Today's beautiful belly picture comes from BFF Dani! Stunning Dani!!
Thank you for sharing ☺
Today's Friend of the Show is Toni Creates Art.
Today's featured birth story is a beautiful *NATURAL* home birth:
Finding out I was pregnant with our third child was a little surprising! I was still nursing our second son, then 20 months old, and had just come back from vacation. I had been charting my fertility signs for a few years and knew there was a chance we had conceived, but fully expected the pregnancy test to be negative. It was positive! So much for travel delaying ovulation!
Our first two children were delivered at the hospital using the Bradley method, so the idea of unmedicated childbirth was something I strongly believed in. We didn't have insurance this time and decided to use a midwife. We looked into home birth and birthing centers. I called almost every midwife in the yellow pages and set up interviews with several of them. I was leaning toward a birthing center, but after visiting the most popular one in our area, I realized I really wanted a home birth. I had chosen a midwife, Michele, and I made my first prenatal appointment the next day.
During the course of the pregnancy, I was so in awe of the care I was receiving. I knew Michele truly cared about the baby and me! It was nothing like seeing an obstetrician; she scheduled an hour for each appointment and encouraged my questions. I felt as though she was a friend, and I never felt like a "patient". I think the most wonderful thing was that Michele was very supportive of nursing throughout pregnancy. I definitely was not ready to wean and neither was my son.
The pregnancy was very routine. I took different vitamins, minerals, and herbs as Michele recommended. I had some very rotten varicosities on both legs and my labia. I was told to take extra vitamin E and white oak bark. I was surprised to find the varicosities never hurt, although they had been very painful with my second pregnancy. I worked the whole time, and other than the usual pregnancy fatigue, I felt wonderful. My milk supply began to decrease around the third or fourth month, and I no longer felt the letdown at all. My nipples remained sore the entire time, but I continued to nurse my son.
We had been planning a big "birth-day" party with friends and family. There would be lots of food, drink, and cake. My husband and my best friend would be my main support through the labor and birth. We invited several friends, as well as our parents, brothers, sisters, and other family members. I read lots of birthing books and really wanted to be active throughout the labor. I talked with my oldest son about what to expect, since he would be watching. We discussed ways he could help me and what to do if it became too intense for his comfort. I had my birth kit ready. Sometimes I felt almost too prepared!
At 37 weeks I had Michele check my cervix and she found me to be about l/2cm dilated and about 50% effaced, about what we expected. The last four visits were home visits. My "due date" (July 10) came, and I was feeling some contractions. It was a Saturday, so we decided to go for a long walk with the kids. My contractions really picked up when we were walking and were pretty strong at times. We came back home and my labor seemed to stop, so later that afternoon my oldest son (5 l/2yrs) and I went for another walk. I had more contractions. My son told me to "walk through it Mommy" and "you're doing great!" Later, at home, things seemed to slow down. I began feeling really crummy that night, almost as if I were coming down with the flu. I had evidently stirred up lots of hormones and felt really awful. I was awake most of the night with contractions and just feeling terrible. I was sure labor was beginning.
The next day I was exhausted, and my contractions had stopped. I worked around the house and later went for a walk around the high school track. My contractions started up again but would slow down dramatically when I stopped. I decided not to go for another walk that night, but to rest, since I was hoping labor was beginning. The next morning my contractions did not start up, so I worked around the house and stayed on my feet to try to get things going. Nothing worked this time. By Tuesday morning I felt great again (not a single contraction) and I resigned myself to letting things move at their own pace. I told my husband to go to work; I was certain labor would not happen that day.
My mom came to the house and we decided to go downtown to eat and visit a few shops. We walked into a card shop, about 11:00 a.m., and I had my first real contraction. I just ignored it assuming that it was hunger. I had several more contractions in the store. We then went to the restaurant. We ordered our food, and by the time it arrived, I realized I was in real labor. I tried to eat but had to stop when I felt a contraction. Finally, I told my mom we should get "to-go" boxes and head for the house. By now it was about noon.
Since this was our third child, we figured I would progress pretty rapidly. I decided to get into the tub, hoping to slow things down until the midwives (Michele and her apprentices) could get there. With my previous two labors, I never felt a contraction until I was about 4cm and completely effaced, so I figured I was close to that. I called Michele, then my husband to tell him to come home. I then called my friend. I quickly set up my birth altar, which included newborn pictures of our two boys, a moonstone necklace that was a "birth-day" present from my mom, a small statue of the Egyptian goddess Bastet, a crystal given to me by my mom, incense in a holder, and a statue of a kitty I had made at the "Birthing From Within" seminar I took months before.
The midwife apprentices arrived shortly after my friend. I got out of the tub and asked for an exam, which showed me to be at 2cm and about 75% effaced. I had expected to be further along than that. The baby was at -3 station, so I had a long way to go, and technically, I guess I wasn't even in "real" labor. It sure felt real! I was quite surprised to be feeling anything so early on. The boys were really excited, especially our oldest, since he would be taking part. I decided to try to nap a little. Michele arrived at about 3:20 p.m. My back had begun to hurt with each contraction. She applied gentle counter pressure to my back, which felt great. I was up and about, rocking in the living room and chatting with everyone. I felt wonderful. About 4:00 p.m. I was given a shot of antibiotic because the group B strep test was positive. I think it hurt far worse than the contractions, but was infinitely better than the continuous IV of antibiotic I had with my second labor.
My husband and I went for a walk, hoping to help the baby move down a bit and apply more pressure to the cervix. We were gone for only about 30 minutes. My mom was busy preparing the "birth-day" feast and the food smelled so good! I ate bites of toast, cantaloupe, watermelon, and drank Recharge to keep up my strength. By about 7:15 p.m., I was only at 3cm and still 75% effaced. I decided to let my youngest son nurse, hoping that would kick labor into gear. It didn't. Nipple stimulation didn't do anything during my second labor, either. I walked around the house, sat in the rocking chair, and spent a good while on the birthing stool. I talked with everyone in between contractions, and basically tried to stay upright as much as possible. It seemed that my contractions really picked up when I was lying on my side, so I tried to take a nap, still expecting labor to start taking off any minute.
Sometime around 9:00 p.m. I decided to go for another walk. It was dark. I squatted with each contraction. By this time I was moaning a little with each one. I was feeling a bit tired, but still energized by the fact that our baby would soon be here. I tried to nap again after we came back but had very little luck with that. My contractions had definitely picked up a bit, and lying on my side made them pretty strong.
At about 1:00 a.m., I was about 4cm, but the baby was still at -3 station, so I spent quite a bit of time on the birthing stool or in a supported squat to help bring the baby down. I walked around the house and ate and drank to keep up my strength. It was so quiet and peaceful in the house, so relaxing, definitely the antithesis of my hospital births. There were no monitors, nurses or shift changes. It all felt so wonderful. By 3:00 a.m. I had settled into a labor pattern and was moaning quite loudly with each contraction. The vocalization really helped me relax. The contractions were much stronger and closer together by now, and at about 3:45 a.m., Michele woke up and we decided to do another exam. I was about 6cm and 80% effaced and baby was at -1 station! I felt much better about my progress. My bag of waters was bulging through the cervix with each contraction, so the baby still had some cushioning. My contractions were about 2.5 to 3 minutes apart and getting stronger, so I sat on the birthing stool again.
As a contraction was beginning to fade and my moaning quieted down, my friend said she felt a little funny, as though she were going to faint (she was a couple months pregnant at the time.) Suddenly she just passed out and began to fall backwards. I turned around on the stool just as she began to go back and caught her hands. Michele rushed over, took her head and put it down between her knees. She was entirely limp. She quickly came to, but looked quite pale and weak. She said hearing me moan and just the intensity of the moment had sort of unconsciously taken her back to her previous labor which had been incredibly intense for her.
After that, I got back in the tub and just let my body sink deep into the water with each contraction and moaned. The water felt so wonderful, and my back was not hurting anymore. I felt great in between contractions. Michele listened to the baby's heart tones during a contraction while I was in the tub. Everything sounded great.
At about 4:00 a.m. my contractions really picked up. They were very intense, but my waters were still intact. I asked for another exam, and it showed me to be about 8.5cm with a very bulging bag of waters. The baby's head was not applied to the cervix, so I had a little anterior lip. We talked about breaking my water and the fact that I would need another shot of antibiotic soon. Both seemed none too pleasant. Michele suggested I give a very slight push with the next contraction, and when I did, my waters broke and the head was fully applied to my cervix. I began to feel a slight urge to push with each contraction, but it would fade as the contraction faded. I still had a lip on my cervix that needed to go away. Sitting on the stool became all at once completely overwhelming, and I decided to lie down on the bed. When I did, the contractions were incredibly strong. We decided we should wake up our son. He came in and lay down beside me, half dozing.
I had about two contractions while I lay there, each time with a stronger urge to push that faded away with the end of the contraction. In the middle of the third one, I felt an incredible "pop." I then had a sudden, intense urge to push. With my last two labors, the pushing part felt wonderful, not at all painful. This time was very different. It felt exquisitely painful and engulfing. I quickly sat up and said, "I need to push!" My son jumped up and grabbed his camera and began taking pictures. It was 5:20 a.m. now, and after a few pushes, it began to feel better. I could feel the baby move under the pubic bone. The baby crowned while the assistants were supporting my perineum and using warm olive oil to help it stretch. My husband was helping support me. With another couple of pushes, the baby's head was born, and I reached down to touch. Then the baby opened its eyes and looked around briefly.
My contractions had stopped completely and it felt great, but the baby was just there with only the head out, so they rubbed my belly to stir up another contraction. My husband gently pushed the baby's head down and then up. The baby slid quietly into his hands as tears welled in his eyes. It was 5:42 a.m. on the morning of July 14 and our baby was born! My husband brought the baby up to my belly, and Michele asked him what the baby was. He said he thought it was a boy. He lifted the leg and with a very excited and slightly shaky voice said, "It's a GIRL!"
Our son said, "YEAH!" A few minutes later the placenta came with another contraction and the birth was complete. Our little girl lay there on my tummy contentedly nursing, wrapped up in the same warm blanket that had swaddled me as a baby. She was beautiful. After a little while her cord was cut. Michele did the newborn exam while I had three stitches to repair the very superficial vaginal tear (it tore just along my old episiotomy scar). I sat in the bed with our little girl while our family and friends sat with us. It was so incredible to be at home, holding our new baby, and surrounded by people who love us! Earlier that day our oldest son had said, "This is a good day because our baby is coming out." It was a good day indeed.