Planning a Water Birth

Today’s guest post is from Maria, one of my readers. I’m always happy when someone enjoys my blog and even happier when I read their work and find I enjoy theirs too! This topics is near and dear to me because, while I never said I was “planning” a water birth, I knew I wanted it as an option and now that I’ve had one, I’ll never go back!

Water births are constantly gaining popularity and it’s no surprise why; they are known to reduce pain and stress for the mother and to give the baby a relaxing entry into the world. The warm water is supposed to be a similar environment to the amniotic sac so that when the baby is delivered they don’t feel the transition to be too stressful.

The Opinion of Others!

When you’re planning for a water birth, you may notice people trying to put you off the idea or scoffing at it. This is most likely because during a water birth you cannot have an epidural or anaesthetic. However, don’t let others influence your decision. If you have decided you wish to experience a pain-relief free labour then a water birth could be perfect for you as it is known to naturally reduce pain. It’s also known to reduce the chance of tearing the perineum therefore lessening the chances of the mother needing an episiotomy. If you do decide to have a water birth, remember you can always change your mind and leave the pool if you decide you want an epidural.

Where To Do It?

When you’ve made your decision that you want a water birth, perhaps you’ve been considering it since your first pregnancy symptoms, the first thing to do is to decide where you wish to give birth. If it’s at hospital, you need to speak to them to make sure they support water birth, will have a birthing pool available or whether they will let you bring your own birthing pool into the hospital. The hospital may charge an extra fee for use of the birthing pool so look around to see if you can purchase your own for cheaper. The alternative is to give birth at home. For this you will need to find a midwife who is experienced in home water births and you’ll need to buy your own pool.

Secondly you’ll need to find an obstetrician or midwife who is happy with your decision. Some may not feel comfortable with your decision to water birth so make sure in advance you will not face any pressure to change your mind unless there is a medical emergency.

Keeping an Open Mind

Throughout the pregnancy and labor you will need to keep an open mind about the birth. Sometimes it will not be safe to have a water birth and you will be recommended against it. As long as there are medical reasons for you not to water birth you should listen to your midwife or obstetrician and be ready to change your plans. It is not recommended that you water birth if you: have had any bleeding in late pregnancy; your baby is in distress; you’re going into labor early; you have herpes or other health problems such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease; you have high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia; your labor was induced; you’re having multiple births, your baby is in the breech position or your baby is very small.

Lastly, you should try to labor in the water else you may not have time to get into the pool before your baby comes. It is advisable not to get into the water too soon otherwise the warm water may stop your contractions in early labor. Before you go into labor you will want to find a birthing tub, a midwife or obstetrician who is willing to assist with your water birth and a fetoscope.

Maria loves writing and researching about pregnancy and helping other people to learn about the different options they have. She is a keen blogger and loves hearing stories about everyone’s birth experiences.

K La’s Birth Story

Today’s post is from K La, a long time reader and commenter of my blog. I’m so happy to be able to both share a post from her and learn a little more about her through her birth story. Read her full bio at the end of this post. This birth story brought me to tears at 39 weeks and I hope that Twig’s birth will be exactly like her daughter’s birth was.

This is my birthing tub, otherwise known as an AquaDoula. My midwife lent it to me in preparation for the planned home-birth of my first child. My husband and I  decided against having an ultrasound, so we didn’t know the sex of our baby. My pregnancy was text-book perfect, so we were excellent candidates for a homebirth.

I was due on 09/09/09. That day came and went with no baby. On 09/16/09, I went to my midwife for another appointment. By this time  I had had two “false labors”  and had been having Braxton-Hick contractions for two weeks. At my appointment, I was 100% effaced (a new development) but still only 2cm dilated (I had been 2cm dilated since 09/09/09).

The appointment went well. I went home,  having small, pathetic contractions and just a little cramping for the rest of the day.  Around 10:00 pm the contractions changed.  It was obvious to me that the contractions were not going away, that I would not be going to sleep that night, and that I was going to have the baby soon. I wanted to time the contractions, but I really didn’t know how. Was I supposed to start timing when my tummy got tight? When the pain started? Did I end when I could breathe or when my tummy felt smooshy again?

At 10:22pm I called the midwife and told her this was it. She asked me a few questions, told me to take a shower and keep her updated. DH started filling up the AquaDoula . He hooked the hose up to the washer, but the hose’s connection wasn’t tight enough so he had to unhook it and get a different hose. Once he got that hose hooked up he started filling up the tub but the hot water ran out way before the tub was filled up. I got in anyway, by now the contractions were very crampy and quite painful. Ben started heating water up on the stove, hauling it up the stairs and dumping it into the pool. He was still trying to time the contractions (Which were really easy to time now since the pain and tightness came at the same time and were very distinct. These contractions were obvious, there was no ignoring them) and do everything I asked him to do. Poor DH, he was running all over the place.

The hot water came back on and DH finished filling up the AquaDoula. With all the boiled water he had dumped in the pool was about 100 degrees. I got back in and could feel my muscles relaxing. The water was amazing. I wasn’t sure if I wanted a water birth, but I knew I wanted the option. Once I was in the water there was no question: I wanted a waterbirth. Still, between contractions I liked getting out and lying on the bed. If I had a contraction in the water, it was fine, if I had one on the bed, it was VERY painful. I walked a lot between the pool and the bed.  This was about the same time the midwives showed up. They checked me (on the bed) and I was at 6. They listened to the baby’s heart rate (great!) and checked the position of the head. They said it was a lot lower than it was at the appointment that afternoon. I was still moving around a lot and the midwife commented that I should stay in one position to conserve energy. I just couldn’t! I moved to the toilet but that didn’t help, so I decided to get back into the pool. Once again, as soon as I got in I relaxed. The midwife tried to guide my breathing and that helped a lot. I had somehow pictured that I would be silent during labor, but that was just not the case. At first I was quiet, concentrating on deep breathing and relaxing, but by the time I was at 6cm I could not keep quiet. This time in the pool I was able to find a position I liked. I was mostly on my knees (but in water, so I was relaxed) leaning over the edge.

It didn’t take long for me to have the urge to push with each contraction. This worried me, since I had planned to push as little as possible. My biggest fear was tearing, so I wanted to let my body do all the work. When I told the midwife I wanted to push she said to push a little and if it felt good, keep doing it. If it hurt, it meant my cervix was swelling and I needed to not push for a while. I did a few little pushes (still hesitantly) and it felt wonderful! It felt like I could push the contractions away. I started pushing more and the midwife said she wanted to check to see where I was. I was at 9cm! It took less than an hour to go from 6 to 9!

Sometime during all this someone had turned off the light. The hall light was still on, giving a very cave-like feeling to the room. They also put a flashlight inside the tub so they could see the water (and me, I assume, wouldn’t want to miss anything!) and make sure everything was fine. I loved it. I have always loved swimming in pools at night, with the pool lights on, glowing underwater and making the ripples reflect on the ceiling and walls. That’s exactly what it was like. No one talked except in a whisper when they needed something or asked a question. It was perfect. It was so much better than I had planned.

At this point the contractions really changed. I knew I was going through transition. Even in the warm water, this part hurt. A lot. I tried to ride the contractions, to use them, but there were a few times it felt like they would bury me. I tried to concentrate on the sounds my midwife was telling me to make, and I could do it most of the time, but a few times I couldn’t get my breathe or just felt too overwhelmed. I felt tired, but still optimistic.  I know what I was doing was hard, but I still knew I could do it. At one point, I asked myself  if I wanted to do this. Did I want to get in the car, drive to the hospital and get an epidural to take away the pain? The answer was no. I didn’t want to get out of the water, I couldn’t stand the thought of getting in a car, and even though it hurt, I knew I was safe. I was relaxed, focused, and surrounded by people I trusted.  Even during transition, I knew I had made the best possible choice for me and that not only could I do this, but this was the best way for me to do it.

I reached down and felt the head. It was so close! I was pushing hard with every contraction and trying to feel if I was making any progress. It felt like it was taking forever but it could have only been 3 or 4 contractions later when the head was right there. I grabbed DH’s hand and made him feel. It felt slick; the water sack had not yet broken.

Suddenly I felt the baby kick! Here I was, in full labor, minutes away from delivering, and my baby was kicking!  I was so surprised!

I remember realizing that the rest between contractions was getting longer. I felt that the head was coming more to the front. I knew I was getting close. During a rest periods I stayed down in the water with my eyes closed telling myself that this next push would make the head crown. I geared myself up for the contractions and when it came I pushed hard. There was a “pop” and I gasped. Not only was the contraction gone in an instant and I felt that I had fallen off of it, but I knew my water had broken!

The next contraction I could feel the baby’s head start to crown. I didn’t want to push it out, I was still afraid of tearing. There were a few contraction where I would push, but then the head would go back and I would have to start again. After a little while of this I felt like I should lay back. I did and was floating on my back in the water. I pushed hard, griping Melissa’s hand and I felt the ring of fire. It burned. It BURNED!. One more push (And it felt like a long and terrible push) and the head was out! I gasped and kept asking DH if he could see it, which was a ridiculous thing to ask since, what else would he be looking at? Besides, he was the one catching. He was RIGHT THERE.

I tried to catch my breath and wait for the next contraction. I was also still in shock from how much that last one hurt and that we were so close to being done! And then the baby started squirming. I couldn’t believe it! The baby was twisting the shoulders and even started kicking. It’s something I will never forget.

The next contraction came (not as bad) and out came the rest of the body. I couldn’t believe it! We had a baby! DH caught it and brought it out of the water. The cord was surprisingly short, so I had to be careful not to pull it, but still keep the baby’s head out of the water. The baby was beautiful! Dark hair, wide eyes! I don’t know how long DH and I just sat there, holding our baby and staring, but at some point I realized the midwife was draining the pool so I could sit down (I was bracing myself up out the water to keep the baby’s face above water) and at some point she told me that I would have another contraction and needed to push the placenta out. That was not what I wanted to hear. But, when the next contraction came I pushed just a little and the placenta came out just fine. It wasn’t bad at all.

Finally, the midwife asked if we were going to check if it was a boy or a girl. DH and I looked at each other and he slowly moved the cord out of the way. It was a girl! A baby girl! A daughter. A perfect, healthy baby daughter.

Her birth was perfect, the best experience of my life.

K La has aspirations to travel around the globe and then among the stars. Her goals are to save the earth and change the world. Before becoming pregnant for the first time, K La didn’t know that a Home Birth was even an option. Ever since her birth experience, she tries to let every women know they have options! She believes all women should give birth where they feel the most safe.

Twig’s Birth Story

The night before I had been wondering if my amniotic fluid was leaking very slightly. My underwear was slightly damp and I was fairly sure it wasn’t urine or cervical fluid. When we got home from watching a basketball game at my in-laws’ around 11:30pm, I decided to just change my underwear and go to sleep. I woke around 3am to pee and didn’t have anything gush out when I stood up, though my underwear was damp again. I figured it wasn’t amniotic fluid and went back to sleep. I had a midwife appointment the next day, so I’d ask about it then.

We woke at around 8:30am and I got up to pee. I was still sitting on the toilet taking care of other business after I peed when I felt a small gush. It was obvious it wasn’t pee by both the amount and the sensation. I called my husband in and told him of my suspicions and he brought me a cloth pad. I decided I’d just tell the midwife about it at our appointment in a couple hours.

I got up and went into Peanut’s room to help her take her diaper off. When I went to put the diaper in the pail, I felt another gush and ran to the bathroom to stand in the shower. I called in my husband and told him that for sure my water had broken and he took my went clothes to the hamper and brought me new ones. We called the midwife at 8:48 and she said that contractions would probably start within a couple of hours, if they didn’t, we could come to our appointment. If they did, she could have her assistant stop by to check on us on her way into the office.

While we were debating if my husband should go to work, contractions started. They were around 5-6 minutes apart and pretty strong from the get go. We figured I still had a while and they were just strong because of the lack of fluid cushioning the baby against my cervix. We decided he should go in to make sure things were in order for his paternity leave and then come right home. We called the midwife at 9:21am and told her contractions had started. She asked us to time them and said she’d see if her assistant was still in the area. She said she’d call us back when she knew.

While he was gone, Peanut and I ate cereal and a blueberry muffin. It was painful to sit through the contractions so I started walking in the kitchen. They were getting pretty intense and I was wishing I could get in the birth pool, but realized it wouldn’t be wise to even fill it, let alone get into it, this early in labor. I decided it was smart to take a shower and get clean for the last time in a while anyway, so I got in.

Peanut was dilly-dallying downstairs so I called her up. She tried to tell me something, but I was too distracted. She climbed in and I started cleaning myself. A few minutes later, my husband came in and told me the midwife’s assistant was here and Peanut was supposed to have told me when she came up. I finished getting clean as quickly as possible and headed downstairs to meet her.

She checked my blood pressure and the baby’s heartbeat. I told my husband to call my mother so she could come watch Peanut because I needed him. While he was in the other room on the phone, I stood through some contractions leaning over and the assistant pressed firmly with her hands flat on my back, which felt great. At this point I started vocalizing through contractions.

She asked to check my cervix and I agreed, hoping it would tell us this wasn’t just the beginning because the pain was getting so intense. She said I was at about 7cm and I felt immediate relief. She also said I had a bit of an anterior lip, which is a thickening of the cervix. She said, if I could tolerate it, I could lay there during a contraction and she could try pushing it out of the way. Not only could I tolerate it, but it made the contraction less intense. She said that meant that standing would probably bring the baby faster and that leaning forward like I was earlier was good for the lip. The assistant called the midwife to let her know the progress and I heard her say my contractions were about 3 minutes apart.

My husband came back and I said I wanted the birth pool. He and the assistant started filling it up and I walked the hall between contractions, calling my husband to come help when a contraction started. He pressed on my back and it helped, but the contractions were still very intense. Peanut almost melted down at one point when she wanted to push on my back with daddy, but he quickly gave her the job of pushing on my leg and she was happy to help.

After some amount of contractions, standing was hurting too much. I decided to lay on my side on the bed since the pool still wasn’t full. I started what I can only describe as howling through contractions and my husband did counter pressure on my knees and lower back. I started feeling like I could maybe push, but I thought it couldn’t be that time yet.

When the birth pool was full enough, I got in. It was freezing to me though, so they started boiling water on the stove. I was on all fours with my legs spread open in the pool and my husband got in to push on my back more. Peanut stood on the outside watching and trying to help. She was very good at listening and was happy  when we gave her the job of bringing mama water between contractions.

I started feeling like I needed to push, but it hurt when I did it. I almost stopped pushing because of the pain, but the midwife (who had just gotten there) and the assistant were cheering me on so I continued. It also provided some sort of relief to push, though it was still incredibly painful.

The contractions became more and more painful as I continued to push through them and I could tell they we’re further apart now. It was also quite painful between contractions, especially on my tailbone. They told me that it would feel better once the baby got past my tailbone, so I kept telling myself that to get myself to push harder.

The assistant was supporting my perineum on both top and bottom. She explained to me later that she supported both because it was shaped like a volcano, though I’m not sure what she meant. At one point I heard her ask my husband if he wanted to feel the baby and he did. This made me wonder how close the baby really was so I felt too and it was just inches from crowning, if that. My mom showed up around this time and started taking pictures. I started feeling the baby after contractions to know where it was until I started to be able to feel the baby crowning without the need to feel with my hand.

By this point the tailbone pain was gone, but the stretching pain replaced it. I was screaming as low as I could as I pushed and the midwives kept telling me I was doing great. It hurt so bad that I just wanted the baby out. Apparently I was screaming that I wanted it out. I pushed harder and more frequently trying to get the baby out until finally its head emerged, which relieved some of the intensity.

What happened next felt to me like the midwives were pulling the baby out of me and it was painful, though not as bad as the head coming out. It turned out that the baby had shoulder dysocia, which means its shoulder was stuck behind my pubic bone. They told my husband later that if we weren’t in the water, they would have let me push more before assisting, but in the water they needed to get the baby out before it got panicked and inhaled water.

The baby came out at 11:12am and I flipped over to hold it. My immediate feeling was relief that the pain is gone, but it was quickly followed my the intense joy over the fact I was holding my baby. It was still absolutely covered in vernix, which the midwife said that, along with looking at some other stuff (possibly something with its ears?), made the baby seem more like an early baby than a late baby. I don’t know how that would work out considering how positive we are on my date of ovulation.

They put a blanket over the baby when they placed it on me, so we didn’t look at the sex. After a couple of minutes my mother started to ask and I was amazed I was level-headed enough to say I wanted Peanut to check. I moved the blanket and Peanut told us the baby was a girl! She was ecstatic that the baby was here and she was a big sister now. And how much little sister looks like big sister!

We stayed in the pool while I started to nurse and pushed out the placenta, which we put in the container and allowed to float next to us in the water. My husband was behind me supporting me as I nursed and he cut the cord once the placenta was out, which the midwives said meant the cord was done pulsing.

The pool was getting cold, so we got out and went to the bed, where we nursed more. She nursed pretty much constantly for the next couple of hours actually. When she was unlatched at one point within those hours, we decided to take her measurements. She wasn’t very happy about it.

She weighed 9 lbs 8 oz, which I immediately tried to justify with all the nursing, but the midwife said she had also pooped while we were in the pool (something I didn’t notice), so it kind of evened out. She was 20.25 inches long and her head was 14 inches around. Certainly a big baby!

The midwives checked me out and I hadn’t torn. They weren’t concerned by my amount of bleeding until I tried to get up to shower and almost passed out. They told me my options were pitocin, an herb called shepard’s purse, or just wait it out. I decided to wait it out, but when I got up to pee I passed some large clots and lots of blood, so we decided to try the herb. It tasted disgusting, but quickly got my bleeding under control. The midwife went back to her office for her appointments, but the assistant stayed for a while to make sure things were okay.

Peanut immediately wanted to hold her new little sister, but was happy enough to play games with my mother as we got settled before taking a family of four nap. She is already absolutely in love with Meredith Renee. We all are.

Are you going to have a water birth?

33 Weeks 1 Day

It’s a question that almost always follows the announcement that we’re giving birth at home. I suppose it’s a good thing that I’m not generally met with outrage. I think that more people would be upset if it weren’t already expected that we’re “the weird ones.” I think that most family and friends realize that our parenting decisions differ from the general populace and that we feel strongly about them. We’ve had the occasional question about safety and what not, but mostly people just accept that we’re going to do what we do.

What surprises me though is when strangers don’t react. Somehow it ends up coming up in a conversation (e.g. “What hospital are you going to give birth at?”) or my proud mother decides to tell the world. :-P Either way it ends up coming up in general conversation more than I thought it ever would. Weirdly, the reaction generally isn’t shock or disgust, but “Are you planning on a water birth?” Somehow home birth and water birth appear to have gotten intertwined, at least in my neck of the woods.

What’s my answer? Maybe. Yeah, I’m awesomely non-committal like that.

I have no idea what I’ll feel like doing when I’m in labor. How would I possibly know? From what everyone says, the water is great when you’re in labor. Personally, I didn’t really like it last time. That may have been because I didn’t use it late enough in labor (the only tub was in my in-laws’ bathroom and I didn’t feel like disturbing them late at night, especially when I didn’t think I was close to birth yet). It could be that Peanut was posterior. I have no idea, I just know that I filled the tub and got back out within a few minutes because it just wasn’t helping me. What helped me was being on all fours in the shower and counter-pressure.

So who knows if it’ll help this time. Maybe it’ll be a lifesaver like everyone says it is. Maybe I’ll be disappointed with it’s lack of effectiveness again. Maybe I’ll be in an out of it and happen to be out when I want to push. So I’m planning on having on having it available (my midwife says that she has a kiddie pool that works perfect for birth and we can borrow), but I’m not going to make any decisions on what I want to do with it until I’m there. Like so many things with labor, it just varies.

I am now 33 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I am feels So. Incredibly. Pregnant. I seriously can’t understand how I have another two months to go! I’m sleeping all the time, still have heartburn like crazy, am irrationally irritable (though doing better on the “mean mommy” front I would say), and just sooooo uncomfortable. I don’t remember feeling like this so early last time.

I also don’t remember being so bit. I’ve been sneaking baths in the jacuzzi tub at both my in-laws’ and my parents’ whenever we go over there (our tub is pathetically small) and they both have very large mirrors that go lower than mine does. When I’m getting ready to get it the tub, I literally look at myself and think “Holy crap! When did I get this big?!?” I’ve on multiple occasions thought about having my husband come up and marvel at my large-ness, but then realize that he sees it every day. Even with feeling huge, I amazingly don’t feel fat. Honestly, the acne on my back bothers me more than my size. I still feel like my pregnant body is beautiful.