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2VBA2C: A Testimony of Physiologic Labor, Unmedicated Back Labor (doula supported, SWFL)

Sincere gratitude to Angelica, mother of 4, for sharing her birth story with us so we can share it with you! There is much wisdom in the words below. Settle in, give it a read, and join us in welcoming Angelica and Alex's littlest love!

vba2c swfl doulas Mindful Birth

"I found out I was pregnant in January 2023. In the late Autumn, I had gotten sick and had been

feeling unwell for weeks. I didn’t think I was pregnant, I just thought I had some illness that wouldn’t go

away. Until finally I took a test, and it was positive! I knew immediately what this meant – I would have to

find a midwife and doula straight away. I would have to find people who would support another VBAC.

Having given birth to my last two babies in Scotland, both six and eight years ago, and my first baby over

ten years ago in Philadelphia, I really didn’t know what resources and support was available to me back

here in Southwest FL. Upon first searching, I was discouraged, only finding restrictive facilities and

providers in my county who were not VBAC supportive and who only followed the medical model of

obstetrics. Plus, in FL there is a law restricting any women who had a prior cesarean birth from giving

birth at a Birth Center. So I widened my search. I came across a doula’s website from Lee County, one

county over. They had an article about how it was possible to have a VBAC in Fort Myers and how their

lobbying had been successful at gaining more provider support and facility policy changes for women who

wanted this option. I contacted the doula straight away because I knew they could help me find the right provider who would support what we wanted: a physiologic 2nd VBA2C.


I had an uplifting conversation with the owner of the doula service and was thrilled when she

recommended a midwife who seemed like a great fit. And so the journey began… It had been six years

since my first VBAC, and while it was a huge triumph, it was, for a variety of reasons a very long and

difficult labor, birth, and recovery, including an OP positioned baby leading to multiple days of prodromal

labor, a subsequent long and intense back labor, a shoulder dystocia and traumatic forceps assisted

delivery that took very long to recover from, a postpartum hemorrhage, and blood transfusion.

Everything was different now. While I did receive wonderful midwifery care during my previous pregnancy

in Scotland, I was also under the “high risk” care of the obstetricians. This made for some very intense

appointments and being pressured by doctors, who at the very end of pregnancy, were trying to coerce

me to do what they wanted me to do. At the time I had armed myself with tons of research – evidence

that proved I was still a good “candidate” for a VBAC, and that it was safe and reasonable. I had armed

myself with evidence on risks and benefits, which helped me stand my ground as I went in for my first

VBAC. However, this preparation was lacking something big (of which I didn’t realize at the time), and as

the end of my pregnancy approached and labor began, I was filled with anxiety, fear, and endless worry

despite knowing that I was making all the right decisions for me and my baby. It wasn’t until this

pregnancy that the lightbulb went off and I realized just what was missing from my previous pregnancy…

and it changed everything.


Physiologic Birth

Despite having had three highly medicalized births – including my first VBAC - we knew there had

to be another way. If my experiences taught me one thing, it’s that I needed to trust physiology. My first

VBAC and the difficult recovery that came with it is what propelled me into a life-changing series of

events, during which I rehabbed my body, became a competitive Powerlifter, a Certified Strength and

Conditioning Specialist, Certified Powerlifting Coach, and Personal Trainer. I spent years strengthening

and conditioning my own body and that of hundreds of other athletes, women, and people from all

backgrounds. I built my business and brand and did everything from train athletes to rehabbing

postpartum moms and helping them get their deep cores and pelvic floors strong and functional again. All

my experiences taught me to understand human physiology on a deep level and to believe without a

shadow of a doubt that the human body is truly an amazing thing – we can adapt it, heal it, grow it,

condition it. It is resilient. It can function beautifully if it is strong and healthy, and it suffers if not given

what it needs.



So going into this fourth pregnancy, I knew I had to find every resource I could on Physiologic

Birth. We needed to be surrounded by a support system that understood and encouraged natural human

physiology. We took three different classes during the course of this pregnancy, including Birthing From

Within, Hypnobirthing (which was a huge game changer for us), and a Peanut Ball course. We learned

Gale Tully’s famous Spinning Babies techniques. I delved into the best literature on physiologic birth. I

read every book I could get my hands on, including Gaskin, England, Dempsey, Odent, Goer, Romano,

Dick-Read, and more. I read countless articles and listened to even more podcasts, which featured

experts on a wide variety of subjects surrounding physiologic birth. I listened daily to positive birth stories

from women around the world. I treated this pregnancy like I was taking a college course and was going

to take the biggest test of my life at the end. The more we learned, the more our eyes were opened to a

totally new world of pregnancy and childbirth… One not filled with screening tests, diagnostics,

ultrasounds, and interventions, but one that made every decision in light of human physiology.

This is what was missing from my previous pregnancy. While I was armed with technical

knowledge of specific risks and benefits, I didn’t truly understand Physiologic Birth - the natural

functioning of the human body during labor through the third stage. How it functions when left

alone, and how to best support it through the process. Unlike my first VBAC, this time there was no

fear and no anxiety. We approached birth from a completely different perspective, because time and time

again the evidence showed us that childbirth is something the human body knows how to do as a

functional process. That the best way to support a woman’s natural physiology is to encourage the natural

hormonal flow of labor – oxytocin and endorphin release. That a woman needs to feel secure, safe, and

private for these hormones to flow and for labor to progress. That choosing the right environment to give

birth is crucial for her to feel safe and secure… Dim lights, quiet, and calm. That Doulas are crucial for

supporting mom and dad and encouraging the natural flow of physiologic labor. That Midwives are the

experts on physiologic birth. That childbirth itself is not a medical event. That childbirth itself is not an

emergency. That facility policies are not always reflective of what evidence shows us to be best for moms

or babies. That exercise is the number one indicator of healthy outcomes for moms and babies. That if

more time and resources were given to pregnant moms regarding healthy lifestyle, there wouldn’t be a

need for so many screenings and diagnostic tests during pregnancy. That just because something seems

“normal,” whether a routine ultrasound, screening, intervention to measure and test in order to diagnose,

does not mean it actually guarantees good outcomes for mom or baby. That if a healthy, normal laboring

woman can work with her body’s physiology, she can embrace functional intensity and birth with ease.

And so much more.


Preparation

Alignment


In addition to the above, from 34 weeks onward, I went weekly to a Prenatal and Pediatric

Chiropractor who practiced the Webster technique. At home I had my daily mobility practices which kept

me loose and feeling good, but after having had a previous OP positioned baby, I wanted to do everything

I could to encourage optimal positioning and loose ligaments. My chiropractor was phenomenal, and we

always looked forward to visiting their office after my midwife appointments. From early in pregnancy, I

only sat on a swiss ball (birthing ball) to encourage spinal movement and optimal pelvic alignment. I

avoided every position that would encourage a posterior pelvic tilt (reclining, slouching, etc). I was mindful

of how I sat in the car, in church, and pretty much everywhere I went. None of this was new to me, as I

worked daily on my own clients’ alignment and postures, but now it felt great to be practicing all of this for

a purpose.


Nutrition and Exercise


I modified my exercise regimen and programmed my resistance training for three times per week

and aerobic activity (mostly brisk walks) a few days a week. I continued my mobility regimen and

stretched as necessary. I felt amazing through the end of my pregnancy. No aches or pains. Unlike my

previous pregnancies, I was strong and mobile.


Midwife Care


I mostly saw the same midwife for the entirety of my pregnancy. We had a lot of good

discussions, and she was willing to give me the individualized care that I needed in order to achieve a

physiologic birth. She knew all the work and preparation I was doing this time around and all of the

circumstances surrounding the choices and outcomes of my previous births. She was an advocate for me

with the entire provider group so that I could receive this individualized care, given that a VBA2C was not

“approved” by their provider group in general. Although I wasn’t comfortable with those policies, I had a

great midwife who was supporting me and advocating for me, and that gave me confidence. I knew this

would likely be the best care I could receive in my situation and my locality. I declined most screening

tests throughout pregnancy, and only had one ultrasound (my first one) at 19 weeks. Informed consent

was important to me, and the power to say “no thank-you” was something I used with confidence

throughout pregnancy.


Classes


Hynobirthing – Alex and I were familiar with Hynobirthing (HB) as it was popular in Scotland when we

lived there. My midwife at the time had let me borrow her book, but at the time we didn’t take a class and

so it wasn’t something we ended up using before. Now, we were excited to find a HB instructor right in

Fort Myers, and it was a fantastic class to take together. HB, like many other physiologic childbirth

“methods” is simply a way to work with physiology. To condition the mind and body over time (before

labor) to work together synergistically for labor and birth. Again, we were all about anything that promoted

natural human physiology. The instructor, Wendy, was wonderful, and once again, Alex and I were the

only “seasoned” parents in the class – the others being first time parents. We practiced the HB methods

every day, listened to the relaxation tracks when going to sleep every night, and the affirmations every

single day. Alex surprised me with colorful affirmation sticky notes, that said some of the affirmations on

them with cute stickers. He put them in random places around the house where I would find them – in the

kitchen cabinets, bathroom wall, laundry room, next to the bed… it was a super encouraging constant

reminder. What we think over and over again is what we believe to be true, and these little affirmation

notes were a super positive daily reminder of everything I had been practicing.


Birthing from Within – Based upon Pam England’s book Birthing From Within, Christine, the owner of the

doula services, led this four week class. It was awesome for Alex and I to have this early opportunity to

take a class together which got us thinking and talking about birth regularly. For me it was so encouraging

to take a class that supported physiologic birth – to not feel alone in the journey.


Peanut Balls – I took and online course about using peanut balls during labor as a natural augmentation

tool and a way to use physiology to open the pelvis through the different stages in labor.


Early Labor

July 30 th - 39 weeks and 3 days. At 5:00PM I felt a small rush and quickly discovered that my waters

might be leaking. It was a super exciting moment since this is something I had never experienced before

and because it meant that my baby was finally coming! It was small leaking usually when standing

upright. I thought my surges would start up, but it was pretty slow the first night. When I went to bed, I had

some surges during the night, but nothing too long or strong. The next day I had a normal day and my

plan was to “ignore it until I couldn’t ignore it anymore.” In order to achieve a physiologic birth, we knew

how important it was that I labor as long as possible at home during early labor and wait until I had

established a consistent, active labor before going to the hospital.


July 31st – A normal day at home. Surges coming every so often, but not necessarily getting stronger. I

did my mobility and decided to do the Myles Circuit – a 1.5 hour series of three positions (similar to

Spinning Babies). This felt really good, but now I wanted to get moving. After dinner we decided to go on

a walk around the lake near our house. It was a beautiful evening, and the walk was slow but refreshing.

When we got back home, I decided to use my breast pump to see if I could get things coming more

regularly. I was in my comfortable side-lying position on the couch and the pumping definitely got the

surges to be longer, stronger and closer together. I was texting with our Doula, Tara, and followed her

suggestion of a pattern of 10 minutes on each breast, 10 minutes off for 40 minutes. It worked, and my

surges were feeling strong and great. Our relaxation techniques and my breathing were totally synched

up with each surge, and I was excited for it to get stronger! We went to bed. I had surges all through the

night. I was having about 3 per hour. Each wave would wake me up, I would relax through it, and then I’d

fall right back asleep. It was wonderful, and I could tell that all my Hypnobirthing training was helping me

to be happy, calm, and completely in sync with my body. In the middle of the night I could tell I was losing

my mucus plug, and this was also very encouraging.


Birthing Day

August 1st – 39 weeks and 5 days. Another hot Florida summer day! Coincidentally, I had an appointment

with my midwife this morning and a chiropractic appointment immediately following. Couldn’t have been

better timing. Upon waking, I felt well rested and really good having worked through so many surges

through the night. As soon as I got up and started getting ready for my appointment, the waves were

coming closer and closer together and getting stronger, lasting for about a minute and 4-5 minutes apart.

It was a wonderful feeling! I was still feeling strong and confident. I had hoped and prayed for a daytime

labor and birth, and it looked like I was going to get it!


7:30AM - In this short time getting ready to go, it became clear to us that we needed to take our bags and

car seat with us, as we knew we wouldn’t be coming home – at some point today we would definitely be

heading to Health Park to have this baby.


8:45AM - I had my pillows and blankets comfortably in the car so I could do a side-lying position in the

back seat as we drove to the midwife appt. It was an hour away. I took the breast pump with me, but only

used it for about 10 minutes as I could tell the surges were established and coming consistently now. Alex

had taken the affirmation sticky notes and put them on the back of the seat so I could see them which

was very comforting. I was using the “Freya” app (a HypnoBirthing friendly app) to time and do my calm

breathing through every surge. I had uploaded Marie Mongan’s HB tracks to the app so I could listen to

that the whole car ride. Having had daily practice with the relaxation and affirmation tracks, I felt at peace

and very calm.


9:45AM - An hour later we arrived at the midwife’s office, and I was excited to see her. However, as soon

as I got out of the car, I could tell something was different. My body was starting to hold tension in

between the surges. It was a contraction of the lower uterine segment that didn’t release. Every step I

took I felt like I was about to have the next surge. (At this point I am guessing I was now in what they

would term “established active labor” – around 4cm.) This was the first sign that I was going to start

experiencing back labor, which was puzzling because unlike my previous OP baby, this baby was in a

beautiful OA position. What we didn’t know (until she was born) is that she had both hands up by her

face.


My surges slowed down in the office, but we listened to the baby’s heartbeat through a surge and that

was wonderful. She was holding a steady, strong heartbeat even through the surge, and I knew we were

working together through labor. This was one of my birth affirmations – that I wasn’t doing it alone, but

that baby and I were doing this together. That it was her release of oxytocin that initiated labor. That she

had special reflexes to move through the birth path. That she knew how to spin and rotate through the

pelvis and come gently into this world. It encouraged me.


My midwife and I were on the same page. We knew that the main goal was a physiologic labor and birth. I

needed to avoid the well-known “cascade of interventions.” This meant no vaginal exams until hospital

triage, no 3rd trimester ultrasounds, no speculum exam to see if my waters were releasing, only going to

the birthplace when I was far along in labor. Our plan now was to go to my chiropractic appt and see how

things progressed. As we were walking out of the midwife’s office, I had the same feeling as before.

Constant tension and muscle contraction between surges. This time I was not able to get comfortable in

my side-lying position in the car. It was only a 13-minute drive to the chiropractor, but I was excited to get

out of the car again.


11:25AM - It was a hot day! The walk from the car into the chiropractor’s office proved difficult, as every

step I took felt like a surge was coming on. It probably took about 10 minutes just to walk from the parking

lot inside the building! I felt so comforted when I walked in. The girls were excited I was in labor, and it felt

good to be surrounded by people who also supported physiologic birth. I slowly made my way back to the

adjustment room. My chiropractor very gently gave me an adjustment. I was moving so slowly, as I felt

like the tension wasn’t letting up. It was clear to everyone that I was in active labor!


12:30PM - Once we got back to the car, I knew I needed a different position to try and relax my lower

uterine segment. Alex folded down the seats and I had more space. Nonetheless, even in my most

relaxed position, I could still feel the constant tenson between surges. Whereas previously I was “back to

normal” and totally calm and happy for those few minutes in between surges, now I felt like there was no

break. The back labor had begun. Having had experienced this in my previous labor, it was a familiar but

very intense feeling.


Knowing that we needed to wait to go to the hospital until the time was right and I was very established in

labor, Alex asked if we should get lunch. At this point I recognized that I couldn’t hold conversation

anymore and couldn’t really give him a straight answer. I was now in what everyone calls “Laborland.” My

thinking brain was off and primal brain was on. I told him I just wasn’t getting a break now in between the

surges and was not able to get my muscles to relax. Everything was progressing so rapidly. The surges

were getting stronger. At this point I knew it was time to head to Health Park. I was texting with Tara, who

at this point asked if she should come, to which I said Yes!


Arrived at Health Park

1:00PM – We pulled in to the “expectant mother” parking space right near the entrance to Health Park.

And although the entrance was only a few hundred yards away, I struggled to walk inside as the constant

tension was preventing me from walking well. Before leaving the side of the car, I had my first surge

where I needed counter-pressure on my back. I leaned into the trunk, and Alex gave me counter

pressure. The back labor was ramping up, and I was eager to get inside. It was very hot, but having a

sunny daytime labor was a good feeling too. We made it halfway to the entrance when I needed to stop

again. Someone inside must have seen us, and a woman came out with a wheelchair to push me in. At

this point my eyes were closed most of the time, as I was focusing on every sensation of my body.

1:30PM - We got back to triage, and the surges were getting stronger. Lying down in bed during labor

was something I knew I wanted to avoid as much as possible, so I waited for the next surge to come

before I lied down to have her check my cervix. Just before lying down, my waters rushed out. It was

amazing and a huge relief! (I didn’t want to be “on the clock” for ruptured membranes.) She checked me

and I was 6 cm! A truly awesome moment. Alex and I were so relieved and happy knowing we made

every right decision to avoid early labor at the hospital. I had been doing all the right things - My labor was

well established and rapidly progressing. I didn’t have to spend any time in triage. It was such a relief

when she said they would be bringing me right upstairs to L&D. On the way up, I was in a wheelchair and

had to stop about halfway, as I had a big surge and needed Alex to give counter pressure on my back

before we could move on.


2:00PM – We were led to a large, private room in L&D, and I was still in my “Laborland” zone… still

hearing my HypnoBirthing tracks and gentle music in the background, breathing with every surge, eyes

closed most of the time. Arriving to the birthing room was the most involved point of labor – a friendly,

young nurse having me sign lots of paperwork, another two nurses trying to put my heploc in (a small

something I had agreed to). Fortunately, my labor was so established that none of this made labor stall or

regress. I still felt safe, private, and secure. The environment was calm and positive. The hormones were

flowing. Just what I needed to stay in my zone and keep my body going. The two midwives came in.


Denise was so gentle and calm which was comforting. I was blessed to have her on call that day.

Because I had never had any 3rd trimester ultrasounds (to avoid a cascade of interventions and bc I knew

it wouldn’t necessarily be an accurate predictor of my baby’s size), she gently asked how big my other

babies were – she was screening for risk of shoulder dystocia. I told her, and I was also prepared to sign

the paperwork denying having a repeat third cesarean. None of this got me out of my flow.

My doula, Tara, walked in and seeing her was also comforting and reassuring. The midwives left, and at

this point Alex never left my side. My eyes were closed, but I think Tara closed the shades so it would be

darker and turned on some flickering faux candles. This is when labor ramped up a notch.


Intense Back Labor

I was glad to get out of bed and try and find any position that would relieve the constant muscle tension I

felt between surges. At this point the back labor was getting very intense. I no longer felt the surges

pulling up through the front of my body. Everything was in my back now. I had a couple of surges

standing, and each time I would say “my back!” Tara was so quick to apply her hands and thumbs at just

the right place to give the counter pressure, while Alex supported me from the front and talked to me with

a constant stream of affirmations. It was amazing how we all worked together as a team. Tara knew our

plan and was ready. She grabbed the birth ball, and I sat in a forward lean hanging over Alex for the next

several surges. This is when I realized I needed to get my legs to relax as much as possible, because it

would take some of the constant-contraction feeling away. Alex was kneeling in front of me, and I let my

body go limp and lean forward even more. The next two surges were much more manageable. For the

first time in hours, I felt like I got a break in between them, which was a HUGE game changer. I can do

anything for one minute – I can relax and breathe my way down through a surge for one minute, but

without the breaks in between, the entire challenge becomes getting relaxed and refreshed for the next

one. It was a night-and-day difference, and I hoped that it would continue. Unfortunately, it did not.

Time seemed to be flying by and every surge felt stronger and way more intense than the last. There was

never a point when I felt that labor was stalling – literally every surge felt like it was making “progress.” I

could tell how effective every surge was and I continued with my “body opening” visualizations. It was like

running a race – every surge was rapidly bringing me to the finish line.


Transition

Tara asked if I wanted to get in the shower to have the water hit my back. At this point I was up for

anything – water, rebozo, side lying with a peanut ball, inversion… anything! So I said sure. Alex was still

supporting me on the ball while she got the water going. They helped me into the bathroom, as the

constant tension felt really intense, and it was so hard to walk. I stepped into the tub and immediately

wanted to escape the hot water. I had already been hot and sweaty, and it felt awful. I’m sure in another

scenario I would have loved it. The hot water was hitting my back, the next surge started, and the

intensity was so great I was not able to relax or breathe through that surge. Although I didn’t know it at the

time, this was the end of transition – the most intense phase of labor. We were all fully prepared that I

would have a “crisis of confidence” moment during labor, and this was it. Alex and Tara knew exactly how

to keep me going through it and help me refocus.


I knew the baby was coming now… Not only did I feel the constant tension, but now I also felt it way

lower. My eyes were closed the whole time, but I could hear the midwives come in at that moment. I could

hear Denise ask if I wanted to be checked in the shower, but I got out of the tub as quickly as I could

because I absolutely did not want to have another surge in there. I opened my eyes to Alex and Tara

supporting me right in front and told them, “I feel like she’s coming! I feel like I’m going to poop her out!”

To which Tara excitedly responded, “that’s great! That is just what we want!” (I said that because I knew

that was the exact sensation I would feel when baby was ready to move through the birth canal. I wanted

everyone to know without a doubt that she was coming now.)


Despite the intensity of the transition phase, I was super excited at that moment. I couldn’t believe how

quickly everything was progressing. I was thrilled at how fast everything seemed. I was being helped out

of the bathroom, still feeling like my eyes were closed, and Denise said, “do you want to birth on hands

and knees?” I can’t even describe how happy that made me – Not only were we finally at this point, but

also that I had an amazing support team around me that encouraged the physiologic birth I wanted. The

back labor was so incredibly intense to an extreme level, but labor was progressing so quickly! I very

happily got on hands and knees and was ready to “breathe the baby down” and push through the next

surge.


3:20PM - Second Stage

The excitement in the room ramped up and so did the back labor. It felt amazing to finally be easing my

baby down and out. But the intensity of my back labor was getting to extreme levels. It took every ounce

of will and strength, all physical and mental conditioning I had within me, all the support from Alex and my

team to make it through this most extreme intensity. Alex was still a constant, steady rock of support up

by my head. He spoke through each surge, guided me through affirmations and was positive through my

crisis-of-confidence moments. At this point, with every surge I would yell, “my back!” and Tara would be

right on it to give strong counter pressure right where I needed it – a saving grace.


I was vocalizing loudly through each surge, and I could feel the baby moving down. My eyes were still

closed. I was so in tune with every sensation going on in my body. While I could feel the surges coming

and the baby moving down, those feelings felt wonderful and so different compared to the back labor that

would overcome every surge. It was almost as if I were experiencing two labors at the same time, one

right on top of the other – one was normal, manageable, and everything I imagined it would be. The other

was the excruciating intensity in my back. I could tell that not getting a break in between these pushing

surges because of the back labor was starting to put me into a fear-tension-pain cycle. I was very

cognizant of this. I was doing amazing, but in my crisis moments, I cried out twice in absolute

desperation, “help me!” I opened my eyes and looked at Alex. He was smiling and kept affirming me with

all my affirmations. Opening my eyes and looking at his calm smile gave me so much reassurance and

really helped me regroup and continue forward. I heard someone say, “she’s so strong!” and then I heard

Alex tell them I was a powerlifting state champion… it made me laugh on the inside and hearing them all

having a good time also encouraged me to keep going.


There were about three more surges on my hands and knees. I grabbed Alex so tightly and cried out for

my back each time. The intensity was at its peak now, and there was a lot of vocalizing and yelling

through what was certainly the most intense physical experience of my entire life. I was able to follow the

flow of my body and breathe/push how I wanted to in my own time – it had been important to me that I

avoid directed pushing and allow my body to flow and work naturally with this birth. Denise asked if I

wanted to try pushing in between surges. Because of the constant contraction-like tension between

surges, it was actually really hard to tell when a surge was beginning until I felt the overwhelming

sensations in my back. I was willing to try anything that would get baby out faster, but I quickly realized it

was exhausting not to catch my breath and at least try to relax between surges. I remember two times

saying, “I can’t breathe!” because I just wasn’t getting a break. Amazingly, I then had two surges where I

got a break in between. The tension seized, and I felt a true break between surges. It was a complete

night-and-day difference. Suddenly, I felt like I could recharge, relax, and mentally get into my calm state

before the next surge began. I still can’t believe what an immediate difference that made. It made me see

how different “normal” labor was than back labor. It didn’t last long, however, and the next few surges

ramped up in intensity. I could feel that baby didn’t move very much with those surges, and Denise asked

if I would like to try a different position. I already knew that I wanted to birth on either hands and knees,

upright, or in a side-lie (some of the best physiological positions). She asked if I’d like to do a side-lying

position, and I gladly agreed. My eyes were still closed, but I heard a sweet voice right near my head – it

was the baby’s doctor, ready to be there when our sweet girl was born. She helped me with my

positioning at the top. My next few surges were very effective. I could feel baby moving down again. I

curled my body and pushed intuitively and with all of my strength.


I could hear the room getting excited with each push, as baby was getting closer and closer. With each

surge, I cried out for my back, curled my body, and pushed as hard as I could. I knew there would be no

“easing baby out.” I could tell she needed every ounce of my strength to get her out. Between surges, I

yelled out for my leg - my top leg was cramping badly and I needed it lifted up the entire time. My eyes

were still closed. Finally, I could feel her head! With the next three or four surges, I could feel her head

crowning more and more. It was exactly what I imagined it would feel like. That sensation was amazing,

but it was layered with the intense back sensations that overcame all other feelings. Everyone was getting

excited as her head crowned more and more through those surges, and this made me use all my resolve

to get baby out. I wondered how long it would take to get her through crowning and why it was taking so

long (her hands near her face). Finally, her head was born. Although I could faintly hear other voices, all I

could really hear the whole time was Alex right by my head. I knew this was the moment everyone was

waiting for – having experienced a shoulder dystocia in my previous birth, I knew the midwives would be

hyper vigilant in ensuring a smooth birth of baby’s body. I was so relieved to get her head out and was

way too excited to wait – I worked with my body and gave another push, and I could feel her shoulders

come out and then her whole, warm, slippery body be born.


4:52PM – Ariadne was born.

Feeling her body be born was one of the most incredible things I have ever felt. The team immediately

helped get me get on my back and got sweet Ariadne skin-to-skin on my belly. No words can describe

how amazing it felt to finally have my baby on me! My eyes were still closed, and as Whapio Diane

Bartlett famously said, I was fully integrating everything I just experienced; I was prepared for the

uncontrollable shaking that started up pretty much immediately – I had an unmedicated labor, which

meant the hormones could flow freely. I was holding and touching my baby. She was so warm and

perfect. My eyes were still closed, I was catching my breath, and I was expressing, “I’m so happy! She’s

so perfect!” over and over again. The entire experience was being integrated, and I let my body have time

to shake and process.



doula baby fort myers

When I finally opened my eyes, I got to see her beautiful face and soak it all in. The midwives were

assessing the bleeding, and all seemed well. Denise was preparing to repair a sulcus tear that happened

in the same spot as my last birth. Being completely unmedicated and having the rush of adrenaline, I felt

very alert. I was able to have good conversation with the midwives, Alex, and Tara. What a difference

from my previous births! Being unmedicated also had a beautiful effect on Ariadne – she was wide

awake, alert and looking around. She had lots of fuzzy red hair.


About 20 minutes later, the cord was silver and limp, and Alex had the honor of cutting it. Delayed cord

clamping was important to us, and it was wonderful to work with midwives who practiced it routinely. They

asked if I felt ready to birth her placenta. Within about a minute, I felt a surge coming on and was eager to

birth the placenta as quickly as possible. I gave one big push, and it flew out! At this point, I gave my

consent for active third stage management – pitocin and fundal massage.


Denise was very gentle with me. Eventually the shaking stopped; my body was regulating, and I felt

amazing (albeit very sweaty and hungry after what felt like the biggest workout of my life).

Ariadne and I were skin-to-skin for over an hour. The oxytocin “high” was amazing. She did the “breast

crawl” and was a strong little girl. She inched her way over to the breast and started feeding all in her own

time. Tara opened the curtains and the refreshing sunlight streamed into the room. They brought dinner

and it felt so good to eat something. Then they weighed Ariadne… this was the moment of truth. Having

declined all third trimester ultrasound (growth scans) due to wanting to avoid a premature cascade of

interventions, everyone wanted to know just how big she was. A perfect 8lbs 1oz, right in line with my

other babies. This is a testament to taking care of my body – good nutrition, exercise and holistically

taking care of the body will often negate the need for screenings and diagnostics which often lead to

worry and fear. Having had so much confidence in my body and living a balanced, wholesome lifestyle

meant that I didn’t have to be worried about those tests. I knew my body would never make a baby that

was “too big” for me to birth, and I knew that it wasn’t my baby’s size that caused the previous shoulder

dystocia. I had to trust my intuition and what I knew to be true to break free from the status quo of

screenings-diagnostic-fear-worry cycle.



I said thank you and goodbye to the midwives. Alex held Ariadne and Tara helped me eat. We then said

our goodbyes and huge thank you to Tara, who was a calm and comforting rock of support throughout the

whole journey. I will never take for granted how amazing it is to get out of bed after delivery and walk

without pain. I felt the typical “hollow” feeling in my trunk… like something is missing, but I didn’t feel pain.

I got in the wheelchair, held my beautiful baby, and we made our way upstairs to the recovery room.

The recovery room was spacious, comfortable, and most notably – private! This was very unlike our

previous experiences in a shared recovery room. Alex was able to stay overnight on a sofa bed. We had

a private bathroom, and two large windows let lots of natural light in. It was quiet and peaceful. We

soaked up all those beautiful first hours with Ariadne. I had gotten the daytime birth I wanted so badly,

and now the sun was setting, and we couldn’t be happier. It felt awesome to get out of bed on my own

and be able to use the bathroom just hours after giving birth. I was immensely grateful for how well

everything went and how good I felt compared to my previous difficult experiences. I was moving slowly

and felt the normal weakness in my trunk, but my body generally felt strong. Years of conditioning was

really an advantage now.



We called the kids to tell them the news, and they were obviously thrilled! The night nurse was young and very sweet. She helped me get Ariadne latched well on the breast, as I was having trouble with the first positions I tried. The football hold seemed to do the trick. I was grateful for all the tips she gave me. Alex and I talked about her amazing birth while we cuddled her. Then exhaustion set in, and we all tried to sleep… our first night with our sweet little girl. Ariadne mostly wanted to be held. Through the night, I would feed her and cuddle skin-to-skin, and Alex would change her and walk her around. We enjoyed a very peaceful morning. I still felt weak, but good. I was excited to get a shower. The kids

arrived in the late afternoon, and it was wonderful seeing them meet their new baby sister. With a two-year gap between the older three, and now a six-year gap between the baby, this was a completely new experience for them.



The next morning, we were ready for discharge. Ariadne was ready to go home for the first time!


Ariadne Beatrice Crawford

8lbs 1oz

Born 8/1/23 @ 4:52pm


Lee Health Community Midwives

Health Park, Fort Myers


Mindful Birth Doulas

Tara Hoverson




Thank you Angelica for sharing your masterpiece of a birth story! We could not be more happy for you and your entire family!


In doula support,

Tara + the Mindful Birth Doulas


-It's not too late to hire your doula!

-Serving Naples, Fort Myers, Cape Coral

-Labor doulas and postpartum doulas


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