Moving in the direction of Flow

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After a full night of achey labourey feels it felt like it had all gone away once she got up and walked around. Okay, so maybe not today? But soon right?  We had been waiting a week already, it felt like it was time.

And then a few hours into the day she was pretty sure she lost her plug! By the evening she was having irregular contractions. She was also experiencing a lot of back and hip discomfort so kept on doing all the things to create space and softness in her body to give the baby the opportunity to shift into a more favourable position. The contractions weren’t very intense but she didn’t think she could sleep through them. Over the next hour they seemed to slow down but gained intensity. She had a warm shower and tried to rest.

Another hour later and she noticed some blood show! At first this was scary and then exciting as it is usually a good indicator that the cervix is changing.

And then suddenly the labour seemed to take hold. The contractions were maybe shorter, or maybe she had gotten used to them and didn’t notice the start and end as much? Either way they were more intense at the peak and they were definitely coming on more frequently. They were still at home, doing all the things and over the next 3 hours she found the contractions to be strong enough that she needed to breath through them, couldn’t really talk through them and they became consistently 4 minutes apart.  

Time to head over to the Birth Centre for an assessment.

Her cervix was dilated to 7 cm! This felt hopeful, and for a first baby it was a good pace. Only 8 hours of consistent labour and we felt like we were well on our way. She was doing side lunges on a set of steps, still feeling that back and hip pain. Then some hands and knees positions, then some walking the halls. After an hour of movement she stood in the shower and let the water rain down on her, bringing relief.

45 minutes later and we were back to trying all the positions and she was now feeling hot and this was more intense.  She kept on going. She was so tuned into her body, following its lead. He was never away from her side. Even her mom stopped in for some encouragement.

Eventually the intensity had built up to a place where she needed something more, so into the tub she went. It felt so good! We continued to apply counter pressure and help her try all the positions. At one point she had to go to the washroom so the Midwife did a quick assessment and felt the cervix was now dilated to 8 cm and was fully effaced. Baby seemed to be lower too.  All good news.

Back to trying different positions and now she was feeling so much pressure.  Like something needed to pop! Oh that pressure feeling, it is something else isn’t it? She needed a bit of rest, so we helped her get into a restful but gravity/open pelvis friendly position.  But she felt that pressure even more, maybe even like she needed to use the bathroom?? And so another cervix check and she was almost fully dilated! The water sac was bulging too, which explained all that pressure. It had been 15 hours since it was clearly labour and 36 hours since ‘something’ started to happen. Fast and then slow. Every path has its own pace.

There was some talk about rupturing the membrane sac but they decided to wait and see if it would happen on it’s own. More position changes and walking and holding and breathing and squatting and all the things.

2 more hours of this and then there was just the teensiest bit of cervix left. She then found herself sitting on the toilet and it felt so good. She stayed focused, he stayed nearby.

And then that pushy feeling was just so strong, so she went back into the tub and started breathing her way through these powerful contractions. Letting her body push if it wanted too. Then she came out of the tub to use the bathroom and ended up staying there because it felt so comfortable to release in that position. She felt the pressure and even had a desire to push but it wasn’t overwhelming. What to do?

With some encouragement she tried some directed pushing while the Midwife helped, checking if the remaining cervix would move and slide away. There was just a bit of thicker tissue in one spot that wasn’t moving.

There was another discussion about the pros and cons of breaking the water sac, and after some time together to talk it over they decided to go ahead with this option.

Back into the shower, breathing through those steady contractions, pushing when the urge was too strong to breathe through. Then walking and lunging and she was having so many contractions and feeling such an increase in pressure and intensity. We felt hopeful that this baby had made a shift.

So we went back to strong directed pushing with some hands on help at the cervix by the Midwife. This was not the way she had envisioned birthing but she put that aside and did this hard work. So hard. And for the next 5 hours she switched between moving around into different positions, letting the urge to push build up, and rounds of directed, forceful pushing. Not five hours of straight pushing, but definitely five hours of hard labour with waves of pushing. There was still some cervix or possibly swollen birth canal tissue that would move when she pushed and then return.  Unusual and a bit confusing.

And then another Midwife joined our team and brought a new perspective. After an assessment and a conversation we all agreed that it would be worth it to try resting, and increased hydration. She tried to just breathe through the contractions, to rest curled up in his arms. But it wasn’t really possible, the labour was too strong, the urge too dominant. And so they had to make the very hard decision to go to the hospital, get an assessment about where this baby was in the pelvis and why the descent wasn’t happening.

To make a new plan.

When we got into a room we were assigned an amazing and compassionate Nurse along with a Doctor that seemed less than impressed with the situation she was being presented with. It was her strong opinion that this baby needed a belly birth, but was reluctantly open to trying an epidural and augmentation to see if anything would change. While we waited for a second Doctor to come and assess, to offer his view, these strong and tenacious parents had a chance to talk things over and decided they had done all they could do. They didn’t want to risk waiting until the baby was in distress, to be in an emergent situation.

This was a tough decision.  They put in so much effort and work to get to this place, but that is also what made the decision doable. Knowing they had done all the things, been surrounded by people they trusted and were now moving in the direction of flow even though it wasn’t what they had imagined.  

This is such an important underpinning to a positive birth experience.  Being able to let go of the ideal and flow in the direction of the current we are in at the moment. This applies to every story, it just isn’t always as obvious as it was in this one. Once she made her decision, it was so clear and we could see it on her face, in her eyes, this was the right choice for them in this moment.  

And so, the family shared hugs and he got into scrubs. The family went to sit in the waiting area, she went in to be prepped and I sat with him while he waited to go in.

It didn’t take too long before then they called him in.

Two minutes after he got into that room, their son was Born!

He was here and the welcome was big, their hearts were filled with him, the waiting was over.




Totally smitten.











The hand off!






Those tender first touches.






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