a natural birth

The following story was submitted by two moms, this is the birth of their second baby girl.  When the mom submitted the story she titled it “a natural birth”, I thought it was a wonderful and fitting title, as it was so simple.  Birth should be as such; simple.  And the following is a testament to how wonderful, beautiful, and powerful this simplicity can be.  

(If you would like to share your birth story please submit it to LouisianaNaturalBirth@gmail.com , any and all birth stories are welcome, regardless of setting, circumstance, etc.)

a natural birth

My labor began at ten pm Saturday night. I started having contractions five minutes apart. I decided to wait to see how it progressed before I called anyone. Throughout the night steady contractions at five minutes apart, then at 8 am they stopped cold turkey. I called the on call nurse who refused to call my dr and then I told her I was having contractions five minutes apart and she said don’t go to the hospital until they are five minutes apart and hung up. Seriously bitch did you even listen to me?

I called my doula she said it was perfectly normal for labor to stall. My body had just gotten her in position and then was resting before the big show. We called my sister to come pick up my daughter and spent the day resting and waiting to see what would happen. No contractions all day.

That night a couple of times I woke with contractions but I was able to fall back asleep so did not pay them much attention until 4 am when my water broke. It was a little bloody so I called my doula. She said that was most likely the bloody show and to keep her posted. At that point my contractions kicked into gear. They were coming about every four minutes and getting stronger. So, Erika and I played dominoes until they were too strong for me to be able to play anymore.

My dr had told me not to come in if my water broke as I was planning on doing most of my laboring at home. But, to call him so he would know I was coming in soon. I called his nurse who didn’t listen to me and said come in now. (yet another nurse who would not listen to me) At this point I was beyond fed up with the nurses and said screw it lets just go in. I called the doula and told her to meet us there.

You have to go in through assessment. This means they take you back to a room by yourself.  They wouldn’t let my wife come with me, so they could ask me all those STD, abuse questions and hope for honest answers. All I had to say was I was keeping my clothes on and they knew I was a natural patient and started treating me differently. They said they had to strap me to the machines, but if I was admitted they would take them off and use a telemonitor. They stuck me with a q tip to test and see if my water did in fact break. 30 min later they let my wife come back and they finally called my actual dr, who of course said I could go home if I wanted. But, at that point I knew the baby was coming, so we decided to stay. They said I could sneak my doula back to my room  (because you are only allowed one person with you in assessment) and then we waited an hour more for them to move me upstairs.

My nurses upstairs took my birth plan and seemed excited and positive. They put me on telemonitors and let me be. At first I spent most of my time walking the room, stopping only for a contraction. Each contractions visualizing the pain flowing down through my body and out my toes. At this point It was very easy to laugh and make conversation in between contractions. I was only at 1-2 cm, so the pain was very manageable. The nurses would come in and say they were amazed at how calm I was. I keep asking, isn’t everyone like this, I mean this is the easy part of labor. If they are freaking out now how do they make it to the end? They would laugh and say they don’t make it.

As the contractions progressed I sat on the ball for a while and swayed back and fourth through the contractions visualizing that I had turned into a bunch of long grass at the beach and was swaying in the wind. Even now thinking about those moments they seem so beautiful.

My dr came by on his lunch to chat and check in on me. He just sat down and had a nice conversation with all of us making me feel so calm and relaxed as his presence always does. He checked me and I was at four cm and fully effaced. This made me very happy. I could feel my body making progress and to get the confirmation made me even more confident.

I knew I was far enough along to get in the tub so I asked them  to set it up for me. I had asked earlier, but the nurse thought the in room tub was good enough. I informed her it was not good enough, nor possible to labor in that  stupid tub, build me the good tub. Ok I thought that and my doula just asked them to build it. Which took an hour to build and fill up.

While I waited I continued to sway on my ball visualizing my beach grass self swaying in the wind. When the tub was done it took me a few contractions to find a comfortable position. I tried all fours for a while and then leaning back against the tub. The most comfortable was hanging over the edge and letting my body hang in the water, but the tub would cut off circulation to my arms, so that did not work either. At this point contractions really picked up my doula had me making deep vocals to ease the pain and encourage the contractions. This helped greatly.

After about 45 min I was getting too warm and got out and my doula had me sit on the toilet for a few contractions. This was my least favorite place to have contractions as your body naturally relaxes and opens up on the toilet as you have spent years training it to do so. This meant the baby would drop much quicker during these contractions causing them to be very painful.

I went back to the ball and really felt the baby lowering. I  looked up and said get the dr she is coming. My doula went to tell my nurse who did not believe us because I was not showing enough signs of pain, any signs of pain really and how could I be ready to push? Yet again the nurses not listening to me.

My dr was in a section and could not come for ten-twenty min. The nurse wanted to check me to make sure I was really ready to push before she called him out of a c section to run to me. I told her no, but then caved. My only mistake the whole time. I was not going to lay on my back for her and she did not know how to check me on all fours, so she kept poking me in the wrong holes. I screamed at her. This caused my uturus to shrink up. She went to get another nurse who checked me and said I was only 6-7. I lost it and started crying. I said I want back in the tub then. My mental strength was gone. I told them I could not do it and told them not to be disappointed. The nurse had my number though and said in order to get the epidural I had to be strapped in to the bed and get a whole bag of fluid in my before they could give me the epidural which would take 20-30 min. I gave her a look of horror and said no way. I will keep going. Looking back I think she said that to make me keep going. Which is good, since once I said that my body began to push the baby out. 6-7 cm my ass.

Luckily they had told my dr I was hitting the wall and he ran across the hospital to me. Because he is beyond awesome like that. By the time he got there I told him my body was pushing the baby out and the something had popped. He said that was the rest of my water bag and it was a good sign. He said do you want to have the baby in the tub? I said I did not know, but decided that I wanted to stand hoping it would make the pushing easier. He said ok, but lets push on the toilet first. If you can push there first it will get the baby here faster. It was very difficult to walk at this point, but we made our way to the toilet. As I began to push the pain from the contractions was gone and all I could feel and focus on was pushing. The breaks in between contractions came back and I was able to smile and talk in between them again, which was a much needed break. I had my doula behind me, a nurse in the tub next to me, my wife and dr kneeling in front of me and two nurses in the doorway while I pushed on the toilet.

I pushed until they could see the baby’s head and then asked if I could try standing up. I walked to the edge of the bed, which somehow was easy at this point and as my body beared down I yelled out oh this is worse I need to sit down again. I sat on the edge of bed leaned back on my arms and began to push again. Holding my breath with each push. The dr massaged my perineum and my wife was on the ready to catch the baby. They tell you it feels like a ring of fire when you push the baby out, I think it feels more life your vagina being ripped in half, but they also told me I was pushing too hard and needed to slow down. I could feel her head come out and told them to just pull her out. As I pushed those last few times and felt her slide right out, my body entered a state of euphoric bliss. I reached right to her and they handed her to me. I have never felt such a high in my life.  There are no words to describe the euphoria of this experience.

Birth; from the Fathers point of view

A Father tells the story of the third child’s birth.

It had been a long day at the office, and even as I started putting the children to bed I was still making arrangements for the next days’ work. I was not expecting a baby that night. Though I no longer lived in the area, I had been given an opportunity to return to southwest Mississippi for 10-14 days to help the newspaper I used to work for adequately cover the Mississippi River’s flooding. My wife, S., was nearing her due date, but we had decided to go ahead and take the opportunity because I would be able to make more money in those 10 days than I would in two months working at the two jobs I currently have. Both of my employers said they understood, and we packed for Mississippi. We didn’t expect the baby to come before we were back home because our last child was born two weeks after her estimated due date, and even that was the result of a natural induction. My brief time back in the office had been satisfying – Oh God, how I miss having a full time job – but tiring, and after fighting our six-year-old into submission (he didn’t want to sleep in that bed), I nodded off into a warm cocoon of sleep. And then something started poking holes in my cocoon. It was S. “I think my water has broken,” she said. Internally I groaned, and for a moment tried to force myself to believe it was a false alarm. It’s not going to happen tonight. We’re in Mississippi. We’re in a borrowed corporate apartment. Don’t overreact. And then I woke up for real. Broken water is not a phantom contraction – even if it was just a leak, it was something on which we would have to keep an eye. Time to gear up for a long night.

I got up, and at S.’s behest, went to the store to get some items to help manage the leak and some herbal supplements that would help stave off infection while we waited. I got back, and she remembered something else, so I made a second late-night run to the store. The lady at the checkout gave me a look like she thought I had some kind of fetish she couldn’t understand. Her eyes and angry, jerky hand motions seemed so accusatory — “Why are you making two trips into the store at midnight, especially to buy herbal supplements and Depends? Are you up to shenanigans? You young people these days, with your beards and your rap music and your vitamin C and adult diapers, you think you can do anything.” I was probably making her miss her cigarette break or something. While I was doing all of this, S. was calling our midwife, D., and our parents to make arrangements for the next day. She was having some light contractions here and there, and – if our last experience was any indication – all of this would be over by noon. I got back to the apartment and with an efficiency that impressed me – probably only me – I was able to gather everything up, load the kids into the car and get us on the way back home. D. was also on her way from Baton Rouge to meet us in the middle.

The drive across the river and back to Cenla was a long one, but the thought that I would crash the car and kill my child before it was even born was more than enough motivator to stay awake. The long highway home ran out sometime after 2 a.m., and as I loaded the children into their bed the six-year-old woke up just long enough to reproach me – “Why did you make me sleep in that bed if we were just going to come home?” I answered him honestly when I told him that I didn’t know. We left the front door unlocked so that D. could come in and sleep on the couch while we waited, and we crawled into bed, hoping to get a few hours sleep before the show got on the road. Suddenly, it was 6 a.m. and the kids were awake. Damn. D. was still asleep downstairs, but that wasn’t destined to last long, and I got up and started some coffee. Aside from the obvious intrusion of the midwife, it was a fairly normal morning routine – breakfast and all – and soon even D. had left just to get out of our hair while we waited. By mid-morning my mother had driven down to pick up the older children for the day. After they were gone we did some perfunctory house work and decided to go walking at the mall to help speed S.’s contractions, which at that point weren’t very exciting. Walking around the mall she had a few curse-worthy contractions, but other than being intense they were too well-spaced to get our hopes up. Eventually, we decided to go to E.’s house – E. is a friend who was also working as D.’s assistant for the birth – just to catch our breath and have someone else to whom we could talk. D. was already at E.’s house, and while we were there she asked some questions and did some minor midwife-y things, and eventually advised us to just go home and get some rest. We went to the closest Blockbuster kiosk and rented “The Green Hornet,” and then went home.

That afternoon we did a few things in preparation for the birth – we made the bed with two layers of sheets and a protective medical layer between them, and I inflated the birth pool – but mostly we nodded in and out of the movie, which wasn’t that great. I was starting to really feel the night before, and S. was too, except her feelings were compounded with an occasional contraction. Still, though, the contractions weren’t picking up and we were both starting to feel frustrated because this was already well longer than the labor she had for either of our two older children, and it really wasn’t much more advanced than it had been the night before. We decided to go walking again. Back at the mall a second time, we walked and talked, and – maybe because we didn’t have any children with us – it felt kind of like a date, the anticipation like the final weeks before you are to get married. It was a strangely intimate time waiting for our baby, strolling past middle-class teenagers trying their hardest to work up some kind of inner anger at Hot Topic while their mothers turned up their noses at the perfume store operated by a middle-eastern woman wearing a full head cover. Eventually, we called D., and she met us at the food court, where we had the best food court Chinese I have ever eaten. Still, no significant progress, so we walked around with D. briefly before heading home to discuss our options – at this point, a hospital would have been pressing us hard for a C-section, because an 18-hour labor with no significant progress is usually considered reason enough to slice a woman open. At the apartment, D. gave us a few options for what could speed up the labor, but the one we chose – black and blue Cohosh – is the only one I remember. We had two options to choose from the Cohosh, and we chose to use the gentler one, which would encourage any labor that was already happening rather than force it hard the same way Pitocin would. It was starting to get dark, and we wanted to get this thing moving before the kids got back; my parents would have kept them longer, but they had to get on the road at 5 the next morning to attend my brother’s graduation in Fayetteville, Ark. Still, the evening wore on, and while things started to move a little faster, it wasn’t much faster. E. came over. My parents apologetically dropped the kids off. D. filled the birth tub. No baby.

The children presented a new set of problems: they needed attention, because – after all – they are children. For the older one I used my favorite move out of the I’m-gonna-be-a-crappy-parent-today handbook, letting Netflix do the babysitting for me, but the younger one wanted to come in our bedroom to nurse and play, especially in the birth tub. D. tried to tell us it was a bad idea to let her in there because of infection risks, but eventually, when D. was out of the room, we relented so she would see it was not as fun as she thought. She thought it was exactly as fun as she thought. This was when E. showed her true mettle. She was able to take the little one downstairs and keep her occupied enough that S. and I didn’t have to worry about her. D. followed them down and S. and I were able to have a little while to ourselves. While S. labored in the birth tub, I sat on the bed, holding her hand and praying. After a while I lit a couple of beeswax candles in front of the icons of our patrons, and I found a prayer for a woman about to give birth in an online Orthodox prayer book. I started to lose track of time. Eventually, the child downstairs needed a parent, so I took her outside and walked around the block a couple of times while telling her a long, rambling story about a princess who had been kidnapped by a dragon. I tried to make it very boring, but it didn’t work. Finally, I sat down on the stoop and watched the late night traffic on the freeway until she fell asleep. It was after midnight, which meant S. had been in labor for more than 24 hours. I was really starting to feel like those three-and-a-half hours of sleep I had gotten weren’t worth the time they had taken. After laying the little one on the couch, I went back upstairs to join the birth cadre.

Things finally started to pick up, but just when it seemed like the contractions were becoming regular I heard crying from the ground floor, and I went back down and laid down on the couch with the two-year-old until she was really asleep. It took everything I had in me to resist the creeping clutches of the sandman. Back upstairs again, I crawled back onto the bed so I could be next to S. while she labored in the tub. E. lit some incense, and we turned out the lights, leaving only the candle light. I started praying again –what else could I do? – and when I couldn’t think of anything to say, I would alternate between the Trisagion prayers and the angelic salutation. D. knelt at the foot of the bed, her head resting on her folded hands, and E. sat in the doorway, her head bowed in either contemplation or sleep. In the natural birth/homebirth world, you will hear a lot of hippy nonsense, but that night I experienced something that made me realize that one natural birth assertions – that birth is a religious experience – was not. For just a moment, as I surveyed that scene, while my wife grimaced at some inner pain, I felt like I was at that pregnant pause in history when the Spirit hovered over the formless void that would become earth. We were participating in creation. But birth, even as a spiritual experience, is a great rebuke against gnostic dualism, because it is very, very physical, and because of that physical discomfort, S. decided to get out of the tub and move to the wingback chair we have in our room.

By this point the contractions were intense and pelvic, and I would apply counter-pressure to S.’s back whenever she had one. The pressure itself was not enough, and soon S. asked us to use a heating pad as well. The contractions were still far enough apart that we could fall asleep between them, and this is when I started to have what I consider to be the Gethsemane experience of that night – not as Christ, but as one of the apostles. I would start to nod off to sleep so violently that I would forget to swallow or even breathe, only to be jarred awake by the sound of S. shifting forward in the chair because she was in need of pressure. Somehow, some way, I was always able to wake up immediately and place my hands where they needed to go – and if I didn’t, S. was sure to let me know – but nonetheless I could hear a distant voice asking, “What, could ye not watch with me for one hour?” I began to wonder if we were going to have to transfer to the hospital, but D. – who has attended far more births than I have – was calm, and so was I. After an eternity of this, things really started to pick up, and with the increased contractions I was able to shake myself awake. Now, S. was moving around more, going back and forth to the bathroom and finding fewer and fewer comfortable positions with which to situate herself when she was in the bedroom. Following her back into the room after one of those exits and re-entries, I could tell something was different. The room suddenly smelled of woman and blood and freshly-turned earth, like life and fear and anticipation. The end was near. The beginning was here. S. had left herself behind and had entered a plane of existence onto which the rest of us could not tread, a world of burning pain and animal instinct, where words became screams and moans meant that her insides were turning themselves inside out. She ran to the bathroom one last time, but getting off the toilet reached down and checked herself, and – with a wolf cry – told me to get our oldest, who had asked if he could be there for the birth. I woke him, and he was instantly awake, sure he was needed in some way. We placed him on the bed, and he watched while S. leaned against the chair and rocked back and forth, bending up and down, doing a kind of instinctual, primal dance that she later said she could not explain. The child downstairs awoke and found her way up, and E. held her in the doorway.

The baby began to crown, and very quickly it was birthed to just below the nose. Even in the moment, I found myself trying to analyze the face. It was very purple. S. began to beg with us to just reach in and rip it out. She was desperate, but D. told her we weren’t going to do that, but after a moment she reached in and began to turn the baby. I thought surely she would break it, but – of course – she did not, and after only a moment, followed by a rush of blood and water that soaked my arms up to the elbows, it was finished. My son was born. In that moment, S. was transformed, cooing at the baby rather than groaning from her very being. Truly, “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.” Creation, for a moment, echoed. It was good.

Nine days after the baby was born, on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, our priest made the trek up I-49 to see us and to pray the short naming service with us. D. was able to attend as well. We named him after me and his maternal grandfather, and his baptismal name will be “John,” after the apostle Christ loved. May he live up to it. Now, nearly seven weeks later, I am still sometimes prone to wonder at this fat little baby, given to us when we were not asking, just as we made a transition into another phase of our lives. But I am thankful for things that are given even when they are not asked for, because some gifts are always good.

But I dont’ handle pain well…..

Often the first response I get from women in regards to my having foregone meds in childbirth, is “but I just don’t handle pain well”.  The assumption here is that either I like pain, or am harboring some kind of super human strength.   The truth is I do not handle pain well AT ALL, not even the tiniest little paper cut. So why am I, the person who doubles over in pain, crying like a two-year old over a stumped toe, able to handle the intense pains of childbirth?  It’s hard to explain really.  There are a few things that go into this answer.  And it’s important that ALL women start to understand the difference.  Many women do not even attempt to forego meds because the anticipation of pain is so great.  While the epidural and other meds are available and an option, it is important that more women at least go into labor with a plan that isn’t solely relying on the epidural.  In some cases the epidural, especially when introduced too early in labor, can slow down and impede the whole process causing a cascade of interventions.  The epidural is not 100% effective, it often only relieves some of the pain, and in some cases does not take at all causing the now immobile mother even more pain.  And there are long-term risk to the epidural, so it should always be used with caution.

laborSo first, let’s talk about what is “pain in childbirth”.  There is some question as to whether the pain felt is physical or psychological.  certainly the tightening of uterine muscles and the stretching of the cervix is physically felt but the wide range of intensity that is actually perceived by the mother indicates there is more at work psychologically that determines actual pain felt.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  first the level of hormones rushing through the body will affect the amount of pain that is felt.  If the mother is well supported and levels of oxytocin are flowing she will be better able to counteract the “pain” signals from the brain.  If the mother is experiencing high levels of adrenaline however, the amount of pain felt is heightened.  the same physical activity is present but the perception of pain varies.  Another factor is the position of the baby, and the mobility of the mother.  If the baby is in a less than ideal position at the time of descent there may be more physical discomfort as the uterus is having to work harder to move the baby down, and the baby’s head pushing against the pelvis rather than through it or an OP baby that is putting pressure against the mother’s spine might also cause more physical discomfort.   If the mother is able to move freely, getting into positions that help to open the pelvis and move baby down she is more able to manage the pain, whereas a mother in bed on her back will likely experience unmanageable pain.   Artificial labor stimulants, such as Pitocin, will also increase the intensity and frequency of contractions causing higher pain levels.   The wonderful thing about labor pain versus other types of pain, as in a toothache, is that there is a much needed break in-between contractions and the level of intensity gradually increases over several hours (or days).

Doula service that includes 2-2hr prenatal meetings, birth support, and 24 hour followup.

Now let’s talk about pain management.  As I already mentioned, the perception of pain is decreased by a safe and supportive environment.  The use of a doula in a hospital birth will greatly decrease the level of discomfort and the dependency on meds.  Having only those present who support and are comfortable with your choices in birth, trusting your HCP, and having a patient and gentle nurse will also decrease the amount of pain felt.  Other helpful tips include; dimming the lights, playing soothing, rhythmic music, being surrounded by familiar smells, use of a heating pad or rice sock, and a warm tub or shower.   Women that report lower levels of pain, or no pain at all, are able to enter a labor like trance.  This state of mind is most conducive to a more comfortable experience but also will help to move things along.

labor with Aralyn b&wI wish I could say I had pain-free labors.  I did not.  My best experience was with my third, my second birth at home, when I finally learned the art of surrender.  I was able to handle the pain much better by accepting it ahead of time and allowing my body to do what it needed while I simply coped.  I swayed, rocked, moaned, roared, walked, leaned, and spun around in circles.  I worked with the pain, not against it. It hurt, at times I cried, but I was assured in the notion that there was a purpose to the pains and that it would end, and in the end it would be worth it.

Below is testimony from other Louisiana women in regards to pain in childbirth.  The best way to prepare for childbirth is to talk openly with other women who have given birth.  Every birth is different but there are commonalities that unite us.

Michelle has given birth to three, her first by cesearean, her second a vbac with the use of the epidural and the third a med-free vbac.  She is now preparing for the birth of her fourth, another pain-free vbac.  She has this to say regarding the pain she experienced in each of her births.

I imagined labor would be intense. I was a little scared of it at times. But after reading positive birth stories I knew I could handle it. I knew I was strong, and I knew my end goal.

For my first vbac I got the epidural after an hour and a half of pushing  and knowing that intervention was around the corner if something didn’t change.  I wasn’t a fan. I went from pushing because my body was telling me what to do,  to pushing because I was supposed to. Going from feeling my body do what it  was intended, to not feeling anything at all, it seemed like my power had been taken away. For my second vbac, no meds of any kind. I felt out of control at moments
due to the intensity, but at the same time I loved feeling everything and knowing that with every contraction I was making progress!  After my third, my completely natural birth, I realized how emotional and amazing it was to feel every feeling.  To experience your entire body going through the entire process, even when it was beyond intense.  It was so real and so involved.  It was me laboring; not machines, monitors or doctors. Me and my baby did it all!

In preparing for her first unmedicated birth, Shannon had this to share;

Before labor started I didn’t have a clear idea in my mind about what the pain would feel like. I had read so many different perspectives on pain that I felt it was really individual and because I have a high tolerance for pain was feeling positive. I thought it would be intense menstral pain I guess. I held onto the fact that even though the pain would be intense and possibly overwhelming, I wasn’t hurting myself and wasn’t going to die!  I moaned like an animal through contractions and really liked leaning over the bed in the beginning.  I made deep, guteral sounds and was not thinking of how they sounded. 

The pain was about what I had anticipated. I enjoyed the break after a contraction for a few seconds/minutes…it was such a relief and I felt like they were manageable because mentally I would tell myself that a break was coming up as soon as one started. I had always read that the pushing phase was a relief and that was the most difficult/scary part for me. I did not feel relief and felt a little panicked.

Melissa has experienced one cesarean due to placenta previa and two unmedicated vbacs.

I prepared myself for the worst pain of my life. My comfort measures were different for each birth. The first time it felt great to be leaning back on a bed and the toilet.  With my second the toilet hurt REALLY bad and swaying while leaning on something soft helped.  When I thought I couldn’t take it anymore it helped me to have people surrounding me telling me that I could. The thing that helped me the most was knowing FOR SURE that because the pain was this bad it meant it was almost over. The pain was the worst I ever had, and that’s what I had prepared for

Kristi has experienced two unmedicated births, both very fast and intense, the first in a hospital and the second at home.

Before my first, I thought it would be the worst pain imaginable since that was what I was brought up hearing. I was pretty nervous about it until I read the Marie Mongan Hypnobirthing book. It really pumped me up and made me think, “Let’s do this! I can do this!” I had a very fast labor once contractions started. Once I made it to L&D, I labored in the jacuzzi tub the whole time. I moaned deeply through each wave. My husband moaned with me. I started thinking, “I can see why women want pain relief. I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” That’s when my midwife and husband helped me out of the tub. I didn’t know at the time why they were doing it, but apparently I was pushy because all of a sudden I was pushing baby out. So water, vocalization and dim lighting helped. After it was over I remember thinking I thought it would be worse.

Preparing for my second I thought it would feel just intense as the first time. I was worried it would be the same but for 24 hours. Labor started much the same way as the first time- all of a sudden and contractions were right on top of each other. I got a little overwhelmed at the beginning that things took off so fast. I never really felt I got into a groove like I did the first time. My doula and midwife were there for about 20 minutes before I had a baby in my arms. Again, water and moaning got me through. I felt the ring of fire this time. It burned but it wasn’t as bad as I have heard. It just felt like some stretching. Pushing actually felt good this time. Like really really good. Sexy good. This labor was 2 hours. I couldn’t stand up straight for days. That feeling of sudden emptiness really bothered me. My perineum felt really sore this time even though I barely tore. I never had a chance to get to that “I can’t do this anymore” point. This birth took off without me. It overwhelmed me, but I loved it and wouldn’t change a thing.

Hannah has experienced one cesarean that she felt was unnecessary and due to tiredness. She went on to have an unmedicated vbac and then another unmedicated birth at home.

I used the sterile water injections during my first vbac. It was likely the
WORST part of my labor. Each needle was put in 1 at a time since it was my
doctor’s first time. I screamed.
I didn’t want to be cut open again so the pain was worth it. I managed the pain really well during my first vbac. But I clung tightly to my doula. I didn’t
really want anything said to me, I just needed shoulders.

For my hbac (homebirth after cesarean)  I didn’t handle the pain that well, but the unbearable pain
was only about 1 hr. I thought she was going to come out my butt there was so much pressure
. I never felt the ring of fire or the baby coming out and then back in again with my vbac. But the hbac was completely different. When she crowned and then went back in I yelled “NO, don’t go back up!” When she came back down again she twisted and turned. NOT comfortable at all! I had the least restraint with this birth but no tearing or bleeding

Margaret has experienced one cesarean, one vbac with the use of an epidureal, and another vaginal birth unmedicated.

During my second birth I felt like an animal unable to escape from every wave of contraction, though I don’t remember the contractions themselves at all, just that overwhelming thing happening inside that even now I can’t describe. I asked for a c-section; I told my husband that I wanted to go home and just be happy with the child we had, that I didn’t need two after all. The shower helped immensely but I was too exhausted at that point. I got the epidural after screaming through five or so hours of active labor. The worst part of getting the epidural was having to remain still through a contraction. The pain relief was complete – I couldn’t feel anything.  Pushing was frustrating because I couldn’t feel anything to push. I felt like I was just making the pushing face but I was too tired to be a very good actor.

Going into labor the third time I was expecting unbearable pain. When active labor kicked in, I was
laying on my side and it was intense but only painful at the peak of contractions, mainly with my legs feeling like they were turning to stone from my knees up, no matter how much I relaxed.
I don’t remember feeling any pain after pushing started, pushing at the top of the contractions was incredibly intense but not actually painful.

Jennifer anticipated excruciating pain regarding an unmedicated labor with her first. However she later describes what she experienced not as excruciateing rather as “naturally powerful feeling”.  She found pushing to be more difficult though and had this to say.

I had not prepared for the pushing to be painful. It was fast and I think I was in a little bit of shock and scared, so I was tense.  I was to the point of realizing this sucks and hurts. The only way to make it not hurt was to push. It had to get worse before it got better. I wish I would have slowed down and let my body do the work

Please share YOUR experience. Did you utilize the epidural and how was that experience?  If you were able to forego the epidural, how did you manage the pain?  Was the level of pain what you had anticipated?

Birth Goddess

I’d like to apply for Birth Goddess.  Are they currently hiring for divinities?

I realize of course that I am fully human.  There is something about birth however that leads me to taste the divine.

In the hours of labor, all is calm, internally in tune.  Swells of pressure wash over my center.  And in those moments I am a vessel floating across the sea.  Air rushes around me and a single note like a low fog horn, resonates from the depths of the womb to world around.  The winds whip up, and the hums grow stronger, more tumultuous, until they are no longer lulling tones, but overpowering blares, imploring bystanders to either fortify themselves or take shelter.

photo by Tabitha Austin

Flickers of lightning appear in the thickening clouds looming on the horizon.  I retreat further into myself, away from conversation, neglecting observation, detached from time itself.  This storm is all there is.  My sole focus is how to ride the swells, moving forward, deeper into the tempest, for there is no way around it.

Ideologies are absent here.  No heady theories.  Just breathe.  Breathe.  Breathe! 

Sink into my inner core and push.  Push.  Push! 

This is the moment where humanity interlinks with divinity.  Each exhale fortified with the power of Zeus.  Lightning bolts surround me.  Thunder booms within.  My baby is born amidst a tangle of heavenly blazes and a deep-seated burst of supplication.The tempest softens instantly into the perfumed breezes of spring.

I may not be worthy of marble statues.  Yet I know that when my child crosses the threshold from womb to world, I too am crossing the threshold from human to divine.

HB 947, now onto the House Floor. More action is needed from consumers!

So HB 947 has passed through the committee and now it will go before the entire house of representatives.  We do not know a date but it could be as early as next week.  Sen. Landry will be the only one able to argue this bill on our behalf, so we need the consumers to be heard before it goes up.  We need to send letters to the entire house.  You can use the same letter you sent to the 21 members of the committee, just exclude them this time and send to the rest of the house.  You can also contact them via email or by phone.  HERE is the link to the entire house and their contact info.  If sending a letter through snail mail you may consider sending it to the Capital address, I’ll post the address below.

La. House of Representatives

Honorable XXX

P. O. Box 44486

Baton Rouge, La. 70804

After speaking with Ida Darrow about how to lead an effective letter writing campagne, she agreed that a form letter may be helpful.  I know many of you asked for this last time.  She suggested having each consumer personalize the first paragraph, introducing themselves with a few sentences.  The body of the letter needs to be a few bullet points on what the bill will accomplish, this is the part that can be copied and will likely not even be read each time.  The closing can also be personalized with your asking for their support in passing HB 947.  So if you wish to copy and use the following please use only the body for your letter and add an introduction and closure that is personal to you.  You can also reword or change the body to suit your needs.  If you are not an actual midwifery consumer you are still encouraged to write about why you support midwifery in our state and how this bill will benefit our state.

Dear Representative XX

My name is Amy Shamburger, I am a Louisiana resident, the mother of three, and an advocate for mothers regarding childbirth in the state of Louisiana.  I am writing to you  regarding HB 947 concerning midwifery licensing provisions.  It is important to me as a consumer of midwifery services and as an advocate for mothers that women have access to Certified Professional Midwives (CPM).

  • Once HB947 is passed it will raise the standards for licensure of Louisianan Midwives, adopting the Certified Professional Midwives credential.  The CPM is a skills based credential that is currently being used by the other 26 states who license midwives.
  • Midwives have been licensed to practice in Louisiana for 28 years, this bill only serves to update the current Midwifery Practice Act.
  • HB947 will encourage physicians in our state to collaborate with CPM by providing language that clearly states what a physician is liable for when agreeing to the required risk assessment for a midwifery client.
  • It is my hope that with more access to Certified Professional Midwives and successful physican-midwife collaboration Louisiana women will have the safest options available to them regarding childbirth.  Louisiana currently ranks 49th out of 50 states for infant mortality and has the highest cesarean rate in the nation, currently at 40%.  Midwives have been proven to reduce the cesarean rate, to improve overall health and well-being among mothers and to increase breastfeeding initiation.

Thank you for your time and I hope that you will consider supporting HB947.  Louisiana mothers are entitled to safe options regarding the birth of their children; certified professional midwives are a safe and acceptable option.  With your support Louisiana can improve the overall health of mothers and babies.

sincerely,

Amy Shamburger

 

There are a lot of reps for us to reach in a short time.  If you would like to get together with a couple of people to share the work load that might be a good idea, you can split the list up amongst two or three people.  If you already sent a letter to the 21 committee members just use that letter and exclude the 21 from the committee.  If email would be easier for you then by all means send an email; letters by snail mail are preferred however.  Phone calls are also helpful, especially to those who represent your district.  HERE is a list of the reps by district.  To find out what district you are in CLICK HERE.

If anyone is willing to visit the capital during session this coming week to talk with aides contact me.  Please keep checking back here or on the LNB FB page/group to see when HB947 will be called, while we will not get to speak it might be a good idea to have a strong presence (we do have stickers) on the day it’s called.  You can check HERE by searching HB 947 in the ‘Bill Search’ section and checking the status.

To see where we are in the process of the bill becoming law CLICK HERE

Thanks to all of you that have already contributed to this cause.

HB947 received a favorable vote from the Health and Welfare Committee!!

HB947 went up before the Health and Welfare Committee on May 2 2012. Below is a link to the archive of the session. Our bill was called up at 3:51 in the AM session and we were the only bill addressed in the PM session.

I’ll try to work on my response to our opposition later in the day, and share that with you. I also intend to share this response with the OBs of our state that were recipients of the letter from Dr. Binder (which was shared with the committee by Mr. Ed Barahm at the opening of our bill). Now that the bill has passed through the committee it will proceed to the house floor will it will need to be passed by the entire house. We have more work to do in educating the house on the benefits of the CPM standard. I will work on another call to action for consumers regarding our next step so please stay tuned. In the meantime enjoy the video from the hearing.

http://www.house.louisiana.gov/H_Video/2012/May2012.htm

Support HB 947, the time to ACT is NOW!

********UPDATE (april 23th 2012)*********************************************

We will go before the committee on May 2nd at 9am.  We will meet on the capital steps between 7 and 8am

********UPDATE (april 13th 2012)*********************************************

HB 947 is not on the agenda for the 18th as we had expected.  We will keep checking to make sure it is not added at the last min but be looking for it to appear on the 25th.  Please stay tuned and be ready to attend when it is called.  You can check back here or refer to the Louisiana Natural Birth Facebook page. Thanks!

HERE is the link to the House of Reps, you can check the weekly agendas by clicking the links on the righthand sidebar.

***************************************************************************

Dear Louisiana Natural Birth Supporters,

I am writing to ask that you join me in an effort to support House Bill 947 concerning midwifery laws in our state.  The midwives of Louisiana have asked for our support in the way of letter writing, phone calls and your presence in front of the health and wellness committee on April 18th.

HB 947  concerns midwives providing out of hospital services to women.  The bill will adopt national standards, the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) process from the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM), to license midwives here in Louisiana.  The bill also aims to lessen liability on a physician agreeing to see a midwife’s client, superimposing greater accountability on midwives.  This bill does not do away with the required physician’s visit, which is something both mothers and midwives want, it does however aim to make that visit more accessible.  We hope to continue on the path towards more autonomy for midwives, this bill is just one small step towards that long-term goal.  By showing a strong presence at this legislative session and having our concerns heard we hope to gain momentum that will see us through till next year, at which time we will call on consumers again to support more aggressive change.  The Louisiana College of Obstetrics and gynaecology recently sent out an email that revealed their intent to strongly oppose this bill, we need you there to show your support FOR this bill!

You can show your support in three ways, we ask that you do all three if possible.

  • Please call the committee members and tell them to pass HB 947.  If there is a member on the committee from your district it is imperative that you call them.   Regardless of your district please call as many of the committee members as you can and ask them to support this bill.
  • You can write a letter to the committee members.  This is a chance for you, as a consumer, to express your desire to see the midwifery model of care remain accessible to women. Visit Louisiana Natural Birth’s FB Page  for examples of letters that you may reference, and please post yours as well.  HERE  is another great resource regarding letter writing.  It is said that just one letter from a constituent is worth TEN votes! Please write these letters TODAY and send them off ASAP, they need to be on the committee members desk BEFORE Wednesday the 18th.  This IS important and your letter will make a difference, I know we are all busy mommas but I am pleading with you to please carve some time out today to show your support for this bill and for our midwives.  Below are some things to consider when writing your letter.
    • Make them personal and positive.
    • Do not compare the new law to the old one. It is best not to ask for changes within it. For now, for these letters, we ask them to vote yes or no and tell them why.
    • Ask them to Vote yes for HB 947.
      • Cite safety, parents preference, cost savings along with your own personal reasons for choosing to use a midwife if that applies.
      • This bill creates the mechanism of Certified Professional Midwife as the credential for licensing.
      • The bill attempts to lessen liability for doctors who do help. That is one of the reasons that OB’s give for not helping now.
      • Do not use the term LAY midwives. Use CPM, and tell what is so good about it. For example, the CPM is a skills based credential. It works.
      • Point out safety stats from reliable sources, cite the source.
      • Be positive.
  • You can be present when we go before the committee on the 18th.  The midwives will be asking for a small number of consumers to speak, but we also need a strong presence of supporters to simply stand up.  Please come professionally dressed and leave kids at home, if you have to bring a nursling that is understandable (I will have my 9week old present).   It is important to show up with strong numbers.  Again you do not have to speak, you can simply be a face in the crowd and this will help make a difference.  If you would like to speak please be prepared to answer our opposition with tact, poise, and facts.  Speakers will need to remain positive and stress only what this bill will accomplish, mainly the CPM standard as our basis for licensure here in La. We will meet on the capital steps at 7am on Wednesday, the 18th.

The addresses and phone number for the committee members can be found HERE.  You can also send your letter directly to the capital, where it might be read sooner.  The address is as follows:

La. House of Representatives

Honorable XXX

P. O. Box 44486

Baton Rouge, La. 70804

Please email me at LouisianaNaturalBirth (@) Gmail (dot) com with any questions.  If you would like to have your letter proofed please post on the LNB fb group or public page.  If you will consider speaking up on the 18th please let us know ahead of time.

Thank you in advance for your support on this matter. I hope to see you on the steps of the capital next Wednesday!

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