The first thing you should know before reading my story is that yes, this was a PLANNED unassisted birth at home. Yes, without a midwife. I chose to do my own prenatal care, and the only medical assistance we had was a 20-week ultrasound anatomy scan. I educated myself, prepared my home and my husband, and made sure to stay 100% healthy. I had my third baby the same way, planned and unassisted, so this was my second unassisted pregnancy and birth, my fourth birth all together.
JUNE 23rd, about 9 pm - DUE DATE
Like I had for several mornings in a row, I lost a large piece of mucus plug first thing in the morning. This one was pretty large, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I went about my day as usual. After on and off tightening (“Braxton Hicks”) throughout the day, I began to notice a familiar regularity. I was bouncing on my birth ball after the kids had gone to bed, putting together my birth playlist and going through, playing my favorite songs, just trying to relax and not get my hopes too high. My last baby went to 42 + 3, and I did NOT want to have my patience tested like that again! So I bounced and relaxed and listened to my music while my husband did his own thing.
I started timing the “contractions”, still hesitating to call them that. They were tight, and very strong, but they didn’t hurt at all, didn’t feel too intense. (I was trying not to expect them to hurt, but that was really difficult when it’s the main marker of true labor for most people). They were about 5 minutes apart for an hour, and at that point I decided to take a shower to see if they calmed down. To my excitement, it got stronger! This was it! I told my husband we should go to bed in case baby came tonight, so we started getting ready, and the contractions became stronger. I started to vocalize through them. We let my doula know so she could get ready, but told her not to come yet because we didn’t really need her. Because we were planning an unassisted birth, there was no midwife to call.
I lay down on my side in the bed, trying to fall asleep, convinced this labor would take a while. After all, it had only been going for about two hours. My husband sat next to me and rubbed up and down my body – his touch was so relaxing and felt so good! I felt a lot of love and affection towards him during this time, the exact opposite of how sitcoms portray birth, with the woman cursing her husband and shouting “You did this to me!” My husband and I are a team, all through my pregnancies and births. He’s my rock, my lover, my partner, my baby catcher. His touch is exactly what I need during labor!
During this time I actually joked with him, “Last chance for sex!” He took me up on the offer. ;) It felt surprisingly good to make love during labor, even through a few contractions.
After that, labor became really intense (thanks for speeding things up, honey!). I started using words like “Pleasure”, “Pressure” and “Easy” as mantras to get me through contractions. They really are like waves – get out of rhythm and it feels like getting caught in the undertow, a powerful force you cannot stop or control. You can ride it or it overwhelms you. I kept hoping something would click and the contractions would stop hurting, but they never did. It became a battle of the mind. Out loud I found myself saying things like “What if this goes on for a long time? How will I cope?” “It’s taking so long” “It’s so hard” I told my husband to tell me why I could do it – I needed to hear he believed in me. And he did. He told me of my confidence, of my strength, that I had done this three times before and he knew I could do it now. I kept being worried about the time passing, and the fear kept rising up inside of me, from seemingly nowhere. I had cleared so many emotions and fears about birth, and still when the time came I found fear.
There was nothing to do but go through it. There wasn’t a single moment I thought about going to the hospital or getting an epidural. I started to tell myself I could do it. It didn’t change how much labor hurt, but it made a WORLD of difference in how I experienced it! We called our doula again and told her to head over, the baby would be born soon.
I felt inside myself and was so excited to finally feel my bag of waters bulging through my cervix, which had completely melted away. Fully dilated and ready to push. A few contractions later, my water broke all over the bed – thank goodness for our mattress cover!
Immediately I felt a massive urge to push. It was so intense, my body just took over and I couldn’t do anything but bellow as my body bore down. I stretched my body out instinctively as my body pushed once, then the second time my baby’s head shot towards my perineum. I told baby to SLOW DOWN! I really didn’t want to tear. I began panting, blowing air out my mouth, my hand on baby’s head still inside me.
About 1:50 am
Another incredible urge came on a moment later, and my perineum stretched and her head came out. I thought it was her bottom at first, actually, it felt so big! I said, “Is that her head?” and then I felt her face with my hand and my husband said “Yes, and there’s a shoulder,” as her shoulder rolled out of my body, followed quickly by the rest of her, guided out by my husband’s gentle hand onto the sopping wet bed.
“I had a baby!” I cried out in shock and amazement, as I scooped her into my arms and onto my chest. I turned myself over and sat on the bed, removing the wet things from underneath myself and sitting on a dry chux pad to wait for the placenta. It was 1:50 am. My doula walked in about 10 minutes later and was able to get us cleaned up. From the time we called her, it had only been 25 minutes or so, and from the time I had noticed the contractions getting regular to the time my baby was born was only 3 ½ hours. My fastest labor yet!
Our baby was 8 lbs, 6 oz. I had absolutely NO tearing! She was my smallest baby at birth – her next oldest sister, also a planned unassisted birth, had been 9 lbs 7 oz, and I also had no tearing with her. Our bodies stretch when we give them space to do what they need to do!
My placenta was a little sticky. It took about an hour before I cut the cord, got out of bed, and squatted over a bowl in the toilet to get it out, but it came out and there was no hemorrhaging or anything left inside. My uterus cramped rather painfully the next several days, doing its job perfectly. My healing from my unassisted births, especially this one, has been incredibly easy, relative to my first two births where I tore and had stitches done. We took baby to the pediatrician a few days later, and they gave her a perfect bill of health.
Unassisted pregnancy, unassisted birth. It was an AMAZING experience giving birth to our fourth baby!
**I don't recommend unassisted birth for everyone, but if you feel drawn towards the idea and have any questions for me, please ask! I have a lot of resources.