Birth Stories

Drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, Eating Dates and Educating Herself Helped Mindy Achieve Her Natural Hospital Birth

  • When did you realize you were really in labor?

    My water broke and I started having regular contractions immediately. They were about 5 minutes apart and felt different than the Braxton Hicks I had been having - there was mild pain similar to period cramps (although the intensity increased quickly).

  • What was the most challenging thing about going natural?

    How quickly everything happened! This was my first baby and I expected to have some time in early labor to adjust to the contractions while they gradually ramped up in intensity. Instead, from the time my water broke until the time my son was born was just over 5 hours. I started having very intense and painful contractions within 30 minutes of my first contraction.
    After I had been in labor for about 2.5 hours, I started to doubt how long I could keep up with such powerful (and, yes, painful) sensations. I was imagining this continuing for another 8 hours and it made me feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Genevieve used the phrase "getting pulled under" the waves of labor - this definitely happened to me for a time.
    I also had to spend most of my labor in a really cold triage room. I was given ice water to drink because I was deemed dehydrated (although I wonder if it was really a trick of my bright yellow B-vitamin pee). Between the AC and the ice water, I was so cold that my body was shaking uncontrollably, and all my muscles were tight and contracted. This was completely unhelpful to being relaxed and comfortable.

  • What was the most helpful thing you did to prepare for childbirth?

    On the mental/spiritual side, I cut out unhealthy relationships so I would not feel them overshadowing my experience, making me stressed out and anxious. I also educated myself on the risks and benefits of natural childbirth vs. different interventions. I was strongly resolved to natural childbirth.
    Physically, I drank 4-6 cups of red raspberry leaf tea the last week or two of my pregnancy, ate my dates, and was very active (I worked full-time as a CNA until the end; my last shift ended less then 24 hours before I gave birth).

  • What surprised you about your birth?

    I was surprised by how intensely the memory of my birth is imprinted on my mind, how drastically the environment changed the labor experience, and how wonderful I felt afterward. I was not able to manage the pain well until I got into an actual L&D room and out of the freezing cold triage room. Once my body warmed up and relaxed, the pain largely faded away and it was merely incredibly intense. At times the intensity threatened to be frightening, but I would just imagine my uterus muscles working and pushing my baby down. At some point, I could feel his head coming through my bones and feel his little arms wiggle as he got squished into the birth canal. I didn't really have to push; he just came out about 15 minutes after the transition. The midwife and nurse weren't ready for him, either. My husband had to call them into the room because my son's head was already partially out.
    Once we got everything wrapped up - placenta out, cutting the cord, stitches (unfortunately) for me, and a weighed, swaddled, and breastfed baby - I felt ready to go home. We did stay however and had to transfer from an L&D room to a recovery room where we spent the night and got additional check-ups for myself and the baby. I asked if I could walk from the delivery table to our overnight room (I felt so good!) but the nurses laughed and said it wasn't allowed.
    I didn't like being pregnant, but the satisfaction of feeling my baby come out of my body and the wonderful restoration of body and spirit I had afterward makes me crave giving birth again, almost like a craving for sexual satisfaction.

  • Educate yourself and find voices to encourage you in your choice. Knowing why you are doing this will help you stay the course and make the best decisions for you and your baby if interventions are needed.
  • What pain relief strategies worked best?

    Warmth! When I was at home laboring (probably around 6 centimeters at the time), I took a shower in preparation for heading to the hospital - I didn't want to go there feeling gross with greasy hair. The pain from the contractions was barely there in the shower vs. before getting in.
    At the hospital, I was in a lot of pain while cold vs. when I warmed up.

  • How did it feel to hold your baby for the first time?

    Strange. It didn't feel real that I was going to be responsible for this tiny person for many years to come.

  • What did you name your baby, and why?

    Atlas Alexander.
    My husband and I both like Greek mythology and met in a language course studying ancient Greek. We also wanted a name that was easy to spell and pronounce but not common. Alexander is a family name.

  • What advice can you give to other mamas who want to go natural?

    Educate yourself and find voices to encourage you in your choice. Knowing why you are doing this will help you stay the course and make the best decisions for you and your baby if interventions are needed.

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