Chaya’s Homebirth Story, as told by Chaya:
I am sharing with you the birth of my fourth child. I had five homebirths. My oldest is 16 years old and my youngest is 20 months old.
Before I got pregnant with my fourth child I started using my current midwife who lives in my community. I was already visiting her for my regular woman’s care so I had already gotten to know her before I got pregnant this time around. I got in touch with her when I was about 9 weeks pregnant and went to visit her at the 12 week mark.
I went for my monthly prenatal visits, and did all the necessary bloodwork, the 20 week sonogram, the 28 week sugar test, later blood tests, and all of the routine prenatal testing that is recommended for pregnant women.
The prenatal visits we would take between 45 minutes to an hour.
People often ask me “What do you do at your midwife’s office for an hour? All you have to check is blood pressure, baby’s heart beat, size of baby, leave a urine sample in the bathroom. What takes that long?”
That’s where everything changes with a homebirth midwife. In addition to doing all the technical stuff, we discuss everything around the homebirth, the pregnancy, any concerns, whether it’s physical or emotional, familial, any type of planning, from prebirth to at the birth itself, and postbirth. Since this went on at prenatal visits, by the time I got to the actual birth there was a very comfortable relationship between us. We both knew what to expect from each other.
At week 36 my midwife and her assistant, who I had met twice before, came to visit me at my home. This was done so that they got to see what the drive is like and where exactly my home is. Prior to that appointment the midwife gave us a list of things to prepare in our home, so she checked that everything from the list was indeed ready.
I continued with prenatal visits, and my midwife continued to monitor me to ensure I stayed healthy and low-risk. This is because a prerequisite for homebirth is that the mom is low risk. Low risk means Mom is otherwise healthy, there’s no other health complications, and the pregnancy is progressing in a normal, healthy fashion. If there are any sugar issues or high blood pressure or other complications, that may become high risk. At that point there would be a conversation about possibly transfering to a hospital and whatever options there are.
For me, thankfully, everything moved along uneventfully. When I was 2 days past my due date, I went into labor. My three older children, at the time were between ages 7 and 3 and I chose not to have them at home for the birth. Early in the evening, when I realized this might really be happening, we put them to sleep at a family member’s home that we had planned beforehand.
I started to labor with just me and my husband at home. I called the midwife to notify her of what was going on but I told her she does not need to come over yet since it was early and I was managing well. A woman who stays home doesn’t need to worry about when to go to the hospital, if it’s too early, too late, or any of those kinds of thoughts. I am very communicative with my midwife as to where I’m at and at what point I want her in my house.
A couple of hours later, around 11:00pm, when I felt the contractions much stronger and moving closer together, I called her again and told her to come over. She came with her assistant. At that point I was laboring in the bathtub. I asked her to check where I was up to.
They listen to the baby, they check that mom is doing well, baby is doing well, then they did a vaginal check and I was open 5cm. Labor was still manageable, meaning that I was able to talk between contractions and rest between contractions, but they were becoming more intense.
A couple of hours later, I asked the midwife to check me again, and at that point I was only open 7cm. For me this was slow progress, and I was starting to get anxious. With my first three, things moved along quicker so I was starting to get nervous. “Why is this taking so long? Is everything ok?”
Baby sounded good and everything looked good, but because of my concerns the midwife decided to check vaginally to see and feel which position the baby is coming down in. She was able to feel, according to the way the head was, that the baby was coming down from a side angle, as opposed to straight down. In this case, the baby was not putting as much pressure down on the cervix with each contraction, and thereby making the labor much slower. This was something that was only picked up because we were both very in tune to the situation and into how I was feeling and how things were progressing.
At this time we discussed what we could do to help the baby shift and help labor progress. We decided that I should not labor in the bathtub anymore and I should move into an upright position, with gravity helping the baby come down. We decided to go for a brisk walk.
It was late in the middle of the night, around 3am, and I went with my husband brisk walking outside as well as inside my house, up and down the hallway, stopping every so often to breath through contractions. That helped the baby move into a better position.
A couple of hours later I felt like labor progressed a lot. I felt my body was going through transition as I was experiencing a range of emotions; More tears, more crying, more shakiness. As well as closer together contractions. I couldn’t talk or rest much between them. This told us that labor was progressing nicely.
A short while later I was starting to feel the baby coming lower, and the sensation of pushing began. My midwife did not check me again; She trusted the way I felt and that I was getting ready to push. I don’t really push my babies, I don’t go into that ‘one-two-three push’ situation. I wait to feel those strong, strong contractions, where the baby is starting to crown, and I bear down together with the contractions. I like to be in an upright position, where the gravity helps the baby be born. I was standing in my room leaning over the dresser; It was just the perfect height, coming right up to my diaphragm. I was leaning over, bending my knees a little bit and working along with the contractions.
My midwife was kneeling right behind me to catch the baby. I felt that burning sensation of the baby crowning. Since I like to feel how my baby is born, I put my hand down to feel the head come out, and with another one of those contractions the baby was born!
My midwife caught the baby and pushed it forward to me so that I could scoop it up and bring it to my chest skin-to-skin. I still didn’t see what the baby was, boy or girl. The midwife supported me under my arm. I had to take a couple of steps back to my bed, holding my baby who had started to cry. I sat down with my baby on me and then laid down to my side. At that point I picked up the baby, moved it to see what it was, and sure enough it was a boy. Our first boy after three girls! It was the most beautiful sight!
After about 15 minutes the placenta came out. My midwife then gave us our privacy so we could bond with our baby. The baby lay on my chest and started to root, looking to suck, and then he began nursing.
In that hour, the midwife and her assistant cleaned up the room, putting things into the garbage, and popped a couple of things into the washing machine. They did it so quickly, without any noise, and the room was clean and fresh.
They checked me as well in that hour to make sure the bleeding was ok and that there was no laceration (tear), which there wasn’t. After an hour they did the baby assessment, checking his weight and size.
Approximately three hours after the baby was born and everything was settled, we were doing well. Baby had fed and they helped me dress him. I showered and freshened up. My husband was with me. Everything looked nice and calm at that point. The midwives then left.
They came back at the 24 hour mark, 5 days, 2 weeks, and then we scheduled a six week postpartum visit in the office. They were available at any time if I had any question or any concern. I did have a lactation issue with this baby as he had tongue tie which needed to be fixed. Any little thing that came up they were there available for me, night or day.
Thanks to such a wonderful experience, we were so happy and calm and were able to just enjoy the pleasures of a new baby in the house. The girls came home to meet their brother and bond as a new family.