Why have a home birth?

Reason #64: Because your pets can be there!

axel2

In the photo above you can see me sitting by the birth tub, with Harlem the poodle on cialis online price my lap watching the birth too!

Adrienne and Robert, caretakers to Harlem and proud new parents to Axel, have kindly shared their birth story, along with several great pictures– including this one. To read their beautiful birth story and see lots more photos, click here.

Birth stories

Birth stories are all so very different. The same birth can be very different when told from different perspectives.

Below, we have the unique opportunity to read a birth story from the perspectives of both the birthing woman and her partner. You can find the rest of the photos from this birth story here and more birth stories from our clients here. Enjoy!

Clara’s Birth: A Mama’s Story

*At 34 weeks–a few weeks after our Bradley class had ended–we decided to change our care from the hospital
midwife to Alma Birthing Center. After soaking in all the knowledge from the class and doing a little more research,
we decided it was the best decision for us and our baby and we couldn’t have been more excited. It was and
continues to be a great experience.*
I loved being pregnant—all 39 ½ weeks of it! And up until the morning that I went into labor, I was convinced that our
sweet Clara would be a June baby. With my due date being May 28th, it being my first pregnancy, and a history of late
babies in my family, I was sure that I would go at least 1 week past my due date. And I was completely happy with
it. I was still very comfortable, and although I was super excited to meet her, I was prepared to wait a little bit longer
enjoying every kick and roll.
On May 25th (3 days before my actual due date), I woke up at 6:30am to my water breaking. After calling my midwife,
Kori, and confirming that no real contractions had started yet, we decided I should eat something, try and sleep/
rest, and just wait for my body to go into labor. She would call soon to check up. In hindsight, I’m so thankful for the
opportunity to give birth at a birthing center. The hospitals here in Portland require that you give birth no later than 24
hours after your water breaking in most cases. I really believe that not having any pressure to make my body hurry
up and start labor really helped me relax and allowed me to go into labor sooner.
At 7:30am I started having some mild contractions so we decided to pack our bags and get things ready around the
house. Brandon was really tired, from not sleeping well that night, and went back to sleep for a couple of hours. At
about 9:30am the contractions started getting closer together so I decided to start timing them. They were maybe 5-
7 min apart and still not super intense so I continued to rest on the couch and watch tv. At about that same time Kori
called and I told her my contractions had started and where they were at. She said she would send one of my other
midwives, Tarra, to our house between 11 and 12 to check in on me and Clara.
At 10:30am I woke Brandon up to let him know that Tarra would be here soon and that my contractions were getting
closer together. By 11 my contractions had gotten to 45 seconds-60 seconds long and under 4 minutes apart. Tarra
arrived at 12 and stayed for the next two hours with us, checking mine and Clara’s vitals during and in between
contractions. ( No cervical checks were done since my water had broken and were able to let me labor as long
as possible because of that.) She basically just hung out with us and helped pass the time to see how fast I was
progressing. During those two hours, my contractions went from barely painful to really having to concentrate when
they came. She had mentioned to Brandon as she was leaving that if my contractions continued in this pattern that
we should consider making our way to the birthing center around 3 or 4. Kori’s and our desire was that we labor at
home as long as possible, but we also didn’t want to wait too long since labor seemed to be happening pretty fast.
As soon as Tarra left at 2pm I was in intense pain (looking back now probably going into transition) and told Brandon
that we needed to go now. He called Kori and told her that I was in a lot of pain and wanted to know if we should
come in yet. She asked to listen in on a contraction. After hearing how I was dealing with the pain (aka moaning!
🙂 ) she told Brandon that I sounded like I was ready and to make our way in. Brandon was awesome in this whole
process so far, using all the coaching techniques that he had learned. He was super calm and that really helped a
lot. He helped me to the car and in our short 10 minute drive to the birthing center I had 4 or 5 contractions and those
might have been the hardest since I was on my back in the car.
At 2:45pm we arrived at Alma and were taken to our birthing room. The whole atmosphere was so serene and
peaceful. They had the birthing tub filled and ready and the lights dimmed. I immediately got in the tub. It was the
only thing that sounded good at that moment and after laboring in there for a while, I had no desire to get out. At
about 3pm my mom arrived from flying in from Denver, Colorado and about that same time I started feeling the urge
to push. I told Kori how I was feeling and she said that my body knew what it was doing and that I should try and
push. I pushed for an hour in the tub, changing positions and completely relaxing in the water in between. Brandon,
the midwives, and my mom were awesome during the entire thing. Everyone was so encouraging and just let me do
what my body was telling me to do. Brandon suggested different positions and kept a cold washcloth on my head. He
was literally my strength when I was feeling too weak to push anymore. And when I was at the point where I didn’t
feel I could push through another contraction, they were there telling me that I was doing great and that I could. At
that point, Kori decided to check my cervix for a lip. I did have a little bit of a lip left so I tried squatting during the
next few contractions. That did the trick and after 30 more minutes of pushing Clara was born at 4:36pm (9 hours of
labor total). This was such a special moment! I had so many emotions running through me: accomplishment, joy,
gratefulness, and excitement just to name a few. I was finally looking into my baby’s eyes for the first time. After
wondering what she would look like for 9 months, I could finally see for myself and she was even more beautiful than
I had imagined.
She was immediately place on my chest in the tub and we waited for the placenta to be born. After birthing the
placenta and cutting the cord, Clara, Brandon, and I walked over to the bed and spent the next hour getting to know
each other. I was feeling awesome and Clara was so alert so our time was spent sitting on the bed talking about the
whole experience and staring at her. It was so great to have my mom there as a support and encouragement and
to share in the whole process with me. After an hour the midwives came back in and checked her and me over.
She was perfect and healthy weighing in at 6lbs 6oz and measuring 19 inches long. I had a tiny tear in my labia that
required one stitch so that was taken care of while Clara had her newborn testing done next to me one the bed. We
spent that night and the next at the birthing center just resting and enjoying our new baby girl.
At her 3 day check up, she was down to 5lbs 14 oz but was back up to her birth weight by the next week! She
has been a great eater and sleeper from the start and today at her 2 week check up weighed 7lbs even 🙂 She is
a complete joy and we have had so much fun sharing our birth story with everyone. We are so grateful for the
knowledge gained in our Bradley Class and our amazing experience with the midwives and doulas at Alma. We
are now firm advocates of birthing naturally. It was such a joyous experience and I cannot wait to do it again.

Clara’s Birth: A Papa’s Story

Callie and I had been chatting more and more about the possibility of having this baby
soon. We had recently switched to Alma Birthing Center, at 34 weeks, because of our desire
to have a natural birth after taking the Bradley Method class. We were truly starting to consider
the reality that we were about to be parents. A lot of emotions were running through our hearts
and heads but we were excited nonetheless. We kept talking about how little Clara was going
to be born late and about all the things that we needed to get ready and get done before she
decided to come. We were just in relaxation mode trying to not get too anxious for the birth. On
May 25th, three days early, Clara decided to make her appearance.
Callie came in and woke me up at 6:30am. I awoke (half asleep) to hear her say to
me “I think my water just broke…” I barely vocalized, “What…??” She repeated herself; “I
think my water just broke” and she showed me her night shorts that now had a wet spot. It
clicked in my head, despite my grogginess, that this might actually be happening. I came to my
senses and said “I should call your mom…so she can get on a flight.” Claudia, Callie’s mom,
immediately began to try to find a flight to try and make it in time for the birth from Colorado.
After making the call I told Callie “You better call Kori (Callie’s midwife) and tell her that your
water broke.” Callie began to call as I finally started to roll out of bed and pull what little bit of
my mind I had together for the response.
I heard Callie chatting with Kori on the phone. Callie hung up and said that Kori told her
that labor could start very soon but may not start for quite a while. The best thing she could
do is rest and let her body do its thing. If she did start labor that day, she would need her rest.
Callie got all situated and crawled back into bed with me with a towel underneath her and we
proceeded to get some rest. One hour later, Callie rolled over and woke me up again and let
me know that she just had a contraction. Callie said to me, that her contraction was not that
bad but uncomfortable enough that she was going to get up. She called Kori again who said
that labor had begun and what she needed to do was get a good solid, healthy breakfast while
she could still eat. I got up half asleep and began to do my husband duty of cooking breakfast.
I took some sausage and bacon and threw it into a small pan and whipped some eggs together
for a quick scramble. I grabbed some bagels and tossed them in the toaster. Callie threw
down at least 3 eggs with cheddar cheese, a whole ‘everything’ bagel, sausage, and piece of
bacon. After Callie’s belly was full, she told me to go back to sleep, get some rest and get rid of
my grogginess, and that she would wake me up if they got worse or if she needed me (what a
blessing!). Next thing I knew, it was 10:30…
Callie was just sitting on the couch with the computer in her lap typing away on
Facebook updating her status about going into labor and chatting with a friend of hers online.
I sat next to her to ask her how she was doing and immediately she went into a contraction
after clicking the computer. She paused for a moment, looked down, and began to enter in this
concentration mode that I had never seen before. I sat there next to her and let her be and just
observed to see what she looked like while she was contracting. She was tailor sitting so I ran
my hand along her shoulders to make sure that she was not tensing up her back and shoulders.
She was doing fine and I noticed that the computer was open to a contraction timing program
that she had been using to keep track of her labor. After observing the first one I realized what
this type of thing was going to look like so I could start my relaxation techniques that I learned
in the Bradley class. Contractions kept coming every 5 – 6 minutes and Callie kept going into
this concentration mode so I did my best to help her get through each one and then relax in
between contractions. I helped her try a few different positions, tailor sitting, side lying, and
eventually had her knees on the floor and chest on the couch with some pillows underneath.
Each position was helpful in a different sort of way and I think it was good for her to change
positions so she could release tension. I kept focusing on making sure she was drinking water
and some Gatorade here and there so she could stay hydrated. We were waiting for one of
her midwives to arrive; she had been scheduled to arrive sometime between 11:00 – 12:00.
At about 12:00pm Tarra arrived to take Callie and Clara’s vitals. She sat next to
Callie and did her thing as I continued to provide Callie with relaxation techniques, coaching,
and massage. Tarra stayed until about 1:30 – 1:45 and it was obvious that Callie had been
progressing quite quickly. The contractions had moved to below 4 minutes a piece around
11:00 and they continued that pattern until Tarra left. Callie transitioned into a serious
concentration mode and her moans became louder. I could tell she was working quite a bit
harder and they were definitely closer together. Tarra decided to head back to the Birthing
Center and I asked “If Callie continues to progress like this what time should we think about
heading down to the Birthing Center.” Tarra was hesitant to put a time on it because every
pregnancy is different. She had originally told me that if Callie persisted that she should come
in around 4:00. However, when I asked her this time, she said if Callie continued to work hard
like this we might consider 3:00 but 4:00 was still fine. We just needed to be open. Tarra left
and Callie continued to progress quite hard. 2:00 rolled around and Callie was continuing to
work extremely hard. This time, she told me that she was ready to go to Alma. I called Kori and
asked what she thought. After listening to Callie through one of her contractions she suggested
we head to Alma in about 30 minutes so that they had time to get the room ready. At 2:30 I
had the car packed up, I put Callie in the car, and we proceeded to drive to Alma. Despite only
having a 10 minute drive Callie probably had about 4 – 5 contractions in the car which drew a lot
of attention from pedestrians and fellow drivers.
We pulled up to Alma and I jumped out and helped Callie get her way into the center.
As we walked into Alma, there was Kori and Tarra waiting in our birthing room. They had
already drawn up Callie a warm bath for her to relax in. Immediately I could tell that Callie was
either in transition or beyond because the second we walked into the room Callie was stripping
off her clothes to jump into the tub. She didn’t care who was watching or who was there, her
modesty was gone and all she could think about was getting some sort of relief. I ran back out
to the car a few more times to get the rest of the stuff and entrusted Callie into the midwives
care. I also called to check in with Callie’s mom because I knew she had landed in Portland
but was not at the birthing center yet. I told her that Callie was quite close and she better hurry.
Around 3:15 Callie vocalized her need to push. I basically let Callie do her thing once
she was at that point. She gripped the side of the tub with more force and muscle than I had
ever seen her flex. She changed positions between leaning her back against the side of the
tub to being on her knees leaning over the edge of the tub. The whole time I was there by her
side, putting cool cloths on her head (provided by the midwives), telling her to relax between
contractions, reminding her that every contraction and push got her one step closer to Clara,
and rubbing my hands (either stroking or through light massage) across her neck and back.
Stephanie, Callie’s 3rd midwife of the team came in a few minutes after we had arrived; I had
never met her before but I could tell right away who she was. Finally, at about 3:30-ish Callie’s
mom arrived. It was a very emotional moment because she walked in, squatted in front of
Callie, grabbed her hands and just was an automatic overwhelming sense of encouragement.
She jumped in right next to me helping with cool cloths and encouraging Callie.
Callie was continuing to push and I could tell she was getting tired. She even spouted
out once “I don’t think I’m going to be able to do this….” We all were there immediately to let
her know she could. Kori eventually around 4:00 decided to give Callie her first vaginal exam
because she had been pushing for one hour and thought there might be a lip in the cervix. It
was extremely amazing to think back on the experience and that moment because they just
allowed Callie’s body to do the work rather than trying to step in. They did not check to see how
dilated Callie was which I think was more beneficial in that Callie did not have to worry about
the fact she was having the urge to push but was only 6 cm. or something. Kori noticed that
Callie had a slight lip but was able to feel Clara’s head. She helped things along and told Callie
that Clara was getting quite close. She encouraged Callie to get in more of a squatting position
because it might be more conducive to opening up her pelvis and having Clara work her way
down. While Callie was squatting and pushing, I applied pressure to the outside of her hips in
order to help the pelvis open up and relax some pressure.
Callie finally flipped over so that her arms were dangling over my knees and her chest
was upwards because the midwives said she needed to choose if she wanted to birth the
baby out of the water or completely in the water. Callie decided that she was comfortable
and not going to move. Another contraction came and Callie continued to push, she seemed
like she was getting quite tired now. The midwives suggested that I help hold her up in the air
because she said she was getting tired and she mentioned that her arms kept falling asleep.
I then hooked my hands around her upper arms and began to hold her up, nearly suspended
as she pushed so she could focus all of her energy on pushing that baby out. When Callie
pushed again, the midwives and Claudia said that they could see Clara’s head popping out.
They mentioned that she had quite a bit of hair on her! I suggested Callie reach down and
touch the head in order to give her a little more connection to Clara and a little more desire to
push and get her out. Callie did and became extremely excited amidst her exhaustion. Kori
mentioned that it was only going to take a few more solid pushes and that Clara would be there.
She mentioned to Callie to take it slow because she wanted her perineum to stretch slowly to
prevent tears. Callie gave it all her might when the contractions came on and Clara continued
to come one step closer to us. Finally, Clara’s shoulder began to poke out and she was nearly
there. Callie gave it one last push and Clara came fully out and Kori guided her out and right
away put Clara on Callie’s chest.
Callie was weeping with joy as she told our little girl “hi” for the first time. I was leaned
over putting my hands on Clara’s back and overjoyed with Callie. The next 10 minutes seemed
like a complete blur. I remember asking after a few minutes if they would check and make
sure Clara was a girl since the ultrasounds can never be 100% sure. I also remember Kori
mentioning to us that it would not be long before Callie had to push out the placenta. Clara’s
cord was quite short so we could not fully lift Clara up to me so I had to just wait and touch her
with my hands. After the placenta was birthed, I cut the cord and Tarra put on the rubber band
to keep the cord shut. Now, it was my turn to hold Clara so they could empty the tub and clean
Callie up. I had already had my shirt off in order to not get it drenched in case I popped in the
water so I was already prepared for the skin-to-skin bonding time with my new baby. Callie
released Clara into my arms and I gently pulled my feet out of the side of the tub. I walked
over to the queen bed that was in the same room and sat down holding Clara next to my skin
with a towel on the outside. I could not believe that I was finally a father, a daddy to a little
girl. I was so pumped and excited to finally meet little Clara and see what she looked like. My
arms were exhausted and my lower back was extremely sore and tired from leaning over and
holding Callie up but I did not care. I was in my moment, similar to that moment when you
get married and have your first dance; everything else around just faded in the background.
Callie eventually joined me on the bed and we both sat up next to her on the bed and
just enjoyed our few moments as a new family. It was amazing! The midwives let us have our
bonding time alone and rest for a little bit before they even suggested doing the measurements
and weight. This was nice because we did not have to feel rushed or feel like she was apart
from us the early moments of her life. She could feel safe in our arms before she had to
experience being naked on the scale by herself. Our new family had begun, our parenthood
had begun, our lives would never be the same but this is what Callie had worked 9 months for.
Callie was so awake and ready to be Clara’s momma and hold her; Clara was extremely alert,
eyes open ready to be our little B. Amazing!
As I reflect back on the experience I cannot help but think about what some of the
people had said to us about birth. Many people had said “Good luck!” when we told them
that Callie was going to give birth naturally. I remember people telling us that their wives had
planned to give birth naturally before they entered the process and the immediate moment that
they experienced intense pain their wives had asked for drugs. Callie did not ask for drugs the
entire time. She only expressed the words “I don’t think I can do this” twice when she was quite
exhausted. But, that is what the midwives and I were there for; to remind her that she could do
this. I remember men telling me about their fears and struggles with child birth because they felt
so helpless watching their wives in such pain and that there was nothing they could do about it.
I never experienced that because I was connected with Callie the whole time and active during
the whole process. I was helping her relax, telling her to breathe, rubbing her back, pushing on
her hips, rubbing her sacrum area relieving tension, putting cold wash cloths on her head and
holding her up when she was tired. It was rewarding that I was a part of helping her get through
this birth and relieve her intense pain.
I never imagined giving birth at a birth center or having a water birth but now that it
happened this way I would never have it any other way. I know for sure that we will do a natural
birth for all of our other children after this and I wish it could be at Alma Birthing Center again.
Alas, we are moving back to Colorado to be closer to family and will not still be in Portland.
Our experience with Kori, Tarra, and Stephanie was amazing as well as the two nights that we
stayed at Alma. Alma provided us with doulas the entire time we were there who would come
in every so often, not intrusively at all, and check on us or ask if we needed anything. They
checked Callie and Clara’s vitals, talked about breast feeding, and even offered to hold Clara
for an hour if we needed to get a little shut eye (a service we didn’t need because Clara was an
awesome sleeper). One night I went outside the room with Clara because she was making a lot
of noise and Callie was not sleeping. One of the doulas chatted with me about my experience,
held Clara for a few moments and answered all the questions that were running through my
mind (thanks Courtney!). They cooked us two meals each day and ordered out for the other
meal; one gal even cooked pork sausage for us even though she was a vegan and cooked
some scallions and put them on top of our eggs that she had brought from her own garden
(thanks Melanya!). The other doulas were amazingly helpful as well.
We were completely pampered for those first few days and spent some quality time
resting up and making sure we were completely prepared to do this thing on our own. Callie
also got set up with a few sitz baths during those two days to help her heal and even got a full
body massage the morning of the 2nd day. What a blessing it was to be there and experience
this birth with Alma and our midwife team. Claudia was blown away at how much she did not
know when she had given birth to Callie and her other children. She too was apprehensive
at first about the birthing center but after watching this amazing process of birth she was
a ‘believer’ as well. Finally after our two night stay we packed up and prepared to head home.
Clara was so small, 6 lbs. 6 oz., that she did not even fit into some of her newborn clothes. We
put the huge outfit on her, put her in her car seat, and said goodbye to the ‘Lily Room’ which
had been our makeshift home for a few days. It was now time to begin the rest of our lives as
parents and bring Clara home…

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In anticipation of the theatrical release of the documentary “Babies,” Alma produced an ad to show before the film. Here is the original movie:

The theater sent the ad to be rated by an independent agency, who rated it PG13 based on the exposed belly. Because babies was rated PG, this meant that the ad couldn’t be shown before the movie it was created for. Here is the revised ad:

What do you think? Do you think the original ad should have been rated PG13? A couple of people have wondered if the mama laboring in the tub is naked from the waist down. If you’re wondering about that, look carefully: she is wearing green shorts that you can also see in the next scene. There is no nudity, no images or sounds of labor and birth, and no blood or bodily fluids.

While both ads are lovely–and I think the second one equally portrays the energy of a birth at Alma– I think this issue speaks to our society at large, and what we as a whole think is appropriate material for children. I’m assuming that those of you reading this blog do think that birth is an appropriate subject for children to know about and be a part of. Would you agree? What is and isn’t appropriate for children to see and know about in regards to this normal bodily function?

In thinking about the larger picture, and the fact that most of the time we don’t know or realize why things are rated and restricted in the way they are, I think it’s important to acknowledge what our restricting of this information is doing. What is it like to give birth not ever having seen a woman give birth? What is it like to be the partner of a laboring woman, not having a long, deep-seated knowledge that birth is safe and normal? Even more than birth, breastfeeding in public continues to be a hot topic in much of this country (see this, this, and this, just from this past month) and a recent episode of ABC “What would you do?” series found that 57% of Americans don’t support breastfeeding in public. As midwives who support nursing women, we can very easily see the repercussions of this particular controversy: many women have never actually seen anyone breastfeed, or if they have it’s been under the cover of a blanket or one of these. I can’t help but wonder how that shapes their nursing experience and the frequency with which nursing challenges arise.

I can’t help but think that this continues to objectify women and underscore that their purpose–and the purpose of their bodies– is sexual. Let’s keep normalizing birth and breastfeeding, and keep reminding people that they are normal parts of the human experience!