Ep 48: A Midwife’s Long Labor

I want to start out with a phrase I hear from a lot of mothers.  “Oh, I had a really long labor.” 

And in my experience, a “really long labor can be anything from 9-48 hours, depending on the mother.”  I consider my first birth to have been obnoxiously long.  I went into early labor on a Thursday night and didn’t have my daughter until 2am on Saturday morning.  Whew.  Long one.  Madeline, however takes the cake when it comes to long labors, as you’ll hear in her birth story.

Today’s guest is no stranger to the podcast.  I interviewed Midwife Madeline Murray on episode 23, and we discussed her brand, passion, life’s work, Believe in Midwifery.  If you haven’t listened to that episode yet, I highly recommend you scoot on over right after you finish this one.  I’ll make it easy for you and put the link in the show notes.  Even more excitingly, this is not the only episode you’ll be hearing from Madeline this week.  Nope!  Be sure to tune back in this Wednesday, as we celebrate the launch of Madeline’s new course, Believe in Midwifery’s Guide to Sustainable Practice.  It’s an amazing episode for both midwives and mothers, so don’t forget to subscribe to the show on your favorite platform so you don’t miss it.

Speaking of your favorite platform, if you wouldn’t mind, I would be so grateful for you to head over to iTunes and leave a review for the show.  Reviews are so helpful for reaching more mothers, and I know you want to get the homebirth message out as much as I do!  Remember that if you leave a review, you have the opportunity to be selected as the reviewer of the week, and I’ll give you a podcast shout-out and e-mail you a happy homebirth sticker.  So….worth the 3 minutes.

Okay, on with the show!  Please remember that the opinions of my guest may not necessarily reflect my own and vice versa, and although Madeline is a care provider, neither one of us are functioning in that role during this episode, so continue to see your doctor, midwife, or if you’re like me, your chiropractor.  Let’s jump in!


 Show Notes

  • As a midwife, Madeline says she was a terrible pregnant woman. She thought her clients told her everything, so when little things would be different, she would always wonder, “Wait, is this normal!?”  She would go to her friends, who always asked her the questions!  “Yep, you just sound pregnant.”
  • “It was humbling to ask for help.”
  • Her plan was to have as much of an “unassisted” birth as possible. She wanted her friend Jen, who is a midwife, to come to Atlanta from Oregon when she was in labor and be there with her, but wanted a hands-off situation.
  • She knew that “anything” could happen. The only thing she wasn’t expecting—was her water breaking before
  • Went to Scollini’s for dinner—wanted to have an eggplant baby (the restaurant is known for sending moms into labor)
  • Water broke that night (Sunday night)
  • Had a full day of no contractions.
  • Early morning, around 8, she got out of bed because she was having somewhat significant contractions
  • “Classic first time mom”: tells her friend she can come over and have coffee, calls her mom, calls her sister-in-law
  • After an hour or so she noticed she wasn’t progressing, so she kicked everyone out.
  • Around dinner time, finally her contractions started picking up somewhat.
  • Madeline and her family members played Settlers of Catan that evening
  • By 3 in the morning, she was definitely in active labor.
  • Got in the birth tub around 5 am and started feeling some pressure (Wednesday morning)
  • Madeline decides to check herself, and can only feel baby’s head and the pubic bone. She got into a deep squat for a few contractions and pushed hard.
  • She then decided to have her friend check her. She was 7 cm… #classicfirsttimemom
  • Had her sister-in-law text all of their friends and family asking for prayers and energy.
  • Her mom sent a text to all of the ladies at church asking for prayer
  • She needed her tribe to be there with her—every time she had a contraction, everyone would moan and sway with her.
  • “I needed help, and I had people there to help me”-Madeline on her tribe
  • Jen finally checked her again, and realized the baby was “asynclitic” or cattywompus
  • 5 or 6 pm on Wednesday night.
  • Decided to lay flat on the couch— suddenly had an insane seizing spasm on the left side of her body. It made her throw up
  • Happened every 30 minutes, and thinks it was causing adrenaline which prevented oxytocin—slowed her contractions, so none of the positions they were trying moved the baby
  • Had her brother come over to help massage her back
  • Had one more of the spasms and said, “I’m done- this has to stop”
  • Decided to head to the hospital. No bag packed, no car seat installed”
  • Her brother and husband installed the seat and they left
  • The first nurse was uncomfortable with Madeline’s refusal of tests, so they brought in another nurse, who was wonderful
  • Madeline declined things, crossed things out, and refused to sign away consent
  • Got an epidural, the spasms finally stopped
  • Hated the lights, the beeping, the stress
  • She feels that the angel nurse she had made a huge difference in the fact that her labor picked up on its own.
  • At 6:45 am she began feeling immense pressure. Midwife checked her, and she was complete.
  • Madeline decided to “labor down”—wait until her body was forcing to push… which happened with the next contraction
  • Madeline began shooting out all of these demands, “Delayed cord clamping! Let the baby restitute on his own!” 
  • Even with the epidural she was mobile enough to get into hands and knees
  • “This is so hard!”
  • All she could think was that every woman she’d ever known must have been stronger than her
  • Her Dr. said at one point, “Madeline, you know what this is. You’re just openin’!” and “If you’re talkin’ you ain’t pushin’!
  • She pushed him out with lots of meconium behind him
  • He was great—crying when he was halfway out
  • “Like Oprah”–“You’re the best! You’re the best!”
  • She had her baby on her chest the entire time. 4 hours later they left the hospital
  • Ped nurse came in saying they weren’t going to discharge the baby
  • Madeline discusses how the way they word things makes you feel like you don’t have choices, but you do.
  • The importance of kind straightforwardness
  • @believeinmidwifery
  • rebranded
  • com



Episode Roundup:

  1. A Sunday Night-Thursday morning labor…. Now that, my friends, qualifies as a long labor. I want to take this moment to discuss just how incredible the female body is.  To endure intensity for such a long time, and then come out on the other side just fine… that’s amazing. 
  2. I love the fact that Madeline expressed to everyone exactly how she wanted to be treated during her birthing time. Hands off, allowing her body to do its own thing.  However, when she got to a point where she needed reassurance and backup, she had her best friend and midwife right there to help her through the uncertainties.
  3. Shout out to all of the amazing brothers everywhere. I adore my brother, and I just love hearing stories of other siblings who are close.
  4. And finally. Most importantly.  Madeline hit on a point so vital for us all to understand:  For whatever reason, should you find yourself in the hospital, you are still the decision-maker.  You do not have to hand over your power and your autonomy.  You can kindly, but firmly explain your choices (not wishes).  You can use the word decline.  It’s not a dirty word, despite the looks you may receive.  Of course, when help is needed and the situation calls for emergency intervention, it’s not a bad idea to accept.  BUT…. You have the right to be treated like a cognizant human, and you have the right to say, “oh, yeah, don’t think I’m gonna do that.” 


Okay, friends.  I know this episode got to you.  I know it because it got to me.  Thank you, Madeline, for all of your wisdom. 

Remember that if you’ve made the decision to have a homebirth, I have a free mini-training just for you.  Think of it as the teeniest, tiniest taste of what’s to come from Happy Homebirth Academy when it launches in January.  Just go to myhappyhomebirth.com/essentials to pick it up!  That’s all for today.  Come back Wednesday for our bonus episode with Madeline!


Mentioned in this Episode:

Believe in Midwifery Episode 23

Happy Homebirth Essentials Mini-Course