Birth Story | Natural Labor in a Birth Center


My first real contractions started in the middle of the night – of course. I’d been having Braxton Hicks for several months, so my first clue that the contractions were serious was their regularity. I went into the living room to watch t.v. with a stopwatch in my hand. I was trying to pay attention to whatever was on, but mostly I was just trying to control the excitement that I was in labor. I also began to have bloody show at that time, which was just another sign for me that my newest little girl was coming very soon.

The contractions started out 20 minutes apart, then 18, then 15. When they got to 10 minutes apart it was around 5:30 in the morning, and I finally decided that I was really in labor and had better tell Andy. I woke him up, and he had to call his boss to tell him that he would NOT be driving to Marshall that day for work (he had a hearing that he was supposed to attend).

My next line of action was to call my sister-in-law, who was planning on coming up to our house to watch Lilly for us while I was in labor. She was driving all the way up from Temple, so as soon as I told her I knew it was really happening! I finally felt as though I could start to relax into labor!

We’d practiced the Bradley Method for natural childbirth, so Andy made sure that I was eating and drinking enough to keep my body sustained through a long labor (even though Lilly’s labor and delivery had been very short, I was still mentally prepared for a very long labor with baby number 2). Andy also kept me active by walking around the house, etc. The more you have gravity helping you, the quicker labor progresses!

Around 10:30, my contractions started to get a little crazy. Instead of progressing like they were “supposed to”, they started getting very close together and very short. The contractions that had been 10 minutes apart and one to two minutes long were now three to four minutes apart and only 30 seconds long. I called the midwife, Amy, and she told us to go ahead and come on up. We got in the car with Lilly, as my sister-in-law hadn’t arrived yet.

It only took us 12 minutes to get up to the birth center, and the midwife did NOT have the type of news of I wanted her to have. With the natural progression of labor a woman will sometimes start and stop several times. Although I was dilated to a 3, she said the contractions had changed because my body was overtired. Instead of walking around trying to make labor progress, I needed to go back home and lay down.

As soon as we got back home Andy made me some lunch and then tucked me into bed. And sure enough, after a very quick nap and laying down for a little over an hour, my contractions suddenly got very strong and long!

My sister-in-law arrived just in time, as I was no longer able to stand up straight or talk during any of the contractions, a sign that it was time to go back to the birth center.

At 2:30 we arrived at the birth center. Now I was dilated to 5, so Andy got my things settled into the room upstairs while also helping me through all of the contractions. Amy also began to fill up the birthing tub after I told her I’d like to try to labor in there.

Labor went very, very fast from this point on. I alternated between walking around and sitting on the birthing ball and trying to wait to lay down until I absolutely had to. By the time the tub was filled up with water, however, I was no longer able to get inside as the contractions were so long and so close together! I was now laboring on the bed, and had NO intention of getting up again!

Then, Amy came in and asked me if I’d like to be checked, and I told her that I was feeling the urge to push. She told me to begin pushing and she called in her assistant. In the span of one contraction I pushed out Sophia’s head – then relaxed – I was finally done! Amy quickly reminded me, however, that I actually had to push out my baby’s whole body, not just the head, and that I needed to do it NOW.

I summoned all of my energy and pushed out the rest of her body without the aid of a contraction, and my new baby was laid in my arms. She was so tiny and weighed in at 5 lbs. 13 oz. Covered in vernix, crying, and with eyes already alert and open, I was able to nurse Sophia and finally relax. I was amazed – the delivery had been ridiculously quick and easy.

Andy brought up Lilly, who had been downstairs with my sister-in-law, and she was so excited to meet her new sister. Her first question was why I laughed so hard (evidently she’d heard me pushing and thought it sounded like a laugh!). Her second question was why Baby Sophia was wearing make-up (she thought the vernix was make-up!)

Within about twenty minutes, however, I started to know that something was not normal. The placenta hadn’t been delivered and I hadn’t even started bleeding. I was up and walking around, had nursed, and it still wasn’t coming out. It was almost as though my body didn’t realize I’d had the baby! As the minutes progressed, I could see the midwives exchanging glances, and they finally told me that if the placenta didn’t come out in the next ten minutes we would have to transfer to the hospital. They tried one more time to tug on the umbilical cord to get the placenta to come out (the exact same thing my OB had done at Baylor), only this time the cord popped off of the placenta. Off to the hospital we went!

The midwives called an ambulance for me, and as soon as the doors shut I felt my first wave of after-birth contractions. Couldn’t these have started 10 minutes earlier? I transferred to the hospital without incident, and the OB on duty gave me a small dose of morphine and then manually extracted the placenta. They explained to me that there is a less than 1% chance of an umbilical cord being attached to the side of a placenta instead of the center, and that when that happens it can often fall off.

The OB at the hospital initially wanted me to stay the night at the hospital, but after seeing that I was able to walk around she decided to check my blood work before letting me go. When it came back she announced that it had come back healthier than a normal person who hadn’t just delivered a baby (thank you Allen Birth Center midwives for making nutrition such an important part of pregnancy!)

I was discharged and arrived at home at almost 11:00 at night. I immediately took a hot shower, then crawled into bed with my new baby. Our family had just grown by two little feet.

We were so pleased with the experience at the birth center that when we welcomed our third little girl into our family this April we asked the Allen Birth Center midwives to help us deliver at home. It went amazingly smooth with NO odd umbilical cord and thus no complications!


Kelly lives in the Dallas area with her husband Andy and her 3 precious little girls. Kelly loves to cook, write, and spend time with her family. You can read more about her over at her personal blog.



  1. My placenta had to be manually extracted too. In fact, it was Amy at ABC that did it. I’m glad I didn’t have to go to the hospital, but I sure could have used some morphine for that procedure!

    Congrats on your healthy baby girl! And your easy natural labor. Thanks for sharing your story!! I’m glad to know I wasn’t alone!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here