Our Unassisted Home Birth: A Family Affair
I wanted to have an unassisted birth pretty much as soon as I found out it was possible. Now in hindsight it’s one of those things that I can’t believe I never thought of myself. I never thought I would want a homebirth or to homeschool my children when my first child was born, but then I started meeting so many amazing moms practicing natural parenting and I realized I was parenting very similarly already. I wanted to have a homebirth because I trust women’s bodies to do their job. I don’t believe that birth is a medical emergency that should take place in a hospital, I think it is actually much safer and easier to birth in the comfort of ones home.¬† I wanted to have a homebirth ¬†so I could make decisions about my own body and my baby’s body and not have to worry whether my wishes would be respected.
Not long after my twins were born naturally at a hospital with midwives I met a friend who was about to have her first unassisted birth. It was exciting to hear the story and see how perfect and intimate her birth experience was. She did all the pregnancy care and birth preparation herself, it was all very relaxed and simple. There really is barely anything that you *really* need in comparison to all the things that are customary in our country to do and buy when preparing for birth. I remember her saying all you need is a clean pair of scissors and a good baby carrier. Since I had just had twins I wasn’t up for thinking about having another baby but in the back of my mind I thought if I were to do it again it would be unassisted.
Almost 5 years later we were ready to have another baby and we knew right away that we would have an unassisted home birth. After the experience of two successful hospital births with no interventions, one being a complicated twin birth, we were confident that we could have a perfect birth on our own. Most of our preparation consisted of reading positive birth stories online and talking to others with similar experiences. There are actually quite a lot of resources and groups online for unassisted birth support and watching low intervention births on You-Tube is always fun! I stocked up on some tinctures, bought some chucks pads, and read about how to tie off the umbilical cord. That was about it! The pregnancy itself went by quickly and uneventfully. I made sure to eat well and exercise and I never felt like I needed to see a doctor or midwife.
The day of the birth I had been working in the garden all day and having lots of contractions. I didn’t really notice how strong they were because I was moving and busy and I’ve always had lots of strong Braxton Hicks. Around 6 PM I sat down on the couch to rest when I realized that waves of contractions were coming strong and fast. I called my husband to come home but wasn’t totally convinced that it was real thing since I was relatively comfortable and thought I had just exerted myself too much. My husband made dinner, I relaxed on the couch with the kids and tried to focus on breathing. I also texted with a few close friends to let them know that it might be time.
A couple hours later it was clear that this was it. I needed to stand so I stood by the stairs and leaned on the bannister for what seemed like a while but was probably around an hour. All of a sudden my water broke in a gush. A sensation I had never felt before since my water was broken by the doctor in my first birth and with my second it leaked slowly. It was even more pronounced and shocking splashing on our hard wood floor! We threw some towels and chucks pads down and I decided to get in the bathtub. Things were progressing fast now and I felt like the baby would be coming soon. I hadn’t planned on having a water birth for sure but that felt like the best thing in the moment.
I was on my knees in the bathtub and with each contraction I crouched down to get my lower back into the water. The kneeling position felt really good to me and I held on to the bathtub through contractions for support. At this point in labor with my twins, I was still very calm and communicative but this time was different. The three older kids kept coming in to the (very tiny) bathroom and asking me questions but I couldn’t really respond. My husband ushered them out and got them settled with a show until there was more to see. Once the baby was crowning I called everyone back into the room. I felt the head crowning and a tiny part of me thought maybe it wasn’t a head… could it be a butt or worse?! I knew the baby was coming regardless so I wiped that thought from my mind.¬† I was pretty worried about tearing, so I was careful to breath slow and not push too hard or fast, my twins had tiny little heads and I knew this baby would be bigger. I pushed the baby out into my hands under the water. It was even more peaceful and gentle than I had expected even though the pushing and contractions were more intense than my other births. So perfect that I almost forgot that we still didn’t know the sex! “A girl!” I announced and everyone gasped. We had already picked the name Sage regardless of the sex.¬† “Hi Sage, we’ve been waiting for you! We love you!” She was instantly loved. One of the 6 year olds was already snapping pictures and texting them to our friends! We stayed in the water and she nursed for a while waiting for the placenta but it didn’t come and the water was getting cold. We bundled up and moved to a comfy place on the couch with the umbilical cord still attached and nursed while breathing through some pretty strong after birth contractions. I have to admit that after having twins it did cross my mind that what I felt could be another baby in there, but I knew that it was too soft and there was no movement. After an herbal tincture and some massage the placenta came and that was that. We put it in a bowl and waited a few hours for the blood to flow through before cutting.
By then it was almost midnight. We had set up a futon mattress and pillows and blankets in the living room to avoid the stairs for the first night. The whole family camped out there with me we snuggled up and watched Sage sleep. My husband brought us snacks and it was a surprisingly normal night even though we had just had a baby in our our bathroom! The big kids held her and inspected her tiny features, they investigated the placenta, and checked out my shrunken belly. When we got pregnant I was concerned with the big gap between this baby and her siblings but it was clear right away that would be an amazing thing for all of them. The way they got to be a part of a healthy pregnancy and birth was so huge and now at almost two she completely ¬†adores her big sisters and brother.
I love that I was able to give my family the gift of an unassisted birth. That experience will stay with us all forever.
Fellow Boba blogger Heather’s UC Story
Mothering.com UC Forum