Shayla give us a great comparison of three births at different locations: a hospital, birthing center and at home (on purpose).
I am the proud mother of 3 daughters. My first was born in March 1982, my second in April 1992, and my last baby was born in November 1994. Each birth story was unique. Of course, no two are ever just alike. I encourage all expectant mothers to consider choosing a midwife for help with the pre-natal care and delivery of your baby.
With my first pregnancy, I was 21 years old and I did not realize that I could do anything but go to a doctor. Insurance was paying, so that was what I did. I labored at the hospital from Saturday night till Monday morning. The nurses at the hospital wouldn’t let me out of the bed. They told me that if I had a drink of water, I might barf on their shiny floor; “Can’t have that!” I would sit up, the nurse would push me back repeating “Relax!”
The doctor kept checking his watch and after a couple of commands to “push”, he yanked my baby out with forceps and put her in an incubator. They wheeled me into the recovery room. “I am going to breast feed!” I announced proudly. “But that means we’ll have to bring you your baby every 2 hours!” I was too tired and elated to be shocked by what the nurse said and by being put through what they deemed to be normal procedures. I had not had a sonogram, so nothing could ruin this beautiful surprise! My baby girl was jaundiced and so that meant a 4 day stay for both of us while she was treated under the bilirubin lights. The chaplan who made his hospital rounds exclaimed “You seem very comfortable with your baby!” However, the nurses were very glad to see us go. It was mutual.
That doctor had sewn the episiotomy carelessly. Ten years later, my midwife at the birthing center tsked tsked under her breath. She promised me a much better birth experience this time. And it was! The birth center was great! I went into labor on a Saturday afternoon, but by Sunday morning they whisked me to the hospital because I was “failing to progress”. My midwife attempted to help my cervix open with her fingers, but it just wasn’t happening. I cried as the anesthesiologist administered the pitocin and saddle block. Thank God my midwife did not leave me! I needed her to stand between the nurses and all of their beeping, blinking machines and my in-laws who were there to see their grandbaby born. Three big snips from the doctor’s scissors cutting the episiotomy are clear as a bell on the birth video. My baby girl emerged with the cone on the side of her head, the umbilical cord wrapped twice around her neck. My midwife stayed with my baby as the labor nurses rolled her on the warming table. Apgar score was 1 at one minute, then 8 at five minutes so my baby was perfectly fine. I was very grateful! My midwife had saved me from having a C-section.
Early in 1994, I woke with some pain. We had been trying to get pregnant so I was trying not to think that it could ectopic (a tubal pregnancy). I called my midwife at the birth center. “Come right over!” After a positive pregnancy test, we were scheduled promptly for a sonogram. There it was, a little group of cells and in just the right place. I sat with my midwife and she said “Your cervix healed perfectly, but …”. She could not guarantee me what I wanted for this pregnancy – a completely natural delivery with no trip to the hospital. I wanted them involved only if it meant life or death. What she had done for me with my second birth was awesome, but… I really wanted a completely natural delivery with my third baby.
My husband and I ran a small business. The phone rang and it was a midwife at a women’s wellness center needing our service. She was a midwife who comes to her client’s the house. Her record was three calls to 911 in ten years of midwifery! “Let me see your hands” I said. They were small. I had found my midwife! At my regularly scheduled appointment the day after my due date, my midwife examined and then gave my cervix a wiggle, giggling, “See you later!” My mom asked me, “See you later?” — I went into labor at 4:00 that afternoon. The calls went out and 12 of my favorite people in the whole world assembled to witness the bringing forth of life. I was jubilant! I would have what I wanted, a completely natural birth with all of my loved ones there with me.
My husband held me through every contraction. We felt the throes of nature pass through me together. How wonderful it was to move about the house and then just allow the waves that were opening my body to wash over us. I easily breathed the way we had been taught in Lamaze class.
I had a dear family friend, age 14 take care of my 2 year old there in the house. She saw her mommy dancing with her shirt off. She danced too! But mommy turned into a gruff, barking monster, just for a couple of minutes at a time. I continued throughout the night dancing in between contractions. The bliss I felt just kept expanding. I splashed in the bathtub, my cat observed from her perch on the rim. My brother-in-law and father-in-law shaded their eyes from my bouncing body. They didn’t know where I was, in the kitchen for a drink? on the couch for a break? would she give birth on the bed? I breathed, I danced! I groaned.
Finally, I was ready to push this baby out. My midwife’s stethoscope said she was fine. I alighted on the couch. My elbows compressed the cushions and my feet spread wide on the floor. She let me touch my baby’s crowning head! That velvety hair under my fingers was like nothing I had ever felt. “Can my husband touch?” “Yes” Yes, yes, yes! One more push and everyone cheered when they could see the baby’s ear!
She was born pink and smiling. No episiotomy. There was no gunk in her nose or throat! We sat glowing all together 20 minutes before the midwife suggested that we cut the umbilical cord. Apgar score at one minute, 9, and at five minutes, 9.
It was after 11:00 at night and slowly everyone made their way out the door. My mom helped me into my own shower and then into my own bed. My husband brought our baby in and closed the door. He unwrapped the blanket and together we counted pink fingers and toes. She slept on her daddy’s chest. I was high from this experience for 2 years at least. When I met someone new I would shake hands and say “Hi, I had my baby at home!” The next person would come along and again I would shake hands, “Hi, I had my baby at home!” Many people asked me, “Did you have her at home, on purpose?” “Yes! I had my baby at home, on purpose.”
Consider all the options carefully. Choose what is right for you. Seek out and find someone you trust for your pre-natal care and delivery. I hope my three stories have educated and inspired you. Happy pregnancy and delivery!