Christian “Beautiful at-Home Water-Birth”

My second child and second son, Christian Palmer, was born on Saturday, February 5th, 2011 in a beautiful at-home water-birth.

I was surrounded by my husband, Peter, my sister, and a few close friends as well as the very skilled staff at Tender Beginnings, midwife, Maryann and birth companion, Kelly.

Having had a 24 hour natural, but very difficult labor at a hospital with my first son, Noah, I wasn’t sure what it would be like the second time around doing the labor at home. I was confident in my decision to do a water birth, because I experienced significant pain relief during my labor with Noah when I got in the tub at the hospital (they didn’t allow you to birth in the tub, but they allowed it for during labor), and I went into this birth knowing I wanted to relax as much as possible in-between contractions and also fortify myself with protein shakes throughout the labor (I didn’t eat for the entire 24 labor with my first son & I had no energy by the end!). We prepared playlists of relaxing “spa music” and received some helpful techniques from our Lamaze instructor on ways my husband could help me relax, such as massage & visualization.

On the morning of February 5th I woke up around 5:30 am with mild contractions & a couple of hours later my bloody show was released. We contacted Maryann and from that point on we kept her posted of my progress. My contractions remained mild for most of the day, allowing me to sleep, relax, eat, take walks outside, and even spend some time playing the piano and singing. Beginning around 5:30 pm the contractions began to intensify, and we began to prepare the our master bedroom by laying out our birthing supplies, changing the sheets, preparing protein drinks, turning on the music etc… Starting at about 6 pm I began alternating getting in the tub with sitting on the toilet (which helped me to relax my pelvic muscles) and walking around the room. The lights were dimmed and there was relaxing spa music playing in the background. At this point I had my husband call Maryann and tell her things were definitely progressing. She arrived around 8:30 pm, and checked the baby’s heartbeat and also checked me to find that I was 6 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced. At about 10 pm, my contractions got very painful and I definitely had a point where I wanted to give up – which was one of the indications that I was in transition. I just kept praying and asking God to help me, and everyone around me just kept encouraging me and saying positive affirmations. Because of this, despite the pain I felt so surrounded by love the entire time. By this time, Maryann was already preparing the birthing tub – filling it up and making sure the water was at the right temperature. She checked me again and my water still had not broken, but only minutes after she checked me my water broke in the toilet. At this point, things moved quickly. I was helped into the bathtub. At first I resisted pushing, but the urge became so strong that I began using all my energy to push the baby down. I could feel the baby moving down significantly with each push which was encouraging. By my sixth push the baby was out – it was 11:04pm. I came to find out later that Christian was born with his arm up next to his head (called a nuchal hand – my firstborn was also born this way!), which makes the pushing extra painful. But unlike my first birth I did not tear – which I credit to the expert way Maryann delivered the baby. Also, as soon as Maryann had gotten the baby mostly out, she allowed my husband to “catch” him and hand him to me, which was an incredible experience for him to take part in.

After giving birth to baby Christian, I was immediately taken to my bed and Christian and I were covered with warm towels and blankets. I delivered my placenta on my bed and attempted to nurse Christian. He didn’t end up really nursing until an hour or so later because he was crying and didn’t want to latch. After he had calmed down he latched on great and is a great eater! Maryann weighed and performed a thorough examination of the baby. He weighed 8 lb 5oz and was 20 inches long – a beautiful, healthy baby! Kelly showed us the placenta and explained how they knew it was healthy. I was so relieved and so grateful for how smoothly everything went. The entire active labor was only 6 hours (compared to 24 hours with my first, this was amazing to me!) and I was finally able to hold my precious baby after 9 long months of being pregnant. At this point I was very tired, so we all ate a bit and quickly prepared the room so everyone could go to bed.

Christian’s birth was such a powerful, beautiful event – Tender Beginnings really did an amazing job making it everything we wanted. My sister and friends were also so impressed with them. Many people don’t know what to expect with home births and may have strange ideas of what it will be like. For us, doing the birth at home was definitely the right decision for us. I loved being in the comfort of my own home where I could create the environment that I wanted and was surrounded only by people I knew, loved and trusted. I really believe this helped me to relax more and consequently caused the labor to progress more quickly. Maryann and Kelly did a great job of keeping everything clean and organized during the labor – honestly they left the birthing room cleaner then it was when they got there!
My sweet baby boy is doing wonderful – eating, gaining weight, smiling, cooing and learning about his new family and surroundings. We love him so much and cannot imagine life without him! We are truly grateful for the blessing of Christian’s beautiful birth.