I met my client about 2 to 3 months before her due date. She originally wanted a home birth but then decided against it because it was too hot during the California summer months. South Coast Midwifery Birthing center was her 2nd choice. She planned to have a professional photographer at her birth. This was relieving to me because I could focus on her 100% instead of taking photographs as well. We had great prenatal visits with one another and I got to know her and her partner well before her summertime labor. I found out during our prenatal that my client is a yogi, has a solid relationship with her breath, and has a high tolerance for pain. I felt that she was very capable of birthing her baby vaginally without the use of medication. I met her family, her birth photographer, and spent some time with the Midwives at South Coast who would be part of her birth team.
When the day arrived, my client and her partner came into South Coast in good spirits. She was handling her contractions very well. Almost too well. As if they didn't bother all that much. She had a difficult time progressing. We tried the breast pump for several hours to no avail. I helped her stay focused on her breathing, maintaining a good intake of fluid/food, and kept her going back to the toilet to empty her bladder. I gave her counter pressure and massage through each mild surge. When she was checked later by the chief baby catcher at South Coast she felt as though my client would need to be transferred to the nearest hospital for pitocin. Her cervix wasn't dilating and was swollen. My client expressed disappointment and felt agitated by the circumstances. Despite these circumstances she had a solid spirit about transferring and knew it was best for the baby.
When we arrived to the hospital, the Midwife, hospital nurse, and I got her her settled into her new room. The care and service we received from the staff at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach was fantastic. The care was very different from my first hospital experience. My time spent at the hospital for this birth opened my eyes and heart. I felt as if life proved me wrong and showed me a different side. Every hospital is truly different in their care for new mothers to be. My client was hooked up to an IV to start pitocin. I told her that pitocin surges do not feel like regular surges. They are 10x more intense. Pitocin is synthetic oxytocin that they administer through an IV into a women's arms to help dilate and open the cervix. We practiced breathing together before the surges got heavy so that way we would be prepared for what would come later. I remember my client telling me that she wanted an unmediated birth with no epidural. I kept that in my heart and mind as the pitocin was administered.
She had me, her partner, mother, and sister in the room the whole time she was in labor. As the surges started getting stronger, she couldn't keep still and focused on calm breathing. So that idea flew out the window! Instead, I told her to get primal and wild. I told her it's time to let go and move as freely as she wanted to during her contractions. It's time to no longer hold it together. I encouraged her to make noises as loud and as often as she needed. That helped a bunch. She started moving around on the bed she was confined to. She started out slowly making noises and moving so I said, "I need you to express more". I guided her breathing as she moaned and moved and rocked back and forth while sitting up in her bed. As the surges got more and more intense I could tell she was having a hard time and that these surges weren't something she had prepared for.
She then told her partner that she wanted an epidural and that she can't keep going without one. Her partner asked me, her mother, and sister to step outside of the room for a couple of minutes to discuss this further with her. I stood outside with her family and discussed the positives and negatives of getting an epidural and how my client really didn't want one. I knew in my heart that I needed face time with my client to speak to her about her decision. When her partner called us back in, I immediately went up to my client and asked her what she wanted to do. She said an Epidural. So I started to talk to her calmly as she was squirming through her rough synthetic surges. I reminded her about the positives and negatives of an epidural and how the negatives wouldn't allow for the birth she truly wanted. I let her know that she wouldn't be able to feel herself push her baby out because she would be numb from the waist down. The epidural might affect the newborn with initial bonding because it will also receive a dose of the epidural. Initial breastfeeding might not goes as smoothly if the baby is slightly drugged. And that she wouldn't be able to get out of bed after the birth because she would still be numb for an hour or two after the labor. As I spoke with her, she didn't keep asking for an epidural. I stayed with her less than a foot away from her face as she layed there and transitioned. I blocked everyone out of my peripheral vision and focused just on her and I. I told her to keep making sounds, to keep moaning, and crying. All the while I wiped her head with cool icy clothes, breathed with her, and coached her breathing. We had this intimate communication happening between us where she would cry out, moan, or whimper. I would koo back at her and tell her how amazing she was doing. I kept reinforcing her experience and how she was doing. We did this for a full hour. Time flew by and stood still at the same time. The next thing I realize, my client is grunting and making the first sounds of pushing. I felt so happy and realized that she must be complete! I asked her partner to call the nurse in so that they could check her dilation. She was complete and in the first stages of pushing. She pushed for less than an hour and the baby finally came!
My client stayed so strong and brave during the most painful moments she has ever experienced. She and her partner told me they couldn't have done it without me. That they had the birth they wanted because of me. I felt myself float! I felt like a professional for the first time in my new Doula career. I truly have the strength and potential I need to keep going along on this heart path. I felt so blessed to have been there for her birth and to witness her strength and trust in me as her Doula.