Today I’m going to share the details of Baby #3’s natural delivery. If you’ve read my other birth stories, you’ll know that I had planned a natural birth and later chose an epidural with Baby #1. Baby #2 was an empowering natural childbirth following a pitocin induction. Baby #3 was an entirely different birth.
What you’re about to read describes a straightforward natural delivery where I relied heavily on hypno-style relaxation. Honestly, this birth was pretty smooth sailing. There were no complications, no hang-ups, and the only interventions I had were an IV hep-lock when I entered the hospital and some pitocin while the placenta was being delivered. And I had my first experience with spontaneous pushing, too!
We didn’t find out the gender of Baby #3 during my pregnancy, so it was a super fun surprise at birth. If you’re still reading at the end of this blog post, you too will find out if we had a boy or a girl!
Remember, folks. This is the raw, unedited version of my birth story that I wrote in the days shortly after the birth. It’s not polished or pretty. I’m all about over-sharing, and I hope the details of this birth story help build your confidence that you, too, can have a natural delivery!
Natural Delivery: Before the Birth
“On Tuesday night, the kids and I picked up my mom from the airport. On Wednesday morning, she went grocery shopping and I played with the kids and took them to story time. I wanted to squeeze in as much them-oriented fun as possible before the baby came. I had a rough night sleeping on Tuesday night, and I was really exhausted on Wednesday. [My sister-in-law] came back to the house after story time and she read to the kids while I gave out snacks and tried to relax a bit. Then mom came back from the store and I had to head out to my ultrasound at 1:30 with a doctor’s appointment to follow at 2:30. Mom was feeding the kids when I left and then was going to put them down for naps.
Natural Delivery: Stripping Membranes
“The ultrasound was SO thorough, and I it was really exciting to see our little baby, so soon to being in my arms! Afterwards, I went over to the doctor. She said I was dilated to about 4 cm, and I had her strip my membranes. I figured it was worth a shot at getting labor started, and I wanted to avoid an induction like last time. I thought it was a pretty “rigorous” membrane-stripping…definitely more intense that what I’d felt with the other babies. She warned me there might be some spotting, and off I headed for home. I left around 3 pm.
Natural Delivery: Early Labor
“I was having noticeable contractions on my drive back home. It’s about a 50 minute drive, and I had the chair leaned back pretty far to make the contractions more comfortable. I watched the clock for about 15 minutes and had at least 3 or 4 good ones during that time. It was around 3:50 when I got home, and the kids had just woken up from their naps. I continued to have these strong, short-lasting, irregular contractions. They felt so irregular that I thought I was maybe just experiencing irritation from getting my membranes stripped…like they told me when they sent me home with [Baby #1].
“So, I was trying to ignore them and walk through them…but I was really have to work. They were taking all of my attention, almost like they were more than early labor contractions. I’d planned on washing the kitchen floor during early labor. So, I tried to go and do it, but I couldn’t summon the energy for it. I sat down on a chair in the living room and tried to play with the kids. But during each contraction, I’d have to go limp and relax.
“Seth came home at around 5:15 and started playing with the kids. I just sat back in the chair and tried to relax. I was feeling very “internal,” like I couldn’t focus on anything more than relaxing. It was kind of a strange feeling. Mom started serving dinner but I just couldn’t eat anything; food was so far from my thoughts at that point. I didn’t even get up from the chair. I told Seth I was going to go up and take a shower.
Natural Delivery: Active Labor
“At this point, I bean to really think I was in labor, but just maybe the early stages of early labor. The shower felt great until I had a contraction, at which point I felt like I needed to sit down or I might faint…so then I hurried and got out. I was having that labor diarrhea, which also clued me in. After the shower, Seth turned on my relaxation CD for me and got me all propped up in bed. Unlike my labor with [Baby #2], it felt GREAT to sit down. OK, not great exactly :), but it was the only position I wanted to be in. We had practiced at least 8 different comfort positions, but only sitting did it for me.
“So, I sat and listened/relaxed/got into a “zone” while the CD went through the tracks 2 times. I was really trying to visualize what the scripts were telling me to visualize–cervix’s blooming like flowers and such 🙂 Then mom came in and tried to time my contractions. I was having pain in my upper thigh muscles and couldn’t really tell her when one was starting and ending…so she switched out with Seth. He started massaging my thighs for me, which helped me TONS through each contraction. (When I was in the room, I could see Seth in the hall gathering the last things for the hospital, getting the kids ready for bed and bathing them, etc. He told me Rachel was going to come over and watch them here while they slept and she’d come as soon as we called.) As the CD ended, I rolled on my side during one contraction to see if it would help and the “sensation” was WAY worse! I suddenly realized how strong the contractions were and that it was probably time to go to the hospital.
Natural Delivery: Leaving for the Hospital
“The leaving was kind of a blur to me — I was just trying to get through each contraction. But Seth quickly called Rachel, who left right away (ANGEL!). Before I knew it Rachel was here, Seth had me dressed, and then he’d gotten me out into the back of the van. It was about 7:25pm.
“The hospital is about 50 minutes away from our home. Mom drove as Seth (and I, occasionally) directed the way. THANK GOODNESS he was in the back with me because he was massaging my legs THE ENTIRE TIME. If he hadn’t been there, I don’t know what I would have done. He was definitely helping, but his poor hands and arms were so tired, he had to change spots with me in the car periodically to help out his arm angle.
“If I recall, I started the car ride with a basic “He Breathing” pattern and ended it it with a 1:3:5 “He-Blow” breathing pattern. It helped tremendously. Honestly, I LOVE breathing techniques. I don’t know how I’d get through labor without it.
Natural Delivery: Transition
“Mom did an awesome job driving, and although we circled the hospital a few times, we eventually found the parking garage and drove up to the L&D entrance. It was now about 8:30am. Seth walked me over to the admitting desk, and I had to stop and sit down while Seth massaged my legs during each contraction. They put me in a wheel chair and brought me over to the triage room.
“The nurse was kind of taking her time and said they’d be monitoring me in the triage room for awhile. Then she checked me and said I was 9 cm and that we’d be having a baby really soon. You should have seen her start moving around then! She called another nurse to get the doctor here ASAP (my doctor wasn’t on call that night). Then she wheeled the bed through what felt like a hospital MAZE until we got to our delivery room. It all happened so quickly, I was worried that my mom would be lost somewhere in the halls. I was also worried that [my mother-in-law] might not get to the hospital in time for the birth. But, she did get there around 9pm.
“We got to the room at around 8:45. My mom came in after a few minutes, lugging all of our “gear.” The doctor got to the room shortly after we did, and let me tell you, he was INCREDIBLE. Wow — he was so patient and so helpful. The nurses got my IV going and I was still doing the 1:3:5 “He-Blow” Lamaze breathing, although my sounds were definitely not very crisp at that point! I felt like I needed to push, and the doctor checked me and said that I could whenever I felt like it.
Natural Delivery: Pushing
“I was in a sitting position on the bed with the feet of the bed dropped own, and I was leaning back on my arms. It was really kind of a semi-squat position. Seth was still massaging my thighs, but then I needed most of the attention on my lower back/outer hip area. He was working very hard!
“The doctor asked if I wanted him to break my water — it was still intact. He suggested I leave it intact. He said it would go really fast if he broke it, but it would be less painful and I’d have less chance of an episiotomy or tearing if he left it. So, I opted to leave it because I REALLY didn’t want an episiotomy again :/ He asked if I wanted to try any directed pushing, but honestly, I don’t think I could have done it if I tried. My body was almost on auto-pilot, doing its own thing. I pushed during a series of about 4 contractions. In retrospect, my contractions were so well-spaced–not too close. I was really able to catch a breath in between each one. I continued to do my Lamaze breathing, but I was somehow bearing down and pushing as I was breathing. It’s kind of hard to explain. Seth said afterwards that he had no idea that I was even pushing, it was so gentle.
Natural Delivery: The Birth
“The doctor kept encouraging me to that the baby was descending, and then I could feel that the baby was crowning. Yowzers — that’s quite a “sensation.” And then the head was out! All the while, the nurses and doctor were encouraging me to look down and see the baby! Shortly thereafter, the shoulders were out, and then a little arm popped out, too…and finally the baby was completely born. And then we had a new little….BOY!
“I’m not sure at what point my water broke…probably as his head was crowning. But I definitely heard a “POP” and a gush.
“What a joyful relief it is to birth a baby! He was so clean — it was surprising just how clean he was, almost like they’d already washed him off. And then they handed him up to me and put him on my chest, skin-to-skin. And oooh…the absolute joy of looking at our sweet new baby coupled with the accomplishment of having delivered the baby — it’s a feeling like none other. It makes you feel like you want 20 babies! He was born at 9:30 pm, weighing 7 pounds 15 ounces, 21 1/2 inches long.
Natural Delivery: Delivering the Placenta
“I had been concerned about my bleeding after I had a lot of bleeding following [Baby #2’s] birth. So, they paid special attention to it. Fortunately, all was well! The placenta was delivered without any issue, and…DRUM ROLL PLEASE…I didn’t tear at all. Yipee!!!! What a blessing that was because it makes for SUCH an easier recovery when you don’t have that lingering discomfort that an episiotomy causes. So, all was well with that.
Natural Delivery: Recovering in the Hospital
“I felt great after this delivery — I still feel great. Honestly–NO issues, and no complaints. My biggest discomfort is a sore right forearm and vein from where the IV was with the pitocin to deliver the placenta. Our little man did really well, too. They bathed him the night he was was born.
“He slept a lot that first night, like all newborns do. The 2nd night was a different story! I was nursing him all night long, colostrum only of course, but he just didn’t seem satiated. We were up together from 10pm literally straight on till 6am when the nursery came and got him for the doctors rounds. I cried after they took him from sheer exhaustion. I didn’t get any sleep on Wednesday night when he was born and I’d slept poorly on Tuesday night, too. Oh well. It was a conscious decision to keep him with me all night.
“I think the hardest part of a newborn is figuring out what that they need and getting used to their cues and personality. Fortunately, he is a very calm baby for the most part. So, that second night was a bit rough, but I was able to get help from the hospital lactation consultant and the nursery, and my milk came in on Sunday morning — about 3 1/2 days.”
Natural Delivery: My Thoughts in Hindsight
Positions in Labor
With Baby #2, I had tons of back pain. Perpetual motion in the form of swaying and rocking, coupled with ongoing massage, was key to helping me cope with the discomfort. So, during my pregnancy with Baby #3, Seth and I practiced labor positions and pressure techniques over and over. But when labor actually came, I was surprised to find that I only wanted to sit! I couldn’t imagine getting up and walking, or rocking in a kneeling position. Nope, only sitting for me!
In our Kopa Birth® natural childbirth classes, we encourage couples to try a wide variety of positions during labor. We especially encourage those that invite some gravity, such as standing or leaning positions. Those positions are most likely to stimulate labor progress. But when game day comes, ladies, sometimes you have to set aside the playbook and just let your instincts guide you. If you want to stand and sway, do it. If it feels good to moan loudly, go for it. And if all you want to do is sit, then sitting it is.
Anterior vs Posterior Position
I was surprised at how much easier and less intense the birth of Baby #3 felt than the birth of Baby #2 — my only child to have been born in a posterior position. (Read about my experience with a pitocin induction and baby in a posterior position.) It’s true that everyone is going to process the physical experience of birth differently. But for me and my body, natural childbirth is much more comfortable when baby is in an anterior position than when baby is in a posterior position.
Spontaneous Bearing Down
Directed pushing, like the doctor offered in my birth story, is what you’re used to seeing in the movies when women push. Mom pulls her legs towards her chest, counts to 10, and pushes with all her might. She takes a few quick breaths and then goes back to it for another 10 seconds. This process continues during each contraction until baby is eventually born. I’ve been there, and I can tell you that directed pushing is an awful lot of work.
This birth was my first experience with spontaneous bearing down. And it was AWESOME! Spontaneous bearing down is a very instinctive type of pushing. As the baby’s head descends in the birth canal, it feels an awful lot like you have to poop. Spontaneous bearing down is your natural response to that “I have to poop” pressure. It can involve light breathing, gentle grunting, or hard pushing. It feels very involuntary. In my birth story, I described the pushing experience as if I were on “auto-pilot.” This type of pushing is recommended if labor is progressing normally and you haven’t had any anesthesia (1).
Tearing after Episiotomy
If you read my birth story with Baby #2, you’ll recall that I had an episiotomy. I was really concerned that I would tear along the scar line of the episiotomy. (Learn How to Prevent Tearing During Birth.) Second only to the joy I felt of holding the baby was the relief of having no tears after the birth. So, I’m living proof that even if you’ve had an episiotomy before, you won’t necessarily tear along the line of the scar with your next birth.
Kopa Birth’s online childbirth classes allow you to prepare for a natural childbirth from the comfort of your own home, 24/7. Enroll today in our free online childbirth class to learn more about preparing for a natural hospital birth.
(1) Simkin, P., Whalley, J., Keppler, A., Durham, J. , Bolding, A. (2010). Pregnancy, Childbirth & The Newborn. Meadowbrook Press, pg 233.