Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim
Art by: Amy Swagman
I'm honored to post this unassisted, home, water birth story. What makes it even more special is that she is an awesome midwife! It's rare to get a glimpse into the birth of birth attendants. Her knowledge and trust in Allah come shining through in her own birth story.
I hope you'll enjoy her story. Please let me know if you would like to share yours. Now on to the story...A Midwife's UBA2C (Unassiasted Birth After Two Cesareans)...
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh, Sisters.
Awaiting my youngest baby’s arrival was far harder than my other three pregnancies. I was more tired, far more uncomfortable, and struggling with the high heat and preexisting hypertension, none of which has been an issue for me with any of my three prior pregnancies. Although I desperately wanted a normal vaginal delivery, as I had with my first baby, I was certain that having the baby anywhere other than at home was going mean a cesarean for me due to hypertension and having two prior cesareans with my middle pregnancies. Being alone with three children, I knew that I was going to need my strength following the delivery and, insha’Allah, I wasn’t going to compromise my physical strength by allowing my baby to be cut from my body.
I had spent most of my pregnant months in Africa and, upon returning to America for the delivery, I was feeling at times very alone. But, Alhamdulillah, I had three wonderful friends that offered to come when I was birthing to help with the other children and food and cleaning, so I could just focus on birthing.
For weeks I had been feeling strong practice contractions…much stronger than with any previous pregnancy. It was tiring and emotionally draining at times feeling that birth could be imminent at any time and know how much I really needed things to be gentle for me and my baby. I could only pray and pray and pray. We were very blessed that some friends were coming by with food and to do relaxation techniques to help me through the final days. We were able to live for a while with some friends so I had a room that I could comfortably birth in.
Then, some many weeks after I expected he might be born, the day finally came.
Alhamdulillah, it was the first day of Ramadan and I had not yet gotten to sleep after Isha. I lay in bed wondering how I would get comfortable to fall asleep, when at 1:20am I suddenly felt a very strong surge that brought me fast to me feet. There was something inside that told me that was finally the real thing. I went to wake up two friends to let them know that I may need them soon. I began pacing the room, praying to Allah to make it gentle and to watch over my family. About 20 minutes later I felt another strong surge and then I was certain that it was coming. I wanted to sleep, but I was nervous to be laying down when another surge came because it felt easier to stand. At the same time I was worried that I would tire…my previous birth had been over many days.
I began to fill my heated birthing tub so it would be ready when I wanted to get in later. I didn’t have this available with my last birth and it was a major regret, so I was determined to have it filled and ready this time. My older boys were asleep in the bed beside me through all of the morning hours and I was surprised that my increasing moans were not waking them.
At 4:30am I called a friend to update her and she insisted that she should come. I was really happy to have the company even though I didn’t want anyone to touch me or talk in the room. By the time she arrived in the morning, I was getting myself into the tub and it really helped so much to get the weight off of my feet. With every surge there was so much intensity around the pubic bone, as if my pelvis might break, but I had expected this because it was a feeling very common for the end of this pregnancy, and even regular chiropractic only make it more comfortable for a short time, though I do think that treatment helped this birth to go smoothly and align my baby (who had been breech until just before labor).
Daylight was breaking and I could now hear the birds outside. In the late morning my boys finally woke from bed and decided to go out to play in the yard. My surges were very close, maybe 2-3 minutes apart at this point. My other friend soon arrived and now there were three friends helping if I needed, but I felt too much distraction with more than one person in the room at a time, so they took turns being around. It was nice to know that they were there handing me drinks to sip on and giving me a hand getting to the bathroom when needed.
Eventually the aching in my pelvis and back became quite overwhelming. I knew it would be good for my blood pressure to try and lie down, but I could only stay upright and I decided to ask my friends to push hard on my back to try and ease some pain in the front of the pelvis. It didn’t help as much as I hoped, but it did feel good to be trying something. Ultimately I knew that my baby just needed to come out to resolve that feeling.
Finally I could tell that I was beginning to bear down. Perhaps around noon time, it was. Initially it was light and I think I was not yet fully dilated, but probably just lightly bearing down, helping his head to rotate inside. I was mostly on my hands and knees in the tub at this time.
By 1:00pm I could tell that my body was about to really push my baby out, so I yelled out the window for my children to come inside and quickly they ran up the stairs. After three big pushes his head came. I leaned back and felt his hair swaying in the water. SubhanAllah, almost done! One more push and his body emerged into my hands. My friend, Kristin, helped lift him into my tired arms and I was overjoyed to meet him, as all mothers are. Alhamdulillah he was healthy and well. He looked around at first and then let out a small cry, but quickly quieted again and almost immediately began to nurse. His brothers were very happy to have seen him born and stayed close to us.
We stayed in the tub for about one hour and called his Papa and other family to share the news. The placenta still had not come, but I had no obvious bleeding at all. My friends were bringing in food for me and we relaxed together. But eventually strong surges came again. I believe that my placenta had detached and was resting in my cervix which was quite uncomfortable. I cut the cord and gave the baby to a friend so I could try to get more comfortable on the bed. But the discomfort was intense like labor again and I couldn’t find a comfortable spot. For about an hour I continued to moan and find comfort. I had no urge to push out the placenta, but I desperately wanted it to come.
A friend suggested that I feel inside to see if I could tough the placenta, so I felt and found that it was indeed just at the top of my vaginal canal. I quickly walked to the bathroom and gave a pull on the cord until it slid out into the toilet and boy, did that feel better!
I was then able to tuck back into bed with my baby boy in arms. He nursed some more until we both fell asleep. It has been almost eight months and, Alhamdullilah, he has barely given me any fuss. InshAllah he will remain as peaceful as he has been over these months for his whole life long. My older boys, too have been amazing brothers and I am so grateful to have their aid and support in caring for our family.
My physical recovery was very short and after just a few days I felt like I had not even given birth. I barely bled and I was so happy to be able to sleep comfortably again. I was getting the best sleep I’d had in so long, despite have a nursing baby! Unassisted birth is not for everyone, but I wanted to share my story to inspire mothers and let them know that, even if you have some health issues, life and death is only in the hands of Allah and there is still nothing wrong with choosing the path of least intervention. There is a quote I heard many years ago that goes: “The first intervention in childbirth is the one the mother does herself when she walks out her front door. It is from this that all others follow.” Fear of bad outcomes is no match for trust in Allah. InshAllah, we can all choose to be Maryam beneath the date tree, despite previous cesarean, despite hypertension, despite diabetes, despite being over 40, despite even having a baby with anomalies. It is extremely rare that there are complications that can not be resolved through exceptional nutrition.
I am a midwife, though I did not midwife myself in birth. After experiencing my own completely unhindered birth, I decided to primarily work doing consultation for families planning their own unassisted birthing experience. It is because of the story of another sister I read many years ago that compelled me to strive for this, and with cesarean rates approaching or exceeding 50% in most areas of the world, I pray that my story will inspire others to avoid giving their bodies and babies to strangers, as well.
Jazak Allah khairan for reading and sharing our gentle UBA2C (unassisted birth after 2 cesarean) story sisters!!!