When I was pregnant, I devoured positive, natural birth stories.
Maybe it was because my mom had two emergency c-sections. Growing up, I heard her near-death, terrifying birth stories.
Going into labor scared me. What if the same thing happened to me?
I determined to give birth my all. To have a vaginal, natural birth if at all possible.
I tried my hardest to create a positive atmosphere surrounding birth. If anyone started sharing their fear-filled birth story, I would leave the room or politely tell them I did not want to hear that.
Because I knew that fear would work against me in labor. I determined to banish fear as I prepared for my first birth.
Thinking ahead to your first birth is daunting enough without everyone wanting to share negative stories with you.
That is why I started looking up positive, natural birth stories. To counteract the negative and give myself something to focus on.
I knew that it would be easier if I focused on what I wanted rather than what I didn’t want in labor.
Now, I am thrilled to be able to add my positive, natural birth story to the list! I hope that pregnant women can read this story and be encouraged.
Because a joy-filled birth is possible!
My Birth Story
A thirty hour labor–it sounds long but for me it was beautiful and worth every second.
Two days before my due date I was antsy enough to crawl out of my skin. I felt huge. I was so ready to give birth to our first child–a baby girl (yea we found out the gender).
So ready, in fact, that I went for a swim, bounced on the birth ball, and ate some spicy wings for dinner. Something must have worked because I lost my mucus plug… at 3am that night!
Immediately, I felt menstrual-like cramps that were consistently five minutes apart and lasted thirty to forty-five seconds. I was excited! So excited in fact that I couldn’t sleep even though I figured I was in for the long haul and needed rest.
Waiting for the crack of dawn that night was the most restless sleeping hours of my life. When I called the birth center the next morning, they said I was in early labor. Hooray! My job? relax, try to sleep, and keep them updated throughout the day.
The cramps lengthened to about twenty minutes apart in the afternoon so we watched “The Switch,” decorated our Christmas tree, and went for a beautiful, leisurely walk around the pond, pausing for contractions.
During this time, my husband would count the contractions for me as a progress report. The next time I called the birth center, I was told to go in once there was a “noticeable change” in the intensity of the contractions or if my water broke.
Whether there was actually a change in intensity or whether we were just excited and wanted things to be moving more quickly than they were, we went in for a pelvic exam around 9:00 pm that night.
I was only 1.5 cm.
At least, I thought, I was making progress. The midwife asked me if I wanted her to swipe my membranes to get things moving and increase the intensity of the contractions.
Seeing no downside to this I said “sure, why not?” Holy cow that hurt! And it gave me the biggest contraction up to that point.
If I had known that swiping membranes can hurt, I may not have done it. This was only one of two times I felt any “pain” during the labor process.
But, I could have opted to not have my membranes swiped (you can read how I avoided this with my second birth).
We then decided to go home and labor for awhile until the contractions picked up in intensity.
Two more hours passed. The contractions were noticeably more intense and came about every 2-3 minutes apart so we went back to the birth center around 11:30 pm.
I was only dilated to 3 cm, but It felt wonderful to settle in there for the rest of labor. I felt more comfortable and at home there. Being a first-time mom, I felt like I needed help with some coping mechanisms and breathing through contractions.
I was also really loud and needed some help deciphering which noises were productive. The midwife Kayla was an amazing coach as was the doula Jessica who showed up around 3am. Her voice was so gentle and calming. I’m convinced that she got me through the worst part of labor. “Breathe. Draw from your source of power,” she would say.
The night lingered on as I kept glancing at the clock.
5:00 am. Each second seemed like an eternity yet as each hour passed I felt victorious. I labored intensely until my energy was spent and I didn’t think I could go on.
“Is it too late for an epidural? Is there anything you can do for the pain?” I asked. I had given up on myself and didn’t think I couldn’t do it anymore. Kayla checked me and I was still only at 5 cm.
My heart sank.
This was the only point during my first labor that I would say I felt pain. It was very brief though. I would say the rest of the labor was pain-free.
The Dance Party!
Calmly, Kayla and Jessica told me that they could either give me Benadryl and hope I sleep awhile between contractions (yea right!), or they could break my water, turn up the lights and throw a dance party to move things along.
I knew that I probably wouldn’t sleep even with Benadryl so I said “let’s dance!”
When Kayla broke my water during my next contraction, I laughed it felt so good. Finally, I felt noticeable progress! My husband turned on a cardio dance workout pandora station and the midwives danced with me.
Time ceased to exist. It actually felt good to see the fluid leaking and watch the noticeable progress.
This gave me my second wind. And I love dancing! Each squat beside the bed, each movement through the contractions felt so good. As the contractions lengthened to 5 minutes apart, I felt sweet relief between each surge. I had found my labor groove.
In less than two hours, I danced my way from 5 to 10 cm!
The Pushing Phase
Finally, I started feeling the urge to push during the contractions. At first, pushing felt so good and I knew the end was in sight. I could see the finish line of my marathon and it was triumphant.
But it wasn’t over yet. For two more hours, I pushed standing up, on the toilet, and squatting. I’ve always been a rather loud person but I have never in my life made such loud, primal, animalistic noises than when I was pushing. With each contraction, I would feel 3-4 urges to push and each was different and required various guttural noises.
I had always wanted a natural water birth in the tub so Kayla told me when I was close to crowning and asked if I wanted to move to the tub.
It felt like there was a bowling ball between my legs but I somehow managed to hobble to the tub and get in. After a few more pushes I was able to reach down and feel my precious baby’s head with my hands. How amazing! My baby was finally coming to me!
Kayla even held up a mirror so I could see her. The proverbial “ring of fire” when the baby’s head is crowning didn’t last as long as I thought it would and before I knew it, her head was out!
My husband was able to catch our baby girl with Kayla’s help. He said the first thing he saw was her beautiful blue eyes widely staring up at him through the water.
She came fast once her head was out. At first, Kayla said “wait until the next contraction to push the body out.” But her shoulders were already out so Kayla said “what the heck just go ahead and push her out.”
The most welcome phrase of my life!
Our precious Zoey Ciela Bent was born at 9:29 am on December 2nd, 2015 and time stood still. One of 4% of the babies that are actually born on their due date.
My legs were shaking, my body ached, but I felt like superwoman! It was like I had just run a marathon but still felt on top of the world. Love radiated from my being. I wanted to hug the whole world!
I was so thankful to God, my husband, and everyone at the birth center who did such an incredible job taking care of me and helping me on the most amazing day of my life… when I became a mom. Thirty hours may have been long, but it was such a joyful birth.
There’s my story! As you prepare for labor, I encourage you to focus on the positive and put all fear aside. I look forward to hearing your positive birth story soon!
What kind of birth are you looking forward to? Do you already have a positive birth story? Share it in the comments below!