Second Homebirth & First Waterbirth with Bryn Huntpalmer
As the host of The Birth Hour, I wanted to join the company of all of the other amazing women who have shared their birth stories on an episode of the podcast by recording my births. I decided to record my son’s birth (my second birth) first in celebration of his 2nd birthday. I took some time to myself to record this episode on the morning of his birthday and it was really special.
I recommend writing down or recording your child’s birth story as a way of celebrating their birth day if you haven’t already. You can listen to my first birth (my daughter’s) here.
My son was born at home in Oregon with a wonderful midwife in attendance. My labor was FAST and was a walk in the park compared to my 34 hour labor with my daughter but that story is for another day! After my first homebirth with my daughter, I knew I wanted another homebirth and I was really interested in having a waterbirth. I wasn’t able to give birth in the water with my daughter and I felt strongly that it would be really helpful to be in the birthing tub during the transition and pushing stage.
Listen to today’s episode below or via your favorite podcast app to hear all about my waterbirth experience.
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Resource Links from today’s episode
Waterbirth pool with heater from Aquadoula
Read my Full Birth Story
Our first child, Adelaide, was 16 days past her due date and those were some of the hardest days of my life. When people told me constantly that the second baby comes sooner, I stupidly got my hopes up for an early or on time baby and when it seemed like I was experiencing pre-term labor at 35 weeks it seemed inevitable that this baby would be making an early appearance.
When my due date (July 20th) came and went I started to get anxious. I honestly wouldn’t have really cared when the baby came if it weren’t for the fact that Richard was supposed to leave on the 29th to go take the Bar Exam in Portland (about 3 hours away from us). The Bar is a two day test so he wouldn’t be back until the night of the 31st. We tried everything to get the baby to come out (you name it, we tried it) and I just ended up exhausted and still very pregnant so around the 27th I decided that this baby was just going to stay in until after the Bar Exam.
My mom arrived from Arkansas on the 27th and I stopped taking long walks and quit all of the other things we had been trying and just decided to take it easy. On the 29th, I was 41w 2d and I had to go to the OB for a biophysical profile and non-stress test. The baby passed with flying colors and we were told that everything looked great. Richard left right after that appointment and from then on I really slowed down and didn’t even really leave the house. While he was in the Bar Exam he couldn’t have his cell phone so he checked in during breaks and at the end of the day asking if I had felt any signs of labor and luckily the answer was always “no”.
On the morning of the 31st (Wednesday) the midwives came over for a prenatal check-up and we did another non-stress test and baby still sounded great. At this appointment I found out that two of the midwives including Cynthia our main midwife (the other two were apprentices) had plans to go out of town on Friday which made me very anxious. Cynthia has about 30 years of experience as a midwife and I really trusted and was comfortable with her. She was only going to Salem which is about 1.5 hours away so if my labor was anything like my last one (34 hours) she would have plenty of time to get there but I still didn’t want her to leave. She ended up saying that she would see what happened and might not go at all which comforted me a little but I was still emotional about it.
That same day in the afternoon I went to the chiropractor and had an adjustment as well as some acupressure that is supposed to help you go into labor. Since I knew that Richard would be home that evening I felt good about going into labor at any point since surely it would start slowly and he’d be home by the time things got intense. After my chiropractic appointment my mom, Adelaide and I went to the garden center to pick out some flowers for the yard and the whole time I was having what I thought were strong Braxton Hicks contractions and just feeling a lot of pressure in general. The contractions weren’t painful at all and just felt like tightening. We went out to dinner and the BH contractions continued throughout.
I put Adelaide to bed around 6pm and Richard got home around 8pm. When Richard got home I told him I’d been feeling a lot of pressure and that we should go for a walk just to see if that did anything. During the walk the pressure was so strong that I had to stop every now and then and was doing a weird tippy toe walk pretty often but nothing was feeling like labor contractions to me. I should note that I had experienced this strong pressure and BH for a few weeks so it wasn’t really anything new. We walked along the ocean for 30 minutes and then headed home to go to bed.
We went to bed around 9:45pm and Richard passed out immediately and commenced some serious snoring. I put in my ear plugs and fell asleep shortly after. At 12:45am I woke up to pee and as I was sitting on the toilet I started to get a really bad cramp. This was the first time I’d felt pain versus just being uncomfortable. I was still pretty groggy and didn’t think that I could be in labor but remember thinking “oh man I remember this now – contractions really suck and I should probably go to the hospital and get some drugs.” It’s funny how you really do forget the pain of childbirth, I really didn’t have any concept of how painful my contractions had been with Adelaide until I had my first one with this birth and it was totally an “oh yeah, these really suck” moment.
I still didn’t think that I was in labor or that the contractions would start to come in any sort of pattern so I headed back to bed. As soon as I got to the bed another one came and I laid next to Richard but immediately had to get up on my hands and knees because it was too painful. I remember whining to him “it’s not going away!” I decided to get up and go take a shower because I remembered that after Adelaide’s birth it was quite a while before I got another shower. While I was in the shower I kept having contractions and Richard would stick his hand into the shower to apply pressure to my back and then take his arm back out and dry it off. I even shaved my legs in between contractions!
We both started to realize that these suckers were coming really close together and got the iphone “full term” app to start timing them. When it became clear that they were only 1.5 minutes apart we decided to just send Cynthia a heads up text. Another two contractions later we hadn’t gotten a text back and I said “Call her!” That was at 1:15am. While Richard was on the phone with Cynthia she could hear me in the background during a contraction and said “I’ll be right there.”
Once I was out of the shower Richard started filling up the birth tub and I tried to tidy up a bit but the contractions were coming too fast and too strong for me to really get anything done. I just wanted that pool to fill up so I could get in because I was basically already in transition and the level of pain was *high*. As soon as the pool had a decent amount of water in it I hopped in. It was still a little cool so I told Richard to start boiling water. As he went to start water boiling Cynthia arrived. I’m not sure on the timetable of her arrival but I would guess around 1:45am. Shortly after she arrived I started to feel the urge to push and my low moaning sounds changed to “pushy” sounds. Sometime in there the two apprentices (Willa & Devya) arrived and later told me that they could hear me in the kitchen where they were preparing supplies and knew that I was ready to push.
I still didn’t feel comfortable really pushing hard because with Adelaide I had had a cervical lip that was in the way when I was already pushing and the pushing caused my cervix to swell a bit and made things harder. So I kind of half-heartedly pushed for a while and then asked Cynthia to check me at 2:47am. She said I was 10cm with no cervix anywhere and at a +2 station. I asked what I needed to be thinking it was +5 station. She said “No +3 is basically the baby is crowning so you really just need to push the baby about 1 more centimeter down”. That was all I needed to hear, it was time to get this baby out.
I started pushing really hard with each contraction and even felt the baby’s head with my finger so I knew the head was right there. Richard had said he wanted to catch so I said “the head is right there” and told him he should get into a position to catch because baby was coming. Cynthia directed him to go behind me (I was currently on my hands and knees in the pool). I felt the “ring of fire” which is when the baby is crowning and with one more contraction the head was out and Richard said that at that time he felt a warm gush which was the bag of waters breaking but he thought it was me peeing on him. Awesome Richard.
When Adelaide was born she came out all at once so it was strange for me to have the head out and have to keep pushing to birth the body. It felt like forever and I remember looking up at Cynthia and asking “why isn’t it coming out.” She smiled and calmly said “it will, it’s coming”. Richard says that next one arm came out and then with the next contraction our son, Darwin Douglas, was born into his daddy’s arms at 3:03am.
Richard passed him through my legs and I pulled him up onto my chest. I sat up and leaned against the side of the pool and Richard came around behind me giving me kisses and looking back and forth between our baby and me. Darwin had a strong cry immediately and didn’t require any attention from the midwife so I just held him and kissed him. (Extra bonus of a water birth – baby gets an immediate bath!). He had been covered in vernix but it all washed off in the pool.
I was helped out of the pool and onto the bed where I delivered the placenta which Cynthia told me “looked great.” Cynthia was aware of my excessive bleeding with Adelaide so she was monitoring me closely. She said my bleeding was heavier than she’d like and gave me a shot of pitocin just to help the clotting process.
Soon after that my bleeding was under control and Cynthia checked me and I didn’t need any stitches. Darwin latched on almost immediately and continued to nurse on each side for the next two hours! I started to experience afterbirth pains immediately (and continued to have them for over a week). They are basically something between a contraction and the worst period cramps ever and you are unable to move and get into a better position to handle the pain because you are nursing a baby. All of this right after you’ve just pushed a baby out of your body – Not fun. Afterbirth pains are more common with subsequent births so I hadn’t experienced them with Adelaide and it definitely took me by surprise with how painful they were.
My mom woke up around 5:00am and saw the midwives in the kitchen and asked, “are we having a baby?” and they said “we had a baby!” My mom slept through all of the noise but was awoken by the delicious smells coming from the kitchen as one of the apprentices was preparing a post-birth chicken soup for me. My mom came in and heard the news that we had a baby boy and got all teary-eyed.
Adelaide woke up around 6:00am and Richard went and got her and brought her in to meet her baby brother. She was tired and confused but very interested in this baby laying on my chest. She started to point out his nose and ears and said he was “tiny”. She gave him and me lots of kisses and was pretty adorable. I hadn’t cried until that moment. Watching Adelaide love her baby brother just put me over the edge. I was already imagining them growing up together as brother and sister.