Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Success Stories from the Field

Birth activists spend a lot of time trying to educate and make change in the birth world. We talk a lot about negative practices and negative experiences to avoid. Bad doctors, bad nurses, horror stories, things to avoid, the cons of every medical procedure, the safety of home vs hospital birth, etc. But every now and then we like to celebrate the success stories - the births that we read about or see that are truly wonderful for the new mom and baby, and for us as birth professionals. They give us hope for the future of maternity care.

I was pretty lucky as a fledgling doula. Two of the first three births I attended when I first became a doula were successful in implementing all 6 of the Lamaze Health Birth Practices. You can actually check these off in the success story I'd like to share.  

I got a call in the middle of the night from my client, "We think its time! My wife would like to go to the hospital. Will you meet us at there?" 

My client had been having contractions all day, after not having any Braxton-Hicks or "practice" contractions at all leading up to her due date. We were pretty sure that it was early labor, and I had encouraged her to relax at home all day.(Healthy Birth Practice 1: Let labor begin on its own!)

When I arrived at the hospital she had been checked and she wasn't dilated enough to be considered in active labor yet. She was allowed to roam the halls on the Labor and Delivery floor, walking to get her contractions to progress and stopping to breathe through each one. (Healthy Birth Practice 2: Walk, move around and change positions throughout labor!)

Her husband and I (Healthy Birth Practice 3: Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support) discussed options with her: staying in the hospital and having to follow the "one centimeter per hour" rule or else be augmented, or going to her nearby home to relax and labor in her own environment. She decided to avoid the possibility of unwanted interventions and head home (Healthy Birth Practice 4: Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary!)

When we arrived at her home we all tried to lay down and relax. Ten minutes after I laid down to rest in the living room, my client's water broke! After that her contractions were coming on stronger and she began to labor on the floor in her hallway. She was standing and swaying, on all fours and vocalizing, sitting on the toilet, you name it! (Again, Healthy Birth Practice 2: Walk, move around and change positions throughout labor!). She was in her zone and doing wonderfully.

When I could tell she was getting ready to push we got her clothed and into the car to head back to the hospital. Once in the labor and delivery room she crawled up onto the bed on all fours, following her instinct and her urges to push on her own. She changed positions to a squat, leaning against the back of the raised bed, so that she would be able to catch her own baby. (Healthy Birth Practice 5: Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body's urges to push!)

This is my favorite part of the story, and my favorite part of any birth so far...
While the baby's head was crowning, she reached down and felt his head, and she looked up with a face full of wonderment and said, "His head is coming out and then going back in a little!" She was so calm and intrigued, fully experiencing the birth of her first child. Then she pushed out her baby and pulled him up onto her stomach, all the while calm and grinning like mad!

The husband had tears streaming down his face, and the new mother was immensely pleased with herself. Mama and baby stayed together, skin-to-skin, and began to initiate breastfeeding, for the whole first hour. (Healthy Birth Practice 6: Keep mother and baby together - It's best for mother, baby and breastfeeding)

This post is part of a blog carnival hosted by Science and Sensibility on success stories in implementing the evidence-based Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices. The Blog Carnival Round-Up will appear on on January 28th, 2011.


  1. Thanks for this story - it's great to hear something positive! I attended my first birth the other week, and it was an intense experience. But it's great to remind myself that this won't always be the case!

  2. I love this story! It's good to know that it's still possible to have a positive birthing experience. This is exactly what I want when I have my first child. Thank you so much for sharing!


  3. Thank you for being a part of our blog carnival! This is a fantastic "success story" which illuminates the implementation of all six healthy care practices.


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