I was at an amazing water birth at Monash medical centre the other day which has left me high and singing the praises of this new mother and father. What made this birth just that bit extra special or different is the engagement that the birthing mother had with her own body, partner, and with her baby, through the birth process.
Interestingly her time of challenge was well before labour became active. It was in the early stage where her conscious mind kept whispering little thoughts of doubt about whether she was ever going to get into full swing. This is a time physiologically where the hormones oxytocin and endorphins haven’t yet flooded a labouring woman’s body to the degree that it takes her into an altered labour land state.
But, she kept breathing calming with her contractions. She focused on resting in between and she ate well to keep up her energy levels. I was with her through about 10 hrs of early labour, giving time for her hubby to catch up on some needed sleep. When active labour finally kicked in the team was ready to go. She dropped even deeper into her body and welcomed the surges as they strengthened. With renewed confidence she didn’t look back and her labour progressed well. She was one of the happiest birthing women I’ve ever supported. She had a lucid presence and joy that she was birthing her baby, soon to finally meet, that over rid any pain she might have sensed. She was excited and nothing was going to rob her of feeling happy about it.
Eventually She started to feel grunty and the urge to push at the peak of the contraction became more irresistible over the next couple of hours. Initially the staff had said there were no trained water birth attendants available to offer that option but the morning team were just clocking on and a male midwife from the old birth centre could assist. I was excited to hear this and mentioned to her that she could get into the bath. She didn’t seem too fussed about the whole idea and thought she’d just stay on the bed, arms draped over the araised end of the bed. I wasn’t quite sure she realised how lovely and soothing the warm water could be. I also knew that i’d seen more women catch their babies in water than I had on land and I sensed she would feel pretty chuffed bout her birth if this came to be her reality. I gently mentioned the benefits and that I thought she would like it. She could after all get out again if it wasn’t for her. She said “let’s do it” and she waddled past 2 rooms to get into the oval warm soothing bath. She loved it!
The midwife made the lights dim, the team filed in and quietly supported in anticipation and reverence. The awesome part that I witnessed next was her comfort to touch her baby’s head as it started to crown. Most women don’t reach down there. As she could feel her vagina stretch, she moved one arm behind her leg to give gentle counter pressure to her perineum. With her other hand she grunted and pushed her baby’s head slowly out little by little with each contraction. She felt the baby’s head fill her hand as she paced the crowning perfectly for her. She moved from floating on her back to full squatting. The baby’s heart rate was not as reassuring to the on looking midwives and before ‘having to’ get out of the bath, another position was tried. The birthing mother went into a lunge and in that last position she guided her baby into her arms. The dad was there and helped swim their little fish between her legs and onto her warm welcoming chest. Oh they were so elated. They were flying high with the joy of it all. She said moment after “I love everyone in this room”.
I am grateful to have been witness and support to this couple. They have fuelled the passion, once again, to continue the work and lifestyle of being a doula.