real stories

Melissa N. second time mom.

Melissa Neptune came to Baby+Co. for her second child’s birth – and got the birth she always wanted. Read her story to learn more about her use of hydrotherapy, older child’s presence at the birth, and advice to other parents whose families are skeptical of the birth center model.

How closely did your birth follow your birth plan?

This was my second time giving birth. My first birth had also been with Jualeah at Duke, and I followed her to Baby+Co. This time, I had done my research and knew I wanted to have it be all natural, without any narcotics.

In the birth suite, I labored using water and the birthing ball. Jualeah eventually suggested the birthing stool, and even though I hadn’t used it before, it ended up working so well for me. I got out of the water and did practice pushes on it, and ended up being ready to push while on the stool. The nurse was like – you’re ready! Let’s get this going.

Looking back, I would not change a thing. I got everything I wanted, even down to the exact date and time and who was present at the birth. Jualeah was on call, so she was able to deliver my baby. I had been having a lot of false labor and was concerned, so it was a relief that things ended up going to plan.

When did you realize you were in labor?

I was at Target, and my hip was in excruciating pain. I thought my water had broke – it hadn’t. Jualeah said to come in to Baby+Co., and she checked me. I was dilated to about 7 centimeters and she confirmed that we were definitely going to have the baby today. “Are you ready?” she asked.

Jualeah checked me around lunchtime. She estimated that he would come around 4 in the afternoon, and he ended up being born around 7 in the evening.

My water didn’t break until labor, but I was dilated.

Who was present at your son’s birth?

I had the most incredible labor support system. My midwife Jualeah was there, of course, as well as a nurse from Baby+Co. My doula, Keira, was present, who is also a dear friend. I also had two other friends who I work with there, just giving me back rubs and massages.

My husband and my little girl, who is two, were also there. My daughter fell asleep, and when she heard me screaming when I was pushing, she woke up, and she was like, “My brother’s coming!” – so she got to see and experience everything. We have pictures of her holding him. I’m so grateful that she woke up just in time to see her brother delivered.

My husband was right in there during the birth. He caught our son, Ra, when he came out. I was so proud of him.

What pain management strategies worked?

Based on the childbirth class I took at Baby+Co. (The Birth Journey), I knew that water and the birthing ball were tools I wanted to use. Warm water, getting in the tub, the hydrotherapy – that was just my saving grace.

Based on your first birth, what was something expected during this birth that didn’t happen?

With my daughter (first birth), I tore – badly. I also never healed properly. If you tear during a birth, you are more likely to tear during subsequent births. So even though we were being careful, my care team was preparing me for the possibility that I might tear. They were going to try to avoid it, obviously, and take a lot of care with treating that area.

Incredibly, I did not tear during my second birth. Jualeah was just constantly massaging castor oil in that spot. What was especially remarkable to me was that my son was so much bigger than my daughter – he was almost 9 pounds, and she was just under 6.

Do you remember anything that your midwife (Jualeah) said to you during labor?

“I didn’t even know you had this much strength.”

I remember reaching that moment where I didn’t have anything else to give, and she affirmed how much strength I had.

What was the most challenging thing about the birth?

Pre-labor was challenging, because I had so much false labor beforehand. But once I was in actual labor, it went quickly.

How did it feel to hold your baby for the first time?

With my daughter, bonding wasn’t immediate. With my son, the natural delivery, you feel everything. All the hormones. The total rush. So I wasn’t out of it, I wasn’t drugged. I can’t even describe the feeling. Just the overall experience makes me want to have another baby.

Also, I was the only person who knew that we were having a boy. So my husband was surprised – everyone in the room was surprised. With my daughter, we chose not to find out, but this time I wanted to know the sex. We got a picture of my husband being just so excited when Ra came out.

What was the afterbirth period like? How long did you stay at Baby+Co. after your birth ?

We came home that same night. Totally different than my first birth.

A few hours later I was working on my daughter’s birthday invitations. I thought I would be so sore. Because it was a natural delivery, I expected the recovery to be worse. But I felt great. After giving birth to my daughter (in the hospital), I felt broken. But this time, everything went so well! I definitely attribute it to both the delivery as well as the prenatal care and preparation I had with classes at Baby+Co.

What advice would you give to other birthing parents who want to deliver with a midwife?

Block out the naysayers. I had family who I had to tune out – they’re misinformed about midwifery and haven’t done the necessary research. Don’t let anyone deter you from what you want to do.

You’ll have folks say, why do you want to do it naturally? Why put yourself through that? But our bodies are meant to do this. It just got to a point where I was like, I’m not going to listen to anyone. I don’t need other people planting negative seeds in my space.

Block out the negativity. Trust yourself.

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