First Time Mom’s Guide to Natural Childbirth, Natural Labor and Delivery

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First Time Mom’s Guide to Natural Childbirth, Natural Labor and Delivery

Laura, First Time Mom contributor and mother of two, is the kind of person who loves learning. She studies whatever topic she is interested in and becomes an expert in the area. Naturally, when she found out she was expecting baby number one she read countless pregnancy books, articles, and blog posts. Because she loves to learn that translated into learning everything she could about having a natural labor and delivery.

How should I prepare for a natural childbirth, natural labor and delivery?

She took a class, read books, watched documentaries and finally when the time came she experienced a natural labor and delivery for baby number one help from modern medication. Laura’s also a teacher at heart so she’s shared her knowledge here on First Time Mom. Now you can reference this handy little natural childbirth, with tips on how to do a natural labor and delivery, roundup of all of Laura’s articles on how she prepared for her natural labor and delivery as well as the actual birth stories.

Tips on how to have a natural childbirth, natural labor and delivery.

It’s true, you are not any less of a mother if you choose to use the help of modern medicine, Bert had the help of an epidural for each one of her three labor and deliveries, but one thing’s for sure if you are wanting to have a natural labor and delivery, you’re going to want to educate yourself on how to prepare for a natural childbirth. You’ll want to have a game plan, you’ll want to practice how to handle the pain and you’ll want your partner to be educated as well. Here’s to learning, Mama! You can do it!

First Time Mom's Guide to Natural Childbirth, Natural Labor and Delivery

First Time Mom’s Guide to Natural Childbirth, Natural Labor and Delivery:

A First Time Mom’s Guide to Natural Childbirth

My Natural Birth: Laboring at Home

My Natural Birth: Delivery at the Hospital

My Natural Birthday: Recovery at the Hospital

My Baby’s Natural Delivery: a Birth Story

First Time Mom's Guide to Natural Childbirth. How to prepare, the best you can, for a medication free labor and delivery.

Natural Labor & Delivery articles from guest writers on First Time Mom

You Don’t Have to Choose between Your Partner & Your Doula

Telling Stories Tuesday: Finding your “place” for a natural childbirth

Telling Stories Tuesdays: Finding Strength

Have you had a natural labor and delivery?

My Baby’s Natural Labor & Delivery: A Birth Story

birth story
birth story
Photography by Stacie Ricklefs Photo + Design

I love birth stories. I find them fascinating and beautiful. During my second pregnancy I compared everything to my first. After all, it’s only natural to reference what’s known. With my firstborn son, Triple A, I was due July 13th and surprisingly enough Little Girl’s due date was July 14th. I easily tracked my pregnancy and even wondered if the kids would share a birthday. Still every pregnancy and baby are unique so I knew my daughter would have her own story to tell. Here is Little Girl’s birth story.

Carrying my daughter was more physically and emotionally taxing than my first pregnancy. In my third trimester I began to fear, did a difficult pregnancy mean a more difficult birth? I had such a positive birth experience with my son I worried that somehow my daughter’s birth would disappoint. Ridiculous, I know but the pregnant brain often plays emotional tricks on you. With a lot of prayer and positive thinking I began to turn my fears into grateful anticipation. I so wanted to meet my daughter. I so wanted to be done with this pregnancy!

Starting around 38 weeks I began feeling as if my body was gearing up to give birth. I had more frequent and stronger Braxton hicks contractions. Things started to feel directional and very low, like Little Girl was settling into my pelvis. My son was born at 38 weeks and five days so I started getting quite excited. Addmitedly I was disappointed when 38 weeks and five days came and went. I kept reminding myself, this is her story be patient.

On Tuesday, July 7th, one week before my due date, I woke up with contractions at 4:20am. While the timing was intermittent, the contractions weren’t going away. After a very early breakfast I went back to bed. The mild contractions continued but I was able to rest. Around 6:45am my husband woke up with Triple A, while I stayed in bed. I knew this could take awhile because with my first birth I had almost two full days of “warming up before going into active labor.  On the other hand, I also heard second babies typically come faster so I called my mom, who lives two hours away, told her come down just in case things picked up. Best to be prepared, babies come in their time, not ours!

Throughout the day things progressed slowly.  I was tempted to be frustrated, but I knew it was important to surrender to the birth process and accept that a long warm up period was what my body needed. Having a long warm up to labor forces you to be patient and hold things with an open hand. You also learn to be truly thankful for each contraction because each contraction brings you closer to finally meeting your baby.

My contractions slowed down when I was up and about, especially when I was around my son. Surprisingly, when I laid down the contractions picked up and came consistently.

Take a walk during natural labor and delivery
Walking baby into position!

Still, I knew moving would help Little Girl settle into a good position for birth so my husband and I took a walk while parents stayed home with our napping son. Since my contractions were fairly mild we had a lovely time walking, talking, and daydreaming about becoming a family of four. I cherish the time my husband and I shared during both my labors.

By the end of the day things slowed down significantly. As I got ready for bed I made peace with having to wait at least another day to meet our baby girl. Little did I know my body had other plans. Shortly after laying down in bed a strong contraction came and then, pop! My water broke! I got out of bed and more fluid rushed out. Having my water break at home was new territory for me. Should we go to the hospital or do I have time to labor at home? While I showered my hubby threw our sheets in the washer, told my mom that my water broke, and called labor & delivery to ask when we should go to the hospital. They said that if contractions consistently picked up I should go ahead and come, otherwise they wanted me to come within an hour or two from when my water broke.
It didn’t take long for things to get going after my water broke. Contractions started consistently coming 3 to 4 minutes apart and there was certainly no talking through them now. We gathered our things and called the hospital to let them know we were on our way. Riding in a car while in labor is a doozy. Thankfully we live close to the hospital so it was a short drive. I turned on the heated seat, braced myself with the door handle, closed my eyes, and listened to the Mozart symphony playing on our stereo as I breathed through the contractions.
We parked and my husband helped me waddle into labor & delivery, stopping every couple of minutes for me to manage another contraction. We checked in and a nurse helped us settle in the exam room. My active labor definitely started after my water broke and the fetal monitor confirmed my contractions were strong and steady. When my midwife checked me I was only 3cm dilated and still had same effacing to do. With the contractions coming so intensely and quickly I assumed I was further along. I fought the feeling of disappointment and mentally started buckling down for what I thought would be a long haul.
coping during natural and delivery
We had to wait for a delivery room so I labored in the exam room. The nurses giving us some space, which I appreciated because we wanted a natural delivery. I was surprise by how strong and painful my contractions were this early in the game. I so badly wanted some tools, like a birthing ball and squat bar, to help me manage the pain but we had to get creative and make due while we waited for our room. My husband turned off the lights and put on our labor playlist of relaxing music.
With only the glow of the computer screen illuminating the tiny space, I sat on the desk’s rolling stool while my husband held me from behind. When a contraction came he put pressure on my back and I leaned into him as I tried to let each rush come over me and do its work. I tried some other positions. Standing while leaning over the sink was the most intense. I could literally feel myself opening as I bent my legs with each contraction. During my pregnancy I reread the birth stories in Ina May Gaskin’s book, Guide to Child Birth. As things got more and more intense, I imagined myself laboring with the midwives on The Farm. I thought about what they would encourage me to do… Relax my face, let out low moans, surrender to the rushes, and trust in my body and the natural process of birth. I reminded myself that the pain had a purpose, that each contraction brought us closer to meeting our Little Girl.
We labored in the exam room about an hour before being taken to a delivery room. When we got to our room I settled on the bed, laying down on my side. I wanted to mentally and physically preserve my strength because contractions were relentless and I thought I had a long way to go. After getting in bed I had one excruciating contraction. As I tried to collect myself another contraction started. Suddenly I felt a pulse and a lot of pressure between my legs. “Pressure, a lot of pressure!” I panted. “Oh okay, well the midwife is in another delivery but I can check you after this contraction,” the nurse said calmly. I’m sure she read my chart that said I was just 3cm about  little over an  hour before and assumed that I had a ways to go.
Once the contraction lifted I rolled on my back so the nurse could check my dilation. Just as I got onto my back another intense contraction started to pulse. Then with one of the pulses Little Girl started to crown! “Oh, OH, no, no, wait, wait!” The poor nurse pleaded. “I can’t!” I panted. I wasn’t trying to push and Little Girl had other ideas. She was coming NOW! “Oh, stop, don’t push,” the nursed said nervously as she ran to the door. “We’re having a baby here!” she called out into the hallway.
Ready or not here she comes! While our nurse was at the door another strong pulse came and Little Girl plopped out of me and onto the bed. 
Natural labor and delivery
There was no time for someone to catch her! I couldn’t believe it, everything happened so fast. Little Girl waited for no one. I now joke that she and my uterus were in cahoots because I didn’t push at all. Little Girl came rushing into the world all on her own.
Meanwhile in what I think was an unnecessary moment of panic the poor nurse hit the code button. A flood of people rushed into our room. Luckily one of the doctors put Little Girl on the chest so I could finally meet her. As I gazed into her sweet eyes I joyfully laughed in disbelief at what just happened. The other doctors on the code team were anxious to examine our baby so my husband cut her cord and followed as they took Little Girl to the other side of the room for examination. She wasn’t crying as vigorously as the code team wanted so they poked and suctioned her until she started to wail.
natural birth
I delivered my placenta after which another nurse massaged my uterus to help it come down. Wowza is that unpleasant, necessary, but unpleasant! I was bleeding more than what they wanted so they gave me a shot in each leg. One shot was pitocin to help my uterus clamp down, I don’t remember what the other shot was. I had a minor tear where I tore with my first birth. While a resident stitched me up one of the pediatricians placed Little Girl on my chest. It’s easy to tolerate someone poking and prodding you down below when you have a fresh baby to cuddle. My husband held her tiny hand as I studied her precious face and kept saying, “You surprised us sweetie!” I couldn’t believe she was here. Little Girl’s birth was so unexpected. It was powerful, and like her, beautiful.
First Time Mom natural labor and delivery
Photography by Stacie Ricklefs Photo + Design

Children are a gift on loan from God. I’m so grateful for the sweet gift of our family. I pray that by God’s grace my husband and I will love our children in such a way that they will know the depth of Jesus’ love for them. That someday they will grow to know and love Him in return. What are your hopes for your children?

natural labor and delivery
Repin for when you’re pregnant and want a natural birth.

You Don’t Have to Choose Between Your Partner and Your Doula

Doula and Partner feature

Choosing a doula

When I first became a Prenatal Yoga Instructor, I began hearing about and learning about what a Doula was. I learned that a Doula is a woman who guides a birthing mother through labor. How nice! I was intrigued as I had always been very interested in pregnancy and birth. Becoming a Doula seemed like the logical next step for me. It just felt right, so when I had the opportunity to train, I jumped at it. During my training and throughout my years working with pregnant women in various capacities, I continued to see and hear just how important a Doula can be. In fact, there are several studies that show labor goes more smoothly when there is a Doula present.

E1_189 - photo credit Katsoulis Photography
Courtesy of Katsoulis Photography

But then I would hear concerns like “well, I want my partner (husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend) to be my labor support” or “my partner and I just want it to be the two of us”. You may not know this, but…You don’t have to choose between having your Partner as your main support and having a Doula present. You can have both! In fact, choosing to have your Partner as your primary support person during labor is one of the best reasons TO hire a Doula. Let her make your Partner more successful and feel supported.

One of the most common concerns I hear from expecting moms when faced with the decision of having a Doula is this: she wants her Partner to be her primary support. Perfect! Your Doula wants that too! She wants to be there to help your Partner look good.

Your Doula wants labor to be an intimate and connecting time for the two of you – that’s why she’ll do her best to work as a complement to your Partner, rather than stealing the show. At many points throughout labor, it will be incredibly helpful to have your Partner next to you, massaging your shoulders, holding your hand, looking you in the eye, giving you kisses, being present with you AND to have your Doula massaging your low back, providing counter pressure on your sacrum, squeezing your hips, and rubbing your feet. It will be helpful to have your Doula run out to the car, refill your water, get more ice, grab more towels, track down more pillows…still leaving you with the familiar and loving support of your Partner.

A doula provides valuable insight, advice, and support throughout each step of labor. I often find that, at times, the Partner is more thankful for the presence of a Doula than the birthing mother! It is a LOT of pressure on the Partner to be the only one there to support Mom, especially if they are also feeling the intense feelings that accompany the anticipated arrival of a child! The pressure of becoming a parent, the pressure of remembering what you learned in childbirth ed class, the pressure of not knowing what to do when seeing the one you love the most in such pain and discomfort.

If your Partner is worried about trying to figure out what he/she can do to help you, they can’t really be present with you in this experience. They can’t fully enjoy these hours before the birth of your child. Ask yourself this: Is it fair to put so much pressure on your Partner in such an already heightened time? Does your Partner really feel comfortable with that?

Prenatal Yoga-45 - photo credit to Mel Madden Photography
Courtesy of Mel Madden Photography

But isn’t that what my nurse is for?

Well, your nurse hasn’t been getting to know you during the months prior to your labor. Your nurse has other patients she also needs to help and monitor, other responsibilities she needs to complete. Your nurse will leave when her shift ends.

When a mom comes to me expressing her concerns about having a Doula, I gently explain some of the benefits, especially in response to concerns about a Doula impeding potential support by the Partner. I don’t force the issue because I totally respect her decision for her birth. The purpose of having a Doula is to empower a couple and make them feel supported and safe. How can I contradict that by trying to force an opinion on them? No matter the decision, I wish them well and hope that they have the birth experience that they are hoping for. Unfortunately, it’s only after the fact that I hear how the couple “didn’t realize our nurse wouldn’t be completely dedicated to us,” “didn’t like the nurse who was on shift,” “had no idea that all of these things would happen,” “thought we’d be able to have a peaceful environment, but there were interruptions and monitoring every few minutes and it was anything but peaceful,” “medical staff just did things and I had no idea what was happening.” Or worse, after the fact hearing about interventions that sound like they could easily have been avoided. But who knows – I wasn’t there and there is no way to really tell. The one thing I do know, is that I’d rather have a mom hire a Doula and have that invaluable support from the start, rather than have her go through a tough, or even traumatic, birth experience and THEN realize that she wants a Doula the next time around.

This post isn’t even about trying to sell my services. To be honest, I only take on a few births a year. I wish I had the bandwidth for more because I am blessed with such a great network of people and have several moms coming to me to request my services. Unfortunately, I can’t support many of them BUT I always recommend that they hire a Doula and always gather some names to send them.

I also don’t want to sound totally biased, here. I’ve definitely heard from moms who have had just their Partner present and have had fine hospital births. Keep in mind that your choice of location for your birth (hospital – and which one, birthing center, home birth) makes a huge difference in the outcome as well. I talk about this a bit in my Birth Plan Design online program, which helps expecting moms create a birth plan with step-by-step guidance.

Prenatal Yoga-7 - photo credit to Mel Madden Photography
Courtesy of Mel Madden Photography

On that note, another important reason to hire a Doula is for the planning that takes place in preparation of your labor and the birth of your baby. A few years ago, I had a Prenatal Yoga student whose husband was scheduled for a week of business travel during her last few weeks of pregnancy. She had been coming to my class every week and, although she had planned to just have her husband at the birth of their baby, she asked if I would consider being on-call as her Doula in case she went into labor before his return. I agreed and we worked out the details. We had an abbreviated “prenatal visit” after one of our classes and did some other communication by email to figure out what her birth goals were: what things were important to her, what did she need to know or consider, what did I need to know so that we could be on the same page allowing me to support her better? It just so happened that she went into labor the day he returned, so I was not present at her birth, but she did come back to a few Prenatal Yoga classes postpartum (something I always welcome my Mamas to do). She told me how thankful she was that we had done the planning that we did (creating a Birth Plan, practicing helpful positions, etc.) Without our preparation she wouldn’t have known what to expect, what was important to her when presented with decisions during labor.

I certainly respect an expecting mom’s choice to decline Doula services, but strongly believe that at least some thought and preparation should go into her labor experience.

But, I don’t necessarily plan on trying for a natural childbirth. Do I really need a Doula? Would a Doula even work with me?

No matter what your birth goals are, or aren’t, the right Doula for you will be someone who respects those goals and is there to support you and your Partner and to help you work towards them. Doulas are not only for women who want to experience natural childbirth. A Doula’s role is to support a birthing mom and her Partner before, during, and after their labor. Period.

Finding the right doula, though, makes all the difference. Interviewing a few of them and really choosing the one that you feel most comfortable with will be important. Check out this super helpful Doula Guide that my friend and colleague, Michelle Cohen of Savor It Studios in DC, created to help mamas navigate this important task.

 

Emily - photo credit Katsoulis Photography
Courtesy of Katsoulis Photography
About the Author:
Emily Masnoon is a Prenatal Yoga Teacher, Reiki Healer, and Doula in the Boston, MA Area. She has been working with pregnant women since 2011 and enjoys connecting with expecting moms in her weekly Prenatal Yoga classes and in her Partner Prenatal Yoga Workshops, and with new moms in her TummyTime Workshops. She loves helping pregnant women take care themselves during pregnancy through Yoga, Reiki, and Aromatherarpy, and preparing for labor through private one-on-one sessions and via her online Birth Plan Design program.
Learn more about Emily on her website and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram!

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links.

My Natural Birth: Delivery at the Hospital

Natural Birth | FirstTime Mom

Now to continue onto the second chapter of my birth story, delivery at the hospital…

With the okay from my midwife, Dianne, we gathered our things, waddled me to the car, and were on our way to Newton Wellesley Hospital. Being 12:30 am there was hardly anyone else on the roads and the car ride was smooth, but managing active labor while belted down in the car was torture. Each red light was mental agony!

We got to the hospital, checked in at the emergency room, and went to an exam room in labor and delivery. A kind nurse took my temperature and blood pressure. Then she placed monitors on my belly to see how I was contracting and how the baby was doing. When Dianne checked me I was totally thinned out and dilated to 4cm. (Originally on my birth plan I did not want to know my numbers, but after many hours of labor, I changed my mind. Thankfully birth plans are a discussion, not rigid law.) My contractions looked great so they removed the monitors and we were admitted. 

By now it was around 2:00 am on July 5th and we had been up for almost 24 hours, so once we got to our room James and I were ready for some rest. Our nurse, Jen, set up a bed for James next to me. We shut off the lights and slept. Of course, I woke up every four minutes for a contraction, but it was still restful.

After a while my contractions started getting more intense again. I noticed it was just getting light outside. With a major contraction, I felt and heard a pop. “What in the world!” I thought to myself. (It was my water breaking; however, nothing came out because baby’s head was so far down.) Suddenly I felt the urge to vomit. “James wake up! I’m going to throw up!” My dazed husband fumbled around on his flimsy hospital cot, unable to get up. Thankfully Jen came in just in time for me to vomit in a split bowl. My body told me, “We’re thick in it now!”

I needed to find another laboring position. I tried kneeling at the head of the bed with my arms draped over the top, but I didn’t feel grounded enough. We knew the nurses at Newton Wellesley were well-versed in active labor techniques so I followed Jen’s lead. She helped me get off the bed, raised it, and had me stand leaning over at the foot of the bed. This was a great position because I could use my legs to bend into the contractions and swaying my hips between rushes helped me recover. Occasionally Jen used a portable monitor to check the baby’s heart rate, but I hardly noticed because I was in the zone.

By now the pain with each contraction was the most intense pain I had ever experienced. I had to face some moments of internal fear. “Can I really do this? Is going natural worth it?” What got me through was remembering that this work was for my baby. All I needed to do was take things one contraction at a time and allow myself to regroup in between. At this point, I couldn’t process James’ encouraging words so I told him to simply tell me “it’s okay, it’s okay.” After each contraction he had me sip apple juice and told me I was doing great. Communicating my needs between contractions was a key part of our teamwork.

Things started to really pick up and I felt my belly almost convulsing. Later we realized this was baby shifting down. Again my body told me something new was happening. I had them call Dianne to come and check me. I was 8 cm and very ripe. Dianne had me get in the bath to help soften me up. I was too far in transition for the bath to be relaxing. My legs couldn’t reach the foot of the tub and I needed to be grounded. James put a footstool in the tub anchored it with one hand while holding my arm with the other.

Once again the bath intensified my contractions and suddenly my body started trying to push without me telling it to. For fear that I would tear, they told me not to push. This was the most painful part because I was fighting my body, which meant adding tension. There was a shift change and my new nurse, Lisa, helped me with rhythmic breathing. I focused on pushing out my breath while staying open and relaxed in my bottom. Still, I had a difficult time controlling the urge to push. My body was telling me, “It’s go time!” so I had them call for Dianne.

Contractions come in series like waves, starting with less intensity and then building. When Dianne came in she watched me work through a less intense contraction so she said, “Let’s do five more in the tub and then we’ll have you get out.” Then I had a doozy of a contraction and again I had to fight against pushing, I started to pant, “Ouch, ouch, can’t control!” Quickly Dianne reached her hand in the tub, checked me to find I was fully dilated. “Go with it!” she exclaimed. With the go-ahead from Dianne I pushed with my body’s impulse to push. It felt wonderful to work with the contraction!

Dianne said she could see the head so we needed to get me out of the tub. (I did not want a water birth.) Everyone in the room helped lift me out of the tub. As soon as I was out, another intense contraction started! I held onto James’ shoulders while Dianne had her hands between my legs with a towel. After the contraction, I waddled to the bed clinging onto James as Dianne kept her hands between my legs. I got onto the bed and they positioned me to push. James was right by my side, holding my leg and telling me I was doing great. I waited for the next contraction and then went for it!

Natural Birth | FirstTime MomAs I pushed I felt baby’s feet press against the top of my uterus and his head opening my bottom. Pushing was so empowering! It was athletic! I was so determined to see my baby and end my labor. Once I started pushing there was more time between the contractions so I prepared myself for the next push. I pushed through about five contractions and was in the middle of another one when Dianne told me to stop and look down. My baby’s head and shoulders were out. Dianne helped me reach down lift my baby out of me and onto my chest. A heavenly rush came over my whole being! He was finally here, crying beautifully. I responded the same way I did when James proposed, I laughed with joy. Baby and I cuddled as the nurses worked on him and as Dianne worked on me.

giving birth quotes

Birth makes you like Humpty Dumpty… After giving birth you have to be put back together again. James cut the cord. We all admired each other while Dianne sewed some superficial tares. Once I was stitched up we had our first feeding. Baby took to me like a champ! Our life as a family had a beautiful start.

Skin to skin benefits baby & mom
Enjoying skin to skin

Before going to the recovery room we had some time in the delivery room so we ordered breakfast… Food was glorious after all that hard work! We were also visited by the pediatrician. BabyCakes had a great checkup and we praised God for our healthy baby boy. Eventually, we were taken to our recovery room, the place that became our cozy nest for the next two days. After all the hard work and preparation we were officially a family. Now it was time to for me to rest and recover. It was time for us to enjoy each other and fall in love.

 

My Natural Birth: Laboring at Home

When expecting my first baby, I loved reading positive birth stories. So I’m thrilled to share my natural birth story with you. Whether it’s in a hospital or at home, with a doctor or a midwife, completely natural or with interventions, every birth is a beautiful miracle. Here’s the first chapter of my miracle, laboring at home. 

 

On Wednesday morning, July 3, 2013 I woke up with a familiar feeling,.. I felt like I was going to start my cycle, but being 38 weeks pregnant I knew this had to mean something else was going on. For the past few weeks I’d been having “lightning crotch,” a brief but intense stab of pain in my groin, and a few random contractions. Around 7:00am I started noticing mild contractions occurring five or six minutes apart. “Gasp! Is this it?” I thought. These contractions were steady for about an hour but then began to space apart and eventually stop… “Oh well.”

Walking is a great way to progress labor naturally
Getting things going… hopefully

Throughout Wednesday afternoon I had some more random contractions, but nothing regular. I met my husband, James, for lunch, ran a few errands, and tried to relax. During dinner that evening I had another episode of regular contractions. James downloaded an app and we started recording contractions… But, once again, things fizzled, so we went to bed, I thought to myself hopefully, “Maybe we’ll have an Independence Day baby?

Very early on Thursday, July 4th, I woke up with contractions again; however this time they were stronger. I started watching the clock at 2:38am, timing a solid hour of roughly minute-long contractions that were about five minutes apart, “Hello 5-1-1 rule!  I got out of bed, braided my hair, woke James up, and called the midwives. As I spoke with the midwife on call, my contractions slowed down to six or seven minutes apart. The midwife told me to drink lots of water, have something to eat, and try to go back to sleep. “How can I sleep when this is so exciting?” I thought, “Okay, okay, I’ll sleep.”

Later that morning, although the contractions were further apart, they did not fizzle. After having some of my “labor soup,” which consists of homemade chicken broth with rice, we went for a walk to Whole Foods, hoping that walking would kick things up a notch.  The walk, or more likely being in public, had the opposite effect and my contractions slowed significantly. I guess my uterus is shy!  James bought an epic sausage breakfast sandwich. After all, my husband doula needed to be energized.

We continued our stroll and ended up in the garden behind our apartment building. This was truly a special moment together. We settled on a bench and simply took in the beauty around us as I breathed through some contractions. In the quiet I was reminded that God was sovereign over my labor. As I surrendered and accepted each contraction, I thanked Him for His hand over me, my baby boy, and the birth process.

 

A heating pad helps to manage early labor pain
Love the heating pad & my “labor soup”

My contractions continued to vary about 5-10 minutes apart for much of the afternoon, they increased in intensity but I was still able to talk through most of them. My uterus and lower back consistently hummed with pain so I knew progress was being made. Using a heating pad helped managed the discomfort. I loved that heat! Breathing through some yoga poses also helped, as I told myself quietly, “Welcoming breath, cat, exhale, cow, inhale, cat…

 We passed the time watching some shows and a movie. Occasionally I was tempted to be discouraged because it was taking so long for my labor to really kick in. I was afraid somehow I was doing something wrong. “Am I holding tension somehow? What am I doing wrong that this is taking so long,” I worried silently.

James continued to help guide my thoughts and keep my spirits up. During the contractions he reminded me that this pain has a purpose. I needed a lot of encouraging words and rest. I took a nap while James went to tie up some things at work and picked up a frozen pizza for dinner.  After the nap, around 5:00pm I lost my mucus plug, and things started consistently progressing. During dinner my contractions became more regular.

After watching another movie we went for another walk. When we got back to our apartment we walked up the five floors to the roof deck to see the Boston fireworks. I had to stop on almost every floor for a contraction. The roof deck was crowded, but James and I were in our own world together, enjoying the fireworks as I breathed through the contractions. “No talking through them now,” I thought.

Headed to the hospital
Headed to the hospital

When we got back from the walk I called the midwives again. I was determined to at least go in and get checked because it felt like things were moving along. My midwife, Dianne, suggested that I take a bath. She said the change would either pick things up or slow it down, either way it would tell us something. James drew a bath, I put on my labor relaxation music and got in. My contractions sped up while I was in the tub so I called Dianne after I got out. She had to breathe through some contractions with me over the phone. “Okay, it sounds like we’re having a baby so come on in,” she said. Finally we were going in!

To be continued…