Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Accepting the Unexpected During Birth

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.
While I was pregnant with my daughter I imagined a beautiful, peaceful birth and it was exactly that--beautiful and peaceful just didn't look like what I had envisioned beforehand.

I'd pictured myself calmly relaxing on a birthing ball while my husband massaged my back...
In reality I spent nearly 6 hours sitting on the toilet.* Seriously, I spent almost my entire labor on the toilet. 

And it was perfect. I laugh a little when I tell people about it now.

We were in this beautiful independent birthing center. It was like a cozy bed and breakfast. There were cushy pillows and a huge bed, candles burning around the large birthing pool. And I could have cared less once labor finally started moving along.

The castor oil I'd taken (in a lovely chocolate milkshake) after more than 24 hours of trying to get labor started (my water broke spontaneously before I had any contractions) had done it's job. I was most comfortable on the toilet. It was the ONLY place I was comfortable.

I didn't want to move. I didn't want to stand. I didn't want to rock my hips. I didn't want to get near a birthing ball. 

I simply wanted to sit on the toilet. That was where I was supposed to be

And there I sat. My wonderful, patient husband propped a pillow behind my back and put socks on my cold feet. He sat there with me as the hours passed despite the lack of fan in the little restroom. I sat on the toilet relaxing between contractions and chanting a low "Ommmmm" as each new one washed over me.

I didn't move for nearing six hours. I tried once or twice to move to the bed but I was so uncomfortable away from the toilet that I never made it past the bathroom door. When I did finally move to the bed I was really motivated. I wanted our midwives to check me and tell me how dilated I was. The few short moments I was laying on the bed seemed like an eternity. I was 7cm and progressing quickly. They started preparing the pool and I quickly returned to my comfortable sanctuary that was the toilet. When I started feeling pushy I finally left the toilet and moved to the birthing pool.

Approximately an hour later I was no longer pregnant and I was holding my daughter.

While I was pregnant I'd read every birth story I could get my hands on. I had fully embraced that no two births are the same. I felt prepared to accept however my labor and birth unfolded. Did I have any idea it would involve spending six hours sitting on a toilet?

Never. Not once. It never crossed my mind.

But I accepted it. I listened to my body and I stayed where I was comfortable. I stayed where I felt strong.

Now that I'm pregnant again I find myself wondering what this next birth will bring. We're planning to be at home this time around and I'm hoping I won't need castor oil...but who knows?

Maybe I'll spend my entire labor bouncing on a birthing ball before slipping calming into the birthing pool to birth our new little baby. Or maybe I'll spend my labor putting together puzzles with my daughter.

I have no idea what to expect the second time around but I will be ready to listen to my body and accept this birth just as I accepted the last.

*No, I'm not on the toilet in that photo. That was later when I'd moved to the pool. We didn't take any photos while I was laboring on the toilet.
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)
This post is also part of Seasonal Celebration Sunday.


  1. It's not funny, but I'm laughing - only because I remember my time on the toilet too :) With Kieran, I spent a lot of time on the toilet because he was posterior, stuck, and was squishing my insides together in very strange ways. With Ailia, it was because labor came on so quickly and my body was eliminating everything that wasn't needed. Fast. It might not be the ideal place to labor, but it can be a very comforting place at the time ;)

    1. It's totally funny : ) I'm glad I'm not the only one who enjoyed the toilet!

  2. Funny how different everyone's labors are; I had back labor and couldn't tolerate sitting on the toilet-for some reason it hurt a lot! But I ended up with a c-section, so obviously stuff wasn't going right for me. I'm glad you found a comfy place to labor!
    Your footnote about the pic not being you on the toilet made me giggle!

    1. It is funny how different every labor is...I'm trying not to have any expectations for the next! Glad I could make you giggle : )

  3. You should ask your midwife if she has one of those Dutch birth stools so you can be in the on-the-toilet position while pushing the baby out. I used to practice midwifery and though I did "catch" a lot of babies on the toilet, it always made me nervous--what if I dropped it in? Watch out, as number two (baby, that is) can slip out fast. And good luck!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I'll have to ask about that! It's a great idea! We are going to be prepared for a fast labor this time around. My first labor/birth was 7 hours start to finish--once it got started!

  4. I didn't spend a lot of time on the toilet, but I did start feeling pushy in the shower, moved to the toilet and had to move lest I have a "toilet baby" and didn't make it out of the bathroom before she arrived!

    I am glad you had the support to be where you needed to be, and wish you another happy birth!

  5. During my first labor, the toilet was the most comfortable place for me, too. I read a lot of Calvin and Hobbes. :) Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. I knew when I was pregnant that a birth plan (or dream!) might not go exactly how it I imagined, and I was okay with it. I really was, and thank goodness, because it did not turn out at all how I thought! It did result in a baby boy who looked exactly how I dreamed he would and that was better than anything that didn't turn out. I did tell my husband if we had third baby, I'd like to do it at home, and he said no way. I guess from his perspective, it was worse than not going as planned. It was down right scary!

  7. Well, now that I'm done laughing...

    I never thought to try the toilet. :) Thank you for sharing this story. I made one castor oil shake and the time I spent on the toilet (and no baby afterward) scared me out of trying it again.

  8. Hehehe. I spent a lot of time on the toilet with my first. I'm not sure why, but it just felt so natural and right. I guess it just works. Thanks for sharing.

    BTW, I was more of a walker with my second. Looking forward to hearing how yours goes.

  9. Great post and it did make me giggle. I know what you mean.. you find a position that feels good and you want to stick with it. Of course there is also something very familiar about a toilet which perhaps might have felt comforting in an unconscious way?! Thanks for sharing this with us at Seasonal Celebration Sunday. I love reading a good birth story:-) Rebecca x

  10. I love your approach of being prepared to accept however your labor unfolded. I think I’d better start doing this for my first birth next month!

  11. Birthing balls can help expectant mothers get into positions that are more comfortable and can enhance labor's progress. These positions provide movement to change the position of the baby if necessary.



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