Kaytie and Christian were planning for a natural birth, as Kaytie’s mother and sisters had done. They knew they’d want the additional support from a doula, so I joined their team. They took classes, planned and prepared and we waited for labor!

Kaytie’s contractions had been getting more frequent all week and by Saturday night they got close to 3 minutes apart, but were still mild. Around 1am, her water broke (the great flood…) and she let me know. Contractions were consistent but still manageable, so I encouraged her to rest and we’d see when things picked up.

By 6am they headed into the birth center. Roz checked her and said she was only 1-2 cm dilated, but 100% thin, so they headed back home to continue to labor. Kaytie was exhausted from being up all night, so they tried to get her comfortable so she could rest between the contractions. Her mom Sheila and sister Becca were there for support. They sent Christian to bed for a nap.

Sheila contacted me about 10:30am and said they were doing fine but things were getting more serious- maybe it was time for me to think about coming… in an hour or so. I agreed. I packed up my gear and headed over, arriving about 11:30am. Kaytie was resting on her side in the biggest bean bag I had ever seen. Christian had just woke up and felt much better. Mom and sister were hanging out with Kaytie in the living room, offering comfort, company, and nourishment.

Kaytie’s contractions were still about 3-4 minutes apart, but she seemed to be in a “holding” pattern– I was concerned that if it took a while for labor to get to the next level, it was going to really wear her out. We discussed the possibility of a very tight pelvic floor and I asked her if she was “game” for trying a side lying release to see if that would open things up and move us into the next level of labor. She was… with Becca’s and Christian’s help, we did a pelvic floor release on both sides. Afterwards, Kaytie wanted to get up and move around… and things started ramping up.

The contractions started coming more frequently and Katyie was working much harder to get through them. She liked standing, leaning, swaying through them– she had a little nausea but the peppermint oil helped. She moved around a bit until she got tired again and decided to try the bean bag again for rest. It was about 1:15pm. Becca was playing DJ, keeing the tunes going, helping create a peaceful and joyful environment for Kaytie to labor in. Sheila and Christian grabbed some lunch while Kaytie worked on a popsicle and some fruit.

It was a busy birth day– two other mamas were in labor at the birth center, and I had another client whose water had broken around 4am– it was raining babies! Kaytie was doing beautifully, using visualization (her special place at the ranch in the river) and listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, perfect music to bring this baby into the world.

By 1:45pm, there was a big change in the intensity of the labor. Kaytie was working much harder, vocalizing, needing to sway and move. Her back was really hurting now– I told them it was probably time to think about going. Christian called the birth center and let them know we were on our way. Becca and Sheila took my car so I could stay with Kaytie during the car ride– those tough contractions are no fun in the car. Christian remained calm and supportive, even holding the bowl while she threw up in his car. (I bet he was really glad we grabbed it)

We arrived at the birth center at 2:40pm– the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and very strong. The midwife Jennifer checked her and said she was already 5cm dilated, 100% and the baby was low at +1 station- wow! They had already put water into the tub and Kaytie was eager to get in!

Instantly she had some relief, the tub took the intensity of the contractions away… she was able to relax. Christian got music set up and offered to put her hypnobirthing CD in for her. Kaytie continued to use her breathing and relaxation to manage the contractions, with support from her mom, and Christian– who stayed by her side virtually the entire time.

At 3;30pm things took another leap in intensity. She was so tired– the exhaustion was really kicking in. There was so much love and support from her team– a new midwife named Scottie came in, since there were 3 moms in labor now. Becca worked on keeping the music going to help Kaytie stay relaxed and focused. We encouraged her to move around and change positions– her back was really hurting and I wanted to make sure the baby had a chance to rotate around.

By 4pm, Kaytie was feeling discouraged– she was so tired and the contractions felt overwhelming. It sure looked like classic transition– “I can’t do it”. Scottie was so encouraging. Kaytie kept saying she was just wanting to push! (She didn’t need to- she just wanted to be there already) She was starting to feel more pressure, which we reminded her was great news, the baby was moving down! She wondered- would she know when it was time to push? I assured her it would feel very different, and her body would just do it- she didn’t have to think about it. Sheila led her through a beautiful visualization and helped her relax and get re-focused.

Around 5pm, something changed– Kaytie reported “something feels different”. Kaytie calmed down, the uncertainty gone, replaced by acceptance. The contractions seemed to have lost their intensity– I suspected we were near complete and her body was “resting”… in preparation for stage 2! By 5:20pm Kaytie starting “catching” her breath with the peak of the contractions- pushy? Yes, by 5:30pm it was definite pushing. Scottie encouraged her to follow her body and push with her urges. She wasn’t worried about checking her.

At 6:30 pm Kaytie was worried something was wrong and wanted Scottie to check her. Things hurt and she wanted to make sure it was ok to push. Scottie did an exam and said she had only a “tiny lip” of cervix left– it was ok to push gently with her urges. The baby was nice and low and would push that lip out of the way.

We let Kaytie gently push– slowly increasing in intensity over time. A little after 7pm, Scottie encouraged Kaytie to feel– she could feel the baby’s head in her body! Kaytie was amazed and encouraged, things were going just fine. She had been pushing in the tub for a while, so Scottie encouraged her to get out a while to help the baby round the pubic bone. We got her to bed and had her pushing on her back awhile– we also tried squatting, and finally at 8:15pm, the birth stool. That really worked for Kaytie, Scottie said she was really getting that baby around the bone. By 8:45pm we could see the baby’s head even in between pushes– he was really close. Scottie said it would be time to move back to the bed soon for delivery!

Slowly, gently, Kaytie nudged that baby down more and more. By 9pm the baby’s head was nearly out– “As close as he can be without actually being here!” Kaytie was so strong and had amazing control. She pushed his head out– and said how good it felt! “I could stay like this all day!” I told her it would feel even better when his whole body came out. Scottie encouraged her to give it one more push and reach down and get her baby boy. At 9:11pm, Noah was born- Kaytie reached down and pulled him to her chest where she and Christian welcomed him with love and joy! The room was filled with midwives, assistants, and family– so much support. Even the staff said ‘That was a beautiful birth”…

Scottie waited til the cord stopped pulsing and then let Christian cut it. Kaytie held Noah for a while, delivered the placenta, then was ready for a break, so Christian took off his shirt and rested in bed beside Kaytie, holding his little boy skin to skin. Things settled down, the midwives got Kaytie cleaned up and comfortable. Sheila and Becca quietly slipped out and so did I– so they could enjoy these first few moments together as a family in peace. We asked “who is this little person” and Christian said “We think we want to call him Noah”… which seemed appropriate- It all started with a great flood…

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How does a doula really make a difference?
Results from different studies have all suggested that having a doula reduces the overall cesarean rate by 50%, Pitocin use by 40% and requests for epidurals by 60%. The use of a doula also showed a major reduction in the length of labor due to fewer stress hormones being produced in the laboring woman’s body.

The Doula Book © 2002; Klaus, Marshall, Klaus and Kennell.