While I was pregnant, everyone thought I was crazy for planning a natural birth. People said things like “that’s what I thought” or “you’ll change your mind when it happens” or “once it starts you’ll get the drugs”. No one thought I could do it. And you know what? They were all wrong. I conquered 25 hours of back labor and I did it completely naturally.
My Natural Hospital Birth Story
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Something might be starting
On Saturday night, October 28th, at 7pm, I had my first contraction. I was on the couch with my husband Eddie, and we had just started watching Stranger Things. It felt like a Braxton Hicks, but I could feel it in my back too. I told Eddie that there was something different about that one. About 20 minutes later, I felt the same thing and I started thinking that maybe this could be the start of something.
I began frantically Googling the difference between real labor and false labor. After all, I was sure my baby was going to come late and his due date was still 4 days away.
Eddie grilled hot dogs for dinner and after we ate we both went to bed early. Throughout the night I kept feeling contractions here and there. They woke me up a few times, but I was able to go back to sleep. In my sleepy contractiony state, I kept trying to keep track of the times of the contractions. I’d screenshot the time on my phone when I felt them.
I woke up around 6:00. Eddie was already awake. When I went to the bathroom, I lost part of my mucus plug but it was clear with no blood. That made me think that something was really happening.
We decided to make our usual big weekend breakfast of bacon and eggs early, in case things really got going. From 6:00-7:00 my contractions were irregular and 12-20 minutes apart. They still weren’t too strong. Around 7:00, I felt one that made me hold on to the counter and breathe through it. After that, the contractions got much closer together, about 5 minutes apart. They were stronger and I really started to feel it in my back. I kept holding on to the counters in the kitchen when they came and made an effort to practice breathing through them.
I really didn’t want to have back labor
The contractions kept getting stronger and closer together and the back pains that came with each one intensified. That’s when I realized it was back labor. When the contractions came, I would sit on my birth ball and lean forward and Eddie would push on my lower back. That helped so much.
I have to give my hubby some credit. I was sure that he wasn’t paying attention to the birthing classes that we watched, but boy was I wrong! He was right there when I needed him and the counter pressure made a world of difference.
Around 9:30 I took a long shower. It felt good to let the water run on my back. I laid in bed for a little bit after my shower but that did not feel so good so I got up and got back on my ball.
Eddie was rushing around the house trying to make sure that we had everything ready and all our stuff was packed. Every time a contraction would come I’d yell for him to come and he would run to me and do counter pressure on my back. The harder he pushed, the better it felt.
At 10:30, my contractions had been regularly 4 minutes apart for over an hour and I decided it was time to call my midwife’s office. My practice alternates being on call with another practice and I was disappointed to find out that it was a midwife from the other practice that was on call.
I told the midwife, Lucy, that I was planning a drug-free, natural birth. And she told me that my best bet would be to stay at home as long as possible. I knew that was true, but it felt a little scary because I knew there was a fine line between staying at home as long as I could and getting to the hospital on time. Lucy said that I would know it was time to come in when things intensified and I felt like I shouldn’t stay home anymore. Then, I asked her how dilated I had to be to be admitted and she told me 5cm.
Labor at home for as long as possible
Eddie and I spent the next 3 hours working through my contractions at home. I sat on the birth ball and he pushed on my back through each contraction. They were coming 3 minutes apart now and I was yelling into a pillow during each one. Ow ow ow ow ow.
Eddie started saying that we should go to the hospital around noon, but I held off until 1:30. I called Lucy back to let her know that we were coming in, and we got ready to go. There was a crazy storm happening that day, but it slowed down while we were driving to the hospital.
I sat in the back seat behind Eddie and during my contractions I would moan and he would reach back rub my leg and it was comforting. We got to the hospital quickly, in less than 20 minutes.
We valeted the car and I walked through the hospital to get to triage. My contractions were about 2 minutes apart at this point. The triage nurse hooked me up to the monitor and Lucy the midwife came in to check me.
I was only 3 cm. Crap.
Lucy said she couldn’t admit me, and that I had two choices. I could go home and come back when I felt like I was further along. OR we could walk around the hospital for a few hours and then get checked again.
Since I was sure my baby was coming, and I was terrified of having my baby in the car…
We decided to walk around
The bottom floor of the hospital was basically a big square. I think we walked around it a thousand times.
We would walk and when I would get a contraction we’d move over to the side of the hall and I’d climb on a chair or lean over a table and scream while Eddie pushed on my back. When the contraction ended, we’d start walking again.
Several kind strangers approached us to ask if we needed help or a wheel chair. We told them we’d be fine and we were just trying to walk our baby out.
After about an hour of walking, my contractions were less than a minute apart and so much stronger. Eddie kept saying that we should go back up to triage so I could get checked again. But I wanted to keep walking. I was afraid that we’d go back up and I still wouldn’t be dilated enough to be admitted.
So we just kept walking.
After about an hour and a half of walking, my contractions were super intense and I was screaming so loud with each one. I finally agreed to go back to triage and get checked again.
When we got to triage I went into the bathroom and lost the rest of my mucus plug with a bloody show. Then when I go into my room I threw up in the garbage can.
And yet, when I was checked, I was only 4 and a half centimeters dilated. I looked the midwife in the eye and told her my baby was coming. She said she would admit me since I was so close to 5 cm.
It was 5:11 when I was finally admitted
I walked to my room, stopping a few times to cling onto the wall and scream through a contraction. I made no attempt to be quiet. The back of my gown was open and my nurse asked if I wanted her to walk behind me with a sheet. I remember telling her I didn’t care if it was open.
I had to sit with the electronic fetal monitor on for 20 minutes. Then they switched to intermittent monitoring for the rest of my labor. I didn’t have any IVs, and I was free to move around as I needed to.
Part of my birth plan was to labor as long as possible in the tub. The hospital only has one tub room and by the time I was admitted that room was taken. I was SO disappointed.
Eddie and I improvised with the shower. The shower head came down and there was a plastic chair in the shower I sat on between contractions. During a contraction I would stand up, hold onto the wall and scream like crazy while Eddie ran the water on my back. I felt like my back was breaking.
Once I took off my hospital gown to get in the shower, I never put it back on. I was so glad that I didn’t buy one of those fancy hospital gowns that I wanted.
It’s just water
A short while after being in the shower, my midwife came in and told me that there was an option that could help me with my back labor. It was called sterile water injections. She told me that it was just water that they would inject into my back and afterwards the back labor would be gone. And the only side effect would be that it burned for a minute.
I said no at first. I had done so much research on natural birth and I had never heard of sterile water injections. It was hard to believe that it was really just water.
About half an hour later I began thinking that I should get the sterile water injections because I wanted to be able to get through the pushing phase without the incredible back labor.
I asked to be checked first and I was at 8cm. So, in one hour, I went from 4½cm to 8cm.
The midwife decided to give me the sterile water injections during a contraction. I got on the bed on my hands and knees and when my next contraction started the midwife and nurse gave me the injections at the same time.
I screamed like an animal being slaughtered.
But that was the worst part of the whole labor.
One minute after the sterile water injections my back labor was gone. For the first time I could actually feel my stomach contractions. The pain in my back had been so bad it had masked the rest of the pains.
Just a few minutes later, I told the midwife I felt something coming out. And then all of a sudden my water slide out and broke. It burst all over the bed and made a big mess.
I have to push
After my water broke, I felt the strong urge to push. I wanted my mom and sister to get there for my delivery but I couldn’t hold back. I had Eddie text them and tell them to hurry.
When the midwife checked me again I was only at 9cm. I kept telling her I had to push so she moved my cervix back the last cm.
I started pushing on my side, holding up my top leg. But it was too hard to push that way.
I rolled on my back and started pushing that way. The midwife told me to hold my own legs up as I pushed to help me push harder but that felt impossible.
Around that time my mom and sister arrived. I was so glad they made it in time.
But I was still screaming like a lunatic and it was pretty messy in there and my mom (who isn’t the best at handling medical scenes like that) passed out! So, she was out of the room for the rest of the birth.
I kept trying to get comfortable between contractions and I ended up rolling on my hands and knees, which was my favorite way to push. Then, I would hold on to the back of the hospital bed and squat down during my contractions and push as hard as I could.
I was screaming in this uncontrollable high pitched yelpy way. My midwife kept telling me to moan in a lower tone but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t control the screaming.
When my midwife told me that my baby’s head was crowning, I reached down and felt his wrinkly little head. It was an amazing feeling.
It was only a few more pushes after that and my baby was out. I felt his whole body sliding out of me. He was crying immediately.
James was born on Sunday, October 29, 2017, at 7:58 PM
They placed him on a blanket underneath me and I was still on my hands and knees when I looked down on him. Both of his hands were up in the air and his eyes were wide open when I saw him for the first time.
After a moment of looking at him in awe, I scooped him up and turned over on my back so I could hold him skin to skin on my chest. And we laid there like that for two hours.
During that time I pushed out my placenta and got what felt like 10,000 stitches. And my sweet baby just rested on my chest.
Eventually, I passed baby off to Eddie. I got so emotional seeing the man I love hold our baby for the first time. That was the moment that stands out to me the most. The mixture of love, joy, exhaustion, accomplishment – that was the happiest moment of my life.
I was prepared, ready, and I did it
As painful as the birth was, I was never even tempted to ask for the drugs. I was in pain, but I was also in control. And I was prepared. As things progressed, I felt like I knew what to expect. I was so glad that I had prepared for my birth.
I didn’t go to any in-person birth classes because they were hard to coordinate with my husband’s work schedule. It was also hard to find a class that focused on natural birth.
We ended up taking MamaBaby Birthing, which is an online, self-paced birth course taught by Kristen Burgess from Natural Birth and Baby Care. Kristen is a student midwife with 8 babies of her own – all born naturally.
MamaBaby Birthing was the perfect birth class for me. I could watch or listen to the lessons whenever I had time, and everything I needed to know about natural birth was included.
The best part of the course was that it included a weekly Q&A call that students use to ask Kristen any question we have about pregnancy or birth. I can’t tell you how helpful this was. I had so many questions! It was great to be able to ask someone with knowledge and experience.
When Eddie and I got to our recovery room our nurse asked us if we thought we’d want to have more kids after experiencing labor. We both said yes. I told her it had been a hard day but now I get a baby to keep forever. It was totally worth it.