“It’s a strange feeling having guilt around sharing a positive birth story as I know birth is so unpredictable and doesn’t always go to plan. People are quick to tell you their negative birth experiences when you are pregnant and it is usually followed by some iteration of “oh you just wait, you will see what I’m talking about”. We need more positive stories around birth out there so that is why I am sharing my positives unmedicated home birth story.
I have always wanted kids and when I found out I was pregnant I was so grateful and excited. I did A LOT of research and preparation for birth. I knew, in the ideal situation, I would give birth at home, in water, and with no medical interventions. In preparation for birth, I read a lot of books, some of my favorites being “Babies are not Pizzas. They are Born not Delivered”, “Sweet Sleep” and “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth”. We also took classes with Sonya our doula and also a hypnobabies prenatal class with Ricky Issler, which I think significantly contributed to how I was able to cope during birth.
My water broke at 9pm on June 9, which also happens to be my birthday. My husband and I were out with friends but I quickly excused ourselves cause I thought something was up. On the car ride home I knew for sure my water had broke, as I was now sitting in a large puddle in my freshly detailed car lol. When we got home I texted my midwife and doula to let them know my water broke but no contractions had started and both of them said to take some gravol and get some rest! By 10pm I had taken my gravol and was laying down to rest listening to my hypnobabies sound track, while my husband was frantically getting the rug moved in the living room, blowing up the pool, and getting some things crossed off the todo list (baby was 7 days early).
Laying down to rest didn’t last long as I quickly became very uncomfortable in any laying position. It started out with cramping and I quickly knew I was having real contractions. I kept trying to lay back down cause I thought I was in for the long haul and knew I needed rest, but now the only place I could get comfortable was on the toilet. Around 12:30am we checked in with our doula and I was still talking through contractions, I was nauseous so I was throwing up every once and a while but my contractions were only about 20 - 30 secs long and we agreed to check back soon.
I continued to labour on the toilet for a while as any other position didn’t feel good. Around 2am my husband brought up the birthing ball to give that a try and that was a great relief. I was now concentrating very hard, still listening to my hypnobabies relaxation music and making a deep humming sound which helped me focus.
As we neared 3am things were intensifying and I was getting the chills which I knew could mean I was going into the transition stage of labor. We decided we should time the contractions, they were 45 secs long and coming quickly. The doula and midwife were called and both were on route. My husband moved me downstairs to continue to labour on the birthing ball. I also had the tens machine on now which was a nice distraction.
Once the doula and midwife arrived and were set up, we started to fill the pool. At around 4:30am my midwife asked if I wanted to be checked to see how far along we were and I agreed. Much to all of our amazement, I was already 9cm and started to have the pushy feelings. The pool couldn’t fill up fast enough at this point lol!
By 5am I was in the pool and activity pushing. The water was such a nice relief. After about 1.5 hours of pushing in the pool we were making progress but not as much as we would have liked to see. We moved to land ie. the couch around 6:50am and within 20 mins we had a beautiful baby boy in our arms!
My birth was very fast for a first time birth. Baby was with us just 10 hours after my water broke. I am so grateful I had such a positive birth experience and that I was able to stick to my plan, but I was also willing to change the plan if it needed to be changed. Healthy baby and healthy mom is the most important thing at the end of the day.
The best part: having such a supportive birthing team and husband. Their words of encouragement really help get you through. And of course, having a healthy baby come into the world.
The worst part: the ring of fire lol (when the babies head is crowning and about to be born). This is the only moment I would describe as painful, it only lasted a few moments as I waited for the next contraction to come and birthed the babies head. Oh and when they push on your stomach after birth, that was not cool lol.
Most helpful coping strategies:
I hope this story encourages anyone considering an unmedicated birth whether at home or in the hospital!
Finding out your family is expecting a new little sibling can be full of exciting feelings. Being prepared, as well as preparing the big siblings can help ease the process. No matter if the sibling is young or older, there are many tips, tricks and supports to prepare them for this exciting milestone.
Big siblings can get very excited for a new little sibling announcement. The promise of playing together, and having a built-in forever friend. Rarely do children understand that for the first few months or more, babies won’t do much more than sleep, cry, poop and monopolize their parents’ time. This can often lead to unwanted “behaviours.” Behaviours are often expressions of needing support from their adult. For the adults though this can be difficult with a new baby. This is quite evident in children under 6 years where their general understanding of time and sharing are still work in progress. While we are also trying to adjust to losing sleep, a cocktail of hormones and a new family dynamic, often they are facing big emotions. Some of these emotions may include:
For the first six weeks (give or take) the birthing parent will spend a lot of that time recovering from delivery, as well as bonding with baby. This can induce feelings of jealousy which can show up in many ways. In very small children it could look like crying and temper tantrums, in children 6 years and above it could show up as being very emotional, not wanting to share, and being disconnected. To be proactive, start small. Ask your partner or a friend to come spend time with the baby, supporting and attending to their needs while you engage in on the floor activities with them. Colouring building Lego, snuggling for a movie and popcorn and other favorites. Once you are feeling healed remember to make special dates and activities just for the big sibling(s)and each parent.
When the big sibling shows the emotion of jealousy, acknowledge and validate them. It is hard having someone be your everything (mom/dad/etc) and then one day they’re expected to split their time minimally 50/50 with no consent. That’s a huge change. If the child is older, it is okay to have healthy conversations about jealousy, turn taking and what just can’t be changed. “It’s hard to share, hey?”
That a parent’s heart grows for more children, not divides. If your kiddo is bigger, it’s okay just to talk to them and acknowledge these feelings. It seems scary when mom doesn’t help right away, hey? If they’re old enough it is okay to involve them in the problem-solving strategy of sharing time and validating feelings. Be careful not to shame them for their feelings. Shaming may sound like “you don’t need to worry” or telling them not to worry. They’re still working through this big concept. If they are still pretty young, it is okay to be fair and firm. Saying things like “I know its scary when mommy has to go into the bedroom to change their diaper, but I can’t hold you now. I need to finish changing them, and then we can snuggle.”
Mom, dad, baby… whoever is involved, they are all enraging. They don’t let you do anything you want; you seem to always be in the way, and you’re not even fully sure you know what is going on. Being a new big sibling can be tough. This may show up as violence, such as biting or hitting or temper tantrums and stealing. Again, these feelings tend to work closely with jealousy. It is okay to show compassion by having strong, healthy boundaries. “I won’t let you bite me. I won’t let you hurt the baby.” Follow up quickly with what they can do. “I can’t let you hit me, when I’m done, I will sit on the floor with you.” I’m scared you will seriously hurt the baby and I can’t let you.”
Get them involved
There are so many amazing ways to include big siblings with a new baby. Preparing them before the baby comes can be really beneficial. This might include watching age-appropriate shows or reading age-appropriate books, and then connecting how they are like the characters with their new baby. “See how the brother… when the baby gets here that’s what you can do!” I also liked to change the characters names in the story to my child’s name.
Before my daughter was born, I would sit with my young son and watch tv shows that showed off characters getting new siblings. One example is Daniel Tiger “The Tiger Family Grows/Daniel Learns About Being a Big Brother.” It helped me use situations that happened in the Tiger Family which may come up for us. They also have great songs which we could sing together. Once the baby was here, I would remind him, “remember when… can you do that?”
If your child is older, it is great to just talk to them and ask where they want to be involved. If they decline helping in certain ways, respect their wishes and honour their own boundaries. These should never compromise safety, but if you ask them to grab something and they say no, acknowledge they declined and let it go. If it is not a choice, do not present it as such. It is okay to describe the expectation, and then thank them when they’re done instead. This might end up sounding like “I need you to pick up your Lego so the baby won’t choke” and then once they’re done thanking them for their quick action and support.
Get them excited
In the hallways I had fun stickers, art supplies and sensory activities I only brought out when the baby was down so either I could sit with him and play, or he could engage at the kitchen table and I would clean or prep food. The key was that these only came out when I needed direction and engagement. If the toys are consistently out, they can become boring and abused. When my little sister was born, I was four years old. I don’t remember much, but I have a happy feeling when I can remember that my parents gave me a My Little Pony, a gift from my newborn sister. My younger brother got a construction truck from her. So, when my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our second, we decided to include this tradition for our own son. At Christmas, our “baby” bought a doll for my son to care for until she was born. When she was born, we had a gift bag from our baby to him with lots of quiet individual activities he could do while mom was busy with her. A Water Paint pad from Melissa and Doug, new crayons and a blank paper pad, a doodle pad, a set of puzzles I knew he could do alone, and a stuffed cat which matched a smaller stuffed cat.
There are lots of ways to help big siblings get excited, such as including them in the design and decorating of the nursery, choosing books to share in the baby’s room, inviting them to the birth and giving them opportunities to be involved in the pregnancy. My midwife let my son listen to the baby's heartbeat and use the tools during the check up. However you choose to include the big siblings, this is a glorious event for everyone that you can look back on fondly with memories and milestones.
Is your desire to have an empowering birth experience?
For a good laugh check this video out: Amy Schumer, Turtle Births and Sherpa Doulas.
her portrayal of midwives/doulas is obviously not accurate, we are highly trained and educated, just saying.
I know I’m guilty of this – I rarely take time to address, honor or mark the milestones in my life. Sometimes, this takes a toll on me! It can feel like all of these important events are flying by and my journey seems to be going far too quickly. Sacred Pregnancy is about slowing down, appreciating the little (and big!) changes your body is going through and honoring this transitional time in your life.
A Sacred Pregnancy retreat will teach you to take time for yourself – even if it’s 5 minutes a day. It outlines the importance of meditation and journaling to connect to yourself and your baby and create a sacred space for reflection. It will also encourage you to take a serious look at the expectations you hold surrounding pregnancy, birth and motherhood. Women will get all kinds of pregnancy and birth messages from the time they are a young girl until the step onto the pregnancy, birth and motherhood path. Are the expectations you have realistic? Are they serving you in a positive way? Some of these messages are healthy, good and empowering, but most from society at large are not. It’s important for us to look at our expectations and where they come from, or at least where do we think they came from. It’s also especially important to know that every birth story is a normal birth story. It’s your journey; it’s your life lesson.
Sacred Pregnancy is connection, is facing and forgiving your fears, is honoring the body that is growing an extension of love, is sisterhood. It’s growing your circle. It’s learning to change – because you are changing! Motherhood is a journey and pregnancy is just the beginning – so slow down when you can, you deserve to celebrate it!
Samara Oscroft is the co-creator of our postpartum belly binds and is working on her Sacred Pregnancy certifications.
Trust In Your Body