How we had a healthy homebirth & what you can learn from it
Gwenyth “Gwen” Marie Kolowski was born April 2nd, 2011 at our home. This was such an amazing experience for us to do it at home, but in order to convey our amazement properly, I need to first tell you about our first birth experience.
While Dr. Lauren and I were still in Chiropractic school, we had our first son, Owen. The pregnancy was as normal as can be, aside from one spontaneous bleed-out which we thought might have been a placenta previa, but it turned out to be nothing. Everything was going as planned. Labor began shortly after midnight on March 14th, slowly building until Dr. Lauren woke me up at four in the morning to tell me that she thought we were officially in labor. Our plan was to labor at home as long as we could and then go to the hospital when we thought we were getting close to the point of no return. Our doula came over at around 6:00 and we labored for a little while longer until finally packing up to head to the hospital at around 8:00 in the morning. After getting into our room, we hopped in the big bathtub and planned to labor in there until we needed to move to the bed for the actual delivery. Unfortunately, labor slowed down and was nearly non-existent by mid day. Since she was partly dilated and they weren’t sure if the bag of waters had broken, we had to stay put.
Progress was slow the rest of the day until finally, against our initial plan, we decided at around midnight to go with pitocin and an epidural. The labor was intense, and Dr. Lauren was nearly too tired to push after being up for over 24 hours already, but Owen was finally delivered shortly after 6:00 in the morning on the 15th. 30 hours of labor, and most of that was back labor which is incredibly painful because the baby is facing the wrong way and putting a lot of strain on the sacrum.
Hopefully it’s understandable if the prospect of going through labor again didn’t seem all too appealing.
When searching for reasons why the first labor was so difficult, we always hypothesized about two things; Owen being turned the wrong way and being in a hospital. Chiropractic is usually very good at turning a baby the correct way, but this was one case where it didn’t work as planned. As for being in the hospital itself, I think a big part of this whole thing was that once we walk in those doors, we are no longer in control. This freaked us out. Our birth plan was written, copied and posted all over our room. Doctors and nurses were told specifically what we wanted and didn’t want, and they were then told again. Our midwife and doula were there to back us up in our quest for a safe and natural hospital birth, but in the end we only stressed ourselves out. Lauren always said she was afraid to have the baby come out because she didn’t know if she could protect it from a stray immunization shot or a circumcision or some other unwanted and unnecessary medical procedure. In short, we wanted the safety of a hospital birth in case anything went wrong, but we were scared to death of what they would do afterward.
In the end, Owen was perfectly healthy and we left the hospital as a happy family and here we arrive at the birth of our next child.
We found a midwife here in Loveland that was better than perfect. We didn’t even need a birth plan because her protocol was exactly what we wanted. Nature has a plan for birth and we are designed to be able to get through it naturally, and this was exactly what we wanted.
Labor began at around four in the morning on April 2nd, slowly and steadily building. Dr. Lauren woke me at 5:30 and we made our preparations for the birth at home. We planned to birth right there on our bed, so we put down a shower curtain over our sheets and then put another set of sheets over that. Staying in our bedroom, we continued to labor, walking back and forth and taking breaks to lean on the bed or a wall every few minutes when a contraction hit.
I had adjusted Dr. Lauren chiropractically throughout her pregnancy, often quickly taking care of the back pain and muscle tightness that would flare up. This typically involves the patient laying face-down on our adjusting table, which became more and more difficult as her belly grew. By using a special board, I was able to prop her hips up enough and take the weight off of her belly and adjust her. As we labored, she noted that she needed an adjustment, but now we didn’t have our table or that board. I have an Activator at home, so I used that along with a technique that we learned from one of our mentors which uses “therapy localization” as well as feedback from the sympathetic nervous system, and I was able to adjust her between contractions and once again diminish some of the discomfort that she was experiencing.
We called our midwife, who was down in Denver for the weekend, and told her we were progressing quickly. Her intern showed up a few minutes later and when she saw how far along we were, she called the midwife and told her to get here as fast as possible. We labored for a little while longer until the contractions were getting so strong that she finally said, “I don’t think I can do this anymore!”. This is a wonderful sign that the woman is nearly ready to give birth!!
We got onto the bed, with Dr. Lauren laying on her left side and me laying facing her, serving diligently as her squeeze toy for when the contractions hit (I’m honestly surprised that she didn’t break any of my bones). The midwife arrived at just before 8:00 and quickly got ready to take over. Thankfully, she didn’t get a speeding ticket on the way here, because Gwen was born at 8:17 am.
As soon as the head and the shoulders were out, the midwife told us to reach down and get our baby. Dr. Lauren and I both reached down and carefully pulled Gwen out the rest of the way and brought her directly to her mother’s chest. A warm towel was placed over the baby and the room was quiet as we waited to hear her first breath. She opened her little mouth and breathed her first breath without hesitation, while the midwife and the intern went about wiping the baby down gently, being sure to leave the vernix on her skin to provide necessary moisture. No suction was needed, no spanking was done to wake up the baby (this was mainly done because the babies were as drugged as the mothers when they came out), and no tests needed to be performed right away which would interfere with the precious bonding time. We laid there for several minutes, staring at our new baby and marveling at the experience we just had. It was perfect.
After Dr. Lauren and Gwen had some time to bond and also try the first round of breastfeeding, and after I had the chance to cut the umbilical cord, the midwife and her assistant took Gwen at the foot of the bed and did all of their necessary tests, such as measuring length and weight. All of this was done quickly and comfortably and she was back with her mother to continue with the bonding.
It was amazing. After our first experience lasting 30 hours, this one barely lasted 4 hours and was completely all-natural. Dr. Lauren agrees that this was by far the most intense thing she ever went through, but thank God it wasn’t 30 hours!
It was fast. It was safe. It was done the way nature designed it to happen.
We didn’t use any drugs on the mom which would also be taken up by the baby. We didn’t have nurses and doctors continually checking to see how far the cervix was opened, risking the possibility of introducing bacteria into the birth canal and harming the baby. We weren’t confined to a hospital delivery bed which relies on the mother to be flat on her back, locking the sacrum in place and not allowing the natural flexion and expansion of these joints that allow the baby to come through more easily. We didn’t have a doctor or nurse pull on the baby’s head or use forceps or suction to get the baby out, it came on it’s own at it’s own God-given pace. We didn’t have the baby carted off for tests or to be placed in an incubation unit which would prevent bonding during a critical time. We didn’t have any vaccinations administered (such as the “routine” Hepatitis B vaccine which is recommended regardless of the fact that Hep B is only transmitted via blood or sexual intercourse, and we thought our first children are a little young to be out philandering and sharing needles at the time). We didn’t have them vigorously rub the baby down to agitate it and make it cry for the APGAR score, thereby losing the precious vernix. We didn’t do anything that disrupted the natural plan for how a labor and delivery is supposed to be.
We just enjoyed a natural birth and we are so happy to have such a healthy, happy, beautiful baby girl to show for it, born in the comfort and security of our own home. I would recommend this to anybody.
Also, be sure to rent the movies “The Business of Being Born” and “Babies”
David Kolowski, DC and Lauren Kolowski, DC