My Natural Birth Story
We had a baby! Wednesday, January 25th at just after noon, “Sweet Baby Duke” (as we affectionately call him) joined us. He is all things snuggly and perfect and processing his birth story is such a treasure. Here goes…
So, Duke had me in false labor for at least five days leading up to the big event – that was NOT a thing with my first two and let me tell you, it’s agony being in that limbo, up for hours at night wondering, “is this it?!” and then after two hours of Braxton hicks, it is in fact not it.
However on Tuesday, I got a Thai massage asking if they could nudge me along and they assured me, “yes they could”… not sure the validity in that, but things started moving that afternoon about an hour post-massage. I had contractions 45 minutes apart that were dull, but consistent. It ramped up all day culminating around midnight when my contractions where three minutes apart, but not that painful. Then they stopped. I was soooo frustrated.
Now, with this labor I just felt that it would be “easy”. I felt called to a natural birth and so around 36 weeks (very late into the pregnancy) decided I would go unmedicated and started doing some research. I’ll link everything below for that. Basically, I researched and used hypnobirthing techniques, but decided we didn’t need a doula. As this was my third baby and I’ve done years of yoga, I just felt like my mind could handle it. I knew I could advocate for myself and that my husband would be there for me.
I also really wanted to experience the full potential of what my body was made to do. I tend to be a little crunchy, but the epidural never bothered me. I just wanted to give myself the gift of self-trust. Of peak performance. Of leaning into nature.
It was a defining moment for me, and one that I will be forever grateful for.
Back to the action…
Once my labor stopped around 4:30 am on Wednesday morning, I started heavily swaying my body, which I had heard other women talk about doing to push their baby down into their cervix. Well (trigger warning), it worked! After just 10 minutes of that swaying my entire body, I thought my water broke. Turns out it was actually blood, which had happened with my daughter as well – the sign of a cervical change. Nonetheless, it was scary to see, so we went to the hospital.
Once at the hospital, I was dilated to about a 4.5 – not what I wanted to hear, but what I expected since my contractions weren’t that painful. They admitted me though, seeing that my body was progressing.
After two hours or so of laboring comfortably my OB came to visit and decided we should break my waters. I agreed, and at 7:30 am we did that. Not painful at all, but almost immediately my body started to respond. The contractions came on like a ton of bricks – heavy waves of pain in my lower back exclusively. From there we knew the baby was coming.
My back labor lasted four and a half hours. My husband dutifully held a hot pack on my back and gave counter pressure while a sat on a birthing ball and squeezed a wooden birthing comb through each surge of pain. The birthing comb really is just a wooden comb that I could squeeze to create counter pain – it helped a ton.
The real power though was in my breath, rhythmic and matched with each contraction. I was also nodding my head with my breath to keep my entire body on track. If I had control of that, I could manage – if I lost focus, I was in excruciating pain. My husband could see the difference and talked me through each breath, as did the nurses.
I was told so many times that our hospital/ a traditional OB/ nurses would be weird and negative about an unmedicated birth and that was not the case for me. They were all totally supportive and knew exactly what to do. They also didn’t let me quit when I wanted to – questioning if I had the energy to go on.
Once I dilated to about an 8, I was so tired from lack of sleep and managing the birth up to that point. I started questioning my ability to keep going. Joe wouldn’t let me quit in such a gentle way. He kept reminding me that I had gotten that far and we were so close. Each surge got me closer to the baby. I stayed the course.
My vision from day one – my “perfect birth” – was about nothing other than one moment. Me holding the baby on my chest while looking at my husband and saying, “we did it.” That moment is what I meditated on and manifested. And we did indeed get that moment.
Finally, at about 11:30 am, my nurse checked my cervix as I really felt pressure to push. I wasn’t all the way dilated, but my cervix was thin enough that she felt like they could move it out of the way to let the baby come. Damn you stubborn cervix! Grateful for the nurse and doctor though who knew we could move on.
And this is when things get … primal. The pushing. I made noises I didn’t know I had within me. Guttural, natural yet unnatural noises to muster up the strength to push. I was lucky, my pushing was about five minutes, but some of the most intense pain of my life. I did experience the “ring of fire”, but that was the indication of baby being right there. Then, pop, out he came! I literally felt him pop out, and then remember my husband saying quietly in awe, “it’s a boy?!” He was in disbelief.
The surprise of not knowing the gender truly was a gift for us. I 100% recommend that.
Once the baby was born, the pain stops and you are in oxytocin heaven. I just couldn’t stop saying “we did it. I can’t believe it.” and then thanked my nurses and doctors 1,000,000 times.
Part of the beauty of the unmedicated birth is the total flow of hormones, the ability to just be totally present and let you and your baby connect immediately. Postpartum now two weeks I can also attest to the fact that my milk came in in two days instead of four, my uterus shrank 3 times faster and my overall energy was back so much faster. My day seven post birth I was really feeling “normal” to a degree that I had not experienced prior.
I would recommend the unmediated birth entirely and still feel deeply proud of myself for persevering and leaning into what my body could do.
Natural Birth Resources:
A friend recommended these and I loved them for moments of doubt while just in my own head, and during all my false labor/ early labor. These would be a great gift!
This app had all the hypnobirthing resources and I LOVED the meditations. 10/10 recommend it, and they do a free trial for a month!
This specific episode on the purpose of pain in childbirth is incredible. Also hearing other women’s stories is so valuable.
This is the wooden comb that I used. Nothing special. You hold it so that the teeth hit you in the pads of your palm just below your fingers. My husband teased me about this, but it was essential for me.
I hope these resources help and honestly, find other women to cheer you on! My friends gave so much encouragement who had done it as well, and that really helped me stay the course.