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My Nest Birth on the Hospital Floor

I first experienced a handful of surges five days before my daughter was born. After a bloody show the next evening and a call to my midwives, the surges were still too far apart for it to be considered early labour. However, by Friday morning, 48 hours before my daughter was born, I felt intense discomfort in my lower back whenever I experienced a surge. On Saturday morning, we called our doula, Morag, hoping her TENS machine would help me cope with the discomfort. Morag applied her magic doula techniques and managed to get rid of the back pain, but it returned a few hours later and persisted. My daughter was in a posterior position throughout labour, but she did turn into a good position at the very last minute.

Vancouver Doula Apple Blossom Families- Vancouver Birth Photographer Morag Hastings

Lucky birth charm made by their 6-year old niece.


Home birth versus hospital birth

My midwives and doula were very supportive of me having a home birth. I had tested positive for gestational diabetes in my third trimester and the doctor at the diabetes clinic recommended a hospital birth.

Vancouver Doula Apple Blossom Families- Vancouver Birth Photographer Morag Hastings

Her wonderful midwife using acupuncture and massage to help her baby move into a good position and labour progress.


I was on the fence about a home birth versus hospital birth from the beginning. I cheekily wanted to wait until the last-minute to decide and that is exactly what happened. I ended up transferring to the hospital very late, when I was around 9 cm dilated. My midwife recommended we go to the hospital after we found meconium in my waters, combined with my gestational diabetes.

Hot water – the midwives’ epidural

Shortly after arriving at the hospital, I got into the bathtub in the delivery room. Soaking in hot water, combined with hip squeezes by my ever-resilient husband helped me cope with the back pain that troubled me during labour at home.

Vancouver Doula Apple Blossom Families- Vancouver Birth Photographer Morag Hastings

My baby was very aware of her surroundings and I was very aware of her. I felt surges at the front of my belly, that felt like they were initiated by the muscles of my uterus and surges that were more intense, that felt like they were initiated by my baby pushing against my back. When the bathtub was topped up with hot water, I could feel my baby responding, pushing against my rectum and back and a surge would start.

Nest

When I was ready to push, I got out of the bathtub and tried a couple of different positions, moving from the bathroom to the hospital bed and back to the bathroom. I headed back into the room from the bathroom, but didn’t get very far. I dropped to all fours and made it as far as the foot of the bed. I wasn’t going to go any further and just kept pushing with each surge.

Vancouver Doula Apple Blossom Families- Vancouver Birth Photographer Morag Hastings
Vancouver Doula Apple Blossom Families- Vancouver Birth Photographer Morag Hastings

I was very aware of what was going on with my body and with my immediate surroundings. I was able to concentrate on the things that needed my focus. I couldn’t see anything other than the floor – not my husband, my doula Morag, nor my midwife Marijke. Towels and pads were thrown around and under me. I was familiar with the stretching sensation as my baby’s head moved down the birth canal because I had been practicing and training with an Epi-no in the final weeks of my pregnancy, but the intensity was 20 times stronger. I remember hearing stories of babies’ heads receding during birth, but I couldn’t imagine letting that happen. This baby was heading in one direction and that’s all I focused on. Things progressed quickly to the point of Marijke instructing me to slow down. Morag told me how to breathe so that I was able to set a slower, steadier pace to the pushes as my baby’s head emerged. I heard my baby cry and I actually thought I was done. Then they told me one more push. One more push and her body emerged. My husband caught our daughter before she was passed back to me between my legs. I took hold of her in awe, joy, and relief. I sat back, into the welcoming arms of my husband in what Marijke and Morag referred to as a nest – my daughter in my arms, me in my husband’s arms – resting on the cold, hard floor of the hospital room.

Vancouver Doula Apple Blossom Families- Vancouver Birth Photographer Morag Hastings
Vancouver Doula Apple Blossom Families- Vancouver Birth Photographer Morag Hastings

I’m glad I didn’t have to spend a lot of time in the hospital delivery room – it was 4 am on Sunday morning when we arrived and my daughter was born three hours later, just past 7 am. I had spent just two hours soaking in the bathtub and gave birth to my daughter in a 16 square foot corner of the room just outside the bathroom. I barely saw the hospital room and it didn’t feel like I gave birth in the hospital at all. Marijke and Morag called it the home birth that happened in the hospital.

Vancouver Doula Apple Blossom Families- Vancouver Birth Photographer Morag Hastings

I <3 my midwives and my doula

In the weeks after my daughter’s birth, I’d reflect on my birth experience and the amazing support I had from my midwives and doula and I’d break out into tears. They were so patient, informative, and understanding throughout labour and birth, which was reassuring as a first-time mom.

Everything Morag told me about the birth experience was exactly right. She described the qualitative elements of birth – such as how moms shed layers of clothing the closer they get to birth, how babies come wherever they want to come, no matter how small or unusual the space, how moms get closer and closer to the ground as they get ready to birth, and the sounds moms make as the surges intensify – seemingly small details, but it gave me confidence to trust the experience and where it was leading me. Most importantly, at one point I was so tired and uncomfortable from my back pain (my baby was posterior until the last minute) that I considered taking an epidural. We ended up transferring to the hospital very late and Morag said, yes, whatever, to my epidural request. But she knew I wanted to birth naturally and, I believe, because she was so experienced with birth, she seemed to know I could do it without the drugs. I am so thankful that Morag could see that I was really asking for was something to cope with the pain and that the hot water bath and hip squeezes would help. I gave birth to my daughter without an epidural and it meant I had the most amazing, memorable, natural birth experience.

Vancouver Doula Apple Blossom Families- Vancouver Birth Photographer Morag Hastings

All images by Morag Hastings with Apple Blossom Families.


A huge thank you to my clients for sharing their birth stories with the world. It means so much to so many.

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