A Midwife’s Hospital Birth | The Birth Story of Hannah Alice | St. Louis Birth Photographer

I had the wonderful privileged to document the birth story of Hannah Alice. It was an amazing and encouraging birth even though it didn’t go the way she had originally planned. Maggie, the mom and also a midwife herself, was gracious enough to share the birth story from her perspective.

“This birth story starts a little different than most because so much of what happened this time is related to what happened last time. To understand Hannah’s birth story, it’s important to have a little bit of background information. This time around was my third pregnancy. I already had two healthy boys at home – a 4 year old and a 2 year old. However, when I found out I was pregnant with Hannah, instead of being over the moon excited as I had been with the other two, I was feeling a bit nervous and guarded. You see, with my last pregnancy, my water broke at 29 weeks and I delivered a sweet baby boy at 30 weeks via c-section. His birth plan was far from what I had ever imagined since my first birth was all things natural – labor on my own at 37 weeks, an unmedicated out of hospital birth supported by midwives, and back home in our own bed within 5 hours of the birth. This time around, I knew I would be classified as high risk and there would be choices to make in an attempt to achieve a full term pregnancy. 

After working with Dr. Paul as a nurse at MoBap and after consulting him while admitted to the hospital with preterm ruptured membranes, I knew I wanted to see him for my prenatal care. Together, we decided a prophylactic cerclage at 14 weeks would be the best plan of action for this pregnancy. After the cerclage, I had intermittent cramping throughout the pregnancy but overall, it was a healthy, low key pregnancy that we were able to coast through. That was, until I hit around 34 weeks when we started thinking about the mode of delivery and what the plan would be for our sweet baby. I knew from the beginning that I wanted a VBAC, if possible, and thankfully, Dr. Paul was very supportive and on board with that plan. However, Hannah was flipping back and forth constantly and wasn’t staying head down in addition to my amniotic fluid level being a bit elevated, contributed to her being able to swim around. We continued monitoring for a few weeks and she continued to swim. At 37 weeks, we decided it would be best to remove my cerclage and then immediately start an induction so we could control her position and could keep her head down to optimize our chances of a successful VBAC. 

On Monday, September 23rd Dr. Paul removed the cerclage around 8:00 am and we started pitocin. Unfortunately my cervix was internally closed with some scar tissue after the cerclage was removed. Throughout the day, Hannah had some heart rate drops and some periods of minimal variability which limited the ability to really increase the pitocin at times. I was contracting on my own a decent amount though and they seemed to slowly be getting stronger. Around 5:00 pm I was finally 1 cm. At 9:00 pm, Dr. Paul gave us the option of a Foley catheter or breaking my water to help get things going more and he called me 2 cm. We chose to break the water so her head could get better engaged. After that, my contractions really took off. I worked hard through strong contractions until 2:00 am when I was checked and was still 2 cm and my cervix was only about 40% effaced. At that point, I decided to get an epidural. I was so frustrated to not be making any cervical change and working through that scar tissue from the cerclage felt so much worse than my unmedicated birth with Sam. The epidural went smoothly. I was still able to feel my contractions but the left sided stabbing cervical pain from the cerclage was gone and that was my only concern. At 6:00 am, I was checked and was still 2 cm and still barely effaced. I was feeling so defeated and started thinking about when I would give in for a c-section. She was having heart rate dips with contractions, and her baseline was creeping up. I knew we were on the clock, so to speak. Dr. Paul came in to chat and check me himself at 8:00 am and I was suddenly 4 cm, 90%, and 0 station. When she decided to finally engage and get in a better position it was game on! From there, it all seems like a blur. Hannah continued to have heart rate dips but I was making quick cervical change. We started an amnioinfusion and hoped for the best. At 11:00 am, I had a fever of 101.6, she was tachycardic, and was having significant variables with contractions. I knew I better be close to having her or she would have to come out one way or another. Our nurse Kathy called Dr. Paul. Instead of him calling back, he came down to my room and checked me. He had me give one practice push and then decided it was time. Everyone got all set up for Hannah’s debut. I pushed through 3 contractions and she was here! Dr. Paul guided her head out, waited for her to restitute, made sure her shoulders were coming, and then helped me grab the rest of her out and bring her skin to skin. She was perfect! I watched the whole birth through a mirror which really helped guide my pushing efforts despite having an epidural. After Jordan cut her cord, I brought her up to my chest and took in all the snuggles. It wasn’t long before she was rooting and she was able to latch on without much help! Even though it wasn’t the unmedicated birth I had hoped for, it was still a beautiful experience and one that I am proud of!” – Maggie

She described it perfectly. It was a beautiful experience and one she should be proud of! Thank you to Maggie & Jordan for letting me document Hannah’s birth.

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Gretchen Day Photography

St. Louis maternity, birth, fresh 48, newborn, & family photographer