Rebecca Wolf

This blog is a chronicle of my daughters' growth - born July 2003 and May 2007. Be sure to check out the Thriving Babies homepage, for videos and instructions on how to use every type of baby carrier. For literacy and homeschooling tips, visit my Rochester-based Learning Center blog at

Monday, August 20, 2007

Water Birth Story

I know many of you are interested in water births. Here is my story of how our second daughter was born and everything went so smoothly. A water birth really worked well for us! If you want to see pictures of our newest addition, go to:

Ostara's Birth Story
Saturday, May 19, 2007

I’ve been having prodromal labor since yesterday (Friday). I called my midwife, Meg, on Friday and told her the baby should be coming any day now. The Braxton-Hicks pushed us into preparations – the birth pool is set up and ready to go. The birthing supplies are next to the pool. Andrew put a small lamp in the room, so we don’t have to use the overhead light. I have been trying to finish the Birthing from Within book that Andrea let me borrow. I am nervous that I have emotional issues that might have made my birth with Arianna difficult and I don’t want to repeat that. I haven’t had time to finish the book, let alone do the activities, but it has definitely given me food for thought.

Because I had a blood clot during my first pregnancy, I never would have dreamed of doing a homebirth. In fact, I didn’t even know it was an option. I did well in the hospital when everyone left me alone with my hypnobirthing tapes, but as soon as they realized I was fully dilated, (What? We didn’t hear any noise so we didn’t think anything was happening!) they panicked, and so did I. This time, I have a team of midwives who are comfortable with letting things progress naturally and will only intervene if absolutely necessary. I don’t want to have another c-section. I think I can do this the way it was meant to be done.

After talking with Andrew tonight I realize that I don’t have to read the whole book, do all of the exercises in it, or see a shrink to be ready to birth this child. I tried so hard to prepare for Arianna’s birth by writing a birth plan and visualizing exactly how I wanted it to go and everything went wrong. I am ready now because I am letting go of my expectations and control. This baby will be born when it is ready and there’s not much I can do about it except sit back and let it happen by staying out of my body’s way. Good. Now that that’s settled I can get some rest.

I sleep for a few hours and then awake to some serious contractions around 12:30. Not wanting to disturb Andrew with a false alarm, I breathe through the contractions while lying in bed with the lights out. I try to get some sleep in between them, drifting in and out of wakefulness. At 2:30 I tell Andrew that the contractions are about 10 minutes apart and pretty strong. No false alarms here. I need his help to get through them because I am starting to tense up and I pulled a muscle in my neck from hanging onto the bedpost. Arianna is still sound asleep.

He puts on my Hypnobirthing tape to help me relax again. I am experiencing back labor, as usual, so Andrew sits on the birth ball next to the bed and rubs my back during the contractions while I lay on my side. I am so glad he is there. My lower back feels so much better when he puts pressure on it. Sometimes he doesn’t do it right because it is different every time and I have to tell him what to do to ease the intensity. “Rub here, put pressure there, harder, no that’s too hard.” I feel like a drill sargeant. Luckily, he is a good listener and it works like a charm. My hypnobirthing tape has succeeded in helping me relax and Andrew is giving me more relief than any epidural ever did. The important thing is I am still in touch with my body.

I think about the birthing video I watched yesterday. It’s called Birth Day. It was only ten minutes long, but it really helped me to SEE a midwife going through labor herself. During the video, she comments to her husband that when she sees his face, the contractions don’t hurt but feel like “love bursting out”. So, instead of thinking about pain, I think about my uterine muscles pulling back to let love burst out. I laugh to myself because it is so corny, but it works. I guess it all depends on how your brain interprets the sensations.

One hour later, the contractions are about 5 minutes apart, so Andrew calls our midwife, Meg. She asks to talk to me, and I have a hard time talking because I am in that other place that women go when giving birth. Sure sign of serious labor when you can’t hold a conversation! She says she’ll call Sarah, who is a little closer to my house, and she’ll get there as soon as she can.

Sarah arrives around 4:30. I am still in bed with back labor. She checks the baby’s heart and says everything is fine. I feel like I needed to go to the bathroom, so Andrew helps me get up. I am going through transition; I’m almost fully dilated now. My belly is moving up and down of its own volition. When I sit up, it causes another contraction and I pee a little on the edge of the bed. I had made myself some flannel underwear pads and am thankful to be wearing one. I hold onto Andrew’s neck and he walks backward – supporting me while I stumble my way into the bathroom. I am amazed at how difficult it is to move. The baby’s head must be engaged.

It feels good to relieve myself. I want to get into the birthing tub so I don’t bother putting my wet underwear on again. Andrew helps me up and escorts me into the birthing room. A few feet from the birthing pool (the brand name is the Aqua Doula) I stop and say, “I think I have to go to the bathroom again.” I hear Meg and Christina walk in downstairs and then I am standing in a huge puddle of water. I guess there was a loud pop, but I didn’t hear it.

Meg comes upstairs and says, “It looks like your waters just broke. Is the plan to have the baby in the tub?” We nod and she helps me fling my rubbery legs over the side of the tub. Andrew removes my nightdress and I sink into the hot water. A moment of panic ensues when I realize that I don’t know how to comfortably sit in the tub. There’s no chair and no railing to hang onto. I ask Andrew to support me again. He sits on the birth ball outside of the tub while I kneel and wrap my hands around his neck. I feel badly because he is supporting so much of my weight, but I am comfortable, so I let it be. It’s around 5 a.m.

The warm water and the low lights are so relaxing. My husband is with me and my midwives are at the ready. My 3 year old daughter is still quietly sleeping in our bedroom but wants to be woken up when the baby is born. My next contraction is wild and I emit this low, primal growl. It is very different from what the others felt like when I was just dilating. I never got this far before. Meg asks me if I am feeling the urge to push and I nod because I am just pushing automatically. I can’t stop. I can’t think. I just ride the waves. Every time I groan and push, my midwives say, “Good, Rebecca.” It is so comforting and affirming. I am so thankful that everything is going well. Not too fast, but not so slow that I’ll tire myself out.

I push every few minutes for about one hour and then I stop. My back is cold and someone puts a towel over my shoulders. Meg is wondering if my cervical lip is getting in the way and she asks me to get out of the tub so she can examine me. I want to cry. I don’t want to get out of the tub. It is taking all of my effort just to kneel here and push. I know everything is fine. But I can’t say that. I just whisper, “No!”to my husband. Meg says she’ll give me a few more minutes and then she wants to examine me. I reach down to see if I can feel what’s going on. My labia are protruding and I can feel the baby is right underneath, just waiting to be born. I whisper to Andrew, “My body is so. . . strange.” He doesn’t understand what I mean, but I am happy. The baby is almost here; I can feel it. “I can do this!” I think to myself. A few more contractions and Sarah says she can see the baby’s head. Andrew asks someone to press the video button on our camera and to wake up Arianna. He says the hardest part is over now.

Sarah is trying to instruct me. She says to take little breaths and don’t push hard. I ask her to repeat the directions again but I still don’t understand. Arianna is jabbering on and on about the kitty that’s about to be born. I feel a strange burning outside of my vagina. With the next contraction, the baby just pops right out. I guess that’s the biggest danger of a water birth – things happen very quickly. Meg comments on the baby’s beautiful rosy pink skin color. She is just glowing and radiating with the blood of life.

6:08 a.m. I turn around so I can hold my baby. Someone puts a chair in the tub so I can sit down because my legs are so weak. She is a girl, but I somehow already knew that. I feel so peaceful. I try to nurse her in the tub, but she’s not ready yet. The baby hasn’t made a peep. She is calm and restful. She tries to nurse. They don’t cut the cord until it is finished pulsating. Everything is so relaxed and mellow. No one is rushing around or talking loudly or turning the overhead lights on. The whole process has been zen-like. I’ve never lived so “in the moment” before. It is amazingly spiritual and centering. I feel as one with the earth mother who carries us all on her back. It’s like I am a priestess who has just communed with Spirit or the Great Mystery or God or whatever you want to call it. And here I am holding the baby of my dreams.

After awhile, the midwives coach me through expelling the afterbirth. I’m not sure if I am supposed to wait for more contractions or just push, so I ask. They tell me it’s okay to just push whenever I want. It only takes one or two tries. The placenta looks just as healthy as my girl. The tub is now bloody, so they ask if I want to get into bed. I say sure. Someone takes the baby and when I stand up, there is a huge gush of blood with some clots in it. I’ve lost a lot of blood and feel light-headed. Someone wraps a towel around me. Everything is fuzzy as I am led into the smaller bedroom. Christina lays down some chux pads for me. I nurse my baby again and she latches on in earnest.

Arianna and Andrew make everyone a breakfast of scrambled eggs. Christina helps me get dressed. The midwives fill out some paperwork and weigh the baby with a fish scale – 7 pounds and 6 ounces. Meg examines me and says I have a tear. She can sew it up or we can leave it to heal on its own. I’m not too keen on getting stitches; I’ve never had them before. Andrew takes a look and recommends the stitches. I ask how long it will take. About fifteen minutes, they say. I acquiesce. I think they put on a skin numbing cream first, but every once in awhile it prickles like a bee sting.

I feel drained so I lie down and rest with my baby beside me. Andrew says I look a little anemic after the loss of blood and has plans to feed me an iron-rich diet for the next few months. Even so, I am amazed and grateful that it happened so quickly and so naturally. I am tired but I can still walk and I can nurse my baby lying down and I can cough and sneeze without holding my belly – all those things I couldn’t do after my c-section. My mom arrives and she cries when she holds her new granddaughter. She called Andrew on her cell phone while I was in the tub and said she was so worried about me when she heard the sounds I made in the background. I don’t remember making a lot of noise, but my throat is sore from the deep groans that tore out of me every time I pushed. I am so glad she is there. After breakfast, I fall asleep with my baby in my arms and a smile on my face.


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