Pain-Free Midwife Assisted Natural Birth of My Enormous Baby [Part 3] –
Several months ago, I started telling the story of my son’s birth. I got a little sidetracked over the summer, suffered from some type of blogging ADHD, but now I’m back to finish that tale. I know you’ve all been holding your breath in anticipation, but you probably need to go back and read the first two parts to refresh yourself on how I arrived at the pain-free, midwife-assisted, natural birth of my whopper child.
- Pain-Free Midwife Assisted Natural Birth of My Enormous Baby [Part 1]
- Pain-Free Midwife Assisted Natural Birth of My Enormous Baby [Part 2]
As stated in my previous post on the topic, one potential downside of a pain-free labor is that it’s really difficult to know if you are in labor. I’m definitely not complaining though. I greatly prefer the not knowing option.
While the labor with my son was pain-free, I won’t pretend the last few weeks of the pregnancy were entirely comfortable. He was taking up all the space in my body, and the only way I could sleep at all was sitting completely upright because any other position made it impossible to breathe well. And then there’s the constant peeing that’s bad enough even with a normal-sized baby in your uterus.
I also had Braxton Hicks contractions constantly from about 20 weeks on with every pregnancy. I would have them every few minutes for hours at a time. If I followed the standard rules they give women about calling your provider if the contractions are less than 5 minutes apart for more than an hour, I would have had to call several times a day for the entire second half of every pregnancy. Needless to say, I just ignored them.
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**Disclaimer – I am not a healthcare provider. I do not have a medical degree. Nothing I say should ever be considered medical advice. You should seek medical advice from your own medical provider. I am only relaying my own personal experiences. You should do your own research, consult dozens of reliable sources, and make your own decisions.
The Appointment with the Midwife
I think my estimated due date was on the 15th for this pregnancy, so my appointment on the 9th was probably my 39-week check. I went to the midwife’s that afternoon expecting her to tell me it could be any day which was what she told me the prior week and the week before that.
I know most women are hoping to be told they are in labor, but I actually was not. I really wanted to deliver at the birthing center (small ranch-style house in the middle of Muncie), but my insurance at that time would not cover anything but a hospital delivery. My hospital option was a very small community hospital in my own county which was, at that time, in the process of building a new facility.
My midwife had been allowed to help design the birthing rooms in the new hospital with birthing tubs. My due date fell on the week they were moving patients from the old hospital to the new one, so I was really hoping to make it to my due date.
That day of my 39-week appointment, I initially saw the student midwife. She helped my almost 3-year-old measure my belly and use the Doppler to listen to the heartbeat as always. My daughter loved getting to be so involved with the appointments.
When the student midwife checked my progress, she very calmly (midwives are always very calm) informed me I was dilated well past 4cm and appeared to be in labor. Then she asked how long I was in labor with my first, and I told her for 3 hours. If you would like to read about the horrible, horrible three hours I was in labor with my first, you can click here.
Related Post: Why I Had the Rest of My Kids with a Midwife
When the student midwife learned I was only in labor for three hours with my first, she very calmly and cheerfully said she thought we should talk to the actual midwife, so we waited a few minutes until she was finished seeing another patient. The midwife also had a peek, and she said, “Oh, look. There’s the head. It’s a head full of dark hair.”
The midwife agreed I was in labor, and though they normally would have sent someone at 4cm on home to labor as long as possible, they didn’t think they should do that with me. The hospital about 40 minutes away from the birthing center.
They asked if I had eaten, and I told them we were planning to grab lunch after the appointment. The midwife said I should stop for a light lunch somewhere and head on to the hospital, and she would meet me there as soon as she finished the next few appointments. She also asked if it would be okay for the student midwife to attend the birth too. Of course, I said that was fine.
We had been carrying the hospital bag around in the car for a couple of weeks, so we didn’t need to run by home. We stopped at Boston Market to get something to eat. This was a great improvement on my last birth experience where they told me I was leaking water at my appointment and sent me on to the hospital where I was supposed to be induced (didn’t end up being induced) with instructions not to eat anything. At that hospital, not only did they not let me eat anything all evening, they also didn’t feed me after the delivery because it was 9:30 pm, and I was starving the entire time besides being miserable in general.
At Boston Market, I had some chicken tortilla soup and cornbread which I thought was a perfectly respectable meal for someone about to give birth. We arrived at the hospital with our bellies full. My belly was really, really full with a very large baby. My mom works in the same town as the hospital, so she met us there to take care of the toddler.
Arrival at the Hospital
Unfortunately, everything was still at the old hospital building, and they only had one room there for giving birth. Just like with my first birth, there was no room at the inn. They didn’t have a room for me. The people checking me in, of course, didn’t think that was a big deal because they were sure it would “be a while” before I delivered. I just chuckled at that and told them the same thing had already happened to me before, and I was sure I would deliver first.
Since they didn’t have a room for me, they had to put me in this room that wasn’t really a patient room usually. I think it was a room they mostly used as a storage closet. The nurses called it “the garage.” It was very small, and they had to move some random, old equipment out of it. It was definitely not 5-star accommodations based on the decor, but this very amazing thing happened.
They put me in that room, and they hooked me up to everything. But because it was not a real room, and the equipment there was apparently old stuff they kept just in case, none of it worked properly. The monitoring equipment kept setting off the alarm constantly. It wouldn’t register anything the way it should. Someone finally came in and asked me if I was okay with not being monitored, and they would just check the heart rate periodically. It was a miracle of epic proportions. I was free. I could move however I wanted without being bothered.
At some point, a nurse finally checked me, and said, “Oh, you really are in labor, but you’re not really acting like it.” She said I was probably at 5 then. There was no bathroom in “the garage,” so I asked if I could go to the bathroom. She told me I could do whatever I wanted and I was welcome to walk around the halls if I wanted to let gravity help the labor along. This was another great improvement.
At the previous hospital with my daughter’s birth, every time I wanted to go to the bathroom, I had to push the button, and someone had to come and unhook me, and they acted completely annoyed by it. But this time, everyone was eager to help and be involved, and they let me do whatever I felt like doing.
My husband and I walked around the halls until the midwives got to the hospital.
The Midwives Arrive
When the midwives arrived, I think I had been at the hospital for maybe an hour. It was a Tuesday, and there was a new episode of Gilmore Girls airing that night. In my head, I was sort of mentally calculating how many hours I had to birth the baby and still get all cleaned up in time to watch Gilmore Girls. Don’t judge! This was before DVR. (Who am I kidding? I don’t even have satellite TV now, so today is still before DVR for me).
Whatever time it was then, I had determined by my sophisticated calculations that I had about 3 hours to get the job done and still get to watch Gilmore Girls. I think my appointment at the birthing center had been at 1 or 1:30, and it might have been around 3:30 by then.
During all of this, my daughter would come in and out of the room periodically to see how things were going. My mom had taken her to Aldi and bought some kind of Bob the Builder playset that she was pretty excited about having in the waiting room. She would pop in to ask questions though.
When the midwife checked, I think I was around 6 cm. She asked if I wanted my water broken. She made sure I knew the risks involved. She told me it can lead to a higher risk of c-section because the baby has to be delivered 24 hours after the water is broken due to the increased chance of infection as time passes.
We discussed the pros and cons. We knew that I delivered 3 hours after having my water broken with my first. My midwife said that my labor was progressing nicely anyway, and she definitely didn’t anticipate a labor lasting anywhere near 24 hours, but there are always risks involved with intervention.
She explained the positioning of the baby’s head at that moment in time. She said the amniotic sac being still intact was keeping the baby’s head a little higher, so it wasn’t fully acting on the cervix yet. She believed breaking my water would move the baby’s head down to where it was really doing work on the cervix, but that would also likely increase the intensity of contractions for me like it did with my first birth.
The midwife explained all the pros and cons and all the risks and asked me if I wanted my water broken. This was very different from my first birth where I had no say in anything at all. No one explained anything. No one even seemed to know or care about the position of the baby.
I wish I could remember if I chose to have her break my water or not, but I can’t remember for sure. I think what we decided was to wait a certain length of time to see how far I had dilated, and then I was going to have it broken if the progress wasn’t much. My husband thinks I had her break it right then because I was trying to see Gilmore Girls.
Transition labor is the time when birth usually gets unbearable for a lot of women. I didn’t really see a difference with this birth. I did not feel pain with any of the contractions clear up to the pushing. There was pressure. The contractions were pressure. Just pressure. I could feel them, but they were not pain. They were like the discomfort you feel when lifting weights or doing squats. I could feel the muscle contracting and relaxing. There was a little bit of burn like the burn when working out, but there was not pain.
I had to work very hard at keeping my body relaxed though. With each contraction, I would just breathe very slowly, close my eyes, and force my body to be relaxed. If I had let myself get scared or tense, I’m sure there would have been pain. Fear and tension = pain. There’s a lot more about the importance of being relaxed in Part 2 of this series.
All through the transition labor, I could still talk and laugh. This picture was taken shortly before I was pushing.
The midwife had me squatting for a while to help move the baby down into a better position. Squatting and kneeling are actually the most efficient birthing positions. Lying on your back is the worst possible position for birthing as far as the physics and mechanics of moving the baby through the birth canal and so on.
When I started to feel like pushing, I moved into the bed, but the midwife had them sit the bed upright at 90 degrees, so I could kneel while leaning over the back of the bed. I was in that position for a lot of the pushing. There were times when the midwife would have me move from one side to the other. She would explain the position of the baby, and why moving my body this way or that would give the baby more room to move through certain spaces.
I did end up flipping over to my back for the last couple of pushes. By then my daughter was in the room, but I don’t remember when she entered. I just remember when they told her the baby would be out any minute, she started asking, “Can I take off the shoes? I want to see the cute, little toes. Can I see the toes?” The nurses were laughing as they explained the shoes and clothing situation to her.
The pushing was kind of hard. It wasn’t really painful, but it was pretty intense. This time, no one was telling me when to push. No one was counting to ten and making me push. If I said, I was too tired. The midwife said, “Then just rest through this one.” I pushed for about an hour, maybe a little longer.
There were times during the pushing when I was having to recite a lot of scripture in my head because it was a lot of work, and it seemed like I was never going to get the baby pushed out.
The crowning did actually hurt. For that brief second, the ring of fire, that really did hurt, but that part is over so quickly.
As the baby crowned, every other person in the room – my husband, my mom, the midwife, the student midwife, the nurses, everyone – gasped. They all at the very same time gasped – one huge collective gasped – and then silence. That was the only moment when I felt an ounce of fear, and I started frantically asking, “What’s wrong with my baby?”
Then the midwife laughed, and said, “It’s just a REALLY big baby.”
Then I Had to Deliver the Shoulders
The head of a 10lb 14oz baby is huge, but the shoulders are even worse. I seriously wanted to just leave him hanging like that because the thought of having to still deliver the shoulders was almost too much. It took a couple more pushes to get the shoulders. I always forget about the shoulders every time.
He was a REALLY big baby. His face was so fat, he could barely open his eyes, but he was also the most adorable sight with his little rolly cheeks. He started nursing right away, and they let me keep him.
I think I delivered the placenta while he was nursing. No one punched my stomach this time. They just told me to massage my stomach every couple of hours. There was quite a bit of bleeding, and the student midwife asked if they should order Pitocin to help slow the bleeding, but that was right as the baby started nursing. The midwife said they would wait just a minute longer because it would likely slow. The bleeding slowed on its own (nursing causes the release of Oxytocin, the natural hormone for which Pitocin is a synthetic).
Someone from the lab came and took blood while my son was nursing to check his blood sugar because he was so large, but his glucose level was perfect. He was just a big baby.
A Much Better Recovery
I delivered around 6:30 pm which meant there was plenty of time to spare before Gilmore Girls. I didn’t end up watching it though because then there were lots of visitors, but that was okay. My son is the only son of an only son of an only son, so he is the surname carrier. He needed to visit with his now deceased Papaw during Gilmore Girls.
The recovery for this birth was a night and day difference from my first birth. For one, there was only a very small amount of tearing that did not need stitching. The midwife said she was confident I would not have torn at all if I had not had a previous episiotomy. I only had just a small tear along the previous episiotomy. This is why it’s very important to let your body do the pushing and let the natural pushing go along at its own rate instead of the ten-count pushing which doesn’t give the body time to stretch on its own.
If someone tells you an episiotomy is somehow better and heals better, that is WRONG. I’ve given birth four times. The only one where the recovery was horrible and painful was the one where I had an episiotomy. The episiotomy took much longer to heal!
It took weeks before I could walk around without severe pain from my daughter’s birth. I felt amazing after the birth of all my other children, including my super huge son. And my midwife released me after 12 hours! I only had to stay overnight. I could go back to my own house and nurse my baby and sleep in peace! You can read about all the ways my previous birth at another hospital caused a very rocky start to breastfeeding my daughter.
One of the Best Decisions of My Life
Between the switch of hospitals and choosing a midwife, there was a night and day difference between the birth of my son and my first horrible birth experience. There was basically no recovery with the birth of my son. I gave birth to all 10 pounds 14 ounces of him, and I felt great immediately after. I was a little bit sleepy from not being able to sleep well for a few weeks prior while he was cramming my lungs, but my body felt fine within minutes of giving birth.
I also feel quite certain staying with the doctor I used for my daughter’s birth would have resulted in a c-section for my son’s birth. That doctor was already very concerned about whether I was going to be able to deliver my daughter who was over two pounds smaller than my son. I feel fairly confident, my son’s size would have been monitored closely by the doctor, and I would have faced pressure to schedule a c-section. Just imagine that? His labor was completely natural and pain-free. My body was obviously perfectly capable of giving birth to him.
My son’s birth was amazing and empowering, while my oldest daughter’s birth left me feeling emotionally drained and like I had been physically hit by a truck weeks (maybe even months) afterwards.
My younger two daughters were not born in a hospital, and that turned out to be even better, but that’s a story for another day.
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