Updated: Feb 11
Meet Jennie! A very strong and determined second mom who wasn't going to allow back labor to rob her of her target birth experience twice! Her number one goal for both of her labors was drug-free / natural birth. With baby number one, although they lived in South Carolina, they trained twelve weeks in The Bradley Method®, otherwise known as, Husband Coached Childbirth with me in Athens, Ga. Her husband, Blake was very much a team player and she also complimented her experience with our YBH Doula team. Her baby was completely camped out in her back right behind her sacrum and was determined to not be moved.
At the end of labor number one, the couple had to resort to a last ditch effort of transporting from the out of hospital birth center to Greenville Memorial to try an epidural, along with Pitocin to create stronger contractions to try to free and push the baby down. In doing so, the medical interventions allowed her to still give birth vaginally and avoid a c-section. She was bound and determined to accomplish HER BIRTH- HER WAY with baby #2.
Instagram seems to have a way of making "giving birth" look so easy in their edited video clips and also depict water birth as common-place. Actually, water birth is still a fairly rare event. And, Mermaid birth (baby born en' caul under water) even more rare. One reason why is a lot of U.S. labor and delivery rooms do not even have a tub for you to labor in, let alone push and birth, or, they have only a set number of birthing suites with a tub and/or shower. Therefore, if it is a busy night, odds are there won't be one available for use for each mom who requests one. There are even fewer hospital facilities who actually allow water birth and practitioners who are comfortable catching over the side of the tub. I mean lets face it, it is an awkward position they have to get into. As for Jennie and Blake, the decision was easy. Birthing in a tub was the next best thing since the birth center was no longer open.
Couples are fortunate to have a Prisma location in Greensville, SC, who despite closing the free standing birth center, still allows the midwives to support women who want to utilize the comfort of giving birth in water. Upon purchasing the hospital, they immediately shut down the free standing birth center. The obvious reason, natural childbirth, as in "low intervention drug-free" birth, does not generate a profit. The free standing Greenville Birth center was, by far my favorite, in three different states. I was quite disappointed for my north Ga and Sc birth family to lose such a fabulous option for healthy moms seeking an out of hospital birth place.
It seems when birthing in a United States hospital, often healthy moms and babies are subject to the same interventions as unhealthy moms or those with pre-existing conditions. Out of pocket expenses are also another reason why some couples continue to be forced into growing hospital systems, despite having no medical indicators or pre-existing conditions, because insurance plans do not typically cover health professionals who attend and assist clients through home birth. There have been some lingering growing trends, especially since the pandemic originated, which have changed so much in regards to having a family oriented natural birth supported by a doula in a hospital setting. Most hospitals are still restricting the overall number of visitors in labor and delivery. Many no longer allow the option to have a birth photographer capture important priceless photos of their baby entering the world, and most no longer allow them to video their own birth experience. Therefore, there has been an increase of healthy couples now considering home birth than ever before and sadly not all states elect to license practitioners or midwives to practice home birth. South Carolina happens to be one of the states that does. Luckily, residents who are in and around Greenville, still have water birth as an option within the hospital. This can be a great option especially if their goal is to experience a low intervention / natural birth and /or a water birth and feel supported within the hospital LDR.
Mom Jennie shared the following for our blog readers...
Having taken the Bradley Method Natural Birthing Course, I felt completely prepared for labor with my first son. I wanted an all natural, unmedicated birth. I was able to manage the initial contractions with what I had learned. What I did not anticipate, nor felt the ability to manage once I was in actual labor was the excruciating back labor that went on for 16 hours. I caved to the epidural after my body was exhausted and would not progress. My son was born 8 hours after.
My second birth, I swore up and down this time, if I had back labor again, I would get that epidural first thing, even though my true desire and goal was for an unmedicated water birth! I decided like Pam teaches to "simply focus on what aspects of labor I actually had control over." So, I practiced my relaxation techniques much more intensely, ate clean and exercised daily. I even added Christian hypno birthing affirmations to keep my mind and emotions focused on the ability to give birth as God had created my body, and acknowledge my strength comes from Him!
At 37 weeks, my water broke at 3:30am September 18th. I laid back down, and tried to rest as much as possible. As contractions started, I just focused on relaxing, sitting on my birth ball, and did my breathing as practiced. My contractions started kicking in maybe around 9am. I was set on staying in the most relaxed state possible to go with the contractions, and not fight them.
My sister was at our house for a visit that weekend. During my labor she had a seizure, in which my husband ran to tell me there was blood all over the bathroom floor. She fell and hit her face on the sink. He told me I needed to get my 3 year old, and take him to another room so he wouldn't see anything while he went to help my sister. What a way to get me out of relaxed mode! I kept breathing through contractions while trying not to panic as I clearly was worrying about my sister, all while tending to my 3 year old asking what was wrong. Unlike how adrenaline effects most during early labor, my contractions started getting more intense during all the stress. Some friends came to help with my sister, who ended up being okay, and they stayed with our son so we could leave to head to the hospital around 1pm. I tried to get back to my relaxation state on the car ride there after all the chaos that transpired by breathing slowly through each contraction while listening to the Christian Hypno birthing tracks.
I had desired a birth center water birth over a hospital birth with a more relaxed and less medical energy so I chose Greenville Midwifery Care (the birth center closed after I had my first), where they have a midwife led unit at the Greenville Memorial Hospital with, nice, larger rooms with birthing tubs, showers, etc.
We got to the the hospital around 2:30pm and my midwife came to check me. I requested not to know my number because I didn't want to get discouraged as had happened with my first birth. My midwife told me she would check me again in an hour since I must not have been dilated enough to be checked into the birthing room. The contractions became more and more intense as they were on top of each other. She checked me again in an hour and I had already dilated 3 more centimeters.
As soon as I got into the room, I begged to get in the tub, but the water was running, and it wasn't filled enough yet. So I kept breathing through the contractions listening to the hypno birthing app, and trying my best to relax. Once I got in the tub things really picked up. Pam was there to help me get in various positions with the peanut ball and helped me manage, coached, and encouraged me.
I knew I was in transition because all I could say was "I can't do this!" Repeatedly as I proceeded to do it regardless haha. The contractions were so rough all I wanted to do was push because for me pushing was relief, much easier than the contractions themselves. I kept feeling the need to bear down so I asked if I could push, and after receiving the green light from my midwife, I pushed and pushed repeatedly. I knew I wasn't pushing with the best form. I couldn't get a good hold of the handles in the tub so I was sliding all over trying to push and more energy was going into hanging on than to my lower half. My midwife checked me and I was not quite a full 10 centimeters. So she did a scrape to open the last part. I still couldn't push well enough in the tub after that. I could feel his head in the birth canal, but he wasn't coming out.
Finally Pam said, "Come try to push on the toilet." Since the toilet is a place our lower halves tend to relax more easily anyway, it made total sense. They helped me to the toilet. After a few pushes on the toilet his head emerged, and I stood to push him the rest of his body out. The successful push was the biggest relief ever!
My midwife caught him and handed him to me. My baby was born looking to the right side. I let out the biggest cry of relief! Pam confirmed what I had suspected, that I had been in another back labor scenario, but luckily not full on posterior. Regardless, I did it all drug-free without fully knowing that's what I was dealing with. And, I did it naturally! Immediately, I was overcome with love meeting my Arlo Patrick Harrison at 7lb 7 oz, 20 inches long born partially on the toilet, and part standing... no doubt he is destined to do great things! 😜
With assistance, I carried my son back to the hospital bed dropping blood like a murder scene the whole way. No epidural this time and no tearing! I couldn't believe it! I was so proud and thankful it was all over, so I thought... well after second stage pushing comes third stage. In my case, it was just the beginning.
Once the placenta releases from the uterine wall, the uterus is supposed to begin clamping down to slow the bleeding from the placental site. These are what they call after birth contractions.
We asked Pam if she wanted to do the honors and cut the cord. Our little Arlo decided he wanted to help Pam and also grabbed the scissors as our midwife clamped the cord.
Going natural, I did not require an I.V., but because my bleeding was picking up, they immediately administered an injection of Pitocin directly into my thigh to help the bleeding slow. My uterus simply was not having it. Sadly, my blood loss continued to increase. After I birthed the placenta, my midwife expressed her concern, because I was losing more blood than I should have been.
My third stage of labor definitely had some challenges. I utilized my sleep mask to help calm myself and recenter as I fed my baby for the first time. Nursing can also naturally slow bleeding, but a second medicine Cytotec was also used. I could tell I was making the staff nervous. I had lost enough blood from the hemorrhage that my hemoglobin dropped really low. They continued to encourage me to get a t least one unit of blood. I was so freaked out, because electing to receive donated blood created huge anxiety for me. However, just a few hours of postpartum with my newborn, I could tell I felt off. I was extremely weak and even looked pale. I finally agreed and was administered a unit of blood. Getting the blood was the right decision for me. I literally started feeling better in a couple of hours!
The doctor said even with my prescribed iron pills, it would take months to get my hemoglobin levels up to normal again, especially while breastfeeding. I was determined to do my part. So, after birth we had our doula pick us up Cava's. I had everything on my green leaf salad. From lentils, veggies, to lamb. When I went home, I focused on what I could control in regards to building blood, by consuming tons of collards, leafy greens, salads, beets, and all high iron foods. When I went for my checkup just TWO weeks later, my levels were NORMAL! That speaks volumes of what a good diet can do for women during pregnancy and after.
Here is a quick summary...
- checked in the hospital and entered the birth room around 3pm.
- second stage labor (laboring down and actively pushing) really only lasted 2-3 hours.
- baby was born at 5:58 pm.
- total labor 12* hours versus my first (24 hours). *I also ate my 6 dates a day in the last 4 wks, which has been proven to significantly shorten labor.
-Survived two back labors! One with an epidural, and one all natural unmedicated!
A few tips for readers:
I would say the best parts of my second labor were it was by far easier to manage than my first, despite the back labor again. I do believe The Bradley Method training®, practicing relaxation, being more mentally prepared to overcome hurdles, believing and having faith I could do this, listening to my Christian hypno birthing tracks which focused on scripture and positive affirmations, and laboring in the tub, ALL helped me to achieve my birthing goals! Not to mention, the strong support of my amazing Your Birth Helper® Doula, a very encouraging nurse and a competent, attentive midwife!
The worst part of my second labor was the postpartum hemorrhage which directly following pushing out my placenta / afterbirth, which set my healing at a slightly slower pace. But, by the time my 6 week OBGYN checkup came around, I definitely felt completely back to normal. Being healthy and low risk before labor and birth, combined with good nutrition (extra blood building foods) and adequate rest in the first two weeks after, I really felt healed. The preparation of my body from second trimester on, was definitely the key to bouncing back much sooner than I had imagined. And, I am very thankful for that, because toddler boys rarely ever sit still....lol. The video below captured the excitement of our first son Opie meeting his brother. Such precious memories. I hope you have found some part of our second birth journey helpful.
Best wishes for a beautiful birth,
Jennie, Blake, Opie & Arlo