My Birth Story
Dr. Lisa Goodman, DC
Every mom has a birth story; the story of how their child came into the world. Most of the time birth stories start with one of the following: “I had an epidural”, “I went drug-free”, “I had a scheduled C-Section”, “I had to be induced”, etc. The birth story of my youngest son starts when I was 6 months pregnant and began training for his birth. Yes that’s right, training. I compare childbirth to a marathon. The way I see it, if you have a plan and train for a few months before a marathon, you will likely fare much better than the runner next to you at the starting line who woke up that morning and said ‘I am just going to run and see how it goes’. I hear that a lot when it comes to birth. Many women say “I’d like to go without an epidural, so I will see how it goes”. While I applaud the intention, I now realize that there is a lot more to having an easy, comfortable, natural birth than just good intention.
My plan was to have an easy, comfortable, natural birth. The reason I knew this was possible was threefold:
- I know friends and patients who have had successful easy, comfortable and natural births
- I read several books details stories of easy, comfortable and natural births (Ina May Gaskin’s Midwifery, Marie Mongan’s Hypnobirthing, Birthing From Within)
- My primary care provider was a midwife who attends easy, comfortable and natural births
The reason many women don’t know its possible for birth to be easy, comfortable and natural is because our society unfortunately focuses on the pain of birth. Think of all of the times you have seen birth portrayed in movies or on TV. There is always screaming, pain, begging for epidurals. This has a profound affect on how we as pregnant women set our expectations of birth.
Preparing for Labor
Once I had decided that it was possible to have an easy, comfortable and natural birth I had to formulate a plan of action. I chose to use Hypnobirthing to train for the big day. Hypnobirthing principals include
- The power of the mind and its influence on the outcome
- Deep relaxation
Perhaps most importantly, the Hypnobirthing technique details the history of birth and how in many cultures now and in the past, women do not view birth as a medical event, but as a natural part of life. Women in many parts of the world do not talk about ‘pain’ when discussing birth and they have very low rates of epidural use, other interventions and c-sections.
I entered labor with the understanding that my body and my baby know how to be born without intervention. That sounds simple, but I spend months turning this desire into a belief. It would be like a runner waking up and saying with conviction “I want to finish this marathon in under 4 hours” but without training that is not realistic. Desire and intention will only take you so far in birth, training will turn those desires into the fabric of who you are and into beliefs.
In addition to training with hypnobirthing, I hired a doula (birth coach) to stay with me through the entirety of my labor and delivery. Tip: my doula was my hypnobirthing teacher, it was very valuable to have a birth coach who was exactly in sync with my birth plan.
The Big Day
My due date was November 3, but my baby boy waited an entire week, until November 10th to make his appearance! The week of waiting was difficult due to the anticipation, but I had confidence that the baby knew when he was ready to be born and my Midwife agreed that there was no reason to think about induction. I was slightly nervous because my first baby born three years earlier arrived on his due date and weighed 9 1/2 pounds! I could only imagine what this little guy would weigh being a week late!
It was 1:00 in the afternoon when I was taking a nap that I started to feel some fairly regular contractions. I continued to rest for about 30 minutes and then called my husband to come home. When he arrived we called the doula who arrived at about 2:30. The three of us took a walk for about a mile and by then the contractions were lasting about 30 seconds and were 5 minutes apart. We were on our way. . .or so we though. Everyone tells you that your second baby will come faster than your first, and our first was born after just 8 hours of labor. Well, at around 5pm things were slowing down so I decided to call my acupuncturist and friend, Lisa Bullis to see if she would make a house call to get things going.
Lisa arrived at 6:30 and stuck me in some points that were supposed to help labor “if your body is ready”. Well, by 7:30 nothing really was happening so we sent the doula and acupunctuist home. We said we’d call if things picked up. I should note, that still to this point I had no discomfort, the contractions really felt like my uterus was ‘hugging’ my baby.
At 8pm I was ready for some TV to get my mind off of the fact that this labor was going nowhere and was not going to be faster than my first! We settled in to watch Survivor and I had some ice cream. After the show at around 9:00 I felt that the contractions were picking up again. I plugged in my hypnobirthing recordings on my ipod and laid down. I laid down because I figured if this was the real thing, the contractions would continue to get more frequent in spite of me laying down. And they did. My husband called our doula to return and she arrived at about 10:15.
At 10:30pm my husband and doula decided that we should head to the hospital. I was doing fine and really wanted to stay home, but the contractions were about 1+ minutes long and were about 5 minutes apart. I couldn’t argue with them so off we went. We arrived at Swedish at 10:45 and spend about 15 minutes at registration in the ER. We walked up to Labor and Delivery and got settled into the delivery room at 11pm. After the monitor was strapped on and vital signs were taken my water broke at 11:15. Just 45 minutes after arriving at the hospital at 11:29pm, during one pretty long contraction, baby Nathan Kingsbury Goodman was born. Yes, that’s right, he was born during one contraction!
Oh, and for being a week late, Nathan still only weighed 7 lbs 10 oz! Proof to me that babies truly are born when they are ready. And my labor lasted 11 1/2 hours which was longer than my first labor with Tommy. But due to hypnobirthing I would estimate that any discomfort I had was only during the last 45 minutes and even then it was probably only moderate discomfort.
Some Cool Things
Some of the coolest things about Nathan’s birth were. . .
- Our midwife was so happy with the ease of the birth that she allowed me to pick up Nathan and put him on my chest right after he came out. She never even touched him!
- We spent 2 hours with Nathan after his deliver before he was even weighed or taken out of our arms.
- At no point during the birth did anyone tell me how far dilated or effaced I was. I just listened to my body and followed it’s lead.
- After Nathan was born any discomfort was gone! There was no epidural aftermath, no back pain, no numbness in the legs, no nothing. Just happy, healthy baby.
- Nathan didn’t cry when he was born.
- We left the hospital after 15 hours at 5 pm the next day.
- Nathan didn’t spend any time in the nursery, he was in our room the entire time.
- There were 5 people in the delivery room: Me, my husband, our doula, our midwife and the nurse. It was a quite and calm room.
Credit where credit is due:
Doula: Jacie Gonzales
Midwife: Anne Walters, CNM
Acupunctuist: Lisa Bullis. Lac
Dr. Lisa Goodman, DC