• Steph Goh Bishop

Sienna's Birth Story - All Natural and Squatting (HA!)

Updated: Dec 16, 2018

Two things to note before moving on! This is LONG - mainly because I’m too lazy to summarize this a little more

** Also, If things like mucus and blood make you queasy, I would skip this haha! **

My birth story is kind of a crazy story. To preface, we took Bradley Method classes (husband-coached childbirth) from the amazing Elizabeth Steele (doula and Bradley Method instructor) and our goal was to give birth completely naturally (no interventions like epidural, pitocin, c-section or even IV fluids), nothing against any of these interventions, but a natural birth was just what we wanted for ourselves. During the classes, we followed a fitness plan of walking 30-60 mins daily and I followed the Brewer Diet.

So I’m going to assume (and you’ll get why I say that) that all this started on Thursday morning when I woke up to pee and noticed that I had lost a very little bit of my mucus plug and a bit of a bloody show (sorry, this is kinda “gross” if this type of stuff makes you queasy!). All day that day I had a little bit of Braxton Hicks contractions, nothing really to worry about, I was still able to walk and talk easily through all of it. I had my 39 week appointment and nothing eventful there. Just so you know, we declined cervical checks at the weekly appointments, so I didn’t know if I was dilated or effaced. I didn’t think it necessary to know, just because that number usually doesn’t mean anything. I could be 1 cm dilated for a long time and that could change in a matter of hours, so I felt like I didn’t need the anxiety.

Come Friday, I was still having Braxton Hicks and that morning, at about 5am, I passed more bloody looking “clots”. I found it a little bit strange, but I didn’t feel anything else wrong, so I didn’t think anything of it!

To add to all of this, my doula, Elizabeth Steele, was gone to North Carolina and wasn’t going to be back until June 17. I told her I was going to hold the baby IN until she was back. People laugh and think I’m crazy for saying that, but when I put my mind to something, I usually do it… hahaha. And at this point, I was 39 weeks, which is not usually when a Bradley mom who has followed the method gives birth. Statistically, Bradley moms go to 40 weeks and 2, sometimes even 41.

Saturday — ok that’s when things ramp up. All day on Saturday, I have more intense Braxton Hicks. I assumed that these was probably more like early labor contractions. They weren’t long, and I was able to walk and talk through them. We were running errands, packing our go bag, washing clothes, etc. They were more painful than the other contractions from before, but nothing classic, nothing that walking, or changing position didn’t ease.

Come Saturday night, I’m grimacing through these contractions and so I start timing them. They STILL didn’t follow any sort of classic pattern. They were 30-45 seconds long, 3 to 4 minutes apart, sometimes the intervals were longer, sometimes shorter. They were contractions that were happening on my lower abdomen, unlike the full abdomen contractions that classic labor ones are described to be. They were just irregular and so I still thought, I guess, these aren’t active labor contractions.

So get this, these went on all night long. I didn’t sleep much and I couldn’t get comfortable. The night was getting LONG and I started to think… maybe I have something else wrong with me! I think I googled up “irritable uterus” and “gas cramps” at some point, HA! My sporadic contractions were also triggered by movement and still staying in the same lower abdomen area.

At 545am, I go to the bathroom and pass YET more clots (I’m assuming - bloody show) AND more mucus plug and I was just so confused at the point. And I was very irritated at the early labor I was experiencing, I was pretty much over it. I walk into the bedroom, I stop for another “contraction” and my water breaks. Daniel is asleep at this point and I’m all like “Ahhh… AHHH, Daniel! Wake up!!”

I give my doula a call and I tell her my water’s broken and since she had told me the night before that she would be home in 19 hours (which would put her back in Hattiesburg on Sunday, at 5pm), that I was going to call her backup. She says, wait hold on, let me talk to my husband…I’m only a few hours away.. I was like HALLELUJAH!! She tells me she’s on her way and I start concentrating on the coming labor. In my mind, I had a ways to go and this was going to be a little while.

In about 15 minutes, things get really going and my contractions start stabilizing like classic labor contractions, they were 5-7 minutes apart, coming in waves. Daniel is helping me through the contractions and getting stuff ready. He also busts out the Bradley Method book for revision, which I found hilarious.

I labor for about 1 hour, and I’m still kinda walking around and getting stuff ready also. Then the contractions kick in a little bit more and that’s when I start to lay down for contractions. One of the things of labor was that I had to hold Daniel’s hand during a contraction. It didn’t matter what he was doing, holding his hand or hugging him was the only thing keeping me from panicking during contractions (which I did if he wasn’t there).

About 5 contractions in laying down on the couch, something very different was happening on the 6th one. I involuntarily push. It was the most insane feeling I had ever felt. I’ve never felt a feeling where my body had completely taken control and I couldn’t stop it. That’s when I tell Daniel, CALL ELIZABETH. I tell him to let her know what was up and she very calmly said, Steph… go into the bathroom and check to see if you can feel the baby’s head.

So I go into the bathroom, stick my middle finger up in there and THERE SHE WAS AT THE TIP OF MY FINGER.

Daniel calls her back and she says, y’all should get in the car and go.

Now, granted, a lot of people think we were/are crazy for doing this, but we wanted to give birth at Garden Park Medical Center (the closest thing you can get to a birth center in Mississippi). We live an hour away from the hospital and so we start getting packed and ready to go.

At this point, I’m still contracting, I’m still involuntarily pushing. And our baby’s head is still about my middle finger’s length away from the outside world. To go ahead and answer your question, no, for some reason I was never worried about giving birth in the car.

I held that baby in for Elizabeth to get there. HA! Who, at that point was close to Hattiesburg and practically right behind us. Super kudos to her amazing family for getting up and piling in the car so that Elizabeth could get to me.

Wanna know something else funny? WE ALSO HAD TO GET GAS. HAHAHAHAH. Thankfully Daniel was keeping his cool and had the sense not to fill up the whole tank.

Honestly, the reason why I didn’t give birth in the car was because I had to sit in the front seat (sitting upright) in order to hold his hand during contractions. Had I been in the back seat, on my hands and knees, there definitely would have been a baby born in the car.

We finally get to Garden Park (GP) Medical Center (PHEW) and get checked in. First and last

cervical check done through the whole pregnancy… surprise, surprise, NO cervix, completely dilated and effaced. The baby was at station zero. Elizabeth shows up right after I get my blood drawn and heplock put in. They monitor the baby and she’s absolutely fine. One of the things we LOVED about GP was that I never had to restrict any movement at all. The baby was fine through all the intermittent monitoring, heartbeat looked great.

Our nurse, Jennifer (an ANGEL), just hung out with us and chatted while I continued to labor through my contractions one at a time. During this time, I give all the credit to Elizabeth and Daniel for giving me the support I needed. I loved how she knew exactly what was happening and she would give me encouragement and instruction on what to do with pushing, which is absolutely what I needed from her. Daniel rubbed my lower back and massaged me through each contraction.

What really changed the game early on was when Elizabeth started giving me hip squeezes, which honestly gave the baby the needed space to start moving down from station zero. After that, we labored on the toilet for a while, and pushed for about 3 or 4 contractions. The toilet worked for a while, but instinctually, I had a feeling that wasn’t the position I needed to be in. We walked back to the hospital bed and I think I remember saying, I want to squat. From our Bradley classes, one of the things that stuck out to me was that if you get into a deep squat, you shorten your birth canal significantly and that made SO much sense to me.

Three full deep squats during contractions and there it was, the ring of fire. I could DEFINITELY feel her. And at this point, I was letting out involuntary yells. On the fourth push/contraction, Elizabeth, who was doing hot compresses on my perineum, said THERE’S THE HEAD!

Also apparently, my yell during that contraction called the calvary into the room. My OB and nurses showed up all of a sudden with all of their stuff. I was so surprised… and I remember saying, whoa you’re all in here and they responded, oh yeah, we heard you from down the hallway. It’s amazing that they could HEAR that it was time!

We tried to get on the birthing stool at this point and it still didn’t feel right, I wanted to keep squatting! Another amazing thing about GP was that everyone was more than ready to receive the baby if I wanted to deliver via squatting on the floor! However, Elizabeth suggested getting up on the bed, and squatting there, holding on to the back of the bed, and that sounded amazing to me.

I got up there, waited for the next contraction, because my body didn’t want to push until there was a contraction, and then I pushed. In that contraction, my sweet baby was born and we immediately got her on my chest. I remember just being amazed and maybe having a look of bewilderment on my face as I held on to my baby. We did some delayed cord clamping and Daniel got to cut the baby’s umbilical cord!

What I loved loved loved about my birth experience is that: We gave birth absolutely on our own terms (which is ALL thanks to Garden Park Medical Center and our amazing super natural birth friendly OBGYN, Dr Taylor). We weren’t pushed to do ANYTHING that we didn’t want to do and I was able to labor completely restriction free, following my natural instincts down to the second.

Having an amazing doula aka Elizabeth Steele was a godsend, even if getting her there was an adventure haha! There is something amazing about having someone who knows exactly what’s going on in your body while you’re laboring. With 175 births under her belt, her ability to read all the signs and cues was invaluable to me. The fact that she will be moving to Huntsville will be a great loss for Hattiesburg!

Bradley Method classes + the fitness and diet regime we had to do is absolutely what I credit my health to for making my pregnancy and birth smooth and easy. If you want to attempt going natural, taking a Bradley Method class course is absolutely essential. Being prepared for what to expect gave me the knowledge, strength and courage to take control of my birth.

An important thing I gathered from my own personal experience in labor is that labor is a MENTAL GAME. It’s all about perspective and perception. Honestly I think what got me through my labor on Saturday night was the fact that I didn’t RECOGNIZE it as classic labor. I kept putting it off as practice contractions due to their irregularity and the lack of any sort of classic pattern and because of this, I think I went through my entire labor without feeling the full effects of “I’m in LABOR”. Had I done that, I would have gotten a lot more impatient and would have felt like giving up. Instead, I chose to push myself to sleep through it. So it’s all about mental strength and perception and in my case, SLIGHT DELUSIONS. Haha!!

At the end of the day, I encourage everyone to do the research and have a birth on YOUR terms.

If you want to go natural, put the effort in and make sure you know what that entails.

If you want to go with the epidural and pitocin route OR the c-section route, know your options! There are a surprising number of different things you can do, such as a walking epidural or a gentle caesarean.

And at the end of the day, be flexible! Don’t let your “plan” get in the way of having a safe delivery and healthy baby.