I'm a 33 year old St. Louis native, living in Maryland with my husband and our four month old son, Elliott. I'm an astronomer by training, and I met my husband in grad school. Now I teach high school math, and we live on the idyllic campus of my school.
When my husband and I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted a midwife to attend the birth. It was just a matter of where. I could not even consider a home birth, since our apartment is in a dorm with 13 high school girls! The closest birth center was over an hour away, which did not seem like a viable option. To be honest, I think I googled "Baltimore nice hospital birth," and the top hit was Mercy Medical Center, which allows midwives to deliver without an OB and supports water births. I stopped my search right there!
We took a few classes in my second and third trimesters: a hospital infant care class, a weekend-long childbirth class, and a natural pain management class. The weekend class was the most useful for me. It was run by a doula and childbirth educator, and we met for the better part of two days in her house. The class was a mix of videos, discussion, visualization/breathing practice, and Q & A. Her demonstrations of breathing and relaxation techniques proved invaluable to me. Her descriptions of the stages of labor were so vivid that I found myself recalling bits and pieces while I was in labor! Overall, the class helped me feel more confident in my ability to deliver med-free.
My experience at Mercy was positive from start to finish. They seem to allow each health care provider to handle their deliveries however they see fit. There was an OB on the labor and delivery floor, but I never saw anyone but my midwife and nurses. I was monitored for 30 minutes immediately after I was admitted, but for the rest of my labor I was unencumbered. I paced and swayed while my midwife prepared the tub, and then spent the rest of active labor and transition in the water. My son was delivered 3 hours after I arrived at the hospital, and 6 hours after labor started! It was reassuring to know that I had access to medication and an OB, but I feel very fortunate that I didn't have to use those resources.
The tools that I found most helpful were water, deep breathing, and relaxation techniques. My husband was there to remind me to breathe and massage my shoulders early in labor. During active labor, I didn't want to be touched, but the water helped me relax between contractions. When they were intense, I developed a rhythm of deep breathing, and I realized that the worst part of the contraction was over by the end of the third breath. Focusing on getting through that third breath really helped me control my anxiety!
It's hard to write tips for expectant moms without sounding like a cheerleader, but I'll try anyway. For some reason, people love to tell their dramatic horror stories about childbirth to pregnant women. This was the last thing that I wanted to hear about as I was preparing for labor. So, here's my advice: don't feel like you have to listen politely to these stories. Feel free to cover your ears and walk away from them mid-sentence!
READ MORE BIRTH STORIES >>>
Like what you just read? Stay connected! You can subscribe to the feed of these posts, chat with us on Twitter or Facebook. And you can always email us with your questions and comments.