was slowing things down and making it harder for me. My midwife tried to pop the sack as it came out but because of the way everything was suctioned it only just released the tiniest amount of water at the top of the babies head. I pushed some more and they noticed the baby had their hand by their face and she warned me that I could maybe tear. They massaged my perineum and told me I needed to stop pushing and very gently ease the baby out with very small pushes. I finally got the head and hand out of and then pushed a few more times and got the shoulders out. With one more swift push, out came the body. The baby was still en caul (in it’s amniotic sac) so she drained the water and pealed off the sac which looked like plastic wrap stuck to the baby. Being born with a caul is rare, occurring in fewer than 1 in 80,000 births. At 5:21pm She placed the baby on my stomach and I felt a slimy warm body move and squirm on top of me. I was so relieved that we were both alive.

birth, midwife, midwives, labor, labour
As they placed her on my stomach. *My midwives asked not to be in pictures online*

I was still completely exhausted and could barely even talk or function. My body was in shock and I could not stop moving my legs and shaking. All I could do was hold my baby and repeat “You’re here baby. We did it. Hi, baby.” over and over. The older midwife went and got me a cup of miso broth while my midwife wiped the baby up with a towel and talked softly to the baby telling it that it was safe and welcome here and that there was lots of space for her to “come in.” I laid there in relief.

D, the older midwife/doula fed me the broth and within seconds I was feeling human again. She then made me a banana, blueberry, kale and coconut water smoothie and I drank that and felt even better. Laddie came into the room and laid on the bed beside us. As I snapped back to reality the baby started to cry and wiggled up my body and started to nurse.

The midwives cleaned up my yoni and made sure everything was okay with my vagina and labia. I had a small cut on my upper labia from Violet’s hand being by her face when I pushed her out. They were so surprised I didn’t tear my perineum.

We still didn’t know the sex of the baby and Neil said “I think it’s a boy, yup it’s a boy”, then they checked and said, no, it’s a girl. My midwife said yes, I knew all along it was a girl! The baby cuddled on top of me and Neil and I conversed our excitement back and forth. I then looked into my baby’s eyes and said “Hi, Violet!” like she had introduced herself to me. We hadn’t discussed names prior to her birth and decided that we’d wait until she was born to name her and Violet was the first thing that came to my mind. This wasn’t a name we had come across while I was pregnant and we were all so shocked when I blurted the name out!

birth, labor, labour, skin to skin
Right after she was born! I was pale as a ghost and so depleted.
birth, baby, labor, labour, midwife
Checking each other out!
skin to skin, birth, home birth
Skin to skin
postpartum, homebirth
Right after she was born
postpartum, baby, newborn, infant, home birth
First cries

30 minutes passed and I still didn’t deliver the placenta. They gave me some herbal tincture to try but it still didn’t come. They knew it had released from my uterine wall because I gushed blood shortly after Violet was born but I was not having any urge to push it out. D decided to massage my stomach and very gently tug on the umbilical cord (which was still attached to Violet). After a little massage and time the placenta slid right out. Y, my midwife tore off two bite sized pieces of the fresh placenta and fed them to me. I ate them right up and surprisingly enjoyed it (with the help of a chaser). I think my body really needed the energy and vitality from it. We wrapped the placenta in a towel and placed it on my stomach still attached to the baby.

placenta
My placenta

The midwives left us in the room and started to clean the house and prepare some postpartum things for us to use (sitz bath tea, comfey pads, cut up my placenta and homeopathies and tinctures).

placenta
The raw placenta I ate for 4 days postpartum
postpartum
Sitz bath, dried placenta and a comfrey pad

Neil, Violet, Laddie and I all laid in bed and marvelled over our new family member.

postpartum, baby, infant, parents, dad, mom
Excited new parents!
postpartum, new mom
Bonding

We laid in bed for 4 hours bonding as a family then decided to burn her umbilical cord and officially welcome her earth side. The midwives each had a candle and burned the cord until it released. We weighed and measured her and the midwives left for the night.

umbilical cord
Burning the cord

Neil called and text all our family and shared the news. We tucked into bed and snuggled and waited for her to pass meconium. We kept Violet naked for the first 48 hours of her life so we could be skin to skin as much as possible. We used cloth prefold diapers under her to keep the fluids contained. We all fell asleep and had a great first night as a family of three (It all seems like a blur to me now!).

infant, newborn
Five hours old

My parents came the day after she was born to help us for a week. The midwives came to check on us in the morning and afternoon before my parents arrived. Once my parents arrived, my mom cleaned the house, did laundry, and made sure I was fed and had lots of water and got lots of rest. My dad supported Neil and played with the dogs and made sure they had their needs met.

newborn, infant
One day old
One day old
One day old!

My healing journey was rather quick considering the fact that I just pushed out a 6lb 14oz human. My uterus was shrunk back to its original size and my bleeding stopped within a few days and I was up and about feeling energized three days postpartum. I took 1 full week of mindful rest and took advantage of the help we had from my parents. For the first month I tried to consciously be in bed from 9pm-9am even if we weren’t sleeping. Keeping this routine definitely helped my recover and process the whole experience.

newborn, sitz bath
Sitz bath and Violet’s first bath at 3 days old
postpartum
Five days post belly

Motherhood came very naturally to me. I didn’t have any postpartum anxiety or depression. I was very ready to be a mama and was so excited to embark on the journey with Violet once we officially met. My milk came in on day three and breastfeeding was easy besides having tender nipples for the first 10 days or so. I still have an over abundance of milk which leaks everywhere. It did regulate a little bit at 13 weeks but it seems that every time it tapers, Violet cluster feeds or goes through a growth spurt and I over produce again… It can sometimes be a frustrating blessing!

postpartum
Five days old

Violet will be 4 months old this month and each day is a new and exciting adventure. I LOVE HER SO MUCH.

newborn, infant
July 31st, 2016 – 16 weeks old

So there you have it. The raw story of Violet’s entrance into the world. I hope you enjoyed the lengthy read. I’m already looking forward to another birth to see how it goes differently now that I have experience.

Submitted by Whitney Paige.

The Birth Story of Violet Marie – Part 1

The Birth Story of Violet Marie – Part 1

Brace yourself… It’s a long read! I hope you enjoy it, I share every detail I can recall of my labour and delivery from my own perspective

Pregnancy

I had a pretty unconventional pregnancy in the sense that I didn’t participate in any regular prenatal care. I didn’t have a doctor or obstetrician, I didn’t have ultrasounds, no diabetes test, minimal doppler checks, I planned a homebirth and I continued eating my high carb vegan diet throughout my pregnancy. I didn’t participate in regular prenatal care for personal reasons and beliefs.

*I in no way think my way it the “best way” for everyone, it was just the best way for me at the time! Please be aware that this is not my recommendation for others to follow what I did, I am just sharing my personal experience.

At 11 weeks pregnant I hired a local “midwife/doula” who supported me from that day forward. She isn’t a trained nurse but has 18 years of experience delivering babies and supporting women who want natural and holistic home births. My prenatal support was mainly working through emotional stuff that could potentially hold Neil and I back from being the best parents we could be. We did a lot of healing, talking and clearing while I was pregnant. Y, my midwife and I both strongly shared in the desire to allow me to have an undisturbed/gentle pregnancy and birth.

My “due date” came and went on March 24th, 2016. After this I checked in with my midwife almost daily. She’d pop over with her adopted 5 month old son to check to see how we were doing or we’d chat on the phone. By this point in my pregnancy I was getting quite antsy to go into labour, but also trusted that my body and baby were in perfect unison to trigger spontaneous labour when we were both ready.

pregnancy, birth,
Waiting…

At 41 weeks I had an appointment with a local chiropractor. He assessed my body to make sure everything was in alignment for labour. He said I was the happiest and fittest overdue woman he ever met! That was a great thing to hear.

birth, pregnancy, chiropractor
Chiropractor appointment at 41 weeks along

Another week past and nothing changed. I was still full of energy, was able to tie my shoes and put on socks, was walking and rebounding on my mini trampoline daily and was feeling like I might stay pregnant forever.

rebounding, trampoline, birth, pregnancy
Rebounding on April 5th, 2016

Neil and I had be anticipating meeting our baby for weeks now. Our days slowed and all we could think about and focus on was labour and delivery. We had the birthing pool ready to go, the house clean, food made, and our bedroom ready to welcome our child. Still nothing happened. At this point my midwife started to suggest some gentle tools to encourage baby to come. I took some homeopathic remedies and herbs, and she did acupressure and acupuncture on a few points on my body. She was convinced that I’d go into labour that night. I didn’t.

birth prep, pregnancy
Prepping the bedroom the night I went into labour

I then decided to take matters a little more seriously and hired the local acupuncturist to do three consecutive treatments on me in three consecutive days. On Thursday April 7th (Neil’s 29th birthday) I went to his office for my first treatment. He went gentle and just encouraged my body to open up and move energy downward. On Friday I went back and he intensified the treatment slightly and focused on emotional surrender and clearing. If I didn’t go into labour that night he planned to come to my home the next morning at 11am to do the final treatment. I went to bed Friday night with no signs of impending labour.

midwife, pregnancy, birth prep, labor, labour
April 9th, 2016 – My final acupuncture session before going into labour

Labour Begins

At about 1:00am I woke up with some mild contractions and couldn’t sleep so went and watched a movie on my laptop on the couch. The contractions were nothing to “write home about” so I just left Neil sleep! His sister was visiting and stayed overnight on Friday so on Saturday morning at 8:30am he left me home and took her to catch the bus so she could go home. While he was gone I only had a few contractions. 11am rolled around on Saturday and I had my 3rd acupuncture treatment. Going to the hospital for induction still didn’t cross my mind at this point even though I was 42+3 days pregnant. During my final acupuncture treatment I started having some more contractions. He left and Neil and I spent the day just hanging out listening to music and playing cribbage as labour slowly started. By 11pm that night things were getting pretty intense and we called our midwife/doula to come over. She took about an hour to arrive and Neil was starting to get nervous because the contractions were getting closer together and a lot more intense. I kept reassuring him that I was fine and everything was normal.

I paced around the kitchen and living room into the wee hours of the night moaning through the intense sensations. Our 4 dogs all slept in their beds through the noise and energy changes, which surprised me. Neil was slightly in shock and didn’t realize I’d be in such pain. He tried to rest as much as he could because I didn’t want to be touched, talked to or even acknowledged during my contractions/rushes. I sipped ice water and joked and had a lot of energy between my rushes. I also peed and had a few bowel movements during the night of labour. I had so much adrenaline and excitement I didn’t sleep all night. During contractions it was all business and I was totally gone within. Looking back I wish I would of rested and ate between contractions instead of talking and walking and wish I would of got Neil and my midwife to coach me in breathing through the contractions instead of refusing their support. I wasted a lot of energy that night that I needed for the next day of labour and pushing.

At 1:00am I started to not feel well and became more tired out. I had already been up for 24 hours at this point and only had a few rests during early labour. At 2am I puked in the kitchen sink and it made me feel a lot better. After that I got into the birthing pool in our bedroom. I laboured in there for 3+ hours while Neil and the midwife hung out and rested in the bedroom. She’d check the babies heart beat periodically and gave me homeopathies. The time in the birthing pool was the most insane and intense spiritual journey/meditation I’ve ever experienced in my life. I felt so connected to the baby and was basically having full conversations with the spirit inside me while I moved through the rushes. Between contractions I’d meditate and go off on wild crazy trips.

birth pool, birth tub, labor, labour
In the birthing pool at 3am on Sunday April 10th

I felt like I needed to start pushing at around 4:00am. I started to feel afraid and not ready for the next phase of labour. My midwife was tired (she was 10 weeks pregnant at the time) so decided to call her mentor to come support us for the birth. We had discussed this before I went into labour and all agreed that it would be okay but in the heat of the moment I was in such an altered state that I didn’t comprehend what she was doing and became fearful that something was wrong and she needed backup. My body completely closed up at this time and about an hour after her mentor came (who I hadn’t yet met – she was in the living room meditating and trying to hold space for me) my labour completely slowed.

I got out of the pool at 5:00am as the sun came up and was feeling completely defeated and disappointed that the baby hadn’t arrived yet. We were all exhausted at this point. Neil and I got into bed and had a nap from 5am-8am. I didn’t have contractions during this time and slept very deeply for three hours straight. At 8am I was awoken with the most intense contraction yet. It lasted what felt like forever and I cried and moaned the whole time releasing frustration over the fact that I was still pregnant. At this point I had completely lost track of time and didn’t even feel like I was apart of society. I was in a whole other world.

The midwife came into the room and gave us a pep talk. She instructed us to work as a team and told us that it was our job to get this baby here and that we needed to work together as a couple to make that happen. She said we needed to pull ourselves together and get this baby here or else we’d need to consider alternative measures like going to the hospital. This little talk snapped us back to the reality that things needed to happen and that we needed to get our shit together and take on our first challenge as parents. Neil decided to take the three female dogs to boarding which was just a five minute drive from our house and leave Laddie the male dog (who has separation anxiety) home with me.

I was utterly exhausted by this time. I barely slept the night before and wasted all my energy labouring and was basically back at square one. I was so mad at myself and I started doubting my choices. I started to have fears that something was wrong with the baby or that I couldn’t give birth naturally.

My contractions intensified from there. I hated laying down through the contractions and had the strongest desire to be walking but I didn’t have a choice at this point because I was so tired and physically couldn’t even move off the bed without assistance. Neil laid beside me and calmed me by repeating “stay calm, just breathe, breathe, breathe, it’s okay” over and over through my contractions. His voice and energy made everything so much more manageable that day.

At 10am I started violently puking between my contractions. Neil would try to feed me sips of water or juice and I was so weak I couldn’t even lift my head to drink. I was so frustrated because I’d work so hard to get just a few millilitres of liquid and was trying to stay hydrated and healthy but I’d puke it up right away and I just didn’t have the energy to be puking so much.

I was getting weaker and more delirious by the minute. I really needed an IV at this point but because my midwife isn’t a nurse she didn’t have the ability to administer one. They knew that I just needed electrolytes and kept trying to give me miso broth, coconut water and labouraid but I refused and was being so stubborn. I hated the thought of puking those beverages up. Just thinking about it made me puke.

They were all getting concerned for me and started to tell me that I NEEDED to keep something down or we’d have to go to the hospital for IV. I remember laying there dreaming that an ambulance was going to come pick me up and take me to the hospital. That was all I wanted at this point, was for everything to be over. I didn’t know how I could go on. I told them I couldn’t do it anymore and that I couldn’t have this baby, it was too hard…

My midwife was checking the babies heart beat with her doppler and having me pee on a stick to check for ketosis every hour. I had more and more ketones in my urine as the hours passed and was starting to get into dangerous territory.

At 2:00pm I asked if they could help get me into the tub. I laboured in our bathtub while the midwives and Neil sat outside on the deck making an action plan for if/when I needed to be transported to the hospital that was 40 minutes away. I laid in the dark bathroom with one small tea light flickering in the corner, breathing and moaning through my contractions and passing out between them. I didn’t even feel like I was in my house or my body. My dog sat stoically beside the tub protecting me and giving me all the energy he had. I felt like he was keeping me going and I could actually see energy coming from his body into mine… I’m guessing this was the ketosis talking and it wasn’t actually happening (maybe it was though- we’ll never know ;)!!).

Read Part Two of the birth of Violet Marie here!

Submitted by Whitney Paige

World Breastfeeding Week: Part 2

World Breastfeeding Week: Part 2

It just so happens to be World Breastfeeding Week! Here are more BWF Mama breastfeeding pictures to celebrate.

Here is one of my favorite nursing pics! My friend Morgan tandem nursing. Picture by Mae Burke Photography for her “In Mama’s Arm’s” project.

breastfeeding

This sweet picture is Kim and her bubba Treya.

nursing, breastfeeding

 Magen nursing her son Samuel Thor straight out of the birthing tub.

Home Birth

Another one by Mae Burke Photography. Mama Jeanine nursing her adorable, squishy 3 month old. I love it.

In Mamas Arms breastfeeding

Yes, this is what a breast can look like when first nursing…bigger than babies heads and veins showing. Ha! Thank you Genet for sharing.

Nursing newborn

Maegen sent in this picture of her little one nursing while sister cuddles with mom and her sibling. Breastfeeding is normal and when our children see us doing it they will know that is what they will do. They won’t even question it.

Nursing

Helen nursing her 10 month old after a long day at the pool.

nursing

These next few pictures are of the lovely Kaci taken by Sarah Carlson Photography. Pictures taken in downtown Forth Worth, Texas. Go mama! Kacie also created the Breastfeeding Awareness Flash Mobbers in the DFW area.

Breastfeeding DFW

World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week

These 2 pictures are great. Shows that you can nurse a baby in a carrier and in different ways! We love diversity! 😉 Thank you Verity for sending these in.

Nursing baby

Nursing

Just one more for now. Jessica nursing her beautiful 19 month old son.

nursing toddler

I just love my BWF Mamas. I miss you! If you haven’t had enough yet…part 3 coming out soon.

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