Beth Anne Moonstone, MA.ED, CPM
Midwife & Midwifery Educator

Nathan's Birth (written by Cori)
July 1, 2006
8lbs 6oz 20 inches


We went out for dinner for my birthday 6/30. While there I kept feeling like labor would start at any moment. Later that evening my water broke at approx 11:15PM. I knew at that point he wouldn't make it on my birthday but figured it wouldn't be far off if he followed a similar pattern as previously – my first son was born in 3 hours (he was 6 yrs at the time of this birth). We called Beth and she agreed trying to get sleep would be the best option. We did lie down and I drifted on and off for an hour or so before I felt contractions around 12:30.

Transactions started around 5 minutes apart for 30 seconds. They quickly progressed to every 3 minutes for 45-60 seconds. We thought for sure it wouldn't be long at that point. We called Beth again because I was convinced the baby would be here at any time, going off the belief it would be as fast as or even faster than my first. My husband Marc started filling the birth tub to feel like he was doing something. Beth arrived around 3:30 and had her apprentice Jennifer with her. They immediately set to work setting up their equipment. My son was awake the entire time from 12:30-3:00ish. He could sense the excitement and heard the music I was playing. I spent most of the time on the birth ball and it made the contractions so much easier.

At this point I kept thinking how easy the whole thing was - and how peaceful. I absolutely loved being at home without worrying about when to leave to the hospital. I was even online posting my progress to my friends.

The contractions kept right on going at the same pace throughout the night. I wanted to get in the tub but Beth didn’t recommend it until I was approx 5-6 cm. So I asked her to check me and I was at 5cm – first vaginal exam in the pregnancy! I decided to keep laboring instead of potentially slowing things down. I was honestly shocked to only be that far after about 4-5 hours. I already had my first son by that point!!

Around 5:30 I started feeling really tired so I decided to see if I could sleep. I did for about an hour or so. That completely stopped the contractions. I took a shower, ate breakfast and generally hung out for a while. Around 9:30-ish, I did some walking up and down the stairs and we did some nipple stimulation and things started kicking in. The contractions became much stronger. I continued to labor on the ball and it felt great. Beth was very hands off and left us to ourselves unless we needed something. My son would periodically come in and check on me to see how I was doing. He was allowed unlimited video games during the process so he kept coming in and out. I started having bad back labor and I noticed things getting more painful. I asked if I could go in the tub. Beth said I could but if things slowed, I needed to get out. Deal! The initial entry into the tub was *heavenly* felt soooooo good.

in the tub

Then the contractions really started. The back labor was quite intense – more than my first labor. Beth and Jen tried different things, like pushing on the back, using a ball on the sacrum, etc., but it was tough to get comfortable. They put a birth stool in the tub for me to sit on and that did help some, but it took everything I had to get through each contraction. At one point I said, "I hope I'm almost at transition because I really feel I'm at the point where women say they can't do it anymore!!!!" After awhile I felt too confined. I really needed to pace to work through the back pain. So I decided to leave the tub - in retrospect, it was probably the best thing I did. Even though it was painful, I felt I could do it and never wavered in my faith in my body and the process.

This part gets hazy but I was then pacing around, holding on to the edge of the bed, using the labor ball, etc. I finally started feeling the urge to push. I think it was sometime between 12:30 and 1:30PM but I can't be sure. I was sitting on the stool and pushing but it didn't seem to be doing all that much. I noticed Beth wiping brown onto a towel on the ground but didn't think anything of it - I thought I pooped. After a few minutes she asked if she could check me. After doing so, she believed the baby was breech. The brown coming out was meconium. It wasn't normal staining - it was full, tarry poop coming out from the butt being squished. We were all surprised because everyone felt he had been in the proper position. (Note: my hospital backup practitioners also did not think he was breech.) That surely explained the back pain! She told me I could go to the hospital if I wanted. She said his heart tones were fine and never dropped. My main words were, "I don't want a c-section!" so she said we could stay as long as it was safe. I had complete faith in her judgment.

I kept pushing and he was making some progress but it was slow. I tried holding the edge of the bed and squatting and also went on hands and knees. I swapped between the two. His heart rate was still doing well and then I finally felt like he was low enough that something was going to happen. I got on the bed on hands and knees and begin pushing with all my might with each contraction. I literally had sweat pouring off of me as it had started warming up outside. It is a bit fuzzy thinking back on it, but I remember feeling very primal. I finally felt some burning as if he was close to crowning. He finally burst through and Beth confirmed he was breech and that his butt/testicles had come through first. She had to reach in and pull his arms out as they were straight up. I was asked to flip over, kind of hanging off the bed on my back. I no longer had the urge to push (common with breech) but she kept saying, "You need to get him out now!!!" so I just kept pushing and pushing and pushing. Some time before this my son came in and was watching the whole thing - and wasn't scared! Baby's head finally popped out. His body was pink but arms and legs were blue. He would only take every third breath on his own. (It is common for a breech baby to need some help after a birth.) His apgar was only a 3. Beth told Marc to call 911 so EMTs would be there in case they had any problems. His heart rate was still completely normal through all of this!! He was getting oxygen through the cord so I was not worried, plus they were giving him air. I can’t describe it but I just felt like everything would be okay. The EMTs arrived in just a few minutes as they are right down the street. At this point they wanted Beth to cut the cord so they could take him to work on him. As soon as the EMT picked him up, he was angry and started screaming and breathing on his own! They stayed a while to evaluate him and all agreed he was absolutely fine. His apgar was 8 at 5 min and 10 at 10 min. The EMTs were totally cool - one of them had several home birthed cousins so she wasn't fazed by it.

I was finally able to hold the baby and really look at him! I immediately thought he looked sooo much like his brother! He was sooo cute with a lot of wavy black hair. And chubby! He had a "stork bite" right across his forehead! I thought he looked smaller than my first. Beth weighed him and he was 8lbs 6oz and 20 inches long – an ounce bigger! I tried pushing a little to see if the placenta would come out. I got up and went to the toilet to see if that would help. Finally it plopped into the toilet and I went back into the bed with my expanded family. My bleeding was completely normal at that point and not a concern. Beth checked me for tears and there was just a tiny one that would need a single stitch! Jen examined what came out in the toilet and realized it was only a very small part of the placenta. Beth had me lay back on the bed and tried to manually remove the rest. She got some but couldn't get all. At this point she said that we really needed to transport as I could hemorrhage if it didn't all get out soon. She didn't want to do anything further as I was stable at that point and she didn’t want to take unnecessary risks (she had already given me something herbal or homeopathic, not sure, and also a shot of pitocin and nothing helped). So we called 911 again to transport. We got different EMTs this time but they had already heard all about everything as this is a very small town! Beth and Jen stayed with me and my family the entire time – advocating for us with the doctors and generally providing support. I ended up having a manual removal done and was sent home after several hours.

Reflecting on my birth story, several thoughts come to mind:

--A big concern with home birth is what happens if something serious happens. I think my story is a perfect example of how complications can be managed effectively at home but also how an experienced practitioner knows when it is safe and when it is time to transfer to a hospital.

--My recovery from the birth was almost instantaneous. I was out to the grocery store within two days of his birth. I’m so glad I birthed at home and didn’t have to experience a recovery from a c-section, which most surely would have occurred in the hospital.

--Having experienced both a hospital labor and a home labor, I couldn’t imagine ever birthing in a hospital in a low-risk situation again. Just not having to worry about when to leave and not having to labor in a car made it worthwhile, never mind being able to relax in my own bed and not having to worry about the baby being given vaccinations or bottles or unnecessary procedures that we didn’t want to happen.