This was a lovely birth in which the parents-to-be had hoped for a natural birth, and achieved it through calmness and discipline on the part of the mother-to-be, and loving support from the father-to-be.
I was (am) so proud of them.
It was almost 1 AM when I got a call from Mateo*. I had been waiting for this call for over 3 weeks, since his wife, Samantha*, had done such an incredible job at convincing me that she was going to “go early”. She was just 5 days past her due date and sitting at 2 cm for about a week.
In the week previous, we had done two acupuncture treatments to help prepare for labour, and in attempts to gently induce labour. With the treatments, her cervix had begun to “ripen” (soften and thin out). After each treatment, she noticed more uterine activity and menstrual-like cramping, but was ultimately left to wait for the baby to initiate labour.
Mateo said, with confidence: “We think it’s time.” When a doula hears this, she becomes suspicious. I began my usual questioning: Mateo passed the phone to Samantha – her story checked out:
Contractions 2 to 3 minutes apart. Check.
Contractions beginning over an hour ago. Check.
Contractions lasting about 1 minute each. Check.
No signs of water-breaking. Check.
I listened to her as she breathed through a few surges and this confirmed it for me: it was time.
We met shortly afterwards at the new birthing unit at Mount Sinai Hospital. When I arrived, Samantha and Mateo were in triage and Samantha was being examined. It was 1:30 AM now, and she was 3 cm dilated and 75% effaced. It was confirmed: she was in active labour. She was transferred to her spacious, beautiful birthing room.
Now Samantha’s contractions were coming very regularly, every 2 to 3 minutes, and were intense enough that they required her full attention. Samantha began to feel nausea. Mateo offered her popsicles from their birth bag to ease her nausea, and hydrate and maintain her blood sugar.
We experimented with various comfort and birthing positions: on a birth ball, leaning forward on a raised bed, and found the best was a supported, seated position in the adjustable hospital bed. Samantha sat with the back of the bed raised all the way, her feet lowered, and her legs comfortably open – a supported squat. In this position, her pelvis was open, and she was able to rest between surges.
Samantha was very focused, and it was obvious to me she was in a good place and any interaction would be disruptive to her. We turned the lights down low. We spoke in quiet voices and refrained from unnecessary chat. During her frequent and regular contractions, she needed only the smallest pressure on her hips while being reminded to let your pelvis open, let your cervix open. There is lots of space for the baby. This mantra supported her and kept her focused on opening and allowing change.
Around 2:45 AM, I asked if she felt the need to pee. She was well hydrated but I just wanted to have her change positions and empty her likely full bladder to allow more space for the baby to come down. I also wanted to see if there was more “show”. We confirmed that there was a lot of fluid and “bloody show”, and she did need to urinate.
She returned to the same position, and to “the zone”. I checked in to see if lavender essential oil was agreeable. I began a gentle foot massage with coconut oil and a few drops of lavender essential oil, in a rhythmic motion, moving with her surges. I applied acupressure in several points on the sole of the foot, near her ankle and between her first two toes, to help with pain coping and support labour progression.
By 3:30 AM, Samantha started to feel more back pressure and wanted an assessment of the progress. The obstetrician confirmed that she was 6 cm dilated, fully effaced and that her water had likely ruptured on its own (probably when she risen to pee). She still had some time until full dilation, but was coping wonderfully.
Samantha re-entered the zone; and Mateo and I continued to apply gentle pressure on her hips, placing a supportive hand on her shoulder, continuing with the reciting of mantras and offering of fluids.
By 4:30 AM, Samantha began to feel an incredible urge to push. Her eyes widened and she appeared somewhat panicked. I reminded her to pant and breath through the urge until her next assessment. It was confirmed that she was at 8 cm and baby was low (+1). The urge to push intensified and the resident assisted by holding the cervix to full dilation.
With a cool cloth on her face, a few ice chips to wet her mouth and a hint of rosemary essential oil for focus, Samantha began pushing.
Her pushes were assisted by Kiwi® vacuum. Within five contractions, the baby was crowning, with a little hand was up near his face.
At 5:02 AM he was born.
Immediate skin-to-skin, Samantha was elated, Mateo was beaming.
Dad called his weight to be 9 pounds and was spot on. A 9 pound baby boy, birthed naturally into the world by an incredible Mom and supportive Dad.
By sunrise, Adam was nursing beautifully and all was well.
*Names have been changed to ensure confidentiality.