Birth is so beautiful. I never knew I could love a natural function of my body so much! I’ve never really taken the time to write down the birth of my first son, Shilo. His birth was beautiful, but in many ways it took some turns that I now realize I could have done without. Although I am now a proponent of natural birth, when I was pregnant with my first I was more interested in a hospital birth, and all the amenities that came along with it. Here I’ll share my story of my hospital birth with Shilo 🙂
first stage of labor
I spent the evening of the 22nd of July, 2016 roaming target looking for some furniture for baby’s room. I remember that evening thinking that “my crotch was sweaty” or I was peeing my pants because it felt a little off down there. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Michael and I continued our date night by enjoying a tub of Ben & Jerry’s cheesecake ice cream and watching “Stranger Things” on Netflix.
Around 10:30pm, I realized I had a steady stream of liquid coming out and figured my water was leaking and it was time to go to the hospital. I felt so peaceful. I wasn’t feeling any pain, I just knew I was going to have my baby the next morning. We packed my bag and drove to the hospital – we were commenting the whole time on how surprised we were that we felt so calm and everything felt so natural.
When we arrived at the hospital we got checked in, dressed in a horrendous gown with little boob slits (I was always worried my nipples were showing…. After having a baby now I wouldn’t think twice haha) and then had my vitals and dilation checked by my nurse. I was only 37 + 6 weeks pregnant, but I was already 6cm dilated and fully effaced! She was surprised to find (I was a little surprised myself) that I was so far along in labor already. The machines indicated that I was having contractions, but I didn’t feel them. I did feel my cervix opening, but it wasn’t painful. It felt like a powerful & strange “stretching” feeling with muscles I haven’t used before.
We decided to rest for the night and wait for baby to come in his time. We listened to peaceful music and I was accompanied by my husband Michael and my Mama. We chatted and drifted in and out of sleep, the nurses came to check me every few hours. I continued to steadily dilate but still felt no pain. I feel that part of this was due to the fact that I had so much trust in my body and got into a “zen”/meditative state as soon as I got to the hospital. I tried to focus on my body and the need I felt to just rest and relax!
Around 6am, I had dilated to 8cm. Shilo was presenting posterior (sunny side up) and they were worried if he didn’t flip it would complicate labor and possibly lead to a c-section. They broke my water to hurry things along and the adrenaline caused me to become super shaky, almost as if I was freezing cold. At that point I lost my relaxation and started to feel more anxious, and therefore, felt my contractions. It was presented that I should get an epidural now, especially in case I need to have a c-section. So, I went along with it and accepted the anesthesia. It wasn’t a painful experience, but definitely uncomfortable, haha. While attempting to insert it the first time, the anesthesiologist commented that “I had scoliosis, and he was jabbing bone”… Definitely didn’t help me to relax! He wasn’t able to get the epidural through, and so had to do it again. In between my epidurals, Michael got super pale and passed out (HAHA – he hates needles). So, my husband is lying on the floor looking quite dead, I am shaking to death and have no one to hold my hand and it was quite the scene, I’m sure! Not all epidurals are like this – and at the end of the day it wasn’t horrible or painful but it definitely took away from my birth experience and ability to remain relaxed.
The epidural faded in and out of working as I pushed on my side for the next 2 hours to try to flip Shilo into the right position. It wasn’t strenuous pushing, more just laboring with occasional pushes to help him flip. Luckily, he did flip, and I was feeling the urge to push. It was go time!
second stage of labor
I turned to my back, and pushed for about 45 minutes, feeling like I was not making any progress. I just remember feeling so tired. I hated having the epidural keeping me numb because it felt impossible to flex muscles that I couldn’t feel. I felt a little disconnected from the whole thing because I felt the instinctive urges, without feeling the ability to “carry them out”. I allowed the epidural to wear off a bit without pushing for another dose, and once I could FEEL, I pushed Shilo out in about 5 minutes! I could slightly feel the crowning but it wasn’t bad. My OBGYN who I did not know rushed in when he was already crowning, told me I needed an episiotomy and snipped about a cm of my perineum. He came out smoothly with two pushes and started crying immediately.
They placed him on my chest and he looked at me so beautifully and with so much wonder in his eyes. He was very alert and calm. He didn’t cry much at all after those few breaths.
Shilo River was born July 23, 2016 at 8:48am. He was 6 lbs 8 oz & 19 3/4 inches long. My tiny little nugget.
third stage of labor
As I held my beautiful boy, I delivered the placenta about 10 minutes after the birth. I could feel such a strong spirit in the room, and at the same time a very calm and peaceful spirit. The name “Shilo” came right into my mind, because it means tranquil/peaceful… And that is the exact spirit that he emulated. I knew it was his name, and a look from Michael confirmed that he knew the same.
“fourth stage” – post partum
Shilo took to breastfeeding pretty well. I really enjoyed breastfeeding, and even more so I enjoyed holding my baby. For the next day of our stay in the hospital I would not let him out of my sight, and declined any offer for him to sleep in the nursery or take a bottle. I wanted him right on my chest the whole time, doing skin to skin and on the boob. It just felt like the right way to do things.
We decided to leave the hospital early because I felt we had the hang of it and I just wanted to be alone with my boy without the nurses annoying me every 2 hours haha. I was happy to finally be home!
what I learned through the experience
I loved my birth experience with Shilo, as I am sure I will with every child. But there was a lot that I learned about myself and about maternal care that I realized I didn’t like. I wish I would have educated myself more about birth prior to and during my pregnancy to help me make a decision that better met my wants and my “vision” for my birth.
- Trust your body.
- For some odd reason, many people have a negative view of pregnancy and birth. It is so beautiful and natural. I felt that my labor was going exceptionally well, until I started feeling like I shouldn’t trust my body because of what the nurses were saying.
- Pregnancy and Birth are not an illness.
- I felt through the experience that I was being treated almost like a patient who was ill. I was not allowed to do certain things, I had to stay in my bed, and I was given medications. I was “diagnosed” without asking or giving much thought to how I was instinctually feeling.
- Hospital care is not always focused on what is biologically normal for mom & baby.
- I felt the staff was very put-off by the fact that I did not want to be checked on regularly, I wanted my son in my bed with me (I was told it wasn’t allowed), I wanted to breastfeed ONLY, and I did not care for “rest”, and that I wanted to leave early. I was continually offered to have Shilo sleep in the nursery, given formula, etc. and when I denied it was given “a look” and usually a statement to make me feel like what I was doing was strange.
- I was completely ready for the natural process of birth without preparation – I was NOT ready for all the interventions the hospital suggested.
- Everyone worries about being “ready” for birth. Birth is natural. Your body is meant to give birth. Literally almost every body part of a woman contributes to the moment that you will give birth to a baby, and your hormones, muscles, and every part of you know what to do. I worried about being “ready” for something that my body was ready for when it was created. I was focusing on the wrong thing.
- I was not ready nor was I educated on the procedures and interventions that are routinely (and not necessary) administered to pregnant and birthing women. After the fact, I did my research and realized that I did not need any of them as a low-risk pregnant woman. I wish I would have had a plan, understood my options, and knew what I wanted before-hand so that I didn’t just accept what was presented to me without understanding the effects.
- I am stronger and more capable than I thought.
- I always hear moms say “I am not strong enough to have a natural birth”. That is a mindset that is perpetuated in our culture today. I learned through my birth experience that I WAS strong enough. That my body was so perfect and beautiful. Because of that experience, I was determined to have my next baby without any medical interventions (as long as I was low-risk).
I know that every birth is so different, and that not everyone will have a peaceful or safe experience, and I hope that my comments of what I learned don’t get taken poorly. I just wanted to share how much my hospital birth opened my eyes to the very natural nature of giving birth – something that I felt was never taught to me and isn’t regularly talked about with women before having children. My hope is to help shed light on how it is possible to have a GREAT birth experience. We can only change our culture as women come forward and share how beautiful birth really is, instead of the horror stories.
Just because I am choosing to have a natural home birth with my next baby, does not mean hospital birth is bad. It was wonderful. I would recommend it to anyone who feels that they want to do it that way. I just wanted to share my experience, what changed, my perspective, and how much love my little man brought into my life.
I would love to hear about your birth experiences! Feel free to comment any thoughts you have or your own personal experiences. Xoxo.