Our Home Waterbirth After Two Cesareans

This is the story of Joseph Cline, 9 lbs, 2 oz., 21 inches long, born 9:15 PM on July 3, 2002, at home in the water. 33 hours of labor (1.5 hours of pushing).

This was a very sweet and precious labor and birth. It was truly a labor and birth of love - a pure birth. If I had been in a hospital I would surely have had another c-section. My labor broke almost every "rule" there is in modern obstetrics, yet I still had a homebirth after two cesareans. The simple truth is that our bodies are designed to conceive, carry, birth and breastfeed our children with ease and joy. Here is our story:

After having two cesareans, I knew this baby, my third, would have to be born at home if I was to have a VBAC. I found my midwife before I became pregnant and chose her with much caution and care. I became pregnant in October.

I had a lot of fear to work through in my pregnancy and was always worried about one thing or another. I used prayer, positive affirmations and visualizing what I wanted as a way to deal with these fears. I also learned to listen to my inner voice and concentrate on this. It was never wrong! What a great learning experience this pregnancy was.

I exercised and ate extremely well through my pregnancy and I rested a lot. I also read about birth and labor. Not hospital labor and birth, but homebirth. I talked to several ladies who had done homebirths. We also took Bradley classes and practiced relaxation and visualizing the birth every day. I also thanked God every day for the healthy baby and great birth I knew we would have.

This pregnancy went much faster than I wanted. Before I knew it, July was upon us. I went into labor one week before my due date, on a Tuesday at lunchtime. I had taken my kids to the park and felt contractions as I walked, but didn't think anything of it. I had been experiencing periods of regular contractions on and off for days. We came home and went about our daily routine. I called my husband at work and told him about the contractions, but that I didn't think it was real labor.

Contractions continued to be regular, but very mild. I lost my mucous plug around 8 PM that evening while hubby was reading to the girls. They slept in my bed that night and I labored all night in the tub and leaning over my birth ball on all fours. I listened to Gregorian chants while I was in the tub and had candles lit. I read a bit between contractions. I just tried to rest and stay calm. That was the hardest part for me - staying calm. My in-laws came around lunch and got the girls. I packed their stuff and cried. I was in the bathtub and they came and said "bye" and I cried some more. I also talked to my friend on the phone around 9 AM on Wednesday morning and I was crying a lot then too. I had a lot of emotional stuff to work through with this labor. I don't remember it being that painful, except at transition; just a lot of work to stay calm and relaxed.

I took motherwort, skullcap and calcium pills to help with the pain, and Arnica 30X to keep my urethra from swelling (I had this problem in my last labor and couldn't urinate at all). This time I was able to pee fine through my labor and that was a great relief. I drank a lot of gatorade, water and herbal tea. I ate some granola bars and yogurt raisins to help keep my energy up. It felt very natural and normal to labor at home like this. I needed a lot of privacy to follow my instincts and listen to my body. I just wanted dark and quiet and privacy.

We kept in touch with our midwife by phone but didn't ask her to come until I was in transition. By the time she got there, I was pushing. I wanted to do this with just my husband and me. I also baked bread on Tuesday night while I was laboring. I used the image of a rose opening in my mind and the mantra "trust, breathe, relax" to help go through the contractions. I spent most of the labor on my hands and knees - this felt best to me. The baby was posterior and that might have been why.

Transition was very hard. My husband said it was three hours, but I don't remember. I recall being totally out of control and wanting it to stop NOW and being willing to do anything to make that happen. I told my husband to take me to the hospital, to drown me, shoot me - anything to make this stop! He was so good and calm and simply looked at me and held me and said "NO - you are doing this." I love him so much for that! I was wild - running around the house and throwing stuff and thrashing in the water. It got to a point where NOTHING helped. I just had to go through it and that was the way I did it.

My husband filled our big birth pool and I got in. Yes, men really do boil water at birth! He had all of our pots going on the stove to help keep the water warm. We've laughed a lot about that! I remember having to poop and pee, but couldn't. I screamed my head off through contractions and totally lost my voice for a few days after the birth. I was screaming "No, no, no" and then changed to "Yes, baby, yes." This seemed to help the energy go in the right direction. He asked me if I was pushing, but I didn't know if I was. I felt inside me and felt something hard, but didn't know what it was.

Our midwife came about 45 minutes before he was born. She checked me and said the baby's head was right there. I told her she was lying. I really did not believe it was the baby's head. I thought I was about 5 cm or something like that. She checked the baby's heart tones once. I could feel the baby moving a lot throughout my labor. He was posterior and I felt he was trying to turn. I was on all fours and they asked me to turn over in the tub and I did. His head was coming out a little at a time and going back. Our midwife said she could see some dark hair. My husband said "am I still catching?" and got in the tub.

We were all in the tub at this point. I felt inside of me and felt his head still inside the water bag. It broke as he was crowning and I felt a release of pressure. I also remember touching his eyes and nose as he was coming out. That's when I really knew I was having this baby. The cord was wrapped around his shoulder. He was posterior the last part of my pregnancy and I had a feeling that was why, because he wouldn't turn no matter how many exercises I did. I think he turned late in transition and I was pushing him out. Amazing! His head was crowning and I felt a lot of pressure and stretching, but nothing like the "ring of fire" I've heard so much about. His head was out and then I felt his shoulders bumping my tailbone several times. I thought our midwife was pushing on me and she said "it's your baby." Then his shoulders and came out and I felt so relieved.

His Daddy caught him and put him on my chest. He breathed right away and pinked up very well. What a perfect, beautiful baby! It was almost like an out-of-body experience where time had stopped completely. I felt like I was watching this from above. I guess it was the hormones at work! The water was cooling down and so we got on the couch and the placenta came 10 or 15 minutes later. We left it attached for a few hours, before we cut the cord. I thought about a lotus birth, but was too tired to deal with it at that point. My placenta had been low-lying, but I did not bleed at all in labor. The placenta was folded over in a few places to keep it away from the cervix. Our bodies are so amazing!

It was so nice to not be monitored and checked and bugged while I was in labor. I felt very safe and comfortable at home. I did have a tear, but it healed beautifully. I had a hard time staying down and resting after the birth and letting my body heal. I got impatient and cranky because I didn't feel all that bad, like I did after the girls were born.

I feel very proud that we did this! My husband worked as hard as I did. He was there for me through every contraction and never gave up on me. He was so supportive and loving, both physically and emotionally. He was sore all over for at least a week. He held me up in the tub, rubbed my back and was there for me in every way. Not to mention filling our birth tub and boiling water to keep it warm. He cleaned up after the birth (no small job, believe me) and has taken care of everything around here. What a man!

WE DID IT!!! A homebirth after two cesareans.

Note on posterior babies: My baby was posterior the last half of my pregnancy. I tried everything to turn him, but nothing worked! I had read all the horror stories of posterior labors and births and found myself believing them. I was very tired and frustrated with this the day before I went into labor. I logged onto the BirthLove site and found a quote by Gloria Lemay about posterior babies and her requirements for a vaginal delivery. She talked about how, if the baby is full term, head down and the mother's blood pressure is good, that the baby WILL come out. This gave me a big boost of confidence and I went into labor a few hours later and my baby did come out with absolutely no intervention at all!!! Thanks, Gloria : )

-- Wendy McN.