Every Question You Need to Ask on your Hospital Tour

Every Question You Need to Ask on your Hospital Tour

35+ GOOD QUESTIONS — for a hospital or birth center tour

This is a list of every question we could think to ask during a birth facilities tour. It’s a freaking lot of questions, guys. You won’t need all of them. In fact, most of them will be answered by your tour guide along the way. And some answers won’t affect your unique birth vision, anyway. So, feel free to use this guide as a way to jog your brain to ask the questions that are most important to you.

We suggest you to ask open-ended, rather than yes/no questions, wherever possible. “How often do you see…?” “What do families who birth here usually choose…?” “How will you support us during…?” “What are the policies regarding XXX procedure or situation…?”

Many of these questions can also be asked of your doctor or midwife during prenatal visits. Sometimes, what a care provider is comfortable with and what hospital policy allows don’t match. It never hurts to double check.

 

  1. How many births take place here on an average day? How many of those are caesarean births? How many are VBACs? How many are unmedicated? How many are induced? What induction methods are used most often?

 

  1. How often do you see doulas or birth photographers attending births? How do you feel about their presence? 

 

  1. How many people can be in the delivery room at once? Does that number change during Flu Season? Is there a place for my partner or birth team to rest? Are my older children welcome during labor and birth? Are my older children welcome? Do you have policies in place for unwanted visitors? (Make sure to assess the rooms. Do you feel comfortable there?)

 

  1. Are there any situations that may take me away from my birth partner and/or doula? (epidural administration, cesarean birth prep, triage, etc.)

 

  1. What are the facility’s policies around birth photography and videography? What are the facility’s policies around doulas? Is there any paperwork that either will need to sign?

 

  1. How often are students or residents present during labor? Can I decline their presence if I change my mind about their attendance? Who should I contact if we need to explore a staff change?

 

  1. How many nurses/midwives/OBs are on during a shift? How long are shifts and at what times do they end?

 

  1. Will I be in the same room for birth and recovery? Will I ever share a room with another family? Are TVs and internet access available?

 

  1. What does triage look like — is there a special triage area or a will a private labor room be used? Will my partner and doula be allowed to stay with me? Under what circumstances would I NOT be admitted (i.e, would I be encouraged to leave at under 4 or 6 cm dilation, or a certain contraction pattern like 4-1-1)? How often is there a significant wait for an open labor room? How often are families turned away because there are no free labor rooms?

 

  1. Can I decline an IV? Can I opt for a Hep-lock instead of an IV? Can fluids be administered intermittently? Can the IV be disconnected after a course of fluids, antibiotics or Pitocin are finished, or turned off? Will I still be able to use water therapy with an IV placed?

 

  1. What is the typical protocol regarding Group B Strep? Is a rapid test available? If I test positive, how often will antibiotics be administered? Will a positive test affect any other part of my labor care or progress?

 

  1. Am I encouraged to eat and drink during labor? Under what circumstances would I not be permitted to eat (with an epidural)?

 

  1. What is the typical protocol for fetal monitoring and how often will you do it? How many wireless telemetry, wireless patch systems (like the Monica Novii) or handheld doppler systems are available and are they waterproof? How often do you use internal monitoring and under what circumstances?

 

  1. How often are vaginal checks usually performed? When is a vaginal check not recommended (i.e.ruptured membranes)? What would you say if I declined a check?

 

  1. Will a shower be available to me, and if so where is it located? How many birth tubs are available and where are they located? How often and how long may I use the tub? Will I have to leave for fetal monitoring? How long does it take to set up and/or clean the tub between uses? Will I need to call dibs early? What are the circumstances where I wouldn’t be able to labor in the tub (ruptured membranes, fast labor, none available)? Am I able to birth in the tub?

 

  1. What options, aside from the epidural, do you offer for pain management (narcotics, nitrous oxide, sterile water injections)? What options do families choose the most often? Is one method suggested over the others? Are there wait times to be considered? What are some of the most common side effects you see for mother or baby (Will baby need special observation if narcotics are administered less than 4 hours before birth?)

 

  1. What is the average wait time for an epidural? Does that change during the night, weekends or holidays? Can my epidural be turned up or down at any point? Does that require my anesthesiologist or OB, or can the nurses do so? What are the most common side effects you see for mother or baby?

 

  1. What birthing tools are available (birth ball, peanut ball, squat bar, mirror, birthing stool, labor sling)? Which tools are requested most often? How often do you see families bringing their own tools (such as a TENS unit, essential oils, rebozos, birth balls, heating pads)?

 

  1. Will I be encouraged to move freely throughout labor (walking, squatting, lunging, using birth balls/ stools)? Will I need to stay in my room, on the L&D floor, or may I use the facility grounds?

 

  1. How will you support me during pushing? Will I be encouraged to “labor down” during the latent part of the pushing stage of labor? How long do first-time families usually push and is there a standard time-limit for pushing? How often do care providers give perineal support or counter pressure with warm compresses during crowning? What is typically used for lubricant (baby soap, Astrogilde/KY)? May I provide the lubricant of my choice? How often are episiotomies performed? How often do you see families experience vaginal tearing significant enough to require repair?

 

  1. In what positions do you see families giving birth most often (on their back, on their side, on all fours, kneeling, squatting, upright, on a birth stool, in the tub)? In which positions do you see the least instance of tearing? The most tearing? Will I be able to give birth anywhere but in the bed?

 

  1. How long do you usually leave the cord intact after birth? How often do families choose to wait longer than 4 or 5 minutes? What are the policies for the third stage of labor and what techniques are usually used to encourage the placenta to detach? Is immediate postpartum Pitocin administration standard policy? After how long is a placenta considered “retained”?

 

  1. Will my baby be placed skin-to-skin immediately after birth? How soon will we be encouraged to begin breastfeeding? 

 

  1. In the event we experience a cesarean birth, how many support people can be present? Are doulas/photographers welcome in the OR? Can they be on standby to swap out if my support person leaves with the baby? Is skin-to-skin and breastfeeding encouraged in the OR? May I have at least one arm free to hold my baby? What does a “gentle” or “family-centered” cesarean birth look like here?

 

  1. What is the typical protocol for baby care immediately after birth? If my baby needs to be checked, weighed or placed on a warmer will he leave my room? How long are you comfortable waiting for examinations after birth? How long are you comfortable delaying baby’s first bath? How often do families decline HepB, vitamin K or Erythromycin administration?

 

  1. Is there a release form to sign should I choose to take my placenta home with me? If any tests need to be performed can just a small piece be sent to pathology instead of the entire placenta?

 

  1. How will I be supported in the first days of breastfeeding? Who will be there to guide me shortly after my baby is born? Is lactation support offered 7 days a week? Under what circumstances will formula or pacifiers be given? Will I be asked first? What kind of follow-up resources are available for breastfeeding concerns after discharge?

 

  1. Will my baby be encouraged to stay in my room? On average how much time will a baby spend in the nursery? Are there any tests or procedures that would be required to be done anywhere other than my room (hearing screenings, circumcision)? Are there any options for baby care if I desire?

 

  1. Is there a NICU at this facility? What level is it and what’s the youngest gestation accepted? Where would we be transferred should we need a higher level NICU? What are the typical protocols for NICU transfers? Are there any circumstances where I might need to be transferred to another facility? What, if any, lodging is available to us if our baby has a significant NICU stay?

 

  1. Are there specific visiting hours? Are there limits to how many people can visit at once? Do you allow young siblings to visit? Does a birth during Flu Season change anything? 

 

  1. What security measures are in place? Will a device be placed so that my baby is unable to leave the floor? Do visitors need to be buzzed in and are there security guards present?

 

  1. What kind of meal resources are available to me and my partner? What are the cafeteria hours?

 

  1. What time does discharge typically occur? How long do families usually stay after an uncomplicated vaginal delivery or cesarean delivery?

 

  1. What follow-up resources do you offer for new parents? How and when can I reach out for questions, concerns or emotional support?

 

  1. What can we do to help make this a good experience for everyone involved?

 

* BONUS #1: Good Questions when planning a VBAC: http://vbacfacts.com/2009/06/06/interviewing-care-providers-questions-to-ask/

 

* BONUS #2: Add “does any of this change with multiples?” to any question if you are expecting more than one baby.

_ _ _ _ _

If you are planning an out-of-hospital or homebirth you may find this list more helpful

If we missed anything please drop us a line and let us know what to add!

Community Birth Story: Alistair

Community Birth Story: Alistair

As told by Elizabeth: In the summer of 2014, we were driving down the road listening to music and enjoying the warm breeze while our 15 month old snoozed in the backseat. Andrew turned to me and said “what do you think of the name Alistair? You know for one day when we have our boy?” Given our history of Infertility before our first baby was born and the complications that occurred during her birth; up until that point I hadn’t really allowed myself to dream of more children. I wanted more but I was trying to protect my heart. But hearing him speak that just as fact… *when* we have *OUR* boy! It lit a fire in my heart. And when I heard that name! Alistair, it was as if I’d run into a brick wall. I laughed and gasped and kept repeating it over and over. There’s was just something about it. And for the next 14 months that name would never be far from my mind… from January-may of the following year we were TTC… with no success then I began to have some health issues so we stopped and I focused on getting well. We started trying again in August.

Fast forward to September, just a few weeks later, our life was suddenly upside down. Andrew (our sole provider) very unexpectedly lost his job, we immediately stopped TTC. But 17 days after he lost his job, I woke from a deep sleep early in the morning from a horrible dream; and very clearly heard the Holy Spirit say “go take a pregnancy test” so I got up and took one LOL and it was immediately positive. I was in such shock! My dear grandmother who was much more like a mother to me was very ill (and would pass away not 6wks after we found out about the pregnancy) we were surrounded by stress and uncertainty. I was afraid of the pregnancy and birth being the same as Mira’s had been; I didn’t want that! This time I wanted to keep my power. I wanted to labor and birth on MY terms. I wanted to make choices based on my instincts and not someone scaring me. This time I had something to prove… Not to anyone else, but to myself.
The holidays of 2015 were surrounded with having a preventative cerclage placed and recovering from that and then being on bed rest for the next few months til we were out of the danger zone, which for incompetent cervix last until 28 weeks. I basically held my breath during that time; I tried to enjoy my pregnancy but it was hard for being so worried. After we passed the 28th week the excitement kicked in. We spent a lot of time at the encouraging of our doulas considering what our ideal birth would look like… This really helped us, not because our birth went exactly how we envisioned but because it was important to think and consider all the possible details we may encounter along the way.
Around 37 weeks I began having regular bouts of consistent contractions. I was hopeful every time. As my due date came and went, I was anxious and so excited. My daughter had been born at 40+5 days. So that was like a beacon of sorts in my mind. I’d tell myself “he’s going to wait til then” not because I necessarily thought he’d gestate exactly as long as she did… But it help me cope with waiting to remember how long she cooked. On my due date I got a massage and it caused some contractions. I got excited! They stopped. This continued every day for the next 2wks. Each time they would be very close together and increasing in intensity before just abruptly stopping. I got frustrated. My doula reminded me that this was my body preparing. So we waited… And waited… And waited… At 40+6 days (the day I was officially the most pregnant I’d ever been lol) I started acupuncture to bring on labor. This is what I did with my daughter and she was born two days later! I continued getting acupuncture everyday for a week. It never once caused me to contract lol. The anxiousness was building.
The following Saturday evening I was 41+3 I had 6ish hours of intense contractions! They were double and triple peaking and I had to be on my feet… I was squatting a lot. I thought for sure this was it. We finished packing. Alerted my friend that would come and stay with my daughter. And then as quickly as they started… They.just.stopped. I spent the next 24hrs or so in a really dark place… I was just consumed with the “forever pregnant” feeling. I spent hours that day sitting in my rocker in my room and staring out the window at the trees blowing in the wind and wishing I could just fly away… Just fly away and come back when this was all over… It was such a head trip. And I wanted off the crazy train. I wanted to escape my body. I just sat there crying and singing “It is well” softly… Intense! By that evening I was overcome with the feeling that it was time to meet this baby. I was never worried for his safety, just had a strong feeling his birthday was soon!
(Last bump pic 41+4)
The next morning my phone rang pretty early; it was my doctor calling to talk. He was never pushy and repeatedly said it was my decision, but at the very least as I was approaching 42wks he wanted to check the baby and make sure he was hanging ok. So we decided to head to the hospital later that afternoon. I loved how when I asked him what time I should come he just responded with “whenever. We’ll be here just come on up to L&D and we will hook you up for a bit” so respectful of this being my body and my baby. On the way to the hospital we went and saw my favorite chiropractor for one last adjustment and acupuncture treatment. We were laughing so hard as I sat there and she pushed on all the pressure points and I didn’t have ONE contraction. Not one! LOL! We stopped and got some lunch at five guys and arrived at the hospital a few hours later and they checked the baby out and he was perfectly happy and doing very well. I asked them to check me because up to this point I hadn’t had any vaginal exams, so I had no idea if I was even dilated at all! Turns out I was 2cm and about 50%! Progress! At that point knowing how much I wanted to avoid meds… The dr offered to place a Foley catheter, to manually open the cervix to 4-5cm and hopefully kick me into labor. He gave us some time to think it over and we decided to go for it. Once we told them we wanted to do the foley, they told us it would be a while since they had an emergency to deal with. So I texted my friend and arranged for her to meet Andrew at the house. Then he left to head home with Mira… My first baby. I hugged and hugged her and squeezed her within an inch of her life. She was giggling and squirming to get away but I couldn’t help but feel suffocated by the feeling that this was the very last time I would hold my only child in my arms… It was heavy and surreal. And when they left, I sat there alone and sobbed and sobbed.
(Last pic with my only child)
After an hour or two the dr came in and placed the Foley around 9pm, and was told it could take up to 12hrs to get me to 5cm. It wasn’t the most comfortable experience, but I brushed it off… I mean, I’m going to be in labor soon! Nothing about this will be comfortable haha they monitored me for a bit and by that time Andrew was back from meeting my friend and getting Mira home and to bed. Before long the nurses came to move me to a new room. Because the current one was 87 degrees! Crazy hot! Not what a pregnant lady never mind one that’s in labor wants! The nurse pulled the catheter taught and taped it to my leg. Holy Cramps Batman!! Woah! They were heavy right away. I felt so excited, I couldn’t stop smiling. I waddled across the maternity ward to a much cooler room, 68 baby! They brought me a fan too. Before long everyone that came in the room was shivering haha
I settled in and was encouraged to rest, but I was way to excited. After being on the monitor for a bit I decided since I couldn’t sleep, I would get up and walk. (Notice how I said “I” decided? Because I did. Every single thing that happened was my choice!) only the walking would have to wait a bit… I sat on the toilet to pee, and felt the weirdest sensation! And plop! Out came the catheter! Not 3 hrs after they put it in! My first reaction was a bit of panic… Thinking “I can’t be 5cm yet! Omg are they going to have to put it back in!? Ugh I don’t want to do that again…” Andrew got the nurse and before long the dr was checking me and sure enough! 5cm! Yay! It was the strangest feeling to be that dilated and yet… Not in active labor. Lol at this point the dr offered me the option to go home if I wanted… and come back when labor began. Looking back, I should have gone home and gotten some sleep LOL but I was waaaay to excited! So I decided to stay. So Andrew and I walked the loop of the maternity ward, holding hands for an hour. The activity helped! Every few minutes I was getting mild contractions. After the hour passed I went back to my room and the contractions stopped. I decided to try and get some sleep. Between 1-6am I probably slept for maybe an hour, possibly two. My body was revved up! I didn’t know exactly when but I could feel the crescendo rising! I would meet my baby soon.
Andrew and I woke up as the sun was rising and showered, that shower was SO nice. Like nicer then any shower I’ve ever had! Haha I stood there and looked down as the hot water and soap hit my belly and I knew the next shower I took my bump would be empty. And my baby would be in our arms. I stood there for the longest time just marveling at the miracle of life. How amazingly God designed our bodies to grow, carry and birth new LIFE! A person! A human being all their own; comes from within my body! It’s almost to much to fathom even when right in the middle of the experience. After we showered Andrew left to go and get me some chick-fil-a hash browns and nuggets I’d been craving and he needed to return a call about a job and schedule a phone interview for the following week. He later said it was so odd to do something so ordinary in the midst of such an extraordinary time in our life.
While he was gone I walked a bit… But that wasn’t doing it for me and I decided since I was alone I was going to have a party with my baby! I put a sign on my room door that said “Do Not Disturb” and I put my ear buds in and pulled up the black eyed peas on you tube on my phone. The first song was “I got a feeling” and it just pulsed through my body, every fiber of my being knew that indeed Tonight was gonna be a good night! I danced my heart out for the next 40 minutes totally undisturbed. I can close my eyes and feel all of that again in a heart beat! I was crying and laughing and grinning so hard my face was hurting. I could NOT wait to meet my baby! And sure enough… Regular contractions began. And the more I danced and lost myself in the excitement the stronger they got. By the time Andrew got back with my food I was a sweaty mess (so much for that shower ha!) and I was having steady contractions. And for the first time since the night before my contractions actually showed up on the monitor! Woooo! Progress! I sat there eating and had consistent contractions for 20 minutes! So exciting! After 20 minutes the nurse came in and unhooked me and i wanted to walk. I walked, danced with Andrew and sat on the birth ball for a little over an hour. It was around 11am and things were getting intense… I asked Andrew to call our doula Bergen.
Over the next hour before she arrived things were getting quickly intense. I didn’t have much of a break in between VERY long hard contractions. Maybe a 30 second break at most and sometimes not more than 10-15 seconds before another one came. I was sitting on the birth ball leaning forward and laying on the bed. My glasses had long since been taken off. I couldn’t see anything and didn’t care lol And when I heard Bergen come in the room I was overcome with emotion. Her presence meant this was really real. It was happening. I was having my baby.
Throughout the rest of the day I was laboring and riding the waves. Such INTENSE waves. Squatting, dancing, hanging… Andrew and Bergen taking turns rubbing my back and squeezing my hips… Hot stones, hot rice packs, the tens unit… The back labor was just beyond any pain I’ve ever felt. All encompassing, the kind that takes you to another world. Because if your mind didn’t give you that escape? If you were fully aware of the passing of every moment and fully present you’d never make it. There were times I needed monitoring and laying in bed was excruciating. Lots of eating and drinking and vocalizing. I remember getting so annoyed when I had to pee, because I knew sitting on the toilet would give me insane contractions. Lots of time spent stuck on the toilet in the dark bathroom roaring through contraction after contraction hanging onto Andrews neck and afraid I might just break it off! And praying for a break long enough to stand… At one point we tried getting in the tub at the hospital. It felt amazing for about 20 minutes. And then the contractions were just coming and coming and I felt trapped. I couldn’t move like I needed to. So I got out of there. Movement was key during all of this laboring. Well that and vocalizing. It’s amazing how a certain sound can help pain and another can give power. I later learned that the nurse who was assigned to me during the hardest parts of my labor was sitting at the nurses station (which was right by my room) and charting my contractions based on the sounds I was making. See I wasn’t being monitored to often and even when I was most of the contractions weren’t being picked up. But she commented to me the next day that the fact that I was so vocal was fantastic! Because she was able to chart me still for the Drs even tho the monitor wasn’t picking up much.
(Two moment captured by our Doula, heavily into labor)
At a certain point (what I now believe was early transition) I began to feel so panicked. I was progressing very slowly. (Likely because of the scar tissue on my cervix. That needs to be broken through for dilation to continue to occur) And with contractions double peaking and just seconds to recover, I was exhausted. For about an hour I was quietly arguing with myself about wanting an epidural. I was scared of it leading to a bunch of interventions I didn’t want. I was feeling like choosing that was failing. I was so unfocused on my contractions during this time because I was so conflicted. And all that made me feel even more panicked. At one point I was laboring in the bathroom alone with Andrew and I said “if I get an epidural will you be disappointed in me” he got tears in his eyes and said “of course not! What? Never, ever! You’re amazing!” But then he just said “let’s focus on these contractions and you just let me know” some more time went by…. And The dr came in at one point and asked if I wanted to be checked. I did. It had been hours since the last check when I was told I was 7cm. At least 4-5hrs. I wanted to know. He patiently waited for a few contractions to pass before I was ready. That was BY FAR the VERY worst part of my labor. I couldn’t catch my breath it hurt so bad. I felt horrible and I was screaming. He kept apologizing and did it as fast as he could but it felt like an eternity. And just the worst all encompassing pain. So when he said I was still 7cm. I just cried. Everyone left the room except Andrew and Bergen and I laid there through a couple contractions and finally just said to mysef “screw it! I’m not trying to be a hero. Or prove anything to anyone! I’ve already proven more to myself then I ever have before!!!! I am SO strong! I can’t even believe how awesome I’ve done all day!” And I looked at Andrew and told him to go ask the nurse if it was to late. He came back and said no, I still could have it if I wanted. And I told him yes! I did!
From the time I said I wanted the epidural to the time it started working was like 45 minutes or so. The anesthesiologist was SO sweet! Honestly one of the very sweetest people I’ve ever met. He kept rubbing my shoulders and telling me how strong I was. Andrew and Bergen had to leave when they placed it but that was ok, I had my awesome nurse there. I sat on the edge of the bed and stared at her necklace. It was just a simple heart pendant but made me feel so surrounded by love. I was laboring sitting on the edge of the bed for contraction and after contraction and trying to focus and sit still that before I knew he said he was done. The labor was so painful I didn’t even feel the epidural needle!! Now I’ve had spinal anesthesia before when not in labor and nearly passed out it hurt so bad… How wild it was to have it done and not even feel it! I felt like a total rockstar!
As soon as the epidural meds kicked in my body was finally able to relax. My leg muscles that had been so tense they had been rock hard for hours, we’re finally soft and relaxed again. It felt amazing to be able to breathe. And yet my contractions kept up frequently and strong! And it was ALL my body doing it on its on, my contractions never needed augmented with any medications which I was so grateful for! I was supposed to rest but boy was that hard when I was on a high with relief from the intensity. Eventually I got tired and we all got some rest… Very shortly after I got checked again and I was 10! And my bag of waters was bulging. I declined having it broken. It was clear to me with how quickly I got to 10 after the epidural that my body was so tense, and unable to relax that I wasn’t progressing. Over the next few hours we all rested in between nurses checking on me… I was checked a few more times and every time asked if I wanted my water broken. But I didn’t. Baby was doing great and I wanted to just let him come down at his own pace… The last few times the Dr was getting a little pushy about it. At around 1am or so I began feeling a lot of pressure. I didn’t share this info at first because I wanted him and my body to do all the work. I was so exhausted from the hard laboring that I didn’t want to start pushing to soon. Eventually the pressure was intense enough that I told the nurse that the dr could come and break my water, it was time. Admittedly, I was disappointed they were going to break my water. I really wanted it to break on its own. So when they got everything set up and the doctor (that had been really pushy about breaking it earlier) went to break it? She discovered it had already broken! Yaaaass!!! I just didn’t realize it because there wasn’t a big gush because he was right there…
I started pushing and felt completely overwhelmed and like I didn’t know what I was doing. The other doctor there was so supportive and just kept telling me that I could do this. After a couple minutes. I found that holding onto Andrew and Bergen’s hands while bracing myself with my heals in the stirrups, lifting up a bit and tucking my pelvis upward moved him nicely. At this point the light epidural I had was pretty much worn off. After a few pushes I was doing it on my own. It was so surreal. At some point during the pushing the resident that was assisting on my birth took a call! Like really? Standing there with her hand waiting to catch my baby and she’s talking on the phone!? All I cld think was what bad manners lol I began to feel his head no longer moving back up as I pushed. At one point I started coughing, my throat was sore from the hours of roaring through contractions, and the doctor gasped and said my coughs were really moving the baby! She said “goodness your gonna just cough him right out!” We all laughed. I small moment of tense relief was nice. Within moments I felt My body take over and I felt it pushing harder and longer. I had little control at this point; muscle memory took over. My body had done this before! Then his head was out. 10 minutes total of pushing. And one more little push and I felt that all familiar feeling of him sliding out of my body… what an immediately and amazing relief!! I did it! He was placed right on my chest. Just how I’d wanted it with Mira. It was so healing. I couldn’t believe I was holding my son! He almost immediately put his thumb in his mouth. He was so perfect! All the fears I had about being able to love another child melted away… I loved him so much. I looked over and saw andrew crying and a nurse commented how big he was… (turned out he was over 2lbs bigger then his big sister was! 8.6lbs!) when his cord stopped pulsing Andrew cut it and almost immediately my placenta just leaped out of my body, it was so done, poor thing LOL. The doctor kind of jumped and caught it. Very thankful for her quick reflexes lol! I needed one stitch where an old scar had split, but I didn’t even feel it because I was holding my precious boy. What a vastly different healing experience!
(Just moments after birth)
I was up and showered within 3hrs of his birth and then walked down the hall to my recovery room. The next 36hrs of just Andrew and I with our baby were so special! And exhausting haha and seeing Mira meet her new baby brother was a moment I’ll never forget. Holding both of my babies in my arms was incredible! I am so grateful for our healing birth. And for our sweet wild free spirit! Our Son, Alistair! He came at just the right time, our light amidst the hardships all around us! His birth was the promise that healing was possible; and was a window into strength in never knew I had. His arrival showed That the possibilities for the future were wide open. He’s shaken up our lives in a Big way; They will never be the same and I couldn’t be more grateful ❤
Photo credit: The Darling Family
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Click HERE to read Alistair’s big sister Mira’s story

Click HERE to learn more about the Community Birth Stories Project or to submit your own birth story

Community Birth Story: Mira Klaire

Community Birth Story: Mira Klaire


As told by Elizabeth: Mira Klaire was born April 6, 2013. But her birth story began many years before. My husband and I married July 4, 2006 and knew immediately we wanted to be parents. We didn’t realize we were entering the darkest time of our lives… we then began what would be a 7 year journey of infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, failed infertility treatments, being told we would never have biological children, and two failed adoptions… along with the tragic unexpected death of my mother. By the summer of 2012, we were battered and completely worn down; totally defeated. Two days after we spent the evening with our social worker to renew our adoption homestudy, we got the surprise of our lives. I was pregnant.

Saying we were shocked would be an understatement. After seeing the baby was healthy we started to get excited. Over the next few months we had bleeding scare after bleeding scare. Then at 19wks I was diagnosed with Incompetent Cervix and rushed for emergency surgery. My cervix was basically non-existent and beginning to dilate. The doctor actually had to put her bag of waters that was bulging back into my uterus without breaking it, before he could stitch my cervix closed. The success rate with our circumstances was less then 10%. We prepared before the surgery for our baby to be born and die. The surgery took 45 minutes (normal is about 10) and the Dr came into recovery afterwards with tears in his eyes and said “I don’t know why that worked! But it did!” We were terrified. I was on strict at home bed rest… lying down with the end of the bed elevated. No stairs or even sitting up. I laid in that bed terrified from 19-35wks. My cervix was a mess the entire time but somehow the stitch worked! It was removed at 36wks and we assumed I’d go right into labor. But I didn’t!
The weeks continued to pass… at 39 weeks I went to a routine OB appt and it was discovered she had flipped breech. The dr absolutely terrified us and told us at that point it was less then 3% she’d flip back head down. We had to schedule a cesarean or she could die. Yes. That’s exactly what they said. So obviously, we scheduled it, for 3 days later. I spent 3 days crying… everything about it felt completely wrong!! I could NOT accept that March 29 would be her birthday or that she would be born via cesarean. None of it felt right in anyway. We showed up to the hospital for our cesarean and I was shaking and crying through all the pre-op. I couldn’t talk to anyone. I was a mess. Finally the dr came in and sat with me and I sobbed and just said “this feels so wrong. It just isn’t supposed to be this way” and he was so kind. He tried to reassure me and then took my hand and patted it and said “you know what? This baby is perfectly healthy! We are ONLY doing this because she’s breech. So let’s make sure before we go to the OR” he brought in an ultrasound machine and began to scan my belly and he started laughing! He looked at me and said “this feels so wrong to you, because it is! Your baby is head down. You are not having surgery today. Nurse? Take the IVs out, she’s going home!” I was gasping and yelling and crying! I asked him if I could hug him. I could NOT believe it!!! I jumped up outnof that bed and got dressed so fast LOL I took my 39wk pregnant self and was running down the hall out of that place. I remember my husband laughing and tell me to wait up! LOL
I spent the next 8 days high on life and so happy! At 40wks 3 days I had some acupuncture to help encourage labor, 12hours later consisted contractions began. After 12 hours of laboring at home I felt like I was in active labor so we headed to the hospital. Upon arriving it was discovered I was 2cm dilated… it would be a while yet. I felt a bit disappointed but that was quickly overruled by overpowering contractions. I couldn’t be disappointed, I had to focus. Over the next 22 hrs we danced through labor, cried, screamed, dismissed a rude nurse (who told me I needed to get dressed because she was uncomfortable! Ugh!) had labor stall, got an epidural, started pitocin, felt completely defeated… had a dr check me and “accidentally” break my water (i.e., break it without my consent after I’d said no) which lead to hours of heart rate decels and nurses rushing in panicked constantly scaring me… I was spent. And exhausted. I just wanted to be done. I remember talking to myself and telling myself to focus; one way or another we were having a baby TODAY! It was the craziest mental place I’d ever been.
(29hrs into labor. About 3 hours before her birth)
At one point the dr came in and said he was concerned about the baby and he could only give me one more hour before we’d have to go for a cesarean. I hastily agreed. I didn’t want surgery but I also didn’t want the awfulness to continue… I was beginning to feel as if I was loosing my mind. Before long I began to shake uncontrollably; mind you the epidural I was given never worked correctly; my legs were totally numb but my abdomen and vaginal area was only partially and by the time I began pushing the numbness was totally gone except for my legs. Suddenly the dr came back in… I was pissed! My hour wasnt up! He said I could have an hour! I began getting upset… he smiled and said he was not taking my hour from me; he just had a hunch and wanted to check me. I agreed, and he happily told me I was fully dilated and ready to go. The room was a buzz getting ready for delivery and all I could think was “OMG. I can’t do this. I’m too tired.” I hadn’t eaten anything in nearly 24hrs. I was so weak.
I actually told the doctor I didn’t think I could push. And he patted my hand and said “I know your tired but just wait for the urge… once that urge to push comes you’ll find the strength” I was sure he was nuts. But sure enough surge after surge and I found myself pushing… I fought and tried to avoid it every contraction but every time it took over and I had to keep going… a nurse and my husband were holding each of my numb legs and I pushed and pushed. For an hour! Before the dr came and told me if I didn’t get her out soon he’d have to get the vacuum… hearing that set some kind of fire off in me. I didn’t want my baby pulled out. That scared me! I found power I never knew I had and pushed with all I had. I felt her head pop out… I breathed as they unwrapped the cord from her neck and then pushed again and felt her little body slide out of me. It was incredible! I sobbed and sobbed. I couldn’t stop. Her cord was short so she was on my belly. She pooped everywhere as soon as she was born. I was touching her and crying and wiping her poo all over my face lol it was the biggest rush I’ve ever felt in my life.
(Daddy cutting the cord)
After her cord was cut they took her to the other side of the room. They were wiping her down and weighing and measuring her. And I still hadn’t seen her. I tore badly and the dr was busy stitching me back together. She was crying for me and I was in so much pain. I kept asking for her and kept being dismissed… Her daddy tried to pick her up at one point and was told no. it was the worst feeling, I’ve ever had in my life. Finally after 40 minutes of listening to her cry, they brought her to me when I started getting loud and demanding they stop everything and give her to me. She stopped crying as soon as her head was pulled in to my chest. She was home. And I was home with her finally in my arms. And I had never felt such an incredible love before in my life. She had her first and second nursing session the following hour and it was pure bliss. A few hours after her birth I texted my friend and the text simply said “OMG! I had a baby! Out of my vagina!!!!” Even though so many things went not as we expected, and many of our wishes were dismissed and disrespected, I had my baby. After all the darkness and rain; our rainbow was in our arms! And our lives would never be the same.
Mira Klaire Joy
4/6/13
6.4lbs 19.5inches long.
(4hrs old. I was Totally blissed out)
Photo Credit: The Darling Family
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Click HERE to read Mira’s little brother Alistair’s story

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