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.
For 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.
Don’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.
#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!
So 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?