This is the story of my third child. WOW, was it amazing! The exact times are a little blurry in my mind because of how quickly it all happened, but I’ll share my recollection of it.
The afternoon before my due date, my midwife came for our weekly checkup. I was honestly surprised that I was still pregnant because I had both of my other children at 39 weeks. I was uncomfortable and so ready to have this baby, as is every mom at this point. I decided to have my membranes stripped in hopes that things would get going soon. I was already 3-4 cm so we knew it wouldn’t be much longer.
At about 5pm I started having mild contractions that were anywhere from 7-10 minutes apart. We had a relaxing evening at home as a family in hopes that maybe this would be it. I really felt like it might be our last night as a family of four so I was trying to soak up every minute with my two beautiful children. After they headed off to bed I decided that we should go ahead and set up the birth tub as well so that it would be ready and all we had to do was fill it up when it was time. I let my midwife, doula, and photographer know that I contracting so that they could be ready just in case. At about 10pm my contractions slowed and eventually fizzled out. I was pretty disappointed, but I drifted off to sleep in hopes that baby would decide to join us then.
Fast forward to 1am, after a few good hours of sleep, I woke up to some cramping. I flipped over, tried to just ignore it and go back to sleep. About 5 minutes later it happened again, and again, and again. I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and continued to have them consistently every 5 minutes and they had become more intense in just a few minutes. I woke up Lawrence and told him, and luckily he reminded me to call everyone- my midwife, doula, and photographer. My doula was at another birth so I called her back up, who was also a good friend of mine. They were all on their way so I got in the shower while Lawrence and my mom got everything else ready. Contractions quickly got closer and closer together. I tried sitting on my birth ball, but that wasn’t very comfortable so I paced around and leaned on the bar in our kitchen. I was experiencing quite a bit of back pain so a heating pad and some massage were very helpful. By 2am our doula, Maria arrived followed by our midwife Krista 15 minutes later, and our photographer Erin, just a few minutes after that.
By this time my contractions were only 2-3 minutes apart. The only position that felt good was standing. Lawrence and Maria helped with counter pressure on my back and we began filling up the tub. I was also checked about this time and was 8cm and my water broke right after that. Contractions immediately became more intense. I started to sound my labor out a little more and it was much harder to relax. I knew I was in transition and that it wouldn’t be much longer.
Getting in the tub really helped me to relax, especially between contractions. I also got a little nauseous, but smelling some peppermint oil quickly took care of that. I hung out in the tub for about 30 minutes when suddenly the urge to push was uncontrollable. I have never felt the urge to push so strongly with my other two children so I was pretty surprised. My midwife checked to see where baby was and sure enough baby was just about to crown and was born in just one intense contraction. A sweet new baby was brought to my arms and we immediately feel in love. I was so surprised with how quickly everything went. The entire labor was only 3 hours and 15 minutes. Maria woke up my older children, Quinn and Raelynn, as it was 4:15am. They came out looking a little confused until they saw that I was in the tub and holding a baby. Smiles immediately spread across their faces. The kids helped me discover the gender, A BOY!! And Quinn also wanted to help cut the cord.
After getting out of the tub, we cuddled on the couch for a while and Logan easily latched on to eat. The remainder of the night went smoothly as we transitioned into bed and did the newborn exam. Logan weighed 8 lbs 14oz and was 21 inches long. He was more than a pound bigger than my other kids! I could not have asked for a better birth experience!
I have had many people over the years ask me why I've chosen to birth both of my children without intervention and without pain medication. Both of my labors were completely natural, born at a wonderful hospital with a great group of midwives that are very supportive of your wishes. My first labor was about 11 hours and my second one was about 6 hours once I was in active labor. You can read both of my birth stories here and here
So why did I choose natural birth? I have always felt that a woman's body is very strong and that we are meant to birth our babies, our bodies were simply designed to do it. I began to question and research all of the many things you hear about, like inductions, epidurals, IVs, etc. and the more I learned, the more I didn't want any of those. Any intervention during birth has side effects and can cause a need for other undesired interventions. In Birth Boot Camp we call this the cascade of interventions. I just didn't feel that any of that was necessary. My husband and I attended a great childbirth class and we prepared to have a natural birth and hired a doula. After delivering my son naturally, I felt amazing! My recovery was quick, I was very proud of myself and felt like I could do anything. I knew my body could do it!
As I've thought more about my natural births I wanted to hear from more women about why they chose to give birth naturally. I asked and received many great responses, and thought I'd share them here with you.
" I chose a natural birth because I knew deep down inside myself that I could do it and that my baby deserved the most gentle birth possible. I also hated the idea of an epidural. I had heard so many horror stories about it."
"My body was built to give birth. Plain and simple. If an emergency arises that's why we have paramedics and ambulances, but 99% of the time a woman can do it as long as she believes she can!"
"Before I had children I wanted to have a natural birth because it was safer. After I had a baby I wanted future births to be natural because the experience was amazing."
"I had never thought about having a natural birth until my husband suggested it when we were expecting our first. I was really nervous but decided to give it a shot. I was surprised how amazing my experience was. I love sharing my experience and encouraging other women to learn more about their bodies and the amazing things they can do."
"I chose a homebirth because I wanted as low intervention as possible. My decisions weren't being taken seriously or respected by my doctor so I decided to birth at home instead. Now I chose it again because it was beautiful and peaceful. There was nothing like feeling so comfortable and at home during and after birth."
" I chose a natural birth because it has less risks to me and my baby and my baby's health comes first. And I was able to do this because I knew that my body was creating my labor and I am as strong as my body so I could do it. Also I loved that I was in control of my body and could listen to what it needed me to do."
"Because a day or so of pain is worth the benefits to my and my baby's health."
" I am choosing a natural birth because there's nothing in the world that compares to the joy you feel when you have baby in your arms and realize what you've just done. That birth "high" is the best feeling ever. I give birth naturally to find myself, discover how amazing my body can be, and love myself, my baby, and my husband more than I thought possible. Also, having done an epidural, I choose natural because the recovery is SO much easier."
"My mom had all 4 of her children naturally at a birth center with midwives. I grew up learning that this was normal for birth. I began researching and knew my body was capable of birthing my baby naturally without intervention. I had an amazing hospital birth with a midwife, no interventions and an easy recovery. Medication and intervention sounded a lot scarier to me than the "pain" of labor. Although I am grateful for modern medicine when it is TRULY necessary! I'm so glad I trusted my instincts and body and birthed my baby perfectly and peacefully."
"I feel like women have so many amazing talents, and our bodies were designed to carry and birth beautiful new babies. To me the a natural birth is the most natural of things, like the definition of natural!"
"I chose a natural birth because I believed that my body knew what to do and the risks of interventions in a natural process were unnecessary. While I know that sometimes birth doesn't work right, I wanted to give my body a chance first. In the end, it was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. I never realized just how POWERFUL women are. I'm so glad for that knowledge. So, I chose a natural birth because I believed in my body and wanted to give it a chance to work."
"The first time was because I was scared of the side effects of everything they try to give you at the hospital. The second time because I knew my body could do it without any interventions. The third time I wanted to feel empowered, and I was!"
"When I was going up my mom talked about her natural births like they were normal, wonderful experiences. When it was my turn I never had any doubt that I could do it or fear of the pain. I knew it was going to be hard work but I never considered it anything but part of the natural process."
"The first time was because I was scared of the side effects of everything they try to give you at the hospital. The second time because I knew my body could do it without any interventions. The third time I wanted to feel empowered, and I was!"
"It's the way God designed it, and if He has enough confidence that I can do it that way then I need to believe I can, too."
"I chose a home birth to prevent any interventions and give myself and my baby the birth we deserve and we're capable of. I wanted to experience my birth. I wanted it to be the way it should be and was meant to be. I never wanted anything less for my baby, as well as myself. I honestly never saw another option. Never wanted it any other way."
"I wanted to see what my body could do. In short, I believe my body was created to work right. I'm the mom of a c-sec baby, 2 hospital VBAC babies, and a carBAC baby (born on
the way to the birth center)."
"Because my mom and both grandmothers did, so I always heard stories about that is how birth is."
2014 was an amazing year for me as a Birth Boot Camp Instructor and Doula. It was my busiest year with the most births attended per year so far. I had so much fun putting this video together and what a joy it was to look back on the couples I worked with. Enjoy my year in review video!
This testimonial comes from a past client and now good friend. Every couple I work with is very special to me and I am honored when I receive these special notes.....
"Hollie was not only a great Birth Boot Camp instructor but also an amazing doula! From very early on I could tell Hollie was meant to be our doula. She always made us feel so welcome, never so much as smirked at our silly questions and was a wealth of knowledge on all things birth! When we decided to have a natural hospital birth Hollie was right on board with our plan. She stuck it out with me the entire 22 hours (and then some) and along with my husband we made the best team! I was so grateful for not only her vast knowledge of child birth, but also all the 'birth bag' she brought along with her. It was full of essential oils, heating packs and snacks! Hollie is knowledgable, supportive, comforting and most importantly a good friend." - Emily
"My wife and I loved having Hollie as our doula! She came super prepared with all of the little things that needed and she a real wealth of knowledge. Having Hollie at out birth freed me up to really just be in the moment with my wife and new daughter!" - Keith
So you've had a cesarean and now maybe you're pregnant and thinking about having a VBAC, a vaginal birth after cesarean. Or maybe you're not pregnant and you're just in the planning stages. Here is a list of things to start thinking about. (In no particular order)
1. Be sure that you choose a care provider that is truely supportive of VBAC. Talk to your care provider and ask lots of questions. If your care provider does not support you, find another one.
2. Choose a birth place that is VBAC supportive and has a high percentage of VBAC success. Talk to them about their policies surrounding VBAC's.
3. Find a local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) chapter in your area. They have support meetings and the leaders and members can be a great resource in knowing what providers in your area support VBAC moms.
4. Attend a comprehensive birth class like Birth Boot Camp.
5. Hire a doula.
6. Do your research and know the facts! Here are a few links with great information about VBAC's. Each of these links have lots of information and even more links in them.
I hope you've heard about Birth Boot Camp by now! If not, here's a quick 5-minute video you will want to watch to learn more about what to expect in class. In my opinion, I really think that taking a live class with other couples is best, but the great thing about Birth Boot Camp is that when needed, a couple can view all 10 classes online.
I absolutely love teaching! It is the best job ever! I look forward to it ever Friday night. If you're interested in taking a class you can check out my schedule here and contact me to register.
Most everyone has heard of the Baby Wise books, right? I’ve recently had many people ask for my opinion about these books so I thought I’d share my thoughts here.
I had multiple friends recommend the book to me when I was pregnant with my first child. They all raved about it. Their babies were on schedules and eating and sleeping when they wanted them too, so I bought the book and made sure I had read it before my son was born.
At just a few days old we began to implement what we had learned from Baby Wise. I began to schedule his feedings every 2 ½ - 3 hours and began to lay him down to fall asleep on his own. This very quickly began to cause problems! I know that some won’t have problems until their babies are older, but we started having problems right away. My son did not gain weight and my very young milk supply never got to where it should be. To make a very long story short I was unable to exclusively breastfeed him despite the many, many, MANY things I tried to increase my supply. I totally sabotaged myself those first few days and I had no idea. He was supplemented with formula for 9 months, then after that I just couldn’t do both anymore. Not only was breastfeeding a struggle, but nap times and bed times were stressful.
After his birth and my desire to become a doula, I learned more about Baby Wise and the problems it caused and realized that it was probably the main culprit for us. I know that there were some other things that played a role in our struggles, but I think that this was definitely a key part of it.
It wasn’t until he was about 18 months old when I learned that the American Academy of Pediatrics actually warns against the ideas presented in Baby Wise? Many pediatricians as well as lactation consultants and other health professionals have spoken out about it as well. It was been linked to cases of Failure to Thrive, dehydration, low milk supply, low weight gain, and early weaning.
Fast forward about 2 years…I was expecting my second child and I was reading and researching and studying. I was determined to exclusively breastfeed my daughter and practice more of an attachment style of parenting. I learned more about normal newborn breastfeeding behavior and infant sleep and what I was reading was more in line with my feelings as a mother and how I wanted to parent my children.
It took some work, but I was able to exclusively breastfeed my daughter! She is now 19 months and still nursing. She’s starting to wean a little bit, but my goal is to make to 2 years. I think the keep points that led to our success was on-demand feeding, babywearing, and having her sleep in our room with us. She was in a bassinet right next to me until she was 6 months old.
So, what do I recommend? Read books like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, The Baby Book, and The Attachment Parenting Book and just follow your mommy intuition.
I've recently had many people ask about the births of my two children. It's been a while since I have shared their stories with anyone so I thought I'd share them here.
Quinn's birth started with a splash. I was 39 weeks exactly. My water broke and splashed all over my bed at about 6am. Talk about a wake up call! We cleaned up the mess and called the midwife. Because the amniotic fluid was clear and no contractions had started just yet we were in the clear to stay at home and enjoy the morning. We also called our doula just so that she knew that we were likely going to be having a baby that day. Light contractions started shortly after at about 6:30. They were light and only felt like bad menstrual cramps. We enjoyed the morning together thinking about how our lives were about to change and we went out to the grocery store to get some labor snacks and to walk around some.
Contractions slowly got more intense and more frequent through out the morning. We went into our midwives office at 9am to talk with her and see how dilated I was. She could see that I was handling things well and let us go home for a while longer. She did call the hospital to let them know that we would likely head up there in the afternoon.
At this point in time our doula came over to check on us and chat. Because things weren't too intense at this point she headed home to feed her kids and was just a phone call away. I spent a lot of time on the birth ball and I was in and out of the shower. We also decided to make a birthday cake to enjoy after coming home from the hospital. The morning continued slowly. I remember sitting on my birth ball in the shower and having one really long, painful contractions. We called my doula and she came back over to be with me. As contractions started to get more intense I started to have what they call leg labor. This was the absolute worst part. I could labor all day long if I didn't have the leg labor. Everyone has heard of back labor, but I had never heard of leg labor. During each contraction my thighs would burn as if I had just run a marathon. They hurt!
For a few more hours I labored at home. I was most comfortable sitting on the ball with Lawrence in front of me to lean on during contractions and my doula behind me rubbing my back. At about 2pm I decided that I was ready to head to the hospital. Contractions were about 2 minutes apart and were lasting about a minute. We still have the paper that Lawrence used to time my contractions. I was dreading the car ride, all though knowing that it was just a few minutes drive made the thought more bearable.
Upon arrival we learned that I was 7cm dilated and 100% effaced. My midwife knew that I didn't have long. They immediately filled up the jacuzzi tub and I spent the next hour relaxing in there. The warm water felt so good and made the contractions much more tolerable. I was able to relax enough in the tub that I was able to really relax and rest between contractions. I know that this helped me a ton! I still had the leg labor and my doula did some awesome massage to help with that. After being in the tub for quite some time I began feeling the urge to push. Because of hospital policy I had to get out. This was probably the worst part. When I got out and started walking I felt my son drop quite a bit. Ouch! I had to take a minute standing up to get through the next contractions and then quickly made my way back to our room.
My midwife checked me just to be sure I was complete , which I was. I was allowed to push in any position that I wanted to. I tried being on my hands and knees, but my legs were just too exhausted from the leg labor. I decided to try laying on my side and it worked out great. I was able to rest between contractions and not use my legs much. My husband had the wonderful job of holding up my leg so he got to do all of the hard work. He really did get quite a work out while I was pushing. I didn't noticed this at the time because my attention was else where, but he had to change quickly because he had gotten wet while leaning in the side of the jacuzzi to support me, and he didn't have time to put any shoes back on so he was in socks on a slick floor trying to hold up my leg and brace himself. I was also using his other arm to pull on to give me some leverage. While he wasn't the one giving birth he was pretty sore afterwards. We laugh about it now.
I pushed for about 45 minutes before our beautiful son was born. I remember my midwife telling me that he could be out during the next contraction so I made sure that he was. I pushed as hard as I could and he was born. Knowing what I know now, I wish I would have taken it slow so I wouldn't have torn so badly, but now I know better. Quinn was absolutely perfect and my immediate postpartum went smoothly except having to call the OB to come help with stitches, but it wasn't a big deal to me.
I love to think back about his birth. It couldn't have gone much better. Labor progressed pretty textbook and everything went so well. I was able to avoid just about all unnecessary interventions and I was ecstatic. I couldn't believe I had done it! His birth is also what got me started studying pregnancy and birth in depth and began me down the road of becoming a birth professional.
The birth of my second child, my first daughter was a very beautiful one and I’m excited to share it with everyone. It was very unique and different from my first son's birth and it holds a special place in my heart.
Her story starts early. I had Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks before her birth, we also had concerns with her turning. She was in the breech position until I was 36 weeks. I know babies can still turn after that, but my midwives were going to schedule an ECV if she hadn’t flipped by 36 weeks, but luckily she did it on her own.
The week before she was born, I could feel my body getting ready for her birth with more contractions each day. They weren’t very painful, but definitely annoying. Sunday, Nov. 27th I was 38 wks 5 days along. We went about our day as usual. At church that afternoon I was having some pretty consistent contractions. I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to get excited if it wasn’t the real thing. They continued through the evening, but died off when we went to bed.
On Monday, the 28th I had an appointment with my midwife. I was already 3- 4 cm dilated, but knew that this didn’t really mean much. I could stay that way for 2 more weeks. With my first I was 2 cm dilated for 4 weeks.
Tuesday/ Wednesday, my 39 week mark brought an eventful evening. That night at around 11pm I decided I wanted to take a nice hot bath after working all day to finish plans for the substitute during my maternity leave. I was pretty tired and wanted to relax. While in the tub I started having contractions about 3 minutes apart and these were hurting more than Braxton Hicks. I had contractions like this for about 2 hrs (it’s now 1am) and decided to call my doula- one of my closest friends, and my midwife. The midwife wanted me to head to the hospital because I was already 3-4 cm and they anticipated a quick labor with this being my 2nd child. We only live about a block away from the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital and did all of the normal admittance stuff. They monitored me for 20min and said, “Yep, looks like you’re in labor.” I was very excited! Contractions at that point were about 5 minutes apart and starting to hurt a little more. I was about 4-5 cm now. Yay! We were making progress. I was already half way there. I decided to walk around the hospital hoping to make contractions more consistent and stronger. Hospitals are quiet at 2am. Then we tried the birth ball,and then the Jacuzzi tub. The contractions weren’t very painful yet, just more uncomfortable. When I got into the Jacuzzi it was about 5am I think. I was getting very tired and even starting falling asleep. At that point I felt the contractions lessen and spread out. My body was just too exhausted. We went back to our room and I really wanted to rest. I actually fell asleep and my contractions pretty much stopped. My body knew that I was just too tired. Instead of trying to do anything to start contractions again, we decided to go home and sleep. We got home around 7am. My husband had to be to work in a few hours so he slept as much as he could. I napped on and off on the couch while my son played and watched his favorite show on Netflix.
Wednesday and Thursday passed. I spent those days resting. Friday morning arrived and we knew we were going to have a baby when my water broke around 7:30am, waking me up. I became very excited. I was going to get to see my little girl. I was also glad that the same midwife that attended my first birth would be there for this one. I was secretly holding out knowing that she was on call for the weekend. She’s my favorite midwife out of the 3 that I see. We went about our normal morning routine because contractions hadn’t started yet. It actually took a few hours to get them started.
Our son seemed a little apprehensive. He could sense that his life was about to change. We had been preparing him for a while and he was excited for his sister to arrive, but when we told him that she was coming today, he told me he didn’t want a sister. We decided to try and get him excited about it so we took him to Wal-Mart and let him pick out a toy to give to his new sister. He was excited about this. We walked around Wal-Mart for a little while- knowing that walking helps with contractions a lot. I had a few while at the store, but nothing I couldn’t handle. After walking around Wal-Mart we decided it might be a good idea to head to the sitters. I wanted to be able to focus and relax and I couldn't do that much with the munchkin around. He was excited to stay and play with friends and was totally fine once he saw their huge Love Sac to play on.
After dropping him off we decided to call the midwife and see if we could go into the office and she could check me there instead of having to go to the hospital. It’s much cheaper and easier than going to the hospital. They told me just to go in and they’d fit me in. I was 5 cm. She stretched my cervix a little to try and get some contractions going.
We left the midwives office ready to do more walking. We walked around just about every large store in this small town for about 3 hours. It did help me gather some ideas for Christmas gifts though. Walking really helped the contractions get going. We went to Great Harvest for lunch and after eating they were really starting to hurt more. I was having to breathe and concentrate more. At this point I decided it was time to head to the hospital. I let my doula know and she met us there.A nurse at the hospital even called me to find out where I was. They were trying to figure out staffing. They weren't very happy when I told them that I was out to lunch with my husband and I would be in when contractions became more regular and more intense. I kind of chuckled to myself.
We arrived at the hospital and got checked in around 4pm. I was ready to have this baby, but I knew I still had some work ahead of me. At this point I was 6-7 cm. Contractions were coming. They weren’t too consistent, but they were getting stronger. I used the birth ball a lot. That’s what felt good to me. With this labor my back was hurting a lot. My midwife recommended heat and luckily we had brought my rice sock. The heat did wonders for me. My husband, my doula, or midwife constantly held heat on my back. It made my contractions a lot easier to handle. Through the afternoon/evening I changed positions every once in a while moving from the birth ball to sitting on the bed, to laying down, to sitting again. In my mind I was hoping to have her around 8pm. To me that sounded like a good time. 8pm came and went. I wasn’t too disappointed because I knew I was getting close. Contractions were close and I had to breathe and concentrate hard to get through each contraction. I think it was at about 8:15pm when I started to feel the urge to push.
The hustle and bustle began as the midwife and nurses prepared. I was allowed to push when I was ready and as my body directed me to. That’s what I love about natural, intervention-free births; I am able to listen to my body. For both births now, I’ve pushed laying on my side. To me, that is what is most comfortable. When I started to push, it was more of my body doing the work. I kind of felt like I had forgotten how, but it took about 2 contractions to figure it out again. As her head got lower and lower I wanted to push as hard as I could to get her out as quickly as possible, but my midwife knew that I wanted to do everything possible to avoid tearing. As her head started to crown and come out, my midwife had me stop pushing and breathe to allow her head to slowly come out. This would allow my body the chance to stretch more instead of tear. I think this was the hardest part of the whole thing. At 8:36 I became a mother of 2 and our beautiful daughter was born!
She was immediately placed on my chest where she cried a little, but was actually very calm. We enjoyed our time cuddling and getting to know each other. We could tell immediately that she had red hair. The nurses did all of the tests/checking while she was on my chest. It didn’t take long for her to want to nurse. She latched on pretty easily and we enjoyed that first breastfeeding together.
I only needed a few stitches and after that was done we were left to enjoy our time together; mom, dad, and baby. We are now enjoying life as a family of 4.
Wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. A passionate birth doula and childbirth educator.