Becci’s first birth: Long, calm labor, fantastic water birth at home.

November 9, 2012

I love this story! Becci’s account of her first birth experience is so detailed and honest. There were a couple of times when Becci mentions that she “wasn’t a good hypno-birther” and I have to emphatically disagree!!! This is a perfect example of a successful HypnoBirth. Becci overcame a number of fears and anxieties and trusted her body to do what it needed to do throughout her long labor. Her best progress occurred after she decided that she could “calmly accept whatever turn her birthing takes.” Even though she acknowledges that she felt pain during her birth, you can tell she felt EMPOWERED by the experience, energized by the hard work, and proud of her accomplishment. 

Remember that the point of HypnoBirthing is to overcome fear and to birth in a state of love, support, intimacy, without uneccessary interventions and medications, and with a supportive birth team who shares your vision. This is truly a beautiful birth story.  

I had a feeling our son, Caleb, was going to make us wait, but I couldn’t help getting excited when I hit 37 weeks and was officially “full term”. One of my best friends had her first baby about a week early, so I started hoping we might follow suit. Even though I hadn’t really been feeling any practice labor at all, I looked every day for signs that he was on his way.

Around Sunday, August 26th (two weeks before his due date), I saw some blood-tinged stringy mucus when I went to the bathroom. It wasn’t much and I was sort of expecting the uterine seal to come out in one hard cork or something, so I wasn’t sure if that really was it, but it was exciting. I watched for more every time I went to the bathroom from that day forward, but never saw anything.

That Wednesday, I got a second GBS test from our midwife’s trainee, Melanie. I’d just had my first test a couple of weeks previously with a different provider and the positive results came back just before my first appointment with our new midwife, Cathy. I really didn’t want to have antibiotics during labor, but before I could even ask Cathy if there were other options, she suggested retesting in a week.

During that week, she suggested I really watch my diet and avoid sugar. She also recommended that I drink lots of water and get some good yogurt. I asked about taking a probiotic and she thought that was a great idea. I was worried my body wouldn’t be able to eliminate the excess bacteria that quickly, but I was desperate to try.

Before doing the second test, Melanie asked if I’d like her to check my cervix, also. It was still completely shut. I mentioned the mucus I saw and she said it sounded like at least part of the cork, but considering the results of my vaginal exam, I lost quite a bit of my anticipation.

A week or so later, the results of the second GBS test came back, this time negative. I was SO excited! I was also extremely grateful for a provider who listened to my concerns and safely accommodated them.

With a negative result on our second GBS test, Michael and I felt settled and exited for our planned homebirth. September 8th, Caleb’s due date, came and went.  I wasn’t anxious. I knew he was still thriving, but it was getting harder to contain my excitement.

It seemed hard for everyone else to contain theirs, too. I was constantly being asked if the baby had come yet, how much longer my midwife would “let me go” until she did something, etc. I was happy that Cathy wasn’t pressuring me to get his labor going. I knew he would come when he was ready.

I finally started feeling some practice labor that week, which scared me a little. They were sort of like mild, but painful cramps for me and I was really hoping for a pain-free birth.

I posted on the Hypnobirthing Utah facebook group and got some helpful responses. I tried to be even better about drinking water and going to the bathroom frequently. That seemed to help a lot and I started getting excited, again, that labor was approaching.

I’d gone swimming throughout pregnancy, but less frequently at the end. Finally, Michael and I tried to go Friday, September 14th. I’d been dying to go for a couple of weeks and we just never were able to make time.

Unfortunately, the pool was closed by the time we got there (which seemed different from the schedule we were used to). I was really upset. It sounds silly, but I think I was afraid I wouldn’t have a chance before my baby came. Michael promised we’d try the next day, after he got off work. Part of me felt like we’d go into labor before we got the chance, though mostly, I still felt birth would never come.

The next day, I looked back at some baby movement tracking I’d done and wrote comments about pregnancy in a journal for my son. I decided to track his movements, again, until he came and document the last few days of his life in my womb. I also decided to try to start timing my practice labor.

Michael was working and we wanted to have lunch together, so I left around 11:30 to get our food and take it to his work. I had maybe two contractions on the way to the restaurant and as we ate outside his office building.

After our little picnic, I left Michael and stopped at Smith’s. Another one, maybe two contractions came during that time; all mild, with no definite peak and no pattern. I was starting to think our baby really would NEVER come.

When Michael came home, we went to get our hair cut. Then, we went to the pool. Swimming felt amazing, though I couldn’t do as much as usual.

We got out of the pool around 7:00. We wanted to go to Finding Nemo as a “last date” and the show was at like 8:30, or something.

When I went to the bathroom, I saw thin, blood-tinged, clear mucus. Michael and I were so surprised! Maybe Caleb would come that week…finally!

While we were showering, I felt an unusual rush of warm water down my leg. It felt almost like I had an accident and I started hoping it might be amniotic fluid, but then I thought maybe it was just shower water. A minute later, I felt more. I told Michael I thought my water maybe broke, but it seemed so strange, considering I hadn’t really had any serious contractions.

Once I got dressed, I knew for sure it was amniotic fluid leaking out. It was clear, although a little pink, and trickled out in little gushes at random intervals. We called Cathy after we finished getting ready to tell her the news.

She was excited for us and asked when I’d felt him move last. I had been trying to track that day, but kind of got distracted with swimming. She told me to rest and eat a little something and let her know when he got 10 movements.

I asked if we could still go to the movie. She said we definitely could. We called my parents on the way, just to let them know that it would be soon, in case they wanted to drive out (they live a few hours away).

They were excited, as well, but asked what my contractions had been doing. I told them they were still mild, sporadic, and far apart. They decided to stay put until things started getting closer.

During the movie, I felt a little increase in the frequency of the contractions, but I wasn’t exactly timing them. I did track Caleb’s movements and he got 10 easily within about 20 minutes. Cathy said to keep her posted.

We had to stop at Wal-Mart after the movie for a few things and Michael took over timing. Some of them got a little more intense and they were coming on about every 2 to 3 minutes, but they were still sporadic in length.

We called my parents and Michael’s parents and gave an update. We told my parents we were going home to bed and they decided to do the same. They told us to call if they were consistently about 3 minutes apart.

At home, we got settled in, but I couldn’t sleep. I’m sure it was excitement and nerves, but I just lay in bed for a couple of hours. I also had to get up every hour to go to the bathroom. I tried listening to some relaxation tracks, but I still couldn’t sleep.

Around 3 am, I noticed a definite change in my labor. I couldn’t sit comfortably through contractions, anymore, and they had a definite start, peak, and stop. They seemed to be coming closer together and I started wondering if I should call my family or Cathy.

I woke Michael and he helped me time them. They were now about 5 minutes apart, but more predictable. I knew this was the real thing. We decided just to wait and not call anyone, since they were still far apart.

We put on a movie. I drifted off to sleep now and then, which was nice. I was nervous that I hadn’t slept. It felt like it was going to be a long labor and I knew I would need my strength. I was trying to stay relaxed and breathe, but some of the contractions got really uncomfortable and I started to get a little nervous about that, too.

Later that morning, Cathy let us know she was sending Julia (one of her assistants) to come check on us and that she would be by shortly thereafter. Julia asked how I was feeling and I mentioned that it was hard to sleep through some of them. She suggested taking a walk, which sounded good.

Cathy came around 12:00 while we were on our walk. When we returned, she took my temperature and listened to Caleb. We were both doing great. She told us to try to relax and to stay nourished and to call if they started getting closer together. Then, they both left to give us some time to rest alone. She suggested trying to get my oxytocin pumping and Julia suggested reading some relaxation scripts.

I sat on my birth ball, leaning over the bed (Julia suggested this position as one that would facilitate rest more easily). Michael did some light touch massage and read a script, which really helped me to relax. Afterward, we cuddled in bed and I fell asleep, again.

My family arrived in town around 2:00. Contractions were now about 4 minutes apart. I visited with my mom for a while and we decided to go downstairs (where the rest of my family was waiting in the parking lot) to see their new puppy.

After a while, I felt I needed to rest some more, so they left to check into a hotel and Michael and I took a nap. I wonder if so much rest was partly why my labor was so slow. I only noticed a few contractions over those couple of hours.

Everyone in our family wanted to know at what point it would be “too long” since my water broke and we needed to do something. Cathy and I hadn’t really talked about it, but I could tell that she wasn’t worried, yet. Neither was I.

When I woke up, Cathy came back to check us again and she gave me a tincture to help move labor along. Caleb and I were still doing great and she checked my cervix. It was comforting to know that even though labor seemed slow and ineffective, I was 5 centimeters dilated and 80 percent effaced. She could even feel Caleb’s head. It was inspiring!

My contractions had lightened up, again. We hadn’t exactly been timing, but I could tell things were slowing down. I mentioned that our family was worrying about the length of labor. She said as long as I didn’t have any indication of infection and he wasn’t showing any signs of distress, we were fine to carry on at home.

I was really glad that she was ok with letting him take his time. I really didn’t want to go to the hospital. We felt very strongly about having him at home, and I REALLY didn’t want pitocin. I knew that would be the end of my natural birth and I don’t feel comfortable with the effect it can have on babies.

She told us to take the tincture and go for a walk. That intensified the contractions and got them back to about 4 minutes apart. My mom came back by an hour or so later. I tried to relax through contractions, but the most comfortable position was standing and that was getting more tiring with each passing hour.

When my dad came to visit around 8 pm, Michael suggested playing a card game to keep my mind off labor. Cathy came back, as well. She filled out some paper work while we waited for Julia and another one of Cathy’s assistants, Becky, to come. She said they wanted to see if they could get labor going a little bit.

They checked me again and I hadn’t changed at all. That got me a little nervous. The fact that they were here to “get labor moving” also made me nervous. For the first time, I felt a little pressure and doubt. My baby would come out on his own, right?

Cathy told me she was not worried. I was great and Caleb still sounded strong, but she wanted me to know that I had options. She asked if I would like to transfer or if I would like to continue at home.

The thought of transferring made me frantic and for a split second I worried that they were suggesting I should transfer. However, when Cathy reassured me that she was perfectly comfortable with either decision, I calmed considerably and told them I did not want to go to the hospital.

They told me it seemed like I was holding back for some reason and that my tension might be contributing to the slow labor. I felt so bad that I wasn’t calm and relaxed. Caleb had been in a great position all day and kept dropping. I felt like I was failing him.

Cathy said she would like Becky to do some perineum massage and see if that could help me relax my pelvic floor muscles. It really did seem to help. Again, I felt a pang of guilt for not doing that myself in the weeks leading up to my son’s birth.

Then, she suggested that Julia could run me through a fear release. The bedroom was too warm for me and that was a little distracting, but I still think the fear release helped a lot. I thought my biggest fear was that the contractions would get more painful and I wouldn’t be able to handle it. During the fear release, I did picture that scenario once, but the vision I had over and over was actually transferring to the hospital for a c-section. I hadn’t realized how much I was worrying about that.

I know there are cases that require hospital intervention and I know it’s a blessing for those cases that modern technology and surgical procedure exist, but like most expectant mothers, I was hoping we wouldn’t need any of that. Also, after studying so much about how many unnecessary interventions occur in modern birth, I was more than a little protective and skeptical.

I realized that something Cathy said earlier was right; I needed to just let it go. I needed to trust that Michael and I had done everything we could to plan for a natural birth. I needed to remember that we had selected a care provider who felt just as strongly as we did about natural birth. Mostly, I needed to admit that I couldn’t control how this birth would go, and I needed to accept that we might be one of the cases where hospital intervention was necessary.

When I thought about all of that, I was able to relax considerably. I knew that if intervention became necessary for us, I wouldn’t need to feel like I failed and I wouldn’t need to question if we were doing the right thing. I could just be grateful that it was there to help me and my baby.

At that point, I started wondering how we would know if it was time to accept help. We were relieved that Caleb still sounded healthy and happy, but I was starting to question our situation. It had been over 24 hours since the water broke, now, and labor was stalled. Was I making the right decision to hold out?

Cathy told us she wanted us to take five more doses of the tincture, on fifteen minute intervals over the next hour. Between doses, she wanted us to walk outside. She reminded me to do what I could to open my pelvis as I walked. She suggested doing some really cute waddling exercises up and down our stairs.

After our first dose of the tincture, as Michael and I walked around our apartment complex, I unloaded my fears. I told him that I knew if we ended up needing to transfer, it wasn’t failure or defeat, but I just couldn’t get past the fact that we had felt so guided in our preparations. I couldn’t understand why we would feel that way, why we had done so much to prepare for a home birth, if this was going to be a complicated labor that ended in an unwanted hospital transfer. I asked if he felt we were at the point where we needed to accept that we needed help.

He was such a solid support. He agreed that because of all of our effort, if we had to transfer to the hospital, we could have confidence that intervention was necessary. However, he also felt strongly that we were going to have our natural home birth. He reassured me that Caleb was fine, that things were progressing the way they were supposed to, and told me I was doing great.

I decided there was no more time to rest. I felt motivated, and a little pressured, to help Caleb as much as I could. The walking felt great and my contractions got a little more intense (which I was happy to discover did NOT translate into more painful, though some of them were just as painful as my early ones). I just pushed my body, hoping it would carry the momentum it was gaining.

I kept thinking of the affirmation, “Each surge of my body brings my baby closer to me.” That’s how I felt. I welcomed each contraction. It was so relieving that my body was again doing its work to get my baby out.

I tried not to sit. I couldn’t lie down at all, anyway, because it was so uncomfortable. Contractions were easiest to handle for me when I was standing, sometimes swaying my hips, sometimes pacing. During our laps, I squatted into some of the contractions (Cathy had suggested it in our apartment, as she was observing me), doing everything I could to open my pelvis and allow my baby room to move down.

Around 10:30 pm on Sunday, September 16th, Julia and Becky asked me if I would like to take a shower. I was dying to get in water. I wondered if that would help my body relax and open to the contractions, but I was scared it might stall them altogether. I decided just to give it a try.

The warm water felt amazing. It definitely relaxed me and that took some of the edge off more intense labor. I couldn’t be sure if they were still coming regularly or if they were more or less intense, but my mind sort of slipped out of focus. At some point, I realized I was vocalizing as I breathed out.

When I got out of the shower, Becky asked me if I’d like her to check me, again. I declined. I didn’t want to get discouraged if nothing had changed. Since we had already established that I was in active labor, the only benefit I could see from checking it again was to determine my progress.

I was in stronger labor, now. I could feel it. I didn’t need a vaginal exam to know that I’d progressed. Furthermore, I knew if he didn’t come that night, a transfer was in the cards for us the next morning. I also knew that Caleb would know when I was fully dilated and would start moving down. Until then, I would wait patiently and try to help it along.

They asked if I’d like them to set up the tub. The shower felt so wonderful, I really wanted to soak in water, but I was still a little worried that it might slow it down. They told me it probably wouldn’t, at this point.

In the tub, I was able to rest between contractions. Sitting and even lying against the side of the tub felt amazing. For each contraction, though, I got up on my knees. The water was so helpful. I think if I hadn’t had it, I may have been too fatigued to continue naturally.

I could see the clock in our living room, so I was pretty aware of time, but it really did pass quickly. I was so happy that contractions continued coming regularly. Some started getting really long. I could tell they were more intense, but it was easier to relax in the water.

After a few hours, I got nauseous and threw up a little. I was hoping this meant I was in transition, but the contractions didn’t feel too different from the rest of labor. I didn’t feel any pressure on my pelvis or rectum, yet, and I didn’t have any feeling of being “unable to go on”. Without any of these end-of -labor hallmarks, I figured I still wasn’t too close.

I really appreciated all the support I had. Cathy, Julia, and Becky reminded me to relax my shoulders and keep my vocalizations low-toned. My mom quietly kept track of contractions and got cold washcloths for my face. Michael never left the side of the tub. He knelt beside me hour after hour, handing me water, encouraging me, and supporting me when I got too tired to kneel up on my own.

Finally, around 3 am, I noticed very intense pressure on my pelvis. Though I had been experiencing some painful contractions throughout, they were easily managed and relieved with movement. This new pressure was not. I could not find any position that was comfortable. I started panicking.

This period of labor was hard for me. I threw up again, though, which was encouraging. This time I knew I really was in transition and my baby was almost here. I just stared at the clock (which probably wasn’t good), hoping that it would only be another hour, but 4 am came and went and I set my sights on 5 am.

I felt I couldn’t do it anymore. I’m ashamed to say that I said this out loud several times over the course of the next hour. At one point, I really panicked. It was too late to go to the hospital. I couldn’t even kneel and I knew I couldn’t walk, but I started worrying that he was stuck. Why else were these intense contractions not bringing my baby to me?

“What do I do?” I asked, over and over.

Cathy told me I could try to feel his head. This helped because I could feel him and he was close, but even with all the intense labor I was experiencing, it felt like he wasn’t budging even a millimeter.

Becky suggested I sort of lie back to try to tilt my pelvis. That sounded horribly uncomfortable, but Cathy suggested I take her advice and that Michael get in behind me to support me.

Almost immediately after we switched positions, my body started bearing down. My breath naturally came out in forceful grunts with each contraction. I’d intended to breathe my baby down gently (and I’d imagined it would be quietly), but I felt like my body was running on autopilot. I don’t think I could have stopped grunting, even if I wanted to, but it felt good so I went with it willingly.

For several contractions, I asked if his head was out, yet. I could feel the burning stretch, but I really do think the area was a little numb. I couldn’t feel whether his head was out or in, anymore. Finally, one very powerful contraction and I felt a change in pressure. I thought maybe he’d popped out all at once, it was so strong, but everyone said it was just his head.

On the next contractions, as my body worked to push the rest of his body out, Caleb was helping from the inside. We could see him kicking against my lower abdomen. It was so encouraging to realize we were working together, a team. Finally, at 5:47 am on Monday, September 17th we both succeeded and the rest of Caleb’s body was born.

As soon as he was out, I reached down to take him in my arms. I definitely felt a wonderful rush of hormones in those first few hours. I was in awe. It felt surreal; after all the labor he and I had gone through, after nine months of preparation, he was finally in my arms. It felt like a dream, like it wasn’t really happening to me. My body shook from the fatigue and adrenaline.

I rubbed his back and told him over and over how proud we were of him and how well he did. I realized how hard babies have to work to be born, and I really was amazed that he is so strong.

It felt like an eternity for his first breath. I was prepared to wait a few moments, but I can’t deny that I got a little nervous waiting. Finally, he cleared his lungs with a few weak coughs and then let out that precious first cry. It was one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard.

We just kept talking to him, comforting him, and praising him. We were ecstatic. I completely lost track of the world around me. I was focused on this new little person in my arms, amaze that he could ever have fit in my stomach.

I was pleased by how alert he was. He stared at Michael the entire time we were in the tub. Because of the umbilical cord and the fact that I was still so in shock, I couldn’t really re-arrange him so that I could look right in his eyes, but I could see they were wide and intelligent.

I kind of forgot that I wasn’t done, but once I birthed his placenta, we were moved from the tub. His beefy placenta was stored in a Ziploc bag and wrapped with him in a towel. The cord was not clamped for about an hour after his birth.

When I was settled in the bed, they placed Caleb back on my chest with some warm towels over both of us. He was still very alert and breastfed easily. I’d heard babies can latch on without help if they’re un-medicated and placed skin-to-skin immediately following birth, but I still thought it might require a little coaching.

However he started rooting and using his crawling reflex instantly to position himself. I hardly helped at all, except to help him get a better latch. After several good swallows, he snuggled back in and we just stared at him in wonder.

All of his assessments were completed on the foot of our bed. It was tender to watch Michael weigh our baby and cut his cord. Caleb was 7 pounds, 12 ounces. He was 20 ¼ inches long, and his little cone head (which has now rounded out nicely) was 14.5 centimeters.

He was the cutest baby we’d ever seen. I never knew I could love a new, little baby so much. I would do anything for him. Everything about him was amazing and fun. We were in love with him, from the start.

I definitely think all of our preparation helped me to make informed decisions, even in the “throws of labor”. If I hadn’t been prepared, I think this labor would have caused me a lot of panic and possibly to accept, or even request, unnecessary interventions.

I am grateful for the education and relaxation preparation. Again, I’m just amazed that I could naturally and, for the most part, calmly labor for so long. I didn’t think that was possible several months ago. Now, I know that women and babies are designed to birth, even when it’s slow and long.

I’m grateful for providers who shared my appreciation for natural birth and who were able to monitor me and my baby, but not pressure or scare us unnecessarily.

I’m grateful for supportive and caring family, and especially for my encouraging husband. I couldn’t have made it without his trust and faith in my ability to birth our son.

Mostly, I’m grateful we were able to give our son the natural, intimate welcome we hoped for.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael November 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Hi, it’s Michael. Becci’s husband.

Becci did an amazing job! It was the one of the most beautiful and exhilerating things I’ve ever been a part of. The excitement and adrenaline at the very end was amazing. It is definitely an experience I wouldn’t want to forget! Becci documented it in her birth story very well. Congratulations, my beautiful wife, on a wonderful birth! Caleb is so cute and growing and growing :)

intentionproducts.com August 26, 2014 at 6:31 pm

When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a
comment is added I get three e-mails with the same comment.
Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
Many thanks!

laura August 31, 2014 at 4:00 pm

All you need to do is un-check the box!

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