Laura called me at 5:00am. She had been having consistent contractions since they woke her up at 2:30am. She asked when she should call her doctor. I told her to try to rest, eat a little and stay hydrated, and to call when they were 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute long for 1 hour (5-1-1). She called me back again around 7:00am stating that the contractions were at 5-1-1 since approximately 5:30am on and the doctor said she could come on in for a check. I did not hear back from them until 9:00am, when her husband, Steven, called me to say they were at the hospital and Laura was asking for me. Her status at 9:00am was 3 cm/100% effacement/0 station. During her previous prenatal visits, her midwife/doctor said the baby was “very low” and that this would probably be a fast labor.
When I arrived around 10:00am, Laura and Steven were in good spirits. They were walking the hallways and she seemed to be handling the surges (contractions) well. Although the baby was not posterior, she was experiencing a lot of back labor. I tried the double hip squeeze and it worked. She loved that. I showed Steven how to do it since he is much stronger then me and she liked the pressure very hard. While he did the hip squeeze, I massaged her hands, arms and shoulders.
The hospital insisted Laura have Intermittent External Monitoring, which unfortunately slowed her labor down. When she was not on the monitor, we had to work extra hard to get her surges going again at a consistent rate by walking, squatting, rocking her hips and emptying her bladder. I strongly feel that if she had labored at home longer and did not have the EFM as often, labor would have been much shorter.
By 1:00pm, she was 5cm. The surges were getting stronger, so we utilized some more distraction techniques: leg and back massage and counter-pressure, aromatherapy (she loved Rosemary) and the heated rice sock on her back. She liked them all. I had to remind Laura to drink water, juice and broth often to keep her energy up. She did not feel like eating solid food. She sang her birth song the whole time and I kept encouraging her that it was helping move her baby down. She enjoyed sitting on the toilet to help relax her hips, pelvis and pelvic floor. I prompted Steven to join her; he hugged her, massaged her, and whispered encouraging words. I left them alone at this point.
Between 1:00pm and 7:00pm, Laura went from 5cm – 7cm. I asked if she wanted to take a bath, which she really enjoyed and took a few during this time. At 5:00pm, the hospital gave her 500cc of IV fluid to keep her hydrated. Around 7:00pm, she started to go through transition. Her surged became incredibly intense and she started to panic and cry. She was asking for something to take the edge off, and didn’t think she could go on. I asked Steven privately what he thought. He said she did not want drugs no matter what she said. I had to use the “take charge” routine a few times with her. I held her face, speaking calmly but firmly to her, telling her she could do this, her body knew exactly what to do and she has been doing an amazing job. I reminded her that pain meds would make her sleepy and she would not have the energy to push her baby out.
Around 8:00pm, Laura was kneeling next to the bed and started to find “her rhythm”. She methodically rocked her hips and shook her head back and forth. Steven, his two aunts and myself took turns massaging her legs, hips and back. She stopped moaning and was deep in concentration. Nothing could break her rhythm. The evening nurse was awesome. She brought the EFM over to the side of the bed and held the monitor to Laura’s belly for the whole 20 min so she did not have to get back in bed. At 8:15pm her bag of waters ruptured. Laura soon got into bed, kneeling and rocking, hanging onto the top of the bed, which was propped up vertically. By 9:45pm, she was completely dilated and had the urge to push. She pushed for awhile kneeling and then turned over when she was ready. The nurse and I held each of her legs for leverage while Steven stood by her head, whispering encouraging words and helping to support her back. We kept telling her we could see the baby’s head with each push, but I felt she would be more effective if she could see it herself, so I asked for the mirror to be brought over. I told her look at her baby coming closer and closer with each push. Steven and I switched places so he could see his baby being born. Eventually, the baby was low enough that I told her to reach down and touch his head. That was Laura’s “Ah-ha moment”! Her voice rose with excitement and in a few more pushes, Baby Riley was here! The doctor placed the baby on her chest and a family was born. I stepped away for them to bond together. It was 11:04pm.
After Baby and Mom were cleaned up, we propped the bed back up and I helped Laura with proper nursing positions and tips. We stroked his cheek, getting him to root and soon he latched on. I stayed until 1:00am, making sure that he nursed on both sides and that Mom and Dad were comfortable. She reported to me later the next day that he was “eating like a champ”! The nurses told her that in the past 8 weeks, she was the only patient that had actually followed her birth plan, and had a completely natural, unmedicated birth. They were surprised that her plan followed through, but I was not. Laura is a strong, educated mama with a lot of support and I knew she could birth her baby the way she wanted in any situation.
Throughout the birth, both Laura and Steven asked me if everything that was happening was normal. I think by reassuring them that it was helped labor progress. I was glad that I was able to keep offering different positions and options to keep her comfortable and Steven involved, which was very important to him.
"I am a first time mother who researched, read up, and spoke to anyone that would listen about childbirth. When I finally learned about a doula coach and what they provide, I felt lucky and blessed to have Jenn Cohen by my side for her practicum. The knowledge (and motherly experience) she shared with my husband and myself added a great deal of calmness to my birth. She was always around for advice and early morning phone calls prelabor. During delivery, she became my support and stronghold, coaching me and my family thru my labor. She literally saved me from an epidural I did not want (but cried for in transition) and had me stick to my birth plan, which myself and my child will be forever grateful for. Post partum, she was a strong ally- helping my little boy latch for his first feeding and even driving us home from the hospital! Our family will always have an additional member with Jenn and the amazing warmth she showed to us!" ~ Laura Duncan & Riley Phoenix born Oct 17th 2011