I hate hospitals. When I found out I was pregnant, immediate fear set in at the prospect of having to endure needles and fluorescent lighting and hideous dressing gowns. Nothing about it sounded like an experience I wanted to have to bring my first child in to the world. Thankfully, I started looking for alternatives to a hospital birth and we found our answer at All About Babies Birth Center.
I went in to labor at 11PM on my due date and finally headed to the birth center the following evening as my contractions got closer together. Walking in to the birth center was like walking in to a spa appointment. There was a warm bath ready to go. The midwives loaded me up with essential oils, made sure I had things to snack on, and kept me drinking water. They did the usual medical steps of checking the baby’s heart rate and things of that nature, but it was done in such an non-invasive way, I barely even noticed. From what I had seen from hospital births you stay in a bed, countdown your contractions and push when you’re told. This was nothing like that. Everything was about my comfort and the baby’s safety. When I felt like I was ready to start pushing we tried multiple positions until we found something that was just right for me. The knowledge base the midwives had with maneuvering me in different ways to try and get the most effective labor was amazing. Then, the knowledge they had on the pushing itself was so incredibly helpful! You would think pushing would be easy but it is such an unusual and backward way of forcing your body that it took a minute before I got the hang of it. My midwife definitely was a huge asset as she described what I should be feeling, where I should be pushing, and patiently talked me through it.
Before I knew I it, one second I was pushing and the next they were putting a baby in my arms. I sat holding my new son in a kind of a daze at what had just happened. I knew there was movement going on around me but all I could do was hold this wrinkly little mess and enjoy this moment that you never get back holding my son with my husband right by my side. No one took him away, no one skirted him off to be measured and poked at. This was my family’s moment. My son immediately started nursing and I was vaguely aware of sheets being moved, and a bath being started. It seemed like only minutes had passed and the entire room looked completely new. After a while when I felt ready my son and I moved in to the most epic herbal bath of all time. I came out refreshed and wonderfully tired. We took pictures, weighed my little nugget of only 6lb 14oz and 21” and then made a quick drive home. It was smooth, easy, peaceful, and an amazing experience.
Knowing the things I know now, the only thing I would have changed is having a doula present, especially Jessica who didn’t happen to be certified at the time. She was there as a prayer warrior but in retrospect it would have been so much better to have her with us prior to going to the birthing center, coaching my husband through steps to help me, and being another set of hands. My husband was amazing at my birth but he isn’t trained on birthing a baby. Most of our husbands aren’t. As well-intentioned as they are, they don’t know effective massages, different positions, oil combinations, nursing tips, or anything of that nature. And yes, even though us women have the baby, our men are going through a huge emotional transition as well. He’s only felt tiny baby kicks. Being a father gets really real when a baby comes out and is handed to him. A doula isn’t just there to support the mom, she’s there to support the family as a whole and our men need some of that weight lifted as well so they can focus on this huge emotional transition of becoming a father. Having a baby is a huge experience that puts your body through an incredible struggle. Ultimately, the mother needs to be comfortable whether she’s birthing at home, in a hospital, or via c-section and that is what a doula does. My birth experience was incredible and I know when the day comes for the next one Jessica will be in the room and it will be just as amazing!