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Peaceful Home Water Birth in Small Town Ohio {Must Read!}

Peaceful Home Water Birth in Small Town Ohio {Must Read!}

If anyone had asked me, prior to having my first child, if I thought I would prefer birth over pregnancy, I would have called them crazy. Now, after my second child and two completely different birth experiences, I have to say I would rather give birth than be pregnant any day. I never really enjoyed being pregnant. I envied the beautiful round bellies of my mama friends who never lost their lunch of crackers and water, or who wouldn’t know round ligament pain if it bit them in the bum.

I was looking forward to the birth of our first. It couldn’t be nearly as long and uncomfortable as pregnancy, right? Our son Maks was born in a women’s hospital, at 38 weeks and two days, after 35 hours of ruptured membranes. He was caught by a kind and caring, although completely overburdened, midwife. It was grueling. I never once got on top of it. Labor was on top of me the entire time. My husband did all he could to support me, but I was on a ledge, ready for the fall. So, when we found out we were pregnant with our second, it wasn’t a matter of whether we should have a home birth, but simply where we would put the birth pool.

When we moved near my hometown when our first was four months old, I dove headfirst into the natural birth community that, surprisingly, was alive and thriving in small town Ohio. I learned so much about how birth could be from ladies who not only did it themselves but now live it, teach it, and most importantly BELIEVE in it. My husband, always knowing that’s what he wanted for me, jumped on the home birth wagon with no hesitation when we found out I was pregnant again. I had met our midwife Delphine many months prior at a Birth Social, put on by a local childbirth educator, so I called her right away.

The months ahead involved lots of yoga, eating well, practicing The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, preparing our home for birth and loving my family of three for as long as I could. Since our first came early, I naturally assumed our second would also make an early entrance. Why I assumed this, I do not know. Week 38 came and went, as did 39 and 40. We started to try some natural induction techniques, but only because we were so very ready to meet our baby. Deep down, I knew that baby wasn’t coming until it was good and ready.

For some reason, week 41 was a breeze, and I wasn’t as miserable as everyone assumed. I was sleeping like the dead and lying on the couch for a large majority of my day. But Jordan and I were both just so excited for labor and delivery. We had spent so much time and energy making sure everything was ready. The house was clean, the birth box was stocked, and I was primed for birth. Since I hadn’t gotten an ultrasound or had the regular pelvic exams, we had no idea if it was a boy or girl or if I was effaced or dilated. But I knew we were healthy, so we just had to wait for the baby to give the go-ahead.

On Tuesday, July 24th, we went on a much needed date, hoping to get those love hormones flowing. As soon as we pulled out of the driveway, I started contracting. Ten minutes apart and manageable. We thought for sure it would happen that night. We gave the birth team a heads-up, and I went to bed on a tummy full of filet mignon, still contracting. They woke me up a few times throughout the night, but in the morning they had basically stopped.

Our Assistant Midwife Holly called to tell me that she was going to take a friend to the airport and see her kids out of town the next day. She was going to stay overnight, but could come back if I called. She said if I went into labor that night or the next morning, she wouldn’t go. I told her that was fine, even though I didn’t mean it. I had a strong feeling that Holly would play a very important role in my labor and delivery, and the thought of her not being there made me want to barf. I knew I needed her energy in that room.

At ten minutes to six the next morning, I woke up to a strong contraction. I headed to the bathroom and felt that oh-so-familiar feeling of peeing my pants. Water broke. I woke Jordan and he immediately went to work to finish up some critical projects before we got on with the day. I went back to bed and sent some texts to the birth team. Another heads-up, but this time it was all systems go. Contractions came on pretty strong after that, but I stayed in bed, knowing that, if I got up, contractions would come on stronger.

I wanted to give our son and birth team more time to sleep, assuming we would all be in it for the long haul. I couldn’t sleep so I prepared for the day. Looking back, I think that time alone was critical. I breathed deeply and relaxed through each wave, visualizing how the contractions would grow more and more intense as my baby moved down. I wasn’t afraid. I was so very ready.

The midwife asked if I would like her to come. I said no, and she asked that I call back at nine. We had a leisurely breakfast, and everyone got showered and dressed. I had two eggs over medium and millet toast. It felt like Saturday morning, with that slow, sleepy pace things have when you know you have nothing else to do. But you could feel the excitement brewing. I couldn’t stop smiling!

Maks and Jordan laid the tarp down and taped it to the floor, then brought in the birth pool and got it ready. Delphine wanted Holly to lay eyes on me and check the baby’s heartbeat, so she arrived at our place about 10:30. If everything looked good and contractions remained the same, she would check back at noon.

My best friend Julia pulled in right behind Holly to take over caring for Maks while Jordan and I labored together. Allie, our friend and birth photographer, was already there taking a few pictures. I was feeling pretty good at that point, still walking, talking and singing. Gillian Welch radio was playing on Pandora, and all of my favorite songs kept coming on. It was going to be a good day. A day that I assumed would be a long one. But a fun one, like a party (minus the booze!). But after Holly arrived, things really started to pick up.

We’d spent days prior getting everything ready so that the only thing that needed to be done was filling up the birth pool. I asked Holly if we should fill it up. She shrugged and suggested waiting. Holly listened to the baby’s heartbeat through some contractions and checked my blood pressure. Everything looked great. Jordan and I lit our candles from the Blessingway and spent a few moments in our room together. Contractions were getting heavy and fast. At 11:15, as I leaned over the EMPTY birth pool during a contraction, I felt a strong urge to vomit. I asked for a trash can, lost my breakfast, and said to Jordan, “Fill up the pool!” (insert expletive in there somewhere).

I was in transition. Wait, I was in transition? Not possible. I had just finished making breakfast and blow drying my hair. I couldn’t believe it. That’s when Holly called Delphine and told her she’d better get there fast. I managed to change clothes in between contractions and headed for the pool.

Meanwhile, Julia and Maks started to bake a birthday cake for the new baby. Maks was coming in and out of the room, asking me how I was doing and what was wrong. I told him that Mommy was just getting ready to have the baby and I reminded him about what we had talked about so many times in the months prior: that mommy would roar like a dinosaur to get his baby brother or sister out. He was doing great. I had clearly underestimated his ability to adapt. Or maybe just his ability to be distracted by macaroni and cheese.


I hit the water at about noon, and I knew I wasn’t leaving it until that baby was born. It felt amazing but it also really got things moving. Was that even possible?! I thought it was already going fast. During one of the first contractions in the water I told Holly I was feeling pushy. She called Delphine immediately for an ETA. Delphine was 40 minutes away, speeding with the radar detector on. Holly very quickly delivered her disclaimer that she had never attended a solo water birth, just in case it was go time and there was no midwife in site. I told her I didn’t care and that I trusted her.

Jordan was behind me applying counter-pressure to my backside during contractions. I received them on my hands and knees because that was the only position that made sense to me. In between each, I rolled over and floated weightlessly on my back, relaxing completely. It was quiet in my house. Everyone was talking softly, music was playing, and I was trying to stay focused and keep my breath down. I kept saying thing like, “I can do this. I was built for this.” It helped to hear it from my own lips. Jordan, my incredible, text book Bradley Method daddy, was amazing. I didn’t realize it until we saw the photos, but his hands never left me. They were on me the whole time. Maks came and went, spending a lot of this time playing with Julia outside. It was a solid 95 degrees that day so he was a sweaty mess. So much for that morning shower.

Delphine arrived at about 12:20. She stood there, just observing me and softly asking questions. She didn’t need to touch me to know where I was or how I was doing. She just observed and processed. In between contractions, she asked me to slip a finger in and see if I could feel a head. I felt SOMETHING but I wasn’t sure because it was so soft. She did a quick check and said I was ready to go except for a small lip. The soft thing I was feeling was the baby’s head molding through the cervix. So very cool.

Delphine was concerned the pool wasn’t warm enough for a baby, so everyone grabbed a pot and started to bail. I, of course, being the hot box that I am, didn’t want it hotter, but I was in no position to complain. At some point, they convinced me to get out of the water and go to the bathroom. It was the fastest bathroom break ever because I didn’t want to have even one contraction out of that tub. I came flying back into the living room, turned around, and just fell into the pool, sending a wave of water all over the floor!

The plan was that Jordan would catch the baby, but by then I knew I needed him at my head. I wanted to smell him, feel his breath on my face, and kiss him. At one point, in between contractions, he looked in my eyes and kissed me so passionately. It made my belly flip over just like our first kiss. Since that day, I haven’t been able to kiss him without remembering how that felt – how much he loved me at that moment, and every moment since.

I knew we were close. Holly applied pressure to my back and bottom as Delphine observed the signs of my labor. I remember only positive, encouraging words coming my way. No directions, no commands or fears being voiced. Just the growling sounds of me moving my baby down. I remember feeling every movement, every contraction felt so productive. I felt on TOP. I didn’t know what I was on top of … just above it all. That imagery helped me through each contraction. I knew I could handle it, I knew it would be over soon and we would meet our baby.

I felt the baby move past my tailbone, and the burn began. Delphine suggested I support my perineum with my hand, pushing the head away, to help me stretch gradually. This helped tremendously. Jordan wanted to feel what was going on down there, so he put his hand on the head for a couple contractions. Delphine explained how the tailbone raised and then flattened as the baby passed through and pointed out the purple lines that appeared on my backside. There was no impatience, no pressure. Everyone was calm and quiet as they quietly waited for my body to do its thing.

The pain intensified as contractions started stacking one on top of the other. I knew I needed to go slow but my body wasn’t in agreement. I was reminded by my team that my body needed time to stretch, but I simply couldn’t stop. I tried. A few grunts later, the head was out. Holly asked me to reach down and catch my baby. At 1:12pm, a little over seven hours in, I pulled this warm, pasty purple baby up through my legs to my chest.

I relaxed back on my back in the pool in complete disbelief. While Maks was being fetched from the yard, Jordan and I looked down below. A girl. A GIRL! I couldn’t believe it. She was absolutely perfect. Maks came in with a huge smile on his face. We said our hellos to her, smooched, and fell in love. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

The ladies couldn’t see through the water, so they asked me to move to the couch. I made it shakily to the couch and delivered the placenta while she nursed. Daddy and Maks cut the cord after it stopped pulsing. After some bonding time, I wanted my soft bed. Although it was only about 20 feet away it was a LONG trip. The baby was given a once-over and weighed by Holly: 8lbs, 10 oz. She was a big girl.

We cuddled in bed while the ladies got to work cleaning up, and Holly started the process of drying the placenta for encapsulation. I was brought some rice pudding and peanut butter crackers to get my energy up. I felt on top of the world. I was in disbelief but completely elated. I’d done it. I’d birthed my baby peacefully, in my home, with my family and close friends, into a state of grace. And she was perfect. IT was perfect.


We all cuddled in bed while baby girl nursed and got her first diaper. After, of course, she pooped all over me. I needed two stitches so she spent some time on Jordan’s bare chest while Holly and Delphine tended to my perineum. Soon we were all back in bed, basking in the afterglow of an amazing morning.

When I was pregnant and planning Edie’s birth, I remember thinking that I would feel like part of some elite club if I had an amazing home birth. That I would want to tell everyone I came across. But after it happened I felt a little bit selfish about it. It was so personal, so private. It was my daughter’s birth that I shared with my two boys and a very carefully selected group of women. What if telling everyone, making it public, somehow took away a bit of that special? But then I remembered one of the many reasons I wanted to have a home birth; so I could live it, teach it, and be that example to someone of how normal birth at home can not only happen but be absolutely beautiful.

All photographs by Allie Bennett. Watch the birth video on her site, here.

Fast and Calm UC {Unassisted Childbirth} Water Birth

Fast and Calm UC {Unassisted Childbirth} Water Birth

The morning of Monday, January 23rd (when I was 40 weeks, 5 days), I sent my mom and sister a text that read, “Who wants to distract me today?” to which my sister promptly responded and said that she and her girls would come over to play. I was relieved to have visitors, a bit of distraction was going to do a great deal of good for my spirit. Soon after I hung up the phone with her, I went to the restroom and was surprised and thrilled to see some bloody show. I knew that meant labor could be anywhere from a few hours to a few days away, but I was encouraged to see something going on!

Jill, Emma and Cora visited for a couple of hours and left just after lunch. My children (Tucker and Chloe) and I all took a short afternoon nap and then continued with a nice, quiet afternoon at home. I was talking to my mom on the phone around 3:15pm when I had a fairly strong contraction and I felt a gush during it. I was sitting down at the time so I think my water must have broken. I am still very unsure of when that actually happened since I never felt a pop. I didn’t say anything to her, but quickly got off of the phone to see if I was going to have another.



Several minutes later, I had another contraction that was somewhat intense for early labor. I decided to call my mother-in-law to come pick up Tucker and Chloe, as I knew solitude was my best bet to getting into a good labor pattern. I was pretty sure “this was it” and needed time to get the house ready for the birth. When my mother-in-law picked the kids up, she warned me not to wait too long to go to the hospital since third babies can come quickly. I had to giggle at that: Oh, if she only knew what was about to happen! I also called Ryan and Jill and told them that I thought tonight was finally the night.

Once alone, I did some light cleaning and started setting up the birth tub and other supplies. There was quite a bit of set up since there was really no way to predict where I would be most comfortable giving birth. I was planning a water birth with an inflatable birth pool, but I needed to set up other areas just in case the water didn’t feel right in the moment.

I layered our bed with a set of clean sheets, followed by a shower curtain, followed by another set of sheets so clean-up would be quick and easy. I also put a layer of Chux pads (absorbent sheets often used for incontinent adults) on the bed. Jill was bringing a space heater to make my room nice and toasty warm. I also put some Chux pads on the bathroom floor; for Chloe’s labor I was most comfortable laboring on the toilet so it was quite possible that baby could have been born in the bathroom. I started inflating the birth pool and threw some clean towels and blankets in the dryer (for warm towels after the birth), all the while having regular and increasingly intense contractions.

It was about 4:30pm when Ryan made it home from work, which is also about the time I called Jill and told her to plan on coming over around 7pm unless she heard from me again. Ryan needed to take a shower and wanted to run to Subway to get some dinner. I have a history of fairly long labors so I can’t really blame him for wanting to eat but I told him to hurry as I had a feeling this labor was going to be fast. I just could not wrap my head around how intense things already were, only an hour into the labor! Ryan got home from Subway around 5:30 and brought me a bowl of soup, which I sat down and ate between contractions. Ryan ate his dinner and started filling the birth pool.

The contractions were picking up in intensity and I could no longer walk or talk during them. At this point, around 6pm, I called Jill and told her to go ahead and come over as soon as she could instead of waiting until 7pm. This baby was coming! 

I continued to labor, leaning onto Ryan during contractions. It was amazing to me how intense the contractions were when they started and how quickly they were coming. I was also so much more aware of the baby’s movements for this labor. Perhaps it was because nobody was monitoring me so it was up to me to pay attention to him to make sure he was okay and tolerating labor. He was very active during labor, kicking me sharply in the ribs, taking my breath away several times.

Jill arrived around 7pm when I was ready to get into the water. I was recognizing that I was in transition, as my mood was very focused and serious. I told her to go ahead and call my mom, which was a surprise to my mom. Prior to labor, I was unsure of how I was going to feel about adding another person to the mix so I had not shared with her that she might be invited, it was a total surprise to her that she was going to see the birth of her grandson. I just didn’t want to tell her ahead of time in case I changed my mind… I figured it was better to be surprised than to be disappointed.

I got into the pool and the contractions really picked up, lasting about two and a half minutes each and often coming back to back. I was honestly a little disappointed that the water did not help with the pain of the contractions like I had hoped, but it did feel good to be in the water. I was listening intently to my birth playlist, which was playing carefully selected songs that brought me calm, peace, and encouragement. I was nearly silent during labor, breathing in and breathing out. Breathing my baby down, focusing on bringing him into the perfect position to meet his Mommy and Daddy.

Ryan told me at one point that he couldn’t tell when I was having a contraction and when I wasn’t; I was calm, I was quiet, I was focused. I whispered that he just needed to listen to my breath, that when I was breathing hard, I was contracting and when I was breathing slowly, I wasn’t. I know it was hard for him, but I did not want to be touched during this labor. I truly did want to just be left alone to do what I needed to do without any distraction. 

I felt the contractions change from dilating contractions to pushing contractions and I knew it was time to push.

I am not a big believer in pushing hard to get baby out so I just listened to my body and gave gentle pushes only when I felt an urge for several minutes. I was secretly wondering if I was indeed fully dilated…it was such a weird feeling to not have someone tell me it was okay to push. I decided to reach down to see if I could feel the baby’s head. I could feel his head and continued to gently breathe him down, giving short, gentle pushes when needed. 

I started to feel him crowning and reached down and felt his head come out. The crowning did not hurt nearly as bad as it did with Chloe, I think due to the water which was a nice benefit I didn’t expect!

I very calmly told Ryan, “his head is out,” but Ryan thought I was asking if his head was out and tried to lean down to see. When he told me, “I don’t know hon, I can’t see” I calmly corrected him and said, “no, I’m telling you, his head is out.” I was touching his face and rubbing his head and ran my fingers around his neck to see if there was a nuchal cord (there wasn’t). It was an amazing feeling to feel his features before he was born! 

At this point, I took a small break to catch my breath and mentally prepare to push his shoulders out.

The next contraction came and I pushed and waited for his shoulders to release. I reached under his arms, turned my body to the sitting position (I had been on my knees with my upper body leaning into the side of the birth pool) and pulled my beautiful son onto my chest. 

Once he was out and in my arms, Ryan grabbed a warm towel out of the dryer and Austen gave one solid cry. Then he just looked at me as I stared at him, he was so calm and alert and was just perfect! He looked just like Chloe, which was a huge surprise because according to one of our sonogram pictures, I was expecting a Tucker clone. I looked at Ryan and Jill and through emotional tears I said, “I did it!”

Austen Grey McMillen was born into my arms on January 23rd, 2012 at 8:03 pm, just a few hours after my first contraction. The labor was fast, it was intense, it was calm, it was everything I had dreamed it would be. He was born during the first verse of Amazing Grace, which happens to be my favorite hymn and the initials of his name. Poetic, don’t you think?

A True Look at Homebirth by Video

A True Look at Homebirth by Video

This BWF Dad emailed me with this birth video. I really like it because it shows how homebirth really is. It’s not a bunch of edited pictures (those are nice too), but an uncut video of birth. The midwives are setting up, Hypnobirthing affirmations are playing in the background, everyone is interacting, talk about the placenta is heard, mama is getting a lot of support and of course a BEAUTIFUL baby is born. So, if you want to see what homebirth is really like…here it is.

Beautiful (Surprise) Breech Home Birth

Beautiful (Surprise) Breech Home Birth

My husband and I chose to have our first baby at home with an absolutely empowering midwife. I distinctly remember between my intense contractions hearing my husband Kevin, Leslie our midwife, and her intern Melissa, in our kitchen drinking coffee and softly laughing enjoying good conversation.

I was in the birth tub letting my body bring our little girl into this world and never once did I wish for pain killers or any other assistance. Being alone in the quiet of my room was all I needed and after 18 hours my beautiful daughter, Lilly, was born.

Five short months later we again found out we were expecting! (Crazy close, I know). At 20 weeks we went in for an ultrasound to find out the sex of our baby. Excitedly we planned for a little boy to join our family! As far as we knew baby was head down and ready to go, so when I went into labor this past month neither myself or my midwife expected anything out of the ordinary.

After only three and a half hours I started that much desired point of “pushing” (Ha!). As our baby boy was coming down the birth canal a significant amount of meconium started coming out and I began worrying a little. A friend had recently lost their little boy when he inhaled meconium during his birth. Even with medical help he was unable to fight the infecting and flew up to heaven after only a week.

However, during the last 10 minuets of pushing, Carol (the midwife’s assistant), quietly mentioned… “That’s not a head”.  Many looks were exchanged around the room between all of us for a brief moment as we all realized this little guy at some point had turned! Much to all of our surprise!

Leslie looked me straight in the eyes and simply told me, “It’s alright, you can do this”. So, I did! Rowin Jax came out butt first completely folded in half. His little feet were tucked under his chin and he had the thickest umbilical cord any of us had ever seen. Totally healthy, he did need a little oxygen, but after a few good breaths of that he did just fine.

The full photo montage of the birth – some of the mother’s favorite photos are those in which you can see her husband’s feet on her back for counter pressure.

A Military Homecoming

A Military Homecoming

You may have seen Ashley and her family on the BWF Blog before. Her birth story and pictures are amazing! They are a beautiful family. What you may not have known is Ashley’s husband and father of her children is a US Navy SEAL.

I know we have a lot of amazing military families that follow BWF and we love you all. Recently, Micheal came home after not being with his own family for 9 months! Here is a glimpse of military life….Mom and her children getting ready and being united with Dad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgPFgiTVUC0&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Home Birth Story Told By a Photo Montage

Home Birth Story Told By a Photo Montage

Brittanie writes, “Here is a link to the video we made for our home birth last month. It is a little long, but I wanted to include each picture that our birth photographer, Amanda Brayton, took. They all mean so much to us. Our son Finley weighed 10lbs, 5oz and was 20 inches long. My midwife was just amazing throughout my pregnancy, and during the birth. She also brought her student Midwife, and she was also just amazing. I am so grateful to the both of them…

I love your blog. I read and watched the birth stories you posted even before getting pregnant. We did not have a home birth with our daughter, and I was uneducated in regards to birth. I started researching birth in this country shortly after the birth of my daughter, and your blog was one of the things I found. Keep doing what you are doing!”

Below, a beautiful photo montage of her amazing home birth, photographed by Amanda Brayton Photography.

Cesarean Birth Video

Cesarean Birth Video

I have seen many cesarean birth photos, but never a video like this one. It is from Birth Without Fear mother, Christina. She received and has given much support throughout her pregnancy, labor, birth and post partum. They were able to catch the c-section on video and it’s nothing short of amazing. If blood and surgery make you squeamish, you may want to skip it. However, if you can look past that, it is still a miraculous birth of a baby!!!

Shared with permission.

Here are a few still pictures as well. Unwrapping the cord (3 times)…

Being born…

Welcome earthside little one…

Christina was 40 weeks 5 days pregnant and her son was born 7lbs 2.5oz and 21 inches.

3 weeks old signing ‘I love you’ to the boob…he looooves him mama milk and as of a few days ago (at 5w6d), he’s up to 11lbs8oz! Grow, baby, grow!

Video: Planned Homebirth Transfer to Gentle Cesarean

Video: Planned Homebirth Transfer to Gentle Cesarean

This is a birth video of still pictures and video footage. They start labor at home and transfer to the hospital. The cesarean birth pictures are amazing along with the footage of mom and baby having skin to skin time RIGHT after the surgery. I recommend that even if you are planning a home birth, be informed about he possibility of a cesarean birth. If it does happen, you can still have a supportive, empowering experience. Read this for more information.

Sent in by Miranday. Rory’s Birth. Enjoy…

*Birth story to come.

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