• Maria Varvoutis, MPH, CD, PCD

Birth Story: The Impact of Feeling Empowered

It is deeply rooted in the history of cultures and civilizations throughout the world of how story telling can help enrich, empower, and quite literally change one's entire outlook on something they are going through. Much of this same line of thought can be carried over to the impact of telling your Birth Story. Barbara Behrmann, touched upon this inspiring topic in 'Story Time: Not Just for Children Anymore'. Therefore, without further adieu I bring to you the birth story of Bobbi Rice who currently resides in the United States and had a home birth this last September which I had the pleasure to be present at. Her unaltered birth story in her own words can be found below.


Learning About Your Pregnancy


How did you feel when you learned that you were pregnant? Shocked! We had been trying for a couple months but did not expect it to happen as quickly as it did.


Who did you tell first? My husband, Curtis.


What did you say? I had excused myself to go upstairs and “get a splinter out” and when I went to show him the “splinter” it was the positive test!


What were the reactions of the key people you told? Excited, surprised!


Pregnancy


How much information did you have about pregnancy, childbirth, and babies prior to being pregnant? My first birth was so recently that I remembered a lot of the basics but had also decided to fully immerse myself into the birth world. I felt very confident in my knowledge!


How did you feel about being pregnant? I was excited to be pregnant again! I loved my first pregnancy and I expected my second to be just as great - it was definitely tougher.


During your pregnancy, did you feel supported or did you feel alone? I felt very supported. I think I came in with a stronger focus to be surrounded by love and support.


Who was your primary caregiver: a doctor, a midwife, or someone else? Midwife


Why did you choose him or her, and how did you feel about that person?

Honestly, there weren’t too many options. Word of mouth helped me set up an appointment but I thoroughly enjoyed her presence and how she treated me as the sole decision-maker of my pregnancy!


What did you do to prepare for the birth? I followed a meditation app, practiced yoga and walked regularly, listened to *positive* homebirth and unmedicated birth stories, and ensured I talked through my fears and wishes for my previous and future births.


Labor & Delivery


How many weeks and days along were you when labour started? What were you doing when you first started feeling contractions? What did they feel like? 38+5; I had been feeling very mild contractions on and off for about a week and a half, but that day just felt different! I started feeling Braxton-Hicks-like contractions in the morning that were spaced out pretty far apart. They stopped and started back up and began getting closer together but were still very mild, still resembling Braxton-Hicks but just turned up a notch.


Where did you give birth? Home, our master bathroom to be more specific.


Who was there with you? My husband Curtis, our midwives Jamie and Maddie, and our doula, YOU! Our daughter was also there but sleeping in her room. My MIL [mother-in-law] was keeping the dogs occupied downstairs.


I had a laughing fit and 30 seconds later, after two FER pushes, my water broke and she was born.

How far apart were your contractions? How long was each stage of labour? How did transition feel? How long did you push? Throughout the whole labor my contractions were pretty inconsistent. Early labor was spent on the ball and walking around keeping up the house, they were painless, starting from 20-45 minutes going to 5-10 minutes. Active labor lasted well under 2 hours, still manageable and pain-free. I escaped to our bedroom and labored around the room, leaning on our bed, and swaying with my husband. As I got closer to birthing baby, I felt the need to go to the bathroom and had a very intense wave on the toilet. When I went to wipe there was a bit of blood and I felt fearful. I believe this was when I transitioned. I stepped a foot away and my body started pushing on its own so I grabbed onto the towel rack and counter to relax my body and allow the FER [fetal ejection reflex] to take hold. I had a laughing fit and 30 seconds later, after two FER pushes, my water broke and she was born.


If you gave birth vaginally, what position(s) did you labour in? Did you labour in water? I wanted so fiercely to have a water birth but baby wasn’t waiting! She was born while I was standing in our bathroom.


Who caught the baby? Dad!


What kinds of interventions were used, if any (e.g., shaves, IVs, enemas, drugs, surgery, etc.)? None


Were you awake to experience the birth? If so, what did you do, if anything, to help get through it? Breath work and relaxing my lower half to let my body birth her were key!


How did your experience of giving birth compare to how you ideally wanted it to be? It was everything I could have asked for. Aside from not having a water birth, it was quick, relatively pain-free, and I had the full support I wanted.


Life with a Newborn


How did you feel physically and emotionally after the baby was born? About yourself? About the baby? Unworldly. Primal. Powerful. I felt feminine and animalistic. I loved myself, my husband, and our daughter so fiercely.


If you had a home birth, what did you think and how did you feel when the midwife left? I felt ready for our family to have solitude and rest. Completely comfortable and confident in this next journey.


If you could do it all over again, would you do anything differently? What and why? I truly wouldn’t do anything different. It was everything I wanted. I felt so assured of myself - so confident we didn’t even ask our support team to be here until she was ~30 minutes from being born! It was my husband and I, working as a team.

I’m so thankful for the prenatal support and information received from my midwives and doula. They absolutely helped strengthen my physical and mental readiness for birth!

 

On behalf of the entire birthing community and the readers of this article, I would like to thank, Bobbi for sharing her story and journey to welcoming her baby girl into the world.

If you would like to listen to other birth stories, I would highly encourage checking out The Birth Hour Podcast. If are reading this and feel ready to share your own birth story as a form of self release and positive acceptance of your birth journey, please feel free to follow my link here. All stories can be shared anonymously or with your name and/or initials.


All the best,

Maria


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