Birth: 10 Observations

My niece number two finally made her way into this world, bright and early on August 1, 2012. It was such an honor to be in the log themed room again with my sister-in-law even though we were only at the birth center for 1h17mins before Lily made her appearance. Wow. With Ayo’s, that was the third birth I have witnessed there. And while that makes me no birth expert by any stretch of the imagination, here are some of my observations surrounding natural labor and delivery at this birth center. To put my list into context, these births have all been at the same *amazing* birth center, involving healthy mamas and pregnancies (no complications). They were unmedicated and we were thankful not to have experienced any transfers to the hospital. I realize there are many other types of birth experiences that mamas choose or don’t choose at all based on mother and baby’s physical or geographic circumstances. I neither want to offend nor alienate any mamas with different experiences. Need I specify that each and every birth is a miracle and you are no less a mama for giving birth in a different way? Bearing all of that in mind, here are just a few of my observations surrounding the birth process at the birthing center:

  1. Labor and delivery involves lots and lots of waiting. This birthing center has mamas labor at home until they reach 3-1-1 (contractions every 3 mins, lasting 1 minute for 1 full hour) for first timers and the rule is 5-1-1 for second timers. This process might take days and the wait is kind of excruciating. (And that is when you are in labor. Besides sweeping membranes, the center doesn’t believe in inducing labor and will let you go two weeks after your due date. That wait is rough.)
  2. Laboring naturally is exhausting for everyone in the room and requires everyone to show remarkable endurance, not just the mama. There is usually a lot more waiting and encouraging to do well after the 3-1-1 mark too. This ain’t birth chez Hollywood, folks!
  3. Each birth is so very different (from the length of labor to potential scares or complications) and in many ways it is always going to be a nail biting time. The director of the birthing center once told me that it is one of three ‘out of body’ experiences along with war and jumping out of a parachute where you have one step “in the other world”. Let’s not forget that women and babies still die during childbirth all around the world
  4. Mama always reaches a mental wall she has to “break through”. In many ways, it is a mental game of body vs. mind. As a side note, the midwives told us it’s usually a great sign of progress when you hear mama say “I can’t do this”
  5. Vomitting is fairly common but should be viewed as very productive as it assists in lowering the baby as the diaphragm is compressed. Screaming is not productive. Water breaking is very productive as it seems to definitely both intensify and speed up labor.
  6. Pushing lying on your back does not feel natural at all. The midwives will catch babies anywhere and in any position that is comfortable: swinging on a sling, squatting on the floor, wading in the birthing pool
  7. Mama won’t want to eat during active labor but will be ravenous after birth. Snacks are great at the birth center: crackers, cheese, apple slices, yoghurt. Drinks too: coconut water, orange Pellegrino, Izze, or a healthy version of Gatorade. But you’ll probably want to eat a cow within a few hours
  8. The candlelit postpartum herbal tea bath provided is invariably amazing. Definitely worth getting the soothing tea bath salts (available at the birth center) for postpartum recovery
  9. Labor and delivery feels incredibly unfeminine and unglamorous but you will soon be able to redefine “feminine” after birthing a child and realize how feminine you are, in a completely new way
  10. Unmedicated  birth is likely the most painful thing you will ever experience, but it also is one of the most empowering things you’ll ever do. It puts so much into perspective (How bad can that tantrum be? Move over, toddler, I pushed you out of me!) and you will even forget the pain (unlike your spouse) and probably…wait for it…want to do it again.

3 thoughts on “Birth: 10 Observations

  1. What happens when a mama’s water breaks first? before the contractions have even started? Do they still tell the mom to stay at their house? In France you have to be at the hospital in the next two hours…
    I love observation 6 & 8 ! wish that existed here 🙁
    and wow 1h17mn ! ça fait rêver!!

  2. If water breaks and you are strep B positive you need to be in labor within 24hrs. If you haven’t tested positive, they want you to be in labor within 48hrs. I am sure it’s similar to your experience in the hospital setting.

    At least nr 6 exists in France. The big natural birth guru that lots of these midwives are inspired by is Michel Odent, who is French. He has at least one birthing center in Lyon. I am sure there are some other ones but I think it takes some research to find them. Also, your own birth experience in a French hospital is pretty rare here. Mo told me you had swings and slings and that sort of thing. That is usually more typical of the birth center in the US.

    Also, to put this in its rightful context, this is the one and only birth center in the State. So in that sense, 6 & 8 are pretty rare here too. 😉

    1. my water broke so I had to be in the hospital in the two hours! and than the labor lasted for about 24h! Yes I really did have a great birth, I can not complain ! But I so would want to either give birth in water or take a bath after! et Lyon c’est pas la porte à côté! There is one up north, even in Paris mais c’est trop loin 🙁 !
      It was more so a sling that I turned into a sling while sitting on a ball 😉 !

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