When did you realize you were really in labor?
This is a tricky question for me to answer! I started having contractions about 5 days before Grace was born. Each evening they'd ramp up between 10 pm-3 am, and then slowly die down throughout the day. During this time my waters started leaking, I lost my mucus plug and had my bloody show, but she was just content as could be inside my belly! The midwives were constantly on standby and came to the house twice that week to monitor to me. I was 6 cm and 100% effaced but things weren't progressing past that point, so for me and Grace's safety, we all decided it was time to call the OB and go into the hospital. On Friday morning, May 26th we arrived at the hospital about 8:30 am and started Pitocin around 10:30 am. I labored all day and finally started pushing around 5:30 pm and Grace was born at 7 pm on the dot!
What was the most challenging thing about going natural?
Most definitely the length of my labor. As a first time mom I knew my labor could be long, but I really wasn't prepared to be in labor THAT long! Since I had been having contractions all week, the Pitocin really wasn't terrible. The most intense parts were the back pain I had as she moved further down the birth canal and then the infamous "ring of fire" as she crowned. But at that point I KNEW she was almost here, and that it'd be over quickly!
What was the most helpful thing you did to prepare for childbirth?
The best things I did were educating myself on natural childbirth, having an excellent support system and making the choice to have a home birth. Even though our dreams for a home birth weren't realized, I would do it all 100 times over again because of how awesome our midwives were and everything they taught Ben and I along the way. They came with us to the hospital and provided support for us the entire time. They advocated for us, helped me labor effectively and were also able to reassure our parents. They even prepared our house ahead of us coming home, so we still got to have a touch of that home birth experience! As much as I wanted to give birth at home, educating myself on what a hospital birth could look like helped tremendously. I knew that no matter where we gave birth, we'd be in the Lord's hands and I just needed to surrender it all to him. Yes, giving birth is VERY physical but there's a huge element that's mental, and it makes a huge difference in your birth experience if you prepare your heart and mind, along with your body.
What surprised you about your birth?
As much as the length surprised me, I was also surprised that despite all of the prep I did before hand, things still turned out differently than I imagined. I drank all the water, ate healthy foods, took a variety of supplements, exercised until about 39 weeks, and read every positive birth story I could. I could look at all of that and how Grace's birth story unfolded and see failure, or I can choose to see God's sovereignty and perfect plan. I think of Psalm 16:9--"The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."
I could look at all of that and how Grace's birth story unfolded and see failure, or I can choose to see God's sovereignty and perfect plan. I think of Psalm 16:9--"The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."
What pain relief strategies worked best?
The pressure points the midwives applied through each contraction and the "clothespin" move they did on my hips. It also helped to breathe and to relax every part of my body. I remember my midwives telling me to relax my forehead, which is where I hold a lot of tension. Nothing really helped the lower back pain the closer I got to pushing, but I just kept reminding myself to take it one minute at a time and that each contraction was bringing me closer to Grace!
What position did you end up delivering in?
Lying on my left side. We tried all fours at one point but Grace's heart rate dropped so I went back to lying on my side.
How did it feel to hold your baby for the first time?
Absolutely indescribable. She was placed on my tummy immediately after birth and was so slippery, just like a little eel! I felt relieved that she was FINALLY here! My husband and I both wept and I remember asking him right away if she was a girl. (We found out she was at 15 weeks, but I had to make sure, haha). After trying for a year to get pregnant, going through pregnancy and labor, it was just so surreal and sweet to hold her and know that she was safe and healthy.
How did the Mama Natural Birth Class help you in your childbirth?
It helped us both know what we could face in a hospital setting, and gave us confidence that we were making the right birth choices for our family. It was really great to hear the women tell their birth stories and made me really excited to give birth.