Samantha described her first birth as beautiful in many ways but she also felt that she experienced a “downward spiral of interventions.” Like many moms, she wanted something different for this birth, but having had an epidural before, she wondered if she would be able to handle the pain. Her first birth experience left her with doubts about her body’s ability to birth without medication and intervention. But it was the night of Panthers vs. Cardinals and victory was in the air!
Her labor began around 1am. Because of the snow and ice, Samantha , her husband Joe and their family decided to make their way to Natural Beginnings around 3:30am. Upon arrival, it was determined she wasn’t quite in active labor yet so they got a hotel close by where she went to continue to labor and try to get some rest. With the snow and ice still on the roads in many places, it felt good to be nearby. Her daughter, L, had been to every prenatal appointment and was excited that is was getting closer to time to meet her little sister.
Samantha labored at the hotel throughout the day. Things began to turn the corner a little bit by 12pm. By 3pm, contractions had intensified and by 6pm, she was ready to return to the center. At that time she was 5 centimeters and on the way to active labor. She walked the halls for a while trying to let gravity work in her favor, but she was becoming fatigued after having been up all night the night before.
Sometimes decisions have to be made when fatigue becomes a factor in birth, especially if someone is hoping to labor without any pain medication. Fatigue can cause the body to slow down and labor to stall. It can intensify a woman’s perception of pain and leave her with limited coping capabilities. Everyone’s body reacts to it differently. When we hear a mom begin to express feelings of extreme fatigue and outward signs do not indicate that the birth is on the horizon, we will discuss options with clients to make sure they know their options and can make an informed decision about their labor journey. Samantha did not feel good about possibly laboring well into the night without any rest. She was already really feeling the effects of losing a nights sleep to contractions. Her contractions were too strong to sleep through but not strong enough to see the end in sight. So around 9:30pm after discussing risks and benefits with Tracie, she opted to haver her water broken (AROM – artificial rupture of membranes). Breaking the water during labor can sometimes help the baby to drop down some allowing more pressure from the baby’s head to open the cervix. Some of the risks of AROM during labor are:
- Baby may not position him/herself well once amniotic fluid is reduced
- Risk of infection increases especially if labor is long
- The umbilical cord can become compressed and the baby’s heart rate can drop necessitating quick transport
- Contractions can become more painful
Samantha was in tune to her body and felt strongly that AROM would help her progress. We try to always honor mom’s intuition and desires in labor. She and Joe also had a support team that was incredible. Her family surrounded her with love and physical and emotional comfort. Her mother and mother-in-law helped with Big Sister L and cheered Samantha on, and her father lovingly gave emotional support all while capturing some of the most precious moments of this family’s journey on video. Her aunt photographed from a perspective that only someone who really loves you can…..telling a story while being a crucial part of the story.
Shortly after having her water broken, Samantha’s husband came to tell Tracie that contractions were increasing in strength and frequency. We began to fill the pool at this time. The next time we came in the room, we found her in the bathroom with that feeling of pressure that just won’t go away so we knew the birth was close. We encouraged her to head toward the pool before she got to the point that she couldn’t move.
The next contraction brought her to her knees.
The water offered some sweet relief and big sister L decided to join mom in the pool along with her mermaid doll. She was such a sweet encouragement to her mom as the first pushing contraction began. Samantha described the feeling of pushing for the first time without an epidural:
Pushing without an epidural, was easier in the sense that I could feel everything. I could feel exactly where she was and I could feel when my body was telling me to push, I knew what I needed to do next and that was so empowering compared to being told when to push and when her head was out during my first birth with epidural. The epidural meant that I needed help, that my body needed help, without it I could do it, my body could do it.
Baby A swam into her mom’s waiting hands after only a few pushing contractions.
Watch the video HERE
Samantha felt an immediate wave of relief and pure love which is evident on her face. She and her husband embraced each other and wept. But it was the reaction of big sister L that floored us all. She began to exclaim as she touched the fingers of her new baby sister, “I’m so glad she’s finally here! Mommy, you did it! You pushed her out.” This prompted almost everyone in the room to burst into happy tears.
Big sister L could be heard over and over again over the next hour saying, “I just love her so much.” She had witnessed something amazing and natural and we hope that she will remember the beauty and positivity of that moment when she is older and having her own first baby. And we hope it will be with us!