Sunday, September 6, 2015
Childbirth is a powerful life event that begins our parenting adventure.  However, birth is often feared, a person may lack necessary support, may ask themselves if they have the skills to labor and they may feel that they will not have any control in the laboring process.  Perhaps this is due to society convincing us that birth requires a medical setting, as well as uncomfortable, unnatural interventions.  “Many women associate hospitals with illness and the role of a patient, as well as with a potential for danger, use of unexpected procedures, a lack of privacy, isolation and confusion about high-tech equipment." (1)
Today, 98% of US births are in a hospital according to the CDC (2), whereas in history, the role of birth was instinctively female-led, by midwives being primarily the experts for laboring women.  We are beginning to see a shift where this specialty is reemerging for low-risk births.  If you are looking for information about finding a midwife in your area, please click HERE and check out THIS article about the benefits of having a midwife from the American Pregnancy Association.
Being well-informed of your options will help you gain the skills and confidence to have the birth you desire and deserve.  Finding others within your community that have had favorable experiences is a step you can take to find confidence.  I suggest to check Improving Birth, and also look into joining a local crunchy mom group or attachment parenting group- Attached Moms has a great resource list per state HERE and check the Positive Birth Movement's resource list HERE for more groups outside of the US, especially.
I want to create a space here on my blog for parents to be inspired, find assurance and empowerment to have a safe, healthy and positive birth experience.  I asked my readers last week to share their positive birth stories, and I think you're going to enjoy reading them!
Home Water Birth of Baby Annelyn by Ashley
"After 5 nights of annoying prodromal labor, I decided to stop timing contractions. The next day I was cleaning and moving things around after a lazy week. My hubby joked that it was baby time! That night – no prodromal labor! During a nightly bathroom break, I had a streak of blood and knew I needed more rest if baby was coming. I went to bed telling hubby it was baby day. He sleepily replied “ok let me know when you’re going to pop her out.” 
Next morning at 9am, hubby left to run errands just in case. I decided I better get up and check for more bloody show. Yep, there it was! I had two contractions 12 minutes apart and could tell they were labor contractions. By 12pm, I had to breathe through contractions... things sped up quickly! I labored on hands and knees while my hubby timed contractions. They got down to 3 minutes apart so I had him call my midwife. 
It was going so fast that I was starting to get tired and emotional but my hubby reassured me. I prayed for a break and my next contraction came after 8 minutes instead of 3. It was a little break but it was needed! My midwife arrived while my hubby and mom were setting up the pool. She squeezed my feet during contractions (helped soooo much!) and reminded me to take two deep breaths in the beginning, breath through the contraction and take two deep breaths at the end (one for me, one for baby.) 
The pool was almost ready and I was totally surprised that I was already at 7cm. With every contraction, I felt baby move lower. I thought my water might break before the pool was ready so we got the bedroom ready for baby just in case! 
My midwife's assistant showed up and the pool was set up just in time. Contractions were 1.5 minutes apart. I held onto my hubby’s hands while he prayed in my ear. In between contractions, we talked, laughed and guessed at what time baby would be born. At 4pm and my hubby guessed she would be here by 4:30….I said that was too fast! 
My mom reminded me to breath and told me how amazing I was doing. I felt my body getting tired but I was fully open so my midwife suggested doing some little pushes with the next contraction. I tried but I was too tired so I let my body work. I held on for the ride, squeezing my hubby’s hands, pressing into him while my contractions brought her down. Her head was born with one contraction! I expected the next contraction to be the last, but it wasn’t until I leaned back that she was born! I was so exhausted my midwife helped bring her up to my chest so I could wrapp my arms around her. Everyone was overjoyed saying “you did it!” I said “We actually have a baby girl!!” 
She nursed while we waited for my placenta to be born then spent the rest of the day eating sandwiches, getting to know our baby girl! 
 Our first daughter - born at 4:21pm, 8lbs 9oz at 40+2 weeks, free of interventions. I was able to move, eat, pray & laugh with no unnecessary interruptions. Through prayer and 2 positive births, I have been completely healed of the birth trauma caused by my first childbirth!"
My 6th birth-Jamie’s story by Tabitha
"I had 4 hospital births at my local hospital, the first was horrific, from there they did get better but still my rights as a mom and as a human being were stomped on and ignored. My 5th child was born at home with one of the few CNM in my state that does homebirths. It was a healing experience and what I felt was my last birth left me with wonderful memories. When I got pregnant with my 6th unexpectedly I knew homebirth was how I wanted to deliver this baby. 
 This pregnancy was rough, emotionally more than anything. I almost risked out multiple times for issues I had never had before like high blood sugars. But I fixed things through diet and we continued on. With my older 5 kids none had come on or after their due date, always before. As my due date approached I started getting nervous and sure enough I went past. My midwife was confident everything was fine. NST showed happy healthy baby and everything was fine until the day I turned 41 weeks. My midwife was informed she was being investigated and could not catch babies, my care was turned over to another midwife. From the start I knew this was going to be an issue and sure enough 3 days later she sent me for an ultrasound to check fluid levels. At 41 weeks 2 days in mid-June of course my fluid would probably be a bit low. The US tech said it was fine, but when official reports came in I was told it was too low and I had been risked out of homebirth. I was shattered. I could not and would not deliver at the local hospital again. We (my midwife, husband and I) made the decision to call the hospital midwives an hour away and see if they would accept me as a patient. They accepted with a few requirements. I MUST come immediately to be induced, we could talk about how the induction, labor and delivery would take place but induction was a must. I felt my hands were tied and though it was against everything I knew about my body I went to the hospital. 
Upon arrival I realized these midwives were not like OBs I had dealt with before, this hospitals policies were nothing like I had dealt with before. Everything I asked for from delayed cord clamping, to skin to skin, to no nursery time was 100% routine for them. Water birth and laboring was possible, I could birth how I wanted and even where I wanted with no questions! I was already 3cm and contracting when I arrived so we decided very low dose whiff of Pitocin to get things moving was all that was needed. I was GBS positive so I needed antibiotic IV anyways. One of the great things about this hospital was the wireless monitors. I could walk around anywhere I wanted even while being monitored. I walked the halls for an hour with my doula and photographer friend to get things going. Once contraction got stronger and more regular, I was checked and was 5cm…Pitocin was turned off and my body took over. I labored around my room and eventually got in the birth tub to labor. This whole time the lights were very dim or even off, I was allowed to eat a full spaghetti dinner, I drank as much as I wanted, chewed ice and loudly vocalized. The nurses and midwives left me alone like I wanted and only entered to turn off and remove the IV, check dilation when I requested it or to bring me more water and ice. 
 After 7 hours my water broke in the birth pool and I decided I wanted to get out, I wanted to be checked. I was 8cm. The nurse turned her back to type this into the computer and I felt my body pushing. The nurse hadn’t even called the midwife to wake up. It was almost 2am. I told her my body was pushing and she didn’t believe me. My photographer let the nurse know that without a doubt baby was coming, he was crowning. My body pushed once and his head was out still surrounded by the sack of waters…yes there was STILL fluid even though my water broke in the tub and had leaked on the floor after I got out. Low fluids from ultrasound were very wrong. In 2 more pushes he came out followed by a HUGE gush of water. No midwife in the room, birthing bed not broken down, no coached pushing, no counting, and my body’s fetal ejection reflex took over and he came out. 
Jamie was born facing my left thigh, ear up…this left his face swollen on one side I later realized as he gradually looked like my others days later. He was 7lbs 13oz and 20.5 inches long. My biggest baby weight wise. I had no tears, no complications and he had apgars (checked while ON my chest) of 9 and 10. We had an hour of him on my chest before weights and everything else were checked. We had another hour before we were transferred to my postpartum room. Jamie was never out of my sight, he was only removed from my arms for 10 minutes and most of those he spent in my husbands arms. We nursed and bonded in a way I never expected to happen in a hospital. This birth gave me hope that even when medical interventions are used you can have a wonderful birth experience. That even in a hospital your rights as a woman and a mother can be respected. 
17 hours after his birth I was home, in my own bed cuddling my baby. We have found that Jamie has torticollis and an oddly shaped skull from how he was positioned in utero. There is a good chance that had I not transferred to a hospital of my choice, transfer would have been needed and my birth could have ended very differently."
The birth story of my beautiful daughter, Gwen by Jill
"I had read a lot of blogs, posts and comments when I was pregnant and all of them scared me. I knew going into labor I would need to keep my cool, breathe and let my body do what came naturally but these "horror stories" always put those what-ifs into my head. I also wrote out a birth plan, I wanted delayed coord clamping, laboring in the water, no pain medication, and minimal monitoring. I knew I might have to scratch my whole both plan if it meant saving my daughters life. My water broke around 3pm on June 13th (my birthday!) while I was walking the shores of Lake Michigan with my fianc√©. We hopped in the car and headed home. I didn't feel any contractions until midnight that night, we headed in and I hopped right in the tub. I labored in the tub for a total of 7 hours. I was so exhausted I fell asleep between contractions and went into a zen like state. I just keep telling myself "this pain will end, it will pass, the pain means she's almost here." Of course some of the contractions were making me reconsider the use of pain medication, but I squeezed my finances hand and breathed through them. He rubbed my back while I straddled a bean bag and for the remainder of my labor I stayed there in and out of sleep and swearing through the contractions.  14 hours of labor and 30 minutes of pushing, my daughter was born, put on my chest and left to bond with me. I am so lucky to have had a healthy child and a complication free pregnancy. I was born via c-section and have heard stories from other moms about things going wrong during labor. I am so thankful for my experience and have a whole new appreciation for what it means to be a woman and a mother. I hope that every pregnant woman gets to have an experience they can be proud of."
Photo credit: Ernest F / Foter / CC BY-SA
My Birth Story by Claire
"I wanted desperately to use the birth center with her. I saw midwives for my my son and her, so at 35 weeks I started taking some herbal stuff that helps your body get ready. At 3 (I think) weeks I started taking some homeopathic pills, all of this was suggested by and monitored by the midwives. The last day to use the birth center is at 13 days over, after that you have to use the hospital. 
I went in at day 11 over and had a non stress test and she stripped my membranes. She also told me to come in the next day just to try to get things going one last time. At midnight that night I was nursing my son and had what I thought was a strong Braxton Hicks contraction. I kept having them very sporadically, and they were very short, but I was having to breath through them. 
At 4:30 I finally got up and figured since I was being induced the next day I'd go ahead and start on cleaning the house. I kept having those contractions, but they were so short and more like a pinching feeling really low, nothing like contractions I've had being induced. I was planning on going to have ice cream with my mom so I went and got my oldest daughter who was 25 minutes away, and just had mom come over since I was still having those contractions. She drove me to my appointment, I took nothing assuming I was going to be going to the hospital the next morning. I didn't even have anything packed. The midwife checked me and goes oh my! I said umm, what's that mean? I was dilated 6 cm and my water was bulging. I cried of course and called my husband so he could head home to get the kids and pack stuff. I didn't even think to get dressed when the midwife left the room to let the birth center know I was headed over. It's located just across the parking lot. I wanted to go home and pack stuff up, but she was worried my water would break. So mom and I walked while we waited for my husband to get there, I checked in at 1:15. My contractions never got close together, always at least 15 minutes apart and never lasting more than 45 seconds. I didn't have to be hooked up to anything or wear a hospital gown, my kids and husband had the entire living room area to themselves, it was so nice! My husband slept for several hours actually. 
In order to get things going a bit more I did nurse my son again and tried nipple stimulation. Finally at about 5 the midwife that was suppose to be there arrived, she has been delivering a gal at the hospital. I was at 9 then. I nursed my son to sleep and had a very strong contraction, so for awhile I tried contracting with one leg up on the bed frame to try to get my water to break on it's own. (My husband had forgotten the bag for our new baby, so his mom and sister brought it over, I wasn't really wanting them there, but it worked out because they watched our son while I had River). So at 6 I got in the tub, still never hitting what I would call active labor, and pushed for 12 minutes, River arrived at 7:20pm. I would've been induced at 7 the next morning. It was awesome! She did have her cord wrapped around her neck twice, so her heart-rate dropped badly right at the end and I had to push her out very quickly! She was very dark when she came out, she wasn't getting oxygen, but she turned pink pretty quickly. I didn't get to delay cord clamping because of her color, but she was breathing right away and I knew she was fine. They just help a tiny oxygen mask over her face for a few minutes. It was an amazing experience, if I was younger I would have another! If everyone's birth was that easy there would be a lot more children running around."

I want to thank the moms who shared their stories with us.
I encourage everyone to write out their birth story!  Writing it out is a way to relive those precious memories.  Sharing your positive birth story can be a great support to new parents as well as those who have suffered birth trauma.
Feel free to leave a comment with your positive birth story!

Here are some affirmations I've found on Pinterest that help us remember how capable we are and what a special and magical occasion birth is!
Both pinned HERE.
I also invite you to look at Mindful Pregnancy's board called Affirmations For Pregnancy on Pinterest for pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding affirmations.

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