Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
I want to share my perspective with you all on the recent birth of baby #6, Lottie. She was born at our local hospital and I was able to have a low-intervention, unmedicated birth experience. I want all of you pregnant moms to know that a natural hospital birth is totally possible! YOU CAN DO THIS!!!
LOTTIE’S NATURAL HOSPITAL BIRTH: PRELABOR
I’d been having contractions throughout the night for the past few nights. I awoke to strong contractions early in the morning on Monday. While using the bathroom, I noticed some mucus plug and bloody show. I’d only ever lost my mucus plug when I was in active labor during my previous births. So, I assumed Monday would be the big day! However, it turns out that the contractions pretty much stopped once I got out of bed and started moving around.
I had scheduled an OB appointment for early Tuesday morning, and planned to ask the doctor to strip my membranes. I knew that stripping my membranes would likely put me into labor on Tuesday afternoon. Anticipating the work ahead of me, I tried to rest and relax as much as I could during the day on Monday.
LOTTIE’S NATURAL HOSPITAL BIRTH: EARLY LABOR
Mild, yet noticeable, contractions started up again at around 7pm on Monday night. I did the abdominal lift & tuck, and then later hip circles on the birth ball, during the contractions. My goal was to encourage the baby to enter the pelvic brim and engage in my pelvis. (Learn all about these positions and techniques in your Kopa Birth® natural childbirth class!) The positions and movements felt comfortable during the contractions, so I kept it up until bedtime.
I made sure that I went to bed early that night. Contractions continued throughout the night. They were strong enough that I started to use effleurage and slow-paced breathing to help me stay relaxed during the contractions. I tried to sleep as much as possible between the contractions, and was able to get in a few hours of light rest.
I had to use the bathroom frequently throughout the night. There was a pretty consistent flow of light bloody show. I took this as a good sign that the contractions were bringing about some labor progress!
LOTTIE’S NATURAL HOSPITAL BIRTH: ACTIVE LABOR
(EARLY TUESDAY MORNING)
I’d probably already been in active labor for a few hours at this point, but it wasn’t until around 4am that I start to realize it. The contractions were closer together and impossible to ignore now. I figured it was a good time to turn on my labor relaxation scripts. (You’ll be able to download these relaxation scripts as a resource included in your Kopa Birth® natural childbirth class.) I played them off my phone, which I tucked in next to my pillow while I continued to lie in bed. After an hour or so, I left the bed and listened to the scripts while I sat upright in an armchair.
LOTTIE’S NATURAL HOSPITAL BIRTH: TRANSITION
The contractions continued, and at around 5:45 or 6, they began to feel sharp and centered right above my pubic bone. At first, I found that the discomfort was manageable if I could stand and sway during the contraction. But after a time, it started to feel like the pain wasn’t going away — like the contraction wasn’t ending! At this point, I found the most relief by standing and and leaning forward on the bathroom counter and moaning rhythmically.
I’d encouraged Seth to sleep during the night while I was contracting, but my moaning must have woken him and been his signal that the labor was stepping into high gear! He came into the bathroom and suggested that it was likely time to head to the hospital. Up to this point, I hadn’t felt ready to go to the hospital. I didn’t want to labor there for hours like I did with Baby #5. (Check out the KOPA® PREPARED Essentials Online Childbirth Course to watch the footage of my natural hospital birth with Baby #5!) However, the pain was strong and I didn’t resist for long.
Within the space of an hour, I had gone from strong yet manageable contractions to feeling like I couldn’t even walk in between contractions. It was now around 7:30am. I made it half-way down the stairs and had to pause. At the front door, I couldn’t bring myself to bend over and put my shoes on, so I left the house barefoot. I somehow made it into the back seat of the minivian. Once in the van, I knelt/squatted in a position that I kept hoping would bring me relief…but it didn’t. The pressure of the contractions was so strong! I was moaning loudly now, and Seth (who was driving) kept reminding me to keep my tones low and long.
The drive to the hospital seemed like an eternity! Seth called the OB on the way to give them a heads-up that we were coming. We pulled up to the round-about in front of the main hospital entrance and were met by a kind hospital attendant with a wheelchair. The contractions were so intense at this point that I had to really focus to get my body out of the van and into the wheelchair. I eventually sat down and was wheeled into the hospital. I was moaning loudly, and probably freaked out the people who were hanging out in the lobby :0 I could have cared less in the moment!! We were met at the elevator by a team of 5 nurses who had come down from the Labor & Delivery unit. We skipped triage and headed right to an L&D room.
After entering the room, the basic hospital admission procedures were started right away. An IV, fetal monitoring, and cervical check were all performed. I was pretty-much oblivious to everything but the intensity of the contractions at this point. Seth encouraged me to focus on my breathing. With his help, I was able to put my attention on a 3:1 Patterned Paced breathing pattern. The breathing helped me regain my focus and enabled me to relax as much as possible during the contractions. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but gosh, I love breathing techniques!!!
My cervix was between 8-9 cm dilated, and the doctor entered the room to perform her own assessment. I was overjoyed to see that the doctor on call that morning was Dr. R., the same doctor that helped me during the birth of Baby #5! (After a prolonged transition phase with my last labor, Dr. R. worked with me to encourage the baby to descend and she was born within 15 minutes.) I quickly reminded her of my last birth, and she remembered what we had done to encourage the baby to descend.
In the earnest intensity that only a woman in transition can muster, I pled with the doctor NOT to leave the room! I was very emotional at this point. She reassured me that she wasn’t going anywhere! She informed me that I still had a lip of cervix. However, she said the lip was very flexible. As with my last birth, she offered to help stretch the cervix while I pushed the baby down into the birth canal. I agreed that this was a good idea. During the next contraction, I pushed while she stretched the cervix. I’m not going to lie — this was super uncomfortable! However, I was eager to be done with labor and knew that this would bring me closer to the finish line.
LOTTIE’S NATURAL HOSPITAL BIRTH: PUSHING
(TUESDAY MORNING, AROUND 8:15AM)
There wasn’t much progress at first, and then Seth suggested that I move into a hands and knees position. A nurse elevated the head of the bed and Seth helped me get into a position that felt like a hybrid between a hands & knees position and a squat. That did the trick. During the next contraction, I pushed while Dr. R. helped stretch my cervix. I dilated to 10 cm quickly, and then the doctor saw the bag of water. I asked her to rupture the amniotic sac, which she did. There was some “light mec” in the water, which means that there was a minimal amount of meconium. The doctor didn’t seem worried, so I didn’t worry either.
From here on out it’s all a bit of a blur. Each contraction was accompanied by a strong urge to push, and so I pushed! After a couple of contractions, I started to feel the ring of fire, and shortly thereafter, the baby was born!
I’d entered the hospital at 8:00 am, and baby Lottie was born at 8:27 am on Tuesday morning. She weighed in at 7lbs 1 oz, 20 inches long.
LOTTIE’S NATURAL HOSPITAL BIRTH: BIRTH
It’s hard to describe the joy and relief that I felt in that moment. People talk about the hormones of labor, the endorphin rush — I definitely agree that there’s an emotional high that accompanies giving birth. The intensity of labor was replaced almost instantly by the joy of holding the baby. I’d played my part in giving her life; she’d played her part in being born. And now we were able to greet each other!
I brought the baby to my chest, skin to skin, while a nurse suctioned her with the bulb syringe to be sure she didn’t have any meconium in her airway. Fortunately, all was well. Her Apgar scores were 8/9, and she was alert and breathing well. She scooted over to my breast, and within a minute or two started breastfeeding. Meanwhile, the doctor waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then Seth cut the umbilical cord. Within another few minutes, the placenta was delivered. The nurse started an infusion of oxytocin to help curb any postpartum bleeding. Fortunately, I had no perineal tearing, so no stitches were needed.
And just like that, the room was quiet and we were left alone to enjoy our first special moments with the baby. It’s an understatement to say that I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for my husband, for the nurses, for the doctor, and for being done with the labor! I was in awe of the gorgeous new little person that I was holding in my arms, and so grateful that she was born healthy and well. And I felt energized, excited, and amazed at what my body had accomplished! I especially looked forward to introducing the kids to their new little sister!
LOTTIE’S NATURAL HOSPITAL BIRTH: THOUGHTS IN HINDSIGHT
1. It’s difficult to know if you’re in labor or not!
Even though this was my 6th birth, I still wasn’t really sure that I was in labor until around 4am, when I turned on the relaxation scripts. But even then, I had no idea how quickly or slowly my labor was progressing. I was emotionally prepared to face a long day of contractions. If Seth hadn’t have woken up and made the call to go to the hospital, I likely would not have woken anyone up on my own.
Take home message: Partners, sometimes you’ll have to step in and call the shots. Women in labor get into a “zone,” and we may not think as rationally as we normally do. If you think mom’s emotions have changed and she’s been in active labor for a few hours, you may need to encourage her to leave for the hospital.
2. Trust your body to know what you need in labor.
This was my first birth where I did the majority of my laboring in bed. In our natural childbirth classes, we encourage couples to use upright, gravity-promoting positions as much as possible during labor. However, my body didn’t want to be in upright positions for the first several hours — I wanted to lie down. So, that’s what I did!
Take home message: Trust that you know what’s best for your body and your baby, and go with the flow during your labor. You may only need to use the labor positions that you learn in your childbirth class if you’re experiencing a stall or hiccup in your labor progress.
3. Interventions are not always “bad.”
In 6 births, my amniotic sac has only ever ruptured spontaneously when the baby’s head was crowning during the pushing phase. It’s likely that my labor could have dragged on for another hour or so if I hadn’t asked the provider to break my bag of water. I’m not suggesting that this is right for everyone in every circumstance, but I feel like it was a helpful intervention for me at that point in my labor.
Take home message: Work in tandem with your partner and healthcare provider to determine what’s best for you and your baby during labor. That may mean a completely intervention-free birth experience, or that may mean that you accept some select labor interventions. Trust that you’ll make the very best decisions during your birth.
Thanks for taking the time to read about my natural hospital birth experience with Lottie. Best of luck to you as you prepare for a calm and confident childbirth!
Kopa Birth’s online birthing classes allow you to prepare for a natural hospital birth from the comfort of your own home, 24/7. Enroll today in our free online childbirth class and start preparing for your natural birth!