After spending 34 long, painful hours giving birth to my son, Lucas, in a hospital, I wanted to take a different approach for my daughter, Natalia. The differences between my experience giving birth in a hospital and in my own home truly highlight the benefits of a home water birth for soon-to-be mothers. I’d like to share my story and offer insights to any women considering bringing their children into the world in the peace and comfort of their own homes.
It was 3:30 am and I got out of bed as my contractions, which had been few and far between till then, grew stronger. Lying in bed only made them worse, so I walked around, paced the room, and swayed my hips to help ride through the contractions. By 6:00 am, I called my midwife, as my contractions were now eight minutes apart. By 6:45 am, the contractions were four minutes apart. One hour and two showers later, the contractions were now two minutes apart. I stayed in the shower to alleviate the pain of the contractions.
My midwife, Lisa Coomer, arrived around 8:15 am with her assistant and student, and found me in the shower. Though my husband was already filling the pool for the birth, we were running out of time. I got out of the shower and my midwife checked me using the purple line method and one internal exam. The purple line method is an effective way to check dilation by looking at the anus. As the baby descends, a red/purplish line creeps up from the anus to the top of the natal cleft in between the bottom cheeks. Lisa, my midwife, found I was already 8 to 9 centimeters dilated. Her team quickly finished setting up for the birth, and I was ready to deliver my daughter.
As I transitioned into active labor, I used HypnoBirthing techniques to help me stay calm and relaxed for the delivery. The idea behind HypnoBirthing is that, because giving birth is a natural process, a woman’s body is designed to deliver her baby without medical intervention, as long as she can stay calm enough to let her body’s do its job. We had HypnoBirthing trance music playing in the background; I repeated Hypno commands to myself while deep breathing. To further soothe and relax myself, and to alleviate some of the pain, I used geranium oil on my neck and shoulders.
I delivered bent over the head of my bed with my face in the mattress while I held my husband’s hand. My midwife encouraged me to work with my body and push when my body told me to. Soon, I felt my baby’s head crown, and was determined to push her out with the next contraction. After only three pushes with contractions, Natalia was out in the world.
As soon as the baby was delivered, I held her close, skin to skin. I went to my bed and was assisted to lie with my baby. Looking into my baby’s eyes, I could not believe I was finally holding Natalia. While the placenta was still attached, the cord continued to pump blood for several minutes. Eventually it stopped, and my husband cut the cord. Shortly after, I delivered the placenta, which was placed on ice, put in the freezer, and ready to be sent off to be encapsulated. Natalia started nursing after only about 30 to 45 minutes of holding her—and it was a great latch! After about an hour, the midwife weighed and examined her. Lisa’s student, whom has some experience with tongue and lip ties, checked the baby’s mouth.
My whole birthing process with Natalia took only about 8 hours, as opposed to 34 with my son. Appreciably, my daughter was born in her own home, healthy and naturally, with no birth cap, vitamin K, or vaccines. My own body benefited from having a home water birth, too. I didn’t tear at all with Natalia, whereas I tore first degree with Lucas. And all of the labor pains I experienced with Lucas, who had been OPC, were back labor. Front labor combined with HypnoBirthing techniques made Natalia’s delivery healthier and less painful, naturally.
More and more women are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the typical hospital birth, where they are made to feel more like a patient with a severe medical condition than a mother experiencing an exciting and natural process. A midwife-assisted home birth is a safe alternative for women who want to enjoy the birthing process in an intimate, family oriented atmosphere where their wishes, privacy, and natural bodily rhythms will be respected.
Midwives who assist deliveries in homes or independent birthing centers have all the qualifications and experience of those who work in hospital settings. Midwives don’t just act as personal, private coaches to help you through your own birthing process; they are also trained medical professionals who will bring the same state of the art equipment and medications as you would find in a hospital to your home birth, to monitor your baby’s health and ensure your own health and safety before, during, and after delivery. In fact, professional midwives recognize issues that could interfere with the birthing process and implement solutions to these issues before they become major problems. They’re trained to treat life-threatening emergencies, such as placental problems, postpartum hemorrhage, and shoulder dystocia, all of which occur after the point at which a C-section would be an option.
If you are in Eastern Tennessee and looking for a reputable and trust-worthy midwife, I highly recommend Lisa Coomer. Over the last 30 years, she has delivered over 800 babies at home. She specializes in providing personal care for women and families who want natural birth. For more information, visit http://www.knoxvillehomebirth.com/. Lisa gave my husband and I the confidence we needed to birth at home and made the experience memorable.
Many women fear for their safety and the safety of their baby in the home birth setting. Yet recent research shows that for low-risk and moderate-risk mothers, home births are not only safer than hospital births for both mother and baby, but they also require less medical intervention than births in a hospital setting. The personal medical attention a woman receives from her midwife combined with the comfort and peace of being in her own home are likely reasons that home births provide a safer birthing environment than hospitals.
Perhaps a contributing factor to the increased safety of a home birth—and another of its benefits—is the sense of calm and relaxation a woman can achieve in her home environment. Essential oils like geranium and clary sage can be used to encourage relaxation and a sense of calm, while also helping to alleviate pain and cramping. My labor advanced so quickly, I did not get a chance to use clary sage as it’s also known to promote labor and induce contractions. I did not need help in that department.
At the same time, birthing techniques such as HypnoBirthing assist a birthing mother with establishing peace of mind to prepare her body for delivery. HypnoBirthing helps the mother achieve the level of calm necessary to deliver her baby without interference. Because birth is a natural process, it generally works best with as little intervention as possible. Combining Hypno techniques with the skills and abilities of a midwife allow a mother-to-be to correct any problems with a change of position, or some food or water—safe, natural solutions that are typically forbidden in hospital settings.
If you are in the Long Island, NY area and interested in HypnoBirthing, Joanne Ferdman, CCH, CPC, is a certified clinical hypnotist. I have had the pleasure to know Joanne for five years on a personal and professional level. She is passionate about helping others and dedicated to her clients. I took five classes with Joanne and found the tools and commands she gave me to be helpful during labor. For more information, visit http://www.thetahealingartsli.com/.
For women who want more care, attention, and respect than the assembly-line nature of a hospital can provide, as well as an intimate environment that protects newborn babies against infection and disease, a natural home birth provides a safe alternative for bringing a happy and healthy baby into the world.