The following birth story is shared with permission from the author/birther as part of our Positive Birth Story project. The goal of our project is to share a variety of stories (unmedicated, epidural, c-section, etc.) to help our clients and blog readers reduce anxiety and prepare your minds for birth. The stories are all recent (in the past 5 years or so) and take place in Minnesota or Western Wisconsin. If you would like to submit your story to our Positive Birth Stories project, please email Bria at email@example.com.
Growing up, I never heard positive birth stories. People would talk about birth as something to "get through". Words like suffering, excruciating, and horrible were associated with birth. Naturally, this was my expectation of what birth was supposed to be. Through the birth of my two children, I learned that birth does not have to be this way.
When I was pregnant with my first child in 2020, I spent a lot of time educating myself about birth. I took a class, read books, and did research online. I strongly believe that knowledge is power. This knowledge helped me be less fearful of birth and helped me understand what to expect. Birth did not always have to be negative. After all of my research, I decided that I wanted to try for a natural birth. Not only did I work to prepare my mind, but I worked to prepare my body through yoga and exercise.
I went into labor around 11 AM on July 4th 2020, which was 5 days past my due date. I was at home with my husband and we began timing contractions on an app. I remember feeling excited and nervous all at the same time. During early labor, we sat on the couch and watched movies. Sometime that afternoon, I started to get more restless and began working through various labor positions that I learned. I used my exercise ball, and it was an amazing tool. I sat on it, did hip circles on it, and knelt on the floor while leaning into the ball. I started to get a lot of pain in my back during contractions. My husband used the skills that he learned in our classes and did some hip squeezes for me. This helped me manage contractions for a while.
Around 6 PM that evening, we called the hospital because my contractions were getting closer together and lasting longer. The nurse recommended that we stay at home as long as possible since I wanted an unmedicated birth. I was able to labor at home for another couple of hours. Then around 830 PM, I had a feeling that it was time to get to the hospital. We checked in around 9 PM and the triage nurse estimated that I was 6 cm dilated. I was proud that I was already that far along. We were admitted to the hospital and went to the delivery room.
At first, everything seemed to be going well and I was continuing to progress. Then at one point the nurse told me I was dilated to 9.5 cm. I was excited, because I knew that meant I was close. However, this is when my labor started to stall out. I was stuck at 9.5 cm for hours, which became frustrating. I remember thinking that I wanted this baby out of me and I didn't care how it happened. I felt like giving up. My husband reminded me that this was a normal feeling and it meant we were getting closer to meeting our baby. My nurse suggested trying to sit backwards on the toilet, and she wanted me to try this for just 3 contractions. I focused solely on those 3 contractions, nothing else. I made it through all three contractions, made it through a few more beyond that, and then started to feel the urge to push. The nurse called in the OB and confirmed that I was dilated to 10 cm. As I entered into the pushing stage, I felt so exhausted and had difficulty focusing on breathing. Thankfully, my husband did a great job of supporting me and helped coach me though it. My son was born 53 minutes later at 5:38 AM on July 5th.
In 2022, I was pregnant with my second child. This pregnancy and labor were different than the first. I wanted to try for a natural birth again and felt confident because I had done it once already. This time, I decided to hire a doula. Even though my first birth was positive and my husband was amazing, we both felt like we needed a little more support. I originally reached out to a doula that taught our birthing class in 2020, but she was also having a baby around the time that I was. She referred me to Bright Earth Doulas. My doula, Bria, was with me every step of the way during my pregnancy and labor. She was another great source of knowledge to help prepare me for labor and birth. I took a refresher birthing course with her and continued to stay active through prenatal yoga and walking.
My start to labor this time around was very different than my first. I had contractions on and off for a few days before my daughter was born. I continued to go to work, but became frustrated when labor was not progressing. I texted my doula often and she reminded me that this was very normal for a second pregnancy. It was nice to be able to text her my frustrations and vent.
On August 24th, a week before my due date, I was still having contractions, but they weren't getting closer together. I decided to go to work that day. I dropped my son off at daycare and got to work a little early so that I could go for a walk to take my mind off everything. After my walk, I went to work and started my day. As the morning went on, my contractions increased in intensity and were becoming a little more consistent. My co-workers encouraged me to go home and rest. At this time, I was still convinced that my contractions would stop and I would be back to work the next day. I called my husband and asked him to come home from work, just in case.
I made it home around 12:30 PM and continued to text my doula. She recommended that I try to get as much rest as possible. I ate lunch and watched TV on the couch with my husband. Eventually, my contractions started to get more intense and I couldn't ignore them. I used my exercise ball again and my husband provided hip squeezes to help my back pain. I texted my doula and told her that I wanted her over to my house to help with labor. She arrived shortly after and immediately jumped in to help me. She used different techniques to help with my back pain during contractions and used essential oils to help with my nausea. This helped manage contractions for a little while, but I then had the instinct that it was time to go to the hospital.
It was more difficult getting into the car this time around and I suddenly got worried that I was going to have my baby in the car. My doula reassured me that it was going to be okay, and she followed us to the hospital. When I got there, I had trouble getting out of the car and could barely walk. While my husband parked the car, my doula helped me get into the hospital. We saw a nurse on the way in and she brought me a wheelchair. I was able to bypass triage and went straight to the delivery room. Apparently I was a lot further along in labor than I thought!
The nurse did an internal exam and told me that I was at 9 cm, but my baby seemed to be in the wrong position. My husband joined us in the room at this point. My doula suspected that my back pain was related to the baby's position and she guided me though a technique that helped rotate my baby into a more favorable position. This was hard work, but it was manageable with the support of my husband and doula. I then began to feel like I couldn't do it anymore and wanted to give up. My husband again reminded me that this meant I was close to birthing our baby. Shortly after, I had the urge to push. My doula encouraged me to surrender to the birth and my daughter was born shortly after arriving to the hospital.
I honestly believe that my doula helped make my second birth a much more positive experience. I still consider my first birth experience positive, but this birth was different and felt easier. My doula knew how to help get my baby in a better position, which prevented my labor stalling like it did with my first baby. She was also there to advocate for me to make sure that my birth plan was carried out. Not only did she support me, she was also there for my husband and baby. I am beyond thankful for her and would recommend a doula to anyone.
Both of my births made me feel empowered and strong. I am not saying that my births were easy or pain free. But just because something is hard and painful, does not mean it is automatically negative. The pain is not what I remember. Through these births, I learned how strong I really am, both mentally and physically. I can endure more than I thought that I ever could. I wouldn't change anything about my birth experiences. They shaped me into the person and mother that I am today. Birth does not have to be a horrible experience and we have the power to make it what we want it to be.