A Fast, Unplanned Unassisted Birth!

I experienced three different days of prodromal labor throughout the month. On Sunday, September 26, 2010, I was awoken by a trickle feeling at about 5:30 am (I had been having a dream about water, too, ha!). I had thought that since I was already five cm dilated, that it might start with my water breaking. I got up and went into the bathroom to see if I was dreaming, and saw I wasn’t. I knew it was my water breaking, as it didn’t smell like anything else, but wasn’t sure why there wasn’t very much (now I realize it was probably the outer bag that broke first). I went to tell Ben (who has been sleeping on the couch due to me taking up the whole bed) that I thought maybe my water had broken, but I wasn’t sure since it wasn’t trickling out at all. I asked him to come lie down with me and I went back into the bedroom, but couldn’t get comfortable. I asked him if he thought we should call the midwife since she was about three-and-a-half hours away, but we decided we’d wait a bit.

Contractions started maybe around 6:00 am or a bit after, and we called the midwife around 6:15 am. They were about five minutes apart. They started out as a cramping feeling and didn’t ever feel like tightening to me at all, just cramps really low. I walked around and had Ben apply back pressure. I started getting antsy and really wanted to get into the bathtub, but wasn’t really supposed to until the midwife got there (so it wouldn’t speed up). I walked around more and tried different positions, but couldn’t stay in one position at all (this should have been a sign to me). My legs started shaking and I told Ben I was freezing and asked him to turn the heat on. Every position I tried I couldn’t get my legs to stop shaking and really wanted to get in the tub. I think at this point I got on facebook and wrote “Whoa mama…” I decided I was going to just get into the tub up to my calves and walk around thinking it would warm my legs up. It’s hilarious to me now to think I was wading around my tub… not really sure why I thought that would help!

Almost right after I got into the tub, my water broke, either around 7:20 am or 7:50 am (not sure). It was such a neat thing since I had my water broken with Caden, so I didn’t know what it was I felt until the water burst out. It kind of felt like a really small bone had snapped in half, almost like when you break a wishbone. I initially thought the baby had kicked me in a weird spot or something. Then the whole bag burst. Ben came in to see how I was doing and I told him what had happened. I then started to say things like “I can’t do this” (I’ve done it before), “I want to go to the hospital” (ha! yeah… no I don’t), and the like. What is really funny to me is that in the back of my mind I was thinking completely logically, telling myself, “Maybe we should call someone and tell them I’m showing classic transition signs, especially for a natural labor.” Lol. Saying illogical things (for me anyway), but thinking logically about birth is hilarious to me. Good thing my husband knew I didn’t mean any of those things! So, now I know why I decided to wade in my tub….so my water didn’t break all over the couch!

I took my clothes off (another sign I was really close), and noticed the water was greenish-brownish, so meconium was present. At this point, I got out because I knew if I stayed in I’d end up sitting down in the water. I went out to the couch and leaned over and had Ben apply back pressure and walked around a bit more. I had been toning (saying “ohhhh”) through contractions, but at this time, switched to a “mooing” tone (my labors seem to have a “barnyard” theme…Caden’s was “horse lips”). I thought in the back of my mind that I never told my husband I might use that and knew he was going to think that was hilarious. He later told me that he was shaking with laughter, trying not to make any noise, lol. After leaning over the couch again, I stood up and immediately felt a wave of nausea sweep over me, and I dry heaved. I then felt everything open and the baby drop way down. I ran into the bathroom, stood in front of the mirror, and yelled the “F” word probably a little too loud. Nothing had been painful, just extreme pressure and I just really wanted to lie down in the water. These contractions were totally different from anything I had felt with Caden or up to this point. I had a bit of bloody show on the floor (again, glad I was in the bathroom and not the carpet).

Up to this point, I really did not think I was this close to having a baby. The midwife and her apprentices were not there yet, as well as my doulas or my mom. The contractions had gotten to maybe two minutes apart, but they had also always started that way the other three days, and I just didn’t think I was that close at all. I didn’t have anything  ready….birth pool not filled, no supplies out of the closet (not that I would have been doing this anyway), no pads on the floor, etc.

After looking in the mirror for just a few seconds, I jumped in the tub, turned on the water, and got into a right side-lying position (so I was looking out into the bathroom),. My upper leg up on the side of the tub along with my head on the side of the tub as well. I don’t even remember THINKING about getting into the tub and didn’t debate it at all as I had before. I think it was all intuition and it was just what I needed to do. Right away, I had another contraction where I could feel her move down, and I realized I was having pushing contractions, and my body was pushing her out. I didn’t contribute to the pushing AT ALL because I was trying to delay it so the midwife could get there, but mostly I just knew that the best way for baby to come out with minimal repairs needed for me was to let it happen on its own.

I wasn’t in a position to reach down and see where she was, so I just withdrew into myself and let my intuition come through. I didn’t experience these contractions with Caden and think I just pushed when I was at 10, but never had the urge to push. These had a force behind them that I didn’t have with Caden. And they were amazing, let me tell you! I was thinking, “These are soooo cool” the whole time, lol. I was actually excited for the next one. I started to notice a pattern where at the beginning of the contraction I would moan through it (or moo, I guess), until the height of it, and then I would start to breathe slow… almost pant. I think it was my body’s way of letting everything naturally stretch when it needed to most. At this point her her head was crowning. Ben called Nicci and told her he could see her head. He was trying to apply back pressure, which I really needed, and hold and comfort Caden at the same time. I think Caden was a little worried because I was being really loud, but I would talk to him in between contractions and tell him I was fine. I would tell him Mommy was just being really loud right now, and he would smile and be really cute.

During these contractions, I couldn’t keep my hands still, and I started slapping the side of the tub. I remember hitting my husband’s back a few times, too (sorry, honey!). I am a really restless laborer and just need to move something. With Caden, I rocked back and forth on my knees in the tub. I am also a really loud laborer, moaning through everything.

At this point I’m a little fuzzy on everything, mostly because I couldn’t see what was happening. My two doulas arrived almost at the same time, maybe about eight minutes before she was born. I asked one of my doulas, Nicci, if everything looked normal down there. I had no idea the baby was in a full crown!!! Nicci told me I was doing a great job, and I was almost done, to which I smiled (I knew I was close, but I had no idea how close. Not sure my husband would have been able to tell me). Nicci tried to talk me into bringing my leg up further on the tub, to which I told her ha, no way, I couldn’t do it (and I did try…not sure why I couldn’t). So she brought it up for me, which I hated, but needed to be done to get her head out. She asked me if I thought I could get on hands and knees because the water wasn’t completely submerging the baby. I said no, I didn’t think I could. After a few more contractions, we decided (they decided?) to try to move me. Once we got me moved, and I think her head came out either right before I moved to hands and knees or right after.

Lauren was holding Caden and taking pictures and video for me. Nicci said I needed to push to get the shoulders out, and I said I couldn’t. My sides were so weak from the pushing contractions, so  it was really hard to push! But I did, because I needed to. That part was slightly uncomfortable, when the shoulders came out. I don’t remember feeling her head come out completely, but do remember feeling the shoulders come out one at a time. Baby came out above the water, along with a lot of meconium. Nicci said something about “him” being out (I think…), and then said, “wait, it’s a girl!” I was shocked! Ben and I were both so sure it was a boy! She told Ben we needed to get my leg flipped over the cord, so I could hold baby.

Baby pinked up right away and I rubbed her and talked to her and couldn’t believe how alert both her and I were. In the video I have, I am wide-eyed and don’t seem to have just had a baby. I asked what time she was born, and they said 8:19 am. I couldn’t believe it was just under three hours from when I noticed my water had broken. The cord was super short, and it was difficult to hold her up very high, so I was more holding her on my side. I moved from the tub because the water was getting kind of cold, to the bed, where I got covered in blankets and held baby and put her near my breast to see if she would latch on.

One of the midwife’s apprentices got there about 10 minutes after she was born, and the midwife got there a bit later. Baby was doing great and we were just waiting for the placenta to come, which did a little over an hour later. The midwife said the cord was only 16 inches, and speculated that may be why I had the three days of labor spurts, because maybe baby couldn’t handle it all at once (can anyone tell me why the short cord might cause that? I don’t know).

We had our herbal bath and her measurements were taken. She was 19 inches, and eight pounds, one ounce. I was anxious to know if I needed any repairs because I had torn in three spots with Caden. We went back into the bedroom and the midwife checked everything, and I just had skid tears (I think is what she called it…) that she said they wouldn’t even be able to stitch up, they were so small. So no repairs! I was ecstatic that I had an eight-pounder and didn’t need repairs. 🙂 I think it really had to do with my position and just letting things happen instead of pushing myself.

This labor and birth was just simply amazing and I can’t stop thinking about it. I wouldn’t have wanted it to happen any other way and already want to do it again, ha! But we’ll wait. 🙂 I felt awesome after and couldn’t believe how it just seemed like that morning I got up and thought I’d have a baby that day… like I got up and just decided to brush my teeth or eat breakfast. It just FIT and seemed completely normal to do. To experience the normal physiological process of having a baby and know what was going on is awesome. Even though Caden’s was also a natural birth, it was different this time. So glad we made the decision we did!

-Amanda Rae

Home birth


  • Chelsie

    I just have to say that I love the way she describes the water breaking. My water broke on it’s own and actually scared me. It wasn’t at all what I had expected it to feel or sound like and I thought for a moment that I had snapped a hip joint or something! (I do have fusion in my SI joints which I was nervous about). A bone snapping is really more of what it felt like.

    What a wonderful story!

  • Amanda Rae

    Thanks everyone! Chelsie – my water breaking scared me at first also, because I had no idea what it was! The noise was so strange to me! I thought the baby had snapped a finger or something, lol!

    Thanks, Crystal! I hope it will inspire other people.

    One thing I forgot to put in the story was how I visualized my contractions during the days of prodromal labor I had. My contractions didn’t feel like a tightening of my uterus during my active labor, but they were that way during prodromal. They squeezed so much and eventually I had to start concentrating,. They weren’t painful but I really needed to focus on how tight they were squeezing. I started noticing that my uterus and belly would lift upwards when a contraction hit the peak, and I started visualizing my belly and uterus as a helium-filled balloon. When the contraction would come, I’d visualize my uterus floating up, up, up and it helped SO much!! Visualization is so interesting to me and I really wanted to use it this time around. I also did a lot of visualization of the birth beforehand, and when I would think about it, it happened this way in my head (w/o the midwife being there). 🙂 I love birth!

  • Amanda Rae

    And I did write “Whoa mama” on facebook….at 7:04 am, a little over an hour after she was born. Haha….can’t believe I was on FACEBOOK in active labor!

  • Dana

    What a beautiful story! I gave birth to my first child 6 months ago in the hospital. Everything went well, but now I know I want to do a home birth for the next ones! It absolutely amazes me what our bodies can do if we just let them!

  • Kristie

    Great story and well written, Amanda. It is similar to my first birth, at home in the tub, beautiful and very quick. My eldest daughter’s umbilical cord was also quite short – I distinctly remember the feeling of wanting to bring her right up on my chest, but the cord was short and pulled tight, so I had her as high as I could. I also know the feeling of wanting to do it again, and again! 🙂

  • Briana

    Your birth story made me cry, as do most birth stories! 🙂 We are planning a home birth for our second baby, and I am excited because I know it will be a different experience than the hospital birth of our son. Thank you for such an encouraging and beautiful story!

  • Annie

    You asked why a short cord may have caused your other bouts of contractions. I’m a midwife, and here is my best guess at an answer. I’m not the most experienced midwife out there, but this is what I think from what I’ve experienced. It seems sometimes that short cords will cause a strange labor pattern because a lot of stress (from contractions) on that cord can cause stress for the baby. A short cord has more tendency to be taut (since it’s short), and therefore doesn’t move around as much during contractions, and may be more likely to get pinched in a bad spot, causing the baby stress. This may have been the reason for the meconium in the amniotic fluid. I’ve seen this happen with on again off again labors, or labors that just take a long time, and then, the baby comes with a really short cord. The body and baby are wise. They know how to work together in most situations to keep the baby safe and not too stressed, so going slower and not slamming into very strong contractions are helpful for avoiding stress on the cord.

    • Amanda Rae

      Thanks, Annie. That does make sense! And the contractions were never anything I thought of as very strong, and certainly not when I was in hard labor. So that also fits with what you are saying. Thanks again!

  • Jillian

    “I felt awesome after and couldn’t believe how it just seemed like that morning I got up and thought I’d have a baby that day… like I got up and just decided to brush my teeth or eat breakfast. It just FIT and seemed completely normal to do.”— Exactly how i felt after my second birth ( who is 3 months old now). Amazing feeling 🙂

  • Sally

    Also, sometimes a short cord doesn’t allow the baby to apply well to the cervix. Thus, you could get stuck at 5 easier because baby wasn’t applied which would have pushed you over the edge into active labor.

  • Megan

    Beautiful labor story!

    Caden looks soooo curious and happy. I’m glad he got to experience the birth of his little sister and I’m even more glad you had such a wonderful experience. =D

  • Rebecca

    Amanda Rae – Your story is such an inspiration! I’m due to have my first baby at the end of May (or beginning of June) and I’m definitely into visualization. I’ve already started visualizing different things, just to practice. During labour, I imagine my cervix opening up like a flower and the “contractions” coming as rushing waves that will guide our baby out safely, through that open, beautiful flower. I completely believe in the natural wisdom of my body to know what to do during birth. Sounds kinda nutty, but I’m hoping it will work!
    Thanks for sharing your story!!

  • Holly Wilson

    I read your story when you first posted it, and I’m not sure how I didn’t notice the first time, but your sweet little girl was born on my birthday!

  • Amanda Rae

    Jillian – That’s awesome!! It is a neat feeling, isn’t it? 🙂

    Sally, thanks, that makes sense! It was frustrating, though, haha. 🙂 But I knew it was for a good reason and I just went with it.

    Megan – thanks! 🙂 He was pretty concerned about her. But he was really happy about her almost right away.

    Rebecca – I agree so much!!! Prior to the birth I had experienced some preterm labor, somewhere around 25 weeks, I believe. I did a lot of visualization while I waited for the midwife (it wasn’t so bad that I needed to go to the hospital) and it stopped before anyone got there. I really believe in it and I used the HypnoBabies technique also, which I didn’t include in the story because I wasn’t sure where to include it. I think that by doing that it helped a lot for me to be able to “tap” into my subconscious and intuition more. I really think the visualization helped a ton. I think I have a comment above about one specific visualization I used that helped LOTS when I had contractions during those three days. Congratulations and way to go on the practice!! It helps so much to have that practice!

    Holly – that’s cool! 🙂

  • April McGallion

    I like how you described what you were thinking in transition. I was also thinking something different and logical but was saying completely illogical things. I was totally joking when I asked my midwife and husband if she brought an epidural in her bag. I’m glad you shared that because I was beginning to think that maybe my husband was right and that I was serious. Good job mama!

  • Melissa

    Just had to say I absolutely loved reading this story, so inspiring and encouraging to me as I’m having my 1st Home Birth around February (4th Bub) and this just made me so excited that we have made the best choice 🙂

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