My natural birth was truly the most beautiful, worshipful, empowering, insane, intense, painful experience of my life. I want to preface this whole birth story with the fact that I am in the medical field, I have seen things go wrong but generally speaking, birth is not an emergency. It is a natural thing that God has created women for and we have been doing it for thousands of years. If I were at risk or if my child were at risk, we would absolutely not have delivered at a birthing center. I prayed for my birth without ceasing during pregnancy but please know that I was fully surrendered to the fact that if at any point, I had to transfer to the hospital, I trusted God and was at peace just knowing I wanted a healthy baby. The hospital and interventions are reasons why I am thankful for modern medicine. In my case, I did not need them but hear me out when I say, each pregnancy is different, and all births are unique. And no matter how your child comes into this world, it’s beautiful. Birth is an absolute miracle and you mama friends, are amazing for sustaining and growing and giving life to a human! And if you are a dad reading this, just have all the respect in the world for your baby mama because pregnancy and delivery and postpartum are no joke.
It was the dead heat of Texas summer, and I was hoping that baby would come soon. But, being a first-time mom, I had mentally prepared myself to carry at least until one week after my due date until 41 weeks. It was a Thursday and I was 40 weeks pregnant so my husband and I drove to Fort Worth for my due date appointment. Because there is no birthing center in Abilene, we elected to deliver in Fort Worth at the Fort Worth Birthing and Wellness Center. My midwife gave me the option to be checked on my due date and I was not dilated or effaced. In non-medical terms, basically closed, nothing happening. So, we drove back to Abilene. I woke up Friday morning and I had a little bit of blood which typically means the cervix is getting ready for labor. I wasn’t having contractions so I didn’t feel that we needed to head to Fort Worth, just yet. I spent that Friday running errands and walking. My husband and I went on a date night that night and I got up from dinner a few times due to discomfort in my pelvis and experienced what felt like period cramps. After dinner, we walked around downtown and I felt like my body was preparing for labor but again, there were no definitive signs that “this was it” and that we needed to hit the road. All I knew is that these feelings were different than what I had experienced in the last 10 months.
I went to sleep and on Saturday morning, I woke up at 2am with contractions, and not the Braxton hicks type of contractions that I had experienced during pregnancy. These contractions I was having weren’t super painful, but definitely uncomfortable and there was a start and end to them. I called my midwife around 4am and we hit the road for Fort Worth. Because I was a first-time mama, we didn’t know how quickly I would progress. I was nervous about the ride to Fort Worth in labor but I remember my doula warned me that if I hit the road, to not be surprised if contractions slow down. Well sure enough, that happened about 20 minutes into our 2-hour road trip-they slowed down. I questioned whether we should keep going but in the back of my mind, I suspected this may happen. It is basically the body’s way of saying, “this is not a safe place to deliver”. Pretty cool huh?!
When we got to Fort Worth it was 7am, so we walked around at a park and then met the midwife at the birthing center at 8am. She checked me and let me know that I was 1cm dilated. Really?! After all this, just 1cm. I was surprised but tried not to get in my head. You can walk around at 1cm for weeks or you can progress and have a baby the same day. My midwife let me know that given what was going on with my body, she thought we would have a baby in a few days. Ryan and I elected to stay in town to kind of “watch and wait”. So, we got a hotel, got some groceries, watched football, walked around and went on a little date night Saturday night. We also did natural things to help facilitate the labor process such as the 3 sisters exercises from Spinning babies, evening primrose capsules, etc.
Saturday came and passed, still no baby. Unfortunately, at this point I hadn’t slept great for 2 nights because the contractions were waking me up. On Sunday morning, we knew that a baby was coming soon so family came into town and we got an air bnb for the week. Ryan’s family and my mom arrived Sunday evening and at 9:30pm I started having consistent, painful contractions but they were not the 4-1-1 contractions. The 4-1-1 contractions indicate active labor and that is when contractions occur at least every 4 minutes for 1 minute, lasting one hour. How crazy, the place where I knew I would be settled all week is where my body finally let go and started progressing. I labored at home all night and finally at 2am I woke my husband Ryan up because I couldn’t cope through the contractions alone.
Ryan helped apply counter pressure when I had contractions which helped the pain and thankfully I had him as an encourager. He also drew me a few baths and just sat with me as we counted the contractions and he timed them. I loved the bath, but I remember tossing and turning with every new contraction trying to relax, breath through them and just embrace the beauty that we were about to behold. At 7:30am my doula checked in and she asked me if I was willing to see a chiropractor if she could get me in with one. I had seen a chiropractor throughout my pregnancy that was Webster certified but my doula had a sneaking suspicion that our son was in a weird position, not allowing me to progress. She specifically thought he had a hand up, because she had seen that before with previous clients that experienced prodromal labor for a few days. Prodromal labor is basically where you have contractions, but they do not affect the dilation of the cervix which allows you to progress into active labor. So here I am having contractions and not progressing.
At this point, I was willing to do anything. I was exhausted, hadn’t hardly slept for two days and was so eager to meet our son. We called our midwife and she wanted me to come to the birth center at 9:30am. So, we threw our bags in the car and headed that way. We were brought up to the birthing suite and before my midwife even checked me she was gracefully and truthfully honest with me about her concerns. She let me know that we might transfer to the hospital to deliver given my exhaustion and how long I had been in prodromal labor. The birthing center’s goal is always healthy mommy, healthy baby. While I had hoped and prayed to deliver there, at this point, both my husband and my mom and I were not opposed to going to the hospital given the course of the last couple days. I didn’t want my own desires to put my son at risk in any capacity so whatever she advised I was completely at peace with in that moment.
First, we did a 20 minute stress test to check on baby and see how he was tolerating contractions. His heart rate looked great. She checked me and said I was 3cm dilated and 80% effaced and I remember her saying, “let’s have this baby today!”. My heart nearly exploded, today was THE DAY, or so I thought. Before they did anything to help naturally get labor going, and before I went to the chiropractor she said I needed to rest, otherwise she would be worried about maternal exhaustion. So, they gave my IV fluids and Benadryl to get some rest.
I did my best to rest in between contractions. Ryan went to the air bnb, took a nap, showered and got ready to become a dad! My mom sat with me and she hated every contraction that came, she said multiple times, “let’s just go to the hospital, you can get an epidural and we can just play cards. Taylor, you don’t have to go through this pain.”. It’s funny looking back but I was so annoyed in the moment because a natural birth at the birthing center was my goal. I don’t blame her now that I am a mama. No mama likes to see their child in pain and besides, she knew nothing about natural birth. If you know my mom, you know she is the sweetest, kindest human in the world and she was just looking out for her baby girl. The care team thought she was going to call 911 because she was so concerned when I was pushing and we can totally joke about it now (hehe love you mom).
Okay, so here comes the great game changer. Ryan came back, I had a large smoothie and we left the birthing center to go to the chiropractor. It was about 2:30pm and I was having contractions every 5-12 minutes but still not in active labor (the 4-1-1 kind of labor). I remember having contractions in the lobby of the chiropractor’s office and not even being able to hide them, talk about embarrassing. The poor man in the office was probably wondering what in the heck was wrong with me. The chiropractor worked on me for about 20 minutes and during that time I had several contractions. She was hoping that whatever position baby was in she could help optimize his fetal positioning and align my body for a smoother, quicker, more effective labor, Well, y’all, it worked, that is exactly what she did. On the way back to the birth center, I went into what was the beginning of active labor and my doula met us at the birth center. Ryan and I could not even believe it. I was having contractions every 3-4 minutes and shoot these were painful but I got into a rhythm. My doula hooked me up to a TENS unit which helped the pain during contractions, I bounced on the ball did squats, lunges, walked stairs, took showers, you name it. All the things.
My doula and Ryan were so amazing coaching me, encouraging me, and reminding me to breathe and helping me through contractions. Of course, my midwives and birth team were there rocking their jobs and supporting me and monitoring baby throughout this time. I truly cannot speak highly enough of all the staff at Fort Worth Birthing and Wellness Center. Their staff would monitor my son’s heart rate while I had contractions to see how he was tolerating them. He did great the entire time. Though I was not hooked up to a monitor at all times and was able to freely move while laboring, this part of care was incredibly important to me. I had so much confidence in my birth team knowing that they were continually monitoring my vitals, as well as baby and would at any point make the decision to transfer to the hospital or recommend a C-section in the case of an emergency.
I remember feeling the intensity of each contraction slowly coming on and wanting Ryan or my doula to apply counter pressure. While they squeezed my hips during the contraction, I was focusing on my breathing. The entire labor I had my worship music playing and of course we used essential oils throughout the day. My sweet husband was reading scripture over me and it was such a wonderful distraction for me to meditate on God’s word instead of getting in my own head or fearing the next contraction. Ryan’s words and encouragement brought me great strength.
When things got really painful, my doula suggested getting in the shower. It was so nice and refreshing to change things up and get under the water. I remember bracing myself for painful contractions and positioning myself on the ground to get on all fours to endure some of the contractions. I had a really sweet moment when I was alone in the shower. Though it was not an audible sound or voice, I really felt the Lord speak to me in that moment. I was reminded that HE was the author and sustainer of life. He reminded me that HE authored the life of this child, HE sustained this precious child when odds were against him at the beginning of our pregnancy. And I had to cling to the fact that God was going to sustain me through this incredibly painful, difficult, yet joyful and worshipful birth. Another sweet moment was when I remember my doula putting her hand on me saying, “Taylor, you can do all things through HIM who gives you strength, lean into that, tap into that, rely on him for strength”. And this is why birth was spiritual for me. It made me depend on God in a way that I never have before. I had to continually remind myself that he made me for this and he cares about my sweet baby so much that he was going to help me bring him into this world. It truly was supernatural strength I experienced that day.
At 6:00pm they gently broke my water, expecting me to progress. When she checked me, I was at 5cm. Praise the Lord, I had finally gotten to 5cm and was continuing to progress. After 3 days of contractions, five hours of active labor, a few showers, multiple flights of stairs, bouncy ball time, peanut ball time, I was certain I was closer. So, at 11:00pm, they checked me again. At this point, I was exhausted and beyond ready to have this child. They hadn’t checked me for 5 hours but when they did, I was still at 5cm. I am SO glad they did not tell me that because at that point I don’t know what that would have done to my mental game. And yes, natural birth requires physical strength and stamina but the mental aspect is so important. Honestly, had I known that I had not dilated more in 5 hours, I probably would have just requested that I go get an epidural at the hospital. I know that the midwives, the birth assist, my doula and husband all looked at each other and probably thought, what the heck! But they were hopeful, because baby was at 0 station, which means I continued to show signs of progression even though I hadn’t dilated more. As for station, that means that baby is continuing to dopy into the pelvis. Also, baby was doing well and he showed no signs of distress therefore my birth team remained confident and hopeful.
My doula recommended that I labor on the toilet backwards. Yes, it sounds weird and not necessarily scenic, but it is actually great for positioning of the pelvis and strength of contractions. It is here that I began to feel the urge to push. Not the intensity to push like baby was crowning, but for the first time in labor, it did feel like baby was nearing this world. Because of the way I was acting, the sounds I was making and the frequency of contractions, they decided to put me in the birthing tub. I wasn’t asking many questions at this point, but I knew if they were drawing up the bath, that I had to be getting close. Before getting in the tub, they had me walk up and down stairs doing lunges every other stair. Holy goodness did this hurt but this was the final exercise that really prepared my body to have this baby and I was SO THANKFUL I did it. I would close my eyes and breath and make really low “hmmmming” sounds and the whole birth team was doing it with me, reminding me not to have high pitched screams or noises. Just think, sounds that help you bear down. I remember looking up the staircase, Ryan on one side of me, doula on the other and the two midwives, and birth assist were cheering me on. I was so thankful God gave me them. Literally heaven sent team of women.
If you know natural labor, you know EXACTLY what I am talking about. This is the shortest phase of labor but the most intense pain. Like, want to cry, give up, can’t do this kind of pain.
The lights were dim, the candles were lit and the warm birthing tub was one of the best things that ever happened to me that day. It certainly did not take the pain away completely, but it did relieve the intensity of discomfort during contractions. This is why some people refer to the birthing tub as the “aqua-dural”. During this phase of labor, the pain was the most intense thing I have ever experienced but the joy of knowing I was about to meet my son and the birth team motivating me was INCREDIBLE. They cheered me on, kept conversation light, cooled off my head with towels, etc.
Okay we’re almost to the grand finale but remember, it was a Monday morning that I went into the birth center to have this baby and all of a sudden, it became Tuesday. I remember the birthing team telling me that we officially have a 9-10-19 baby. I continued to feel the urge to push and at this point had been pushing for almost 30 minutes so they decided to transition me to the bed to see if a different position would help, and that is when things happened. The tub helped progress me quickly but it was not optimal for delivery for me in that moment. I remember having my eyes closed, envisioning holding my son and was so excited but I was also exhausted and fearful of the pushing process outside of the birthing tub. As I laid down on the bed, Ryan was at the top of my head, over my shoulder and I remember my doula being to the left of me, coaching me. Of course, the midwives, well, down there at the bottom of the bed.
The ring of fire that you feel when baby is crowning…well, let’s just say, it’s real ladies. If you have felt it, you know what I mean. Though it was painful and crazy, it was amazing being in control of the pushing process, knowing when to push and effectively pushing along with the help of my uterus contracting. My entire birthing team and husband were cheering me along and I can’t even describe the mental focus. It was as if I was all of a sudden ready for game time, thanks to the surge of hormones and emotions. I felt a crazy amount of strength come upon me. I also remember the midwife talking me through everything I was going to feel, and that was SO helpful. She would describe, what I would feel in my pelvis, what may happen with the next contraction and finally after an hour of pushing, I gave one final push and our sweet boy took his first breath earth side and was delivered right into my arms and placed on my chest. He was so alert and started crying without any stimulation. He even peed haha. All I could do was hold him close and I kept saying, “hi baby, hi baby, hi baby”.
Minutes after giving birth I got up to go to the bathroom by myself. We spent the first hour post birth, bonding as a family. Ryder spent time doing skin to skin with both my husband and I and he latched shortly after birth, An hour after birth, Ryder and I took an herbal bath together and our family got to be there to meet him and watch him get his newborn assessment, get weighed, measured, etc. Five hours after giving birth we headed home. Because he was born at 12:33am, we were able to go home and take a fat nap. Later that day, I took a shower solo and we had the sweetest little birthday party complete with candles, a cake, party hats and all.
Okay so I had the baby, now what. Postpartum deserves its own post and I promise to share my experience. But in summary, my recovery has been PHENOMENAL. Truly I am at a loss for words to convey just how quick I have bounced back. I attribute my experience to my health as well as the natural birth. Of course, I have nothing to compare it to but what I do know is that I am in complete awe.
So, the question is, would I ever do it again? And the answer is yes, as crazy as it sounds, yes, Lord willing. I do however hope that I do not have the prodromal experience leading up to active labor that I did. With that being said, had I been at the hospital, I likely would have had a C-section. I am so beyond thankful that the birth team encouraged the chiropractic adjustment, allowed me to get that done in the middle of labor and ultimately that is what progressed my natural labor. We can joke about it now but looking back it was as if I ran 2 marathons the day before I did my iron man, highly don’t recommend. However, with the help of an encouraging husband, a phenomenal birthing team, a strong body and a gracious God, I did it! Would love to answer any questions or hear about your birth experiences in the comments below!
Helping you get your gut right, improve energy, boost immunity, balance hormones, sleep better and look + feel your best
TERMS + CONDITIONS
© 2023 Taylor Dukes Wellness
Get Your Gut Right