Home birth Part 2: Born in the Caul

I should probably preface this story with I swore I would never get induced, so at 41 weeks I continued to drink my raspberry leaf tea and started looking into acupuncture.  After a second session of acupuncture, I lost my mucous plug  but was still feeling the pressure to get induced from the hospital staff during a routine stress test even though everything checked out okay.  I chose instead to take some more herbal tinctures recommended by my midwife, but after breaking out into a rash two days shy of  42 weeks I had a moment of weakness and agreed to be scheduled for a round of Cervidil* as long as I could go home afterwards, in order to have my planned home birth.

In retrospect I wish I had not had the induction, as I feel in my heart he would have been born a few days later.  After a second round of Cervidil,  my sister and I headed back to my home where by this point  my contractions were getting more intense.  My sister who had been timing my contractions was now on the phone with the midwife who suggested I get into the shower to determine if the contractions were actually getting serious.  Once in the shower, the contractions were indeed getting stronger and closer together.  By this point I wanted to get out of the shower.  I was supposed to stay in the shower for twenty minutes but my sister “tricked me” by saying I had only five more minutes to go, when I actually had ten.  I moaned that she had tricked me, then suddenly I needed to throw up! With the water still running, I jumped out of the shower and threw up my entire breakfast into the toilet.  My sister laid a towel over my back and called the midwives to come; I knew I had transitioned.

I put my blue dress back on and walked around the house between contractions, every time a contraction mounted I found myself squatting and pulling on whatever I could find whether it was the edge of the couch or the kitchen towel rack. I was also very verbal, I must have loudly proclaimed “this hurts” what felt like a hundred times over; said more like a release than a complaint. When the midwife arrived, she checked me to make sure I was fully dilated before removing the Cervidil which by that point I was begging for her to take out.  My body was already starting to bear down, a force of its own, so intense that I felt as if my body would rip apart.  I knew it would not, and I continued to trust the process as I mentally held onto the proverbial speeding train that was my labour.

By this time, my two friends who were acting as my doulas had also arrived, the second midwife was still on her way.  As my midwife set up her “work station,” she suggested I labour in the tub and asked my sister to pour water over my belly, (hydro therapy had been on my birth plan as a way to cope with contractions) but I disliked this very much.  It seems that most women find water relaxing during labour but not me.  All I wanted to do was squat and pull down as hard as I could, so out of the water I came.

Next, I found myself kneeling and squatting on my bed without my blue dress on as I was starting to sweat.  At this point my body gave me a break and the contractions became more manageable.  I moaned and swayed my hips between each wave.  Then I started pushing, actually engaging my core, I only pushed when it felt necessary and just listened to my body.  At one point the midwife asked if I wanted to feel my baby’s head, but I said “no, I can’t” because I thought if I touched his head, all my progress would go backwards, I needed to concentrate.  The only thing my midwife told me to do was to use my voice to help push, other than that she let me be.  I could hear when people talked but was too focused on what I was doing to say anything.  I think I remember someone asking “what is that?”  and hearing the midwife explain that my water had not yet broken, that the bag of water was emerging first like a balloon with the baby still inside of it. Later the midwife told me this was called being born in the caul and was considered lucky.

I was starting to get tired of the position I had been in, so one of my friends helped support me by allowing me to hold on to her while I squatted and pushed. Soon I felt the ring of fire but it was not as intense as I thought it would be; it made me think of an elastic band being pulled very tightly, when I pushed out his head the sensation did surprise me however. Next, I think I may have pushed once more and his body came out, with the midwife quickly catching  him and asking me to sit up as I was still on my hands and knees. She placed my baby on my chest (he had a very long cord) while exclaiming “here is your baby!”

I could not believe I was finally holding my baby, and as he lay on my chest I remember thinking “so this is what you look like.”  Welcome to the world little M!

*I do not recommend getting an unnecessary induction as it makes labour unnaturally more intense and can lead to complications including a cesarean.  Here are some great tips to help with avoiding an unnecessary induction.

**Here is a wonderful image of a baby who was born in the caul.


Home Birth: Part One

Day one

Day One

“We must break the myth around childbirth [saying that it is a medical event rather than a physiological one]. Yes, there is pain but one can do it with the right support and freedom to birth the way they choose to.  I chose to birth at home with the help of a midwife, my sister and two close friends.  I cannot imagine doing it any other way. I felt safe and confident, I was free to move about. And when it was time to push, I listened to my body and went into a primal place where I squatted and opened my legs very wide. I pushed when [I felt] it felt right. Nobody told me what to do, it was perfect.”  That was taken from my journal regarding some of my thoughts on education and choice around childbirth.

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of attending the birth of one of my nephews. My sister chose to have a hospital birth with a midwife. When I arrived at the hospital, my sister was already in the second stage of labour, she continued labouring quietly in the tub as she found the water soothing.  After a short time, she got out of the tub because she thought she needed to use the washroom. Suddenly, her water broke and the baby crowned; two pushes later he was born. It truly was a transcendent experience. I was particularly impressed with how calmly my sister handled the labour and how she listened to her body, this was definitely how I wanted to do it.  Shortly after the birth however, the room became very busy with hospital staff, I felt annoyed as it turned a private moment into what felt public and routine. I decided at that point I would plan a quiet birth, with only a few select people present.

When I became pregnant a couple of years later, I naturally sought out midwifery care. I read and researched many books on pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. I also watched a lot of documentaries and educational DVDs on the subject matter. One of  the things that stands out to me in my research, is a story from the book on Birth by Tina Cassidy. It is about a young  indigenous woman who gives birth for the first time by herself.  She does so in a quiet place away from everyone which is their custom. Although she experiences pain, she labours through it and the baby is born (page 11).  For some reason, I found this very appealing, there were many moments throughout my pregnancy that I imagined myself giving birth alone (under a tree) or just with a midwife.

As my pregnancy progressed I continued to explore my birthing options. At first I thought a birth centre would be ideal for me since I live in an apartment building, unfortunately my city does not have a birth centre.  And as amazing as the hospital is that I would have potentially given birth in, it was not my first choice.  I also thought about birthing at a friend’s house, but the possibility of there being extra people around was unappealing.  In the end, I chose to birth at home for the solitude it would provide me and the control over my environment and body. The birth of my son was everything I dreamed it would be and more!