I've had a lot of questions about my "unconventional" birth, so I thought I would share ALL of the details with you. Disclaimer: I think that all births are beautiful. I'm sharing this because I am passionate about changing the negative perception that encompasses pregnancy + childbirth. I want every woman to feel empowered when making informed decisions regarding her birth plan. That being said, the best birth for me was completely natural (zero medications, no IVs) and not in a hospital.
If you know me at all, you know that I'm a fairly small person. So, at 40+ weeks of my pregnancy I was feeling pretty uncomfortable. I had officially gained close to 30 pounds and 99% of that pregnancy weight went straight to my belly. I was a sight to see, that's for sure. I was very active throughout my entire pregnancy, but the last two weeks I kicked my activity up a bit -- I was getting adjusted twice a week and speed walking in the sand on the beach. I just wanted to keep my pelvis moving -- I got a lot of funny looks, but it was worth it because it helped contribute to my six hour labor in the end!
I woke up on Saturday (August 19th) with ZERO signs of labor; I was 40 weeks and 4 days. My birth center would allow me to deliver with them up to 42 weeks, so I wasn't sweating it just yet BUT I was also extremely ready for him to come. Ethan + I had heard of this magical "labor inducing" salad from a café up in Los Angeles, so he thought it would be a novel experience to make the trip to try it. So, we did.
After the three hour drive, I ate "THE" salad (Ethan had pizza) and then we hopped back in the car to go home. I laid down in the back seat during the trip home, still with ZERO signs of labor. We got home around 5pm and were so exhausted, so we laid down in bed. Not even an hour later -- with no signs or warning -- my water broke with an audible POP! It was crazy, SO much water was everywhere (thank God for the water-proof mattress cover!).
Here we go...
When I called my midwife at 6pm to tell her the news about my water, I started having a weird pain on my pubic bone. Since I wasn't having any contractions yet (or, so I thought) she told me to eat dinner, take a shower, sleep and call her back when I was in active labor. I went downstairs to try to eat and called my sister (who is studying midwifery). By the end of our conversation, she told me that I had six contractions within the 30 minutes we were on the phone. I was shocked! I was still having the strange pain around my pubic bone, but I was in denial that they were actual contractions. The entire time I was able to walk and carry on conversation, so I thought it was only early labor.
So, at 7:30 I called my midwife again to tell her my contractions were over a minute long and five minutes apart. She was surprised that I was progressing so quickly and told me to call her back when the contractions were three minutes apart. At this point, all of the labor hormones kicked in and I got sick, so I hopped in the shower to clean myself up. I was expecting my contractions to slow a little with the hot water, but they didn't. By 8:30, my contractions were 90 seconds apart!
Ethan called our midwife and doula to meet us at the birth center, we grabbed a few snacks and hit the road! Luckily, there's no traffic in San Diego at this time of night so we got to Best Start by 9pm. My midwife started filling the birth tub as soon as we got there. As part of my birth plan, I didn't want my cervix checked at all (I felt like it was unnecessary) so I was able to strip down and jump in the tub right away.
The tub was so warm and relaxing. I made sure that I constantly moved my hips and legs to keep the contractions going. Our doula, Becca, arrived just after I got in the tub. She started a diffuser of lavender and wild orange essential oils while my midwife set out LED candles and turned on some soothing music. With all the lights dimmed, it felt like a spa -- very calm + peaceful.
My contractions continued in intensity -- at this point I was no longer able to carry a conversation during them. Ethan was in charge of applying counter-pressure on my sacrum. Becca held my hands, fed me watermelon + coconut water, and gave me gentle reminders to breathe. My midwife left me to labor freely, only checking in intermittently to monitor Ollie's heart rate with the doppler.
***Side note -- I'm scared that this story is sounding too flowery (which -- it really was magical). But, I also want to state that even though I had a quick + easy labor, it was still painful. However, at no point in time did the pain feel overwhelming to me. During one contraction, I vividly remember understanding why some women choose to have pain meds but I never had any regrets doing it all natural.
Around midnight, I was having intense back labor during my contractions, so my midwife suggested that she check my cervix to feel Ollie's positioning within my pelvis. I agreed to let her check and she then told me to reach in to feel his head -- he was already out of my cervix! We were all shocked and soon my body was overcome with the urge to start pushing.
It's really happening!
During the pushing phase, I took my time and really listened to my body. It was nice because I no longer felt the pain from the contractions. In between pushes, we were all chatting and laughing over the salad story. It was actually kind of fun! By this point, Ethan was sitting in the tub behind me -- he was so supportive and involved the entire time. Once I felt a little bit of burning (really -- only a little!), I asked if Ollie was crowning and sure enough he was! Pushing his head out was the hardest part, but seeing his head underwater was something I will never forget (I remember making a joke about how huge his head was)! I easily pushed the rest of his body out a minute later at 12:57am.
My midwife immediately placed him on my chest and the three of us sat in the tub together for 15 minutes. Ethan cut the cord once it stopped pulsing and we made our way to the bed. Once I delivered the placenta, I was able to rest and nurse Oliver for the first time. My midwife performed an exam on him and me. She was so impressed that I delivered a 9 pound, 5 ounce baby without any tearing!
Five hours after his arrival, we made our way back home as a family of three. It was only 6am, so Ethan made blueberry pancakes once we got home. They were the best pancakes I've ever eaten. The first few days with Oliver were so surreal. I wouldn't sleep because I could not stop staring at him. The miracle of birth will always amaze me.
Dr. Ally Pierce
As a fifth generation chiropractor, Dr. Ally has been an advocate for the chiropractic profession throughout her entire life. As a child, she witnessed neurologically focused chiropractic care transform the lives of many patients seen by her family. This made a lasting impression that led Dr. Ally to pursue her own career in chiropractic. Following in the footsteps of her family, Dr. Ally completed her doctoral studies at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa where she graduated magna cum laude. During her studies at Palmer, Dr. Ally completed post-doctorate coursework through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and is a certified Webster Technique provider. She now practices in San Diego, California and her practice, Serving Life Chiropractic serves many moms and babies in her community.