There is nothing more inspiring that hearing of natural birth stories, especially when they are life changing. Thank you ladies for sharing your beautiful births!
Jolene Millo – Yonkers, New York (October 2nd, 2015)
“Five days after conceiving, I knew I was pregnant. I had not yet missed a period, but I was sure. A week and a half later, I cried tears of joy as my husband triumphantly held up the positive pregnancy test. I would once again cry tears of joy at my first sonogram, when we were told we were having twins.
I talked to my obstetrician about my plans for a vaginal delivery. She explained that there were many factors that would influence my ability to deliver vaginally. Her biggest concern was that there were two babies and it was my first pregnancy. I was told all the risks, and began to feel unsure of my choice after the conversation. I continued to hope for a vaginal delivery, but didn’t feel supported and therefor did not push the issue at my doctor’s office.
As happy as my first few weeks of pregnancy were, those blissful days were followed by fear and uncertainty for the remainder of the pregnancy. I suffered multiple bleeds, weight fluctuations between the twins, a suspected kidney abnormality of one twin, and bi-weekly perinatologist visits. At 28 weeks, I was placed on strict bed rest for a thinning cervix. As the pregnancy progressed, and my cervix thinned more, I just prayed my babies would be born healthy. I abandoned my plans of a vaginal delivery, and justified that as long as they’re born healthy, I will be thankful. What happened to my joyful pregnancy? I felt so out of control.
On a Friday morning, 34 weeks and 2 days into my pregnancy, I woke up in labor. My water broke at 9am and I took my time getting ready to go to the hospital. About 45 minutes later I was bent of the sink in the bathroom crying in pain and frustration. My husband helped me into the car for the half hour drive to the hospital. On the way we tried counting the time between contractions, but it felt like the pain just kept coming without a pause. We arrived at the hospital and I was immediately taken to the OR. The doctor on call checked me and said I was fully dilated. Everything was happening so fast, and I was overwhelmed. The anesthesiologist came in and asked if I wanted an epidural. I did.
As I lay there with 15+ people in the room- NICU nurses, NICU doctors, labor and delivery nurses and the delivering doctor- I made the decision to deliver with no medication. It was the first decision I had been able to make about my pregnancy and body in a long time. I decided that I needed to maintain control of my body the one way I could, which was to deliver my babies vaginally and to do it my own way. Once I accepted the pain and birth in its entirety, I began to feel empowered. My desperation was replaced my determination. I was acutely aware of every aspect of the delivery going forward- I felt every push as my daughters head moved down the canal and her beautiful face emerged. She came out screaming! After a brief moment in my arms she was whisked away to the NICU. I wish I could have held her just a little longer.
At this point the staff realized I meant to deliver both my babies vaginally, and I was taken into a regular delivery room to deliver my son. They asked me again if I wanted an epidural for his delivery but I declined it. I delivered my tiny son 2 hours later with no pain medication.
I still don’t know exactly how to answer when people ask me how I delivered twins naturally. I think the strength came from a part of me that wanted to feel the raw emotion of the delivery. My entire pregnancy I had so few choices. I spent more time being scared than preparing for my babies. Delivering naturally with no medication was the only thing that was truly my choice. It was my moment, and I followed my instincts. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, and the most rewarding. When other women who are considering natural birth ask my opinion, I tell them to trust themselves. I tell them to listen to their bodies, and not allow others to discourage them.
My story is so different (and much less glamorous) from most of the birth stories of women who choose to deliver naturally. Yet, it needs to be shared just the same. Writing this story has been therapeutic and I hope I’ve inspired at least one woman to advocate for themselves during pregnancy. Not every woman has the choice to deliver vaginally and with no pain interventions, and I feel privileged to have had the experience. And maybe, just a little bit, like superwoman. All of us mothers are, after all.”
Gabriela Davila Bengoa – San Juan, Puerto Rico (October 13th, 2014)
All throughout my pregnancy I knew I wanted to have an all natural birth. No medications what so ever. However, I personally felt more comfortable being in a hospital, just in case. I prepared myself with my breathing, researching, exercising, and a healthy diet. I was 39 weeks when signs of labor began. I felt contractions at 1:00 am and knew that this was it. Once in the hospital I waited patiently until 7 am, and then my contractions got closer together. By 11 am I had my baby! What worked for me during the birthing process was focusing on one single spot in the room. I didn’t speak much, and I asked (or screamed) for my parents and husband to be as quiet as possible. There was a point when I thought I couldn’t take the pain much longer, but that’s when you really have to believe in yourself and your ability to give birth the way nature intended.
My favorite moment was when I finished pulling my baby out myself and resting him on my chest. It was truly magical. Choosing a natural birth doesn’t only benefit you with a speedy recovery, but it allows you to experience the beauty of being a woman. I was very proud of myself and in love with my baby boy.
Shereen Visser – Amsterdam, The Netherlands (April 30th, 2009)
It all started when I got boobs for the first time in my life, hated the smell of my own perfume and decided to quit smoking after all those years completely out of the blue… I didn’t know it yet but my body did — my life was changing. Then came that cross that popped up on my pregnancy test and instantly, I was filled with so much love and joy and just the certainty that everything was going to work out all on its own, my body knew how this worked even if I was clueless.
That might sound like hippie talk to a lot of people, the same way as my choice for a home birth is perceived as a new age hobo choice to most of my co-workers and some friends but it just isn’t, it’s just my experience.
I saw my sister being born at home, I was born in the Netherlands where home births are very common and all that probably influenced me more than I believe it did but it is not the reason for my ‘chosen’ path.
When I saw my sister being born at the age of 5 I did not have some kind of revelation where I thought “this is how I’ll do it”, no way! I was grossed out and ran to the attic until that whole ordeal was over and done with. Still, when my midwife asked me on that first meeting how I wanted to deliver my baby, I hadn’t even thought about it yet because it just didn’t feel like that was a choice I needed to make, I didn’t feel like there was any other way for me… This baby would be born in the comfort of our home, my family would be there and that’s that, unless foreseeable complications were to arise, I didn’t even want to hear the word hospital.
Now I realize that I am lucky everything went well and that that just isn’t the case for everyone but I do feel that my attitude towards pregnancy and giving birth has a lot to do with why everything went so well.
When I think about my pregnancy I can barely recall a time I was happier. I had bad symptoms like everyone else, my ‘morning’ (LIES! It does NOT just happen in the morning) sickness was terrible, I threw up everything I ate for months which for a foodie is the ultimate punishment, I gained a LOT of weight, way more than all my beautiful now pregnant friends (hint hint Jo’) and I have way too many stretch marks to show for it.
Sure, if I were to focus on all those things, focus on the vomit, the back aches, the fatigue, the way my body changed, the fact that he was 13 days overdue and I was one day away from being induced… it would probably feel like a really bad experience but that just wasn’t what stuck. I felt amazing. I was in my bubble of love and happiness enjoying every second of it, I was creating life out of nothing and I truly felt like every moment was miraculous. I never complained about any of it because I knew this was the process and that was fine with me. I’ll sound corny to those who don’t know me and that’s fine. If my friends hadn’t been there to witness this they wouldn’t have believed me either because I’m French and we LOVE to complain. I am no exception. This was so different, though…
On the big day, I had contractions most of the day. They went from bearable cramps, similar to those of a heavy period, to a really intense pain that put me in and out of a sleep-like state, another way your body helps you to cope with the pain naturally.
It was all very painful, I’ve never lied about that, but to me it always made sense somehow that in order to get something as amazing as a BABY, it’s normal to have to work for it a little…
I dealt with the pain as well as I could, I tried to relax, listen to my surroundings, focused on my mother and partner’s voices, the music my mother put on for me and just my body … I did everything I could to just accept the pain, fighting it was only going to make the process longer and more painful and at this point all I wanted was for it to be quick so it felt natural to just let it happen.
I should probably mention I didn’t go to a single childbirth class… I figured that once I’d be in pain there would be little to no chance that I’d remember those classes. Also, they very actively involve your partner which is nice but I didn’t feel like we needed that, we were already very connected and together during this experience. I also felt like this was something I was going to have to do on my own, he would be there for me in his own way and I’d probably want to squeeze his hand once or twice but that’s it. I know myself and I knew the last thing I’d want once in that much pain was to have someone talking softly in my ear and sitting behind me caressing my belly! just like when you’ve had too much to drink and think you want someone holding your hair up… you don’t! At least I don’t, I’m too proud… and I was right.
He was there and was amazing, he did everything right to me, he knew when to step in but also when to give me my space, as for the breathing, my mother is a yoga teacher and guided him through it so he’d know how to help me… they were incredible.
Once I was allowed to start pushing it took 20 minutes …. After 20 minutes all that pain just stopped and felt like a distant memory and I was given the best reward ever… holding my baby, this amazing beautiful little baby who I finally found out was a boy (the gender was a surprise, we didn’t want to know). He was strong, healthy, and he looked at me for a split second when they put him on my stomach… I didn’t even understand what it was that I was feeling because it was so surreal… MY SON.
I can’t tell you how good it felt to be home after all that, to just climb into my own shower and have my mom warm up a home cooked meal, to have my little sister there as well (she freaked out by the way which is funny since I did too when she was born). If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I was lucky enough to not have to work for a year which is about how long I breastfed him, another amazing experience that I will cherish forever and sometimes even really miss.
So that’s my birth story… Next week he will turn 6. He’s such an amazing kid, and I know that all parents say that about their children but he really really is and I’ve always felt like it had a little bit to do with how we started our relationship from the very beginning, he was loved from the very start and was given the best introduction to life I could’ve wished for him.
My advice for anyone struggling with the choice is: do what you feel comfortable with and TRUST YOURSELF. That’s what I did, I didn’t consider what people think is right, or what others told me, or scary stories I heard or read… I just went with my gut and decided to try my best at all of it, that’s also what I’ve been doing since the day he was born… my best. As mothers that’s all we can do. Also, learn to accept and let go if things when they don’t go your way because they never really will, a lot of things went differently than what I had planned that day, for example, my midwife had to leave midway and another midwife came for the final part… I hated it but just felt like I needed to let that go because I didn’t want to be feeling anything negative during such an important moment. That was one of my first real lessons with letting go and accepting that not everything was or needed to be in my control.
Being a mother starts before your child is born. Learning to put him before yourself starts straight away but we’re only human, we make mistakes, we’re flawed, we can be weak… that’s all fine as long as we know we’ve done all we could. Trust yourself, all the way.
Becoming Loukas’ mother has changed me in the best way. I can barely remember what mattered before him. I may have given him life but he’s the one who made me come alive.
Karen Scaramuzzo Su – Hopewell Junction, New York (March 1st, 2007)
When I found out I was pregnant with Chloe I decided I was going to have a natural birth to avoid the complications I suffered from having an epidural during my first labor with Johnathan. I concentrated a lot on Lamaze during my pregnancy and I found it extremely helpful during labor. I also labored for a long time at home before I went to the hospital just because I wanted to relax as much as possible before labor got too intense. I was six cm dilated on arrival to the hospital and my water broke naturally about a half an hour later. I felt every sensation which was so different from my first labor.
My favorite part of having a natural birth was being able to feel the sensation of needing to push. I remember telling the nurse that I felt like I had to push and her response was that it wasn’t time yet since I was only six cm dilated and my water hadn’t broke yet. I nodded in agreement but I knew what I was feeling and I knew Chloe was coming. I felt the sensation again of needing to push and before I could even say anything my water broke and out came Chloe’s head along with it. I pushed about three times and felt everything, but it was amazing. After Chloe was born I felt so awake and alert. I just felt like my body did what it knew it could and I had no need to recover from anything.