Posts Tagged ‘Birth Story’

Celebrating a Father’s Birth Day

June 15, 2012

Thank you to Milon Nagi for once again so eloquently describing CiC’s free Healthy Birth Choices Workshop! HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!!!

At this month’s special CIC workshop on Men and Birth, we were honored to hear four new dads share their moving stories of becoming fathers, supporting their partner’s labor and the birth of their new family.

When David’s first son was born three years ago, he and his wife Rachel chose to birth at a hospital based birth center. While they were generally happy with their experience, David felt that what he describes as “the woman’s process in labor” was not fully respected. They returned with their second pregnancy however, at a routine visit with midwives at 32 weeks, they discovered that Rachel had been “risked out” of the birth center due to a technicality of which their midwives had been aware throughout but had not until then informed them. Their trust in their midwives was shaken. Worse still, says David, “Rachel had had her trust in her own birth shaken.”

They decided to switch to home birth, and speaking to their new midwife “restored Rachel’s trust.” David feels this switch helped them harness both the medical and spiritual benefits of being where Rachel felt safest and most confident as she prepared for her birth. While at times it was hard for him to understand Rachel’s “psychic universe” at this time, he could see that she needed a lot of support. “I worked to swallow my own pride and feelings,” he says, to be there for her in the ways she needed.

Rachel woke up one morning to a speedy labor at home. “She needed me there,” says David, “but she was really doing it herself.” He supported her through touch and massage but she labored undisturbed – at one point even asking her doula and midwife to leave the room. As David watched his wife in her labor, an image recurred to him of her hang gliding over the sensations. “She was totally experiencing all the pain of childbirth but riding on top of it.”

After less than four hours, David and Rachel’s son was born in a pool in their bedroom.  “It made it magical”, says David, to welcome and hold him undisturbed in what was already his home.  And, despite the intensity of labor, “there was a real palpable tranquility that flowed through the experience.”

Patrick shared the story of supporting his wife’s natural childbirth in a hospital, fending off the pressure for interventions to hurry her labor along. He found himself applying the “double hip squeeze” to his wife’s hips throughout, and advises dads to be physically fit for labor support: “You try it some time – press on someone’s hips as hard as you can for two to three minutes; take a break for a minute; go back and do it again. Do that for twelve hours.”

For Micah, preparation was key to feeling able to support his wife fully in labor. They were planning to give birth in a hospital and he was nervous about dealing with unwanted interventions.  As their Childbirth Education class allowed him space to begin to work through his fears, he realized he would be strong enough to deal with this. “It’s great to think through all possibilities of what you might want to do,” he advises. “Prepare, prepare, prepare – and when the moment comes trust your instincts.”

As his wife’s pregnancy progressed past 41 weeks she was automatically risked out of the birth center where they had planned to have their baby. Knowing they’d be heading for the Labor and Delivery floor, they labored at home as long as they could before heading to the hospital. Once they arrived, however, their midwife created the environment they wanted, while their doula, says Micah, was “badass”. They safeguarded the space and energy they wished to have present for their birth, even asking an unpleasant nurse to leave the room. “My role was to be here for my wife,” Micah notes, “to have her back and protect her.”

After a challenging “back labor”, his wife’s water broke and their son was born in just three pushes.  “It was an amazing experience”, says Micah. “The magic of having this human being in our life is so wonderful and the fact that we could have a delivery that went the way we wanted is a bonus.” He too describes the awe and power of witnessing his wife’s labor: “Watching my wife do that… I’m an artist and filmmaker – whenever someone I’m working with says they’re giving birth to their art project I say ‘No, you’re not giving birth. That’s disrespectful to women’.”

Rowan’s wife Emily is a medical student who came out of her Obstetrics rotation knowing she wanted to consider home birth. Waking early on Easter Sunday with strong contractions, Rowan and Emily decided to go for a walk. They bumped into friends they had been planning to have brunch with and invited them over. A day they had pictured as quiet and intimate ended up more of a community event, involving four other friends, home made ice cream sandwiches and a last minute plaster cast of Emily’s pregnant belly!

By the time evening came and some friends left, Emily’s contractions were around 6 minutes apart and they called their doula to come over. As Emily labored on all fours in their living room, Rowan found himself surprised by the amount of back pressure she needed him to apply through contractions. By the early hours of the morning Emily felt ready to push and they called their midwife to come over. Emily got into a tub of water and, for the first time, was able to really rest between contractions.

Their midwife arrived, bringing “the power and reassurance of someone who is practiced coming in and saying ‘everything is alright’.” Rowan reassured Emily that her body was doing exactly what it needed to be doing; that this was the natural process. The last ten minutes of Emily’s labor were “utterly overwhelming.” Rowan remembers shaking and crying. “It was so powerful to hear someone you love so much in pain and vocalizing in that way.” And then, at 5.06am, their baby girl was born. “Emily went from all this pain to looking like she’d just gone for a nice jog and had a shower!” Their midwife and doula stayed a few hours, then left Rowan, Emily and their new baby snuggled up in bed together and ready for a long sleep. “It felt really, really good.”

All four dads spoke about the importance of having additional support during labor. As Micah put it: “the birth is the woman’s work but there is a team in it.” He described their doula as “essential to our having the experience we had.” From continuous back pressure; position suggestions; taking photos; reminders to stay hydrated; running out for snacks; bringing fresh ideas and tools – each speaker described their doula as an invaluable support for him as well as his partner during labor.

They also spoke to the importance of support in the weeks following the birth. Both Micah’s and Rowan’s families had some difficulties with breastfeeding and advised others to seek help early if nursing does not go as planned and have a lactation consultant lined up before the birth if possible. The help of friends, family or a postpartum doula was also invaluable, whether with cooking, cleaning, doing laundry or simply giving the new parents time to nap. In other times and cultures, as Micah pointed out, new families would be surrounded with community support. Rowan found it helpful to have a paid postpartum doula so that they didn’t feel bad about asking friends for help.

They talked about the first weeks as a time during which visitors (particularly family who may be staying) need to be there to support and take care of the new family – especially mom – not just to meet the baby or be taken care of themselves. This can make for some difficult but important conversations with family members as new boundaries are established during this tender time. At the same time, says David: “I can’t overemphasize how blessed you are to do anything for yourself in those first days. Whatever anyone will do for you, take it.”

As each new father shared his story, it was striking to see him feel again the power of this transformative, intimate experience of both becoming a parent and of watching and supporting his partner in her labor.  The joy and reverence on David’s face as he spoke of his wife’s strength in labor and of welcoming his new son into the world just nine days previously said it all: “I got to see a side of Rachel that I never would have seen if she hadn’t given birth and become a mother.  And that is an amazing thing.”


In Her Words: The Beautiful Breech Birth of Rory

May 18, 2012

Thank you Shelley Dobbin, our guest blogger, for writing a fabulous story of the birth of her son Rory. 

Oh my GOSH! The birth was so incredible! After having a really painful first birth with 3rd degree tearing, an unnecessary cut (episiotomy) and 13 stitches it felt SO GOOD to birth without tearing.

Before I share the birth story, I must share this first:
At my 37 week antenatal appointment, my midwife noticed that our baby was in the breech position. (bum-down, instead of the more common head-down position). My midwife had to consult with the doctors who wanted to try perform an External Cephalic Version (ECV) on me. An ECV is a procedure in which doctors use their hands on your tummy to try to manually turn the baby into a head

-down (cephalic) position. I asked A LOT of questions about the procedure and researched online to learn about an ECV, vaginal breech delivery and Cesarean risks.

I ended up booking the External Cephalic Version. (Looking back now, I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had been totally content about the breech position that our baby was obviously comfortable in). I was EXTREMELY nervous about the procedure and regret having it done. It hurt, it felt so un-natural and the doctors gave me a bloody drug which was supposed to make my uterus relax! I feel so guilty for having that drug. It made me get all panicky!

The ECV failed. They moved Baby Dobbin into a head-down position but our baby immediately turned it’s body all the way back into the breech position. It felt so strange!

The doctors (all 3 of them) apologized that it didn’t work, then handed me a Cesarean brochure with all the risk factors of having a Cesarean. They left Wes and I alone to discuss.I began to cry and cry! I was NOT going to book a Cesarean! I would never book one! I would have an emergency one if truly needed but I could not believe how medicalized our modern world has become that I wasn’t even encouraged to at least TRY to birth my breech baby! I wanted a trial of labour! What the heck was the harm in that!!?

Now this is the moment I will NEVER forget…
A midwife entered the room to check on me and saw me crying. I was lying there telling Wes that I really wanted a natural labour and birth again! The midwife’s name was Linda and she brought me a box of tissues to wipe my many tears. I told her there was NO WAY I was going to elect to have a C-Section for breech. Linda was great! She totally understood. She believed in me and she believed in the breech position!

One of the doctors came back into the room and told me that he could book a Cesarean for a weeks time. I told him I refused to do so.

I will now share the story of how my labour and birth went……

“I think baby has decided it’s time”, I said to Wes at 4:00am on February 10th, 2009.

I was SO EXCITED! I decided to get out of bed and start moving around, as I now knew just how important moving around in labour is. I didn’t move around enough with my first birth, and this time I wanted to prevent tearing as much as possible. I took a nice hot shower. The hot water on my lower back helped ease my contractions.

Wes got up at 6am, the time when labour started progressing a lot quicker and the contractions were getting closer together. We got Skye, our 21 month old daughter, ready to go to her grandparents’ house.

Wes could see that the contractions were getting more difficult to handle, so he suggested we go to the Birth Centre, but I knew that waiting around at home as long as possible was the BEST thing to do, especially after having experienced arriving at the hospital too early for Skye’s birth.

I held out as long as I could. I spent a lot of time on my hands and knees on the couch. I needed to be alone, so Wes went outside to water the garden and told me to let him know when I wanted to leave. (I think he thought we should leave right away but I trusted my body and was listening out for signals of when was the best time to leave).

At around 8am we dropped Skye off at my Mum and Dad’s house. I walked in their front door and a strong contraction came. I had to get down on the floor on my hands and knees and sway my hips from side to side to help me cope. It was becoming really, really tough.

My Dad looked worried and helpless. I could tell he really did not like seeing me in pain but I reassured him that I would be fine. It’s a natural pain, which is a pain that is meant to happen for a reason. A pain with true purpose! I remained positive and reminded myself of some birth affirmations which I had read in “The Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence”:

– My body knows how to give birth
– I’m strong and powerful
– The work I’m doing is important
– Women have been doing this work forever

I had also learned that we are not meant to suffer in labour. I knew that the best thing I could do was to respond to my contractions. Walking, changing positions, swaying my hips and breathing through it helps so much more than lying down and feeling tortured by them.

We arrived at the Birth Centre at 9am, and as I slowly got out of the car, holding onto Wes’ hand, a midwife spotted me in the parking lot and immediately helped me. What would we do without midwives? I told the midwife that my baby was in the breech position, and she took me through to the Women’s Assessment Unit to check my dilation. (I could have gone straight to the Birth Centre to be checked but the Assessment Unit was right next to where we parked our car).

I was already 6cm dilated and getting VERY excited to meet our baby! Wes and I headed to the Birth Centre. While walking down the hall I had to stop between contractions and support myself against the wall. The midwife had offered me a wheelchair, but I turned down the offer since I knew how important it was to keep active during labour and birth. I knew it would be best for my baby and me to keep walking, moving, swaying and staying positive.

At the Birth Centre, the lovely Aine greeted me. I had already met her and loved her! She seemed very excited about my breech birth.

I didn’t let fear enter my mind. I filled my head with confidence and really believed I could do it. I felt so great for being patient and waiting for labour to start on it’s own.

I told Aine that I wanted to get straight into the shower. I really craved the hot water on my lower back. So, I took all my clothes off, not caring what anyone in the room thought. (With my first birth I kept my clothes on and I regret it). This time, it felt great to be freely naked! It was a real “letting go and not worrying about anything” moment for me. I was keeping my mind extremely positive as I truly believe that you can make your labour and birth far more easier to manage if you have a strong and positive mindset. It is so important to not let any fear take over you.

I stayed in the shower and Aine, Linda and Wes were fantastic! They let me do my thing and were very supportive. They knew the importance of being there for me but not getting in my way when I concentrated on each contraction.

I felt the urge to push in the shower… the warm water really relaxed me and helped me to deal with each contraction. I felt the need to get onto my hands and knees but I didn’t want to do that on the hard shower floor so Aine and Wes helped me out and I rushed to the bed and got up onto my hands and knees there. (I had researched that this was the best possible position for a breech delivery on land).

WOW!!! I remember being amazed by how different it felt to be on my hands and knees compared to my first birth where I lay flat on my back. I felt so much more open being on my hands and knees. I rested between contractions by putting my head face-down in a pillow. It was exhausting to support my body with my arms.

PUSH, PUSH, PUSH…… Oh wow, it was hard work but our baby’s bum was appearing! (At this time some student midwives entered the room because I gave permission for anyone to watch). It is so rare these days in Australia that a breech birth is seen. Especially a planned one.

“YES……….. I CAN DO IT, I CAN DO IT!!!!!”
I was pushing with ALL MY MIGHT and I could feel my baby’s bum come out! How exciting!! It felt so great and being in the position I was in was working wonders on getting the body through nicely. (I had my bum facing the Midwives and Wes. I’m sure it was quite a sight! Not that I cared and I know they didn’t either! It was important that I did whatever I needed to get the baby out.)

There were excited gasps from Wes and the midwives who were watching our baby’s bum come out, followed by his balls that dropped out quickly! Yes, BALLS….. we had a BOY! Wes later told me that Rory’s bum got so compressed that his first poo got squeezed out of him on his way out. I am just trying to picture it. I think it would have been funny to see!

My body was telling me to wait a bit… and I got a chance to take a deep breath and build up a bit more energy for some more pushing. With the next contraction I pushed his torso out and then there was another pause and I could stop and take a breath.His head was still inside but I needed this time to rest. The next contraction came and I MADE THE BIGGEST PUSHES EVER and his head came out. All this time my midwife Aine was encouraging me that I was doing great and that the baby was doing great too. She didn’t touch Rory as he was coming out. She let me and Rory do our thing. A breech baby should never be tugged or pulled on. She of course caught him gently and passed him through my legs to me after they had given him a bit of oxygen. It didn’t take long at all. Rory looked great and was crying with nice strong lungs! Wes and I were so thrilled that it all went just as we had wanted and hoped! I DID IT! I birthed him all by myself!

I was on a high and it felt so freaking amazing! I really felt so in love with this new boy of ours! I looked at Wes and smiled one of the biggest smiles I have ever had. This was the most incredible feeling in the world! Such a euphoric feeling… I am searching for the right words to describe it but no words will ever truly be able to describe the joy and the lovey, dovey mood I was in! I had never felt more incredible in my life!

Oh my! Rory’s face looked perfect! What I mean is, because he was born bum-first, his head didn’t get all squashed up like Skye’s head did in our first birth. Midwives that visited our room in the days after Rory’s birth could tell that he was born breech due to his head shape (and his bruised bum).

Wes and I were so happy! And I couldn’t wait for my parents and brother to bring our little Skye in to meet her new baby brother! I was getting so excited about them meeting each other that it was making me want to cry! I was the happiest I could ever be!

Rory…… I am in love with you! You light up our life and I will treasure forever the day you entered our lives! (I still giggle that you decided to come out showing your bum and balls first, before your head). Nice work Rory! I could go on forever about how much we all love you! Here’s to a beautiful life together as a new family…..


If you want to share your birth story on CiC’s blog, please e-mail We welcome birth stories of all kinds!