My Snowstorm Birth Story
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After an un-planned Cesarean of my first child, and a successful homebirth after Cesarean of my second child, I was blessed to have another smooth homebirth.
Sadly, the midwife that I used for the birth of my second child closed her practice, which meant I needed to find a new provider. I knew that given the right environment, and provider, I could have another homebirth. Thankfully, there is a great parenting resource in the town where we live. On their website is a directory of midwives. I looked at a few websites of some of the midwives in my area. I decided to call one midwife to start to see whether she was accepting new clients. I was really hoping that she was available because she attended a convention held by Ina May Gaskin, a world-renown midwife. I read Ina May’s book throughout my second pregnancy. Turned out, this midwife was available!
Most midwives only take a few clients per month which enables them to really get to know their clients. Each appointment was centered around getting to know me, and my other two children (I had to bring them to most appointments), answering any questions I had, asking how I was feeling. I was grateful that I could bring my other two children because many other OB/Gyn practices were not allowing women to bring anyone else to their appointments during Covid. Each appointment lasted about an hour.
The first trimester was rather difficult. I had two other children to run after but felt horribly sick throughout most of the day. During my previous two pregnancies, the nausea subsided once I ate. I had to eat at least every 4 hours. Unfortunately, that did not help during this pregnancy. The couch was my best friend for most of the day. I was grateful when the nausea ended during the second trimester.
I prepared for my second and third births in similar ways. I began every morning (when I felt good) with quiet time. I prayed to G-d that I would have a smooth birth, did prenatal yoga, sat on a birth ball (exercise ball), drank red raspberry leaf tea, read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, and The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland, listened to birth stories, watched birth videos, and visualized my birth. I also had several visits with a chiropractor who specializes in pregnant women. I believe these steps were instrumental in helping me to have a smooth birth.
The birth stories in Ina May Gaskin’s book captivated me! I was amazed at how many women experienced joy in childbirth rather than fear. Birth is truly an exercise of the mind and body. While there are so many changes our bodies go through during birth, our mind also must be prepared. I found that having a positive attitude about birth helped me to have a positive outcome.
Four days before my “due date” we had a major snowstorm. I was grateful that my mom arrived the previous day as she wanted to be there for this birth. She also was there for my two previous births, which was very special. Both my husband and my mom were incredibly helpful throughout my labor. Around 11 a.m. I was beginning to feel contractions. They were irregular, so I continued to go about my day. I spoke with my dad and his wife for a bit on the phone. We played in the snow a bit, and then had lunch.
By 2 p.m. my contractions were coming frequently. I went into the bathtub upstairs and the warm water relaxed me. I began timing the contractions and noticed they were coming every 8 minutes. I called my midwife and doula to let them know what was going on. My doula said she thought one of her clients would call that day since the atmospheric pressure tends to cause women to go into labor.
They key to labor is to be in tune with our bodies. Trying different positions: hands-and-knees, squatting, leaning over onto a couch or our partner, using a birth ball, sitting on a chair (or toilet), side-lying, sitting semi-seated allows labor to progress, while lying on our backs can stall labor.
Due to the snowstorm, the roads were horrible. My husband called our doula and midwife around 4 p.m. to tell them to come as soon as they could because my labor was moving rather quickly. It was tough to talk at this point because the contractions were very close together. I really had to moan and breathe deeply to cope. My midwife arrived around 4:30 p.m. She checked me and I was almost fully dilated. We filled up the birth pool. I really enjoyed laboring in the water during the birth of my second child and wanted to use it again this time. There was a period where I felt like I could not do it, but I knew that meant I was close to giving birth. Typically, women feel this way during transition. Transition is the final phase of the first stage of labor. During this time a woman progresses from seven to ten centimeters which is why it is the most intense and can be the toughest part of the process. It's the final stage before pushing. This time I knew exactly how to push. Often, this part comes naturally with feeling an urge to push. Many women find that being in a hands and knees position helps them during the pushing stage because gravity is working with us. Though, it's important to find the position that works!
My daughter was born at 5:17 p.m. in the birth pool. My doula walked in about 5 minutes after she was born. What an experience! There was an instant relief from the pressure and force of pushing. It takes a bit of time to snap back into reality, and an intense surge of emotion filled me. This emotion is much stronger and instant in an unmedicated birth. I held her right away. The joy of homebirth is that there is no rush to clean up you and your baby. Also, my older children were there. After some time, my doula and midwife helped me out of the pool and then with the help of some herbs and rubbing my abdomen, I delivered the placenta.
I have heard other women say that after their birth they were exhausted and sore physically but felt strong and powerful like they could run a marathon. There are feelings of joy, accomplishment, strength, and serenity that come from having a natural, unmedicated birth. My midwife and doula stayed to make sure that I could go to the bathroom. They cleaned up the birth pool, the towels, and sheets, and started a load of laundry.
The next morning, we woke up and enjoyed our new family of five. My older children fell in love with their sister right away. I have learned so much about my births and enjoy sharing my story with anyone who would listen. I especially love talking with pregnant women in hopes of sharing a positive perspective of childbirth in contrast to the scary, negative stories we are so used to hearing.
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