***We request a natural birth friendly nurse***
***We want to minimize medical interventions***
● Please do not offer me any anesthesia during labor unless I
specifically request it.
● Want a birthing ball and squat bar
● NO Pitocin
● Minimal number of vaginal exams
● Intermittent electronic fetal monitoring
● No IV for hydration, will eat and drink for hydration and food
● Prefer to walk around as much as possible
● Be allowed to progress free of stringent time limits
● Hep-lock in arm, not hand
● Prefer NO episiotomy
● Do not cut the cord until it stops pulsing
● Deliver placenta without interventions (pulling on it)
● No Pitocin after I deliver the placenta unless medically necessary
● Place baby directly on my chest, naked, and place blanket on top of baby, before
● Attempt breastfeeding immediately after birth
● Absolutely NO bottle feeding or formula
● All newborn procedures to take place in the presence of a parent
● Father will stay with the baby at all times if mother can't be there
● Would like baby circumcised at hospital and would like father to accompany him
as far as possible.
Note: This birth story is long, but my labor was long. I also wanted to include details that I don’t
want to forget, and that I think are interesting for women looking forward to their first baby.
On Tuesday, January 31, I was officially 41 weeks pregnant, and a week past my due date.
I was still going to work, although I didn’t have much to do because I had planned to be on
maternity leave by then, and all of my projects were wrapped up! My co-workers were trying to
be funny and nice, but their constant “You’re still here?!” and “That baby missed the due date
memo!” were starting to make me feel pretty defeated. I really felt like I would be pregnant
The day before, Monday, January 30, my OB had stripped my membranes. She offered to
induce me, but my husband and I had taken the Bradley method class and were committed to
doing everything as naturally as possible. I really wanted to avoid being induced, but she said
that if my labor had not started by the next Monday they would induce. So I was really hoping to
go into labor naturally before then.
So on Tuesday, I decided that it would be my last day of work and I would go home to really
concentrate on going into labor. As if I could will the baby to come out! But, Tuesday night
I went home and walked a couple miles, drank red raspberry leaf tea, ate a spicy meal, did
squats, and other things everyone had suggested to get labor going. That night I lost part of
my mucus plug! I was so happy. I went to bed feeling relieved I didn’t have to go to work the
Around 5am (February 1) I woke up with contractions! I had had some Braxton Hicks, but
nothing really painful, and these felt totally different. I was really excited that something was
happening. I also knew that labor can start and stop and didn’t want to get my hopes up too
much. Around 7, after timing them (7-8 minutes apart) I woke my husband up and told him
I was having contractions that felt like the real thing! He stayed home from work that day
but had to finish up a few things from home. All day I bounced on the exercise ball through
each contraction, except when we were out walking. Walking did not seem to speed up the
contractions. In the early afternoon, they slowed down to about every 45 minutes. I was
disappointed but they didn’t go away completely. After dinner, they really started to come back.
We got in bed but with each contraction I got out of bed to bounce on the ball. I was really
trying to concentrate on letting my body do what it needed to do, on not being tense, and on
letting my cervix dilate. We ended up timing contractions all night, and did not sleep at all. My
husband would time them as I got out of bed and onto the ball.
By 6am or so they were coming more like 4-5 minutes apart, and they were painful enough that
I was starting to vocalize through them. We debated about going to the hospital. We wanted
to wait as long as we could because we knew getting there earlier increased our chances of
having some sort of intervention. I think my husband was scared I was going to give birth at
home, but we didn’t have to worry about that! Because I had been having contractions for 24
hours and because they had been painful all night and were getting much worse, we decided to
go to the hospital.
The car ride was short (15 minutes) but hard, contractions hurt more sitting down in the car. I’d
brought my exercise ball with me so I bounced while my husband parked our car and I bounced
while he filled out the last paperwork. My biggest fear had been getting to the hospital and them
telling me I was hardly dilated, so I was nervous when we finally got to triage and they checked
me. Well, I was 2cm. I was upset, and cried, because it had already been so long, and I had
really been trying to concentrate on relaxing and letting my body do its thing, and there I was
only 2cm. I really didn’t want to go home though at that point. They asked us to walk laps
around labor and delivery for two hours to try to get more dilated and then they’d check me
again. We did that, and I was wearing flip flops and remember wishing I had worn tennis shoes.
After walking for two hours, pausing to rock through each contraction, I got checked again.
They said I was at 2 to 3cm. But, they went ahead and admitted me. It was about 10am and at
this point we went ahead and called both sets of parents, both of whom wanted to come for the
birth. They live 5 hours and 7 hours away, so we hadn’t told them previously that I was in labor
because we didn’t want them to make the whole drive here if it was a false alarm.
They assigned us a nurse who said she was really excited to help with our natural birth, and the
doctor looked over our birth plan and okayed everything. They even let me not get a heplock.
Our nurse suggested we walk the halls more to get labor going stronger and to get me more
dilated. So we walked for another couple hours, then took a break where I tried to eat some
broth soup. It was hard to eat much. I’d packed some honey sticks, and those were palatable
and I had a couple of those. We walked for another hour or so after eating a bit. (While we
were walking around and around labor and delivery, we saw a girl get wheeled out of her room
and we heard her relatives saying they were taking her in for an emergency c-section. They
all looked so scared and I thought how much I did not want that to happen to me.) The nurse
would check my contractions and the baby’s heartbeat whenever we stopped walking. I was so
grateful that she wasn’t pushy about those checks, and that she wasn’t pushy about checking
my progress either. I didn’t want to be checked often because I didn’t want to know if I was still
only a 3!
Later that afternoon, maybe around 6 or 7pm, I talked to the nurse again about getting in the
tub. I’d wanted to try it earlier because I’d heard so many people say how much the water
helps with the pain, but the nurse said it could slow my labor if I wasn’t very progressed. By
the afternoon though she said I was probably ok to try it. Our parents had all arrived by this
point and were in the waiting room. Only my husband was going to be in the room for the birth
and I really didn’t want to see anyone else until labor was over. When I got in the tub, I was
able to relax better, but it sure didn’t help with the pain. I kinda had to stand up and bend over
the side of the tub through every contraction. I do remember sort of falling asleep between
contractions in the tub though. I spent about an hour, maybe 2, in the tub. When I got out the
nurse suggested me getting checked. I agreed, she checked, and I was an 8! I was so glad
that I had made so much progress! The nurse was so nice and encouraging, and told me I
would definitely be the next girl to deliver, because I was the most progressed, and she knew it
would be quick now! I believed her...
I continued laboring in the room, now just in my tank top, after getting out of the tub I just didn’t
want many clothes on. I don’t remember much about this time, except that the nurse turned
off the lights and talked me through each contraction, talking about riding them like ocean
waves, and to think about being on the beach. It helped, I liked the attention and the help, and
it made the time go by pretty quickly. She monitored my contractions and the baby’s heartbeat
periodically, and the baby’s heartbeat was as strong as ever. She even started getting the
baby table ready at one point and I was so excited that it was going to be over soon. Then, as
time crept on and it got closer to 11pm, I realized we were going to have to get a new nurse. I
wished she would stay, but of course she had to leave, and we got a new nurse.
This nurse wanted to massage my back and do a lot of touching through each contraction, but
I told her it was making my skin crawl and tried to describe what the previous nurse had been
doing. Instead of talking calmly, she decided to talk about how much she had hated living in
Mississippi (where my husband is from) and other topics totally unrelated to dealing calmly with
contractions. She also gave me this fake toilet to sit on. It was fine, and I sat on it for a long
time, but I don’t think it helped, and she never offered any other ideas.
Around 1 or 2am, I told her I kinda felt like I wanted to push. I didn’t feel the overwhelming
desire like I had read about, but it had changed a little. She checked me and said I was 9 and a
little bit. Then, she offered to physically push aside the rest of my cervix so I’d be a full 10. I
had never heard of this, but I had been in labor for almost 48 hours at this point so I thought that
if she could help me fully dilate it sounded great. Well, her pushing on my cervix hurt more than
actually giving birth. I was coming off the bed in pain. I pushed for a while after this, but it was
really ineffective. I pushed the traditional way, holding my legs back, and then I asked for the
squat bar, because I thought that would be good for me. Well, all the squat bar did was irritate
the hemorrhoids I already had. I knew it wasn’t working. Looking back I thought that this
pushing time period lasted for less than an hour, but my husband told me it was more like 2
hours, at least. Then the nurse checked me again, and saw that I wasn’t fully dilated, so she
offered to dilate me to ten again. I don’t know why I agreed again, except that I probably
wanted all the help I could get. This time, she broke my water accidentally. It came out in a
huge gush, splashed all over her and all over the bed and the floor. It kept gushing out too, it
wasn’t just one wave, it was three or four. My husband told me later he had to move our bags,
because a river of amniotic fluid was running down the floor towards them. When I stood up
after my water had broken the nurse said, look how much smaller your bump is! I’d been
carrying a lot of fluid.
I think it was maybe 3 or 4am at this point, and I tried pushing some more. She had me try
turning around on my knees and holding on to the top of the bed. That position really hurt, so
I came back to the traditional position holding my legs back. Even after an hour or more of
pushing, the baby still wasn’t descending. The doctor came in and checked me, and said that
my cervix was swollen because I’d been pushing before I was fully dilated. So “pushing my
cervix to 10” really hadn’t worked. The doctor, incredibly, also picked this time to tell me that
she was concerned about my baby’s size. (They’d estimated him at 8 pounds a week earlier in
an ultrasound.) She told me that sometimes with a big baby, the baby’s head can come out, but
the shoulders get stuck, and then you can have brain damage. She wanted to know if anyone
had discussed this with me. I had been in labor for two days, and she was asking me this, and
implying that I was headed for a c-section if something else didn’t happen soon. It was really
discouraging and my husband and I both really thought I was going to have to have a c-section.
She told me she thought I had hours left of pushing still to go.
At this point, I looked at my husband and said, ok, I need something for the pain, I am about
at my breaking point here. I said, I don’t want an epidural, but I need something. I asked the
nurse about a drug I’d heard of some people getting that makes you feel woozy and kind of
drunk, but takes the edge off. So she got me and IV and gave me the drug, called nubane, for
one hour. My husband said it was strange because I really did look drunk. I could definitely still
feel the contractions, and still had to get out of bed to walk through most of them, but I felt more
calm, and not stressed. I did feel drunk.
Around 7am, it was time for a new shift of doctors and nurses. I was not sad to see the
old nurse and doctor go off call. Our new nurse was amazing. She came in, assessed my
situation, and immediately ordered glucose for me. She said my muscles were weak from
not really eating much at all and also not sleeping for the two days I’d been in labor. (Not to
mention being in labor for so long and pushing for hours!) She let me rest on the bed while the
nubane wore off and the glucose was administered. I was checked again and the nubane had
allowed me to relax enough to fully dilate. Finally! I remember telling her that I couldn’t do it, I
couldn’t push the baby out, I was too tired, and I didn’t want to do it. She said, yeah, ok, turn on
your side, we are doing this. She helped me turn on my side, which was excruciating. She also
had a student nurse with her, who told me this was the first birth she had ever attended. But
she was a great help. So she had me on my side, and had the nurse holding one leg, one leg
in a stirrup, and my husband kind of holding my back. There was a little handle on the bed, and
she said when I had a contraction, to hold on to the handle, curve like a c, bring my belly button
to my spine, and push. She also had her fingers on me down there saying push to this point.
That was really helpful to me. The previous nurse’s advice was, “Push like you are taking a big
poop.” That may help some people but wasn’t really helpful for me.
So she had me push on one side for a while, then switched me to my back, then to my right
side, and we kept doing that pattern. I remember when I first started pushing with the previous
nurse, I kept thinking, why aren’t they calling the doctor? I’m about to have a baby here. I had
no concept of how long pushing could take. I think it was about 8am when I started pushing
with the new (amazing, life-saving) nurse. She offered me the mirror to see the progress I
was making. I wanted to see the progress, but I was afraid of seeing my hemorrhoids, which I
knew were horrible. She held a cloth to hide them from me, and so I got to see the head which
was starting to show with each push. His hair was the first part of him we saw. Long, dark
hair. Also while I was pushing, the nurse told me that I had a leftover part of my hymen that the
doctor may have to cut. I’d never heard of this, but after a few more pushes, it broke on its own.
That was pretty bloody (according to my husband), but that was just the beginning.
While pushing I remember feeling really hot one minute, wanting ice chips and a cold wash
cloth, and the next minute I’d be freezing, and need a big, thick blanket. It was really strange.
But, I kept pushing. The nurse said that she’d talked to the doctor on call and that I had gotten
lucky, because he was scrubbing in for a c-section, but that he thought I’d need one too.
Because he was going to be busy performing someone else’s c-sectioin, I’d gotten more time to
try on my own. She told me we were working against the clock since my water had broken. We
were so thankful for this nurse who was encouraging that we could have the birth we wanted,
and really advocating for us.
Finally, finally, our amazing nurse called the doctor and we were about to actually have the
baby! I don’t remember much about this, except that when the doctor came in, he brought what
seemed like 10 people with him! Our room was all of a sudden full of people and really bright
lights. The nurse had told me the doctor would likely talk to me about an episiotomy because
of the baby’s big head, and she was right, he did. He had the scissors ready, but with the next
push I tore on my own. The only other thing I really remember is that I was lying on my back
with my head pointed to the ceiling, pretty much screaming, when they started saying, “Look
down, look down!” and I thought they meant to bear down, so I tucked my chin to my chest, but
then they said, “Look up!” I did, and there was my son, dangling in the air, he was out! It was
10:47am, on February 3rd.
For weeks, every time I closed my eyes the image of him in the air was what I saw. It was such
an intense moment, not only to finally be done with labor, but to see my baby in front of me! I
will never forget it.
They placed him on my chest (I was naked) without wiping him off much, which was what I’d
requested. They put a blanket over him and there he was. I remember how warm he was,
and slippery. My husband took a couple pictures and we just stared at our baby. He was
perfect. His apgar score was 9/9. He was 9 pounds and 1 ounce, and 21 inches long. His
heartbeat never faltered throughout my incredibly long labor. The doctors and nurses in the
room exclaimed that he looked like a c-section baby; his face wasn’t squishy, but smooth.
Meanwhile, I delivered my placenta with no problem, and the doctor began to stitch me up. I
had a third degree tear, but I hardly felt him sewing on me. All I knew was this baby who was
finally here. I think he spent about a half hour sewing me up. My son was able to stay on my
chest for at least an hour before they came in wanting to bathe him. Our parents got to come in
the room for this part as well.
After we had breastfed, and we were about to be moved up to the recovery room, I felt a
gush coming out, and thought it didn’t seem normal. So I asked the nurse. She pushed on
my stomach, hard, which also hurt a lot, and blood came just gushing out. She immediately
called for pitocin, and gave me some pills. I was hemorrhaging, but the medicine they gave me
stopped it. Later I found out I lost almost enough blood to have a transfusion, through the birth
and the hemorrhage afterwards.
After about 7 hours after he had been born, it was time to move up to the recovery room. (You
usually stay for 2 hours but with my complications we stayed longer.) They have the button you
can press that plays a lullaby throughout the whole hospital announcing that a baby has been
born. I was in a wheelchair, and we hadn’t slept for 2 days, but we had our perfect son. My
husband and I were both choked up when we pressed the button. It’s only been uphill since
that first day.
Thank you "Anonymous" for your beautiful and honest birth story! ~Jen
Jen Starks, Owner