A Natural Hospital Water Birth… Informed, Ready and Supported!

Sent in by Stephanie Rice

I should give a little background before jumping in to Caleb’s birth story.

I have two sons , Jacob is almost 5 and Nathan is 3. Both of their births took place in a hospital, but with several interventions. Jacob’s birth was slow due to an epidural that was turned up sky high, had I not had a midwife, he would’ve been a c section.

Nathan’s was slightly better, I had decided to forgo the Nubain and other meds that had hindered me from being truly “present” for Jacobs birth- but caved at the last minute- taking the epidural at 8cm. It did not work, and I delivered him without pain relief anyway.

So when we found out we were pregnant with baby #3, the decision was made that this would be a natural water birth.
The pregnancy was mostly uneventful, until my midwives asked me to visit a high risk OB for a level two ultrasound of an “echogenic focus”  they had found during a 20 week routine ultrasound (we had that one to find out baby’s gender) in Caleb’s bowel.

From the beginning, this guy pushed amniocentesis and all other kinds of tests, making me feel terrible every time I said no. After the first U/S he said he had no answers and that we should really consider amniocentesis since bowel focuses can indicate Downs Syndrome, which risks us out of water birth. I had also refused the quad screen earlier on, and he laid the guilt on real thick for that. He asked that I return and have a decision by then.

We prayed a lot for three weeks. Amniocentesis was never an option, I think we were just worried about all the different things he told us it could be. At our next appointment, the spot in his bowel was gone- and I was cleared for water birth.

I was due February 4th, 2012….which came and went.

I was feeling pretty nervous about my next prenatal appointment on the 7th, because my blood pressure at home had been a little high. I didn’t want anything to mess up my plan of birthing naturally in the water- especially not now! To my surprise it was normal, and when my midwife checked me I was already at 3cm. I had bloody show while I took my urine sample and left there contracting, but they were very irregular so I went about my day.

I picked up the boys from the sitter, got an oil change on my jeep, went home and started dinner. By then I noticed the contractions were about 8 minutes apart, so I called my husband at work and told him that today may be the day and to be ready to come home if I say it’s time. Next I called the babysitters so they would be ready if I called and said it’s time. I really didn’t feel at this point that I was in true labor, but wanted to have my support team on hand just in case things heated up.

At 5 pm the pains were 4-5 minutes apart. My husband was on his way home and the babysitters had arrived and were helping with the boys while I packed up all we would need for the hospital.

Jim and I left for St. John Westshore Hospital at 6pm. I called my midwife Erin on her cell while we were en route and she met us there. When I arrived we found out I was dilated to 5 cm. Yay! Must be the real thing! Erin said Caleb was posterior and we did some hands and knees with a birthing ball to try and turn him around. Unfortunately, after a quick strip on the monitor, my contractions slowed way down, and despite an attempt to speed things along by hall walking, we stalled at 5cm.

We went home, devastated.

My son Jacob was still awake, and he asked where Caleb was. I said he was still in my belly. Poor kid was so disappointed. He told me to go back and get him! I tried to eat dinner. I couldn’t sit long enough to get two bites in. These contractions were so intense I had to hit the floor on all fours to get through them; and they were a minute or two apart. Fortunately the babysitter hadn’t left yet, and it was then we decided to go back to the hospital. We hopped back in the van and left for Westlake. Again.

My husband called Erin on the way, because I couldn’t talk through the pain anymore. He was speeding the whole way, and probably ran a few stoplights. When we arrived my midwife checked again and told us I had dilated to 8! She asked what I wanted to do – what felt best for coping, and I decided it was time for the tub.

My water broke somewhere shortly after, followed by an intense desire to push. Erin sat next to the tub and said to push whenever I felt I needed to. Caleb was still posterior, and I definitely felt the difference (my first two didn’t give me back labor).

Suddenly I felt his head come down almost too quickly for me to respond. I sat straight up in the tub and while squatting, gave one great big push, and all of him came out at once. This was the best part! I delivered my own baby! I pulled him up out of the water onto my belly and looked him over. Beautiful! The OB was so wrong. He was perfectly healthy. 40weeks 4days, chubby and covered in vernix…and I had done it! I had a completely natural, intervention free, midwife assisted birth in a hospital!

I wanted to stay in the tub longer, but after ten minutes, I started to bleed a lot (looked like a red bomb went off!), so Jim cut the cord and took Caleb to be weighed. Getting out of there was the hard part. It hurt because I was still contracting, but nonetheless I stepped over the tub wall and got into bed to deliver the placenta, which was also healthy and beautiful.

Daddy had Caleb and took him over to the scale to be weighed …9lb 7oz! Wow! I knew he would be big, but I was astonished that he was over 9 lbs! My first two were 8 lbs 12 oz and 8 lbs8 oz! I had birthed without fear. Everything went according to my birth plan and it was followed to the letter by everyone there. I felt supported and respected.

This was planned as our last baby, and I feel so blessed to have had the birth of my dreams. Being educated was the most important difference this time. You could fill a book with the things I didn’t know before this pregnancy. I do owe a LOT of this to the Birth Without Fear blog/Facebook family. So, to Mrs. BWF, and all the supportive facebooking mommas (and daddies), thank you.


  • erin martin

    Congratulations! I also know what its like to have that accomplished feeling after being uniformed with a prior birth and then having a successful natural childbirth!

  • Brittany H..

    Wow see this is the kinda birth I want I’m right at 18 weeks and it will be another hospital birth but I will be more proactive with this one and my wishes will be followed… My only debate now is with the father he is all for circ. I’m completely against it any advise on how to get him on board???

  • Rebekah

    Thank you for this story. I really really don’t want to be in a hospital. Right now at 13 weeks I’m stuck between a hospital (hopefully water!!) birth with a midwife, or a home water birth. I’m not comfortable with the hospital, and DH isn’t comfortable with a home birth. We still have plenty of time to research our options. Thank you for sharing your story and letting me know that it is possible to have a safe and all natural water birth at a hospital. Maybe slowly I’ll come around and be ok with a hospital birth, but it will take time, and many more stories like yours!

  • angie

    Congrats! And thank you for sharing your wonderful story! I just want to say good for you for leaving the hospital and going home. That is a very hard thing to do! I wish I would have done that with my first and third births. My births turned out wonderful but I really didn’t like laboring at the hospital and could have stayed at home longer. Both times my midwife had suggested I go home, but I couldn’t stand the thought at the time. The end of pregnancy is so emotional and to go to the hospital and make the choice to go home and wait it out is a hard one but just fantastic, good for you! I’m 34 weeks pregnant with my fourth child and will remember this story for my inspiration!

  • Lynnette Gallegos

    I loved your story. It gave me much hope for my 3rd birth (due in a week). I know the feeling of being sent home so I hope to labor here at home for as long as possible first. I hope I get to catch my own baby! What a blessing!

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