*This post was not sponsored by Women’s Birth and Wellness Center or UNC Women’s Hospital. This post is the authentic view of the Contributor who wrote it and was submitted to RMB un-solicited.
A few months ago, my husband and I brought our first child into the world. I wanted to share our birth story here, as we were lucky enough to have the support of a whole team from both the Women’s Birth and Wellness Center in Chapel Hill and UNC Women’s Hospital.
Women’s Birth and Wellness Center
When we first moved to Durham, we knew we wanted to deliver our son in a birth center rather than a hospital. I get anxiety in hospitals and wanted to set myself up for as much mental peace as possible going into the birth. We originally planned to tour a few different birth centers, but ended up visiting just one before making our decision. As soon as we toured the Women’s Birth and Wellness Center, we knew it was a great fit. The feel is homey with a sprinkle of hippie thrown in. Please know that women with high-risk pregnancies are not good candidates for birth centers, as midwives simply cannot offer the same level of medical support provided by a hospital.
Often my monthly and then weekly visits felt like mini-therapy sessions. The midwives gave me as much time as possible to discuss any questions or fears I had. Each appointment I met with a different midwife to ensure that on the day of my delivery I was comfortable with whichever midwife was on staff. As my due date approached, I felt positive and excited about the birth. I knew I was going to be well loved and taken care of throughout my experience.
My Initial Labor Experience
On Wednesday, September 21st, three days before my due date, I woke up in the middle of the night with what felt like stomach cramps. I wasn’t sure if it was anything, but decided to stay home from work. Funnily enough, it was the same day the Raleigh Moms Blog Team was treated to blowouts at The Green Room. When my husband came home from work we went for a long walk and he made me Ramen for dinner. I know, I know, not very nutritional and it’s a little funny that it ended up being my last meal for the next several days.
Later that night, the cramps clearly turned into contractions. By 2:00 am they were about 6-7 minutes apart, and I was getting a little anxious. Around 3:00am, I hadn’t been able to get any sleep and my husband was starting to fade. We called our doula who came over to stay with me while Nick slept. A doula is like a birth coach and advocate for the mother. We worked with Michelle McClafferty of By the Moon Doula Services, who I highly recommend. There are also several doula groups in the area: Triangle Doula Collective and Emerald Doulas.
Michelle ended up staying with us for almost three days. Looking back, I don’t know how I would have made it through without her. She stayed with me while my husband rested, I clung to her shoulders throughout difficult contractions, and she generally talked me through every low point when I was absolutely sure I couldn’t do it anymore.
After not sleeping all Wednesday night, we went into the birth center Thursday morning for what they call therapeutic rest. I slept for a few hours and tried to eat something, but couldn’t keep anything down. By the end of the day, I was only 4.5 inches dilated so they sent me home again to try to rest. I was once again unable to sleep through my contractions, so early Friday morning we once again headed back to the birth center for therapeutic rest. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was experiencing back labor, and those contractions are no joke. By this time, I was exhausted having gone two nights with almost no sleep and probably 30 hours without eating. I spent the rest of Friday morning in the birthing tub trying to relax. The midwife on duty typically comes in and out of the room, as multiple women are usually in the facility at any given time. I was lucky, because I was the only women there, so my midwife was able to sit with me and support me throughout most of my labor.
.By Friday afternoon, I measured 9.5 centimeters and the baby’s head was only a few inches away from crowning. However my water had yet to break and my midwife couldn’t be 100% sure that the baby’s head was in the right direction. She laid out my options: different homeopathic remedies, lunges and other techniques to get him fully turned, and finally transferring to the hospital for additional pain management support to help me rest and wait things out. At this point I felt like I had hit a breaking point and knew that my body needed some additional help.
Transferring to UNC Women’s Hospital
The transfer to UNC was incredibly quick and easy. The midwives at the center have privileges at the hospital, so they quickly completed the necessary paperwork, called to get my room set-up and get an anesthesiologist primed for my arrival. One of the midwives drove to the hospital with us in our car and wheeled me straight into my room where they quickly hookup my IV and the monitors needed to initiate the epidural. My nurse and the anesthesiologist were absolutely great, working with me to get me comfortable as quickly and easily as possible. My nurse held my hand during my contractions and I pretty sure I cut off her circulation. As soon as the epidural started to kick in, I was flooded with such relief that I started crying. About 5 minutes after that my water broke.
The midwives helped me push for about 30 minutes, however our son’s heartbeat was elevated and was not coming down. They called in a consult with a family medicine doctor and then another from an obstetrician. My baby’s head was turned such that he would need additional intervention to come out. They talked me through the next steps, first attempting a forceps delivery, followed by a c-section if needed.
My surgery team was all women with the exception of the anesthesiologist. This may seem silly, but this gave me greater confidence that they understood my concerns and would be particularly cognizant of causing as minimal damage as possible. It also just made me proud to be in a room full of smart and accomplished women. #girlpower
After a relatively quick forceps delivery, our son, James, was born on September 23rd at 10:27pm. He weighed 8lbs 2ounces and measured 20.2 inches long. A good-sized baby for little ole 5 foot me.
.We had waited for 50 hours to meet our son, but all of a sudden it seemed like nothing. UNC Women’s Hospital is a Baby Friendly Hospital, a designation established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fun (UNICEF). Babies are kept with their parents unless they need additional care; the hospital actually doesn’t even have a nursery. Every nurse on our floor was trained to help mothers breastfeed, although they’re respectful of a mother’s choice to use formula. One big difference to note between the birth center and the hospital is that the birth center typically only keeps mothers for 5-7 hours after the birth. Hospitals generally require at least one if not two overnight stays, which means…room service! I have to say the food was surprisingly good. I had sushi and fresh rolls for dinner one night and Nick had a great burger.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the care and support I received from both facilities. I was able to experience the best of both worlds: midwives who provided the all natural and more individualized support I needed, and doctors who worked to ensure my baby came out safely with the lowest level of medical intervention needed.