If you are looking for a good comparison from a first birth to a second, you should start by reading My First Natural Labor Story of our son.
I write my labor stories, to share and encourage others who are and will be going through the process of childbirth. I believe natural, out-of-hospital birth stories are not heard that often. The beauty of how simplistic and non-invasive labor can be needs to be discussed more. Now this is not me disgracing those who choose the widely known hospital route, for I truly believe where the mother feels most comfortable and confident is best. I am just hoping more women can speak up about their natural labor stories and give women more confidence in taking charge of their own bodies, not just what a doctor says to do.
All that being said, I have had two unforgettable and amazing births and I’m happy to share how I prepared and went through mine. I am such an open book and will answer any questions (however in depth you would like) if you’re wondering about what type of labor would be most comfortable for you!
Our daughter Finley’s due date was July 10th, but for this labor story, we have to take it back a few weeks prior. I had gotten my hopes up a lot that I would have an early labor because Cedric, my first born, had come on his actual due date and I figured second births would come sooner. (There is no research to prove this… I was just getting my darn hopes up). I also felt her drop really low by the beginning of July and felt there was no way all this pelvic pressure wouldn’t dilate me and start labor. There was this little suspicion in the back of my mind that the calculated due date they gave me was off by a week, since I do not have the “normal” 28-30 day menstrual cycle, more of a 35-day one. My 20-week ultrasound had baby girl measuring at 19 weeks, and all my monthly tummy measurements were consistently a week later due date too. (But they say measuring 2 weeks later or earlier IS normal).
Either way, I read up ALL the natural remedies for prepping for labor and labor induction techniques and was going to try and get baby girl out ASAP. I honestly have to tell you I’m one of those pregnant people who do not feel comfortable and don’t want it to last any bit longer then it has to.
Act 1: All My Pre-Gaming Labor Techniques
At 35/36 weeks I had started eating 6 dates a day. Even though I LOVE dates, that proved to be harder to do then I thought since I felt like my tummy had no room for a lot of food and it kept giving me heartburn. Around 36 weeks I started drinking cups of red raspberry leaf tea. I would mix lemon and stevia in it to give it more of a lemonade flavor; I really wasn’t partial to the bitter flavor the tea had on it’s own. Also at 36 weeks, I started orally taking evening primrose oil; started with one 1,000 mg tablet and then at 38 weeks took 2 tablets a day.
I was getting a bit antsy as my due date was arriving and really was fond of having a baby on 07-07-17. So that Friday morning before my due date (that Monday), I took castor oil… it barely sent me to the bathroom (if you have read anything about what castor oil does to your bowels, you would be as shocked and disappointed as I was). It had worked for inducing my firstborn on his due date. I did end up having a few hours of mild contractions that day which were only sustained by standing and walking. We ended up going to the birthing center that evening to be on the safe side, this being my second baby, and did not know how fast labor could progress. By the time we made it to the birthing center, my contractions had stopped completely from sitting in the car. Bummer! We ended up taking my first cervical exam and I was 4 cm dilated, but with no contractions continuing and being after ten at night, we all decided going home and trying to rest was best. During the next few days, I had few contractions here and there and irritating cramps at night that interrupted my sleep, but besides that, nothing. With my high hopes of early labor, the disappointment kept rising as she kept sinking lower into my pelvis and making it SO uncomfortable to walk.
Act 2: Due Date Arrived
By my presumed due date, Monday, July 10, I started some of the natural inducing ideas women have sworn by and tried my castor oil one more time. It barely did anything for me yet again! So I tried walking A LOT. With how much pressure I felt with her head so low I figured walking had to put me into contractions. In the end, not much happened that day.
Wednesday came around and I had my 40-week midwife appointment. All we did was hear baby’s strong heartbeat and schedule me for my 41-week appointment. We decided to wait to do a membrane sweep that day if nothing had happened, but in the end my midwife reassured me that many babies come later then the due date and it is natural and healthy up to 42 weeks. When she asked if the 18th would work for my next appointment, all I could do is laugh. That was my birthday. I had never considered that I’d be so late my baby girl might my birth date with me.
Act 3: No baby, but hey, it’s my birthday!
After trying what seemed like EVERYTHING to get labor started that previous weekend and being so disheartened when nothing was working, my husband told me to stop eagerly awaiting the moment and to try to enjoy each day (as much as I could being so uncomfortable). We continued to do long walks but not think about each step as the one that will start a contraction. That whole week came and went with barely anything and we landed on my birthday. Since I was at 41 weeks, at the midwife appointment they had to do the fetal stress monitor test and check my placenta liquid levels to make sure baby was doing fine. Everything checked out perfect and that did make me feel better. We then decided to do a cervical check and the membrane sweep. Baby girl’s head was SO low that it hid my cervix and made it almost impossible to get to!!! But finally we had success. I was still 4 cm dilated and about 80% effaced, but those numbers really don’t mean much as to when you will start labor. My midwife didn’t hype up my dreams by promising me that after the sweep I would go into labor which I appreciated. Nevertheless, I was thinking this is my last natural remedy I could try and I couldn’t help hoping I could at least get this sweet birthday gift.
I felt pretty crampy after the sweep and I was definitely waddling with every step in discomfort.
Justin had to do a short 6-8 pm shift that night at work, so we decided to try more things from 1-5 pm to see if he needed to call out of work if labor did start. FIRST, I ate a piece of my delicious coffee ice cream birthday cake that my mom made… helped make the day feel a little like a birthday, then we had sex, did nothing. I tried an hour of breast-pump nipple stimulation. This actually did bring on three minor contractions. I had tried nipple stimulation a few times the previous week with nothing, so I thought that MIGHT be a good sign. I told Justin we should go on walk and see if the contractions would continue. By then it was 4:30 and Justin would soon have to go to work. We slowly
walked waddled around the block and I did keep having sparse, mild contractions, but nothing to get me too excited. We came back at 5 and decided that he would still go to work.
Act 4: Real Contractions Begin
As he was pulling away, my contractions completely stopped and I got so disappointed… again. “I guess I will not be having a birthday baby today”… I decided to lightly bounce on the exercise ball since it seemed like the wiser choice then lounging on the couch. Right around 6:30 a long and pretty intense contraction randomly showed up. I was kind of surprised, but didn’t want to get my hopes up. When another one showed up minutes later, I decided to nonchalantly tell my mom that I was impressed (sarcasm ;]) I didn’t even have to be walking to get a few good contractions. (We had my mom watching our son all week thinking that once labor did begin, I would need someone right away watching him). So I decided to take out my contraction timer app and text Justin to let him know I was having a few painful contractions. All of a sudden as I was tracking the contractions I realized they were coming every minute and a half and lasting a full minute… and they HURT. I had to leave the room my mother and toddler were in, focus, and start my low moaning and hip swaying to help get through each one. Within 15 minutes, I told my mom she had to call my midwife that the time had come, and I texted Justin to get home right away. I had this certain keen awareness that being my second labor, already being 4 cm dilated, and having these almost unbearable contractions, that there was no time to waste. Justin raced home and was there by 7 and by then I was in no mood to converse, but I did still have my brain semi-working to make sure we had everything. I didn’t even put my sandals on as I made my way to the car. Thank God it was 7 and the 5 freeway (in Southern California) had barely any traffic. I closed my eyes and took every contraction as well as I could sitting strapped in the car. I knew I was in hard labor since my contractions didn’t slow at all in the car. Usually when you change up the environment on your laboring body, i.e. jump in the car or get in a hot bath, it can slow down contractions for a bit. This was NOT the case with me. We made it to the birthing center within 15-20 minutes (I was not paying attention to the clock), and it took me a while to walk into the center since every minute an extremely painful contraction would start and I wasn’t able to walk through them.
Act 5: Labor at the Birthing Center
Once inside, my midwife was right there and I am sure she saw that I was not wanting to converse much. When you have seen so many births, they can tell when it is not a false call. I was so happy when she said I didn’t have to have a cervical check, those are evil when you are having contractions every second, and the idea of laying down on my back was not on my agenda! She started the bath water right away knowing with my first birth I had labored the whole time in the bath and it had helped so much.
I tried sitting on a birthing ball but it didn’t help with the intense pain. All I was able to keep doing was lean against the wall, swaying back and forth as I waited for the tub to fill. I started having contractions that peaked one after the other. I semi-joked to the midwife, “Isn’t that only supposed to happen in transition? it’s not that fair it’s already happening to me!” Minutes later I stripped and jumped in the bath. (No one wants to be weighed down with clothes in hard labor! 😉 The bath didn’t slow down my constant contractions and was only relaxing for the few second breaks I would get, but it was still extremely painful. I thought that I must have a few more hours to go, so I told myself the contractions weren’t too bad since they are only going to intensify whenever my real transition period began.
While all this was happening my poor husband was trying to comfort me however possible, trying to counter pressure by rubbing on my back during contractions but I was being unbearable. I would keep telling him to push harder or move to a different spot, but in reality, I was in so much pain that I wasn’t quite sure what I was saying. All my focus was on trying to get through the contraction and keep my body from tensing. All of a sudden I felt my body heave, and it made me feel like I had to throw up. They gave me a baggy, but as the contraction ended, the need to throw up dwindled. This kept happening for 5-10 contractions, and with one I really felt I was going to heave, so Justin left the room since he doesn’t do well with bodily fluids. I ended up not throwing up.
Act 6: Am I Pushing Already?!
All of a sudden the next contraction happened, and as I was feeling that same heave in my body, I realized it was turning into a pushing feeling, not a throw up sensation. I’m pretty sure I almost yelled to my midwife, “I’m pushing!?” Half an exclamation, half a question of surprise. It was happening so fast that it shocked me that there was no way I’d made it to the finale: the pushing stage. My midwife jumped right behind me and was telling me to take a deep breath-we were going to get through this stage together. I was still in semi-shock, but by the next contraction I knew I was definitely pushing. I had not planned for a water birth, so was frantically telling her I should get out and I don’t want to tear. My midwife was awesome and calmly told me to take my hand and feel my perineum. She said we will get through this and that I should keep my hand there to help feel the control of my pushing.
It was such a magical feeling. Being able to fully embrace and feel your body do what God made it to do is such a breath-taking moment you can never forget. It makes the few hours of pain so worth it.
At first I felt a big bulge on my perineum from our daughter’s head about to come out. A few pushes later I could feel her head through the amniotic sack that hadn’t broken yet. The pushing stage is VERY painful, but knowing it’s the last part of labor and feeling that my baby was literally seconds away from my arms made it so worth every second. Within 10 minutes of pushing, out came baby girl and the midwife pushed her up through my legs and I was able to bring her into my arms and look upon her for the first time. Being able to fully embrace and feel your body do what God made it to do is such a breath-taking moment you can never forget. It makes the few hours of pain so worth it. First thing I always do looking upon my baby is confirming the gender… yup, she WAS a girl… never know with ultrasounds. Then I was able to sit back in the water and cuddle her as I soaked everything in. I was in a blissful shock that it was already over.
Act 7: She’s Born!
I’m holding my second born.
That labor was FAST.
I feel great!
Baby did her first cry and looks in perfect health.
That labor was really fast.
I’m in love.
Omgosh, it’s my birthday. My daughter is going to share my birthday.
Finley Grace was born at 8:37 pm on July 18.
Do the math. Started labor at 6:30, had Finley at 8:37… yup, only two hour labor! So intense BUT so fast!
*Fun fact. 26 years earlier I was born at 8:17 pm on July 18. Not only did we share the same calendar date, we shared the same hour of birth as well!
Thank you for reading my birth story. I hope it has informed and encouraged you. I love talking about labor and delivery, if you have any questions… ask away!
My favorite part of of having a birthing center birth, after four hours we were able to pack up and go home to sleep in our own bed! With how easy labor was we were even twiddling our thumbs after 2 hours wanting to go home!