I had my February 2007 daughter as a natural childbirth in a hospital (her story is here), and when we became pregnant again, I decided that we would look into leaving that hospital and moving to a local birthing center.
We stayed with the hospital until our 20 week ultrasound when we found out we were having a baby boy. At that point, because everything looked great and I was already sick of the 30+ minute drives to the hospital (that never had their appointments on time), I called the birthing center.
This birthing center is attached to a small hospital in the next town over to us. As a comparison, it has about 500 births a year compared to my former hospital’s 4000. The women’s practice in this hospital is small (one midwife; one OB/GYN). I signed up to be under their midwife on staff. As of the first appointment, I knew I had made the right decision. Finally, I was talking to someone who was on the same level as me regarding childbirth and actually wanted to discuss my birth plans!
The weeks went by and, yet again, I had a very easy and uneventful pregnancy even though it was one of the hottest summers on record for our area. As my daughter was born at 38w 5d, I thought that there was a good chance that our baby boy would also be born early. I ended up working until I was 39w pregnant but then decided it was time for a break. At this point, my midwife checked my dilation and I was 3cm (no contractions). The weekend after my 39w appointment was Labor Day weekend. On Saturday, we went to our boat and enjoyed the day. On Sunday, we went to a local fair. And on Monday, we went to a BBQ at a friend’s house. Still no labor!
The days continued to go by and I still felt great. I didn’t really “feel” like labor and delivery were near. At my 40w visit, I was 4cm dilated (still no contractions). My midwife asked if I wanted to have my membranes stripped to “get things started” but I found no need. Baby boy would come when he was ready.
At 40w 3d, it was Saturday, September 11th, and my 3.5 year old daughter’s first dance class. We all got ready to go and left the house at about 9:15am. On the drive to dance class, I started to feel contractions but as with my February 2007 daughter’s birth, I didn’t really believe they were really contractions. I decided to keep them to myself for a bit.
By 9:45am, I figured it was probably time to plan for baby boy arriving that day. I let my midwife know it was time and made arrangements at daughter’s dance studio as my husband would be late getting back to pick her up. Good thing we decided to go with a local birthing center – less than 15 minutes from my daughter’s studio!
We got settled into the birthing center around 10:15am and my midwife checked me – 7cm dilated! I have to say that the contractions I was experiencing were very low on the pain scale. This time I did not have back labor at all. I was GBS+ again so I did have an IV for saline and antibiotics like last time.
My husband went to get my daughter and she actually was in the L&D room with me for a little bit while I went through the contractions. It didn’t faze her at all – she was excited for her baby brother to finally arrive! My sister arrived at 11:15am to watch our daughter. At that point, my midwife asked if I wanted her to break my water. I decided to say “yes” as I was already at 7+cm and I knew the end was close. This way, my sister could “hang out” with my daughter and hopefully not have long to wait.
The contractions did not get that much more intense after my water was broken. It was definitely still manageable by focusing and breathing. I had wanted to do a HypnoBirthing birth but the class I was going to take was cancelled so all I had done was read the book by Mongan. The suggestions did help me stay focused through the contractions and I also still believe my years of yoga are great at assisting me through labor and delivery.
In a very short period of time after my water was broken, I was at 9cm but not really feeling the need to push at all. As I had had a 2nd-3rd degree tear with my daughter, I had talked to my midwife previously about birthing in different positions. She had suggested trying pushing on all fours and since I do a lot of yoga, this would not be a difficult position for me to hold for extended periods of time.
I decided to try it. As with my daughter, pushing did not come easy to me. I do not know why but I have a difficult time focusing with pushing. Contractions I can do but not pushing. So, pushing was taking longer than with my daughter. Finally, it was getting to the point that we really needed to get baby out. At no point, did my midwife make it feel like we were in an emergency-type situation. She kept things calm and cool (only midwife, nurse, and my husband were in the room). But, I knew enough about how long things were taking and what that could mean that that was enough motivation for me to refocus and deliver baby boy.
So, at 12:59pm – less than four hours after I felt the first contractions, our baby boy was born crying and healthy into the world. My midwife commented that he was a “big baby” but I didn’t believe her. My daughter had only been 7lbs 7oz and 19.5in. As this birthing center is pursuing Baby Friendly status, they do immediate skin-to-skin contact (another reason why I transferred) so we did not know how much he weighed. My sister and daughter also got to meet him shortly after he was born which was an added bonus of having such a quick labor!
He was immediately alert and ready to nurse like a champ. A couple hours later, the nurse came in to weigh him and we found out that he was 9lbs 4oz and 20in!! I never realized that I was carrying such a big boy! Later that weekend, my midwife and I discussed how, in hindsight, it was so good that I decided to push on all fours as with that size of a baby, we could have had some issues with either him (delivery; shoulders) or me (tearing) if I had pushed like I had with my daughter. In the end, I had a 1st degree tear which was nothing to even think about.
As with my daughter, I felt wonderful after my second natural childbirth and was so glad to get to experience it in a way that I did not have the opportunity to do the first time. My stay in the birthing center was also so much more enjoyable than my former hospital and it was great to be in such a pro-breastfeeding environment.
So, definitely a different experience than last time but I am so glad I made the decision I made to change to the birthing center at 20w. I know the outcome would have definitely been different if I had not made that change!
Mother to a February 2007 little girl and September 2010 baby boy, engineer, natural birth and breastfeeding advocate
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
Childbirth without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth
Birth is inspiring, amazing, and empowering. This website shares a collection of real natural birth experiences from you, the readers. Births the way nature intended. No pitocin. No epidural. Just the beauty (and intensity!) of the human body at work. Whether you've had one natural birth, five natural births, or are considering natural birth in the future, our hope is you will find courage and joy in these stories. Enjoy.
The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions
Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation