A positive birth story to inspire: The birth of Kayleigh Jo

by Heather McQuillan, Japan Birth Resource Network The Birth Education Center of Okinawa
Stripes Guam

A note from Japan Birth Resource Network: Birth comes in all shapes and sizes. We often hear the negative side of birth. By sharing women’s stories we hope to put a positive outlook on the experience when giving birth here in Okinawa.

My goal was to have a natural, unmedicated birth. I was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish that. My first birth was induced at 41 weeks. My options were limited. My birth plan could not be used; I didn’t know my options. This time around, I wanted to be aware and confident to make my own decisions. The first time I just went along with whatever the doctor said. I didn’t know I had options. Did you know your husband can catch the baby, and that you can be the one to bathe them? Or that you can deliver in positions other than laying on your back? To prepare I read a few books, looked up information online, talked with my husband and friends and decided to hire a doula.

I am so blessed to have formed a great relationship with my midwife and doula. At 36 weeks we found out that the baby was occiput posterior (OP) position, or “sunny side up”. My midwife looked at my doula and said, “work your magic.” My doula sent me a website called spinning babies, and would check in with me almost daily to make sure I was doing my daily exercises. After two weeks, she had finally turned! I was so relieved. Around 38 weeks, we discussed natural ways to induce labor. My midwife was concerned about the baby getting too big and didn’t want me going too far over my due date; and I did NOT want to be induced! I continued walking and began doing the things we had discussed.

Two days before my due date we went for a long walk (about two miles) and did our other naturally inducing things. Later that night my labor began. My contractions were about 10 minutes apart, but consistent. My husband said lay down and try to get some rest. I messaged my doula to let her know and she said the same thing. About two hours later the contractions were getting closer together. I got a shower, messaged my doula and woke up my husband. They were about 3¬-5 minutes apart and I knew we still had to get the girls up and to our neighbors.

We met the doula at the hospital and headed up to triage. I was monitored for about an hour and then checked to see where I was at. I was only 3 cm dilated, and 50% effaced. We walked around the hospital and the doula and my husband took turns doing counter pressure on my back when I was having contractions. I would stop when I needed to, and squat down, holding onto the rails. When we returned two hours later I was at 4 cm. Slowly but surely my body was making changes. I continued to walk and then labored in the triage room. About 2 hours later I was 6 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I could finally be admitted and get into a more comfortable room. As soon as we got into the room, my doula quickly set up her things like the diffuser with a calming lavender smell, the wickless candles and the scripture verses she hung up on the wall. My husband went to the car and got some of my personal things that I had brought.

30 minutes passed and I was 8 cm dilated and 0 station. I labored for another hour to get to 10 cm but had a cervical lip and had to wait for the baby to lower down. The baby’s heart rate kept dropping, so I changed positions quite a few times and used the oxygen mask to help get more oxygen to the baby. With the support of my husband, doula and nurse, I continued to breathe through my contractions. I got to change positions from standing up, kneeling on all fours and on my knees leaning over the back of the bed. My doula kept saying, “You are doing great, you got this” and other comforting phrases to keep me positive. My husband held my hand and rubbed my face and hair. Later he said, “I touched your hair and you didn’t want to punch me in the face”. I went through phases where I would want to be massaged and then others where I didn’t want to be touched at all - by anyone. The midwife returned about two hours later and in two pushes the baby was out.

Overall I achieved my natural, unmedicated birth. Did it go exactly like I planned or was it what I wanted on my birth plan? ...not really. My midwife that I had seen throughout my pregnancy could not make it down in time, so another midwife delivered my baby. I was happy to have a midwife. She explained everything to me, got the baby out safely and delivered the placenta without any complications or tearing. The baby did have meconium, so she had to be “caught” by the doctor and checked out immediately to make sure she didn’t have it in her lungs. As soon as they finished checking her, they placed her on my chest and we bonded for the next hour or so. My husband got to cut the cord after the Dr. because of how fast she came out. While bonding, she rooted around and within 30 minutes she was breastfeeding by herself. Once we were all set, the doula left and we got to enjoy time with our new baby. When I was ready, they came and took her to do their standard tests and give her the vaccinations she needed. Everything was performed in the room and I could ask any questions I had. All of the staff were very accommodating and gave me a great experience. It wasn’t what I had pictured but was how it needed to be. I now have a healthy baby girl that was born at 10:50 a.m. She was 7 lbs. 15 oz. and 21 inches long.

Japan Birth Resource Network provides evidence based information and mother friendly support throughout Okinawa and Japan.
To learn more visit: www.japanbirthresourcenetwork.com
The Birth Education Center offers IBCLC consultations, breastfeeding classes, cloth diapering classes, support groups, Hypnobirthing, Cranial Sacral Therapy, community events, a baby & mom shop ‘Fresh’, and more.

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