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Lindsey and her husband were living in Denver, Colorado while her husband finished his master’s degree. As the program was ending, they knew their next step was pregnancy. Lindsey thought it would likely take some time, but her husband thought they’d become pregnant quickly. He was right, and they were pregnant within the first month.
They knew that they would be moving back home to Boston before the baby’s arrival, but Lindsey of course needed prenatal care in the meantime. She went to a low-cost clinic for her first appointment, but this “low cost” appointment actually turned out to have a $1000 price tag. She left before the end of the appointment and began searching for another option.
Lindsey found a homebirth practice in her area that was willing to take her on solely for prenatal care. She loved her appointments and enjoyed going to the cozy old home, sitting on the couch and sipping tea with midwives dressed in comfortable yoga attire. The entire process was holistic. They asked questions about her husband’s job, her life, her emotional well-being.
When it was time to pack up and move home (right at 30 weeks), she was sad to leave the practice, but excited to meet her new providers at a hospital-based midwifery birth center. Two days after moving home, she had her first appointment.
The meeting was more sterile, less cozy, but she knew this would be the case going into it, and was fine with her birthing situation.
And then… at her second appointment, everything changed. Covid-19 fear struck the United States, and everything was shutting down. Appointments were now awkward and hurried, the receptionist showing clear distress at people even being in the office.
At this point, she and her husband began wondering if perhaps homebirth would be a good backup option for their birth. They decided to reach out and interview two midwifery groups and see what they thought.
Upon interview, they learned two things: The “birth center” through the hospital was really just a glorified Labor and Delivery unit… not a separate entity. Her midwives could be overruled by an OB at any point. And… if they wanted to have a homebirth, they had to commit. There was no backup retainer, as the midwives were filling quickly due to so many people switching into their care.
Lindsey and her husband chose homebirth and fully committed.
During the last five weeks, Lindsey was isolated. This was sad, as she had just moved home and was looking forward to spending time with her family. The positive side of this was that she was able to spend time focusing on her upcoming birth. She practiced yoga daily and re-read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. She also listened to positive birth stories and podcasts constantly.
Whenever any negative thoughts entered Lindsey’s mind, she followed the thought to it’s conclusion.
“What if the baby has a shoulder dystocia? Well, I’ll flip onto hands and knees. What if the baby isn’t breathing? Well, my midwives are trained in neonatal resuscitation. This practice showed Lindesy that she needn’t be fearful of the birthing process.”
Lindsey also practiced “keep ups”— lifting her arms up over her head for a minute at a time and coping with the discomfort. She knew this would serve her in labor.
At 39 weeks, Lindsey’s labor began. She thought that she would be using all kinds of movement and coping mechanisms, perhaps even assuming asanas during her birth. None of this happened, as Lindsey realized that she needed to go completely inward. The majority of her labor was spent on her side in bed: closing her eyes between contractions, then relaxing completely and focusing on her breathing during them.
Her midwife listened to her through a contraction on the phone, but there was only silence. Lindsey hoped she wouldn’t take that for thinking nothing was happening.
Lindsey was completely silent through her labor until she announced to her husband, “I’m having rectal pressure. Can you please call the midwife?”
The midwife rushed over, and as soon as she got there, Lindsey got into the birth pool. As soon as she hit this point, she felt like her entire body was rippling with contractions, and she now recognizes this as the fetal ejection reflex. Even at this point, she was not pushing. She felt that her uterus was saying, “We are going to get this baby out now.”
Lindsey reached her hand down, and unexpectedly felt her baby’s head. In that moment, she felt fear. She had an impulse to hold him in and tighten up, but instead she knew she needed to relax. As she relaxed her body, her baby’s head “popped” out. One contraction later, and his body “slurped” behind.
She felt a massive surge of relief.
The tricky part of Lindsey’s labor? After her baby was born, her placenta did not come out. Her midwives told her to “give it a push,” but Lindsey had no idea how- she had not pushed at all with her baby’s birth.
Because of this, the placenta took 2 hours to be born. Her midwives were at the ready with pitocin if needed, but they were willing to give Lindsey’s body the space it needed to release the placenta on its own, and it finally did.
Now, she still struggles with the isolation of Covid. She hurts knowing that her family members still are unable to enjoy her son in the way that she had always imagined. At the same time, she recognizes that the bond she has grown with her baby is unbelievably deep, and the bond she will share with mothers who also went through birthing in a pandemic will last a lifetime.
Can you believe that? As we head into the episode roundup, I want to leave you with this:
Lindsey didn’t push her baby out, she released it. I love this podcast, because it shows the entire gamut of birth. The difficult and the serene. No, not every birth will end with you releasing your baby and having no clue how to to push out your placenta, but this is a variation of birth. This is possible for you. When I think of how Lindsey prepared for this birth, how in tune she was with her breathing, how seriously she took clearing her fears… it makes sense to me that she was able to experience this unusual, beautiful birth. I love her approach, as it’s so similar to what I teach my students. Spending time learning to relax, exploring and releasing your fears… it’s all part of a beautiful process of preparation. If you’re curious about learning more, make sure you join the 3 Pillars of a Happy Homebirth Event, or jump into our Facebook group by searching Happy Homebirth Podcast Community into the Facebook search bar. Okay, friends. That’s all I’ve got for you this week. I look forward to seeing you back here next week.