Welcome Baby O - Home birth with Midwives


Baby O's  home birth : January 29, 2016 with Briar Hill Midwives


We starting researching prenatal classes when we were about 4-5 months along in the pregnancy. I am an RN and have some background knowledge on pregnancy/delivery from nursing school years ago. Despite this, we still felt compelled to take a prenatal class to help educate and empower both of us to make the best decisions for our baby and family. 

We looked at the standard prenatal classes offered through AHS and felt their focus differed from ours. We had a midwife team with Briar Hill Midwifery and strongly desired to have an 'as natural as possible' birth experience. Our Midwifery spoke very highly of Healthy Birth Choices Class and strongly encouraged us to check out the website and consider taking the prenatal class. 

After looking through the website, information and reviews we were very excited to take a weekend two-day intensive class with Rhonda and other expecting couples at her home. We were blown away with the knowledge, expertise, and compassion Rhonda displayed throughout the class. She was extremely thorough and caring. We completed the two-day class feeling very excited, prepared and comfortable with all our options and resources available.  

Before taking Healthy Birth Choices we were on the fence about whether we wanted to do a homebirth. We had some questions and concerns we needed addressing before we could make an educated decision. After taking the class and learning more, we felt very empowered to plan for a homebirth. We based this decision on the extensive history of childbirth and the current research surrounding positive outcomes with certified midwives and homebirths for low-risk pregnancies.

The class, website, videos and resources provided were excellent! We truly felt that taking the class was one of the best decisions we made surrounding our pregnancy. I remember Rhonda encouraging us and emphasizing how crucial it is to prepare for the labour/delivery before the day arrives. We did this by practicing deep breathing exercises, therapeutic touch and various methods of coping with pain as a couple. She was absolutely right, her insight and teaching proved to be invaluable.

When labour day came we were in for a bit of a surprise as our baby decided to arrive 3 weeks early, at exactly 37 weeks gestation (still considered a term baby)! I remember having some very mild tightening and contractions around 7-8pm Friday night. I had experienced a lot of Braxton Hick contractions throughout the last few months of my pregnancy, so I thought these were simply more BH. After monitoring a few of them we realized they were about 10-15 mins apart and to me felt like small waves in intensity. We carried on with our evening and went to bed around 10:45pm with the goal of trying to get as much rest as possible. We both remembered how important Rhonda stressed trying to rest during early labour. My husband encouraged me to try and get some sleep: but told me to wake him if anything changes or intensifies. Thankfully, I was able to get some sleep. I kept deep-breathing and re-positioning during those first few hours laying in bed. 

At 3:00am I got up to use the bathroom (TMI) and had a large bowel movement. Which in hindsight was exactly what my body needed to kick into gear! After that happened I started experiencing more intense contractions and woke my husband up around 3:30am. At that point, my contractions were about 6-10 mins apart and I was desperate to try a different position. So we went to the bathroom and I got in the tub, hoping the warm water would help. As soon as I got in the tub I started going through 'transition labour' and felt the most intense contractions and pressure on my perineum that I had experienced thus far. I started low moaning and deep breathing, but it was still very uncomfortable. I remember turning to my husband and saying the exact words "I am not coping well". At this point, my contractions were 411 and I felt things were moving very fast and the head was "right there". We phoned our midwife and she listened to one contraction over the phone and then told us the team would pack their bags and be there within 20 mins. At this point, it was not even 4:00am yet.

As I was stepping out of the bathtub I remember feeling the baby's head physically slide down my canal into position. It was the craziest sensation I have ever felt, I can still vividly imagine it to this day! We went back into the bedroom and at that point, my husband could see something "coming out" of me. At first, he thought it was the umbilical cord. It gradually came out more and was protruding like a balloon outside of me. My husband phoned back the midwives and described what he saw. They confirmed it was not the umbilical cord, rather it was my amniotic sac (my water had not broke yet and I was fully dilated). They asked if I felt like pushing. I told them yes. I then lay on our bed on my left side as per their instruction and kept breathing through the waves with the support of my husband. The midwife team arrived very shortly and quickly set things up to assist with the delivery. Hooray!

(Side note: You would think my husband would have a little freak out moment when he saw the amniotic sac coming out. But he stayed completely calm and relayed all the information to the midwives WHILE coaching me through contractions. Had we not taken HBC class, watched the videos and learned all that we did there is no way he would have handled things as well as he did. I am SO thankful for him!)

I experienced some stalling with the baby's head once the midwives had arrived. I freely tried several positions and techniques while both my husband and the midwives encouraged me. Everything felt like it was happening so fast up until this point. It finally took lying on the bed on my back, holding my legs and a minor cut for him to be born. Our midwives were patient and helpful throughout the entire process, but it was truly my husband's coaching, encouraging, and unconditional love that got me through it. He knew exactly what I needed and stayed so calm the entire time. To this day I am still absolutely blown away! I remember at one point when I was experiencing a very intense contraction (near the end of the labour) they were monitoring the fetal heart rate and the HR dropped a little bit. It was my husband who noticed I was holding my breath during that contraction (instead of breathing effectively) and immediately encouraged me to take a deep breath and keep going. As soon as I started breathing again the fetal HR went right back up. There was never a point in time during the homebirth where we felt like things were out of control or unsafe. Our midwifes were extremely skilled and competent. They brought A TON of equipment and knew exactly what they were doing. We are SO thankful for our team at Briar Hill Midwives!

Our precious little son was born at 6:54am Saturday morning (January 29th, 2016) after roughly 8 hours of labour total (3.5-4 active)! When they placed him on my chest we instantly fell in love with him and were completely awestruck. I felt so blessed and empowered as a woman having carried him and given birth to such a treasure. 

After he was born the midwives assessed me and noticed I had some deep tearing (likely due to how fast the birth went) that would be better to have repaired at the hospital. Around 9:00am we went to Foothills as an outpatient (our midwife came too) and I had the repair done. The repair itself was an awful experience, worse than my entire labour due to terribly poor bedside manner by the OBGYN and resident. They were too busy talking amongst each other about the procedure and did not treat me like a person to check and see how the pain or pressure was. We told the OBGYN even before the procedure began that I did not want any residents or trainees doing my repair. She disregarded my request and said, "Sorry, this is a teaching hospital." I felt extremely vulnerable and helpless as they ruthlessly completed the procedure. It took almost a full hour to complete because of the teaching aspect. It was extremely traumatic for me - and I am an RN! I have a very strong stomach and a high pain tolerance. After-all, I had only a few hours prior experienced a natural homebirth with zero drugs and hardly any interventions (only a very small cut)! My husband and midwife were with me the entire time and our son was peacefully sleeping in the car seat in the room with us. 

Just before we were getting ready to leave the hospital to head home our midwife assessed our son and noticed some abnormal swelling on the right side of his head by his ear. It was not present at birth and it was a bit concerning. He was doing very well otherwise. Our midwife consulted with a pediatrician right then and they decided to be extra cautious and admit him to closely monitor his head. He stayed two nights in the NICU and I was also admitted to the post-delivery unit so I could be with him and establish breastfeeding. It was a stressful two days but we got through it together as a family, covered in prayer and trusting in God. Our son's swelling decreased and we were so happy to head home! To this day we do not understand what caused the swelling/bleeding in his head. The type of swelling he experienced is 90% of the time a result of vacuum or forceps delivery - which was not the case for me. So it was very unusual. We are extremely thankful to our midwives and NICU staff for the excellent care and attention to detail!

We feel very blessed overall to have had such a positive homebirth experience, despite a few hiccups. The HBC class was also a huge help to us when we were in the hospital. We were able to make educated decisions, ask appropriate questions and navigate the system with more ease. 

Our son just turned 16 months and he is so happy and healthy! Our hearts are so full of love and joy for such a precious gift God has entrusted to us. We will forever be so grateful to Healthy Birth Choices and Briar Hill Midwives for the exceptional care. :)