Editor’s note: We believe that all birth stories and all birth experiences matter. This post is part of an ongoing series of birth stories submitted by readers and fellow bloggers, featuring a diverse range of women and their birth experiences. In today’s story, Rachel shares her home water birth with us and how much she loved the experience of labouring at home. If you would like to share your own birth story, please visit this post to learn how. ~Olivia
I woke up at about 1:00 in the morning on January 13th with stomach pains that I thought were digestive. After a while I realized they were intensifying in waves and realized these were probably contractions. I texted the midwife, Sarah, and our photographer/doula, Jenny, to give them a heads up that something might be happening. I then got back into bed and started timing them. Within an hour they went from 5 minutes apart to 3 minutes. I called Sarah and she decided she was going to head over now since she was an hour away and we weren’t sure how quickly they were going to progress.
Drew and I got up and went downstairs to wait for everyone. This seemed to make my contractions slow down. When Sarah and her assistant, Jess, got to our house she sent us back to bed and sent Jenny home since things were still very early. Going back to bed made the contractions return to every three minutes. Sarah and Jess stayed at our house and slept while checking on me every hour to see how things were going. I was able to get some rest and we all woke up and came downstairs around 7:00.
We put in Harry Potter and most of the day was spent with Drew on the couch in the living room and me kneeling into his lap from the floor while Sarah and Jess caught up on work and knit in our dining room coming to check my progress and the heartbeat every hour or so. At about 2 Sarah offered to sweep my membranes since nothing had really progressed in intensity for me and she didn’t want me to get exhausted. I really wanted to do this without any interventions and we agreed that Sarah and Jess were going to go get something to eat and check out the mall for an hour or so and if I was still where I was when they got back we’d do the membrane sweep.
This was the moment I realized I really needed to get focused. I was too excited and distracted which I felt was stalling my labor. Drew and I went back upstairs into bed and laid skin to skin to get the oxytocin flowing. I put on the labor playlist I had made and just relaxed (since that seemed to help re-start things earlier that morning). By the time Sarah and Jess got back my contractions had definitely intensified and this is when REAL labor started.
Most of the morning I had thought to myself, this isn’t so bad…I can totally do this. Well, once labor actually got into full swing I realized how naïve I was! My labor progressed similarly to the morning, me kneeling into Drew’s lap on the couch, this time with a lot more moaning and shirt-tugging. I realized I needed to vocalize through the contractions. He would rub up and down my arms and back during contractions and replace the cold cloths on my neck and forehead in between (he was seriously my rock…never left my side for more than a few seconds). Jess (who was also a massage therapist) would massage my lower back which was heavenly. Here and there I would get up and walk a circuit around the house. We made a train: me in front with Drew and Jess trailing behind for when a contraction came on. I would hang from Drew’s neck and sway while Jess massaged my back. In between contractions I was still smiling and joking around, keeping my spirits up which helped me cope through the intensity even when I thought it was impossible.
All the while the tub was waiting. I didn’t want to go in too early and stall labor. When I felt I could no longer stand it, I got into the tub. Ahhh, sweet relief. While the contractions certainly still hurt, the tub took the edge off the pain. After only a few contractions I already started to get “pushy”. I pushed in various positions in the tub for 45 minutes. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the head to stay past my pubic bone. It would get close, and then retreat. It was very frustrating. Sarah recommended pushing while standing. After almost pulling Drew into the tub during a contraction (in which Jess and Jenny had to hold HIM while he held me) we realized this was done better outside the tub.
We got to the couch and after another standing contraction I realized I couldn’t focus the right angle to push so I went into a squat. That finally got the head to crown! Of course…I was facing the couch which wasn’t the best angle for Sarah to see what was happening. So I crab walked around so my back was to the couch, Drew behind me holding me around my upper torso, my hands grabbing his. With the next contraction out came the head, and very quickly after the rest of her came!
I picked our baby up and held them skin to skin on my chest. After a few moments of awe we finally checked…it was a girl! Quinn Abigail was born at 8:20pm weighing 6lbs, 9oz and measuring 20 inches long and Sarah said labor might have been 3 hours earlier if she hadn’t had her fist up under her chin. Real labor was about 5 hours.
Her birth was amazing and having a home birth was everything I had hoped for and more. I can’t explain the joy of laboring in the comfort of my own home surrounded by such support. I encourage everyone to look at the statistics and really consider home birth as an option. I will certainly be doing it again for future children.