I’m from Australia. My mother used water as her pain relief method in the birth of both my sister and I as an alternative to drugs. Before even deciding on who my provider was going to be, I sought the assistance of a doula, recommended by my sister-in-law, who had a hospital birth two years earlier.
I had visited my sister-in law in the hospital for both of her births and immediately knew then that I did not want to give birth in a hospital. I couldn’t believe that for the price, she had to give birth in such a small room, cold and sterile, hooked up to so many tubes with monitors constantly blinking and sounding, and zero privacy.
I told Megan, my doula, that I would like to give birth in a birth center, with access to a tub for pain relief, and that I was open to the possibility of a water birth. Megan advised that I could give birth in a birth center but that 1. It wouldn’t guarantee that I would have full access to a tub as they are shared by other patients, and 2. You can use a tub for pain relief but they don’t allow you to give birth in the tub 3. If there did happen to be problem, the hospital doesn’t allow you to stay in the birth center ward and usually transfers you to another floor.
So if I really wanted a water birth my only choice was to give birth at home. The next step, was to find a midwife we were really comfortable with. Megan gave me a list of 8 midwives she had worked with. We researched them all and whittled it down to 3 whom we interviewed.
I liked the team approach that Shar and Carol offered. It was important to me to have a relationship with the person who was helping me give birth and if one wasn’t available, knowing that I wouldn’t be giving birth with a stranger. We met with Shar in person and facetimed later with Carol. It was their professional, homeopathic approach that made us confident they were the right fit for us.
First of all let me say that having all of your prenatal appointments in the comfort of your own home, where your health service provider comes to you, feels so luxurious and customized, like a special treat. Shar and Carol were both really mindful to try and schedule appointments before or after work, which was really helpful when the appointments get to be weekly towards the end!
They have a very user friendly client service portal that allows you to easily see any results of tests, ask questions and records all your visits and health info. And as you progress they send you recommended reading lists for pregnancy, labor and birth, childbirth education classes, herbal tea infusion recipes, birth tub rental information, birth kit box, lists of pediatricians, circumcision providers…you name it. What I loved about our prenatal visits was their emphasis and suggestions on nutrition, as well as homeopathic alternatives to those unwanted pregnancy symptoms such as thrush or lack of sleep. I never once felt lost or unsure.
On the day I gave birth, Carol was on duty. I did have some fluid leakage in the morning but I didn’t want to believe it was happening and didn’t make a big deal of it. As the leaking got progressively heavier, I called Carol and told her what was going on and that I hoped “this wasn’t it” because I still had a lot to do at work. She insisted I send her hourly updates (via photo) of my wet panty liners. (She swears she deletes the evidence!) By the end of the day, my contractions started, and we contacted Megan, our doula to come over a couple of hours into them. She kept Carol up to date on our progress, which progressed quickly! When Carol arrived, I was already in the birth tub and deep in transition. The contractions were so overwhelming. I remember watching my body writhe with each contraction, as if I wasn’t even in it. In a particularly powerful contraction, I remember opening my eyes for a second and seeing a mandala in front of me. It was Carol’s shirt! It was a wonderful welcome point of focus (and distraction from the pain). As each wave came over me, I focused more and more on the mandala. Eventually, I saw the writing underneath, which read i capital scribe like font, “BIRTH WARRIOR”. I smiled. Suddenly I felt connected to every woman, every mother who had ever given birth. I knew I was going to get through this.
Our son Bodi was born shortly after, in the tub, under dim lighting and in the wonderful intimacy of our living room. I was surrounded by my doula, my mother, Carol our midwife, midwife assistant, midwife in training, my husband, and our dog Peppa. Following the afterbirth, Carol had to do a bit of stitching up to do and did all the necessary weights, measurements and Apgar tests on Bodi. Everyone helped to put our place back to pre-birth state and my husband went out to pick up pizza around the corner. The day ended with a lovely pizza party in bed and we woke up the next day, the three of us as a family.
Thank you Carol and Shar and everyone at Midwifery Care NYC for your excellent pre and post natal support. We feel truly blessed to have been able to have had the birth we envisioned and more.