Birth Stories

Researching and Preparing Her Body Physically Helped Alexandria Achieve Her Natural Hospital Birth

  • When did you realize you were really in labor?

    My second pregnancy at 40 weeks and 1 day, after my husband got home from work, we had some intimate time and we began making dinner.  Right after though, I began to feel SPD pain/pressure. That night we sat down and watched a movie and around 8:30-9 pm the SPD pain changed to pelvic cramping, like period cramps. After consistent cramping, it intensified when we went upstairs to bed at around 9:30-10 pm and I began to feel timetable contractions- not painful, but distinct and timeable. I tried not to get too excited (since I had had some prodromal labor at 38 and 39 weeks) and drew a bath (which is supposed to make them go away if they're not actual labor contractions). But they did not go away after about 30 minutes in the bath! They were about 12-8 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds. Still super manageable and just a slightly cramping. At 11 pm I woke up my husband and told him I thought I was in labor. He went back to sleep and I decided to take a shower since I was feeling them in my lower back. I was on hands and knees in the shower and it felt amazing.  However, when I got out of the shower, they were 4 minutes apart and 30 seconds each! I woke up my husband again and told him to call the midwives.  I felt like I could talk through them, but they required my attention to breath and I needed to drop to my hands and knees to get through them.  The midwives said because they were so close together and considering my first birth was 7.5 hours long, I should head to the hospital. That's when I realized this was the real deal!

  • What was the most challenging thing about going natural?

    Three things: 1. The pain. People don't always like to use that word. But for me, it was painful. I had an intense, fast 6-hour labor with 10 minutes of pushing. I had no control over my body and did not get a break between contractions when pushing. It felt like a sh*t show and I felt so unprepared for the intensity of a fast birth. 2. Not knowing when you will go into labor. This could also be a positive because it can be a fun surprise. But birth is all about embracing the unknown and with a natural second birth (compared to my first birth which was a scheduled induction), I had a hard time letting go of what was beyond my control. But it was rewarding! 3. The stigma around natural birth and trying to advocate for yourself. Often everyone around you has a strong opinion about birth and unmedicated births can be met with some resistance or at least some people will doubt your ability to do it. Also, in the hospital setting, I felt I had to continually advocate for what I wanted and stand my ground (when it wasn't medically necessary), even with midwifery care. I think the best way to tackle the naysayers was to research and educate myself and use that to build confidence in the decisions I made.

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

    Two things: 1. Research! This was the mental aspect. I listened to lots of birthing podcasts to inform myself about birthing topics as well as birth stories. I loved The Birth Hour and Birthful for that pregnancy. I also bought Mama Natural's book and watched the business of being born. I love Evidence Based Birth and Spinning Babies! 2. Preparing my body. This was the physical aspect. I walked a lot and utilized this time to listen to podcasts. I also continued to exercise through my pregnancy. I wish I had done a bit more prenatal yoga/plates and core and pelvic floor strengthening/lengthening this pregnancy. In addition, I was good about my diet about 90% of the time and had lots of healthy fats and protein. Moving every day and eating healthy helped a lot. I also drank red raspberry leaf tea and ate dates to prepare for labor as well.

  • What surprised you about your birth?

    Honestly, I was surprised by how intense it was. I knew it would be painful and expected difficulty but I was shocked by how quickly things turned and sped up in my birth. I think for my 6.5-hour labor, I was in early labor for most of it and my active labor was very short. I was nearing transition when I got into my hospital room and finally got into the tub. And from there, things really intensified and escalated until she was born. I pushed for 10 minutes and had what the midwives called the "demon drop." My baby came out with a perfectly round head (compared to my first birth which after 30 minutes of pushing had a cone head). I just could not have anticipated how insanely powerful the contractions were and quickly it all happened. I am pregnant again and am planning a home birth and water birth.

  • Research, prepare, and educate yourself! Listen to lots of birth stories! Be aware of risks, but surround yourself with positive people, stories, advice, and support. Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself and your baby!
  • What pain relief strategies worked best?

    Water and counter pressure actually helped relieve pain. Breath control and my support team being cheerleaders got me through it. I loved the shower for early labor. And at the hospital when I was nearing transition, the tub saved me from feeling like I couldn't do it anymore. I had my husband draw x's on my back in sharpie and I told him to push there or squeeze my hips during each contraction. I also loved hearing people cheer me on. When I said, "I can't do this!" They replied "yes you can! You are already doing it!" And it kept the doubt at bay. I felt like mentally I had a better grip on transition contractions when I really focused on my breathing.

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

    For this second birth, I was so exhausted and relieved to be out of pain, I had forgotten all about her! I held and was just thinking "thank God it's over!" I was so happy to hold her and loved how alert she was. But I was just happy to be back in my own body which I felt was temporarily taken over by the force of labor (during pushing I had no control and felt like I was just along for the ride!). Compared to my first birth which was with an epidural I immediately cried and was so amazed. With my second it all just happened so fast, she was just suddenly there. But once I calmed down from the intense birth, I soaked her up and felt the magic.

  • What did you name your baby, and why?

    Faustina Cora. She is named after Saint Faustina. We chose Cora for the root "cor", "heart" in Latin for the sacred heart of Jesus (we are obviously pretty Catholic). Her nickname is Fia and we are just obsessed with her name. We wanted an unpopular Saint name and it fits her so perfectly!

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

    Research, prepare, and educate yourself! Listen to lots of birth stories! Be aware of risks, but surround yourself with positive people, stories, advice, and support. Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself and your baby!

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