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.
Hi ICAN friends!
You are the first I thought about to tell of my homebirth successful VBAC story!
Susan June Sorsen was born at 5:30 am 9/8/97 in our home with our children present and sleepy eyed after a very successful and rather usual first vaginal birth! She weighed 9lb. 6oz. Our first two children were born via scheduled cesarean surgery at term due to size of baby only. John was 10lb. 4oz. and James was 11lb. 3 oz. Susan's birth fell 1 1/2 weeks past her expectant date. This birth is more evidence that we can birth our own babies without surgery! Keep up your faith and conviction! It is a great experience, sometimes hard but sometimes easier than I expected!
Here are the details: My labor was established at three minutes apart and forty seconds long at 5:30 am on 9/7/97. I got out to pace the floor from 5:30 am until 7:30 am because of the irregular and slightly uncomfortable contractions I had experienced throughout the evening but was determined to sleep through so I could reserve my energy for the harder work I knew was to come. It felt good to walk and lean on the vanity during these morning contractions. The walking worked wonders to make my contractions regular. Couldn't believe this was happening to me! I was actually laboring! I had not experienced labor or effacement or dropped baby with either of my first two children. A mother with two of her own children but no previous labor, hmmmm...
By 9:30 am my contractions were two minutes apart and 60 minutes long. Here I called my midwife and my doula, took a shower and a neighbor visited. Contractions slowed down, spaced out, almost disappeared altogether! This is one of several things that I would do differently next time: wait longer with my two minute contractions before calling birth attendants as I was not too uncomfortable at all at the point I called. Showering before calling would have been good too. Just more time on my own.
My midwife arrived and saw I was coping fine and offered to disappear into a nice mall we have here in St. Louis, Missouri. Since my contractions had spaced out, Mike and I decided to take a walk to get them going again. Our midwife stayed to babysit our two and three year old boys. My contractions got right back to two minutes apart and 60 seconds long. I definitely recommend walking for enhancing and speeding up a stalled labor. Much better than pitocin I should think! A couple hours later I had a small urge to push. For some reason none of us picked up on the idea for me to try to push, just to see if things would roll along into the second phase. Instead we all got hung up on moving me upstairs from the downstairs family room. We have a huge bedroom with bath and I knew I wanted to be there for delivery for the privacy and space. It was turning dusk outside so I suppose the time by now may have been around 6pm.
In about another hour the contractions were frequent and longer and sometimes a little harder. I got in the bath tub at one point and boy did this slow down the contractions and make them easier. This was a very nice break and though I was very reluctant to get out of the tub I finally did because I felt I wanted the labor to continue progressing on a more rapid pace. Mike and I spent some nice alone time together while I was in the tub. Also, throughout my labor Mike would kiss me and say to me that I could do this and that he loved me. Mike's kisses and hugs were tremendous boosts to my labor progress. It did not have to be a lot, but just the few or several kisses I did get and give to him made all the difference for me.
Shortly after I got out of the tub I got what I was looking for. The harder and longer contractions started right in again! I was startled at the rapid transformation, but glad and ready too. Then I started asking everyone, even Mike, to leave me alone. I just felt I wanted my space to deal with the contractions on my own. Somehow, for me, the difficulty of the contractions seemed less severe when I was allowed to deal with them on my own. I also felt my progress had been proven to be much better during the times when I was by myself to cope and think. My midwife and doula left to go have dinner and Mike went downstairs, though reluctantly at first, to watch a favorite video.
Not long after everyone left I started to feel stronger and excited and more power with less difficulty with my contractions. I went to the toilet and peed, something I did every hour if not every contraction of my whole labor, and then had a feeling of something down in my vagina. I was amazed and thought could the baby possibly be coming? I had read wonderful stories like this. I reached down and felt something warm, smooth and round! I was excited and curious. I then squatted in front of the stool, thinking this is my baby and it is coming now. Well, when I squatted and pushed a little all of a sudden my amniotic fluid burst onto the floor along with the mucous plug! So what I felt had been the forewaters. And I think they ruptured when they touched the floor rug while I was in my squat.
The fluid was tinted slightly green but mostly clear. This did not concern me in the least as I know many babies have meconium in the amniotic fluid and most always this is of no concern if there are no other signs of trouble. I monitored the baby's heartbeat with the fetoscope myself while alone and it remained consistently at the 133 beats per minute that we were getting the whole pregnancy and the whole labor long.
I do not remember feeling a pushing urge at this time, so I continued to work and relax through the following contractions. I have read that sometimes after the waters break if the cervix had been fully dilated it may decrease again to as much as eight centimeters because the waters had helped to hold the dilation open. So I continued to wait for the urge to push. Mike came to check on me, and my midwife came up when she heard about the green tinged amniotic fluid. She instructed me to push and I did for about an hour. This turned out to be a mistake as I never had the urge to push and no progress was made. I asked her to check my dilation and baby position at this time and she discovered a small lip of the cervix over the baby's head. I was only at nine cm. Now I needed to pant and blow through the following contractions for the next hour. For the hour of pant blows all of us rested and napped in the room. Mike and I cuddled on the bed and my midwife reclined on the floor at the foot of our roomy king sized bed and our doula stretched out on the carpet on one side of our bed. Some of these contractions were very strong and during some of the more overwhelming peaks I would say "I can't do this!" or call out for Mike or my midwife to talk me through it. Immediately after my negative statements I would voice the positive "I can do this!" because I knew I wanted to imprint the positive statement on my body and mind so that the positive statement could become my reality that I knew I wanted so badly. When the urge to push became unbearable I resumed pushing and oh it felt so right!
So here we are just past transition and finally in to second stage for sure. I was ecstatic and felt reassured that my body knew how to do all of these things that it is designed to do to birth my baby! Each progressive step from regular periods of first stage labor to the more intense contractions of dilation from nine to ten cm to the real urge to push, I felt more and more assured that this baby was going to come out of my birth canal! Well of course!!! Being positive and trusting my body and nature's design and believing that my body was going to do this were the most important thoughts in making this childbirth a reality for me.
My second stage lasted one and one half hours. It felt good to be able to use my muscles with the contractions. The contractions were hardly noticeable when I pushed the hardest, so I pushed hard and long through almost every contraction. Sometimes I would skip pushing during alternating contractions just to rest and this felt good too. I just kept trying to do what felt good or right to me as much as possible. I also found that making a lot of deep noise with each push helped me to open up. Resting my chin on my chest and curving my perineum upwards toward my body helped position the birth canal during each contraction also. About one third of my contractions were in full supported squat with Mike holding me up from behind. Boy did he take a beating in birthing this baby too! Mike was wholeheartedly positive and upbeat throughout my whole labor. Another third of my pushes I did on the toilet with my feet wide apart and someone else's legs under each foot for the extra lift. The final third of my pushes I did in full squat. I knew I would use this position because it is comfortable for me and I know that it opens the pelvis' opening to it's fullest.
The baby's head appeared in the canal while I was on the toilet. I was really excited now! The baby is coming yet again! My midwife said that the baby's scalp color looked fine. While still on the toilet I got the baby down to the perineum and I touched it's head. This helped encourage me more to want to see my baby soon. Now I wanted to get up and drink and get into a full squat. I sipped and drank throughout labor, sometimes between each contraction. Next the baby crowned and I stopped pushing when I felt a burning sensation, like one feels when one opens their mouth very wide, at the front of my perineum. In one or two more contractions the head was out.
An unexpected phase of excitement occurred here as my midwife assessed the baby's appearance, but did not say a word to me, and instructed me to get on hands and knees and she got behind me to check for cord around the neck. I could feel her hand searching frantically all around my vagina. My midwife was becoming noticeably upset and concerned and had difficulty remaining calm. The cord had an unusual presentation it was in a loop at the baby's chin and not around the neck at all. Cords around the baby's neck do not concern me in general as this occurs in about one third of births. You simply unwind it if it is restrictive to baby's descent. I also know that blue babies are normal. Well I never did get to see my baby until about four minutes after birth, at which time she was blue, because I did not know she was out and I had not felt her come out. This was a disappointment to me. My midwife told me while I was on hands and knees to push before the next contraction came. This is a hard thing to do and as my midwife did not tell me anything to be concerned about I had no clue as to any need for urgency. I told her to relax! When my next contraction came I did push with it because she said suddenly "Push for your baby!". After it was all over she told me the baby's head was all white except for it's lips which were purple. She said our baby was limp and had a one minute apgar of 3. It's heartbeat was 100. Above 100 is cautionary, below 100 is critical. Well I just knew my baby was strong and would be fine, thank goodness, because of how strong she held up throughout labor. And I was right because her 5 min. apgar was 7 and her 10 minute apgar was 10 and she was beautiful.
So that is our birth story of our beautiful little girl Susan! I made mention of some events that could have been handled differently for a better outcome for mother and maybe baby too and maybe these things will help someone else who is expecting. I would encourage anyone who is interested in the naturalness of childbirthing and the positive impact of love and intimacy on the progress of labor and birth to read Marilyn Moran's "Birth and the Dialogue of Love". Sometimes during my labor I made the mistake of complaining or being angry. Negative emotions impede labor progress. But then I had wanted an unassisted birth so it was difficult at times for me to be comfortable with and accepting of those present. Reading Laura Kaplan Shanley's "Unassisted Childbirth" opened my eyes to what women are really capable of and how natural childbirth really is. I had compromised my ideal birth because Mike was too fearful of unassisted childbirth. I really do believe that the best births occur when the mother feels most comfortable and secure. I had thought about birthing alone too but could not find a way to do this without causing fear in Mike.
I have read that some women experience orgasm when their child is born. I believe this. Physiologically it has to do with the way the baby's head or body exits the vagina moving past the clitoris. I imagine a woman would be more likely to experience this orgasm if she were very relaxed and comfortable with her environment and maybe even allowed some privacy during crowning and delivery. Babies are conceived in intimacy and to birth them in intimacy only makes sense to me. It would have been nice to have gone unassisted with just the intimacy of Mike or even alone but as I mentioned Mike was not comfortable with unassisted childbirth.
If this orgasm was something that I felt it was drowned out in the events that occurred due to my midwife's response to seeing and acting on my white baby with blue lips. I do know that in a pink or blue baby birth one should not push with a contraction to get the shoulders out because it will tear the mother when both shoulders come at once. I was not happy about being told to push between contractions or during a contraction. It was interventionist to me. Also the beauty and flow and naturalness of this birth and of me listening to my body was interrupted by my midwife's noticeable fear and even anger and manipulations of my baby at this very special moment. (Pushing the head out instead of letting it come on it's own can cause tearing also and I can not remember if I did this as well.) Pushing during delivery of the shoulders eliminates the natural heimlich maneuver of baby's chest pressing against the perineum which clears the lungs of the baby. In bypassing this step one will then need to spend the time saved artificially suctioning the baby. What good is this is what I wonder? Torn mother at the expense of nothing gained is what I see. So, anyway, I did tear you all! Enough to need stitches. My bottom's been sore, hence the one and a half week's delay in sitting and typing my story!
Yet all in all, with the missed orgasm of my Susan's birth and the tearing, which I had wanted to avoid, I still have a lot to be thankful for compared to my other births and the things I see happen with unnecessary intervention in childbirth in our society today. For me I am so glad I had my dear girl at home. I found it to be true that when a mother is comfortable she is not going to ask for medication. Labor is work and not pain when the mother is comfortable and allowed to move freely and behave normally and have privacy.
Nothing to me in life compares to the sensations of pushing this little girl of ours into the world! My bonding and cuddling and holding and caring for her all come much more naturally and intensely and joyfully than with either of my "elective" cesarean boys. We have an inseparableness and closeness that is unhindered by a painful abdominal insult to my body and we are both free of physical, mental and emotional effects of drugs.
Best wishes to all of you who are expecting very soon. I hope each of you can take what you need from my story and leave the rest!
Love and prayers be with you,
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