3 Firsts From my 7th Birth That I’m Planning to Repeat With My 8th

3 FIRSTS from my 7th Birth (that I'm planning to repeat with my 8th) // jessconnell.com

I’ve had 7 different birth experiences in 7 different places, with 7 different care providers.

Yes, you read that right!

  • 5 different hospitals (in VA, TX, Thailand, and Turkey)
  • on 3 continents
  • + 2 home births in different states

I’ve never had the same hospital, or the same doctor or midwife, twice. Lord willing, this will be our first baby to be born in the same place with the same people assisting at our birth.

Here are 3 things that were “firsts” with my 7th birth (in 2015) that I’m planning to repeat this time, now that I’m pregnant with baby #8.

#1- A DARK AND QUIET BIRTHING EXPERIENCE
To be fair, I’ve had a couple of care providers that mostly left us alone (yes, even in the hospital), and I’d had one other home birth (baby #6). But until baby #7, I’d never had such a quiet and cave-like birth.

I had our first five babies in five different hospitals around the world.

Hospitals, in general, are noisy places. Even when they are “birth friendly” there are still monitors… doors banging… people in and out… the clinking of instruments being laid out on a table… instructions being given from provider to nurses, from nurses to patient… people talking in the hallway.

No matter what, for me, a hospital feels an awful lot like this:

Lots of noise, routine interventions, people talking down to you and treating you like an idiot, and then (the worst part!) after you do the hardest work of your life (deceptively not shown in that ^^^^ video where they make it look easy), they take your baby away and you’re left in a room.

Even when I had baby #6 at home, I (in hindsight) had called them too early, because my labor went on for HOURS. So instead of having a quiet, restful time of laboring through contractions, I felt pressured (not by them, by my own sense that things *should be* progressing). When things finally did progress, the last 30 minutes was just flat out HARD, and I had my midwife apprentice, the overseeing midwife, and two midwives in training all watching and offering encouragement. I was thankful for them! But it was still, in some ways, a noisier birth.

IMG_1856For baby #7, we were in our library (so yes, my little genius child can one day say he was literally born in a library), and our midwives are a mother/daughter team. They communicate with one another very quietly, and for much of the birth, it felt like Doug and I (while supported and not without help) were the two people going through this together.

Which was lovely.

Every now and then, my midwife would put her hand on my shoulder and quietly say something like, “relax your hands” or “let your feet stretch out and relax.” I didn’t realize before how much I tried to “be strong” by tensing up my body, but she helped me learn to be strong by relaxing.

I suppose I can’t absolutely control the dark part… the baby could decide to come at 2pm, but the quiet, relaxing birth was amazing.

#2- WE DELAYED CORD CLAMPING UNTIL IT STOPPED PULSING
All of our hospital births had cord-clamping almost immediately. With baby #6, we had a longer time without the clamp (maybe a few minutes?).

With baby #7, the midwives waited until the umbilical cord stopped pulsing on its own, then clamped it off. I don’t know how long it was… the time doesn’t matter. But the point is, it stopped pulsing on its own, indicating that Luke’s body was no longer relying on it. From what I understand, this allowed the placental blood to flow into him, giving him additional blood cells to draw on in those early weeks.

IMG_1847Don’t get me wrong– for me, this isn’t a hill to die on, or something that I “hated” about previous births, but I was pleased with two things about this.

  • First, I think this has the potential to give additional strength to the baby in those early days. Afterward, I remember people saying he looked “ruddy” and he did. For about a week, he looked hearty and pink (almost red) and strong. I can’t help but wonder what medical advantages came from him having those extra nutrients and resources available to him in those early few days and weeks when my milk supply was getting established.
  • Second, I appreciated the low-key way this allowed his birth to progress and kept the focus off intervening measures. Instead of “get the clamp, cut the cord, etc.” I pulled him up on my chest, the midwife checked him out while he laid there, and I got to inspect and snuggle with our new gift. In the early moments with our baby, we got to focus on him rather than distractions like cutting the cord.

IMG_1836#3- WATER BIRTH
In all my births, I’ve had a variety of experiences… laying on my back w/ feet in stirrups, walking around until it was time to give birth, and I even had one baby standing up in the hospital bed (this approach was entirely unplanned and unexpected, I assure you!).

With baby #7, we tried a water birth. (That’s the tub, with a cover over it, to keep the water warm before I got in.)

And after that experience, there’s no turning back for me. But I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t think it was something I’d enjoy.

  • I was totally grossed out at the thought.
  • I was concerned that it could be harmful to the baby.
  • I was skivved out of what would be IN the water with me afterward.

But then I thought about the way I relax– I take hot baths. All the time. The more stressed I am, or more weary my body is, the more often I take them. Epsom salt baths are a multiple-times-a-week occurrence in my house.

Suddenly, water births made so much sense to me!

IMG_1837So with baby #7, my precious little Luke, after laboring for a couple hours walking around my house, boiling the pacifiers, dealing with contractions by leaning on the mantle, and arching myself over the stairs, once the midwife arrived and confirmed that I was nearly there (at a 7!), into the tub I went… and it helped me relax so much.

It was BY FAR the most relaxing birth I’ve had.

So now, I’m a fan of water births!

(And… in case you’re one who wonders like I did, the water seriously doesn’t get very gross at all. I was shocked! Plus, I got out fairly quickly afterward, and moved to a real bath in my own tub before going up to my bed and laying down. The advantages totally outweigh the concerns I had.)

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

These are 3 “firsts” from my 7th birth that, Lord willing, I’m planning to repeat with my 8th. Have you experienced any of these? 

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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10 Responses

  1. Stephanie says:

    My midwife delayed cord clamping without me even asking. At my last birth my baby went on my chest and stayed there for an hour before being weighed or cleaned. They did vitals with her on my chest. It was very nice and my favorite part of my last birth experience. We have had our last 3 at the same hospital with the same midwife group and they have all been such great experiences.

  2. Diana says:

    I agree on all points! Yes! Those are essentials for me as well. :)

  3. Charisa says:

    I really appreciate a dark, calm birthing environment. For the most part I have laboured with all our babies at night – so much that with our #5 we just assumed it would be night again. And it was!

    I also had my first water birth with our now 4 week old baby #5. I agree: there’s no going back! It was so relaxing and even just having water poured over my back from a cup was incredibly soothing.

    • Jess Connell says:

      It’s funny, I have given birth at almost every interval of the day (2am, 4pm 12 noon, 8pm, 8am, 11am, and 7pm); it’s so interesting to me the way some women tend to have their babies at the same time (and how opposite it is from the stats of hospital births, where almost all women are expected/pressured to give birth between 8am and 5pm).

  4. Brittany says:

    I’m planning my first waterbirth for baby # 6 in July. :) Even though my last two were homebirths, I didn’t want to have to do the work of setting up and taking down a birth tub. And I thought I could just use our clawfoot bathtub for the last one, but it ended up not feeling big enough for me to get in a good position.

    And I can totally relate to calling too early. This time we decided that we won’t call our midwife until my husband has to be the one to do it. I think the calling and arrival interrupted my focus and stalled labor last time. I guess he’s seen enough births if it’s too late and he has to be the one to catch! :)

  5. Tamara says:

    I’m in Australia so I think hospitals are a bit different here, I also have high risk pregnancies and births so home births are not an option. Here it is standard practice for bubs to be left on your chest for at least an hour before any checks are done etc. They also don’t clean the baby, that’s up to you to do on the ward usually around day 3 after birth. Barring medical necessity your baby is never taken from your room just like at home the two of you are together 24/7. My preference for hospital births would be very different if this wasn’t the case.

    It is also quite common to do delayed cord clamping however my bubs needed that blood to be tested so it had to be collected instead but that was all done while he was on my chest without either of us being bothered.

  6. Catie says:

    Oh man! That video KILLED ME! LOL “It’s a birth.” “Oh! What is that?” “We take a baby out of a lady’s tummy.”

    I used to think that water births sounded great, too! Then I overthought it and, like you, thought the water would be too gross, but you’ve convinced me it wouldn’t be that bad!

    We are blessed to have a very natural birth-friendly hospital. They are very accommodating. :) Having a baby at home sounds nice to me, but I’ve had complications with 2 out of my 3 births, so the thought also makes me nervous. Of course, you have to wonder if the complications were “caused” by being at the hospital! It’s a vicious circle. ;o)

    • Catie says:

      CONGRATULATIONS, by the way!!!! I’ve not said that yet! 😀

    • Jess Connell says:

      It’s a classic Monty Python sketch I go back and watch every few years. :) Glad you appreciated it too!

      What you said (about complications/causation) is an interesting conundrum. I wondered the same thing.

      I asked my midwife what she would have done for my first birth (where my water broke and cx didn’t start within 8 hours, so they put me on pitocin and then I ended up with a 26+ hour labor with an epidural and a baby in the NICU for a week b/c of meconium aspiration)…

      …and she said, “I would have waited for labor to start.” Of course I asked, “what if it didn’t?” And she said, “out of 3-4,000 babies delivered (incidentally, she’s never lost one!), I’ve never seen a baby not come eventually.” I asked, “but what about infection?” She said, “as long as you don’t introduce bacteria to the vaginal canal, it’s a very very low risk and I would walk you through the precautions to take in that instance…” I asked what the longest she’d ever heard of going after water broke and she said not more than 2 weeks. :-/

      I’ll admit, I can’t imagine having gone for that back then (I was already– I thought– 10 days “overdue”)… and yet… it sure would have been nice to have a low-key natural approach as opposed to the pressure and swirl and nervousness associated with “things aren’t starting…” “your body isn’t cooperating…” “We need to do something…” “hospital policy states…” “we probably should amp up the pit…” “Your contractions aren’t effective…” “there’s meconium in the lungs…” (and the next morning… “this is serious; this condition is sometimes fatal.”) :-/

      It is very freeing for me to have midwives that are relaxed and trust my body to do the work of birthing. It helps give me confidence in the timing and process too.

  7. Sandrine says:

    We had a hospital delivery for the first, and even if it went OK, we did not like it. We had the other four with a midwife in a birthing center. Much better! Quiet, dark room, they leave you alone, and listen to want you want. My labors were always quite rapid, so calling too early was not the issue (rather he opposite).

    We did delayed cord clamping for all of our kids except the fourth, because he had the cord around his neck and it was impossible to untwist it (too short). I never wanted to try the bath, though… I never take bath anyway (always showers), so it doesn’t seem that appealing to me, I guess.

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