I think the most important thing that Birth Help classes and doula support gave me was a sense of empowerment with my birth. Having knowledge of what actually happens physically during birth made the thought of it less daunting.
For first time moms, or at least for me, I think there tends to be a lot of fear surrounding what happens during birth but our doula taught us we really are in control of our attitude towards birth and how we want our birth to go (excluding medical emergencies).
Being informed and learning about birth through the classes really helped bond us as a couple as we discussed and imagined how we wanted our birth to go. I also know it helped my husband to better understand how he could help me during the birth and be an active participant instead of just standing by. All in all I am so happy we chose to work with René in classes and as our doula.I think it really gave me the confidence and was a major player in helping me achieve a birth that I wanted!
I loved reading and hearing birth stories when I was pregnant so I figured I would share mine. I had my first child, a baby boy, on 12/9. My due date was actually not until 12/29, he came three weeks early!
I knew I wanted to attempt to have a natural birth and my husband was supportive of this as well. Since this was our first child and not knowing what to expect, we sought out classes and doula support to help us along the way. I found the Birth Help website from the Woman’s Hospital website and we contacted our doula to set up a meeting. The meeting with our doula, René, really helped solidify my decision to have a natural birth and we signed up for birth classes as well. I felt more confident in being able to achieve a natural birth with knowledge learned from the classes and knowing that a doula would be present for additional support.
On 12/8/15 I had my 37 week appointment. I had declined to have my doctor check my progress at my 36 week appointment but by this 37 week appointment curiosity got the best of me and I had the doctor check me. I was only 1 cm dilated and 70% effaced. I knew from our birth classes to try my best to not harp on these numbers and let them get me discouraged so I put them in the back of my head and went on with my day.
That night we attended a birth class (Natural Birth Series) our doula taught. During class I did have some light contractions, but they were so faint I did not think much of them at all. Class ended at 9 pm and we were at home in bed by 10pm. At midnight, I got up to use the bathroom, and when I sat down I noticed my underwear were soaked. I walked back to my bed and realized there was a huge wet spot where I was laying; my water broke while I was sleeping! I was so shocked. I wasn’t feeling any contractions yet at all.
I woke up my husband telling him I thought my water broke and we called our doula, René, to let her know. After some questions and talking with her, she said yes, it sounds like that was indeed your water breaking. She told me that if I wasn’t having contractions they would probably start sometime soon. Since we wanted to enter the hospital in active labor, she suggested to try and go back to sleep if I could and to call when I started having regular contractions. We got off the phone and I tried to sleep, but I was too excited! Shortly after hanging up with her, my contractions started. My husband fell back asleep when we lay down (typical), so when my contractions started I got up and went in the other room so he could get some sleep.
From about 12:30am-5:30am I was having contractions. Of course, they did not start out very intense. I utilized all the techniques we learned about in our birth classes and tried my best to breathe through them, listened to music, went outside with the dogs, took a shower etc. As they got more intense, I started to get nauseous and was throwing up with every contraction. I did not expect that at all. By 5:30 am they were pretty strong and I didn’t want to be alone anymore so I woke up my husband and told him he had to help me as I was at this point starting to get a little discouraged about going the natural route.
We called René to update her. She suggested once my contractions got a minute long and about 3 minutes apart to call her back and Dave and I could decide about going to the hospital. I continued to labor at home. I used an exercise ball to bounce on and sway on and had the help of my husband to get through the more intense contractions.
By 8:00 am my contractions were roughly a minute long and 3 minutes apart - we called our doula and told her we were heading to the hospital and she met us there. By this point my contractions felt very strong, and I was having to work to get through them. Vocalizing and swaying helped a lot.
They checked me when we got to the hospital and I was 4 cm dilated. They sent me up to a birth room by 8:30 am where I was hooked up to a wireless monitor so I could move around. I got in the bathtub in the bathroom and labored in there for a little while. René and my husband were so great and supportive the entire time, reminding me to breathe and helping me with positions and staying calm. My husband had the shower wand and would put the hot water on my back and offered massage, etc. There were a few times I started to lose it from the pain…a few times my doula looked at me and lovingly said, “Get it together, you can do this!” I have a good laugh thinking of that now, but it was what I needed. I was able to bring it back down and work through the contractions by getting in different positions, swaying, vocalizing, saying mantra’s, etc. My husband was talking to me the whole time encouraging me as well.
I spent most of my time laboring in the bathtub. During this time, the nurses were setting up the larger birth tub in the room. After a few hours of labor it seemed I was having the urge to push. I got out of the tub, and since labor seemed to be progressing quickly, to be sure we discussed requesting a cervical exam. It was hard for me to even lay down because my contractions were so close together at this point. The nurse checked me and I was at 7 cm. I stayed out of the tub and labored for another 30 minutes or so getting in different positions. The most natural position for me was on my hands and knees.
At this point I was really having the urge to push, and when the nurse checked me again I was 10 cm, so she called the doctor. At this point I was thinking okay, it is go time if they are calling the doctor in here. Unfortunately, this day was my regular doctor’s day off so another doctor came in to deliver. The on-call doctor wanted me to be flat on my back to push, and we went back and forth over this. This was not my plan and my regular doctor was okay with me being in whatever position I needed; however, this doctor was not. Ultimately, we compromised for a sitting-up position.
I began pushing with each contraction I felt. I had a hard time catching my breath and was just a little flustered at some points pushing. My doula and husband really helped me catch my breath, calm down and get some good pushes in. It was weird because to me, when I wasn’t pushing/having a contraction I wasn’t really in pain at all, and that surprised me. I was not expecting pushing to have breaks from the pain. I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect with this part of labor. Only when I was pushing was it painful. I pushed for about 20 minutes and my son was born at 11:24am at 5lbs 5 ounces.
One of the things we wanted was delayed cord clamping. My husband had to really stop the doctor from cutting the cord immediately and they went back and forth over it for a few minutes. Ultimately, the doctor did wait after my husband insisted a million times that this is what we wanted.
From start to finish my labor was a little less than 12 hours. I was so stunned I could not believe I had really just birthed this baby!! It was the most amazing thing ever!