Part 1: Why Choose a Homebirth?
I feel compelled to share our story, and perhaps encourage others who may be considering a homebirth. During my pregnancy I found it extremely helpful to read birth stories from other moms. The stories were great because I had never had a baby, never witnessed anyone else having a baby, or even seen an animal give birth! What I had seen in the movies was laughable as far as inspiration goes. With everyone throwing (and/or stuffing) advice down the throats of the pregnant, just take what you want out of our story, and hope it helps!
For some short background- My husband and I found out we were pregnant four months after we were married in 2008. We had absolute joy (after our shock of course)...and our families were so excited to see the birth of a first grandchild in the family. I was not under any OB/GYN care at the time, so I decided to research my options for childbirth before I started any prenatal care. I was working at a Pregnancy Resource Center ( formerly called "Crisis Pregnancy Centers") at the time, and if I learned anything there, I learned that I should know all my options, and not just to take a path or route of care just because "everybody does it that way". I've listed some influential books, movies, and websites that I found very helpful as we journeyed through the pregnancy and birth of our daughter.
I had previously had an experience with an OB/GYN that wasn't very pleasant. This naturally spurred me on to research natural birth control and other options for childbirth as well. Out of this desire to research other options, I contacted midwives. The websites on my home page and the documentary The Business of Being Born showed me the alternative side of childbirth in America. I found a midwife close to my home who shared the same basic values I had and who also wanted to mentor me in a way ( I least I looked on her as a mentor!)
The more I learned about waterbirth and natural childbearing, the more I felt that homebirthing was a fit for us. I never did like hospitals, and I knew I was a low-risk pregnancy - so we thought, why not?
Part 2: When Issues Arise...
This part of our story starts when I was 39 weeks pregnant. We had journeyed through a wonderful pregnancy, learning and growing :-) Aside from the common symptoms most moms experience, there were only a couple of problems going on that could possibly affect labor and delivery. I learned that I was GBS + and that Claire was posterior. My mind swirled...how was I going to have a homebirth being GBS + and possibly facing back labor? My midwives gave me research supporting some low tech methods that would ensure we could have the homebirth we had planned. I did several things like crawling on hands and knees and pelvic rocks, which did turn little Claire in the right direction! As far as the GBS + goes, we used some natural products to cleanse and then protect my body from spreading the bacteria during delivery.
Then, the leaks started. Amniotic fluid started to slowly leak around 39 weeks as well...so if my water broke and I didn't start labor soon after, that could put Claire in some danger of getting an infection, especially since I was GBS +. My midwives thought that, to be on the safe side, we could try to induce labor at home while I was having these leaks. Just like anyone nine months pregnant, I was eager to do anything to try and start labor! We did a regimen (under the midwives supervision) of tinctures, castor oil, and nipple stimulation. We did get the contractions to about five minutes apart. Throughout all of this we kept trusting in the Lord to lead us and take care of us and our baby girl. We didn't want to be induced in a hospital, so we kept trying to induce at home. The leaks were gradually decreasing over that weekend, thanks in part to the advice of the midwives to take a lot of vitamin C, which can help strengthen the bag of waters. After a couple of days though and a decrease in the leaking, and the contractions not getting much closer together, the midwives gave us a choice whether to quit and wait for her to come on her own, or if we truly feared about the leaks they could transport me to a doctor's care for induction. We felt a peace in our heart about not transporting and just keeping a check on the leaks. Thankfully though I didn't leak from that weekend on! So our practice labor was a hard weekend, but thankfully we could look forward to the homebirth we were planning on!
Part 3: The Birth Story
Finally, this was the real deal! Labor started a little over a week after the leaking had stopped. We had the birth pool set up, food in the freezer, the baby clothes laid out, and the chux pads ready to go! Our midwives helped us prepare through homebirth childbirth classes, and lists of things we would need at home. They not only told us that we could have a natural birth, but that we could also have a gentle, peaceful birth free of interventions and unnecessary measures often used in hospitals. They also taught us not to fear birth, but to realize that we could let my body do what it was meant to do- get this baby out!
Wednesday night, January 21st, I started having light, but regular contractions 10-12minutes apart. I tried to go to bed, but only stayed there about a half hour. They were too intense for me to sleep (I was probably a bit too excited as well!). I paced and read books and napped a bit on the couch all night. By 5:30 am. my husband Timothy got up and fixed me a hearty breakfast and we called our midwife Peggy. I had some bloody show during the night, and that convinced that this could be true labor. During the day Thursday, we tried to be as normal as possible, I took a shower, ate, went for a walk outside. My mom came over that afternoon as well. Around 5 pm, one of the other midwives, Kim, came by to check on my progress (They hadn't come before because I was still in early labor and didn't need them). She said I wasn't in active labor yet, and I that I should try and rest as much as possible. The contractions were still about 10 minutes apart about this time, but I could get through them pretty well. It was hard to sleep though, so I rested in the dark as much as possible. By 9 pm. on Thursday the contractions started getting more intense and closer together.
I decided to get in the birth pool to help me relax through the contractions. My active labor started just about when my midwives showed up. Three of them were there checking on the baby's heart rate and checking me out too. I didn't want them to check dilation because of the risk of infection, but also because I didn't want to be disappointed if I was only like 5 or 6 cm.! By 11:30 that night, my midwives did check my dilation and I was 8 cm.
At this point I wasn't coping as well with the pain, and my midwife Kim, and others helped me to breathe and focus as the contractions got stronger and more intense. My mom spoke some Scriptures over me and I would hold tight to Timothy everytime I was going through a contraction. I was on my knees in the birth pool through most of the contractions. By 1:30 AM the pain was getting so intense...I was reaching the "I can't do this" and "I'm going to die" phase of labor (I was warned I was going to go through that). At that point I wanted to move around, so I got out of the pool. I felt restless, like an animal, grunting and moaning through the contractions. I went to our bedroom and threw up, which really sped things up! I then sat on the couch in our living room for a while. I was coping a little better by this time because I was focusing on a picture in our house that said "Love" and I kept saying that to myself through each contraction. I just kept thinking, "I'm doing this all for love, all for love." A while later my midwives confirmed that I was at 10 cm and that they could feel her head had descended. They asked me if I felt like I wanted to push. I said that I did, and I remember feeling so excited because they had felt her head. It all seemed so much more real when they told me she so close to coming out. The pushing stage was definitely the best part for me. The midwives had brought a birth stool and I sat on that and started pushing around 3 am. I pushed and vocalized a lot with each contraction...but I can't really call it pain, it was intense and hard work, but the pushing wasn't really painful at that time. I felt really strong and I was pushing hard. I was pushing with a strength I never knew I had! After a few minutes they told me to feel the bag of waters coming down...it was really neat (a little weird, but neat!). It was like yellowish-white and it burst after a few more pushes. Her head was coming out pretty fast. I remember feeling the hair on the top of her head in between pushing...and I was so excited that I would just push with all my might! Feeling her head gave me the strength I needed to get her out. I didn't believe it when the midwives told me her head was out...I said, "already?" I was squatting on the stool and could have looked, but I was focusing on the wall as I pushed with the next contraction, and her little body seemed to slither out! Our midwife Aimee caught Claire and she was in my arms and breathing only a moment after being born! What a joy and relief! We laughed and cried for about 10 minutes as I held Claire in my arms. She didn't even cry when she came out! She was just kind of peaceful...we had about two lights on in the apartment, so it was really dim and quiet (a good atmosphere for a baby to be born in.)
Timothy cut the cord awhile later and I delivered the placenta in about 10 minutes. We were both fine, except that my blood pressure dropped from all from all of the blood loss. My midwives sprang into action, monitored me, stitched me up, and checked over Claire. They were efficient and stayed at our house until I was stable and comfortably nursing Claire:-)
After two days of labor, 8 hours of active labor, and 40 minutes of pushing, Claire Angelette Beahm was born. She was 9 lbs. even, 20 inches long, and had a 15 inch head with a hand presentation (making it 16 in.! The squatting during delivery definitely helped me get the baby out!) I am so grateful we could have her in the comfort of our own home and that we had the very best care from our dedicated midwives.
Thank you Lord for delivering Claire safely from the womb!