Archives for unassisted childbirth

Why This Healthy, Beautiful Mom Chose to Birth Her Baby in the Bathtub Unassisted

Why this healthy, beautiful mom chose to birth her baby in the bathtub unassisted

 

Unassisted childbirth.

 

Free birth.

 

Undisturbed birth.

 

Why would a pregnant woman and her partner choose unassisted birth?

 

Why not have an experienced midwife there “just in case”?

 

For that matter, why not give birth in the hospital, surrounded by state-of-the-art technology and highly trained medical personnel?

 

Every woman has a different reason.

 

Some mamas don’t mind birth being a spectator sport. But others—like most other mammals—feel safer and more secure when there are not others watching, talking, commenting, monitoring, and interrupting them.

 

Imagine doing a vaginal exam (a completely unnecessary albeit routine intervention done in the hospital that has no scientific evidence to support doing it) on a mama bear in labor.

 

Women who have unassisted births report being better able to allow their bodies to open up to give safe passage for the tiny human who has been growing there for nine months when they are in a familiar space, surrounded by love.

 

Harmed by Hospital Birth

 

Things were not easy for Brogan Metcalf, 28, and her husband Chad, 26, after their first daughter, Dalila, was born at the hospital. In the midst of adjusting to being a mom, Brogan had a miscarriage in September 2015 when Dalila was 18 months old. Then she an ectopic pregnancy in January 2016 and the doctors had to tie one of her fallopian tubes.

 

Throughout this health ordeal, while striving to raise her daughter as naturally as possible, Brogan started to realize more and more that her hospital birth had been far from ideal. So when Brogan got pregnant again in April 2016, she knew she wanted to do things differently. She thought she would have a home birth and, mostly because of social expectations and other people’s fears, she played with the idea of having a midwife there to assist. But then a friend added her to a Facebook group for women who have had or are considering unassisted births and Brogan changed her mind. The more she researched unassisted birth, the more it appealed to her.

 

She realized wanted to have her baby unassisted, with just her daughter and her husband present. Having midwives present did not fit into the vision she had for the birth.

 

When we talk on the phone, Brogan tells me the decision to have an unassisted birth was mostly based on intuition. She saw herself birthing at her home in Wallops Island, Virginia with just her husband and her daughter present this time.

 

She wanted her new baby to come into the world gently and peacefully.

 

She did not want the sterile, bullying, interventionist experience she was subjected to during her labor at the hospital with their first baby.

 

“Although my daughter’s birth was only ten hours and I didn’t have an epidural, there was so much that I disliked about that experience,” Brogan explains. “I hated the hospital setting and being told how to birth—as if they somehow knew more about my body than I did. My water was broken for me. The nurses and the doctor told me if and when to push. I was planning a natural childbirth in the hospital but once I was there I no longer had control of my body.”

 

Brogan and Dalila watched home birth videos together and Dalila, who was only two, was totally intrigued. Dalila loved the moment when the mama pushed the baby out.

 

It took a little longer to convince her husband Chad that an unassisted birth was a good idea. “At first he thought I was crazy,” Brogan laughs, “but then he came around.”

 

Chad did his own research, reading stories of unassisted births and talking to Brogan about it a lot. A few times he asked Brogan, “Are you sure this is what you want? Why just us?” In the end, though it was her decision, her husband was totally supportive.

 

The midwife who provided prenatal care was also supportive. “She was cool with it,” Brogan says. “She was amazing.”

 

Birth Without Fear

 

Here’s how Brogan describes the unassisted birth of her son Lincoln:

 

I woke up around 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, and went to the bathroom. I felt as though my mucus plug fell out, but I wasn’t certain. I had known as soon as I was in labor with my daughter. This time I wasn’t as sure.

 

I couldn’t fall back asleep.

 

About an hour later the contractions started.

 

I still wasn’t sure if I was really in labor and I didn’t want Chad to miss work if he didn’t have to so I waited.

 

The contractions were very mild at first. I got myself a snack and some water and sat on the couch for a bit.

 

I remember texting some of my close family to let them know I thought I was in labor.

As the contractions got stronger, I would stand with my hands on my knees, rocking back and forth letting the rushes roll through my body.

 

I remember being very calm and aware of my breath.

 

I was having steady contractions now so Chad called his work to let them know he wouldn’t be coming in.

 

Around 7:00 a.m. we started preparing the house. Chad cleaned and disinfected the bathroom and we put a shower curtain on the bed to protect the mattress and blankets over it in case I decided to give birth there.

 

Our two-year-old daughter had been up since my contractions started and was watching TV.

 

I remember going up to her and hugging her with tears in my eyes (I am crying now as I write this), telling her how much I loved her. I felt waves of emotion and I was suddenly saddened by the idea that with the birth of this baby I would be letting go of the relationship we had, when it was just her with me. We were so close, cuddling together, taking naps together, making meals together, doing everything just the two of us. All those memories of just her and me … somehow I felt bad that I was bringing another life into our precious space.

 

Around 7:30 a.m. the contractions were getting more intense. I got into the bathtub. In the water the contractions came about every ten minutes. Before they had been coming more often—about every 2-3 minutes. I thought that perhaps the water was slowing down labor so I got out of the tub. Ouch. I immediately got back in to the tub because the water was just more comfortable.

 

Dalila was in and out of the bathtub with me. I will never forget it. She played and we laughed and hugged and kissed. It was a beautiful moment for us. While I was in the tub I had meditation music playing on my phone. Eventually the contractions got so intense I needed my husband in there with me. He had been so wonderful, kind of hanging back, supporting me but giving me space so as not to interfere. He had been bringing me water or almonds and he let me know he was on standby for anything I needed. If he was nervous, he didn’t show it.

 

Things really picked up around 9:00 a.m. Chad was sitting on the toilet as I rested my head on his lap and wrapped my arms around his leg, squeezing tighter through each contraction. In between contractions Chad would pour boiled water into the tub so it would stay warm.

 

I was starting to feel as though our little man would be coming soon.

 

Chad asked if I thought I was dilated enough, and I told him to trust me because I knew this feeling.

 

At one point, he was about to leave the bathroom and I yelled “No! Stay here!”

 

I knew my labor wouldn’t last much longer.

 

I tried to breathe through every contraction. I was so exhausted that in between contractions I almost fell asleep. For most of my labor I had been humming through even the most intense contractions but in the final stretch I could barely keep calm.

 

About 9:30 a.m. I felt that urge to push. I tried to breathe through it.

 

Dalila was in the bathroom with us.

 

In between yelling during contractions I remember telling her that I was okay and that I loved her.

 

She was so calm, just taking it all in. She wasn’t worried at all. I remember screaming while pushing and the baby’s head came out.

 

Chad tried to get me to change positions to make it easier but I was too exhausted to move. I didn’t have it in me. So I stayed in the tub holding onto the side in a semi squatting position, leaning back. I yelled at Chad to “PULL THE BABY OUT!” because I didn’t think I could do it! Two pushes later Lincoln Grey glided into the water, meeting us earthside, no pulling required.

 

Dalila watched him come out into the water and crooned, “Oh, baby!”

 

A big sister admires her brand new baby brother, who was born unassisted at home. Via JenniferMargulis.net

Dalila admires her brand new baby brother Lincoln, who was born unassisted at home

 

The cord was wrapped around Lincoln’s neck. Chad calmly swooped it off, over the baby’s head, and handed my baby to me.

 

Chad and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. I said, “We did it.”

 

Lincoln was absolutely perfect; he barely made any noise.

 

He was so calm and quiet that I was worried at first. But he latched on to my breast immediately and was alert as could be.

 

We stayed in the tub, skin-to-skin, for about an hour. Then I felt I was ready to get out and get in bed. About ten minutes after I got into bed, I delivered the placenta. We kept the baby attached to the placenta for well over an hour.

 

My body felt so good after Lincoln’s birth, almost like I didn’t just give birth.

 

A new father holds his baby skin-to-skin on his chest. Read their birth story at JenniferMargulis.net

Chad, the proud husband, enjoying some skin-to-skin time with his brand new baby Lincoln

I couldn’t believe it.

 

I was walking and moving and much more at ease then after Dalila was born.

 

Even though I manifested my dream birth, I was surprised how calmly and perfectly it all happened.

 

It was almost effortless.

 

I was also amazed about how emotional it was for us.

 

Birth is beautiful and perfect. Especially when you give birth without unnecessary interference.

 

It is the most powerful thing I’ve ever done—birthing on my own.

 

Have you had a free birth? Would you have a free birth? Share your birth story with us in the comment section below! And please contact Jennifer Margulis if you would like to share your home birth, outdoor birth, or unassisted birth story on this blog.

Related posts:
How this mom rocked her unassisted outdoor birth
45 reasons NOT to have a home birth
Doctors and hospital midwives need to stop bullying pregnant women

 


Brogan Metcalf is a stay-at-home mom of two. Her passion is to educate people using self-love to better their health and their minds in order to create a better future for their children and themselves. She has a degree in liberal arts from Sussex County Community College in New Jersey. She is a certified personal trainer as well as a reiki teacher/master.

 

 

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., has had one hospital birth, one midwife-assisted birth, one lay midwife-assisted birth, and one unassisted birth. The story of her unassisted birth is featured in Laura Kaplan Shanley’s book, Unassisted Childbirth, which includes a foreward by Michel Odent, M.D. An award-winning journalist, Jennifer Margulis is the author of Your Baby, Your Way (Scribner) and the editor of Toddler: Real-Life Stories of Those Fickle, Urgent, Irrational, Tiny People We Love (Seal Press). Follow her on Facebook (here and here), Twitter, and Pinterest. Watch her in the upcoming documentary mini-series, “The Truth About Vaccines.”

 

The Truth About Vaccines is a 7 part mini-series directed by Ty Bollinger to help parents make the healthiest vaccine decisions

The Truth About Vaccines is a 7 part mini-series directed by Ty Bollinger to help parents make the best vaccine decisions for their children

Our Little Boy’s Birth Story by Marisa Soboleski

Marisa has generously agreed to share the birth story of her son, born late March in her home in Vermont with no midwife or medical professional present. Marisa and I met at a playgroup in Ashland, Oregon when my youngest daughter and her oldest daughter were both babies. Her daughter’s name is Sierra, mine is Leone. Sierra Leone. No wonder they took an instant liking to each other.

I’ve never believed in due dates.  A due date is an estimation, not an expiration date.  Babies come when they are ready.

Feeling the changes in my body, I was pregnant again.  I learned about the new midwife insurance mandate that just got passed in Vermont, and was thrilled.  I searched for a local midwife who was hands-off and wouldn’t intervene unless absolutely necessary.

I had an intensely wonderful experience giving birth to your sister, Sierra.  We labored outside on a beautiful day at a friend’s farm in Oregon. Her birth was completely unhindered.

I wanted the same for you.

Over time, I met with several midwives only to learn that the Vermont state laws regarding homebirth were somewhat rigid:  they didn’t allow midwives to assist “postdates,” twins, or breech births. There were many restrictions. I loved the idea of having a comforting circle of sisters helping me trust my body, but the state and medical perspective would not allow that. Interference can be very risky.

I needed to look deeper within and to trust my body.

So knowing that only I could provide the best prenatal care for myself, I had an unassisted pregnancy.  I took this time to nourish my body with fresh food, listening carefully to responses in my body.  I educated myself as much as possible, through mentors and many other resources. Other than fatigue and occasional heartburn, my pregnancy was serene.

Right around 36 weeks into the pregnancy, I had this sudden irresistible urge to nest.  Family and friends were coming over that weekend for our Birthing Way celebration.  I scrubbed the floors furiously and scoured the kitchen.  Still rushing, I heated over leftovers while pacing around the house.

When I finally sat down, I felt a pop and then a gush. Oh, did my water bag just break?  I took my pants off, expecting clear fluid. Instead, there was bright red blood.

Initially, my intuition told me everything was fine.  However, once I typed in a quick search on the Internet, there were all these horror stories involving third trimester bleeding.

I reached Sierra’s midwife in Oregon and we discussed my options.  In this case, the bleeding could either be coming from the placenta or the cervix.  We were both really hoping for the latter.  A local midwife assistant rushed to my house and we listened to your heartbeat. It was very strong. Your kicks were firm and strong. The bleeding turned light brown and then went away. Still, I kept a very close eye on you.

The next few days were confusing.  My head was spinning from all these notions. Exterior self-doubt was fighting at my intuition. My mind was doubting my spirit. I was in search of some kind of guidance. In solitude I felt confident and comfortable, but the more time I spent on the Internet, the more uncertain I felt.

Here I was, going through a pregnancy without the attention of any medical provider, something totally outside our cultural norm. What if I was making the wrong choice? What if something was really wrong?

It was a beautiful, placid day.  Yet, I couldn’t shake off that tense, on-the-edge feeling.  I decided to call a local midwife to see if there were a mama/baby friendly hospital where the doctors would empathize with our needs…or perhaps an imaging studio so that we could just check on the placenta’s position and condition. I wanted to make sure there were no signs of previa or abruption. I was not supportive of medical intervention, including ultrasounds, unless there was a good reason.  Bright blood was one.

The midwife went ahead and called the hospital, giving them information about me without my consent. When I called, the nurses were already expecting me.

Once Jesse came home from work, we all got in the car and headed out. The moon was full. A threatening storm was coming in fast. Once we arrived at the hospital, we felt intimidated by the large, dark institution. We fumbled around, searching for the women’s center. When we found the clinic, an ultrasound technician greeted and led us to a cold room. It felt so unnatural seeing you on screen for the first time. You kept turning away from the transducer and I wanted to keep the exposure very brief. Your placenta was up high in the uterus. All good. You were suckling away at amniotic fluid, and we could see that you and Sierra had the same nose.

Now that the anatomy scan was over, your dad glanced over and sensed how uncomfortable I felt. He suggested that we just leave. But the nurses had a different agenda, they urged that we discuss my options with an obstetrician. The nurse coldly told me to get undressed and informed me that the doctor would be looking at my cervix. I told her that it would not be necessary and that I was keeping my clothes on. She was taken aback by my assertiveness.

The OB walked in, and the energy in the room turned incredibly frigid. He stared at me with a stoic expression through his glasses, with his nose turned up. I nervously cracked a joke, and he wasn’t amused at all.

He claimed he was incredibly concerned about my lack of prenatal history. Since the office was closing down for the day, he wanted to transfer us to the Labor & Delivery floor for a non-stress test. He said that your heart rate was a bit high.

Well, absolutely. It was full moon, I was nervous, and goodness knows what kind of sound waves were coming from that ultrasound transducer, and you were really active. Of course, your heart rate was high.  

The doctor wanted to order a NST based on the heart rate, and nothing else. He couldn’t find anything else wrong with the ultrasound. I told him that I would prefer to go home and do some research on the NST before making a decision. I informed him I would make an appointment if my research showed the test would be helpful and necessary.  When Jesse asked him what would happen if we didn’t do “well” on the NST, the OB laughed arrogantly and said that he would have to discuss options.

He didn’t say it, but he was clearly thinking INDUCTION. Perfect, a woman coming in with absolutely no prenatal history, nearly to term of her pregnancy. Let’s find every little reason to get her to stay in here.  

My heart was beating hard. Before I could say anything, he went into his office and called the L&D department to set up a bed for me. I knew the test was unnecessary, and we wouldn’t benefit from my tension and discomfort. Jesse looked at me and asked what my intuition was telling me. I calmly gathered myself back together and walked into his office to tell him that we decided that we were going home. We would make an appointment if I felt it was necessary.

The doctor’s face turned fire-engine red. He furiously argued with me, saying that I was putting myself and the baby at risk … that I was an irresponsible mother. That the baby would die overnight. What was he thinking, inflicting unnecessary fear upon a woman? Why was a stranger using everything in his power to order me around? Yet he was expecting me to trust him? He has never given birth. When was the last time he saw a birth that wasn’t messed with? He didn’t even know me.

We got out of there as fast as we could.  Contractions became harder that night.  I wasn’t ready.  Very relieved, but not ready.

I got a call from the doctor’s office the next day, wanting to discuss the ultrasound results and to push for a NST. I thanked them for their concern and declined. Many of the tests aren’t at all accurate.

It was time to trust my intuition more than the system.

A few more weeks went by, with lots of contractions.

We spent a lot of time in the thriving garden and went on many peaceful walks around our land.

I had a dream that you stretched out in my belly and reached out far. I pushed your hand back inside. I wasn’t ready yet.

Then I immediately remembered my dream with Sierra the night before she was born–she reached out in the same way in utero, and my hand met hers and there was a luminous, brilliant light.

That day we did various chores around the house and picked up a truckload of compost for our garden.Contractions were irregular … still very far apart, but becoming very intense. By bedtime, Sierra and I read a book about the farmer’s market and I watched her calmly fall asleep, wondering what it would be like when Sierra wasn’t my only child anymore. I crawled into bed and tried to get some rest.

There was still no pattern in the contractions, but I knew for sure that I was in labor. I asked Jesse if he could come into the bathroom to keep me company. He held my hand through every groan and grimace.

The contractions became much closer together. It was time. Jesse went downstairs to set up the birthing pool and lit a few candles. It was a very cold night so he built a fire in the woodstove. Once the pool was half full of water, Jesse got in and I joined him. It wasn’t long before my body was uncomfortable with the heat in the pool. I listened to my body and went back upstairs and labored some more on the toilet.

There was no rhythm, but absolutely moving along. Then it got to the point where the rushes were coming one after another. The contractions were on top of each other and I felt like I was about to birth right there on the toilet.

Before we knew it, it was three in the morning. Sierra woke up and groggily walked into the bathroom. I knew I needed some more time and space so Jesse went back into her bedroom with her and encouraged her to go back to sleep. I slowly walked back downstairs alone in the dark and bent forward kneeling on the couch.

All of sudden, the contractions completely stopped. Nothing. My body completely stalled. After a while, my legs started shaking uncontrollably, and I felt a huge wave of nausea.  I immediately thought: Oh, this must be transition …  

Then I had an incredibly strong bearing down sensation following one HUGE contraction. Almost like you were coming right there and now. I wasn’t ready! Not at all!! Jesse and Sierra were both upstairs and I was alone. I told you to WAIT!!!!

I felt a huge burst, a dramatic explosion. Warm fluid streamed down my legs, all over the couch. So this is what it feels like when the amniotic sac breaks…

Too late, Sierra already saw all the excitement. The shiny blue birthing pool and all these beautiful candles around and she was not about to go back to sleep at all! She gleefully peeled her pajamas off and jumped into the birthing pool, splashing around.

I didn’t have any contractions for a while, but I was still shaking. Jesse patiently rubbed my back. Sierra marched around the living room loudly and tried to throw our cat, into the water.

The contractions slowly came back. They were strong. I vocalized and held Jesse’s hand through every one of them.

The pool wasn’t that appealing, but I joined Sierra in the pool anyway. She swam around with me for a little bit–and then it was time for her to give me a little space. She found a spot next to the pool to settle down and watch quietly.

Your head was very, very low. I could feel you and the enormous pressure. The sun was beginning to rise. The rays were coming through the early morning clouds. The trees were calm outside the glass sliding doors. The fire was starting to settle down a little bit.

I was starting to have that feeling–like I was being turned inside out. It was that fetal ejection reflex. I had no control and felt like I had to involuntarily bear down and throw up at the same time. I was still not ready! I was holding back. I reached in and I could feel fuzzy hair on your head and it was so relieving being able to touch you, knowing that you were right there, almost out. That it wouldn’t be very much longer.

Jesse patiently looked at me and held me. Marisa, let it all out. You don’t need to hold back anymore. Let go. With the next few huge surges, I screamed as loud as I could. Jesse stood up, held my hands up high and let me hang down from him. I swayed my hips in rhythmic circles. I was in a battle with myself- feeling that I was ready to surrender. Then the next second, I’d tell myself, No, no, not yet!  Nevertheless, your head made its way down. Oh, this is why people call this the ring of fire. I felt my body bear down through the next few contractions. I tried to stand up, out of the water a few times. But every time I tried, I would stumble back in the water. The air felt so brutally heavy.

Your head was out, and we were still in the water. My contractions were not rhythmic and felt overwhelming. I tried pushing without a contraction and it was no use. I knew I had to wait until the next one for your shoulders. I took a deep breath and drank some water. Ready, let’s try again! Together we pushed your shoulders during the next surge. The rest of your body out. You floated in the water before I brought you to my chest. You seemed so calm.

Welcome earthside, our sweet little boy.

Your birth was peaceful, unhindered, and the way it’s been since the beginning of time.