Hospital Birth | VBA2C | Chapel Hill, NC
***Birth story and images shared with client's permission***
Meagan and Peter decided to hire a birth doula based on the recommendation of their OB. Meagan was pregnant with her third child. She had cesareans on the recommendation of her doctors with both of her first two children. She really wanted to have a vaginal birth this time. She talked to her OB about this, and they basically shamed her for wanting to even try, saying that she would be putting both her life and the baby’s life in danger if she did. She was very discouraged by this, but knew there had to be another option. She had done her research and knew the risks and benefits of trying for a VBA2C (vaginal birth after two cesareans). She was given a recommendation to try a new OB practice at a different hospital. She contacted them, and they were nothing but supportive of her desires for a vaginal birth.
Meagan’s first two children were decent size babies at 39 weeks, so Meagan was somewhat concerned that if she went too far past her due date that this baby would be too large. Her OBs agreed that they could do a “gentle induction” at 39 weeks, only if Meagan’s cervix was favorable. It wasn’t. Both her doctors and I assured her that she was fully capable of delivering a baby vaginally, even if he was big. Meagan’s due date came and went, and she tried everything possible to naturally induce labor. On April 25th, 2016 at Meagan’s 41 week appointment the OB did another cervical exam, and there were still no changes. They scheduled a repeat cesarean for her the following week when she would be 42 weeks and 2 days just to have her “on the books”, but said that as long as the baby and her were doing well they could try inducing instead. That Friday on April 29th, Meagan went in for a non-stress test and biophysical profile. All looked good on the NST, but they noticed on the ultrasound that the baby wasn’t practicing breathing. The OB said that was somewhat concerning, and felt it would be best to go ahead with an induction. Meagan agreed to being induced that evening, but asked if she could go home first to shower and get her things together. The OB said that was no problem.
Around 8:00pm that evening, the OB placed a foley bulb in Meagan’s cervix to begin the induction process. When they placed the foley bulb, they inadvertently broke her water. Meagan was very upset by this. She was afraid that she would then be put on a time limit. The OB assured her that this would not be the case. I recommended that she get a good meal in and try her best to get a good night’s sleep, because the next day would be a busy one. She agreed. She also said she was so impressed with all of the doctors and nurses she had encountered so far. Every single one of them was not only supportive of her, but also excited for her! She knew she was in exactly the right place to give birth.
The next morning, around 6:30am, the doctor came in for a cervical check. The foley bulb had come out, and Meagan was now 4 cm dilated and 50% effaced. She still wasn’t having intense contractions, so they started her on a low dose of pitocin. At 9:30am, Peter called to let me know that Meagan’s contractions had picked up. They were about 4-5 minutes apart, and she had to stop and breathe through them. I told him I would get ready and head their way!
I arrived at the hospital around 11:00am. Meagan was sitting on the ball working through each contraction. She was handling them so well. She would have to stop to breathe through each contraction, but in between contractions she was chatty and happy. I sat beside her and talked. I asked if she had eaten breakfast. She said she had. I asked Peter if he had. He said he had not. I told him he really should get something to eat, as it was going on lunchtime. The nurse came in about that time, and she also encouraged Peter to eat something. He said, he was fine, but we both explained to him that he needed to get something in his system before things got too intense. Many dads will go without eating, and then as soon as the baby arrives and the adrenaline is gone, they get light headed. I offered to go down and get some food for him and bring it back up. He said, that was alright and that he’d go. He asked Meagan if she was alright with him bringing it back, or if the smell would be too much for her. She said it was no problem. While Peter was gone, Meagan and I chatted some about the day before and how supportive everyone was so far. She was so ready to meet her baby and so excited about the process. Contractions began to intensify and get closer together. They were now about 2 -3 minutes apart.
Peter arrived back with his lunch around 11:30am. He ate, and we talked about Passover. Meagan was sure she was going to be able to skip it that year, because the baby would be arriving. Instead, though he waited until the very last day of Passover to make his appearance. Admittedly, I asked a lot of questions in between contractions about the different Jewish holidays, as I am not real knowledgeable about them. Meagan and Peter were great about explaining the traditions during them and the history behind them. At this point, Meagan was still able to talk fairly easily between contractions, but things were beginning to get more intense. She no longer felt comfortable sitting during contractions. I suggested she sit on the ball between contractions, and then stand and lean on the bed or on Peter during, while I applied heat and pressure to her back. This helped for a little while.
Around 12:20pm, Meagan was beginning to feel a little more overwhelmed by the intensity of the contractions. I suggested she try peeing and working through a few contractions on the toilet, and then try the bath or shower. While she was using the bathroom, we called the nurse to get her IV covered. The nurse covered it, and Meagan got in the shower. She labored in the shower for about 45 minutes. At 1:06pm, while she was drying off from the shower, she mentioned that she thought she might want something for pain relief. I suggested she get checked first to see where she was at, and then she could make the decision. She agreed. Meagan had said before labor that she really wanted to try to avoid getting an epidural.
At 1:25pm, the OB came in to check Meagan’s cervix. She was 5-6 cm dilated, 80% effaced, and baby was at a -1 station. This was really great progress, but Meagan still felt like she needed something. I explained to her that typically once a laboring woman hits the 6 cm mark, things go a little bit faster. The nurse explained her options for pain relief. These included an epidural, IV pain meds, and nitrous oxide. Despite the intensity of the contractions, Meagan was still handling each one so beautifully. She told the nurse that she wanted the epidural. The nurse stepped out to call the anesthesiologist. After the nurse left, Meagan and Peter asked me more questions about the other pain relief options. I answered them, and explained the benefits and risks of each. I told her no matter what her choice, I fully supported her decision. She decided to not get the epidural quite yet. She wanted to try the IV pain meds first to see if that could take the edge off long enough for her to either progress a little more or until it was time to push. I walked out and let the nurse know this. During this time, Meagan continued to labor in the bed on her side. She felt this was the best option for her at the time so that she could at least rest in between contractions.
At 1:43pm, the nurse administered a dose of fentanyl in Meagan’s IV. It took a few minutes to kick in. Typically, IV pain meds make most people a little loopy, but not Meagan. She was pretty well aware of everything still. It did take the edge off some, and she was able to rest and doze in between contractions. Meagan continued to work through the contractions lying on her left side. We put the peanut ball in between her legs to help keep her pelvis open. I added heat and pressure to her back and right hip. Peter and I also kept applying ice cold washcloths to her head and neck. Around 2:00pm, Meagan was grunting a little with her contractions, and she said she really felt a lot of pressure. We called the nurse. She checked Meagan’s cervix, and she was already 8 cm dilated and 100% effaced. That was incredible progress in such a short time.
Just 10 minutes later, at 2:10pm, during a contraction, Meagan yelled, “I need to push. This baby feels like it’s coming out of me right now.” The nurse decided to check her cervix again. Meagan rolled over onto her back, and the nurse checked her. She was completely dilated, and ready to push! Meagan did a few “practice pushes” to get the hang of the best way to push. Once, she got the hang of it, the baby came pretty quickly. Teddy was born at 2:43pm, and he was placed immediately on Meagan’s chest. She was in absolute shock, but full of joy. SHE DID IT! SHE GOT HER VBA2C! It was so incredibly amazing to watch Meagan and Peter’s joy as they looked at their baby and marveled at the way he was born. Meagan had never had a new, sticky, slippery baby put immediately on her, and she was beyond excited that she finally got that experience. Peter was in awe of it all too.
Attending Meagan’s birth was truly such a privilege. Both Meagan and Peter were AMAZING. Peter was awesome support to Meagan. And Meagan. Well Meagan rocked EVERY. SINGLE. SECOND. of her pregnancy, labor, and birth. She worked so hard to make sure she was able to give birth to her baby in the best way she thought possible. She made it happen. She’s an amazing, strong, beautiful, powerful woman. She fought for what she wanted, and she made it happen. In the end, all that work paid off. She had a beautiful, empowering birth, where her choices, her decisions were respected and supported. That is something all birthing people should have. I hope she will forever be proud of herself and all the work she put into making her birth an empowering one.
Birth Center Birth | Natural Birth | Cary, NC
****Image and Birth Story shared with permission from clients****
Dottie's birth was the 50th birth I attended as a doula, and what a beautiful birth it was!
Sarah and Vincent were planning to have a natural birth at Baby+Co, a local birth center, in Cary, NC. They decided to hire a birth doula to help support them through labor and birth. They were so excited for their baby girl to make her arrival! On April 14th, 2016 at 5:45am, Sarah sent me a text to let me know that her water had just broken. She wasn’t having any contractions yet, but still planned to call the birth center soon. She was GBS positive, and she knew that the midwives would want to give her IV antibiotics since her water was broken. I told her to stay well hydrated and to get some sleep if she could. She said she would keep me updated on how things were going and what the midwives said.
At 9:38am, Sarah let me know that she had just finished up at Baby+Co. She said she got a non-stress test, and all looked good. Baby was healthy and happy in there. She also received a round of IV antibiotics, and the midwives wanted her to come back at 12:45pm for a second dose. Sarah said that contractions had started up, but that they were really light. She said that Jewell was the midwife on call, and that she suggested that Sarah bind her belly with a rebozo. Sarah said that her and Vincent were planning on going to get breakfast, and then going home for a nap. I told her that sounded like a great plan.
At 1:21pm, Sarah sent me a text to tell me she had just finished with the second round of antibiotics. They were planning on going home, getting some lunch, and then going for a walk. She asked if I had any other suggestions. I suggested that they go ahead and bind her belly, if the midwife hadn’t already. She said they had. I also suggested they cuddle and kiss some to get oxytocin flowing. I also mentioned that nipple stimulation might be a good option, if contractions hadn’t picked up more after the next round of antibiotics. She said, Jewell had suggested trying some herbs and doing a membrane sweep, if contractions hadn’t changed any by the evening. I asked if they had put her on a time limit at all. She said that they just wanted her to be in active labor by 6:00am the next morning.
That evening, at 5:11pm, Sarah got her third round of IV antibiotics. At this time Jewell did a cervical check and a membrane sweep. Sarah was dilated to a tight 3 cm, and she still had a ways to go on effacement. They decided to try some castor oil, and agreed to meet back up at the birth center at 9:00pm, if things didn’t pick up before then. At 9:48pm, Sarah sent me a text to let me know that they were checked in at the birth center. She said she was beginning to get slightly more noticeable cramping, but that it was still manageable. She said she was going to lie down and get some sleep, and she would let me know as soon as things ramped up.
A few hours later, at 11:45pm, Sarah let me know that contractions had picked up and gotten stronger. She said they were about 5-10 minutes apart and one minute long. She asked that I come around 1:00am. I arrived at the birth center a few minutes after 1:00. Sarah and Vincent were in the back room. Sarah was sitting on the ball receiving another dose of IV antibiotics. She was having contractions about every 5 minutes, and she was handling them so well. Vincent was sitting behind her, and he would apply counter pressure to her back during each contraction. Around 2:15am, the contractions began to intensify some, and Sarah decided she’d like to get in the shower for comfort. She did and found it very helpful. She stayed in the shower for about 20 minutes, and then got back out and sat back on the ball. She sat on the ball breathing through each contraction, while Vincent and I applied heat to her back and counter pressure to her hips.
Around 2:45am, I suggested that maybe Sarah might want to try walking around the birth center a little. She did this for about 10 minutes, and then came back and sat on the ball for a few minutes, and then got back up and walked again. She alternated between walking and the ball until around 3:30am. At this point, contractions had intensified enough that Sarah no longer felt comfortable sitting during them. So she would stand and lean on Vincent during contractions, while I applied heat and counter pressure to her back. At 3:45am, Sarah decided to get back in the shower. She stayed in there for about 15 minutes. When she got out, we discussed maybe trying hands and knees, since she was feeling a fair amount of back pain. I was hoping that maybe both her and Vincent could rest some in between contractions, so I suggested she lie in Vincent’s lap. She got on the bed. There she alternated between hands and knees and side lying. She would doze in between contractions. This worked well for about 30 minutes, and then once again contractions intensified more.
Around 4:45am, Sarah changed positions. She sat on the edge of the bed, and Vincent sat on a chair in front of her. Every time a contraction hit, Sarah would stand up, lean on Vincent, and I would apply counter pressure and heat to her back and hips. In between contractions, she would sit back down and rest on the bed. At 5:15am, the intensity of Sarah’s contractions really started to pick up. She began groaning and feeling a lot of pressure during contractions. Jewell came back in shortly after that, and she did a cervical check. Sarah was completely dilated and ready to push!
After Jewell checked Sarah’s cervix, Sarah rolled to her right side and began pushing with contractions. She pushed in this position for about 20 minutes. At 5:45am, she got on hands and knees and pushed in that position for about 15 minutes. She wasn’t making much progress pushing on hands and knees, so Jewell suggested maybe try side lying again, but on the left side this time. She did, and Vincent laid down next to her in the bed supporting and encouraging her, while I applied cold cloths to her head and neck. She pushed for about 30 minutes in this position. Around 6:30am, she rolled on her back to push. She pushed this way until Dottie was born at 7:08am! Dottie was placed immediately on your Sarah’s chest. They were so overjoyed to meet her!
Sarah was such a strong, beautiful laboring woman. You would have never known this was her first time giving birth. She handled things like she’d done it many times before. She worked so hard and listened to her body so well. Vincent was an incredible source of love and support for Sarah. It was so beautiful to witness!
Hospital Birth | Clayton, NC
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Bethany and Jared hired me for doula services early on in Bethany’s pregnancy. They were expecting their second child. They had a 2 year old daughter, Kathryn. Bethany had a long labor with her first daughter, and she ended up getting transferred from the birth center she planned to deliver at to a hospital. After Kathryn was born, she ended up having to spend some time in the NICU due to meconium aspiration pneumonia. For this birth, they really felt they could use the extra support that a birth doula could provide. Bethany and Jared decided to deliver at a hospital that was very close to their house. Bethany really liked one of the OBs that worked there, because she was very much on board with Bethany’s choices. Near the end of Bethany’s pregnancy she began having dizzy spells due to low blood pressure. With this, combined with the worry of meconium and a few other factors, Bethany and Jared felt it would be best to induce labor at 40 week and 2 days, if Naomi did not come on her own before then.
On Sunday evening, March 20th, 2016, Bethany went into the hospital to begin the induction process. She sent me a text around 6:00pm to let me know that she had been admitted at the hospital, and that they planned to place the foley bulb in about 15 minutes. She said they had done a cervical exam, and she was still 1 cm dilated. At 10:30pm, she let me know that she was going to take an ambien to try and get some sleep, and that the OB planned on breaking her water between 7:00-8:00am the following morning. I suggested she sleep as much as she could, and to try and get a good breakfast in the morning.
The next morning, March 21st, around 7:00am, Bethany let me know that the foley bulb had fallen out in the night. She said she wasn’t contracting regularly yet, and that she was able to sleep through everything the night before. I told her that was great and recommended to continue eating and snacking until the OB came in to break her water. At 8:26am, Bethany let me know the OB had broken her water, and the fluid was clear. This was a relief to Bethany and Jared. She also said, she was about 3 cm dilated, and hadn’t had any contractions yet that morning. She said she was doing a non stress test, and then she planned to get up and walk. I told her that was great and recommended maybe doing some squats and lunges as well.
At 12:26pm, Jared called me to give me an update. He said they’d been doing a lot of walking and going up and down the stairs, but there were still no contractions. He said Bethany was beginning to get tired and disappointed. I suggested that she try taking a little break for lunch, getting a good meal in, and maybe trying to take a nap. I also suggested that nipple stimulation usually works well, if she could stand it, but Bethany had previously said it was too uncomfortable. Around 3:30pm, Jared called again to let me know that Bethany still wasn’t having many contractions, and that they planned to start pitocin around 5:00. He said that Bethany would like me to arrive not long after she started the pitocin.
I arrived at the hospital at 5:45pm. When I got there Bethany was sitting on the birth ball next to her bed. She was on a very low dose of pitocin, and contractions hadn’t picked up yet. We sat and talked for a while waiting for contractions to pick up. Bethany and Jared told me a lot of fun stories, some about how they met and fell in love, some about living overseas, others about a really annoying mocking bird, and many more. We spent several hours talking and doing lots of laughing. Finally, around 9:00pm, when contractions still hadn’t picked up any, I suggested that maybe everyone should try to sleep. I wanted Bethany and Jared to get as much sleep as possible before active labor began. They agreed. They set up the pull out bed for Jared, and Bethany slept in the hospital bed. I returned home, and told them to call me as soon as things picked up.
I came home and slept for a few hours, and then around 12:45am, Jared called me to ask me a question about the pitocin, and to let me know that Bethany’s contractions were now 3 minutes apart and fairly intense. I told him I would get up and head their way. I arrived back at the hospital at 1:20am. When I walked in the room, you could definitely tell Bethany was in very active labor. She was sitting on her knees on the floor and leaning on the seat of the recliner. Jared was rubbing her back and saying encouraging words. I went and warmed up the heating pack, and applied that and counter pressure to her back. I also wrapped the rebozo around her to do a hip squeeze. She stayed in this position until 2:10am, and then decided to sit on the birth ball for a while. She sat on the birth ball for 15 minutes, and then was feeling very tired. She decided to try side lying on the bed to see if she might be able to rest in between contractions. Either Jared or I would apply heat and counter pressure to her hip during contractions.
Bethany stayed in the bed until 2:50am. Then she decided it was too uncomfortable to lay down during contractions, so she got back on hands and knees on the floor and leaned on the recliner. Jared and I continued to encourage her and apply heat and counter pressure to her back and hips. She stayed in this position for about 30 minutes, and then decided to sit back on the ball. She said she was telling herself that she just had 60 more contractions to go, and was counting down. After about 30 minutes sitting on the ball, Bethany really began getting overwhelmed by the intensity of the contractions. She said she’d like to get checked, and if she wasn’t close to having Naomi that she really felt she needed to get something for pain relief.
The nurse came in at 4:10am to check Bethany’s cervix. She was 4-5cm dilated, 75% effaced, and the baby was at a -2 station. Bethany was really disappointed to hear this. She was hoping she was much further along. We discussed all the different pain relief options. Bethany decided to try some IV pain meds. The nurse suggested trying stadol. At 4:30am, Bethany received the IV pain meds. This helped her a lot. She was able to rest and sleep in between contractions. She would usually wake up for the peak of the contraction, but it made things a lot more manageable for her. Unfortunately, IV pain meds only last about an hour, and by 5:30am Bethany was feeling everything again. She began bearing down some during contractions, and I asked her if she was feeling a lot of pressure. She said she was, so we asked the nurse to check her again. The nurse checked Bethany’s cervix at 5:50am, and she was 6 cm dilated and 100% effaced. At that point, Bethany decided she’d really like to get an epidural. The nurse told her she would call the anesthesiologist, but that she needed to get a bag of fluids in her first.
Around 6:00am, while Bethany was waiting for the bag of fluids to finish, she labored on hands and knees. She felt most comfortable in this position. She stayed this way for about 30 minutes. The nurse came in to give another bag of fluids, and said they were still waiting on the anesthesiologist to arrive. Bethany was getting very tired and rolled over to try laboring on her side. She worked through a few contractions in this position. She would hold up her leg during the contraction. At one point, Jared was helping her hold up her leg, and he went to put it down, and she got really upset. She wanted it to stay up. I knew immediately that Bethany must be ready to push. We called the nurse, and sure enough Naomi’s head was right there. They turned on all the lights, and Bethany began to push. She pushed just a few times, and then Naomi was born! The OB wasn’t even able to make it in time.
Bethany and Jared were so glad to have Naomi here, but it was obvious from the moment she was born that something wasn’t quite right. It’s not uncommon for some newborns to take some time to adjust to life outside the womb. We were all hoping this was all it was. Unfortunately, after several tests they found that it was a lot more than this, and Naomi was transferred to a NICU at a different hospital. As I write this, she is still there, and Bethany and Jared have learned a lot more about what is needed to make her healthy. What she needs is a new heart, so Naomi is on the transplant list, and Bethany and Jared wait until one becomes available. Bethany and Jared are amazing people. They are strong and full of faith. They have faith that God will provide Naomi a new heart. Naomi is a fighter. That’s been blatantly obvious since day one. She is strong, and she is surrounded by people who love her, believe in her, and pray for her. Bethany and Jared are incredible people. I’m so looking forward to the day that I hear she got a new heart, and that she can go home and live day in and day out with her loving, faithful, strong, beautiful family. Naomi will always hold a special place in my heart. It has been such an honor to be a part of her journey <3
Bethany and Jared have complete faith that Naomi will be provided for, but in the meantime they wait. A transplant can take a HUGE TOLL on a family, not only emotionally and physically, but also financially. A fundraising page has been set up to help raise money towards transplant related expenses. Bethany and Jared have partnered with the Children's Organ Transplant Association, the nation’s only fundraising organization solely dedicated to raising life-saving dollars in honor of transplant-needy children, like Naomi. 100% of each contribution made to COTA, in honor of Naomi, helps meet their transplant related expenses. Please consider giving to the Reeves family. The last thing this precious family needs to worry about at this time is how they are going to pay for Naomi’s transplant and all the expenses incurred due to it. Please click here to donate. I’ve also included the link at the top of the story, as well as, a link to the facebook page set up for Naomi’s journey. This is a great place to keep updated on Naomi’s progress.
Hospital Birth | Raleigh, NC
***Birth Story and Images shared with permission from clients***
Mary Beth contacted me early in her second trimester. She greatly desired to have a natural birth, and she wanted guidance and support in achieving that. She knew a birth doula would help her with that. After discussing different providers and how supportive they were of natural birth, she decided to switch providers to one that was more supportive of her birthing choices. She worked hard during her pregnancy to do everything that was best for her baby. Mary Beth’s due date was March 8th, 2016. As that day came and went, the OB discussed induction with Mary Beth and Brandon. They decided on scheduling an induction for the evening of March 15th, when Mary Beth would be 41 weeks. Mary Beth tried everything in her power to get labor started on its own before then, but Molly was in no hurry to come out.
The evening of March 15th, 2016, around 8:00pm, Mary Beth and Brandon checked in to the hospital. Once there, they placed a foley bulb in Mary Beth’s cervix to help her dilate. She experienced some moderate cramping with it, but was able to take something and get some sleep. The next morning around 6:15am, Mary Beth sent me a text to let me know how things were going. She said the foley bulb was still in, and that they planned to start pitocin at 7:00am. I reminded her to make sure she ate a good breakfast before they started the pitocin and to request the wireless monitors and to let me know as soon as she needed me. At 7:30am, she sent me a text to say that her contractions were about two and a half minutes apart, but very mild. She wasn’t feeling much of anything yet. The foley bulb was out, and she had been able to get a room with a tub. I suggested if she was able to sleep anymore to do it, in order to preserve energy for active labor, but that if she wasn’t able to, then maybe try getting up and moving some to get things going.
At 9:20am, Mary Beth sent me another text to let me know that the OB hadn’t come in yet, but that the nurse had mentioned the OB breaking her water. I asked her how intense her contractions were now. She said they weren’t too bad, and that they seemed to be the most consistent when she was lying on her left side. Around 10:30am, the doctor came in to check on Mary Beth and to talk about options. She checked Mary Beth’s cervix, and she was about 5 cm dilated. She offered to break her water to help speed things along, and Mary Beth agreed to it. At 12:37pm, Mary Beth sent me a text to say she would like me to go ahead and come in. I got my things together and headed out.
Birth Center Birth | Natural Birth | Cary, NC
****Birth Story and Images Shared with Permission from Clients****
All images in Cheyenne's birth story by Autumn's Photography
Krista and Josh hired me early in their pregnancy. They were expecting their third child. Krista had her first two daughters in a hospital and had received an epidural with both of them. She wanted something different this time around. She really wanted the full experience of a natural labor and delivery, so she decided to give birth at Baby+Co, a local birth center. She knew they would support and respect her wishes of having a natural birth, as well as, allow her daughters and other family members in the room. She wasn’t sure how she would handle and cope with contractions, but she knew a natural birth was what she wanted. Krista and Josh worked hard to prepare for the birth. They took a great birthing class. They hired a photographer and me. They even rented a birth pool to use for laboring at home. They wanted to stay and labor at home as long as possible. The plan was that I would come to their house once Krista felt like she needed me. Then I would help them decide when would be a good time to go ahead and go to the birth center, but baby had different plans!
Please feel free to share your birth stories here. The more women can read empowering birth stories, the more confident they can feel in their own births! Please email birth stories to firstname.lastname@example.org