Home Delivery: Diary of a Successful Home Birth
At this point, Kristin is disheartened and clearly uncomfortable. Between measured breaths, she leans against a table in the foyer and says, “I need help.” For pain relief, Debra gives Kristin a back massage.
A while later, Kristin and Glenn decide to walk the hallways of their apartment building. They hope that gravity and movement from walking will help the baby get back into position.
Back in the apartment, Kristin climbs into a small inflatable birth tub—a kiddie wading pool, really—that Debra and Cara have set up in the living room. They’ve filled it with warm water, which can ease the pain of strong contractions. With Kristin on her hands and knees, Glenn leans over and squeezes her hips, applying pressure to counter her contractions. Debra douses her back with pitcher after pitcher of warm water.
“Why does it hurt so much?” Kristin asks, grimacing through one contraction after another. “You’re having a hard labor,” Debra says. “But you’re doing great.”
Cara has a gloved hand inside Kristin’s vagina, trying to rotate the baby’s head so that it will move down the birth canal. “That little one is moving,” she says. Cara listens to the baby’s heartbeat with a handheld Doppler monitor. Thump, thump, thump. One hundred twenty beats per minute. Perfectly on target!
Kristin stands up and leans against Glenn, who has climbed into the birth tub with her. They hold each other and rock through the next few intense contractions. Soft classical music plays in the background. The scene is intimate and cozy.
Kristin has moved from the tub to the bed. To make herself more comfortable, she gets up on all fours. Cara, Debra, and Glenn form a close circle around the bed. During the contractions, Cara manipulates Kristin’s cervix while Kristin bears down in an attempt to get the baby to descend into the birth canal.
Stay Home or Go to the Hospital?
The slow progress of Kristin’s labor is frustrating. Cara is concerned that the baby could be in a posterior presentation, with the back of its head resting against Kristin’s spine. One in 10 babies lies in this position, which can be extremely painful though not dangerous.
It’s also possible that the baby could be too large for Kristin’s pelvis, a downright risky situation. If that is the case, or if Kristin’s labor remains stalled, she may need to be transferred to the hospital—a contingency the couple has prepared for. They have an obstetrician on call and have designated a hospital, alerting labor-room staff there that they may be showing up after all. “I really hope I don’t have to leave here,” Kristin sighs. “Let’s take one thing at a time,” Cara comforts her. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
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