Home Water Birth

Below is the story of how my daughter was born the Sunday before last…

Dana Faye’s Birth Story

On Saturday July 13th, at 40 weeks 2 days, I started having irregular surges.  This was nothing new since I had been having them in increasing intensity for three weeks.  I also had been making frequent trips to the bathroom and had been experiencing lots of pressure, probably because this baby decided to engage into my pelvis from 36 or so weeks onward. 

I half dismissed the surges, but part of me thought this could be it being that they were not letting up.  At around 6 pm I started timing them.  They were about 3-4 minutes apart with some mild ones in between at the 2 minute mark.  They felt the most productive when I was walking or standing upright, so I kept doing that to see if the pattern was regular.  I took a shower, and then lay on my side which did slow them down a bit, but they kept coming.  So I figured this might be the start of early labor.      

I was hesitant to start calling everyone, but did want to give the midwife a heads up since I really didn’t want her to miss it.  I went fast with my daughter, and I just wasn’t sure how this one would go.  I texted her, and she agreed that 3-4 minutes was close together, even though labor was still relatively mild.  She said she’d rather come check on me since she was gearing up to drive to her home in Miami Beach which is farther from my home.

When she arrived a little after 8 pm, I asked to be checked and sure enough I was a stretchy 5 and 50% effaced.  So there was still some work to be done.  I labored for a bit before she called the assistant to come.  Then at around 10 we called the photographer and my doula to come.  It was rainy out, so I wanted to give everyone enough time to get here safely. 

Once everyone arrived they hung out in the living room, while I was in the room.  Surprisingly labor was still mild, and even started to slow down.  This was very different from my daughter’s labor, and left me wondering.   

At some point I had my doula come in to do some acupressure as we listened to Matisyahu.  This lightened the mood, and helped me to come to terms with the reality that my labor this time was going to be different.

At around midnight I approached the midwife telling her that the labor seemed to have puttered out and that maybe they should all go home.  She said that would be fine, but that she needed to assess the situation prior to leaving.  I understood, and thought there was no way I had progressed any further since I was so with it and things had been so mild.  She did her exam and I was 7 ½ with a bulging bag.  I was in disbelief.  She said that she could not leave given the fact that I was progressing the way I was.  I agreed, and decided to take it easy.  Danny and I spent some time together in the room alone listening to music while I labored for another couple hours.  I walked and tried a variety of positions to encourage more productive contractions to possibly break my water naturally, but I guess the waves were too mild at that point to make it happen. 

Then the surges seemed to completely stop.  I was still a bit unsure about this being labor, but I took comfort in the fact that my body was making great progress given the midwife’s assessment.  I figured my body was just taking a break.  Then the midwife came in and suggested we go to sleep, which we did.  When I woke up I went up to the midwife and told her I was ready to do something.  We discussed my options, and I told her I’d prefer to rupture my bag over using herbs since I knew what to expect intensity wise.  Plus, I was a bit nauseous and didn’t want to try anything that might make me more sick. 

As she was going in to prepare for breaking my waters, she found that I was almost completely effaced, but at the same dilation.  So my body was still making progress even given the fact that the surges stopped.  After it was done, I stood up and immediately started having very productive surges.  I was excited.  I went for a walk with my husband and doula at that point.  It was an interesting walk.  We ran into some diving bats which we had never seen in the near 8 years of living here and also was greeted by my neighbor at 6am in the morning.  I thought the exchange was a bit odd considering it was a Sunday, but I digress. 
I had about 5-7 very productive surges as we circled the block.  I was enjoying it, as I knew this meant I’d be meeting our baby very soon.  I even recall telling my team that the intensity made me very happy, to which they laughed and said I was funny.   

Things started to pick up at that point so I labored in my room by myself so I could focus.  Danny stayed with me the whole time and was great about comforting me through the surges by supporting me in a standing position.    

There came a point where nothing was helping, so I literally jumped in the pool that had been waiting for me all night. The water felt nice, but my body kept telling me that I needed to keep adjusting my position.  I hung over the edge for a bit facing the pool wall, I tried a sitting position, and then immersed myself in the water flipping from side to side.  Then I even started hovering over the side with my bottom above the water.  I knew I would not be able to stay in that position for the birth, but it was the only thing that was cutting it at that point, along with the deep moaning.  Danny continued to be a great source of comfort, applying damp wash cloths to my face & back, massaging me, and stroking my face/hair.  

All of a sudden my body started pushing a bit on its own.  I heard my team rush to the hall where they stood waiting.  I felt for a head, and didn’t feel anything.  This made me wonder how much longer I’d need to endure this part of labor.  Given how the rest of labor had gone, I started to feel like it may go on like this for a while.  I remember my husband trying to encourage me telling me the baby would be here soon and that I’d done this before.  I told him that this pressure & intensity was very different, and that the baby was not coming since I obviously couldn’t reach her…ha, ha!  Ah, I was definitely in transition!

My team was still in the hall, given that was what I had requested beforehand.  Once the midwife heard the desperation in my voice she came in to offer some encouragement.  I asked her to check for a head, and sure enough she said baby was right there.  There was a lip, and she wanted me to just get through one or two more to see if that would move it.  Sure enough it moved with the next one and the full on pushing urges took over my body. 

She told me that I needed to either get completely down in the water or pick a different position so the baby would not aspirate water from the pool when born.  I knew she was right, and given the baby was on the way down I decided to try flipping over, and pushing on the walls for support.  That was ticket, because with the next push I felt (and could envision) the head moving down.  Then with the next push I gave it my all and her head was out. 

The midwife looked and saw that the baby had her hand against her face, and she gently supported her elbow as I pushed her body out with the next surge.  I looked down at our baby in the water and scooped her up.  At first my husband and I thought we saw a penis, but then realized we weren’t looking low enough.  Ha!  So we moved the cord and sure enough we could see the baby was a girl.  What a moment!  

When the midwife told me about her hand it all made sense in my mind.  It was nice knowing that the irregularity of her labor and intense ending had a reason behind it.  I also understood why the midwife knew better than to leave me with a bulging bag of waters.  Our baby girl literally came 2 hours after my water was ruptured.

She was born on July 14th at 7:34am @ 8lbs 12 oz & 20 ¼ inches long.  Her head circumference was 14 ¾ inches!  Even given her size and position of her hand I had no tearing.  She nursed for over an hour on my chest before we cut the cord and did the newborn assessment.  She pooped three times and peed once, so she may have even weighed a bit more!  

 All in all, it was an incredible experience.  I feel like I accomplished my goals of tuning in and birthing in a way that honored both me and baby.  The labor was a complete wild card and totally not what I was expecting.  That said, the entire process taught me so much and will continue to do so, I’m sure.  There really is no normal when it comes to what having a baby looks like, and there is no perfect or right way to birth a baby.    

Not once did my midwife impose her definition of what labor/birth should look like on me, and she knew the exact moments when I needed her to step in.  Her presence was such a blessing as is true for the rest of my birth support team!  I’m so thankful to have been able to bring our little Cancer baby into the world both gently and safely.

*All images were captured by Three Plus Studio Photography.  Here is a post they put up with more photos – Home Water Birth – Fort Lauderdale Birth Photographer

7 thoughts on “Home Water Birth

  • July 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Loved your birth story Lorel, so excited for your family on your new little beautiful bundle of joy! Congrats! Xo

  • July 25, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Wonderful story, Lorel! I felt the same way about my midwife, which is one reason why my homebirth went so smoothly. <3

  • July 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Beautiful story, gorgeous photography, fabulous blog. Congratulations!! Have you registered either of your water babies on Waterbirth International's website – "I was born in Water"
    Would love to meet with you one day – I live in Lighthouse Point.
    All my love,
    Barbara Harper – founder Waterbirth International
    Author – Gentle Birth Choices

  • August 1, 2013 at 2:47 am

    That's lovely. Congratulations to the arrival of your healthy baby. Love the picture of baby looking at mom. Thank you so much for sharing your birth story. So many people here worry about big baby that turn out to be only a good size baby. Your story is indeed inspiring.

  • August 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Thank you, Barbara!
    I actually bought & read your book, Gentle Birth Choices, during this pregnancy. Then I learned that you are local! You then helped me with a hospital water birth I supported (just prior to this birth) along with Shelia Love. The birth story with pictures is published in my blog. 🙂
    I appreciate all the love and support! I do hope to meet you in the future.


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