Editor’s Note: As a company full of mothers, we spend an inordinate amount of time talking about birth -our birth experiences, how long it took to conceive and the occasional, my-friend’s-neighbor-gave-birth-on-her-bathroom-floor story. I hope you enjoy our first “Birth Experiences” installment. At TodaysMama, we believe that every mother has the right to choose her birth experiences and that every experience is different. In upcoming weeks you can expect to hear more tales of homebirth as well as hospital births…and oh, yes, we’ll get you the tale of the bathroom floor birth.
-Erin Oltmanns, Managing Editor
Natural Homebirth: From Holli Blankenbiller
It’s a Sunday afternoon, September 2008. Our son was born early this morning at 3:23 am weighing 10 lbs 5 oz. My husband and I are dozing happily in our own bed with our sweet newborn. Our two older boys are downstairs with Grandma. It is quiet and peaceful and we are resting after welcoming the newest member of our family into our home, into our family, into our lives. There are no interruptions. No one coming in and out of the room to have us sign this form or that, take the baby for this test or that, check blood pressure, how often is the baby nursing. And even without all of that, I feel better taken care of than I did in my first two births.
My first birth was 4 1/2 years earlier. I had planned a natural birth at a hospital, but things didn’t go the way we had planned. After four days of prodromal labor with a lot of back pain, we checked into the hospital at 5 cm. Our son was descending at a slant and his head was stuck against my pelvic bone. After breaking my water and trying, unsuccessfully to turn his head, I was given pitocin and an epidural to see if it would help relax me so he could turn. But he was stuck and it was decided he could only get out with a cesarean section. We were terribly disappointed, but also wanted to do what was best for our baby. The hospital stay was long, noisy and cramped. Everytime we were ready to sleep, someone came in to do something. And there were so many rules we had to follow. We couldn’t wait to go home.
Two years later I was nearing my due date and planned a VBAC at the same hospital. Although mostly supportive, my doctor/midwife group had a lot of restrictions on what I could and could not do. I could only go past my due date a certain number of days; I had to be constantly monitored at the hospital; I had to have an IV. I felt all the support I was getting for a VBAC came from my own reading, family members and a friend of mine that was a doula who volunteered to help me. All the restrictions and expectations made me feel stressed about having my baby instead of excited! So I surrounded myself with my support group and stayed home as long as possible. I showed up at the hospital at 9 cm and delivered within 40 minutes of arrival. Even in that short period of time, they wanted a urine sample, they stuck an IV in me, they put monitors on me. They stressed me out and made me feel like I was about to explode instead of deliver a baby – a natural process. While they “took care” of me so that my baby and I came through delivery safe and sound, it sure felt hollow, like it was their procedures that were delivering the baby – not a human being, me.
So when it came time for my next baby, I decided to look into a homebirth option. I knew some people who had had homebirths and it sounded wonderful. I interviewed some local midwives and found a group of 3 midwives that I felt really good about. They came to my house for every appointment. They spent an hour with me – doing the things doctors do such as checking my blood pressure, my urine, the baby’s heartbeat. But they spent a lot of time caring about me and my baby, not just going through a list of procedures to check things out. They asked how I was eating, feeling, sleeping. They talked about any concerns I had and really listened. They gave me a lot of information about each test that was offered, the pros and cons. I felt informed as I made decisions, like they were partners with me as I went through my pregnancy and prepared for birth. I felt like a million bucks after each appointment. It was so therapeutic to meet with them.
I had a lot of confidence in my midwives and as we developed a plan of which hospital to go to if a complication arose, I felt confident they would recognize a possibility of a problem before it became a problem and we could get to a hospital if necessary. Having had a cesarean, I knew births don’t always go smoothly, so it was comforting to know there was backup. But I also appreciated that they were confident in me and the birth process and were there to help things go as smoothly as possible.
I went into labor at 8 pm Saturday night. Labor progressed smoothly. I loved not having to go anywhere,but to be able to stay home in the comfort of my own home. I loved getting into whatever position felt comfortable. The lights were low, soft music played some of the time. I wanted to try a waterbirth, so about midnight (right after the midwives arrived), I got in the water. It was so soothing. My husband was there helping me, loving me, supporting me. And the midwives were there, quietly supporting me. They never told me I had to do this or had to get in that position. They let me labor and would check the baby’s heartbeat from time to time, but were so respectful during contractions. They did what I needed, not what was convenient for them. I could feel support all around me. It was strengthening and empowering. I knew I could do this. Just a few hours later, my son was born. He was born in the water into my husband’s arms who put him right up on my chest. We quickly got out and were helped over to my bed. My very own bed. Carefully covered in old sheets and plenty of chux pads. My husband’s one requirement for a homebirth – that our linens and carpet were taken care of. The midwives took care of it all. They even did all the laundry afterwards!
The next few hours were spent checking on the baby and me to make sure all was well before leaving. And then they returned the next day and the third day and at a week and 2 weeks, etc. When my baby was losing weight because he was falling asleep when nursing, they helped me work through that challenge.
I knew then that as long as I had healthy pregnancies and no complications, I would never deliver in a hospital again. My natural homebirth experience was so rewarding. My fourth baby, another boy, was also born at home just 16 1/2 months later. Another wonderful experience. The personal care for me and my family was truly amazing.
Here are some additional VBAC and Homebirth information:
Cesarean and VBAC Support:
Home birth Information: