A Doula’s Own Midwife-Assisted Home Water Birth

I had an appointment Friday, August 3rd with my midwife, Bernice. Baby looked and sounded great and the appointment was wonderful, as they had all been. I had asked if she would mind checking me as I had been having quite a few contractions and just wanted to know if anything was happening (though I generally recommend NO cervical checks for moms, because they do usually lead to misguided hopes and disappointment). She found me to be at four cm dilated, but I didn’t get too excited. I had walked around dilated to four cm with Abigail for two weeks! So we trucked it home to wait.

This wait was different though. I was patient and at peace with God’s timing. I knew I wouldn’t be pregnant forever. With my two previous daughters, I labored with Pitocin. With Esther, my firstborn, I had been dilated to two cm for a few weeks and contracting like crazy. My OB was nervous I’d get tired and not be able to get through a vaginal birth. So I was induced at noon on a Sunday and sat on Pitocin all day. At 10 PM, I was STILL two cm and contracting like crazy. They gave me a break and started me again at four AM. Things did start to happen and my bag of waters was artificially ruptured at 11 AM. Esther was born at 12:53PM. I really didn’t think Pitocin was too bad. People got real bug eyed when I said the ‘P’ word. I always thought since I didn’t know anything different, it wasn’t too bad.

My pregnancy with Abigail, my second daughter, ended in the same manner, although my bag of waters did rupture on its own. I had been dilated to four cm for two weeks and I was sure we’d have this baby any minute. We rushed to the hospital, which stalled my labor for six hours. We walked the halls of the hospital (florescent lighting, beautiful hospital gown with my back side hanging out, freezing temperatures…no wonder my labor stalled out!) and I didn’t have another contraction. At six AM, Pitocin was started and Abigail was born at 12:32 PM. I felt angry. My labor was more difficult. I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t think I could. I didn’t know it at the time, but Abigail’s birth would lead to me becoming a doula.

When I found out I was pregnant with number three, the first person I called was a home birth midwife (second was Jared, my husband!). I was bound and determined to let my body do what I knew it was created to do. With my doula training and quite a few births under my belt, I knew so much more than I did with just a hospital birth preparation class (that really was a joke anyway). I was elated. True, I couldn’t wait to meet this baby, but more so, I needed this birth. I needed it to be drug and intervention free. I knew I could do it. I knew my body could do it. I just needed someone to let it. I just needed to let it.

I went to bed that night after my appointment, exhausted from the day’s activities. I vaguely remember having contractions all night, but being able to sleep right through them. At four AM, this was no longer the case. I could at least lay in bed through them. I didn’t wake Jared up yet, because I didn’t want to get his hopes up. I continued to rest until 5:30AM, when his alarm clock went off (he had to work that day). I got up to sit on the toilet through some contractions. Jared came in, still groggy, and I told him I thought we’d have a baby today. He muttered something about hoping I was right and he went off to take care of the hens and dog and make some coffee. I made my way downstairs and hung out for a bit, still unsure if this was it. Probably in denial more than anything.

My contractions were picking up in intensity and frequency. I had to get onto my hands and knees with each one. I decided to call Bernice at 6:30AM. The minute she answered the phone, I had a contraction. “This is Sarah, it’s time.” Without question, she said, “I’m on my way.” This is why we hired her.
I called my mama and had the same conversation. I sent a text to my to best friends – Sarah and Adrienne – who would be joining us. I decided to hold off on calling my photographer, who had been having some issues in her own pregnancy. I didn’t want her to be up running around if she didn’t have to.
Still in denial.

My mom arrived first and helped me get comfortable through contractions. I felt like I was just flopping around like a fish trying to get into a good position with each contraction, forgetting what had been comfortable with the previous one. Still I felt good. I didn’t feel like I was in a ton of pain. I utilized my hypnobirthing techniques and calmly breathed through each contraction. The girls woke up and Jared made them breakfast. I had him call Adrienne (who was to care for them during labor) to be sure she was awake and on her way soon. She arrived shortly afterwards.

Jared got concerned that maybe my contractions had spaced out. I was enjoying the break. He was insistent that we go on a walk. So he got me some clothes (I hadn’t made it out of my pajamas yet) and I made it to the entryway before having a contraction which landed me on hands and knees. I remember my phone ringing at some point. It was Bernice, letting us know where she was and checking in (she lives an hour and half away). Jared explained his necessity for a walk and that I could no longer function whatsoever through contracts. She later admits to laughing a little at the thought of a walk. Did I mention Jared’s impatience? Obviously, the walk didn’t happen.

Anneliese, Bernice’s assistant, arrived to me laying in the entryway, where I had apparently decided to make camp. On the hard wood floor. Bernice arrived shortly after. They got heart tones on the baby and things looked good. I think the decision was made at that point to set up the birth pool. Jared went about doing that. Adrienne took the girls upstairs to get dressed and play for a bit. Bernice and Anneliese set up their stuff. (at some point, someone realized Sarah, my photographer, needed to be called and that was done, too.) The minute the tub was set up, I was in it. It was about nine AM.

It felt so nice on the bottom part of my belly, where I was feeling most of my contractions. But then I had a contraction. And it was SOOO HOT and irritating! But I refused to get out because my belly felt better. Enter ice cold wash cloths. Contractions were definitely more intense. Jared asked for a cervical check, to which I obliged. Bernice found me at 10cm dilated and baby was super low. This was 9:20AM.

“Are you feeling pushy?”
“Uh, maybe?”

I realized I had been breathing our baby down for a little bit, now.
I continued to breathe through my contractions and felt my baby get lower and lower.
I checked for myself a few times and did feel the dropping.
“Get the girls, get the girls, get the girls.”
I knew we didn’t have long!
Sarah arrived at some point.
My bag of waters was still intact.
I felt our baby’s head bulge and decided to step it up.
I pushed through two contractions and our baby’s head was born.
Bernice checked for a cord and found a little hand!
She gently guided the hand out.
I pushed through two more contractions and our baby was born!
I pulled our sweet little baby up out of the water all by myself – I could hardly believe it!
Saturday, August 4th, 2012 at 9:42AM.
I remember kissing Jared, Esther and Abigail lots and making sure the girls were ok with what just happened.
I said “Hi!” to Sarah, whom I just realized was here.
I love how hands-off Bernice was – I did this!

My mom gave me a warm towel to put around the baby.
My husband dug at the towel to find out if we had a boy or a girl.
I suppose I knew it was a girl and didn’t quite care to check yet!
He announced: “We have a girl!!”
My placenta came shortly after and I got out of the pool.
I felt great. I felt somehow more alive. I felt…amazing. I knew I could do it. I felt healed.
Lydia was 8 pounds, 8 ounces and 21 inches long. My biggest and longest baby. She’s beautiful, too!

I wanted to share my story for the woman told she can’t do it. For the woman who hears she won’t make it. For the woman who doesn’t feel adequate. For the woman who wants to try again. You can do this. Your beautiful body was made for it.

– Sarah Moore, www.firmlyplantedblog.blogspot.com


  • April

    Thank you so much for sharing your birth story; I found it very inspiring. I think the part of your story that hits me the closest is this quote:

    ”… I needed this birth. I needed it to be drug and intervention free. I knew I could do it. I knew my body could do it. I just needed someone to let it. I just needed to let it.”

    This is precisely how I feel; and this feeling is why I wanted to venture down the path of homebirth. I don’t know if I’ll succeed or not, but at least I can say I tried.

  • Andie

    These stories are absolutely beautiful! I wanted so badly to have my son naturally but ended up with a terrifying emergency cesarian. Along with the let down, disappointment, confusion, and drug induced fog I was told that I cannot have a vaginal birth to a baby more than 5 pounds. There has to be another way right?

  • Alicia Leavitt-Mohren

    Thank you for sharing your story, all three really. I am 30 weeks along and mentally prepping for my second baby. My first was an awesome water birth I hope to repeat, aside from being talked into pitocin and having water bag broken manually. This round I am out of shape after 3 ankle injuries and rapid weight gain from the inactivity while I nurse my injuries. I was beginning to feel doubtful of my body for these reasons but your amazing journey has been very encouraging, bringing me back to the mindset that empowered me to have my first baby semi-free of medical intervention. Hopefully this time I don’t have others rushing my baby to the exit and can actually experience a naturally occurring labor. I appreciate that, you too, had learned from your experiences and chose to empower yourself and achieve your own euphoric birthing of your third daughter. Congratulations!

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