The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.
Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy
These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.
I woke up that morning feeling different. I felt so in love with my baby, my husband and felt so tender inside. Instead of making my usual coffee and starting my day, I went into our birth room and watched from the window, deer feeding in the park which borders our home. I put on a Stevie Wonder CD and danced slowly while singing to my baby…’over time, I've been building my castle of love, just for two…’ I wept while holding my belly, loving my baby so much and speaking my gratitude to the Universe for the privilege of carrying my child.
For two months I'd had progressively stronger practice contractions. I sat through three hours of this one night while watching ‘Lord of the Rings’ in a theatre with my husband. I am so awful at timing things, I'm not sure how close these were to each other but they were quite close. I wasn't ready to have a baby then but saw how my daily contractions were growing more frequent and intense. The few weeks before birth I had contractions every morning at 1am that were so strong I had to get up and breathe through them until they subsided which was always around 7am. I learned from my midwife that the rise and fall of oxytocin paralleled my contractions so it made sense that my body was preparing so well for birth each morning. I also could not bend down to pick up anything on the floor as my belly would touch my thighs and spark another series of contractions. That meant that the housework pretty much went downhill beginning a month from birth.
I felt compelled to shower that day, take lots of time on my hair and put on some make-up the evening of my baby's birth. I didn't know then why, but I thought it was the right thing to do. That evening, my husband arrived late from work and I was in a hypersensitive state but I didn't know why. I blamed him for something I can't recall now and went upstairs to lie down and cry, feeling sorry for myself. After a bit, my husband came up and gave me lots of affection (bless him) and we lay on the bed watching TV. About ten minutes after my husband came to me, around 8:30pm I felt and heard a pop in my jeans that I had never experienced before! My waters broke! I was gushing water so I took off my jeans and put on one of the diaper type panties from my birth kit. My husband and I were so excited, so nervous. He ran around and started filling the tub – we thought we had more time for a trial run but here we were with an empty tub and hoping we understood enough about it to make it work. We didn't think in terms of ‘due dates’ so we just thought we might have more time to test run the tub. I went downstairs and ate two steamed artichokes while poring over documents describing what to do when your water breaks. I drank some Emergen-C and lots of water. Words floated around as I read…’clear or straw color’ (yeah, my water was that color – good), ‘feel for the baby's movements’ (all fine there). I was shaking as I was very excited about this being the night for birth.
I went to an all fours position for a bit just to make certain that my baby was in a good position for birth. I was too nervous to feel if my baby's back was on the left but that's what I'd hoped for. I talked constantly to my baby about where I needed its body to be for birth. This was something we'd rehearsed for months so it was a very familiar conversation. During my pregnancy, I rehearsed birthing everyday, sometimes a few times a day, talking to my baby and explaining what it would be like, what I needed my baby to do and how wonderful it would be. In the water, at night and quickly were three elements I felt certain about.
My husband told me that he strongly felt we should let our midwife know my waters broke. I took my time and by the time I did call, I hung up twice because the contractions were so strong I couldn't talk through them. I left her a message and she called us back about ten minutes later. By that time, I had to really breathe through the contractions and focus. She said she thought that I would birth that night (I asked, ‘really?!’) and she would shower and call us back to say when she was on her way. Our conversation was in stops and starts between my contractions.
After that call, my body went into high gear with clearing the way for birth. My bowels were emptying, I was peeing a lot and moaning in the bathroom through the waves of contractions. I don't know how far apart or how long the contractions were(who cares, right?) – but I do remember them being really strong. I had to hold onto something through them just to ground myself since each contraction felt like I was expanding into nothingness. It was like I was falling and falling with each contraction and never hitting the ground, just falling. I held onto the walls on either side of me in the bathroom, held onto the sides of my head, all while moaning and imagining a giant smile across my belly as I tried hard to smile, too. When I exited the bathroom, I found my husband on the phone with our midwife and they both were sensing birth was very close as I was in such strong sensations. ‘Tell her I have diarrhea!’ I yelled to my husband. Why that was so important, I don't know. I think because of all my birth research I remembered that the prostaglandins are stimulated in birth by the emptying of the bowels. And that meant that I was admitting this was it and I was going to give birth.
Things happened very fast after that. My husband was still filling the tub, now heating water on the stove since our hot water ran out. I stripped off the rest of my clothes and entered the warm tub. It was very soothing. My husband created the most beautiful setting: our birth room was lit only by special candles used at our baby shower, a single rose from our garden sat on the window still. I'd picked out a few CDs for birth – every time I went looking for music for birthing, a voice in my head told me that I would only need three CDs because that's how long the birth would be. James Taylor, Van Morrison, Stevie Wonder songs wafted through the room as I was in and out of contractions.
I got out of the tub at some point to be on all fours on the floor. We tried the bed very briefly but it was terrible for me. I leaned on the bed where my husband had laid out paper sheets for birth and through a contraction I ripped up the paper. I had a very strong urge to bite or rip through things. I got on the floor and asked my husband to say a prayer for me, which he did. I asked him to lean against me (he was on his knees) and he did. Just feeling he lean against me helped ever so much. I was throwing up by this point so he held a bowl for me. I sat there on the floor, all fours, looking at the paper from our midwife describing transition and the phase afterward where I would allegedly have a break before pushing. I read, re-read, trying to figure out if I was close to that rest phase. I told my husband that it was so strong what I was in, I couldn't do it for four hours. I kept telling my baby, ‘Mama needs a break, baby! Mama really needs a breeeaaakkk!!’ I loved the breaks in between contractions – I told my husband ‘the breaks are divine’. And they were! I felt like the contractions were coming too fast, too hard and I needed more time in between them.
Our midwife arrived and suggested the tub. I was weepy on my way to the tub as my husband held my arm and guided me in. I told the midwife that I didn't think birthing would be this hard (that's my version of the classic ‘I can't do this anymore’ transition phrase, I guess). I got into the tub but stood up to get out again – it wasn't the water I wanted to leave, but the strength of the contractions. Over and over again I told my baby, ‘Mama needs a break, baby…Mama needs a break!’ I sat down into the water once more. My wonderful husband sat at the edge of the tub, holding both my hands as I kneeled in the water before him. He blessed me with his love and encouragement all the way.
The contractions were all low and in front. I never had one ounce of pain in my back the entire birth. I reached in to feel inside over and over. My baby's head still felt very high inside me. I asked our midwife, ‘do you think this baby is going to come out?’ and she assured me that yes, the baby would, ‘they always do!’ I could feel hair when I felt inside me and that was wonderful. I still thought I had a ways to go before the baby was birthed. I still struggled with the lack of space between the contractions and begged for more breaks. I plunged my teeth in to my husbands forearm as he held my hands when one contraction felt especially hard. Our midwife gently said, ‘bite the towel’ and laid a towel over the tub for me. Looking back now, I laugh about the biting my husband but I was a little embarrassed about that. But I felt so primal; it felt really right to bite. My loving husband never even flinched when I bit him either.
At this point, I'd been in the tub for about an hour, I believe. Things were happening very quickly, just as I felt they would when I imagined this birth. I was getting more breaks and rested my head on the tub and heard James Taylor sing ‘oh, Mexico, sounds so sweet with the sun sinking low…moon so bright…’ The music was awesome. And, I was aware of a Consciousness in me – I was at a place I'd never been before: I felt at the edge of the Universe, and I saw where light and dark exist simultaneously, where all things are and always will be. Like I had traveled to reach a Universal energy where all things are created. It was a literally a burning line of simultaneous opposites, life and death, a burning line of creation itself. I was forever changed having reached that line – it is as if I went to the Center and came back with my Soul, really. As if all the limitations I put on myself and carried in insecurity, jealousy and fear were burned away at that creation place.
Then, my body was bearing down – I needed to do absolutely nothing – I felt a massive presence pushing inside-out and there was nothing I could do if I wanted to. We had planned ahead of time to have our midwife out of the room for birthing and I'm so glad that she was willing to do this. It was just me and my sweet husband, holding hands and awaiting our baby. I had also planned ahead of time for no vaginal exams, no Doppler, no blood pressure checks, no check for anything. I knew in my heart that any interference (for that's what those are) would hinder my birthing power. I have often said I'll never know how much I dilated, or what the heart rate for me or baby was – those things don't bring safe birth for me. Respecting the inherent wisdom of my baby and body to birth is what brings safe birth.
I made grunty noises with each push, still kneeling and holding my husband's hands. I felt like my urethra was stretching too much and I was afraid for a moment. But I still could do nothing but go with the pushes from inside.
I will never, ever forget the feeling of my baby's head coming through me. His head was pretty big I found out (35cm) but he and I worked together to bring him down. I felt his head come through me to outside and then I waited, feeling his hair moving gently in the water like reeds in the sea and touching his sweet little ears. I checked for cord around neck (no cord) and talked to him, ‘you can come out now, baby.’ His shoulders came out and the rest of his body slid out gently. I birthed my beautiful baby into my very own hands in the water just like I'd dreamed and practiced over and over. I brought him to the surface of the water where my husband and I welcomed him with kisses and rejoicing. ‘Hi, sweet baby! We're so glad you're here! We love you!’ . My husband exclaimed, ‘You did it! You did it!’ We kissed. He also told me our baby was a boy since I forgot all about gender, I was so amazed at this fully formed baby I was looking at for the first time. He was so pink and gave a little cry. I was in the highest place I've ever been – everything was right about the world in that moment and all I wanted to do was give everything for my child.
I left the tub about ten minutes after baby was born and birthed the placenta while squatting over the toilet less than ten minutes after that. I was ready to wait hours for the placenta, if need be, but it was great that she was birthed so fast. I took a couple minutes to shower while my husband stayed with the baby and our midwife helped to clean up everything. Our midwife was an angel to trust us in our birth and celebrate with us. Our midwife helped tremendously with cleaning up – she emptied the tub, dismantled it all, washed linens. This gave my husband and me all the time to be in bed with our son.
We left the placenta attached to our son, as that was important to us.
The placenta was wrapped in a couple of cloth nappies and simply lay next
to our baby in bed. It was heavy and comforting for me to have both
my baby and his placenta there with me.
After three days, the cord was just like a very tough, completely dry stem. It started to scrape a bit on my baby's knee and my husband and I felt it was appropriate to cut it then. We did that as my baby slept and he didn't wake at all. Next birth, I want to see the cord fall away on its own, though. I kept the bit that fell off after three more days. And I examined the placenta and was so very amazed at how beautiful she was! Just gorgeous! I thanked her through tears for all she did to be the first comfort, first feeder and friend to my precious baby. I have so much gratitude to her for taking care of my baby in the womb. We froze the placenta and it seems right to me that my son should decide where she should be buried someday. Maybe he wants to bury her far away from here? I think he should decide.
I did have an odd tear on my left inner labia – my husband said it looked like a ‘fat lip’ and it also had a flap of skin poking through. Our midwife examined me after birth and said that a hospital staff would most likely want to suture. I didn't want to go anywhere near a hospital and felt in my heart that this would be fine if left alone to heal. So, we did just that and at six weeks postpartum everything was back to normal and now at over a year, it's like I never ever had a tear. In fact, sex is better now than before I gave birth. It's as if everything was shifted into just the right places inside me! I never expected that after birth.
Baby was 7lbs. 12 0z., 20.5 inches long and born just 4.5 hours after my waters released!
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