My son was born on his due date, a Sunday, but my labor started the previous Friday afternoon, signaling its beginnings with pretty heavy back pains. I was headed for another back labor, as with my first baby. On Saturday, I experienced more intense back pain, with contractions regularly spaced seven or eight minutes apart. I never got any sleep from Friday to Sunday, due to back pain.
Sunday came and I took two, five-minute naps between contractions, due to exhaustion while still on hands and knees on the bed. My back would not tolerate any other position. Around 2 p.m. I lost my mucous plug. Contractions were then spaced four minutes apart, fairly regularly, and I could just sense that birth was around the corner. While I waited for my husband to get back from an errand, I gathered clothing for my mom to take for my 21-month-old first-born so they could leave us to labor.
At this point I called our CNM (certified nurse midwife). We agreed she should start making her way down without rushing, as I felt very comfortable laboring privately. My husband came home at this point, and my parents left with our boy. As soon as they did, contractions picked up to every two to three minutes apart. They took all my concentration. From that point on I was on hands and knees during every contraction, while my husband applied counter pressure to my lower back. I told him to go and fill up our jacuzzi tub and got in there when it was half full. The water felt great. I was still in lots of back pain, but armed with the ability to relax a lot better than on dry land.
At that point I fell in love with that tub and told my hubby I was 100% sure we were delivering under water. One thousand elephants could not have gotten me out of that tub! I was in my own world, using short phrases to communicate my needs to my husband in-between contractions, completely oblivious to the rest of the world. I stayed on my right side for the first 45 minutes, making low-pitched noises through the hardest contractions. Only my face was above the water.
The midwife apprentice arrived, I briefly told her that this was totally consuming my attention; she knew I was entering transition. She added warm water to the tub, rubbed my back, checked the fetal heart rate with an underwater doppler, and off she went to get our midwife by phone to let her know that birth was imminent. The apprentice came back, suggesting I flip over to my left side, as this may assist the baby in turning away from my back. I did just that with my husband’s help. He had joined me in the tub a little earlier to help me hold a certain position and to keep me from sliding down. He was great and did exactly what I needed and when I needed it. I was able to relax my uterus comfortably under water during contractions, while I worked on relaxing and using mind over matter technique for the back pain. If it hadn't been for the back, I could have just cruised through labor.
The CNM arrived not too long before I was ready to push. She held my hand, applied cold washcloths to my forehead, and gave me sips of water just when I needed them. It was this unique woman-to-woman intuitive recognition/telepathic communication.
After being in the water for about two hours, I was ready to push. I told everyone I was ready to start. It was so nice not worrying about being checked for dilation, and just listening to my body and intuition! Pushing took about 35 minutes. The midwife made a comment on how I smiled all the way through this stage. It was so spiritual, wonderful, empowering… no words will ever be able to describe it. We all felt as one, the emanating energy an amazing feeling. I reached down to feel my baby's head as he was crowning. It was soft and hairy. It went back in and I decided that on the next contraction I would get his head out. I did just that, and with the following contraction I pushed the rest of the body out. He was under water two full minutes before taking his first breath as he hit the air above water. He was placed right on my chest.
You can say that again. He nursed at four-minutes-old like a pro, while I leaned against my husband for support. He was still half under water, looking straight into my eyes. His strong sucking reflex brought my placenta out within minutes. The midwives placed it in a bowl, which floated around us while we enjoyed our quiet, magical moments with our baby.
I won't go into comparing my home birth with the hospital birth I had with my first son, they are as different as they can get. I mean we are talking a typical hospital experience versus an intimate, mother-in-control at all times, infant-friendly atmosphere.
Deep inside of me, I feel that the fact Arlen was born in water and transitioned from one water-based environment to another, then onto his mother’s chest in a dimmed room, contribute greatly to how deeply relaxed this baby is in all aspects. He radiates so much peace he makes me calm. Most of all he loves his baths! A true water baby!
I realize that home birth is not for everyone, but just to let those interested in knowing how I got there, here's the rest of my story. I did some extensive research for a while on home births, then on water births. I located, interviewed and made a great connection with a qualified certified nurse midwife. I prepared physically (exercise, nutrition, ...etc.), but most importantly I had an inert, deep confidence in this natural process of birth, an extremely positive attitude, which all helped me make this informed decision. For me, home-based water birth is the way to go every time. If we decide to have more kids, you know what my choice will be.