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My Natural Home Birth (And Why My Doula Was Worth Every Penny!)

My Natural Home Birth

 I had a natural home birth and I’m nobody special.

If I had one, then you could too!

My Natural Home Birth

Recently I shared the experience that drove me to choose a natural home birth for my 3rd child’s delivery. You can read about it here: http://dontcallmesupermom.com/2017/03/14/hospital-home-birth-my-story/

As promised, here is the follow up post with just how well that decision worked out for my family and me!

March 11th, My Baby's Due Date :

7:30am :  I was laying in bed when I noticed a warm trickle between my legs…I’d just been to the bathroom a few minutes earlier, so I definitely wasn’t peeing the bed. In slight disbelief, I laid completely still for a few moments to assess the situation. It was definitely my waters…and more water was coming out every second. I reached over and tapped my husband, whispering,

“My water broke…”

My poor husband. He wasn’t ready. The longer baby boy stayed in my belly safe and sound, the better in his opinion. He was slightly nervous about my natural home birth plan. Hubby’s response amused me…he quietly murmured,

“It did? Ohhh no…Ohhh boy….”

He knew it was game on, no turning back now!

This is the 2nd time I’ve had a labor start with a broken bag of waters, and its always so awkward…what do you do with gushing water between your legs? On this occasion, there was no need for a towel to cover the leather seats in our car, or hoping a pad would sufficiently soak up the flow until we made it to the hospital. I calmly stood in our bathroom over a towel, texting my midwife and doula. I brushed my teeth, put on makeup, and ate bacon and eggs.

After awhile, I felt the water had subsided enough for me to come downstairs and hang out with the family. I wasn’t feeling any pain, so I told my doula not to come yet and my midwife said she would check me in 4-6 hours if no contractions had started. I was to keep everyone posted if there was any bloody show or contractions.

Nothing exciting happened for hours. And hours.

40 weeks pregnant
We took one last baby bump pic that morning! 40 weeks exactly!

11am : I’m losing some of the mucus plug. Whoopee! Keeping things interesting (sarcasm). Still no contractions or pain, just feeling a little pressure in my lower belly and a slight lower back ache. Lots of walking around the house and trying to keep busy. Removed clean sheets from dryer to remake the bed after I got them wet earlier in the morning. Painted all my daughter’s nails (fingers AND toes) as well as my toenails. Blue, for baby boy. 🙂

Noon: Feeling more achey in my lower back. Still no actual contractions, but at least I can tell something promising is going on.

My first labor crosses my mind. I had to be induced because my waters had broken and contractions didn’t start quickly enough for the hospital’s liking. What if they never started on their own? But my midwife said there’s no time limit until 48 hours. At 12 hours she would add some herbs to the labor process. I feel reassured that at least we have a backup plan!

Still losing water, but a smaller amount. I was told that I would continue leaking until the baby came because your body keeps making amniotic fluid until the birth. Makes sense!

2pm : My back is hurting more and more, but is only slightly worse than period cramps.

My midwife checks me and I’m at 2 centimeters (3 if she stretches a bit). I’m instructed to take a dropper full of cotton root oil every 30 minutes to help the contractions along. My doula decides to head on over since she is a 45 minute drive away.

The midwife will come back for another check at 6pm, she says.

2:30pm : I’m still quite jovial, texting friends and hanging out with the family. Feeling a little more discomfort after the cervical check but nothing I can’t walk and talk through. I’m still not sure if these are considered contractions or not. (Shouldn’t I know by the third child?)

I’m finding lots of reasons to go up and down the stairs, to hopefully get that baby moving!

3pm : My doula has arrived! Not much for her or anyone else to do so…we go down to the basement and watch a Steve Martin movie while I pace the floor trying to help the labor along. I start timing contractions (or something like them?) on my contraction app!

4pm : This dumb app makes me laugh. My contractions are nowhere near regular (every where between 1.5 minutes and 6 minutes apart!) but it keeps telling me silly things like, “Delivery is immediate. Get to the hospital!”. I have to keep walking because the one time I sat down, I didn’t have another contraction for 10 whole minutes!

I had one contraction sitting on the exercise ball – I thought it was never going to end and I would never get up again. Lesson learned, the ball is not an effective labor tool for this girl!

4:30pm : Since things are picking up and the movie is over, I decide to eat a little dinner before I no longer feel like eating. Turns out, I lose my appetite halfway through my bowl of chicken chili and we (hubby, doula and I) decide to move things upstairs away from the rest of the family.

5pm : I text my midwife, “Contractions are still irregular, but they’ve definitely picked up in intensity. Pain is still bearable…But almost not so bearable.” She asked if I wanted a check sooner than 6pm as originally planned. I respond, “They’re getting worse, anytime.” She soon slips her shoes on…

6pm : Midwife arrives just a few minutes before 6pm to do a cervical check. I look at her and sigh, “I don’t want you to check me.” She exclaims, “Yay! You’re having a baby! That’s a good sign when you don’t want to be checked!” I lay down on the bed and we wait through a fairly painful contraction until she can check me. I’m only 4-5 centimeters and 90% effaced, but at least I’ve made progress!

Immediately after she leaves the contractions pick up with a vengeance. I stop texting my friends and my mom. I can barely text the midwife because I forgot to ask if I should keep taking the cotton root oil.

6:40pm : I begin to think maybe a home birth was a stupid idea. If I’m only at about 5 centimeters, how in the world am I going to make it to full dilation and push a baby out??

6:50pm: I tell my doula I’m feeling a little like I could push during the last few contractions. She rubs my back and tells me she doesn’t think I could have dilated that quickly and offers a new pain management technique or change of position.

7pm : My husband texts the midwife from my phone that I feel a little like pushing during contractions. She thinks it is me texting, so she calmly replies that it is common to feel that way around 6-7cm, but she will head on back. (If I could still text, there’s no way I’m about to push a baby out, right?)

7:15pm : My husband texts the midwife, “Head showing.”

7:18pm : And then he texts, “Head out.”

7:19pm : Midwife walks in the door.

7:20pm : Baby boy is born!

So what exactly happened in just over an hour after that 6pm check by my midwife where I was still only halfway to birthing a baby??? Besides possibly doubting my sanity in this crazy home birth decision…

My husband was busy filling up the birthing tub I planned to labor in once the contractions got worse. While he was busy doing that, my doula, Caroline, was busy massaging my back. She applied counter pressure whenever I had a contraction. Another technique was putting her hands on either side of my hips and squeezing, which really helped combat the intense pressure I was feeling in that area.

A contraction hit during an outfit change! I got really hot a few times and decided to put on shorts and a tank. My doula is applying counter pressure here during that contraction.

I was still trying to walk between contractions, but they were only about a minute apart and soon I could no longer even press the stop/start button on my contraction timer app.

Then suddenly I had a contraction where I felt like I could push. And another. I can’t describe if it sounded like I was grunting, trying to catch my breath, or dry heaving, lol. My body took over and did something I had no control over. I felt my body pushing, and I had nothing to do with it.

Caroline, my doula, suggested I see if I could go to the bathroom or if just sitting on the toilet would help me relax through contractions. I learned that this was a trick of the trade during my natural home birth research and preparation. Laboring woman often find that this is a comfortable position that offers a little relief through the pains.

But after my doula heard me go through two powerful back to back contractions on the toilet, she changed her mind. Caroline kindly insisted I get off the toilet and over to the bed. I groaned,

“I don’t think I can!”

It seemed like the most incredibly impossible task at that moment in time, but somehow I managed to leave the bathroom, kicking off my shorts along the way.

(I guess I knew the baby was coming soon at that point, because I’m not sure what else would have possessed me to do that, haha! I’m normally a pretty modest person, and was adamant about staying clothed during labor. 🙂 )

I rolled up into bed and laid on my side. The contractions were unrivaled in their intensity, causing me to whimper and whine. Having my doula there to massage and press on my back was really comforting. I knew I was in good hands!

Natural Home Birth
My last few contractions before pushing!

After a few more contractions, I felt a really strong urge to do something…It scared me a little, because I wasn’t sure exactly what it was! I decided that now, if ever, was the time for honesty. Gasping for breath, I told my doula, “I feel. Like I have. To push…Or poop.” Lol! It was really hard to tell the difference. Just in case, I resisted the urge, whatever kind of urge it was, for a few moments. Finally, I gave in and started pushing my baby’s head out.

(At this point, my midwife is still on her way in the car – luckily she only lives 15 minutes away!)

My doula told me I could reach down and feel the baby’s head…I thought that seemed a little gross at first – I mean…there’s all those bodily fluids, yuck! But I did, and it was the most awesome feeling in the world! The contractions had eased and I don’t remember feeling any pain at that point, just joy and excitement!

Once the head crowned, I remarked,

“I wish I could see it!”

My husband leapt into action, looking for a mirror. He ran into our daughters’ room and fiddled with the tall mirror screwed into their wall. Deciding THAT wouldn’t work, he ran into the guest bathroom. He looked at the huge mirror over the sink, thinking he would have to carry that into the bedroom for me. And finally he remembered we have a small porthole window shaped mirror in our nautical themed nursery. He grabbed that and dashed back into our bedroom to see the baby’s head coming out.

My husband stood at the bedside feeling all his fatherly feels, lovingly gazing at our emerging baby while I thought, “Oh for goodness sake, where’s the camera?!”. I exclaimed,

“Ryan! Get the camera; take pictures!”

He snapped a few awesome photos that no one but us will probably ever see in their unedited version, but I’m so glad to have captured that amazing moment!

Natural Home Birth
My doula congratulating me on the baby’s head emerging! Photo cropped to remove delicate subject matter. 😀

My doula suggested we let the baby’s head sit and rest for a moment to let my body stretch and avoid tearing. (And also since my midwife was almost there!) I was fine with this, as I didn’t have the urge to push again for a few minutes. I noticed the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck and asked if that was alright. My doula calmly replied, “Yes, it is wrapped around there, but it seems pretty loose. I think it’s fine.”

This whole time, it never occurred to me that I should possibly be concerned about giving birth with no midwife present. My doula was so composed, I had complete faith in her.

There’s a few facts I haven’t mentioned about my doula before now…Mine was her first natural home birth. And she’s a doula in training! She’s attended 5 or 6 births, but they’d all been in hospitals until mine. It just goes to show that the number of births under your doula’s belt isn’t everything! 😉 Having confidence in and feeling comfortable with the doula you chose is important!

My midwife (and her assistant) arrived right before I felt like pushing again, just in time to catch the baby! Which, oddly enough, was a large factor in me choosing a natural home birth. I wanted to avoid the whole midwife-is-only-there-to-catch-the-baby-scenario. Oh the irony! This is why my doula was worth every penny! I was supported every step of the way during my delivery!

Natural Home Birth
Moments after birth!

The thing that was different with this birth experience is that I felt loved and supported by my birth team. Every effort was made for my comfort and well-being before, during, and after the labor. My doula made sure I was drinking, the lights were dimmed (which I always thought sounded silly, but was really very comforting!) the assistant midwife covered me with a blanket after delivery, the midwife oohed and ahhed over the baby, engaged with my daughters and congratulated me on what a great job I did! I felt a little like a rock star…so much love and attention!

Big sisters meeting baby brother for the first time!
My daughters got to come in and meet the baby only about an hour and twenty minutes after baby was born.

I had a very quick labor and delivery – I was only in active labor for about 2 hours! He was born at 7:20pm, only 2 hours after my cervical check where I was only 4-5cm dilated and 90% effaced.

I can’t say whether I would have fared as well through a longer labor, but the intense pressure of contractions and back labor was totally worth the ecstasy of finally feeling a baby crowning for the first time ever!

My doula was an amazing support postpartum as well as during my labor and delivery. I’ll always appreciate her calming presence and thoughtfulness. A few of her considerate actions included grabbing me a fresh, soft blanket to cuddle baby up in, helping clean up, leaving me a snack and nipple cream, taking lots of pictures…

My recovery has been awesome! This is the first delivery where I haven’t torn! I’ve had the strongest, most instantaneous bond with this baby – all I wanted to do was stare at him for days. I couldn’t get enough! So much love, and that extended to my girls…Seeing them hold and exclaim over their brand new baby brother evoked the sweetest of emotions. My milk came in like crazy! Even more than with my first. I could feed 2 or 3 babies right now I think.

I honestly don’t know how much of this had to do with an unmedicated birth. I mention all these things because this is my experience and how it differs from my two previous hospital births.

Having a natural home birth was definitely the best decision I could have made! I hope it will make me a better mother in the future, better able to fully appreciate all of my children for the miracles they are. <3

Newborn baby boy

I’m interested to know if you’ve had both a medicated as well as an UNmedicated birth experience!

What were the differences you noticed post-delivery? 

Let me know in the comments!

Harmful Chemicals in Cleaning Products

harmful chemicals in cleaning products

I have to admit, I always wondered why I should “waste my money” buying natural cleaning products. I thought it was much more important to watch what you put into your body, limiting pesticides and buying organic. I still think those things are very important, but after delving further into the matter, I’ve discovered some interesting facts regarding harmful chemicals:

  • There are four basic chemical exposure pathways: inhalation, ingestion, injection, and absorption. You can actually absorb chemicals in the air through your skin!
  • According to the EPA, the air inside a typical home is, on average, 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air outdoors due to household cleaners!!
  • Some all-purpose cleaners contain diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA). When these substances come into contact with nitrites (often present as undisclosed preservatives or contaminants), they react to form nitrosamines – carcinogens that readily penetrate the skin.
  • When you wash cleaners down the drain, they go into our water system. Most ingredients break down into harmless substances but not all. And of those that don’t, not all are removable by our water filtration system.
  • Chemicals released when using cleaning supplies contribute to chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions and headaches.
  • 2-butoxyethanol, a key ingredient in many window cleaners (NOT required by law to be listed on ingredient labels!), can cause sore throats when inhaled and at high levels can also contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage (An enclosed bathroom is considered a place of potential high levels.)
  • Maid and janitorial workers (who spend their days cleaning with chemical products) have been found to be among occupational groups that experience above average incidences of bladder cancer.

There are literally tens of thousands of untested chemicals in use today!

In a 2014 study, researchers at Harvard postulated that “even more neurotoxicants remain undiscovered” and they believe that, “Untested chemicals should not be presumed to be safe to brain development, and chemicals in existing use and all new chemicals must therefor be tested for developmental neurotoxicity.”

neurotoxins

The Toxic Substances Control Act was first passed in 1976 and has remained essentially unchanged since. When the Act passed Congress it grandfathered in 62,000 chemicals, in essence giving a free pass to known toxins such as trichloroethylene and BPA. Now we all know now that BPA is toxic, which is why we removed it from our baby bottles (etc.) and no longer microwave our food in plastic dishes. But if that chemical had been tested in the first place, we wouldn’t have been unknowingly exposed. And the same is true for toxins in our cleaning products.

The FDA tells us that small amounts of certain chemicals are harmless. But it’s been proven time and again, that your body can’t get rid of every single harmful chemical in which it comes into contact. When we are exposed to those harmful chemicals, they build up in our body, and therein lies the danger. Also, studies have shown the combined impact of multiple chemical substances acting together is far more destructive to the body than each of the chemicals acting alone. You wouldn’t combine certain medications, so why would you combine chemicals in your body? We’ve all seen what happens when you experiment with chemical reactions in science class!

I believe natural cleaners do just as well as commercial cleaners. I often use just vinegar and water to clean my floors and counters with a little tea tree oil for boosted antibacterial, antiviral, and anti fungal properties.

Please do your own research; don’t just take my word for it! And do what you can to lessen the toxic burden on your body whenever possible. Every little bit counts!