a Health Foundations Birth Center story
What is it like to experience attentive and heartfelt prenatals, empowered birthing and in-home postpartum care at Health Foundations Birth Center in St. Paul, MN? Take few minutes to watch one family's beautiful journey where the model of care is:
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And, if you'd like to read more about this sweet baby girl's birth story, here are the details in her mama's own beautiful words:
Her Birth – 17 May 2016
Labor had been a long time coming. My dear sister had come to visit and left again, taking with her hopes of being present for the baby’s birth. Early the morning of my sister’s departure I had walked alone to the river, hoping to induce labor with another vigorous walk but also to have some time away to process my expectations.
With your first pregnancy you have expectations, but no real first hand experience. Yes, there are books you may have read and stories to which you can compare your own experiences, but for the most part you are left to weather your own unpredictable, wonderful storm. After all, nothing quite prepares you for labor except labor. My first baby had come 11 hours after my water broke. An arm around his neck meant 3 hours of pushing. My husband and I were enamored. I didn’t sleep more than an hour or two the first night staring at my little boy, trying to nurse and feeling the need to protect him with my body still.
These thoughts and feelings were fresh anew in my mind that morning at the river: I wanted to meet the babe inside, wanted to face the marathon of labor again, but this time I also felt terribly disappointed. Disappointed that I’d been tense from the moment of my sister’s arrival a week prior, feeling that I was holding baby inside with my stress, that I hadn’t been diligent to move through all the appropriate exercises to place baby into the ideal birth position. Overall, I was realizing how little control I thought I had.
I shared my thoughts and feelings with a dear friend, a mother of 4. She told me that each of her pregnancies produced not only a child but also a time of great spiritual growth, especially the last months of each. She learned to surrender her expectations to a faithful and all-knowing God. Our sweet photographer also reminded me to enjoy the last “sacred days” of being pregnant.
My short morning at the river was poignant. I sat in the cool wind watching the water’s course as tears traced their own paths down my face. The river helped to put things in perspective; the God who stayed the endless water was yet in control of the arrival of this squirmy babe. The birth would come in His perfect timing.
My Braxton hicks had been fairly consistent for about 2 weeks. They seemed quite intense and I had even alerted the midwives, our doula and family 2 weeks prior. Nothing obvious came of that early morning in the bath when I thought labor had started. Then, on a Monday night, I went for a last walk. I had to stop frequently to breathe through the Braxtons that were intense toward the end, though this had been their pattern.
I finally made it to bed around 11:30 pm and awoke after 2 hours of restless sleep, feeling tense and unable to fully relax through the end of my “Braxton’s.” Another uncomfortable squeeze came and I felt the familiar warmth of my waters breaking. I hesitated in bed, expecting a scant amount, then leapt to bedside as the flow continued. I nearly cried. I was so happy labor had finally arrived.
Weeks of expectation culminated in instantaneous excitement, which, in combination with sleepiness, produced a hilarious scenario. I shouted at my poor husband, deep in sleep, that my water had broken and we needed to make the appropriate calls and head to the birth center. I tried to dial my midwife and was perplexed at my phone, which had been turned to airplane mode. My waters continued to run so I headed to the tub where I stood, half clad, trying to summon brain function as my midwife asked questions.
When had my waters broken? Just then, um, 1:35 am, let’s say.
Did I feel like labor was progressing? Well, I wasn’t sure, things had been stuttering for at least 2 weeks.
Was I having contractions…? Erm, I think so…? I guess the Braxtons have been contractions?
I could hear my husband making calls in the other room to our doula and our downstairs neighbor. He was telling them we were leaving immediately for the birth center. I was cringing at the noise level, hoping our 2 year old would stay asleep, per the plan.
Midwife was asking questions but I wasn’t completely listening.
I’m sorry, what did you ask? Question repeated. Well, I think I reflexively called you because our doula warned us that if my water broke she would meet us at the birth center rather than coming to labor at home with us.
Is there a reason she thinks you might have a precipitous labor? I’m not sure. I guess I’m just going off what our doula suggested since this is my second baby. I’m sorry. I’m still asleep. I’m just so excited!
We agreed to meet after 1 hour at the birth center, at 2:45am, and I texted our doula with the plan. My husband raced into the bathroom to find me quietly standing in the tub, answering his questions. “Why are you so calm?” he half shouted, clearly perplexed. “Well, I can think between my contractions this time!” I cheerfully explained. My husband felt we should leave immediately but I stated I thought I should wear some pants.
The drive was a pleasant one, full of joy and thankfulness, which was welcome as the drive in labor with our son was miserable. We were happy to soon meet our baby and were incredibly thankful we weren’t traveling with traffic through all the road construction. My husband offered up a prayer of thanks and safety as we drove. I had many contractions, none of which were unbearable or too intense. I would hardly have described them as more than Braxton’s, which were uncomfortable only at the end, lower on my abdomen. I continued to remind my husband he didn’t need to speed, which he found hilarious.
I had wanted our friend and her 9-year-old daughter at this birth and they met us at the birth center. My energy was high wandering into the birth room and, going off what was recommended by our doula, my husband and I started to move through “spinning babies” exercises to help baby move into optimal birth position. Soon I was perched on the side of the couch, tush in the air, forearms on the floor.
All of this activity and energy might explain why our midwife smilingly suggested we may want to labor at home and she shared her concern that I could soon exhaust myself if I continued at my current pace. I was 4cm dilated, 80% effaced, but baby was at a high station yet. I was still so excited, running on adrenaline, but the thought of going home was terrifying. I didn’t want a painful car ride when labor picked up.
Husband suggested we make a decision in an hour, which everyone agreed to. I remember our midwife smiling at me, pointing out that I may have felt pressure to perform to some degree with friends, doula and photographer present: “you’re literally on camera right now!” she said. At her suggestion I donned a snug bellyband to lift my pendulous tummy before husband and I stepped into the shower together to be alone and allow labor to progress.
What a joy that time was! I carried into this labor the expectation of pain, exhaustion and solitude, as I’d felt in my first labor. This time, however, I felt connected to my husband, who supported me beautifully, encouraging me with touch and words. He massaged my scalp or shoulders between contractions while I sat on an exercise ball and hot water pounded my head and upper back. During contractions I put my hands around his neck then dropped down, arms draped over his, fully placing my weight onto him.
Soon I did feel quite tired and asked for the birth tub to be filled. We dried off and I moved to the bed to lay and rest. Our lovely doula recognized I would need quiet and calm and asked everyone except my husband to leave the room, though she stayed per my request. “Let’s try this for an hour or two,” she said, but my second contraction came with such force that it took great control to breathe through and relax. Within 40 minutes or so I was up out of bed, leaning on my husband during contractions.
At 5:10am I stepped into the birth tub, not knowing what to expect. I hadn’t planned a water birth but wanted the option. Within minutes transition overwhelmed me like a flood and I almost immediately vomited. Although I do not permit myself to speak aloud the words “I can’t do it” in labor, I felt I could not continue at that level of intensity. I had progressed from 4cm to 10cm in just about 2 hours.
Suddenly those feelings of insecurity and pain passed as I felt baby descend. I became what I felt to be supernaturally calm, realizing baby would come soon. I was able to relax my body and breathe deeply. One hand held myself off the bottom of the tub while the other caressed my crowning child, “Thank you for coming so quickly baby,” I heard myself whisper.
I don’t remember actively pushing, only allowing my body to gently birth baby. Fourteen minutes after I’d entered the tub a perfectly round head emerged, quickly and gently followed by a tiny figure that was caught by my husband and lifted to my chest. Within minutes we rejoiced in little cries and learned we had a daughter.
Whereas our son required resuscitation, his cord was cut quickly and he was moved across the room from me, our daughter breathed on her own, we were able to feel the pulsing cord long before it’s work was over and baby stayed with me or my husband except only for a quick exam and measuring. It was such a sweet, calm and redeeming process.