Note from Reese Leyva, our Natural Birth Mentor and Contributing Editor:
This is my friend’s, Alisa R’s, story. I helped her with some of her natural birth prep and cheered her on through her birth. Hopefully, her story will inspire you as much as working with her inspired me. Enjoy!
Unlike most women, I did NOT want Baby to come out as my due date came near.
I talked to my belly to ask (even beg) Baby to stay in there.
Even though I longed for a natural birth (unmedicated, but still in a hospital), I was scared I’d prove just how weak I really am.
It didn’t help that many women openly doubted me and laughed at me. They called me “cute” and “naïve.” “Just get the epidural! ” they insisted.
But, to me, naturally is best for Baby. Women have had babies for a looooong time without drugs (and we can use modern medicine as a backup anyway).
baby holding papa’s thumb
How I Found Inner Calm in the Chaos
In month 9, I spent most of my energy replacing my fears with calm, confidence and excitement.
For starters, I finished reading some of my favorite birthing books, like Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Natural Hospital Birth, and Hypnobirthing.
I also edited my birth plan a bunch times. (Thank you for your help, Reese. You were awesome.)
And I took an Epsom salt bath almost every night. Physically, the bath relieved my aching back and feet and reduced my water retention. Ahhhh.
You know what was really priceless, though? The tub soaks gave me quiet time with Baby to talk about how we’d work together for a quick, smooth delivery.
But My Water Didn’t Break Until…
All those calming strategies took awhile to work. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if they’d even be enough.
Thankfully, I found my peace around week 39. Then I told her (we knew Baby was a girl!), “I’m ready.”
Waddling to the bathroom to pee one night soon after, my belly was tight from Braxton-Hicks contractions.
No biggie. The spasms were a familiar friend by then. And they’d been coming around more often.
After I peed and went to stand up, I felt a small “gush.” It was like an egg-sized water balloon popped in my bladder, whooshing the water straight out.
Photo by: Sarah Davidson-Homewood
“Did my water just break?”
I rubbed my eyes and looked in the toilet.
There was nothing but clear fluid. No mucous or blood. I also thought it would be more water.
So I wiped and tried to stand up, but another small gush rushed out. As it trickled a little more, I was pretty sure my water really did break.
I walked over to our home office, where my husband, Peter, was. “I think my water just broke,” I told him.
He was SO excited! He immediately texted our OB. She pinged him back to say we should head straight to the hospital.
I wasn’t so sure. I asked whether we should go right way since I wasn’t in any pain yet. But she said yes; we should go anyway.
We took our time since contractions hadn’t started yet.
I brushed my teeth, removed my contacts, put on my glasses, got into comfy clothes and mentally pep-talked myself into the long night ahead.
Looking back, I’m glad we drove to the hospital when I wasn’t in the thick of labor yet. Going through the later contractions on the long, bumpy car ride wouldn’t have fun.
Woah, Hold On, Baby!
The contractions came faster and faster.
By the time I signed in at the hospital, I had to stop occasionally, close my eyes and lean against something to breathe through the peaks.
When I got into my birthing room, I changed into the hospital gown, trudged to the bathroom and then curled up on the bed.
A nurse walked in, chomping on gum. She wasn’t friendly.
To my relief, a new, much nicer nurse came in soon after. She did a cervical check and said, “You’re already 6cm dilated.”
I laid on my right side for most of my labor. The urge to push felt familiar, like when about to poop.
My muscles contracted on their own, waves of intense cramping, coming and going.
Photo by: Alisa Roesler
Whenever I felt a contraction coming, I squeezed my husband’s hand as tightly as I could, covering my face with a towel. I moaned, low and loud, through the contractions.
I chuckled the next day when I realized my voice was hoarse from it.
All during my labor, I made Peter sing me lullabies to remind me Baby was close. At one point, I noticed he added new songs and new stanzas. He had Googled lullabies!
I reached for his hand each time I felt another contraction wave coming.
At first, he had time to go get water and heat up some rice packs in between contractions.
Later on, though, I needed him constantly. This is where a doula or another in-the-know person would’ve been helpful.
I remember trying hard not to be scared of the contractions. I told myself, “Yes, some pain is coming, but it’s a sign my cervix is opening and Baby is coming down.”
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Yes, I really said that. Seems funny now. 🙂
But what I did worked because, after some contractions and a few strong urges, the nurse said I was fully dilated. YES!!
That meant the hardest part was over and Baby was close!
But my OB was still on her way. I really wanted her there. I wanted to wait until the urge to push got strong enough, so I breathed through the contractions.
That’s when I was thankful to have my birth plan hanging on the wall, which my mentor, Reese, coached me to customize. That told the nurses what I wanted even if I couldn’t.
I made sure to keep drinking water to keep my muscles loose and my energy level up. I also didn’t want to give the medical staff any reason to give me an IV.
My doctor finally arrived shortly after midnight. She said I’d feel better if I “breathed the baby down” and then held my breath while pushing, instead of yelling through my contractions.
The urge to push was strong by that point, as were the sensations.
Why I Had to Push Back Against My Doctor’s Order
Photo by: Sarah Davidson-Homewood
My doctor asked me to change positions since I’d been lying on my right side for hours.
She told me to get on my back, BUT everything I read said that was the worst position for pushing.
So I pushed back. I insisted on lying on my left side instead.
It worked. I felt a little better.
Then I vaguely remember holding my right leg up when the doctor told me she saw the baby coming!
I was a little doubtful I’d feel better by pushing, but I remembered how important it was to breathe Baby down.
Also, in the birth stories I read, the women talked about how satisfying it was to push.
So I gave it a try.
It certainly felt better to push, yet I felt the “ring of fire,” the burning sensation down there.
I went with the doctor’s suggestion to not get a hot compress for relief (I don’t remember her reason).
Thankfully, by about the third push, the doctor said the baby was super close.
I gave my next push everything I had.
At a few minutes before 2 am (2 days before her due date!), my baby Lily’s body slid out.
Oh man, what a relief.
I could feel the umbilical cord. I vaguely remember the placenta coming out. Everything else afterward was a blur.
Someone put baby Lily on my chest, and Peter eventually cut the cord. I cried from both happiness and relief.
Speaking of happiness, I’m so happy I didn’t tear! I didn’t do any massaging at home, so I was very lucky. I’d like to think to push on my side and waiting to breathe Baby down helped, but who knows.
How My Birth Plan Made My Natural Birth Way Less Stressful
Photo by: Ginda Photography
Overall, even though not everything went as I hoped, I was very happy with my birthing experience.
A big reason for that? My birth plan.
Writing out my birth plan helped me clarify what I wanted and what I didn’t want.
That was critically important since I was planning a hospital birth. I researched my hospital’s standard practices to see if I wanted them or, if not, what my other options were.
For example, I asked for wireless monitors, no IV, and no heplock because I wanted to move around freely.
Also, even though my hospital had super high C-section rates, they still offered so much mother-baby-focused care, like rooming together, skin to skin contact during the golden hour, private tubs, birthing balls, etc.
I wouldn’t have known about all of that if I hadn’t asked.
Even better, I had a second version of my birth plan just for my husband with extra details on my thought process.
For example, if the medical staff insisted on an IV for a good reason, I wanted him to ask, “Can we delay it for an hour?” That way, he could gauge how urgent the IV really was.
Result: Almost everyone respected my wishes, especially since I ran them by my OB beforehand to make sure she knew what I wanted.
So, thanks to Reese’s guidance and me asking the hospital what my options were, my birth plan paid off.
Now, my baby Lily is 4.5 months old and thriving, just like I dreamed of. She’s curious. She rolls around. She loves to be held. She’s strong, and her teeth are already coming in.
Yet Many Women Make Painful Mistakes with Their Birth Plans
Hi! Reese Leyva here, resident Natural Birth Mentor and Contributing Editor. Wasn’t Lilian’s story inspiring?
If you’re even thinking of having a natural birth (whether in a hospital, at home or elsewhere), you’ll love the FREE live training I’m doing.
It’s all about how to minimize labor pain Mother Nature’s way.
If you want the inside scoop, one secret is avoiding the mistakes, so many women make with their birth plans. These are pretty sad mistakes when you consider how much they spike stress and spiral into pain during labor.
And yes, I’ll share some more about how I helped Lilian with her natural birth plan.
Then make sure to be there live to ask your questions! I’m looking forward to serving you.