A Magical Home Birth: Getting Out of Your Head and Into Your Body
“It was so special to have my 5- and 3-year-old girls there for the birth, and they have been absolutely infatuated with him ever since! I stayed in the tub holding him, breastfeeding, and getting to know him on the outside. At 8:17 the placenta was birthed in the tub.”
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On paper, this birth was so straightforward! To me, this birth was more mentally challenging than the last one was. I was “in my head” a lot more this time – second guessing where I was in the process and/or my ability to do the work. Once I got out of my head and listened to my people and my body, everything moved right along!
This birthing time began much like my previous two – with lots and lots of warmup waves! I had a lot of start and stop waves in the days and weeks leading up to my birthing time (Hypnobabies term for labor). A couple times I actually contacted my team, letting them know that things may be starting, but each time they fizzled out after a few hours.
As I went through my 39th week of pregnancy, it was clear that my birthing time was more quickly approaching. On 8/19 I clearly lost my mucus plug – the first time I’ve noticed that happen! I knew this didn’t mean much of anything, but was a sign that things were moving in the right direction.
The next day, my “guess date” began with more noticeable waves (Hypnobabies term for contractions). They were timeable but didn’t grab my attention. My sister met me to take my 2 girls for the day while I got a few errands done. Instead, I spent most of the day resting, as I could tell that things were really moving. By mid-afternoon, I was having waves every 10 minutes or so, and around 4:00 I began having a lot of bloody show. I knew this definitely meant things were happening! I listened to my “Your Birthing Time Begins” (Hypnobabies reminder of the tools and cues for birthing) track and “Birthing Day Affirmations.”
Unfortunately, shortly after the bloody show my waves slowed way down, and I was less convinced it was actually time. Waves remained sporadic through the rest of the day and evening, though I did continue to have bloody show. By 10pm, waves picked back up in a more noticeable, but still mild, pattern. They were coming every 8-10 minutes and gradually increasing in intensity. I turned on my tracks again, listening to Birthing Time Begins and Affirmations while I took a bath. After my bath, I decided to lay down and try to get some sleep. I turned on “Deepening Your Hypnosis” (Hypnobabies track to deepen the level of hypnosis) to try to get some rest.
I dozed here and there over the next couple hours, but by 1:00 am I wasn’t able to sleep any longer. Waves were much more intense but were still only coming every 8-10 minutes. This is when I really got in my head! After an hour or so of me feeling frustrated and, honestly, losing sight of what I was doing and the power of my hypnosis, I broke down and cried – I was so frustrated feeling like things weren’t progressing! My husband John was so fantastic through all of this, cuddling with me in bed, doing the “Relax” cue (Hypnobabies cue to deepen the level of hypnosis) on my shoulder, and being fully present. I wanted him right there with me more than I did with my previous births.
Around this time he suggested that I call our midwife and doula for advice – he could definitely see I needed to let go and lean on the supportive team I had built. I called them, and my doula Lindsay joined me shortly after. Having her there was huge! Her presence allowed me to get out of my own head and shook things up in just the right way. She suggested a few positions to try, including a side-lying release and some lift-and-tucks.
Very quickly, waves picked up to 2-4 minutes apart. She suggested we call over the rest of the birth team, but I still wasn’t convinced I was deep enough into my birthing time. The start-and-stop had really gotten to me, and I didn’t want to call people over prematurely. She asked what I wanted to do, and I decided I really wanted to be in the water – it had been such a huge relief to get in the warm water in previous births, and I wanted that again!
I got into the birth tub in our living room, and it was every bit as wonderful as I remembered it to be! I was able to change positions more easily, find some release and relaxation that I hadn’t found on land, and settled into the beautiful space I had prepared for myself with birthing affirmations and twinkle lights. Of course, there was still intensity with the waves… at one point I got frustrated with some of the Hypnobabies messages…. my waves were not feeling like big warm hugs in these moments!
Not long after I had gotten in the tub, waves slowed down slightly again, coming about every 5 minutes, but I could tell that things were still progressing and agreed that it was time to call my midwife and photographer over. John called them to let them know we were ready for them. My midwife Aly and her assistant Rebekah arrived a little before 6am. Midwifery care in homebirth is so beautiful and gentle. They quietly entered my space, sought consent from me with everything that they did to monitor me and baby, and sat back to do a lot of patient observing and space-holding.
As my photographer Jackie walked in at 6:30 am, I felt a pop and warm gush, and told my team that my water had broken. This was so reassuring to me, another reminder that my baby was actually arriving soon! Almost immediately after my water released, I felt the urge to push at the peak of my waves. This intensified, and I asked my midwife if I should be checked to see if I was ready to push. She told me to listen to my body and do what felt right, so I asked that we turn on the Pushing Baby Out track (Hypnobabies track for pushing). I also told my mom to wake up the girls so they could be there when the baby arrived – I remember saying that we should get them up “as long as they leave me alone!” My midwife laughed and asked how likely that was to actually happen!
(Bubble of Peace)
After pushing for 20 minutes or so, I felt like baby just wasn’t moving down and didn’t feel like I was being effective. I wanted to have my cervix checked to see where things were. My midwife checked, and I was 8cm dilated. Hearing this, I had my second big mental breakdown of my birthing time. I was so disappointed that I wasn’t actually ready to push and needed to wait for my cervix to continue to dilate. This is something that has happened with each of my 3 births, and I broke down saying “just once I wanted to be able to listen to my body and push when I need to push.” It was so disheartening to turn off the pushing track and turn back on Easy First Stage (Hypnobabies main birthing day track).
My midwives and doula suggested I try a number of different positions to help baby move down and continue to dilate my cervix. I worked through these different positions and was really feeling a very strong urge to push – I really couldn’t resist it! Aly checked my cervix again…and I was STILL 8cm. This was obviously not the news I wanted to hear. I started to insist that I needed to transfer to the hospital for an epidural – saying an epidural was the only thing that got my cervix to finish dilating with my first baby, and I didn’t want to mess around with this anymore when I knew exactly how this story ended, which was at the hospital with an epidural.
(End Bubble of Peace)
My team was so fabulous and reassuring, and Aly had just the right words to snap me out of it. She looked at me and said “Jessica, first babies and third babies are different. This third baby will be out by the time we get to the hospital.” She asked if she could try holding back my cervix while I pushed, and if that didn’t work, we could talk about transferring. I was fully convinced it would not work – I had never heard of that much cervix being held back manually – but agreed to try.
At 7:52 I began pushing while she held back the remaining cervix. Surprise, it worked!! At 7:55 my baby’s head was out, and at 7:56 his body was birthed. I was in total and complete shock! He had moved down and out so quickly!! It had been so intense and amazing to feel all of his cardinal movements as he descended and rotated his way out. I brought him right up to my chest, he gave a big cry right away, and we all spent some time marveling at him and the whole process of birth.
It was so special to have my 5- and 3-year-old girls there for the birth, and they have been absolutely infatuated with him ever since! I stayed in the tub holding him, breastfeeding, and getting to know him on the outside. At 8:17 the placenta was birthed in the tub. Shortly after, I handed baby to John and got out of the tub. The magic of homebirth was that now I just took a short walk down the hallway to my bedroom (with the support of my midwives) and climbed into bed. John and our girls climbed in with me, and we all snuggled in! A couple hours later, my midwives did all the newborn procedures right there in bed, got us all tucked in, cleaned up the house, and left us to settle in as a family of 5.