Question of the Quarter: What is your favorite waterbirth story?

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Midwifery Today, Issue 54, Summer 2000.
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Q: What is your favorite waterbirth story?

A: My favorite waterbirth story is mine!

Pregnant with baby number four, I labored for a few hours on a Sunday morning. It was wonderful. I was very relaxed, and all I could feel was stretching and burning, but no discomfort. Then, nothing more happened until Friday at 12:50 a.m.

I woke up to go to the bathroom. As I was getting back in bed I felt a contraction, then a little while later another, then another. I decided to keep an eye on the clock; it seemed they came every four or five minutes. At 1:30 a.m. I called my husband at work. Once I knew he was on his way I ate and drank a bit, then started running a bath. I got into it and put a cloth on my belly. Whenever I contracted I poured warm water on my belly.

I was very comfortable and doing well when my husband arrived at 2:00 a.m. We prayed, then started calling friends and the midwife. At about 2:15 a.m. my contractions started to become very intense and I thought I must be getting into active labor. After a few contractions I felt the urge to push but was afraid to-I didn’t want to push if my cervix was not fully dilated. With the next contraction I pushed a little and felt the baby’s head descend. I said to my husband, “The baby is coming, grab a blanket and baby hat!” The baby’s head crowned and two-thirds of it was born in one push; his body came with the next contraction. There was no blood at all in the water. It was a beautiful and fantastic birth!

Florence Witt was born and raised in France. She has been married for seven years, is the mother of four beautiful boys and is an aspiring midwife.

A: I am thirty-eight weeks pregnant, it’s 1:30 a.m. and I am tossing and turning. Five year old Saskia, three year old Gabriel and husband Albini are blissfully asleep. Oooh these contractions are strong!

I check my cervix and find that nothing is happening. The contractions become stronger-I need water, which always works for me. I step into my beflowered blessingway bath from yesterday after adding hot water to warm it up. I check my cervix again, still no action. Hmmm, I wonder what’s up? Whoa, stronger contractions. I’m beginning to understand a friend’s description of fast labor-like holding onto the back of a train.

I check my cervix one more time. Well good, there it is. But something’s not quite right. What is this? Oh my goddess, it’s a bulging bag of waters! I yell for Albini to get downstairs now. He has been debating whether to check on me or sleep while he could. Three more contractions and my darling husband is in full flight; the house is set up in no time. I want to go to the birth bed, except when I try to take Albini’s arm I have another contraction and just can’t get out of the tub. I am staying here. Waters break, baby moves down, the train I seem to be holding onto has just shifted into warp speed. Contraction-the baby’s head begins to emerge. Contraction-the head crowns. Contraction-the head is born into my hand. That magical change in focus kicks in and I go from totally self-absorbed to instantly present: I check for a cord around the neck. I bless the training and experience I’ve had and confirm that it’s too tight for the baby’s body to slip through, so I slip it over the baby’s head and whew, only one loop!

Contraction-the rest of baby comes, papa catches and lifts baby up to me. My almost six year old is running for receiving blankets; she’s a pro with three births behind her! Baby is bubbling a tiny bit at the nose and mouth but starts up fine, and I remember to see what we have: another boy!

Out of the tub and to the birth bed. I recline, shaking, no small wonder. And then out plops the placenta (which I’ve decided to try eating this time) into a bowl (it tasted great, by the way!). No tears and no problems.

Because of the political climate, my partner and I had an unassisted homebirth. We’ve lost our lay midwives in rural areas, something I greatly mourn. My support person made it on time to be with my son, so an Island midwife would have made it too. Legislation of midwifery has been a good thing for many people, but the criminal-ization of lay midwifery is a very sad and unfortunate thing. More criminals are the last thing we need in our world, especially around the sacred event of birth. And not all go so well as mine. Bless all you sacred mothers and families out there. Don’t let oppressive governing bodies keep you from bringing your babies earth-side in the way you hold sacred, safe, and true to all your spirits, whether legal or not.

A. Boydell is a mother of three, childbirth educator
and breastfeeding counselor who studies midwifery in her spare time. She
lives with her family on a small island off Vancouver Island in British
Columbia, Canada.

About Author: Jan Tritten

Jan Tritten is the founder, editor, and mother of Midwifery Today magazine and conferences. Her love for and study of midwifery sprang from the beautiful homebirth of her second daughter—after a disappointing, medicalized first birth in the hospital. After giving birth at home, she kept studying birth books because, “she thought there was something more here.” She became a homebirth midwife in 1977 and continued helping moms who wanted a better birth experience. Jan started Midwifery Today in 1986 to spread the good word about midwifery care, using her experience to guide editorial and conferences. Her mission is to make loving midwifery care the norm for birthing women and their babies in the United States and around the world. Meet Jan at our conferences around the world!

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