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I’ve got a secret for you. Your uterus is unaware of the 5-1-1 rule.
This week’s episode features the birth stories of Heather, who has given birth to both of her babies at home. Her first experience of labor was with a posterior baby, and posterior babies are notorious for funky labor patterns.
Her second baby, though not posterior, also gave quite a different pattern.
I love these stories because they show the reality of labor: It’s different for everyone, and it’s different for every birth. So while tips and rules are great to keep in mind, we must remember that our uterus doesn’t know these tips, and it may very well do its own thing. We’ve just got to follow its lead.
Also. For inquiring minds—the 5-1-1 rule is a common one given to first time moms: Call the midwife when contractions are five minutes apart, lasting a minute for one hour. And generally, this can be handy! But let’s not forget—we’ve got to be in tune with our bodies.
- Heather knew she wanted to have her babies at home after several of her church friends had homebirths
- Financially, she and her husband realized homebirth would be the cheaper option, and Heather has never been comfortable with the hospital seting
- She mentions that her first pregnancy was easy, though she did go past her due date. Fortunately, her midwife had drilled in her head that most first time moms go to 41.1 weeks.
- Her first baby was posterior, which made for quite a wonky labor pattern. At one point, Heather’s midwife put her in a position she called the “Texas Roll” or exaggerated sims position. One leg straight, the other leg up at a 90 degree angle and belly diagonally on the bed. This helped her finish dilating.
- Heather pushed for 2 hours with her first baby and did have a 2nd degree tear. However, after measuring baby’s head, her midwife informed her that she had a 15inch head… pretty big!
- Between her first and second birth, Heather’s midwife retired. Instead of hiring her midwife’s apprentice (who was now a working midwife), she decided to go with another midwife in town, who was also a naturopath. This was difficult for Heather, as she liked the other midwife, but she felt she’d be more comfortable with her new care provider.
- The night before giving birth, Heather was having contractions every 30 minutes apart. She found this amount of time to be quite annoying—as soon as she’d start to fall asleep, the contractions would wake her back up.
- This continued all day the next day. Even the next evening, they were still 30 minutes apart, but suddenly they were very strong when she had them.
- Heather’s midwife told her this had happened to her before, and not to worry. Her body would flip a switch and labor would likely go quickly.
- She was right! All in all, Heather’s labor (from the time of the strong contraction) was 3.5 hours.
- I found it fascinating that Heather mentioned at the beginning of the episode that truly, when they prepared to give birth to their first baby, they recognized that homebirth was a less expensive option for them. People are often shocked to find out just how affordable this option is.
- Heather’s first midwife’s reminder is one of my very favorites: Most first time moms usually make it to 41.1. We psyche ourselves up for the “due date” and can often feel frustrated when it comes and goes. It’s so important to remember just how arbitrary that day really is.
- Finally, in my opinion, the most important piece to draw from Heather’s story: You’ve got to select a midwife that you jive well with. Not every person is going to be comfortable with every midwife—this in no way means the midwife is not a good midwife. It just means you’ve got to find the personality that aligns best with you and your family. Be sure to check around and see what options you have in your area. Of course, some areas truly don’t have many options. But when it’s possible, interview a number of practices.