Welcome to The Delivery Room Dish—a place for new moms to spill on the highs, lows, and nitty gritty of giving birth. What you'll learn: there's no one 'right' way to have a baby, the delivery room is full of choices (even when labor doesn't go as planned), and every mom's got a birth story worth sharing. Up next: Kate Levinson, Founder of Levinson Locations in Chicago, who gave birth to her daughter Minette in January.
I realized labor was starting when: The bed felt wet about midnight. I was a week past my due date and my husband and I had sex before bed (which was excellent). I wasn't sure if my water broke or I was having some residual dripping.
Laboring at home was: Essential. Being at home gave me all the comforts that I needed. My essential oils in the diffuser, laboring in my own bathtub, access to my fridge so I could try to eat and drink a little in the 29 hours of active labor. Every time I got into my bed to rest the pain in my tailbone was unbearable regardless of what position I tried, so I spent much of my labor in my clawfoot tub sleeping between waves and allowing the water to alleviate the pressure when they came on.
My contractions felt like: They started from the tip of my tailbone like it was this blossoming pain that wrapped up and around. Kind of like breaking your tailbone in a snowboarding fall over and over again.
My birth plan was to: Give birth at home. If something went wrong and I needed to go to the hospital I figured that I’d play it by ear. Thank GOD for the Gentle Birth Care midwives and Heather, my doula!
The most surprising thing about a home birth is: The realization of how much more support that I had than I would have had in a hospital. In a hospital you are alone much of the time with different people in and out checking on you, but mainly monitoring you via your contractions and your baby's heartbeat from a screen in a different room. At home I had a team of three midwives that watched me the entire time. I was never alone and I was never being monitored arbitrarily. The attention was constant and the support was very thorough – there is SO much more personal attention and care at home. If you trust the body and are without fear, it’s the most beautiful experience. Any woman can do it.
The best advice I received was: push like you are pooping your baby out.
The plans that went out the window were to: want music and yogic breathing.
I’m so happy I: gave birth at home. I am so incredibly happy I didn’t have to be anywhere uncomfortable. The whole experience of giving birth is so physically uncomfortable that being in any environment other than my own home would have felt like prison to me.
The best question I asked was: I don’t feel like I asked any questions... I mostly followed my instincts and my doula and midwife's instructions. My labor was very slow (49 hours, 29 which were very active) and I had a lot of very lucid time between contractions to get a grip on what was happening.
The first thing I did after baby arrived was: EAT! I didn’t want to eat during labor and was starving after 29 hours. My mom literally tried to feed me bites of lasagna while the midwife was stitching me up in my bed! I was sleeping with my baby in my arms before the birth team had cleaned up and gone home. When I woke up there was no evidence of what had happened the night before other than a baby in my arms and a set of tiny footprints stamped on a piece of paper with Minette Charlotte Muschong written out in clear lettering.
Looking back, the best decision I made was: hiring a postpartum doula! It may be the best investment I have ever made. Going from being two people back to being yourself is emotionally and physically tumultuous. Chicago Family Doulas has a program that nourishes the mother after birth and it has literally brought me back to life. I have a doula three times per week which has forced me to have three hours of self care and privacy each day. There is a concept known as “mother warming” where we try to bring the mother's energy back. They do vaginal steaming, warming baths, feed me nourishing food and do specific body work aimed at the healing of the mother. It’s preventative medicine staving off postpartum depression and getting your body and organs back to where they belong. I truly feel like myself again only one week after birth. Nourish yourself so you can care for your baby.