I’ve heard many a woman say that they had a “wonderful hospital birth”. I use to say the same thing in fact. However, I had no idea what I was missing out on till I had a home birth.
My hope in writing this is to challenge your thinking in what is “normal” and natural. Having gone through five distinctly different births, I wanted to share each one and how it affected me and my babies.
Inducement and C-Section…. First Baby
Right from the start I wanted a “natural birth”. However I really had no idea what that meant. I thought it meant only to labor with no drugs… believe me there is far more to it but that’s another post!
I did try sucking on the gas, however, I found it didn’t help, it only made me “space out”, which I guess some could view as “numbing”. I’m a person who is very aware of my body and what is going on! For example, I can feel ovulation when it happens! So to use something that made me feel disconnected from my body, only caused me anxiety.
My pregnancy was text-book. Always measured on schedule, never any concerns or hiccups. I had three ultrasound, did all recommended blood work, glucose test and Rhogam shots.
I went into labor the day of my due date. We lived in a small town with a small hospital so the feel was very relaxed. I labored at home till my contractions were 4 min apart. Once checked into the hospital, we were given the delivery room, expected to progress quickly. However, the contractions slowed immensely and I was even able to sleep some of the night.
The next day I labored consistently, though not progressing as they wanted. They moved me to another room so someone else could have the delivery room. This caused me so much stress, even more so as my labor slowed even more… I was already feeling so broken from not progressing fast enough.. I called my mom on the phone and bawled my eyes out! In the middle of my breakdown a doctor and two nurses came in to check me…
This was really invasive actually, now that I think of it, as there was no space that was ‘mine’…know what I mean!?
Even though my waters had ruptured via a slow leak, they let me leave so I could walk around and rest at home for the rest of the day and hopefully I would return with more progress. I walked for hours! With not much progress taking place I decided to crash for a nap. After that, my contractions picked up slightly and continued consistently through the night.
The next day, approx 35 hours after my water broke, back to the hospital we went. My baby’s heart rate and movements were perfect. But with still having little progress, they hooked me up to IV’s and injected me with a drug called Pitocin. Or in other words, inducement via drugs.
Ha.. thinking Pitocin would be similar to natural labor, in that it would slowly build, we brought cards to play while I progressed. I know I know… silly first timer!! Of course I was wrong! Got all the cards laid out and started to play and Bang, stupid strong contraction! Waited for it to ease off when two min later another even stronger contraction hit. It was pretty clear that card playing was not going to happen!!
The Pitocin was on its lowest setting but I was having contractions that were extremely intense.
Many of them were overlapping; one would not fully stop before another one would start. The pain was so different from the contractions I had naturally before the drug. It was sharper, harsher, ripping sensation… “forced and unnatural” … surprise surprise! I went at this pace for about 12 hours to which I had progressed to 9 cm’s. But..With no urges to push and baby’s head not moving down,they transferred me to a bigger hospital 25 min away.
Once there, the doctor told me my baby’s head was tilted and she was stuck; a C-section it was.
You can bet I felt Devastated… and Exhausted! My contractions continued off Pitocin and I was falling asleep between them even though they were still coming every 2 min. After being bumped due to an emergency c section, we finally made our way in. The epidural put in place and after laying down a warmth came over me. I didn’t even know I was cold! There was no pain, no feeling… nothing!! Not long after, my baby was born through an incision made in my tummy 52 hours after my water first broke.
For me the recovery was harsh. I was beyond exhausted and snoozed off and on while they rolled me back and forth putting me on different gurney’s, sheets were change (I think), suppositories were given for who knows what and eventually they wheeled me to my room.
It took way longer than I would have liked for my baby to get to me. She nursed right away, thankfully, but once full she slept for a very long time. Of course the nurses didn’t like that so they pestered me a lot to wake her and feed her. I learnt to just keep her on my breast where she would just dream nurse and this seemed to satisfy the nurses.
They got me to get up just a matter of hours after the epidural wore off. Oh how weak I was! It was so hard to move! They wanted me to pee on my own.. which surprisingly was a very difficult task!
After two days I Begged to leave!! With much resistance they released me and home I went.
I tried to go shopping a week after and I was in so much pain and feeling so weak I cried the entire time I was in the store. If you think about it, its pretty major surgery! Having your muscles cut, leaves your core extremely weak. This forces your body to use other muscles to make up for the lack; causing even more pain and discomfort. It’s a good idea to keep in mind that this will affect you many years down the road.
It was very difficult to do anything more than sit and hold my baby.
You may argue that my life was saved…yes it is possible. It’s also possible that if I would have allowed my body to do what it needed in a place I felt secure, we may never have needed a C-section. I guess we will never know. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe c-sections have their place. I’m not arguing any different. I’m glad its available for the emergencies. However, the statistics on how many c-sections happen out side of emergencies are staggering!
Baby #2 Epidural
My second baby came only 18 months after my first. Again, a text-book pregnancy but this time with many more ultrasounds due to having gotten pregnant so soon after my c-section. My family doctor told me that because of the happenings with my first, I would be required to have a second c-section. Thankfully I was transferred to a specialist being labeled “high risk” who was on board with a vaginal birth and was even pleased!! Phew!
Once again I went into labor the day of my due date and labor started off really well. Off to the hospital within two hours of with contractions that were only 2-3 min apart. Once again, as soon as we were at the hospital, labor slowed right down. I accepted this, as they had told me that my second labor would probably be more like a first time labor, due to first baby not coming the traditional way.
Labeled high risk, I was hooked up to monitions and IV’s which made it very difficult to do much of anything.
However, I was able to stand which I was so thankful for as laying on my back was SO much more painful!
Labor was intense. I was having contractions that were rolling over each other again and as it was with the first, it was all back labor. The constant disruption of vaginal checks were brutal!!!! There was a nurse constantly in the room who just watched me and wrote down each contraction. They were all respectful of my wishes and really were very accommodating for a hospital birth. However, they did keep on questioning if I wanted an Epidural and to my surprise after having been asked multiple times, I found myself saying yes.
Once again there was a needle going in my back. I took to it really well and before long I couldn’t feel a thing.
One problem though… I relaxed so much and was so disconnected from my body that my labor stalled almost completely!!
I wasn’t quite 10 cm but the nurse knew my labor was stalling. She encouraged me to push when a contraction came. This meant I had to feel my tummy for tightening to know when to push. It was rather interesting trying to push with no feeling. This may sound gross but I just focused my pushes the same way I would as if I taking a giant poop! The nurses that were attending me kept on saying how impressed they were with my pushing, lol!
I can easily see how having an epidural could result in a c-section.
Baby arrived via vaginally with epidural; my second 9 pound baby.
Baby was a bit groggy. But still managed to latch and breastfeed successfully within minuets of being placed on my chest. Nurses were telling me that baby would not nurse and to not bother trying just yet… well, we proved them wrong!! My guess is that it’s normal for epidural babies to not breastfeed after birth due to being groggy… which would explain the nurse’s response.
Overall I felt pretty good, considering. However, I felt very disconnected from the experience, even more so as I came off the epidural. My body felt like it had been hit by a truck…Sure its expected.. but I felt it was worse in some ways, due to being cut off from feeling any part of the birthing experience. It was less empowering and honestly, violated is really how I felt. My back hurt a good deal as well from the epidural procedure.
Another point to consider with epidural
An epidural is a needle that’s injected straight into your spine, between your vertebrae, near the spinal nerve. Now, some months after my second baby, I went to turn my body and felt a “thud” in my lower back. Pain slowly started to radiate from the same spot that I had received the epidurals. I can’t prove it was because of the epidural but I never had any type of back trouble ever until then. It’s been going on almost 8 years and I still suffer with it. Had I known this would happen I would have tolerated the pain of child-birth for the couple more hours it would have taken to birth my baby naturally.
There are always risks to these procedures so please do your research!
Baby #3 Waters Broken
Baby #3 was no different pregnancy wise and came 15 months after my second. Once again text-book pregnancy. Still considered “high risk” due to c-section. I was once again referred to the specialist. However, this pregnancy I was dealing with the back trouble from my epidural damage. I was in incredible pain throughout. It had gotten considerably better right before I got pregnant but as baby grew, he put pressure on that spot which resulted in my sciatic nerve going crazy. It was like hell fire going down my legs. I could write a whole post on all the devices I used to find solitude from the pain.
Even so, we made it to full term. However, since I only had one period between last baby and getting pregnant again we were not fully sure of when my due date was. My calculation of when I ovulate put me due the following week; their ultrasound said I was over due by a few days. We had gone in for a check up at the hospital as the doctor was on shift and that was easier for him. Upon arrival, the doctor checked me and found I had dilated a fair amount. So we were given the option of having waters broken so baby could come while dad was at home. He was going away the next week for 8 days. Honestly it was convenient.
Inducement via braking waters is something I would never choose now as I know and feel that waiting on baby is best.
The doctor broke my waters and told me that if my labor didn’t start after one hour, I would be induced. My heart sank!! I absolutely did not want to go through that again! I was not impressed that information was not divulged before he broke my waters!!
Once again hooked up to a couple monitors and IV’s, I watched the clock very carefully.
Nothing was happening.
My hour was nearly up when I asked if they could remove some of the monitors so I could walk the halls a bit. They did and we headed for the door. I only made it 3 steps toward the door when contractions started fast and furious. I got to the middle of the room when transition happened. The nurses quickly somehow got me on the bed. I didn’t even get a chance to adjust before I was pushing. This was my first experience feeling what the pushing urge was like. What an amazing force! It honestly felt so good to push. One nurse said to another, “what if the doctor doesn’t get here on time”. The older nurse replied “we catch”!
Babies head was out when doc arrived. In his struggle to get his gloves on he nearly missed catching the rest of the baby! A grand total of about 10 minuets from the time I had my first contraction to baby being born. There is such a thing as too fast!!
My poor baby bruised from such a fast labor; my third 9 pound baby.
I think its pretty safe to say that baby would have come on his own within days of this apt. Breaking the waters was once again a non-natural approach that was really hard and fast on both of us. I did tear a bit as I was not fully dilated before my body started to push.
Recovery was pretty easy.
Baby #4 All natural hospital birth
Same story here. Uneventful pregnancy. Nearly 4 years apart from my third baby. Went into labor the day before my due date. Labor came on fast. I was at 2 min apart within an hour. Got to the hospital and it slowed right down. Once again hooked up to monitors and IV’s. The nurse trying to get my IV in had a difficult time and stuck me multiple times in multiple areas. Laying there in full on contractions while she was sticking me so many times was just aggravating, to say the least.
This time it didn’t take to long for labor to pick up again and soon I was consistently contracting. All the nurses were fairly respectful. I really can’t complain there. They came and went. Of course interrupted me a good many times for checks. A newbie nurse asked if she could check me which I was ok with but frick it hurts on my back and she took a long time!!! For the most part though, I was able to stand by the bed, which I found the best way to handle my labors.
The urge to push finally came and once again I was directed to lay on the bed as they wanted to slow it down. Unfortunately once on the bed the urge to push stopped. When they were ready, I was still told to push. Why I listened is beyond me. It took way more pushes to get baby out than it should have and it was way more work than it needed to be. I knew this… yet I still did what I was told…
There was a bit of delayed clamping. Baby came directly to my chest and they did not force me to have baby weighed or anything until I was ready…kind of… There was the slight hint of “we need to get the room ready for someone else”. The last thing you want to do is be moved right after birth! But I complied.
Also they messaged my tummy to help my uterus expel the placenta.. did not really like that.
In any case, 11 hours start to finish I held my fourth, healthy 9 pound baby.
Babies 5&6 twin home birth
You can read the entire story here so I will do just a quick recap. Having been told I’d be required to have an epidural line in if I attempted to deliver vaginally or a c-section if baby A was breach I decided to have a home birth, unassisted if I had to. I believed my body was capable.
After my 23 week apt when I found out I was having twins, I totally went hands off. I fully trusted my body and babies to do what they needed. For me this meant no medical attention, no blood tests or glucose tests and no fetal monitoring. There were times I got nervous, as it felt a little scary going against what had been so ingrained into me. However, I did not focus on those fears. I instead focused inward and listened to my instincts and my babies. Unfortunately this is something our society does not value and has really become a lost art.
My babies decided they didn’t need to come out till we were 41 weeks and 3 days! During labor I followed my bodies lead and for the first time was able to give birth upright. My labor lasted a grand total of 3 hours from start to finish which I found absolutely perfect. I listened to my body and did what made me most comfortable at the time. There was no one telling me what they thought I should do or needed to do because it was easier for them… my babies and I just “did it”.
It was a truly empowering moment… most incredible moment. One that words can not fully capture! Our baby A weighed 8 pounds 12 oz and our baby B weighed 7 pounds 2 oz.
I didn’t realize how much all the “normal” events around birth affected negatively the outcome and duration of birth.
- Changing location. This is huge! Home equals comfort! Its our safe zone. Birth is a raw, vulnerable exposure! Id say it’s one of the most important times in our lives where the need to feel really safe is so important! To be taken out of our space of safety and into a place that is unfamiliar is, in my opinion, on the edge of barbaric and will hinder labor. As was proven with each of my earlier labors. Did you know that cats can stop and start their labor if they feel they are unsafe?! How much more so is safety to us.With our medical system the way it is, if you do not progress quickly enough they want to intervene. The pressure to progress puts added stress on mom and could cause labor to stall even more! So starts the cycle of intervention, as often the intervention will create the need for more intervention and so on.
- You lose focus. The constant interruption of checks, nurses going in and out and unfamiliar sounds cause you to focus outward. With my home birth, I was able to fully focus inward and work with my body and babies to labor and deliver as we were ready. It really was a joint effort. I could feel every movement of my baby moving down. I instinctively knew how to move and what position to take.
- Pain increases when in distress. Yes of course my pain was still painful. However, being in my safe place made the pain more manageable… hmm that word is not quite right… embraced, accepted, tolerable maybe? …. In any case, I could relax more and focus on getting through each contraction.. feeling, drawing strength and focusing inward. Not to mention my labor was so much shorter.. makes me wonder if my other labors would have been shorter if they would have been home births!?
- I don’t know about you but I hate having to pack up and move us all so soon after birth. Obviously with home birth your already home! Undisturbed skin to skin for at least the first 2 hours after birth; then consistently for the following 10 days, is ideal! It was a wonderful feeling! I didn’t have nurses constantly waking us up, checking us over, telling me how to nurse or when. It was me and my family, comfortable, safe, naked and left to soak in each stress free beautiful moment.
The medical system absolutely has it wrong in how they approach pregnancy and birth. Women are treated as though they are broken, just waiting for something to go wrong. Why!? My births were all pretty good, even so, I still felt more like cattle being rushed through the factory system in the name of production!
I think the point my heart is really trying to get across here is that birth is not just about getting a baby at the end of pregnancy and labor. I propose that it’s an experience to fully be felt and embraced. An incredible life changing, empowering moment that speaks to the deepest part of our womanhood….
And We Are Beautiful and Strong!
Home birth was my sanctuary.