Hi Organic Family! It’s Courtney sharing KJ’s home birth story on behalf of the two of us.
We’re sharing both of our birth stories because when we were soon-to-be parents (more than 4 years ago at the time of writing this!), home birth stories were far + few between. We both had been searching nonstop for an honest account that we could resonate with as expectant mom + dad, but never found one.
Meeting that need is the one of the main reasons that we created the OrganicFamilyCEO platform. We want to share how starting + supporting a family can look different + still be incredibly successful.
Now, with 2 beautiful home birth experiences behind us, we are so proud to share what we wish was available to us when we were soon-to-be parents.
24-Hours Before Labor
We spent our normal family Sunday together at home — just the 3 of us + the dogs.
I had been feeling light Braxton-Hicks contractions for most of the day, but nothing was uncomfortable or unusual. At 41 weeks + 2 days gestation, this was expected!
For lunch, we decided to have a Papa Gino’s cheese pizza (my weakness!) + boneless buffalo wings. We figured eating some spicy chicken while bouncing on the yoga ball would only encourage a baby who was ready.
The Braxton-Hicks got more noticeable when I nursed our daughter down to sleep around 8 PM. I could feel some pressure on her cervix, but that wasn’t unusual either. The baby had been knocking on the cervix inconsistently every few days.
Our daughter was born after 41 weeks + 3 days gestation + we remember thinking “how cool would it be to have the same pregnancy length for this baby?“
Kev was finishing work in the kitchen + I was holding off on going to sleep until he was coming to bed, too. To pass the time, I laid in bed with the peanut ball between my legs just to change up positioning + massaged the wiggling baby in my belly.
The baby’s movements were so strong + funny! Throughout the whole pregnancy, I could feel elbows, knees, fingers + toes. I could feel the baby’s hands wiggling at the bottom of my pelvis between big kicks.
I got up from bed to tell Kev that this activity was extra funny tonight, so maybe he should rest just in case this was an unexpected precursor to labor.
Then at 10:30 PM, one of those wiggly baby hands pushed down + we heard a “pop!”. My water broke!
First Phase — Early Labor Begins
I called Kev to bring me paper towels so that I could get upright + go to the bathroom. My water was clear + the adrenaline of excitement was pumping so strongly through me that I started shaking right away!
Kev called our midwife, Jessica, to make sure we were in touch before any of them headed to sleep. We knew it’d be best if I could rest until labor felt too strong to sleep through anymore.
But within 20-minutes, I was upright + unable to sleep. My mucus plug released + just like with our daughter’s birth, that’s when contractions — which we call “waves” — picked up.
I had a couple of waves that were less than 10-minutes apart, so the midwives suggested waiting to see what the next hour or two would bring.
We called my sister, Nikki, to come over to be our daughter’s “birth attendant” in case she woke up during the birth.
In the meantime, Nikki had our cameras out for the photos + videos you see here.
Then 45-minutes later, I had Kev ask the midwives if it was okay to bear down (aka push) + when it was best to get into the birth tub.
Our midwives’ response was to follow my body + if waves were feeling strong + close, then getting into the birth tub was fine.
At this point, Kev said waves were 3-minutes apart.
Also at this point, the hot water was running out from filling the birth tub! Kev + Nikki started to boil huge pasta pots of water to add heat to the cold water filling the rest of the tub. This happened in our last home birth (in a different house), too!
Kev texts the midwives to ask if it’s okay for me to bear down again. They encourage me to follow my body’s lead, but not do more than my body is asking for.
The last text in the midwife group chat is from Kev, which reads “She’s doing awesome. See you all soon!”
The midwives arrive + I remember hearing them quietly enter, but being too in my groove to acknowledge them.
Let’s pause for a moment to give a huge shoutout to Kev. He has made supporting me in this organic motherhood his mission + he put all that he’s learned into full-throttle use this night.
In addition to getting all of the birth equipment setup by himself, Kev was all-in with me physically.
Kev could read my body’s cues spot on. I loved how he coached me with my affirmations + threw in some of his own.
He held my hanging weight + squeezing hands for hours on-end. I drew so much strength from his strength as he breathed through every single wave with me.
And, during transition, when I was whining that I really just didn’t want to do this anymore (that’s actually a really big cue that you’re in transition, by the way!), Kev physically carried me between the tub, the toilet, the doorway + the couch as we changed positions for efficiency.
There wasn’t one part of this birth that Kev didn’t participate in full body + mind. I am so grateful + proud to get to do this life with this man. ♥️
Second Phase — Birthing Baby
When I hit transition, I felt my body literally rolling with the waves.
I was so comfortable being in her own house with the ambience + environment I was used to. We remember feeling so grateful that we were simply home.
Later, we learned from our midwives that I never got a single break between waves. They also said I must have dilated to completion within minutes of my water breaking. Crazy!
Having the ability to move my body freely from start to finish helped me do the most efficient work with each wave.
I had spent most of my time kneeling on both knees in the birth tub. I then alternated lifting one knee up for 2-3 waves, then squatting with both legs for 2-3 waves, then lifting the other knee up for another 2-3 waves.
The midwives suggested doing 2-3 more waves on the toilet before moving to the couch with the peanut ball between my legs for another 2-3 waves. It took me 2-3 waves to get from the pool to the bathroom on the way there + another 2-3 waves from the bathroom to the couch on the way back.
Note: The peanut ball was uncomfortable. I would go so far as to use the word “hate” but it really is a HUGE game changer for making room in the pelvis. So I had a love-hate relationship with the peanut ball. Consider adding it to your arsenal of birth equipment!
After the waves on the couch, I had my first + only physical check of the entire pregnancy. Our midwife inserted a tiny fingertip + said “Oh! Courtney, your baby’s right there! Feel it!”
And I realized that what I had felt when I tried to check myself earlier while on the toilet had actually been the baby’s head! I had thought it was just cervix, which was a little upsetting at that moment because I could’ve sworn she had done more work than that… Turns out, I had!
Being on my back for the wave that followed the midwives’ check was the most uncomfortable part of the birth for me. I quickly asked if I could get back in the birth tub + about 2-3 waves after re-entry there, I felt a massive shift of baby’s head + shoulders all the way down.
That “ring of fire” sensation was GLORIOUS — that was the sign of the finish line!
Listening to my body — especially during that time — has helped me to not tear during either of my births. I did short, quick breaths to slow her waves down as she squatted on both knees while hanging over the edge of the tub.
No one was prompting me to “push” or to lay down. I was in full decision-making capacity + our birth team was quietly on the sidelines available for suggestions when I asked for them.
One wave brought the baby’s head, I got my only break between waves for a minute (figures!), then another wave brought the baby’s shoulders.
Kev got into the birth tub to guide the baby’s head + shoulders out with our midwife coaching him on how to do it. Kev handed our baby to me as I turned around to hold the baby for the first time.
I brought our baby to my chest for that first sweet snuggle. We’ll never forget the feeling of that first hold or the look on Kev’s face when I told him “It’s a BOY!”
Yes, the baby is a little lavender here… that’s completely normal + okay!
Third Phase — Birthing Placenta
Kev hung out with us bonding in the birth tub while I birthed the placenta. We kept the placenta floating in a stainless steel bowl while the birth tub drained + while waiting for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating (delayed cord clamping).
Then we walked from the birth tub to the bedroom with the placenta bowl + baby in-hand.
Our bed was prepped for a quick vaginal check, which revealed that I had “not a scratch!” No tearing, no cuts, nothing.
[Related: How Courtney Avoided Tearing During Birth]
Our son never left my arms the entire time.
Kev cut the cord when the pulsating stopped + the midwives eventually made a placenta print on canvas. We chose not to encapsulate the placenta this time.
The midwives continued with a simple newborn exam — checking weight, vitals, physical structure, reflexes, etc. — all while the baby was on my body.
We had our first breastfeeding latch in bed while the midwives cleaned up the birthing equipment. So began KJ’s first 24-hours after birth.
Thank You to Our Birth Team
We would be remiss to recount this huge event + only vaguely say “our midwife” or “the midwives” through this blog post.
Sarafina, Emily, Tuly (+ Jessica, not pictured) — “The Midwives” — You held the space we wanted + gave us the positioning we needed to birth efficiently + beautifully.
We are so grateful + proud to have had such strong, smart women by our side throughout this entire pregnancy. THANK YOU.
Nikki — Thank you for jumping in for our birth photographer last-minute + being on-call to help with Big Sister in all the ways that you did (+ continue to!). We love sharing this with you!
We’d love to hear from you: what’s your relationship to home birthing?
We’d love to be a resource for parents considering home birth as an option for their family. Please, share your story + ask us anything in the comments below!