Birth Story, Natalia Patricia
Birth Story Natalia Patricia
After spending some time settling in with little Natalia, I am ready to share my birth story! WOW, what an incredible experience it was. Baby Natalia arrived one day prior to my due date on January 9th weighing 7lbs and measuring 20inches. I gave birth to her in a tub at Jersey Shore Medical Center alongside my partner Andy, my midwife Leslie, and Chelsea from Ommamadoulas. We are so incredibly grateful that Natalia is healthy and cannot believe how fast time is flying by. Two months already! Now let’s rewind.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to plan for a natural birth in the water. I had read about all of the benefits of birthing in a tub as part of a research project in grad school. Ever since that project I knew when it was time for me to have a baby, I wanted that experience for myself if I was a candidate for it. I always wanted a natural birth so I was most attracted to having a water birth for natural pain management. Since the warm water in the tub can help with relaxation, it can help your body release more endorphins. This improves blood flow to the uterine muscles and eases labor pain. Water births have also been shown to move things along faster because they help to release tension and help the women in labor conserve more energy in between contractions. This gives the women in labor more energy to push during them and minimizes medical interventions. Mamanatural has a great blog where she dives into these benefits if you are interested in learning more about water births you can read HERE.
Before we dive into it, I just want to say how incredibly grateful I am for the support of Chelsea & Lauren from the @Ommamadoulas team. The support from these doulas from the later half of my pregnancy to a couple weeks postpartum was more than I could ever dream of. Because of their support I was calm and confident going into labor. I was able to labor at home for a long period of time & feel positive about my decisions. Thank you Ommamadoulas for everything!
Friday January 8th was my last day of work as I entered into my maternity leave. I planned to work until my due date [January 10th], or until the baby came since I worked from home and did not need to travel into the city. I spent the night Friday taking a long bath (practicing my hypnobirthing) and diving into some self care. With my due date approaching, I planned to relax the entire weekend. If I had not started labor by my due date (Jan 10th), I was planning to begin natural labor inducing remedies. Everyone I spoke to told me they had a feeling the baby was coming late, which is common with first time moms, and to be honest I had that feeling too. My partner’s birthday is January 17th and I had a weird feeling they may share a birthday. I was wrong. I planned to start Mamanaturals strong raspberry tea Monday Morning followed by a curb walk to get things moving and go from there with natural remedies. Natalia had other plans.
How it started:
Saturday January 8th around 9pm I ran to the bathroom to pee while the dinner was in the oven. We had a late dinner because I slept in super late Saturday. This was typical for me in my 3rd trimester towards the end. When I was in the bathroom I noticed a couple spots of red on my underwear. I immediately texted my doulas, Chelsea and Lauren, in our group chat. They told me not to worry, that this meant things were most likely moving along. They advised me to continue to focus on my self care + tons of sleep + nourishment this weekend as labor was near and to keep them posted on any other signs of labor. I also texted my friend Lexie, and she was all pumped up that things may be happening as this was also her first sign. After speaking with them I stayed calm, ate a nutritious meal, and went to bed a little early that night.
I woke up around 2am Sunday morning, with what felt to be a full bladder. Early morning bathroom trips were not uncommon for me in the last few weeks of pregnancy. When I got into the bathroom I felt some fluid leak before I made it to the toilet. I looked down to see what looked to be a thick mucus-like clear puddle, maybe measuring about ½ cup. I emptied my bladder and in the toilet was a tiny bit more blood, just a few drops. My heart rate increased a bit and I grabbed my phone to text Chelsea and Lauren again and let them know what was going on. I sent them a picture of the small puddle to confirm it was most likely the start of my mucus plug and not my water breaking. At this moment I was not feeling any cramps or contractions. They told me to hydrate and go back to bed. I trusted them and the process and dozed back off to rest.
About two hours later, around 4 am I woke up again to pee (after hydrating around 2 am) and this time when I went to the bathroom I saw more blood and lots of mucus. As I was reaching for my phone to update the doulas in our group chat, I also started to feel some cramping. Here I knew. I felt it in my gut that things were happening. A zombie somewhat sleep walking to the bathroom to pee turned into a fully awake and alert me within seconds. I updated the doulas and they responded that things were most likely progressing and to go back to sleep. They warned me they would tell me to sleep at our 3rd trimester meeting and I laughed at the time, but now that it seemed to be actually happening I was also thinking to myself how am I going to possibly sleep! Trusting the process and my doulas recommendations, I took a deep breath and did my best to fall back asleep. This time I couldn’t. After about 30 minutes of trying to doze off I knew it wasn’t happening. Chelsea and Lauren suggested I take a hot shower, hydrate more, and try to go to sleep again. The cramps were getting a little stronger. I nudged Andy and told him I was getting in the shower (at 430 am) and not to worry. I told him I was starting to feel crampy and that I thought it was happening but to go back to sleep because I would need him later. I hoped in the shower and woah contraction. They say you’ll know when you have one and woah I had one. It felt like a strong period cramp that came out of nowhere and went away within seconds. Each cramp was stronger than the one before. Here I was in labor, around 5am Sunday morning, just one day before my due date. Knowing due dates are commonly inaccurate, found it interesting that my labor started so close to mine since I was aware of the exact date I conceived. My body was ready & so was my baby girl.
When I got out of the shower I was still feeling crampy on and off but listened to my doulas and went right to sleep in between the contractions. I kept telling myself to stay calm and that I would need all the energy I could get in the next hours to days or however long it took for the baby girl to make her entry. I was able to doze back off to sleep until about 7am with what felt to be a contraction. Andy woke up with me and asked me what he could do and I told him to just go back to sleep because I would need him later. He went back to sleep and I texted Chelsea and Lauren to let them know I was having contractions and no longer light cramps. They had intensified from strong period cramps to intense cramps/tightness. I turned on the water in my deep soak tub and just layed in there for about 30 minutes until I started to feel uncomfortable and the need to stand through them. It was at this time when I got out of the tub that I also started to time my contractions on an app and communicate back and forth with my doulas more. My doulas stayed in touch with my midwives. My contractions were about 3 minutes apart from when I started timing them and they lasted about 30-45 seconds. Around 11am they moved to 1 minute apart for about a minute. Things were progressing and each hour they grew more and more intense.
During the 7am-11am time frame Chelsea and Lauren both sent me some words of encouragement, recommended I take another hot shower or bath if it made me feel comfortable, and reminded me of what I had learned with positioning and breathing through contractions. I had all the tools in my toolbox and was in a great mindset as the contractions grew stronger. Stronger they grew and closer together. We added Andy to the chat that morning as well in case I was not able to communicate back at any time. I did my best to hydrate with tons of electrolytes from the moment I went into labor as well as drink coconut water and snack on some purely elizabeth oatmeal for energy. 8am was the last time I ate (the oats) but I continued to hydrate for the next few hours. I moved from shower to bathtub to floor to bed to recliner to child’s pose, toilet, etc. Whatever made me feel comfortable in the moment. Oddly, sitting on the toilet was actually one of the most comfortable positions, the other was child’s pose. Another thing I experienced was tons of loose stools. It was like my body was cleansing and preparing for birth. I focused on my breathing and dove into some of the hypnobirthing methods I studied in my 2nd and 3rd trimester. This went on from about 7am-11am. I also started bleeding more so I had on a disposable pull up with a pad I kept changing. Andy was in and out of sleep checking on me but I continued to encourage him I was fine, in a groove, and for him to get more sleep. Who knew how long of a day it was going to be for both of us.
Roughly 7 hours from what seemed to be the start of labor, 5 of which I was awake, it was now about 11 am. I stayed in contact with the doulas and once I reached a certain point with the contractions Chelsea, who was on call, was planning to come over in a bit to check on me and help with some positioning. She called me on her way over to let me know she was on her way and wanted to listen to a contraction. Within seconds of answering, I had one and she knew it was time to head over to the hospital. Change of plans, she was not coming here but instead meeting us at the hospital.
Hospital bag ready to go, I started the car from my phone to warm it up while Andy grabbed a few more last minute things and called his dad to come over to be with the dogs. It was now about noon. The funny thing was that we had everything packed to go but could not find the keys! I sat in the warm car, Andy went back in to get them and a few minutes later we were on our way. Chelsea called Andy and said she was at the hospital as we were pulling out of the driveway. We told her we were caught up looking for keys and would be there soon. Well we got about a mile down the road and gush… my water broke. It felt like a forceful burst of fluid and about a gallon of water sitting in my pants. To this day I can’t believe how it did not get all over the car seat. The pullup I had on from the blood spotting prevented a big mess!
Oh wow were the contractions starting to get super close and painful but I continued to stay calm and in the zone with my breathing exercises. Andy kept asking me if I was ok in the car but I did not want to talk at all, just close my eyes and breathe in between. We pulled up to the hospital around 12:20 pm to find Chelsea waiting outside. Andy dropped me off at the front and I got into the wheelchair. He quickly parked the car and met us back at the entrance. Chelsea and Andy went up to the desk to check me in and I was, at this point, slightly screaming through the contractions. The guy at the front barely took our names before saying GO GO GO to head to maternity. I think they were scared I was about to have the baby there! Andy waited there to give our information and Chelsea rushed me to the maternity floor. We bypassed triage at this point, it was obvious I was pretty far along so we went directly to the maternity floor.
Once I got in the room around 12:30 pm I layed on the bed and immediately had a hundred hands all over me. Andy arrived not too long after us. Chelsea was helping me get undressed into a gown, one nurse was taking my vitals, another nurse was putting in an IV line and then wrapping it up for the water, a tech swabbing me for covid, another tech taking blood, etc. Honestly, there was so much happening at once it was a little overwhelming and I don’t even remember who was doing what. I was already 8cm dilated when I arrived at the hospital and all I wanted was to get in the tub. While all this was going on Chelsea and another nurse were setting up the tub. Andy was holding my hand with one hand and handing over my birth plan to the nurse with the other.
A copy of my birth plan:
“We are excited to have The Midwives at Center for Women’s Health at Avon on our birth team. We have prepared and educated ourselves for natural childbirth and respectfully request the following.
Ideal Birthing Experience:
- Waterbirth, unmedicated
- No pain medication unless requested by the mother
- Avoid use of Pitocin
- Natural water rupturing
- Open communication and informed consent in all decision making
- Only necessary monitoring of baby and mother
- Access to tubs & showers
- Freedom of movement in and out of the shower or tub & ability to walk freely
- As few vaginal exams as possible & only by my provider
- Free of time restraints
- Would like to be provided water over routine IV
- Father: Andres Abad will remain with mother at all times
- Support from our doula + midwives (medical team)
- Otherwise, we request privacy during this intimate event (no medical students)
- Positive environment 🙂 `
Delivery & Postpartum:
- Immediate skin to skin contact (baby stays with mom or dad at all times)
- Andy will cut the cord, delayed clamping
- We want to postpone all newborn procedures until we have had a chance to bond and meet with our pediatrician. Any procedures done with our consent, to be done on mom’s chest/ in arms.
- No eye ointment, no hepatitis B vaccine
- We do not want our baby to be bathed in the hospital
- Breastfeeding right away
- Save placenta for placenta encapsulation
These are our medical preferences in the case of an uncomplicated labor. If a complication (medical emergency) does arise, we will opt for whatever is necessary to keep mother and baby safe with our consent. In the case of a medically necessary C section, we request the following:
- Father present during surgery
- Immediate skin to skin contact
- Vaginal Swab to be collected and wiped on the baby’s skin following delivery.
We look forward to working together with your amazing team!”
I was eager to get into the tub but a few things needed to happen before I got in there (like checking my blood pressure, the baby’s heart rate, and having enough water in the tub to regulate my body temperature and cover my hips in case the baby made her arrival. Everyone was great and worked frantically to get everything ready. The nurses reviewed my birth plan and respectfully did not ask me about pain medicine or other interventions if they were not needed. I flipped from my back to my side and then to my hands and knees which seemed to be the most comfortable position at this time. Lesie arrived (my midwife) and she was asking me a few questions when I got super nauseous and vomited everywhere. Luckily this was a one and done thing and after I vomited I no longer felt nauseous. This also happened right before I got in the tub which could have been bad.
By this time it’s about 1pm and I’m asking to get in the tub. It took so long to fill up and though it was not at the preferred level, Leslie said I could get in as long as I layed on my back and kept my hips under until the tub filled up more and I could switch positions. I took off my gown, my bra, and got into the tub completely naked. Andy held my hand and took the hose and kept pouring warm water over my belly while the tub filled up. He was also super excited about the fishing net they said was for poop haha (I never pooped but Andy was ready to scoop if I did!). The water filled up and I adjusted my position from laying on my back to lying on my left side. Then I finally found comfort in a child’s pose and on my hands and knees. I was in the tub a little after 1pm.
I started diving into my hypnobirthing practices. I did not actually listen to them in the delivery room but rather took myself there by closing my eyes and flooding my mind with the practice. Andy put on Kaskade’s Grand Canyon Essential Mix and between the music and the hypnobirthing I was in the zone. Speaking to no one just breathing and focusing. As soon as I got into the tub there was a significant difference in the pain. I was in my element and actually very relaxed. Yes, there was still pain, but more bearable. This allowed me to get into a deep state with my hypnobirthing. I didn’t speak to anyone really for a good 45 minutes and just stayed focused on myself and calm. So calm that Andy said during this period I looked somewhat possessed. Around 1:45pm, Lesie told me as soon as I felt the urge to poop it was time to push and that happened shortly after around 2pm. I was 10 cm dilated and started pushing during the contractions.
There was one time when I felt my entire body go numb, mainly my legs and it scared me. This was the one time I felt like giving up but everyone encouraged me I was ok and to keep pushing. There were also times when I started to feel myself breathing super fast but Chelsea was right there with me at the front of the tub reminding me to breathe slowly and would get me back into my hypno. I am SO grateful for her and everyone present. In the back of my head I could hear words of encouragement from Chelsea, Andy, my midwife, and the rest of the nursing team. Aside from the pain it was truly a magical experience and I could not have asked for a better group of people to support me.
After about 30-40 minutes of pushing, Andy & my Midwife Leslie saw hair! Baby was right there. My midwife told me to take my hand and feel in my vaginal area to touch her hair. This was what I needed to get me through the final stretch! I could feel her, she was right there and I could not wait to meet her! I remember rocking back and forth with every contraction at this point on my hands and knees. Every time I pushed I would also rock my body backward in and out of child’s pose. I felt like this gave me movement and momentum and my body naturally gravitated towards this movement. In just a few minutes, my baby girl was born at 2:38pm. We immediately did skin to skin & Andy cut the cord after about 5 minutes of delayed clamping. Andy then took our baby girl and did some skin to skin contact as the nurses and my doula helped me out of the tub (and onto the bed), checked for tearing, and waited on the placenta. The placenta came out almost immediately after and I did not tear so no stitches were needed. Andy gave our baby girl back to me and the baby latched right away with the help of my doula, Chelsea.
I cannot even begin to put into words how I was feeling at that moment; amazed, grateful, full of love, thankful, proud, blessed, joyful, relieved, happy, all of the above. I was beyond amazed at what my body could do. I was forever grateful for my baby’s good health + that there were no complications and I was able to follow my birth plan. I was full of love holding my baby. I was thankful for each and every person in the room cheering me on. I was proud of myself for sticking to my birth wishes and utilizing my tool box (hypnobirthing, etc). I felt blessed + joyful for my little family of 3. I felt relieved that it was over & happy to finally be holding this little life we created.
I went into this process with an open mind, knowing that no matter what happened during labor the most important thing was my health and the health of my little baby. I Know birth plans are meant to create a loose foundation for the experience you hope for, and I am truly grateful I remained low risk and was able to follow mine with the help of my support team. It is true what they say, that the days are long but the years are short. Our time with her is already flying by so fast and I am looking forward to each and every day to come.