natural child birth

Every Birth is Different

Sarah had her first baby almost 4 years ago at 40 weeks + 2 days, after 68 hours of very slow labor. Yes, active phase of labor was really that long. In fact, she went to the hospital and was check 5 centimeters, went home and came back the next day at about 6 cm! That was her first birth and this is her second:

Friday night, almost midnight on 5-23-14, Sarah’s water broke with no contractions. This time she was a little more then a week early. She decided to take a bath at that time to wait and see how things go. Her baby had already been very low and she had been doing Cross Fit her entire labor. I had told her that it can take a couple hours for contractions to start. By 4:15 am, contractions were 10-15 minutes apart and lasting about 30-45 seconds. Sarah had gotten some rest in-between contractions and was letting her husband rest. She actually felt like being along, which is really normal at this point in labor.

An hour later, I got an update that her contractions were the same, she got another hour of rest and was eating and trying to relax. Sarah did such an amazing job of following her instincts and knowing what her body needed. At this time of night and early morning, it was better to relax incase labor was really long like last. If labor was going to go fast, resting was still a good idea. We texted back and forth about drinking enough water and going to the bathroom.

Within a couple hours Sarah was in a pattern of having some big long contractions with little ones in between. She was having some blood when going to the bathroom and she was going to the bathroom a lot. Labor sounded perfect to me. I was just waiting for her to be ready for some help. I don’t like to suggest I go over too soon, so I leave it up to the mom.

At 9:15, I checked in with Sarah. I wanted to let her know I was going to the store so she knew how far I was from her. She had told me things were still the same and she was sleeping between contractions. Her ability to relax during labor was amazing, I had remembered this from last time. I had mentioned if things did change in an hour or so to try nipple stimulation. I didn’t want her to go to long after her water broke without being in active labor. From text, I couldn’t quite tell where she was in labor.

A little while later, Sarah had a 90 minute contraction. I asked how she was doing and she said “Good”. I was surprised, it seemed like it should be getting intense, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, maybe it would be like last time. She was packing and picking up between contractions. But, she did say they were way stronger this time then with Harper, her first baby. By 11:30, contractions were still consistent and, “Maybe a little more frequent.” But again, she said she was going good and had a snack. I told her I was going to take a nap. I wanted to get some rest in because my guess was I could be joining her any minute and we didn’t know how long this would last. About a ½ hour later, Sarah texted that she had a few 3 minutes or longer contractions that were 1-2 minutes apart. This time, I just said, “Are you ready for me?” To which she replied, “Yes!”

I arrived at 12:30 and just one look at Sarah told me she was in transition! (I couldn’t be 100% sure, but I was as sure as a doula could be.) I told her she looked great. I was so happy to see that. This was a little over 12 hours after her water broke! She had her first contraction with me and I did the hip squeeze. No complaints with that, yep, transition! Then we sat down on an ottoman and I had her hang while Rick squeezed her hips. Sarah’s contractions were long and strong. She couldn’t relax all the way through and broke down a little about how hard it was. I told her and Rick I thought the baby was coming and that we should get to the hospital. As she is having contractions with lots of pressure and mini pushes, I mentioned, maybe I should just took for a head and we should call 911 instead. Nope, she said they would make it to the hospital.

It took us a while to get to the car, she did feel to see if she could feel her baby’s head and it wasn’t there yet, so went to the hospital. I had Sarah sit backwards in the seat so she could be on her hands and knees. When we arrived, Rick said she had only about 2 big contractions. I told him about how many times when you reach 10 cm, there is a little break in the contractions. The next 15 minutes was like a scene from a movie. We got to the hospital just before 1:30 pm, 5-24-14; Rick was running down the hall with Sarah in the wheel chair. I ran on ahead to get the door for him and when we walked into Kaiser L&D, I told the lady at the front, “I have a mom here having a baby, now!” She opened the door to let us in. We went to triage and Angelette walked in. Yay! She is the most amazing nurse, I was with her just too weeks ago. She was so calming and asked me if I thought she was complete, I said, I can’t be sure, but I’m pretty sure she is. She said, “Ok, we are full, but we’ll just deliver this baby right here.” Then another nurse came in and said another room just got cleaned up and the midwife came in ready to check her. As we walked to the room, Ricked signed the papers and I answered the questions I could for her regarding 1
st or 2nd baby, water breaking, etc. I’m not even sure Sarah was that aware of what was going on at the moment. When we got in the room, the midwife checked her and said, “Well, your baby is right here, it’s time to push.”

With that, Sarah was in disbelief! She just kept looking at us, saying, “Really?” “I can push?” “I’m ready?” Yes! You are ready to have this baby! I was so happy for her. This was the best news every. We knew she had been working really hard while not letting herself fully believe this could go faster. By 1:46, Rick and Sarah’s second baby girl was born all natural. 8 lbs, 6 oz. Rick got to announce they had a girl, at first he thought he saw boy, so he had to double announce the sex. He got to do the big reveal twice, with just as much excitement both times. There second little girl latched onto the breast within a half hour of delivery and nursed so well. I am so happy for Rick and Sarah, it was just what they wanted for their birth.

A Restorative Birth

A mom who wants a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) usually has a different perspective. She usually feels either the first time was unnecessary, or she wants to try to have a safer healthier birth with more control the second time (even if it was due to circumstances beyond her control). Even if the first time c-section was the first option for the baby, it doesn’t have to be with the second. The VBAC moms I have worked with have done a lot of their own research and have concluded they want a natural birth. The reasons for the natural birth are many, but mostly I have heard, they know a natural birth is their best option at a VBAC, they want to feel more in control of their body, they want to feel everything and be a part of their baby’s birth. This is exactly how Jane felt when deciding to have a VBAC. She created everything around her to have the best opportunity possible for a VBAC.

Setting everything up to give you the best possibility for a VBAC doesn’t mean you will have one and it doesn’t mean that things will go your way. Jane had to accept this when she was a week past due, was having mild contractions every night, but not full labor. She was due, Sunday, September 30
th and had a doctor appointment on October 7th where she had to schedule a c-section for October 11th, almost 2 weeks post due. She knew that in the end she would still have her healthy baby and she would accept it, but she really wanted to go into labor.

Sunday, a week post due, Jane and Kevin decided to take their little boy to Disneyland to walk all day. I had mentioned to them, if you have a baby at Disneyland, they will have a lifetime pass for free. That wasn’t the goal, but they had free passes and thought the day might help get labor going. They had a fun, tiring day. Early Monday morning, October 8
th, their little boy threw up, so Jane had to wake up She felt the usual rushes and thought it was the normal night time contractions. After taking care of her little one, she went back to bed. Around 6 am, she woke her husband up telling him she couldn’t get out of bed. He just thought he could get her out of bed, but she was having pretty strong contractions at this point. She went to sit on the toilet and hung onto the shower door while Kevin called me. I told her to take a bath because the contractions were pretty intense and about 5 minutes apart.

I arrived at their house at 6:30 and she was in the bath with the water running past the overflow spout. I sat with Jane so Kevin could eat some breakfast. During a contraction, I would turn the water off for her and turn it back on to get the level high enough. During this time, Jane still felt pretty comfortable and wanted to stay home. I think it had been about a half hour and Jane wanted to try to go to the bathroom so she labored on the toilet for another ½ hour. By this time, their little boy woke up so Kevin got him settled with grandma so she could take him to her house. As soon as Jane got off the toilet, she started to have the urge to push. I got her on her hands and it helped somewhat, but didn’t take the urge away. She had some signs of transition, but just some. So, I was thinking, “We need to get this baby turned.” I was afraid he was face up. At this point, Jane decided to go to the hospital, it was somewhere between 7 and 8am. Her contractions were coming strong and fast.

In the car, she had the urge to push through all of her contractions; we hit traffic, so Kevin took side streets to UCI. We got there a little after 8:30 am. They had someone pick up Jane in a wheelchair. Kevin wanted me to go with her while he parked the car. The wheelchair guy, (I don’t know what they call them) wanted to take her to admitting first. I told him, “We don’t have time for that, she wants to push.” But, he insisted, they have to go there first to fill out paper work. I told Jane not to worry we would get her up there soon. So, we arrived at the desk for the paperwork and the girl sitting there stapled a bunch of stuff together and starts to tell her about it and I just blurted out, “She’s pushing!” That worked! The girl says, “Oh! Go on, take her upstairs.”

As we are walking through the halls, I’m trying to coach Jane how to breathe through the pushes but the halls were so narrow, I would walk next to her for a second, then stop while we passed something, then run to catch up beside her then stop again. Finally we got to triage and they wanted her to pee in a cup. Kevin was still parking the car so I took her to the bathroom. As soon as she got in, I hear, “Kristen!” So, I put out my arms and she just fell into them. While I’m standing in a squatting position holding up another adult, I’m thinking, “Only a minute, I can do this, it’s only a minute.” It was perfect though. Jane had this amazing ability to let everything go limp while she was having a contraction. She would let her body relax while her uterus did all the work. Jane said, any time she felt pain; it was a good feeling because it was what was bringing her closer to her baby. See, that’s VBAC perspective. As the rushes intensified, the better she felt.

I kept asking someone to check Jane because she wanted to push so bad and couldn’t control the urge, so finally the 1
st year resident came in a checked her. She was about 3 months into her residency. She said, “Well, I think she is about 7 cm, but she could possibly be complete, but probably 7. Does someone want to follow this exam?” to the other nurses in the room. I don’t know if this doctor has kids or not, but 7 and 10 are a big difference! Finally they take us to a regular room and this resident is trying to do an ultra sound to make sure the baby is head down, but she can’t find the baby. So, she brings another doctor in the room to do it. Baby was fine and was head down. At this point, we are still waiting for Kevin to get back and I am trying to create as much of a bubble as I can around Jane. There were so many people coming in and out of the room and the nurse said Kevin couldn’t come back until the IV was done. Jane didn’t want me to leave to switch though.

With the lights finally out and whispers to Jane we worked on concentrating with each rush. The goal was to not push. Kevin finally was allowed in before the IV. Jane was doing wonderful, she managed tiny pushes while one of us held one leg up and put pressure on it, while the other talked her through the contractions and breathed with her. We worked like this for some time and by 9:15 she was 9 cm. Once the room was empty and dark Jane sat on her ball. She hung on the rebozo while Kevin squeezed her hips. Concentrating and breathing with each rush (Well, once she threw Kevin’s red hat aside) Those pushes came stronger and stronger.
Jane wanted to push so bad, she started to get disappointed in herself that she couldn’t control the urge and then the resident came in again to check her. Jane was 9 cm but thick and swollen. The chief resident didn’t think she could reduce it and they along with a nurse that was not who Jane’s started talking her into an epidural. Jane responded with, “Well, yeah, I guess so.” Kevin just looked at her and said, “But Honey, you didn’t want one.” So, I asked for some time alone for them. Everybody cleared the room immediately. I suggested that Jane get on her hands and knees with her head down and if that works, no need for an epidural. If it didn’t work, then we would know for sure that she needed one. Jane agreed and with her head down, the room dark again and her face buried in the pillow, she was able to concentrate. Rush after rush, she fought the urge to push. It helped, some of that pressure was gone and she could breathe better; but she still wanted to push so bad.

With her first baby, it was a very long induction a few weeks early because her water had broken after an exam. She always thought the water broke because of that exam and her baby wasn’t quite ready. After 36 hours of labor, they had her pushing at 9 cm and her cervix swelled so they took her to a c-section. With a VBAC, the hardest part is getting past that point the mom got to before. So, during this time it required a lot of concentration for Jane to relax, let go and do what her body needed her to do to get some pressure off her cervix.

By 11:15 the attendee doctor, Dr. V came to check on Jane. We asked him to check to see if the swelling had gone down and if she could push past it. Dr. V was so positive along with Jane’s regular nurse. There were some dips in the baby’s heart rate and the nurse explained to her that it was good that the baby was responding to the contractions. When Dr. V checked Jane, right away, he said, “Oh good! This is good.” He said there was a bit of swelling, but not much. Yay! I was so happy the swelling went down; I asked if he could reduce it and she could push past it. He said, “Oh yeah, I think so. Let’s try.” He got in position and had Jane push with the next rush. She did and it worked the first time! She was so happy and the nurse was so happy for her, we all were. She could finally push. She passed that point!

After about an hour of pushing a very determined Jane birthed her healthy baby boy face up! He was a tired little boy and was so happy to rest right there on his mommy’s skin and sleep. He stayed there for over an hour while his mommy cried with joy. Jane and Kevin got to touch and hold him as long as they wanted this time. Jane was so happy she did it this way and her words; she didn’t even have to have an epidural. I am so happy we tried something other then the epidural. Kevin and I knew she did not want it and I knew she could do without it. This was one strong and determined momma.

The best thing I heard from her was, this birth made up for everything that happened before, she felt like she did what her body was meant to do. The experience for a mom to get past those obsticlas is so powerful and healing. I am so blessed to be a part of it and experience a little bit of it. The joy in Jane's face and her words are something I will never forget.

Endurance

Some births are short and intense and others are long and slow. Some people have great endurace and others are sprinters. God will only give us what we can handle. This is a story of a mom who had incredible endurance and an amazing ability to relax through her contractions.

I met Tiffany and David a couple months before the birth. When I first talked with her, she told me how her sister had a natural birth with a doula and loved it, after hearing that, she also wanted to have a good positive experience for her birth. Tiffany was very cautious with all her decisions from the beginning. But, over all, she seemed very relaxed and comfortable with the upcoming birth of their child. David was just completely on board with what ever Tiffany wanted. Going into it, I had a feeling it was going to be a pretty good birth. They supported each other and had a lot of family support as well.

Tiffany went in for an appointment Tuesday morning, the day before her due date. Her doctor did a rather rough exam to feel around the baby’s head. After the exam, she noticed some leaking. The exam showed she was 2 cm and 80%, but that her water bulging below the baby’s head. Tiffany wasn’t sure if her water broke, but she called me around 1 pm Tuesday with some consistent cramping. I had told her that it is normal after an exam to have the cramping, especially an exam like that. If it just continues to progress it is probably the start of labor, if it stops, it is not labor. Throughout the day, the cramping kept up and turned more into tightness then just cramping. She asked if I could come over and see what was going on around 5, I arrived just before 5:30.

At home, Tiffany was pretty comfortable. It seemed pretty early in labor, but I thought we would take a walk to see what would happen with it. Her surges were much more frequent with the walking, but she was able to walk right through them. After our walk, we ate some dinner and rested for a bit where the surges started to get stronger. She would start to fight them, so I tried to keep her focused and not fighting the contractions. At first I thought I might go home and come back, but things started picking up. We ended up taking about 3 walks, Tiffany’s surges got more intense, so Tiffany and David had a shower. I was thinking after the shower that she labor would have been further along, but she got out all refreshed and said the shower felt great. At this point I was back to thinking I might be going home. But, Tiffany got down stairs, rested and it got much more intense again. Now, I am definitely not going home. Yay! It’s baby time.

About 11 pm, Tiffany starts to throw up. David and Tiffany decide it is time to go to the hospital so we left and arrived at 11:30. About midnight, the wonderful nurse, Lisa checks Tiffany and she is 3-4 cm, +2 station. I was so bummed for her, she had been working so hard and it is so difficult for a mom to bring her mind to where her cervix is, if she thought she was further along. But, Tiffany didn’t seem to mind at all. She was so patient and calm. She just went with it and started walking after the monitor. Through the night we walked, her and David showered and Tiffany was monitored. Lisa was very relaxed with the monitoring; Tiffany was put on maybe every hour, not even 40 minutes. Lisa also never gave Tiffany a saline loc. It was wonderful to have such a supportive nurse who was respectful of Tiffany and David’s wishes. Through the night the surges ranged from 2 minutes to 6 minutes apart.

Early on, Tiffany was fighting the surges, she would try to wiggle through them, finally in the night she settled into her groove and relaxed through them. Once she did that, she had an amazing ability to relax through them and in-between. When Tiffany did get on the monitor, her contractions would slow to about 6 minutes and we tried to let her just sleep as much as she could. All night and into the next morning, it just seemed like labor wasn’t progressing. Her hormonal symptoms were there with the throwing up every hour, but there was no bleeding to indicate dilation, there was no shaking, not change in demeanor, the back labor wasn’t moving down her back. We tried all the positions to get baby to turn and move down, but still not dilation, so it seemed.

The daytime nurse was just as great about respecting Tiffany and David’s wishes for a natural birth with no interventions. After all this time, it had been all night now, the nurse, Michelle wanted to check to see how things were going. She had talked to me first about it and we both agreed that it just didn’t seem like much dilation was happening. Just before noon she was checked and found to be 4 cm. Still, Tiffany didn’t seem to get discouraged. She just kept on going and doing what we said to do. The nurse mentioned to her about breaking her water. Tiffany, David and I discussed it, what it could possibly do for her (there are no guarantees) and what the down side was. They made the decision to go for it.

At 12:10, Dr. Gray broke her water and instead of it being an uncomfortable procedure, it was such a relief to Tiffany. She had so much water, no wonder the baby’s head wasn’t near the cervix. So, we went back to walking, shower and monitor. This time I only let her back in the bed once for the monitor, the other times she had to stand. It finally seemed like the cervix was changing.

I stepped out for the restroom and on my way back, Michelle stopped me in the hall. She wanted to see if there was any progress now that her water broke. I was curious and knew that we did need to know if this was working, because if not we had to figure out a new plan. So, she asked if we can approach Tiffany about this.

At 2:45, just 2 hours and 45 minutes later, Michelle checked Tiffany. She was very slow about her check, didn’t say anything till she was all done. Then Michelle put her hands together and with a slow sigh and a sad look on her face says, “Well… I have some good news for you.” Oh my goodness! I about jumped out of my skin and yelled something like, “What is it?!” or “Tell us!” Michelle says, you are 8 cm. Praise God!!! I had to keep from crying, I was so happy for her. After laboring for 19 hours and dilating 1 cm, she dilated 4 cm in 2 hrs and 45 minutes.

So we went back to our routine, walking around the room and the shower. Tiffany’s throwing up had subsided; she had some coconut water and naked juice. The coconut water really helped her feel more energy. During contractions, David would hold her up while I would do back pressure and have her just hang on him. David would remind her to breath deep almost every time. He really just stepped up and helped her so naturally. They were a perfect pair. Tiffany was amazing, her coping didn’t change at all, she just kept right on dealing with the contractions how she was all night. Every once and a while, she would fight it, but as soon as I reminded her not to and David told her to breath, she would sink down on him and relax.

At 6:28, just under 6 ½ hrs after her water broke, Dexton Johnathan was born. He was 7 lbs, 13 ozs. (Maybe) There was a little problem with weighting him. The doctor said something about the baby being a boy, so I said, “We didn’t see yet, David, can you check for us?” So, David got to tell Tiffany that they had a little boy. A cute one too.

The Unexpected

Audrey was having her fourth baby and did not have great experiences with her other labors, so she wanted the help of a doula to help this time go a little better. When I first met Audrey, we talked about her past 3 births. All 3 children were 2 weeks early, very long labors and jaundice. Her first was breach and she started contractions about 2 weeks early so they took her right to a cesarean. The other 2 labors were long and bad experiences with the epidural. So, we had a plan that we would try to have a natural as possible birth without pitocin and epidural not at all or very late in labor.
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Audrey followed suit and started contracting very early on. 35 weeks was the first bought of contractions. They stayed at about 3 minutes apart for a couple hours so we even went to the hospital, but they would not show up on the monitor and she had no change in dilation. It seemed about every 2 days she would have hours of contractions starting in the early evening, lasting part way through the night. By 39 weeks Audrey was completely tired and frustrated with what was going on. So, after taking everything into consideration, her due date, risks, benefits and connivence, Audrey and her husband, Devin choose to have her water broken, Thursday, Jan 12th at 1 pm. Audrey and Devin did not take this decision lightly and came to the conclusion that it was the best decision. I was very happy that she made it to 2 days before her due date because her other babies were jaundice.

We arrived at the hospital at 12 pm, Thursday. Everybody's spirits were good, Audrey had started cramping from the inside about every 10 minutes that morning. These were different then the previous contractions. The doctor came early, about 12:30 and broke her water. He was so laid back and at ease with everything. Contractions still were not reading on the monitor, but Audrey described what she was feeling as different, kind of uncomfortable and weird. Her doctor made sure with the nurse that Audurey was to be up and moving as much as possible. He also told Audrey how great it was that when he tickled the baby's head, her heart rate would go up. He left the room with us all feeling very comfortable.

As soon as monitoring was done, we went walking. We walked for almost 40 minutes. During this time she only had to stop 2 times for a contraction. We also talked about if she asks for an epidural and decided on if so, we will have her checked before making that decision.

Audrey gets back on the monitor (this is the second time on it) and she is starting to be very uncomfortable with the contractions she is feeling. Contractions that are still not picking up on the monitor, so I have her sit on the ball while she finishes the 20 minutes she is supposed to be on the monitor. That is more comfortable, but I can tell that things are changing a bit. Even though, the monitor is not picking up contractions, every time Audrey's breathing changes, the baby's heart rate also goes up a bit. I could tell, her little girl was feeling them too.

Once we get off the monitor, Audrey goes to the bathroom and we try to go for a walk, but it took about a half hour for her to get to the bathroom, out, in again, on the couch and back to the ball. She wasn't sure if she wanted to push or had to go to the bathroom. Her contractions were definitely long and strong, we just couldn't feel them externally. It was very interesting. The nurse comes in to try to get her back on the monitor and she couldn't because the contractions just weren't stopping. She leaves again and Audrey is in the bed tearing up and tells Devin she is going to need the epidural. I told her we will have the nurse give her another check first. Audrey is saying she wants to push. So, I call her in again and look at her bum to see if there is a purple line in her crack, which is an indicator of how dilated she is. As the nurse walks in, I see the line and I'm so excited and tell the nurse, "She's almost there! I see the purple line!" The nurse just kind of looks at me and checks her, then tells her ok, don't push yet, you are almost there. She calls the doctor and tries to get Audrey on her back. Audrey goes to her back and rolls right over to her other side. She is involuntarily pushing and the nurse checks her again. She is now complete at 3:22! Yep, just under 3 hours after her water is broken. I was so happy for her. No more long labor, no more horrible epidural. (She had leaking spinal fluid with the last one.)
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Audrey pushed holding onto her husband's hand for 20 minutes. Their 8 lb 15 oz baby girl was born at 3:42, after a 3 hour and 10 minute labor.

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This birth was so unexpected because Audrey's labors were all early, long (over 24 hours), needing augmentation and an epidural. The past epidurals were aweful. One didn't take and the other caused a spinal headache. This labor was so incredibly different. It was short, relatively easy, she didn't need the epidural, she won't have any side effects from it, her recovery will be so easy with just a tiny tear that needed only one stitch and her baby so far has not had any jaundice. It is so wonderful that she got what she wanted. I am so very happy for them.
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Selfless Birth / Beautifully Traumatic

When I first met Alicia, I knew I wanted to be at her birth. She is such a selfless person and she loves birth and pregnancy. She was determined to have a natural birth, one of the reasons is because she herself wants to be a doula. I thought that was awesome. I was also very excited because she was a surrogate. I think that being a surrogate is such an amazing selfless gift you can give someone.
Alicia1
Alicia first started contracting at 36 weeks. She had pretty strong contractions about 5 minutes apart, but they were not a whole minute. But it looked like it might be the start of labor. So, Alicia called me. I had another post due already, so I called her and told her that I might be going to another birth that night. Turns out when I hung up the phone, that client's water broke. Since, that birth was happening, I went to that hoping that Alicia would hold off a while longer. We also wanted her to hold off because it was still very early. She was very worried about the baby's lungs. I think she felt a huge sense of responsibility to the intended parents and that little baby boy.

Luckily her labor slowed in the early morning hours, but pretty much from then on she had contractions all the time every day. More so when she would rest. It was very strange, walking and activity would weaken them and resting and bath would strengthen them. We had another tease November 18th. Contractions were 5 minutes apart that evening at 7 pm. She tried the bath and a walk and they stayed the same, walking actually didn't take them away this time. I decided to head over to her house around 10 pm. By about 1:30 she was having contractions 3 minutes apart, but they were only 45 seconds. Then it seemed like the contractions were weakening at about 2 pm, so I sent her and her husband on a walk at 2:30. I already knew this was going to stop, but I thought I'd try a few things. After the walk I told her to try to sleep in-between because they really seemed to be going away. She was able to sleep in-between and I could hear her breathing change when she would have another. At this point they were back to 10 minutes and I decided to go home.

At this point, Alicia is 4 cm and about 60% effaced. Her body is SO ready to go into labor. But, it just wouldn't keep up. We were thinking it was a position problem, so she tried the inversion, standing in a deep lung with one leg up, and side lying. She would feel that little guy move but about 10 minutes later the little stinker would move right back. At Alicia's 40 week appointment, her doctor told her if that labor starts up again, just to go into the hospital and get her water broken. But, on her next appointment 5 days later, they would schedule an induction. So, that's what she did after taking castor oil Saturday night. Contractions started up again in the early morning of Sunday, Dec. 4th. At 3 pm she went into the hospital after things started slowing down.

Alicia really didn't want pitocin, but not much was happening and the nurse wouldn't break her water since the baby still was too high, it could cause a cord prolapse. So, she got a low dose of pitocin Saturday night at about 7, it gave her some contractions, but not a great pattern still. At 9 pm the intended mom shows up in the hospital room. She was very excited, but Alicia is still in active labor where anything atmosphere change can affect her labor. The intended mom also told Alicia that there won't be a need for her to pump breast milk for her baby anymore. Alicia's contractions completely stopped and then at about 9:30 pm the doctor ordered the nurse to turn the pitocin off. This particular doctor is the only one that will deliver his patients. There is no on call doctor for him, he's it. So, basically in a round about way the nurse told us the doctor didn't want to deliver in the middle of the night.

Between the intended mom coming in, the news about not pumping and the doctor wanting to slow things down it was all very overwhelming. So, I got everybody out of the room to give her husband and her time to process everything. Later we decided the intended mom needed to wait till pushing to come back, I went to the waiting room and told her it would be a while and it would be best if they got a hotel for the night. She agreed with that suggestion, so she left. Contractions started again an hour later and Alicia was happy with pit being off. She didn't want it anyway. We figured around 11 pm, things might start up again. It did a little and she was 6 cm by midnight. That's 2 cm progress after 9 hrs. Alicia had a friend that was a photographer there to take pictures, (aren't they beautiful?!) her and I decided to take a break for some sleep at almost 1 am.
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At 4:45 I got a text from Jason, her husband, "She's 7 cm and throwing in the towel, she wants an epidural" Finally! Some really good labor going on. I rushed out the door to make it back to the hospital in time. An hour after I got there I realized I left so fast in the dark that my shirt was backwards.

Transition can go very fast and it is the hardest part. Up until this point, Alicia was handling contractions beautifully. She didn't need any help coping with them. It was almost as if they didn't bother her at all. But, when I got back to the hospital, I could see a complete shift. I knew this was finally it! I was very excited for her.
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It came to a point that Alicia was having trouble coping. She just looked to her husband, he held her close encouraging her as she wanted it all to end. He was so supportive of her and never left her side. He new this was something she wanted to do and needed to do. Jason did everything he could to help her do what she wanted so badly to do.
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I suggested the bath and she didn't want the nurse to get mad at her for getting off the monitors. So, I explained that she is allowed to go to the bathroom, basically when the nurse sees on the monitor that she has been "on the toilet" for too long she will come in and find out that she is actually using the bath. Sure enough, within 10 minutes the nurse came right in and would not let her off the monitor. About 6:45 am she stopped coping well again. There was no talk from her of pressure, so I suggested to call the nurse, I said, "Tell her you are going in the bath and if the baby needs to be monitored then bring the Doppler along." This entire time, the baby's heart rate was beautiful, he was handling everything perfectly, the only reason they wanted her on the monitor was because she was 7 cm. The nurse came in and decided to check, Alicia was complete! The nurse said, "Oh! He's right here, don't push." Side note, we were told earlier that nurses try not to deliver because if they deliver too many, they will loose their job. But, I know how impossible it is to hold that baby back without an epidural. (We called the mom and had her come back to the room.) As the nurse is telling Alicia to take short breaths and not push, I whisper to her that she can just go with her body. Try to blow out, but if you have to let your body do what it wants to. "Push if you want to." She nodded slightly and she pushed.
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This whole time I could hear the mom crying in the back ground. The nurse actually tried to push her knees together! I don't really think they understand labor without an epidural. I kept telling Alicia to go with her body and the baby boy was born at 7 am, 8 lbs, 9 oz, the doctor didn't make it. The baby was pink and healthy, tears were just streaming down his mom's face. It was so amazing. I told her to go and follow the baby, touch him, be with him. She walks over and in broken words says, "Oh, look! He has my chin." It was so beautiful.

The doctor shows up and then things take a turn. The doctor is ready to deliver the placenta, he actually tugs a bit, the placenta isn't coming out. He tugs some more and it's not coming out. I can actually see the placenta right there. Alicia is saying that it hurts, the doctor says, "Oh, it shouldn't hurt to deliver a placenta." Then he mumbles almost to himself, "Boy, this placenta is harder to deliver then the baby." I said, "Not quite!" The doctor is pulling and telling her to push. She yells, "It hurts!" I'm concerned about all this pulling so, I ask, "Is it detached yet?" The doctor sticks his fingers in and says, "I think I got it." He's tugging, telling Alicia to push. She tries to push and says it hurts again. He lets her wait for a contraction, then pulls and tells her to push, she literally screams, "It hurts on the inside" That right there is key, something is wrong. ALWAYS listen to a mom without an epidural. You will know if something is wrong, usually it is a relief to deliver the placenta. I am watching, not knowing how I can stop this and seeing what looks like a HUGE placenta come out then the doctor goes, while looking at it fascinatingly, "Oh... Well... That's something you don't see." He mumbles a few other things and tells us she pushed her uterus out. I also hear him say something along the lines of "What are we going to do about this?" My insides just dropped as Alicia is panicking. She's asking what can she do while the doc is looking at her uterus, trying to detach the placenta. Yes, the placenta is still completely attached. I'm just telling her to try to relax everything in her body, "Don't do anything, the doctor is taking care of it." While I say that, inside I am thinking, panicked thoughts knowing how serious this situation can be.

** Side note: I have a problem writing negative things surrounding birth because I don't like to scare moms. I fully believe that birth is a natural non medical process. Yes, sometimes things can go wrong, but it is a rarity if things are done with little to no intervention and if things are done properly. However, I feel that it is also important for everybody's story to be shared. On top of that, this particular story was a beautiful birth where this complication could have been avoided. The doctor rushed and pulled something that should NEVER be done. This is not something that a mom should ever just be scared of, if she is, talk to your doctor before hand and ask how much time they give the placenta to come out.

** Back to the story... The doctor finally detaches the placenta Alicia is in pain and I am asking the nurses and doctor to give her something. I asked about 3 times and her nurse says she is. Then Alicia asks what is that, the nurse says saline. We were thinking a med after the saline that would take the pain away, but she only gave her pitocin. Then, the doctor shoves it back in with his arm up in her to his elbow. Still no meds. He stitched her up with extremely shaky hands. He even missed a part, I asked him to add another stitch and he did. Then he left so quick, he didn't even sign the cord blood paperwork. The placenta was sent to the lab and Alicia is left worried about "what now." I called the next day and nobody has come to talk to her about what happened, to explain it or to talk to her about possible future risks and recovery. The staff all knows what happened, but it is such a rarity that nobody has come to talk to her about it. I am angry over this and what happened. The doctor hasn't even been back to see her. Before the delivering the placenta, she had a beautiful birth almost completely in her control.

In the end, there was a good and a bad to this story. But, by telling it I want it just to teach people about what can happen. Not at all could this mom have changed anything. It was the doctor that choose to do what he did. But we can learn from what happened to her and just have more questions to ask other care providers. Educate yourself, choose a caregiver that you trust and be firm with what you want. Of course, understand if there is an unforeseen circumstance out of anyone's control were we do need to make changes and have interventions. Thankfully, Alicia didn't end up in the OR and thankfully she is ok now. No signs of hemorrhage or retained placenta. No shock when it happened. Go back to that picture in the beginning, that was after everything. Alicia is ok and recovering wonderfully with a smile on her face.

Hands Off Birth

Alan and Amanda wanted a natural birth, but were a bit worried it might be too hard. Amanda had a previous back surgery with fused bones as a result, so an epidural was not exactly an option. It might have been possible, but it was a huge fear. Aside from that Amanda went in with some fears about labor and concerns about a narcotic. Needless to say our goal was to help her to have a natural birth. We had talked a lot about how we were going to achieve that and all kinds of different comfort measures. We had lots of preparation of what to expect as well.

Amanda's due date was October 27, however from our very 1st conversation, we both were thinking her pregnancy was going to go into November. At her prenatal appointment at 38 weeks, Amanda had her doctor, Dr. Gonzales strip her membranes. Being that the baby just wasn't ready to be born, it did nothing. So her due date rolls around and then Halloween arrives and she tells me, "It's official, I'm going to be pregnant forever!"

The evening of November 2nd, Amanda decides to take a castor oil mixed with some pineapple juice and coconut milk. At 10:15 she went to the bathroom and felt her water break. I got a call at 10:31 telling me that her water broke. I asked the normal questions, "Is it clear? Is there an odor? Is she experiencing any contractions?" I also told her to lay on her side for 20 minutes and let me know when contractions start and how it is going, I wanted to get a little rest before I needed to go over to their house. I also told Alan to try to get some rest if he can since Amanda wasn't having contractions yet.

11:06, Amanda had her first contraction. They started at about 4 minutes apart and quickly went to 3-2 minutes apart. I got another call at 11:45 asking me to come over. I arrived at 12:01 and Alan was loading the car for the hospital while Amanda was on her bed in her relaxation position timing contractions. She wasn't fully relaxing with them, so I got her to breath and relax right when the contraction started. They were coming 3-2 minutes apart. I had her drink and go to the bathroom. It was at this time that I found out about the castor oil. After that, Amanda felt that she really wanted to know where she was at in labor and we should go to the hospital. So we left for the hospital at 12:49, just 48 minutes after I got there. The hospital was a bit of a drive and we arrived at 1:30, the nurse checked her at 2:00 very quickly between contractions and she was at 6 cm. Perfect! That's right when we like to get to the hospital. The hospital was pretty busy, so we were not assigned a nurse yet and we had the charge nurse trying to get all Amanda's info in between contractions while another nurse was trying to get the hep-loc in place. They managed all that in about another 45 minutes and Amanda's contractions were getting really intense. Amanda had started asking for something to take the edge off and Alan and I reminded her that we were going to try to get through 3 contractions. She kept telling us no and was by this time screaming with contractions.

We don't know whether it was the screaming or not, but the baby's heart rate would drop dramatically with the contractions. When she first got hooked up to the monitors, his heart rate was dropping a little, but nothing of too much concern. But because the dips were in the 80 bpm range, Amanda was not able to have a narcotic. It just wouldn't be safe for the baby. We told her that and actively worked very hard to keep her focused and breathing through contractions. It was at 2:45 when the nurse checked Amanda again and she was at 7 cm, just 45 minutes later. After that she left the room. At this time, I had an Alan hold a hot pack on Amanda's back while I had her looking at me for the contractions and breathing. I was able to get her to breath for the first breath of the contraction, then she would have about 4 long loud screams, then I could get her to breath again by having her looking in my eyes and telling her how her little boy was doing. Here contractions were not completely going away and she didn't want Alan's hands anywhere on her until he made his way to her feet. It was perfect, he so calmly tried different things until he found something that worked. So he got some lotion and rubbed her feet the rest of the time.

At one point, Alan points out to me that she is having a lot of bleeding, I looked and it was definitely enough to know she was either complete or almost. I had him get the nurse and Amanda wasn't involuntarily pushing so she left again. Then, Amanda yells, "My vagina is burning!" So I told Alan once again to get the nurse. Remember I said it was 2:45 when she checked her at 7 cm? Well, it was just after 3 am at this point. So the nurse comes in and she can see the baby's head. She has another nurse call the doctor and asks Alan to clean a little of their stuff to make more room in there and the baby's head starts to crown. About a minute later, I tell Alan, he better get over here and see this. He does, snaps one picture with my phone because we all forgot our cameras, his was in the car and mine at home. Next contraction, the nurse puts her hands there and gently guides the baby out. Carter was born! It is now 3:20 am. Yep, just 35 minutes after she was 7 cm. Crazy. No doctor.

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When Carter was born, Amanda asks if they are going to clamp the cord, the nurse says, "No, you didn't want us too." They move Carter to Amanda's tummy and tell her not to pull to hard because he was still attached. Amanda held her baby till the doctor arrived, and started her stitches. At that point she passed him onto Alan who talked to Carter for the next 40 minutes until Amanda was ready to hold him again.

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Carter's temp was a little low, so the nurse said to uses skin to skin on mommy now. Amanda got him on her breast immediately and Carter pooped twice on her while nursing. We cleaned up the poop most of the way, he switched sides and pee'd on her while nursing some more.

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About 2 hours later, I left and nobody had held that little baby except for his parents. The nurse barley touched him except for guiding him out at birth. It was the most hands off birth I have ever seen. I don't know what time the nurse finally did come in to weight him. I'm still waiting on that information from Amanda, but I was so impressed with that staff and how they completely saw the importance of initial bonding. I'm guessing he was in the 7 lb range.

After the shock of how fast everything went, Amanda was so happy she didn't have any pain meds. Carter was born so alert and content. It was amazing, he let out a little sound and then the rest of the time just looked around. He never really cried.

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Just got an update as I was going to save this, Carter was 7 lbs, 5 oz and 20.5 inches long.

Completely Natural Hospital Birth

As Doulas, we never want to miss a birth of a client that we have spent time getting to know. The doula-client relationship goes both ways, in the interview the parents are deciding if they connect with the doula and the doula must feel the same. So, for us to miss a birth it can be very dissapointing. With that being said, I got to be at a birth where I was a back up for a very wonderful couple.

Holly and Wes planned to have a natural birth at Hoag Hospital with Dr. Diaz. I talked to their doula Melissa over the phone and told her I've been to Hoag and I have actually worked with Dr. Diaz. Also, in talking it became clear that we were both Christians and that the couple would love to have a will be very happy to have their back up be Christian as well. Anyway, Melissa's whole family was getting sick with the flu, she was so dissapointed to be missing the birth of Holly and Wes. They actually first met when Holly was just 7 weeks along. On my end, I was very exciting to go to a birth after taking the summer off for vacations and birthdays.

I woke early Thursday, September 22 to a text from Melissa telling me that I am needed. This was at 6:33 am. Holly woke up at 4:30 with contractions at 5 minutes apart. I called Holly to introduce myself and get a feel for what was going on. I needed to take a shower and she sounded like she might be getting close to going to the hospital and talked a bit about the pain, so I suggested the bath for pain and to hold her off a bit. I needed a shower and breakfast before I left.

I arrived at Holly's about 8 am to her and Wes outside working through contractions. Wes had just packed their car for the hospital because their doctor told them they should come in. I suggested wait till I get there. We went in their home to work on a few contractions to see how Holly was doing. I told them that she definately wasn't in transition and it would be a good idea to stay home a little longer. So, we stayed till Holly was ready to go. Her contractions were 3 minutes apart, she labored with the rebozo inbetween and on the ball. Holly was eating and drinking well. Wes was a wonderful support for her, he was there for everything and did constant massage during the contractions.

At 9 am we left for the hospital. Melissa was concerned that she wasn't bleeding yet, but Holly was ready to go. I had texted Melissa that I thought she was at about 5 cm. We arrived about 9:30 and Holly was 4-5 cm. The nurse that was in triage with us was not very friendly or receptive of a birth plan at all. So, we limited interaction with her and started walking the halls. Holly was great at walking fast and Wes was right there at her side to hold her up for her contractions. We would walk, Wes would hold her and massage while I did pressure with the tennis balls, after each contraction Holly was great about drinking coconut water or vitamin B water after every contraction.

Holly was reassigned nurses and after our walk we met her. She was awesome! She read the birth plan and instead of asking Holly if she wanted pain meds, because they do have to make it known that they are available, she said, "I won't ask you if you want any pain medication, I will just assume you will ask me if you want it." Heidi was our nurse and right off the bat she was very positive. She loved natural births and described herself as being very holistic. Heidi seemed like she just wanted to hang around and be part of the labor, but she didn't want to intrude too much. She was great! Wes and Holly were very relieved that we got this new nurse.

Heidi checked Holly after our walk and she was 6-7 cm and 100% effaced. That was very encouraging, we thought she was going to finish very quickly. At 12:30 Holly got monitored for the 3rd time since we got there. It was nice, they weren't very rigid on how often she was being monitored. Lying in the bed made it more difficult for Holly to relax through the contractions, so she sat in the bed for the monitoring.

Holly spent the rest of her laboring in the room, walking, squating, sitting on the ball, drinking eating and going to the bathroom. It was very difficult for Holly to empty her bladder, so she slowed way down on drinking. Finally, I got her to go with Wes and she emptied a ton, so the drinking picked up again. Holly was just so peaceful during her labor, she knew what had to be done and did it. When the contractions got really intense with more pressure, she prayed for strenght and support. Wes was right there by her side praying with her. It seemed like they had no worries all throughout the labor, they knew God had a plan and everything would work out. It was really beautiful.

A little before 2 pm, Holly was at 8 cm. Her membranes were still intact and there was a buldge under the baby's head. This was keeping the head up a little higher. By 3 she was 9 cm. She labored with a lot of pressure and intense contractions since 2. At 3:30 she was still at 9 cm with the bag intact. Holly was really tiring out now. She was resting well between contractions, but she had such short breaks. At 4:12 the doctor came back and broke her water. Finally at 5:28 she was complete. She pushed through a lip of cervix and got to continue pushing. Holly was exhausted but pushed with such strenght. She was at 9 cm for 2.5 hours! That was very exhausting. We could tell, Wes would have taken these contractions for her if he could. After pushing for 2 hours and 10 minutes, Dezmond Matthias Kasper was born 8 lbs 5 oz at 7:38 pm, September 22, 2011 with no interventions to him or his mommy. Dezmond was born with his cubby little hand up by his chin and a big head. That makes it very hard to push! It was so perfect. Dezmond hadn't even left his mommy by the time I left the hospital.
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Healing Birth

Cheryl was expecting her third child that was due January 1st to be early. In-fact, she was hoping for one more week when I went to see her Saturday, December 11th. Her estimate was December 15th. On Wednesday the 15th she had an appointment with her OB who was very supportive about Cheryl having a natural birth, so supportive that she told Cheryl to stay home until her contractions were 3 minutes apart lasting a minute for 2 hours. Doctor Baick wanted Cheryl to go into labor early also, because she was a VBAC, she wasn’t going to be allowed to go past her due date. After 40 weeks it would be another C. Anyway, at the appointment Cheryl was 2-3 cm and 70% effaced and Dr. Baic stripped her membranes.

I received a call at 4:30 am from Jaime, Cheryl’s husband saying that she had been having contractions 7 minutes apart for about 2 hours. He also said she couldn’t sleep through them but wanted to relax. I told him to have her get in the bath. About an hour later, Jaime texted asking if she could get in the shower. Cheryl really didn’t like the bath, but loved the shower. Her contractions at this point were about 5 minutes apart and her thoughts about them were they were uncomfortable and stronger then she expected. I thought she was progressing pretty quickly so I ate breakfast and got ready. I went outside to get stuff out of my husband’s car so I could take it and I was planning on driving over to Cheryl’s. I figured they were going to ask soon, so I’d start heading over there. I called when I went outside and Jaime said she was ready for me to come, the contractions were getting a lot harder.

When I arrived it was about 6:30, Jaime was blow drying Cheryl’s hair after the shower. She was in a pretty good rhythm with her contractions and very upbeat about everything. She was very talkative and had a lot of energy between contractions. After Jaime was done with her hair, I straightened it and then she did her make up. Cheryl’s daughter woke up about 7:30 and wanted to stay right there with her mommy. She watched while Cheryl put on her make-up and at all the grapes I got for Cheryl to eat. She was very quiet and didn’t seem to be a distraction for Cheryl at all. Jaime called his sister, Christina who was going to be at the birth also. He told her to go ahead and go to work until they called. A bit later we went down stairs, her little boy woke and the twins got ready for school with their grandma.
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Once they left, Cheryl’s contractions were about 4 minutes apart. I thought we could pass some time by baking and it seemed to be good for her labor when Cheryl would be on her feet, so we started baking pumpkin muffins.

Around this time, everything starts to get a little blurry. Things were progressing so well. Cheryl was getting tired and talking about pain with the contractions. She wanted a break and didn’t know how long she could go on. She would go to the bathroom every couple contractions, for a few of the in-betweens, she rested on the couch and at about 9:30 her contractions hit the 2-3 minute apart mark. She was on the toilet at this time and pretty much stayed there. Until we left the house. I was able to get her on her hands and knees for 2 contractions to see if that would take the pushing pressure off, but it didn’t. So I was pretty certain the baby was getting pretty close because it wasn’t a position problem causing the pressure. Every contraction on the toilet Cheryl said she need to push, but she did so amazing controlling that. She breathed out with her lips in a circle every time I reminded her. Jaime timed every contraction and stayed right there massaging her through the contractions. He had the bowl ready for when she felt like she might need it, although she never did and he finished the muffins for the nurses at the hospital. About a 1/2 hour into this toilet laboring, Cheryl said she though we should go to the hospital. I was torn at that point, but I said if you are ready, that’s what we will do. Jaime started packing the car and Cheryl told me she felt burning, it was burning bad. I asked her to point to where it was burning and she said down low like inside her vagina. At this point, I was right on board with her going to the hospital right then. But I was making plans for when we got there to avoid any IV, I told her to sneak into the shower when she was getting admitted in the room. Jaime packed the car and called his sister then we left.

It was 10:24 am Thursday, December 16th when we got in the car to go to the hospital. Jaime’s sister decided not to go to work and head straight for the hospital just incase. Boy, what a great decision that was. We arrived at the hospital at about 10:45, got to the room at 10:50 and Cheryl thought she had to go to the bathroom, the nurse handed me the gown for her while Jaime took her to the bathroom. I went in the bathroom and Cheryl said the baby is coming, I watched her feel for the baby and saw the bag of waters and the baby’s head protruding out of her. I said to the nurse, “She’s not kidding, I see him!” (At this point I am completely not aware of where Jaime and Christina are.) The nurse rushes in the room, hits the call button and someone (probably Christina) handed me gloves for the nurse then I opened them for her. The nurses station calls back and the nurse yells to the speaker, “I need some help in here, I’m delivering a baby on the toilet!” I think she and Jaime got Cheryl up and to the bed. Cheryl was lying on her side just as I was walking out of the bathroom, her water broke like a water balloon splashing across the room just as the baby’s head came out. Rylan Scott was born at 10:53 am December 16th weighing 7 lbs, 6 oz. Yes, I did say we arrived in the room at 10:50! He was born 21 minutes after we got in the car to leave to go to the hospital and only 3 minutes after we were in the room! She wasn’t even admitted yet.
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I remember looking at Christina and she was standing there frozen in shock. I have no idea where Jaime was, it was all so, so quick! Rylan was a little stunned by the quick delivery, so the nurses had to breath for him. They thought he was going to have to go to the nursery, he did pink up and slowly got his energy up. He had his eyes open before he even got to Cheryl and never needed to go to the nursery.
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Cheryl got the natural birth she wanted. No interventions, no IV or hep-loc and she did amazing. She did everything I suggested to her and went with her labor. She worked so hard before we even left the house. When I had my very first conversation with Cheryl, she said she wanted to experience the birth this time, she wanted to feel some control and wanted to feel everything pain or not. She didn’t want to go through what she did with the twins again, having everything out of their hands while being so scared about what could happen to them any minute. She also didn’t want to be monitored the whole time. So in the end, “That’s the way to have a hospital birth!” She experienced a completely natural hospital birth. She also had great instincts about when to go to the hospital.

Christina's birth

It is amazing how God has really been showing me that being a doula is what I should be doing. It is so neat how it has been working out. When I first started, I thought it was going to be so difficult being on call and I was afraid I would have to miss major events with my children. I was also so unsure of myself, if I could do it or not. My confidence has grown so much since that first birth and I just keep attending these perfect births with perfect timing.

When Christina first called me she told me about why she wanted a natural birth, not at the hospital, but with a midwife. She talked about how birth used to be before laboring women were brought into the hospital and that being pregnant and giving birth is not a medical condition. Everything she talked about was everything I am so passionate about. I was so excited to meet her and hear about what kind of a birth she wanted. She was set on a natural birth but understood that complications do happen. Christina seemed to be very proactive in her care from the beginning of her pregnancy and she had so much confidence in trusting her body and the process. Then, on the other hand there was that uncertainty that she had never done it and didn’t know quite what to expect. You can read all you want, but you just don’t know until you go through it yourself.

Christina told me that her mother was going to be the only one there to attend the birth and help with her baby boy. But, since Christina was adopted, her mom didn’t know quite what to do for her when she was in labor. Christina put it, “It’s like the blind leading the blind.” So, she followed her midwife, BJ’s advice and hired a doula. I was very excited about this birth. I just knew it would go well, just by her attitude and determination. So, when I got the call Saturday morning at 5:30 am the day we were planing to take the kids to the Wild Animal Park, I was excited, but still a little disappointed that I was going to miss the kids seeing the animals.

Christina told me she had been having “Period like cramps” that were 5 minutes apart for an hour. I asked her if they were from start to start and if she had tried the bath or the shower yet. She hadn’t, but they were from start to start. Christina also told me that she didn’t think it could be labor because she didn’t feel the rushes all over, just down low. I told her to get in the bath and see if they stop. Then I got up to take a shower. I called her right back after the shower and she said the cramps were less intense, but still there and she still didn’t think that this could be it. So, I suggested the shower just to make sure and I ate a big breakfast incase it was a long labor, but I had a feeling it was going to be quick. After I at my breakfast I called Christina again. She told me she hated the shower and got right back in the bath. Rushes at this point were about 3 minutes apart. I suggested I come over, she really seemed to be going fast and I wanted to assess where she was in her labor in person. It is much easier to tell in person then over the phone. Christina was still worried at this point that I’d come over and it would be false labor. I told her we had an appointment to go over her birth plan anyway at 10 that morning and if it wasn’t labor, our appointment would just be done early.

After talking her into the fact that this might be real labor, I arrived at Christina’s house at 7:30. She was in the bath tub and rushes were about 2 minutes apart. Almost immediately after I got there, she was having back to back rushes and it was very hard for her to get comfortable. She was still thinking it could be false labor and I suggested we call BJ after about a 1/2 hour of no break from her rushes. Christina was still a little apprehensive, after-all, she wasn’t due for another week and how could her baby be early if she is late for everything? I reassured her that this was labor and she was moving along very nicely, in-fact quite rapidly and I called BJ to tell her we were close to coming. BJ said she was ready whenever we were. Not much later, she was ready to give up. She asked, can we just go to the hospital and have a c-section. That was more of a joke, but it showed where her labor was at. After about 10 more minutes and me telling Christina that she was very close to having this baby, we decided to go to the birth center.

Christina’s mom packed the bag and the car while I go Christina to slowly get out of the bath and ready to go. She was ready to get shoes on. She was on her hands and knees by her closet while her mom was getting shoes. Her mom pulled out a pair only to hear, “No, not those ones.” She pulled out another, Christina says, “No, not those ones.” Christina then grabbed one flip flop and asked for the other. Her mom kept pulling out pairs of shoes cause she couldn’t find the match only to be met with, “No, not those ones.” After about 5 pairs, I grabbed a pair and told Christina, “Here these will be fine.”

We finally got Christina in the car and to the birth center where she was back on her hands and knees ready to get in the tub. But she had to wait for BJ to check her. BJ arrived a couple of minutes later, checked Christina’s progress and discovered she was complete! That was amazing. Christina got back in the bath and her bag of water hadn’t broken yet, so it hurt to push. BJ suggested braking her bag of waters which would allow the baby to move past the pubic bone and Christina decided to go ahead with that. BJ broke Christina’s water during a push and a couple pushes later her little boy’s head was born. Because there was meconium present, BJ then suctioned him, then another push and he was born. Her beautiful little boy was born 7 lbs, 11 oz at 9:53 am. Christina’s labor was 6 and 1/2 hours. I got to attend the birth and be home in time to make it to the Wild Animal Park with my family.
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One of my favorite things about this birth is Christina’s personality really carried through the whole labor. Women sometime wonder how they are going to be in labor and I think they know themselves best. How do they handle anything? I have noticed that however you handle any stress, pain or challenge is how you will handle labor. It’s all in how you prepare, how you view the situation and the support you have.
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Deanna's birth

I never got around to blogging my best friend, Carey’s birth of her third child. She was planning a home birth. This was her third natural birth, but first home and first in the water, I was very excited to be present for a water birth. But Carey’s first 2 babies came very quickly, 10 hours for the first and 4 for the second. Needless to say we knew this birth was going to be quick and since she lives about an hour and 15 minutes away from me not driving in traffic I was very concerned I would miss the birth. So long story short, I got a call 10 minutes after contractions started, got on the road within the next 10 minutes and arrived about a half hour AFTER her baby boy was born! I wasn’t all that surprised, but still very disappointed. Carey did tell me how the water was amazing. At least I got to be there so soon after he was born and she did get the home birth she wanted. So it all worked out.

I happily can say now that I have finally been able to attend a water birth and I must say it was an amazing birth all around. Deanna is a first time mom who’s husband is in Afghanistan for over a year long deployment. She showed so much strength and courage when I first met her and it carried throughout her labor as well.

Deanna was about a week over due when she went into to her check up and her midwife decided to strip her membranes. Immediately she started feeling crampy and about 10 labor contractions began. Deanna e-mailed me about midnight to tell me she had been having contractions 7-10 minutes apart for 2 hours and she said, “I just thought I should tell someone.” I called to see how she was doing and she sounded very calm and relaxed. She was doing everything she was supposed to do, drinking plenty of water, going to the bathroom, snacking and moving around. Deanna did say she wanted to be alone, so we texted about every hour until about 4 a.m., when she said, she didn’t want to be alone anymore. Deanna had started to get nauseous around 2 a.m., which didn’t go away. I arrived about 4:15, she was on the floor hanging over her ball and throw up bag near. Her friend had arrived a few minutes earlier and was running a bath for her. Deanna was still so calm and peaceful.

The rest of the morning went on with Deanna in the bath for a while, on the floor, on the couch and throwing up. She called her midwife at 6 a.m. after contractions had been 5 minutes apart lasting sometimes 2 minutes for more then an hour. We went to the birth center and arrived about 8 a.m. There, her midwife checked her and she was at 8 cm dilated! She labored so much at home and no one could have guessed she was so far along. Deanna got right in the bath and within a half hour stated pushing. She never gave up and never lost her courage. Deanna so calmly pushed her little boy out in 40 minutes. She said the water was so amazing, if she had known, she would have gone to the birth center sooner. It just took so much of the discomfort away. It made it so much easier and more relaxing. Her little boy came out so content with wonderful apgar scores. It was a beautiful birth.
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Photography by: Lindsey Kliewer

Sarah's birth

I had my first birth as the primary doula! It was very exciting. Sarah was the mom and first I have to say she was amazing. She was having consistent labor at 5 pm Monday night with her contractions 5 minutes apart, by 1 am they got to 3 minutes apart, so her and her husband (Keith) decided to go to the hospital. They then called me and asked me to meet them there.
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When I got to the hospital, Sarah was in very good spirits, she had to stop for her contractions, but other then that everything was normal. Well, she was tired. Sarah was worried about not getting any sleep and having enough energy for the labor. When she checked in the nursed checked her progress and she was 2 1/2 centimeters! Wow, I couldn’t believe she wasn’t more dilated. Aren’t many women dilated to 3 before even feeling the labor rushes? However, Sarah didn’t seem to get discouraged. The nurse did discover that she was leaking fluid and had been for most of the day, so we were staying till the baby was born. Keith and I went right to work keeping Sarah busy, moving, drinking and going to the bathroom.

In the early morning, Sarah’s doctor came to visit and she did a vaginal check. During this check, she discovered Sarah was now 4 centimeters and firm. “What, oh no!!?” was my initial thought, but I continued with the encouragement and we kept her moving once again. We tried the birthing ball, laying down, hands and knees, squats and walking the halls. So the doctor came back in about 11:15 later that morning (Tuesday). At this time, there was no change in dilation, so Sarah was put on a pitocin drip. From then on, her contractions stayed in the same rhythm, but worked better for her body.

A few hours later Sarah was in transition and before we knew it, she was 9 3/4 centimeters. She stayed that way for about 2 hours! But still, she seemed like she was slightly uncomfortable and kept up the changing positions, drinking her water, eating her popsicles. Keith and I were amazed with how hard she worked without 1 complaint the entire time. Baby Gavin was finally born at 6:32 Tuesday night, he was 8 lbs, 6 oz.
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Kristen at Conscious Birth is serving Placentia, Yorba Linda, Fullerton, Brea, Anaheim and other Orange County, CA cities. I am also very near, some Riverside and San Bernardino County cities. If you are interested in meeting with me, please e-mail kristen@bestocdoula.com or call 714/269-0172.