Misty, age 32 

 When I found out I was pregnant with Katherine I knew that I was going to have a natural birth no matter what. My first three babies were all born with the assistance of an epidural. I felt so strongly that I needed to do this without pain relief and began searching for the method right for me. I decided to use the Bradley method because it encouraged my husband to be my partner and coach in the process. I also loved how simply it explained childbirth and relaxation techniques. Because I live in a small town I had no access to assistance from a midwife or way to take natural childbirth education classes in this method so I ordered Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way book from amazon.com and my husband became my coach. 

We prepared well together. We practiced all the exercises and I learned to relax my entire body. Learning to relax has always been difficult for me and following their methods helped me in many ways during the 9 months of Labor. Especially in my ablility to sleep at night. Out of 4 pregnancies this was the only one that I was able to sleep comfortably up until the day I had the baby. 

 So…on with the birthing story… Before the labor began I preregistered at the hospital. I sent in a note with my paperwork stating that I did not under any circumstance want an epidural. I didn’t want to meet with an anesthesiologist, I didn’t want the nurse to tell me it was time for an epidural. I just wanted no talk of one in my room. They were amazing nurses and no one brought it up…not once. They were very supportive. Excluding the fact that I have been contracting for weeks and quite ill for the last week of my pregnancy this was the easiest labor and delivery I have ever had. My husband and I spent most of the labor joking and talking. It was actually a relaxing experience and I never would have thought I could say that. My first 3 experiences with childbirth where extremely long and painful deliveries! I just needed to learn to relax. 

 After contracting all night on Wednesday, all day on Thursday, and into Friday morning I called Labor and Delivery because I was experiencing quite a bit of bloody show with the contractions. The contractions were very strong but I was able to relax through them. After visiting with them for a few minutes they asked me to come and be checked. I was actually upset they wanted to see me. My contractions were tapering off. They were only coming about every 5 minutes and the intensity was not as strong as I thought they should be. I went in and found I was dilated to a 4-5. That was shocking to me! I am usually admitted at a 2 or 3 and in so much pain I am begging for an epidural. Labor and delivery decided to observe me for an hour. I was upset because I only had about 10 contractions that hour and they were wimpy. But I kept walking around, squatting, etc. and resigned myself to the fact they would send me home until the contractions came closer together. I was emotional and crying a bit because I wanted to have my baby. The doctor came and checked me and informed me that I was a 7. I couldn't believe it. The contractions weren't painful enough in my mind! Actually they weren't consistent, hard, long or following any pattern...but they were working and I was relaxing through them as I should. My husband and I frequently joke that I relaxed the contractions away. I probably did! 

I was finally admitted at 6:00 am on Friday morning. With a smile on my face I began the work I prepared myself for bringing my baby into the world! I took a picture of myself at a 7 and sent it to my mom. I remember just thinking over and over "See me! Smiling! Happy! Almost done! What the heck?" I had a really good labor coach (my sweet husband) and apparently The Bradly Method really works... The scary part of the labor was ahead for me! It took me 4 hours to contract to a 9 and after another 3 hours I was still at a 9. It had been too easy. My really nice contractions were not quite enough to get the baby out so they gave me a very little bit of pitocinn. I didn't like that at all but I knew if the baby was going to come out I needed some help with the contractions. They also broke my water at that time and the pressure was so intense and the urge to push just overwhelmed me. (I wouldn’t let them break my water earlier because I knew it would make the contractions much more difficult) The doctor quickly came in to check and they discovered why I wasn’t progressing to a ten. The baby was turned face up…so the doc got to put his hand inside and turned her around. The moment he put his hand in to turn the baby I thought I was going to maybe die and the tears and nausea began to flow. It took a few contractions for me to recover from that before I could focus and push. For the next half hour the pain was intense. Yet it was amazing to be able to feel the baby as it was time to push. It was also great that I was able to run my own show. I had studied so well I knew exactly what my body needed and what was going on. It was invigorating. 

From this point on Relaxing was getting more difficult and My husband said that I kept sobbing that I should have got an epidural over and over. He kept responding sweetly that all I needed to do was give it a good push and our little baby would be here. He was right and after I finally convinced myself to push really hard little Katherine began her final descent. . A few pushes later and she was out. Beautiful little thing. I sure am happy I didn't give up and that my husband helped me stay strong to the end and not have any pain medication. I kept my eyes shut the entire time I was pushing and when they placed her on me I finally cracked them to see my beautiful baby was a girl. That was a pleasant surprise! With no epidural recovery was fast...with all the labor practice and preparation there was no tearing. (This was a first for me!) I didn't even swell after birth. I was a little shaky but I could walk around the room, go to the bathroom on my own and best of all I could take care of my baby without being stuck to the bed. With the best labor coach in the world there were no tears or stress and he even helped me through the last hour with all one could wish for in a husband/coach. The nurses were so supportive of me having a natural birth! They joke about how some women can just come to the hospital and give a baby as if there was nothing to it. Apparently that is me. Good thing they didn't witness the other three long painful labors I have had. I like the reputation I have here. 

1. When did you decide you wanted to deliver your baby naturally? As soon as I found out I was pregnant with #4 I told my husband we were going to have her natural. It just needed to be that way. 

2. What reasons or factors went into your decision? After having 3 births with epidurals I just knew I had to do it. I had some odd things happen with the last two epidurals and I didn’t want to worry about those with this delivery. Plus I wanted to prove to myself that I could master the pain and bring my baby into the world naturally. I wanted to understand how my body worked and see for myself what an amazing experience natural childbirth was. 

 3. What did you do to prepare for natural childbirth? (midwife, classes, methods, books, etc.) I wanted to have a midwife when I decided to go natural but I moved to a small town where they didn’t have midwifes or classes. I did contact an instructor for The Bradley Method via email and she answered my questions. My husband and I read, studied and practiced the exercises in the book entitled Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way. 

 4. What was the hardest part of your experience - before, during, or after childbirth? The hardest part was the last 30 minutes. The contractions were intense and I was terrified of feeling the pain of actually giving birth. 

 5. What was most helpful to you during labor to help make pain from contractions manageable? Breathing, relaxing, having my husband by my side reminding me of how to relax and let the contractions do their work. 

 6. What do you wish you would have known going into delivery? This time was number 4 so I was really prepared. When I had number 1 wish I would have known how to relax fully and let my body do the work. It made all the difference! 

7. Is there anything you would have done differently? Nothing…except I wish I hadn’t cried for an epidural at the end. I didn’t get one…but I wish I would have stayed a little tougher. 

 8. What did you feel were the positive benefits to your natural childbirth - were the benefits what you expected? It was empowering to feel the process that my body went through to bring Katherine into the world. The benefits were above and beyond what I would have expected. It was educational, wonderful, exciting. I just absolutely LOVED it! I loved that all the work I did educating myself and preparing myself really paid off this time. 

 9. Is natural childbirth something you recommend to other mothers, or something you'd do again? I think so. I realize that every delivery is different. I felt very empowered this time and happier than I have ever felt before at the end of a birth. But it took a lot of studying, practicing and emotional preparation to get to that point for me. I think you have to be really strong and really determined to make it work. If you aren’t willing to work for it then it isn’t going to be successful! 

10. What advice do you have for other mothers interested in natural childbirth? Read everything there is on the internet about natural childbirth. Watch movies of other natural deliveries. Be prepared. Find a method that works for you and stick to it. The Bradley Method worked for me…if it doesn’t work for you for you find something that does and stick to it. Relaxation is the key. When you are relaxed your body just does the work for you


Gretchen, age 22.

 Before I was even thinking about having babies, I had it in my head that when I did have a baby, of course I would get an epidural. Why go through all that pain when I didn’t have to? But when I found out I was pregnant, it didn’t take me long to decide I wanted to give birth naturally. I had a friend who had showed me some Hypnobirthing videos and after more research, decided that’s the route I wanted to take. My husband and I took a 5 week course, and felt more than confident that we could do it.

When I told my OB we wanted a natural birth, he pulled out some statistic that most women who go in wanting a natural birth, end up not doing it. It made me mad, but more determined for this natural birth to prove this guy wrong. (That’s also when I should have found another doctor but I just didn’t want the hassle.) Jude’s due date was November 8. In the weeks approaching, I had some Braxton-Hicks contractions and was dilated to a 2-3. Every time I felt a big contraction, I’d hurry and pack the hospital bag. But the contractions would stop not too soon after they started. A week before my due date, the Dr. stripped my membranes. I thought for sure it was going to put me into labor because I started to get heavier contractions, but after a week, nothing happened. The Dr. told me that if I still hadn’t gone into labor by the next week, to come see him and they’d send me over to the hospital to induce me. I wasn’t really excited about it. I’d been warned that it’s sometimes painful to be induced and I wanted the baby to come naturally, but after a week I couldn’t take it anymore.

The morning of November 14, we went to the Dr., all ready to have this baby. Well, the Dr. neglected to tell me that we wouldn’t be going straight to the hospital that day. They had to call and schedule and maybe I’d go the next day if the hospital had room for me. I wanted to punch this guy in the face but my husband didn’t think that was a good idea, so we went home and waited for the hospital to call and tell us we could come next morning. It was the longest day ever recorded in history but we got a call that night from a nurse telling us to come early in the morning. We arrived at the hospital at 6:00 AM on November 15. We signed all the paperwork and got in our room and at about 7:30 AM they hooked me up to the pitocin. I was working on my relaxation when my Dr. came and broke my water and found out that there was meconium in the water (which isn’t uncommon for overdue babies.) They had to put a tube in to dilute the amniotic fluid to make sure Jude didn’t swallow any of the meconium. And then the monitor they had on me wouldn’t stay on so they had to insert one to keep track of my little baby. It was definitely hard for me to relax and get in a comfortable position with all those wires and tubes strapped but I made sure to keep breathing through the contractions, which were getting stronger and coming every 2 minutes. I was soon at 5 cm when the nurses were having trouble with the monitor again. It had fallen off of Jude and they were trying to get it back on while I was having major contractions. My awesome nurses worked fast in between contractions to get that monitor back on. With the monitor back on, the nurses told me I should be dilating 1 cm an hour but not more than an hour later, I was at 8 cm and feeling ready to push. I pushed for maybe an hour and half, maybe two hours and made it through with the encouragement from my awesome nurses, my mother, and my sweet husband. At 1:15 PM, Jude was born. What a relief.

My first thoughts were (in order), “Yay! My sweet baby is finally here!” “Oh. My. Gosh. I just gave birth naturally. In your face Dr Baxter!” Jude weighed 10 lbs 10 oz and was 22.5 inches long. They rushed him over to the cleaning station to check on him and make sure he didn’t swallow any of the meconium, and since he was so big, they were worried about his blood sugar levels. I was very sad I didn’t get to hold him right as he came out, but after he was cleaned and I was stitched up, I got to finally hold and nurse my sweet baby boy. This is what I’d worked so hard for. This is what I’d imagined not just for the 9 months that I was carrying him but for my whole life as I pictured having my first child. I’m proud to say that I gave birth to my baby naturally. I’m proud that my body can do that. I can’t imagine giving birth any other way.

 1. When did you decide you wanted to deliver your baby naturally? 
 When I first heard about Hypnobirthing and watched the birthing videos, I knew that’s how I wanted to deliver my baby.

2. What reasons or factors went into your decision?
I had heard about all things epidurals can do to harm you and your baby and to slow down labor and I knew that’s not what I wanted. Plus the idea of a big, long needle scared me more than giving birth naturally.

3. What did you do to prepare for natural childbirth? (midwife, classes, methods, books, etc.)
 We took Hypnobirthing classes from Fiona Judd in Orem, UT. She was wonderful and I’d highly recommend her class. Find her info at http://www.ihypnobirth.com/utah-hypnobirthing-classes.

4. What was the hardest part of your experience - before, during, or after childbirth? 
Not being able to move around during labor made it hard for me to relax and get comfortable. Laying on the bed put more pressure on my body.

5. What was most helpful to you during labor to help make pain from contractions manageable?
My wonderful husband pushed on my lower back every time I had a contraction. I couldn’t believe how it took the pain out of my back. It helped me focus on controlling the pain in my lower regions.

6. What do you wish you would have known going into delivery? 
That no matter how hard you try, you can’t plan on anything. I made a birth plan but after they found meconium in the water, it all went out the window.

7. Is there anything you would have done differently?
The one thing I regret is not sticking up for myself and what I wanted. The number 1 thing I wanted was that baby handed to me when he was born. I understand they had to check him but they didn’t hand me my baby until 40 minutes after I’d given birth!!! The Dr. wanted to stitch me up first. Oh! There’s another thing. I would have found a different Dr. when I found out he wasn’t really into natural childbirth (but I wouldn’t recommend Dr. Jae Baxter to anyone.) I’m finding a woman/someone who’s actually given birth - OB or a midwife next time.

8. What did you feel were the positive benefits to your natural childbirth - were the benefits what you expected? I think for with Jude’s birth, if I would have had an epidural, it would have caused more stress and prolonged the labor. I didn’t know how calm and aware my baby would be without medicine. And I felt good right after birth. I guess I shouldn’t say “good” but I was able to get up and move around and go to the bathroom by myself.

9. Is natural childbirth something you recommend to other mothers, or something you'd do again? I would highly recommend it to other mothers! I know that it’s just not possible for some people but I think the relaxation and breathing techniques are great for everyone to learn, whether you’re planning on natural childbirth or not. I definitely plan on doing it again.

10. What advice do you have for other mothers interested in natural childbirth? Do what feels right for you and your baby whether it’s having a midwife or doula. Whether you want to give birth in a hospital or birthing center, at home or in a tub. Do what feels best to you. You can’t plan on anything but stick up for what you really want.


Emily, age 26.
as we approached my 36 week appointment i think we were all a little bit curious to see if things would replay the way they went with my first baby's birth only 16 months previously. i posted his birth story to this blog and you can read it here.
but basically, it was super fast, and i was unknowingly dilated to a 6 at my 37 week appointment and told to head to the hospital.
but, back to Callum. the a few nights that week i had contractions, and then they would go away. my midwife and just about everyone else insisted from the beginning of my pregnancy that if i had hard contractions, ever, to go to the hospital. their words like "have, baby, in, car, on, side of road" haunted me.

saturday july 23rd i had contractions every 5-10 minutes for 3 hours. i called my midwife, she told me to take a bath and if they kept coming to go to the hospital. sure enough after the bath they kept coming. so i got in the car and went to the hospital. no hospital bag, no husband, no plan of staying because i was pretty sure this wasn't "it." but, obediently, i went in.

the nurse checked me... i was still a 4. i was shocked. she made me stay another hour to monitor me, and without fail contractions came every 7 minutes. she checked me again at the end of the hour, i was still a 4+. all in all it was a good experience, now i knew that i could have a contraction that doesn't equal baby! on the side of the road!

after no real action for the next couple days, i was prepared for just about anything when i walked into my 37 week appointment. everything except what actually happened, of course.
my midwife checked me and sat with her arm WAY in there for at least 30 seconds without saying a single word. she finally looked up and said "i literally couldn't find your cervix, you're dilated to an 8 and 100% effaced... i. i. i. just can't believe it."

a rush of excitement & nervous laughter overcame me. it's baby time! and once again, i had no idea. the on-call midwife met me at the office and we made a game plan. just like with my first, i tested positive for strep B, which can i just say: strep B is the wrench in my baby delivering machine?!

the plan ended up being just like Hayes'. come to the hospital & get the 4-hour antibiotic treatment. i asked if i could just go home after the treatment and wait to really go into labor, but they said absolutely not.
so, i packed my hospital bag, took a shower, called my sister to come watch Hayes, and got things ready to head out the door. 

here's the play by play: at 12:30 pm i get the antibiotics. contractions are coming every so often, our midwife Jenn says she'll be back at 4:30 pm to break my water and get the party started. we watch a movie, Russ snuck me a string cheese, we took a nap. she comes at 4:30 pm, checks me again, i am still dilated to an 8.
aka: NOT IN ACTIVE LABOR. active labor as defined by american fork hospital is dilating 1 cm in one hour.
this is where all my mom friends start to hate me. i don't know why, but i don't have painful contractions until my water breaks. yes, i can feel the pressure, but no real debilitating pain. i know i am the luckiest woman in the world!

so the midwife breaks my water and my contractions are now coming every 7 minutes so it's a pretty slow process. a contraction comes, i breathe through it, and then wait another 7 minutes.  the first 2 contractions my water is just flooding out with each one. the 3rd contraction i dilate to a 9, 4th contraction i dilate to a 10. 5th contraction i'm ready to push.

pushing hurts considerably more than it did last time. i am acutely aware that i am just getting owned down there (TMI sorry.) i can't help but cry between every push, but nevertheless for 4 sets of fierce pushing i know i am almost done & could care less about anything but seeing that baby's face.

Russ has been holding my left leg while i've been pushing and i notice he swaps places with a nurse. i realize the baby is almost here! Jenn the midwife said that if Russ wanted, when Cal was ready, he could be the one to deliver him. at 5:05 pm Russ laid him on my chest and we both just sobbed. i looked up and the labor and delivery nurse was sobbing too, it was a moment i'll never forget. Cal didn't cry right away he just looked around and was so angelic. Russ cut the cord after it was done surging and a few towel rubs to the back and his little mouse squeaker cry came out.

now, don't worry, i didn't get let off that easy. unfortunately, the afterbirth process was brutal. i felt a painful tugging with every stitch, but when i finally asked for more lidocaine she was pretty much done. and then i had to be put on a whole bag of pitocin to get things to stop bleeding. between that and the brutal kneading to my stomach every 15 minutes, i was not a happy girl for about an hour. it is true what you hear - getting your cervix to go back to normal hurts worse with each kid.

1. When did you decide you wanted to deliver your baby naturally?
This was my second med-free delivery, and I always said I could do it again if the labor went as fast as my first. 
2. What reasons or factors went into your decision?
I love all the benefits of a natural delivery, I love the self-empowerment that comes from accomplishing such a thing. And I founded this blog, so I sort of felt like I had to. :)
3. What did you do to prepare for natural childbirth? (midwife, classes, methods, books, etc.)
Nothing! Horrible right? I had a midwife and felt really comfortable that she would know what to do.
4. What was the hardest part of your experience - before, during, or after childbirth?
Pushing/Tearing and the post-partum contracting while I was on pitocin. Also, my boys are 16 months apart and in some ways that helped me and some ways it hurt me. My body was like "hey I remember this!" during delivery but while I was pregnant my poor hips and joints made me miserable!
5. What was most helpful to you during labor to help make pain from contractions manageable?
Having the illustration in my mind that any time I held tension or stress in my shoulders, head, or face, I was taking blood & oxygen away from my lady parts. Knowing that the more  relaxed I could stay, the better job my body would do helped me a little bit.
6. What do you wish you would have known going into delivery?
My midwife asked right as we were ready to push what position I wanted to push in. I had not mentally prepared to do anything but push on my back. I wish we would have discussed it earlier and I wish I would have prepared for it. She prefers to have her patients push on all fours, and I would love to give that a shot next time!
7. Is there anything you would have done differently?
Maybe pushing positions? Also, having a midwife was amazing and I felt like I didn't need my mom to try and be so hands-on and directive, she was telling me to do one thing and the midwife was trying to get me to do another. She was my #1 support and coach through my first delivery so she was just acting on experience, but turns out she could take the day off!
8. What did you feel were the positive benefits to your natural childbirth - were the benefits what you expected? 
Having an alert and calm baby. Nursing came really easy, my emotions were manageable, and I've never done drugs, but the high you get is unlike anything I've ever experienced.
9.  Is natural childbirth something you recommend to other mothers, or something you'd do again?
100% yes. Like I've said before, your body successfully created a baby from some chromosomes and blood. It knows what it's doing, and if you let it, it will do it's thing all the way until that baby is safely on your chest. Don't let doctors/protocol/or the popular majority get in it's way!
10. What advice do you have for other mothers interested in natural childbirth?

I loved my midwife experience. Knowing there were doctors in the next room over for all of my check-ups and at the hospital during my delivery was comforting, but a midwife can create the most amazing experience for a natural birthing woman. We hugged and cried together while I held my baby, she didn't even have to ask if i wanted to wait until the cord stopped surging to cut it, she let my husband deliver our son for crying out loud! It was incredible. They are just like doctors in the sense that their #1 priority is delivering a healthy baby safely and doing all they can for mom, too, but what they're willing to try to do so without unnecessary interventions is far more vast than any doctor i've seen.

Emily blogs at Ruffling Feathers.


Becky, age 28.

To read the story of my first natural birth posted on this blog, click here. The week before our second daughter was born, we walked and walked and walked hoping labor would start, but it didn't. At my appointment that week, I was at a one. At my next appointment (39 weeks) I asked my doctor if she would strip my membranes and she did. I was at a 3+ and 70% effaced then and she was sure I would start having contractions within 6 to 12 hours. This was at 9:30 a.m. By one to two hours, I was cramping a lot and by noon I had had a few contractions. They came every 12 minutes until 5 p.m. From 5 to 6 I cleaned the house and they started to come every 4 to 5 minutes. I was surprised to see they were coming that quickly, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t dilating super fast because they weren't increasing in pain. But of course I didn’t want to deliver in the car so we packed up everything and dropped my other daughter off with my parents. We headed downtown (where the hospital is) and decided to grab some dinner just in case we couldn't eat for awhile. The contractions slowed back down to every 12 minutes and only occasionally would come every 4-5 minutes. We walked around the block a few times after that. We kept debating what to do since I was nervous labor might be stalling. We finally decided to just go to the hospital and see where I was at and what they said. We got to Labor & Delivery at 9 p.m. They put the monitors on and when a contraction came on, the nurse felt my belly and said,“WOW, that one is hard.” I said, “Yeah, I hope they’re doing something good!” Then she checked me. I was 3+ and 70% effaced. I was SO disappointed. 9 hours of contracting and I hadn’t progressed at all.

 She told us to walk around for an hour and then she would check me again to see if I had progressed. We walked around and they started coming every 4-5 minutes again, and when I was checked again, she said I was definitely at a 4 and that because I had progressed, she’d call the doctor and see if they’d let me be admitted. While we had been walking that hour, I had a thought come to my mind that I should try squatting. I pulled out pictures of squatting positions from some labor info I had brought. I found that there were two that really helped. One was my husband sitting on a chair and I would squat back into his legs and rest my armpits on his legs. It helped with the back labor and also said it helped the baby descend more quickly. The other one was when we were standing, he’d hold his arms out and I’d drop back onto them and he’d hold all my weight under my armpits. That one was physically exhausting for him so I tried to do that one only while walking the halls if there wasn't a chair near. The nurse ended up having two emergency deliveries and came back 2 hours later at midnight. She checked me and I was at a 4+. Talk about slow progression.

My husband kept telling me, “As soon as you get to a 5, things are going to go SO fast.” I wanted to believe it because it’s true for most, but I just couldn’t believe it for me. Our nurse came in and said the exact same thing. I told them I'd like to believe it, but I would only be able to believe it when I saw it. The nurse asked how long my first labor was and I said almost 20 hours. She said, “We’ll definitely beat that; things go so much faster the second time.” (In the end, it was a total of 18 hours, so I did beat it, but not how I had hoped…!) The nurse was able to call the doctor then and she admitted me. She went in and out doing admitting stuff and then came in and said she’d like to check me because she’d seen that at a peak of a contraction it had sharply dropped which usually meant more pressure. She said I was at a 5. From 12 to 12:40 a.m. we walked more and then were monitored again. I was pretty exhausted so I suggested we should try to sleep through an hour of monitoring and see what happened. I didn’t sleep, but at least I closed my eyes and rested from 1 to 2 a.m. It was needed. My husband slept too and I was glad because I could tell he was exhausted too. At 2:30 a.m., I was at my end. She checked me and I was at a 6 and 90% effaced. Every time she checked me it was really painful and she had such a hard time reaching the cervix. I was alone and in so much pain and suffering and so confused at why things were going so terrible. The contractions were SO hard and painful and were doing almost nothing. The contractions I had been having at 4-5 cms were as hard as the ones I remember having during transition with my first. We walked for another hour and at 3:30 a.m., I was at a 6 still, but the cervix was not posterior anymore. I asked if breaking my water would help and she said she’d call my doctor at 6 a.m. and ask her. I was really not cool with that because that was still a couple hours away. She came back a few minutes later and asked if I would like her to call now. I said yes. She called my doctor and my doctor had her check me during a contraction. At 4:30 a.m. I was at an 8 and was completely effaced. The contractions started to come almost on top of each other, and I fell back into my husband’s arms during all of these contractions and squatted. We rocked back and forth a little while squatting and it helped. My doctor came in and broke my water at 4:55 a.m. After a couple more contractions, I was given the go-ahead to push. I started pushing at 5:19 a.m. I pushed on my left side and curled my body down so hard every time I pushed. With my first, they helped me count every push, but this time I was just going almost nonstop for minutes just trying to get her out. For some reason, I really thought that it would be very quick, very few pushes and she’d be out. So many of friends have had the quickest pushing experiences their second time around and I just figured I’d be the same, especially since I was really pushing and curling hard. I kept thinking I’d hear, “There’s the head!” and never did. I finally said, “How much longer?” The doctor and nurses said, “That depends on you” and I got the vibe I wasn't as far as I thought. During one push my doctor told me to grunt and blow really hard. I immediately thought that this must be the head and she was trying to help me not tear as it came out. I felt my doctor stick her hand in me and felt intense pain, so when the head didn’t come out I was confused all over again at why this was taking so long. (I found out later that she reached in and turned the baby because she was posterior.) I kept pushing and heard, “I see hair!” and that was when I knew that I wasn’t even close. I was so disappointed knowing that I had so far to go still.

 I cried in between contractions and begged to not have another one come quickly because I needed to rest and get ready for another one. I wanted more than anything to just die, but since that wish wasn’t granted I curled my body as hard as I could and pushed with all my might. As I pushed, I held onto the bed bar with my left hand with all my might (which ended up making my iv needle hit a nerve and made my hand numb for over a week). When my husband, the nurse, or my doctor would cheer me on and say they could tell it was a good push, I was so grateful to know that I was progressing. I kept feeling stretching and insane burning pain. I was sweating horribly. Finally I heard that the head was out and I tried to touch it quickly but couldn’t because the pain was so insane and intense. I beared down as hard as I could, screaming I’m pretty sure, and felt the shoulders pass and felt the rest of the limbs come out at 5:47 a.m. I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever been more relieved in my life. It was over and she was here. I was SO happy to have her out. I knew the afterbirth would be terrible too, but that didn’t matter because SHE WAS OUT! I was elated. They had told me that they’d let her lay on the delivery table for 1.5 minutes after birth to let the blood from the cord enter her before they cut it and I was really happy to let them do that. I really couldn’t see her that well over my back, but what I could see, I thought, “Oh she’s so small!” I reached my right hand and put it down hoping to feel a leg or something and instead was thrilled to feel her fingers wrap around mine. It made me the happiest ever.

 The 1.5 minutes passed, they cut the cord, and put her on my chest. She almost immediately stopped crying and was so calm. I was bleeding so they started a bag of Pitocin to get my uterus to contract faster and they began punching it down. I was really in control and totally okay with it instead of kicking and screaming like with my first. I was holding my child!!! They let me hold her for at least 10 minutes which I loved. They took her and weighed her and she was 7lbs. 8oz. I was thrilled... only 2 oz smaller than my first and the same length. I was grateful I had had my membranes stripped and had delivered her at that size instead of bigger considering how hard it had been with her that size. My doctor began stitching me up and I began to shake. And shake and shake and shake. I laid there and shook for probably 30 minutes. It was horrible and I wished I could stop. They would occasionally tell me to take huge breaths so I wouldn’t hyperventilate. They gave Camille to my husband during that time and I was happy that he was holding her. After finishing stitching, they gave me lots of fluids since I was really light headed and almost passing out. Around now, the nurse told us that they found that Camille had been posterior and that my doctor had turned her in the birth canal and I immediately said, “NO WONDER IT TOOK SO LONG.” I know that when the head isn’t pushing on the cervix correctly that labor is usually longer and that there is a lot of back labor. It made sense why the rocking positions hadn’t felt right and why the squatting positions had. A bit later I was then told I either had to go pee or that I’d have to have my bladder emptied with a catheter. I was really light-headed, but didn’t want a catheter so I said I’d try. My husband and the nurse helped walk me to the bathroom and on the way I dropped quite a few really large clots. I sat on the toilet and almost passed out. The nurse had my husband hold me on the toilet while she grabbed a wheelchair. Because I was losing too much blood, they put another bag of Pitocin on. I actually wanted that so that I could stop bleeding so I was fine with it. The only problem was that the cramping it created made me almost pass out again. I laid there for probably and hour, looking insanely pale (according to my husband), and feeling like I'd die. Finally at 9 a.m. I started to bleed normally and was able to go to the postpartum room. In the postpartum room I ended up almost passing out a couple more times, but by noon I was on the uphill climb and did well from there, thankfully!

To be honest, I was a bit traumatized about how it all went. With my first, I was elated with how the natural birth went. This time was honestly a horrific memory for me for a couple weeks, but time is definitely healing my emotions and feelings. As my doctor discharged me, she suggested looking into pain relief the next time. And to be honest, I am interested into looking into pain relief if things go similarly next time. If things progress quickly and normally I’m sure I’ll be much more willing to try it again. I want to research ways to push better. I think I had created a sureness in my mind that I’d be contracting for no more than 10 hours and that I’d be able to push her out in a couple pushes. Everything I’ve read said it should be half the time of your first labor and that since you know how to push, it happens so quickly. Hopefully that will all come true next time…! As I think about her birth and labor & delivery in general, the more I think about how incredible it is that a body can even do that... it's almost superhuman to think of passing a child through your body like that.

 1. When did you decide you wanted to deliver your baby naturally? 
After the birth of our first baby, I knew I wanted to do it again.
2. What reasons or factors went into your decision? 
I had done it before and it was wonderful and it feels right for me.
3. What did you do to prepare for natural childbirth? (midwife, classes, methods, books, etc.)
I re-read all the info I had saved from my first birth. I took all that info with me to the hospital, just in case.
4. What was the hardest part of your experience - before, during, or after childbirth? During.
5. What was most helpful to you during labor to help make pain from contractions manageable? The squatting positions I mentioned as well as some other ones I tried.
6. What do you wish you would have known going into delivery? Not to expect things to go fast; it gave me false ideas and hope and made the labor seem even longer than it was.
7. Is there anything you would have done differently? I don't think I would have gotten an epidural, but I do think I would have spent almost 100% of the time squatting had I known she was posterior. Or I wish I could have had other ideas of how to deal with the posterior contractions.
8. What did you feel were the positive benefits to your natural childbirth - were the benefits what you expected? I feel empowered.
9. Is natural childbirth something you recommend to other mothers, or something you'd do again? Yes and yes (I think! Ha!).
10. What advice do you have for other mothers interested in natural childbirth? Read all these stories and all the other ones you can get your hands on. They are the best prep for childbirth, in my opinion. Also, I am 100% supportive of a hospital birth. Find a doctor who supports it and birth in a hospital. There are just too many things that can go wrong at home.


Valery, 24.

 I was due to have my second baby girl on August 9, 2011. On July 18, I made the official choice to have a natural birth. I was 37 weeks pregnant. I knew I wanted things to be different this time so I began educating and preparing myself. After talking a whole lot about this topic with my sister-in-law, Angela, (who has done natural birth 3 times) she recommended a doula and with the help of some wonderful people I found Angie and Robynne. Both of them came to my home a few times. We got to know each other better and I learned some things that we would be doing on the big day. I fell in love with both of these ladies and couldn’t wait for my birthing time to begin. During this time I also found out about Hypnobabies. It sounded pretty neat, so I got all the home study material and dove right in. I read the entire course book which educated me on so many different things and also started listening to the CD tracks to learn deep relaxation. I didn’t know how well this would work for me since you’re supposed to start the program pretty early in the pregnancy, but when I was falling asleep while listening to the tracks, I knew it was doing something.

 August 9th came and went. For 3 weeks I had been experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions every evening that would get stronger over time but never got a regular pattern. I was getting pretty frustrated at this point because I was over 40 weeks. And then I was 41 weeks. At my previous office visits I was dilated 3 cm and effaced 80%. At 41+3, I had my membranes stripped for the second time hoping something would finally happen. It was so important to me to go into labor on my own and I tried really hard to avoid induction. However, when nothing was working to get it going, I just couldn’t go on any longer. Being pregnant in the heat of the summer really took a toll on me. I was always hot, uncomfortable and could barely walk from swollen feet. I had a miscarriage only two weeks before getting pregnant this time and from the beginning of that pregnancy to the end of this one, I had pretty much been pregnant for 11 months! I was so ready to have my body back for myself. So after much consideration, I agreed to have labor induced.

 The day of the induction came at 42+1 and much to my surprise of still being pregnant, off to the hospital we went. We arrived at 8:30am. My doctor had gone out of town and I was scheduled with a complete jerk. I chose to have my water broken rather than having Pitocin administered to get labor going. My birth plan consisted of things that were very important to me; no IV, intermittent monitoring, labor in any position I wanted, baby immediately put on my chest and no pain meds to name a few. But despite my doctor approving my birth plan and keeping it in my file, this new Dr. refused to do what I wanted. He phoned my room shortly after we arrived and it turned out to be the worst conversation I’ve ever had with someone. His bed side manner was awful. He told me he didn’t realize that I had the plan I did and that if he was going to work with me, I had to do it his way…which was Pitocin and an IV probably to have him home by dinnertime. When I refused and tried to stick to the plan I so much wanted, he told me I could leave and come back 4 days later (which would have put me at 43 weeks) to have my own doctor do it. I thought it a little funny since my own doctor admitted she didn’t like seeing her patients go to 42 weeks and many doctors won’t even let you get anywhere near 42 weeks and now all of a sudden I was free to go all the way to 43 weeks! I should mention that I don’t believe that an OB should “let” you do anything. This is my body, my baby and an OB is my “employee”. If I would have felt comfortable waiting it out longer, I would have gone above and beyond 42 weeks (as long as baby was still doing ok) regardless what my OB says I have to do. I couldn’t believe the way this doctor was treating me on one of the most important and special days of my life. After hanging up the phone on him I burst into tears. It took a while for me to be able to calm down enough to tell Dale (husband) and my mom what just happened. It was about 10:00am when we “fired” him and the wonderful charge nurse of L&D worked to find a doctor who would be willing to take me as a patient. I actually got to choose who I wanted and chose Dr. Barney. I knew him because he delivered two of my siblings and my mom really likes him.

At 10:40am he agreed to work with me. I had originally refused a hep lock that my doctor agreed to, but had to get one anyway. A student nurse finally got it in after one failed attempt, but not without spewing my blood all over my hand and bed (which made me pretty queasy), and giving me a lovely bruise first. I forgave her…but only because she and the other nurse assigned to me were the most amazing nurses I could have asked for and I was so very grateful for that after the emotional roller coaster the jerk doctor put me through. My water was finally released at 11:37am. It felt so strange! I felt a pop as it happened and then sat up in bed where I proceeded to drain fluid for the next 20 minutes. Dilation was still at 3 cm, 80% effaced, baby at -1 station; same as my previous office visits. When I felt like most of the fluid was out, Dale and I started walking the halls. The contractions picked up a pattern pretty quick and were lasting 30 seconds every 2-3 minutes. I was so relieved that my body was doing what it was supposed to since the doctor wanted me on Pitocin if I didn’t progress within 6 hours, which later somehow changed to 4 hours (after 4 hours I hadn’t progressed much and the doctor would call to get updates frequently. Thankfully, my awesome nurses who were both very supportive of my natural plan told him I was more progressed than I really was). I continued to just hang out in my room with Dale and my mom, pacing back and forth, sitting on a birth ball and swaying my hips back and forth with Dale’s arms around me with every contraction. Eventually I got pretty hungry and had Dale sneak in the best hot dog I’d ever eaten in my life. After finishing off with a delicious chocolate chip cookie (we also brought them for all the nurses and that totally scored points with them!) and some cherries, I felt energized to keep laboring, happy and satisfied.

At 3:11pm dilation was up to a whopping 4 cm and 90% effaced. By 4:34pm nothing had changed. I know, depressing, right? For a second baby this sure was taking much longer than I expected! By 5:52pm dilation had progressed to 5 cm. Hallelujah! I was half way there! I had no sense of time by this point. I remember being in bed, closing my eyes to focus on each contraction. It felt as if only 20-30 seconds had gone by, but my mom would time them and say that they were now lasting 50 seconds. I was very happy to hear this but also couldn’t believe it. I felt as if though I had entered another world. By this point things started to get a little more intense and that’s when Hypnobabies went out the window. I’m not going to dismiss this for future pregnancies because I know I didn’t have enough time to practice and really get it down. However, what it did do for me was boost my confidence in knowing that I was in control, my body was designed to birth, my baby knew just what to do and the more powerful the contractions would get, the closer I was to holding my sweet baby.

 At 5:30pm I was ready for additional support and told Angie (doula) to come. She arrived at 6:30pm and began filling the tub while baby was being monitored. I was in bed shivering and couldn’t wait to get in. At 7:15pm, I got the ok from the student nurse and got in. The hot water felt incredible and instantly relaxed me. A shift change brought a new nurse who told us I wasn’t allowed in the tub after my water had been broken. When I heard this, my heart dropped because there was no way I was getting out of that soothing tub. Angie talked to nurse Wendy about this and she asked the charge nurse. It was no problem after all and I was so relieved! Wendy turned out to be another super incredible nurse that I was blessed with that day. Dale poured warm water over my belly with every contraction and I really had to focus on breathing deep. I remember feeling so awesome when a contraction would end. It was powerful, but felt good.

 At 7:50pm, Robynne (my 2nd doula) arrived. I was really enjoying the tub but at 8:40 got out to be checked. Dilation was at 6+/7 cm. I spent some time standing on the side of the bed and sitting on the ball. At 9:10 labor increased in intensity and I had all hands on me for comfort and support. Angie and Robynne did awesome work by putting counter pressure on my back, squeezing my hips together and massaging my back. I got in the tub again at 9:25 and had some pretty powerful contractions. It was hard for my mom to watch her baby going through something like this. I had to keep telling her I was ok. I was feeling some rectal pressure at this time but was afraid to say anything because I didn’t want to get out of the tub (I was only able to labor in the tub. I couldn’t birth in it, although I really wanted to). Angie could tell something was different because my breathing and tone of voice would change. I had to get out and at 9:50 I was checked and dilation was at 8 cm and baby at zero station. I labored some more on the ball where I experienced a lot more rectal pressure and had some involuntary pushing. I think this is also where I might have entered transition because I suddenly got the biggest urge to throw up, although I never did...probably a good thing since the nurses would find out about that hot dog and the fact that I told them I hadn’t eaten anything since midnight the night before was a complete lie. I got a much needed break when a few contractions lowered in intensity and I was able to quietly breathe through them, as opposed to the very vocal breathing that I had been doing. I don’t think anyone around me even knew I was having these contractions. I remember getting back on the bed, probably to be monitored or checked when I all of a sudden wanted to call Angela (sister-in-law who got me into this) just to hear her voice for additional strength to go on. It felt great telling her that I was doing it! The strength of labor soon took over and I told Dale to hang up.

 At 10:45pm I was still at 8cm but the baby had come down to +1 station. I spent some time leaning on the back of the bed but at this point any position I tried getting into felt really intense. I couldn’t relax enough to keep my legs open and with every contraction I squeezed my legs together as tight as I could to cope with the pain. I was discouraged because I didn’t have any urges to push and as hard as I tried just couldn’t relax. I swayed, I rocked, I cried. I mimicked Tarzans yell perfectly with every contraction. Angie and Robynne tried getting me into other positions but it was always so difficult to move as a hard contraction would hit every time. I tried the squat bar, but because I was so tense and couldn’t easily keep my legs apart it just plain hurt. I started to ask for something to take the edge off. I felt like I couldn’t possibly handle the pain any longer. An epidural never entered my mind and it’s not what I wanted, but I did want something to just lower the tremendous intensity I was feeling. Angie said something about it not being a good idea to put narcotics in my system so close to delivery. I wasn’t about to drug my baby after coming this far, so I went on.

 At 11:50pm Dr. Barney checked me and then stepped aside not saying much. A minute later, in the most casual voice he says I can start pushing if I want. Since he didn’t actually say that I was complete, I thought I was probably at a 9 or still had some cervix left but could start practice pushing. Much to my surprise I was complete! Finally! At 11:55 pushing officially began and soon after it was Thursday, August 25, 16 days past my due date! Pushing was tough! I envisioned myself pushing in an upright position and breathing my baby out (I also envisioned myself being quiet…but that didn’t happen). I ended up pushing lying mostly on my back with Angie holding one leg and hand and Robynne holding the other leg and hand with Dale and mom on both sides of me. Lying on my back was pure torture. The lower the bed was laid back, the worse the pain would get. I no longer had a grip on the contractions. It felt as if I was going down a roller coaster with no safety bar to hang onto. This is the only thing that still bothers me about my birth. I’m slowly trying to get over it and know it will be different the next time (I guess this is what you get with OB’s who are so used to having their mothers pushing on their backs). I had to push hard and the combination of a contraction, starting to feel baby crown and being completely out of breath was more than I could handle. But I had to stay strong and continued pushing as hard as I could. I also had a 2nd degree tear and probably felt that at this point too. About 20 minutes later her head came out and after a few more pushes, I felt the rest of her warm body slip out. It felt incredible! Daddy got to cut the cord (unfortunately the cord was clamped right away. Delayed clamping was on my birth plan but the doctor did not look at it and by the time I remembered it and said something, it was too late. Darn it! Also another thing to change next time) and then she was put on my chest where I marveled at what I had just accomplished.

My first words were, “I did it! I did it!” It was so empowering! I held my new little girl for a few minutes and then agreed to have her put under the warmer to pink up for a bit because she was quite purple. She was weighed and measured and came in at 9 pounds 1 ounce and was 22 inches long with a head circumference of 35 cm. A few minutes later I put her to breast and she began breastfeeding like a champ! Angie asked us what we’d remember about this experience: My mom: “We all had the same dream on the same night, that this would be fast, easy and painless.” Yeah…it was the complete opposite of that. “She almost gave me a heart attack. It was better to do it myself.” It was hard for her to watch me go through what I did, but I’m grateful to her for being such an awesome support to me and never telling me to just get the epidural. Dale: “The strength and dedication Valery had. Not many women do what she just did. I’m a proud dad, again.” Me: “It was pretty cool feeling her body come out.” “The vocalizing.” I never imagined myself to be so vocal. I pictured myself to be calm and quiet. “I’m glad Dale cut the cord.” He didn’t get to do that with Miley.

 1. When did you decide you wanted to deliver your baby naturally?
The thought entered my mind a lot through my pregnancy but I made the official choice when I was 37 weeks pregnant.
2. What reasons or factors went into your decision? I was induced with my first child and had an epidural simply because I was uneducated and it's the norm. Since that's how most women do it, that's the only way I knew to do it. My baby was taken from me right after delivery and I didn't get to see her for 3 hours after her birth. I believe this ruined our breastfeeding relationship and I didn't feel as strong of a bond to her as I would have liked. The whole experience also made me feel like just another patient. I knew I wanted things to be different the second time. I wanted it to be more special and I wanted that powerful bond with my baby.
3. What did you do to prepare for natural childbirth? (midwife, classes, methods, books, etc.) I read "Hypnobirthing" by Marie F. Mongan (great resource!) and the entire hypnobabies coursebook (another great resource). I also read a million natural birth stories, asked lots of questions to others who have gone through this and also joined a VERY valuable page on Facebook "Birth Without Fear".
 4. What was the hardest part of your experience - before, during, or after childbirth? The hardest part before was waiting to let things happen on their own and wondering if baby was really ok this far past 40 weeks (she was great!). The hardest part during is most definitely pushing on my back. It was awful! Nothing was hard about childbirth itself after except maybe recovering from the painful hemorrhoids. I never even experienced any pain from the stitches.
 5. What was most helpful to you during labor to help make pain from contractions manageable? In the early stages, swaying, being on the birth plan and having a hand to hold. During the intense time, all the things my doulas did (counter pressure on back, squeezing hips together, holding my hand), water poured on belly, DEEP breathing.
6. Is there anything you would have done differently?
I really wish I would have waited for labor to start on it's own. I guess I'm just the lucky few that will probably have babies at 42-44 weeks gestation. Also would not have pushed on my back and would have made sure before that the new doctor looked at my birth plan.
 7. What did you feel were the positive benefits to your natural childbirth - were the benefits what you expected?
The benefits were beyond what I expected. My baby was born so alert and awake and just ready to be here. Because I got to have her with me immediately after birth, we developed a huge bond. Breastfeeding has been so wonderful. No one ever took her out of our room. She was literally in my arms the entire time at the hospital. Recovery the first time was 2 weeks and this time was only 1 week. I was able to walk right after delivery. The experience was better for all who were involved. The first time all there was to do was sit in a chair and wait. This time, my husband and mom were way more involved and also loved it.
 8. Is natural childbirth something you recommend to other mothers, or something you'd do again? Definitely yes and yes. I've become one of those women who if I hear someone is getting an epidural or c-section for non medical reasons, I want to scream to them that there is a better way.
 9. What advice do you have for other mothers interested in natural childbirth?
Knowledge is power and so is education. So many moms have told me that they could never do it without pain meds. If you are in that mind set, you are right. However when you get educated and realize how much more there is to childbirth you will WANT to do it this way. It will be exciting for you. At least that's how I felt.

To read more about Valery head to her blog