Vegan Birth Stories

Please read our collection of birth stories. If you'd like to submit your own, please submit your story here. Vegan or vegetarian birth stories are welcome.

Emily Skye Pavlina's Birth Story

I was due on March 10, but on Wednesday, Feb 23, I went in for a non-stress test. My blood pressure was high at 140/100. Dr. Maxfield sent me to labor and delivery to be evaluated for a while. Some of my blood work came back abnormal, I had a little protein in the urine, but nothing life threatening. They decided I had pregnancy induced hypertension when my blood pressure failed to go down after lying still for a while.

So I called my husband and told him they decided to induce labor and he needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible. Since I had our only car, I had to call my mom to go pick him up. Steve packed up our last minute items and got to the hospital with my mom around noon.

The doctor placed cervidil in my cervix to ripen it. This did not cause me any problems until 8pm that night when I started to get heavy cramps. The plan was to check my progress at 3am and see if it was time to start the Pitocin or keep going with another dose of cervidil. We were going to have Steve go home to rest but since I was cramping so badly I needed him there to help me and he stayed. We dined on Sub sandwiches that Steve got, since the hospital was having trouble rounding up something vegan for me to eat for dinner. I did manage to get a basic salad and some cooked carrots.

Our doula was at another birth and wasn't able to get to us. She had a backup doula standing by. Finally at 2am I couldn't take the cramping anymore. We had tried hot packs and they helped but not for long. I wanted to avoid any drugs so I declined even their offer of Tylenol. I already had an IV, blood pressure monitoring, and continuous fetal and maternal monitoring. I was able to try showering for 30 minutes and that felt heavenly on the cramps, plus it got me off the monitors for a while. Steve got some sleep but I didn't.

So at 2am I asked them to check me and they said I was 100% effaced and 1 cm so they stopped the cervidil. They wanted to immediately start pitocin, but I needed a break from the cramps and I needed to get the doula to the hospital. The backup doula arrived at 4 am and was able to massage me to sleep for about 1 hour. At 7am, the shift changed, the doctor checked me and found I'd made no progress, and then yelled at the nurse for not starting the Pitocin at 2am and wasting everyone's time.

Pitocin started at 7am. No more food for me. Our backup doula stayed until 9:30am but had to go to work after that. Our doula, Tracy, was finally done with her other birth (a 40 hour ordeal) and got to us around 11am. I don't know how she is able to stay awake so long and still function so well. My contractions were 1-2 minutes apart on the Pitocin. They kept increasing the dosage every 30 minutes. The first 15 minutes I would get heavy cramps, the second 15 minutes I was getting nice strong contractions with a nice endorphin rush between them. This continued on for hours with them increasing the dosage every 30 minutes. For pain management we used the birthing ball, massage, hot packs for the cramping, and relaxation (hypno-birthing). We had practiced hypno-birthing at my house for several weeks ahead of time.

At 3pm I started getting nauseous, hot flashes, and very distracted. I was secretly hoping I was in transition but everyone around me was skeptical. They wouldn't check my progress unless they had a good reason so we waited. At 4pm things took a turn for the worse. I developed a strong cramp that didn't go away. I had severe pain in my abdomen that radiated to my back. My skin became tender to the touch and I was too sensitive to be touched at all. I wanted to jump out of my skin. The contractions continued on top of the terrible cramp I had. I started thinking about pain medication, desperate to relieve what felt like a Charlie horse in my abdomen. The doula was getting concerned that something had gone wrong (maybe an abruption) and so we insisted the midwife check me, but she was busy delivering a baby. The pain had become unmanageable and I started asking Steve and Tracy for help (like a bullet to the brain). I told them to get whoever was authorized to check me. Tracy suggested we let them break my water to speed things along, hoping that would relieve the cramp. I agreed to try it.

The midwife finally came and told me I was 3 cm, close to 4. In labor for 20 hours at this point, it was enough to get me extremely discouraged. She broke my water. Talk about Niagara Falls! Both the midwife and my doula said they had never had a patient expel so much water. It just kept coming out. Unfortunately, this caused my cramping to get worse, not better. I started writhing in agony, the pain got worse and worse every second. I became insane, screaming at the top of my lungs for them to kill me and end my misery. I wanted to be away from that pain very badly. I was crying hysterically and no one could calm me down. I told them to get me an epidural or a c-section. I was done.

They then told us they had to move us to the "good" room since they had another high risk case coming in and they needed my room. They ordered Steve and Tracy to pack up our stuff and they wheeled me screaming insanely to another room where I was assured I would receive the epidural. I was completely out of my mind at this point and didn't have any awareness of anything except pain. They then told me I would have to have 40 minutes on a hydrating IV before I could get the epidural. This, of course, didn't sit well with me, and I was begging them to end my life or give me a c-section. It was at this point that Tracy really showed her stuff. She gave me an acupressure ball to hold in my right hand and I was holding Steve's fingers with my left. They got the second IV going, plus I had a heart monitor, pulse-ox monitor, maternal contraction monitor, fetal electrode scalp monitor, and the ever present blood pressure cuff. Tubes were sticking out of me everywhere. Tracy was massaging the acupressure spot on my feet and all the while she watched the monitor looking for the next contraction (coming 2 minutes apart). She told me she would get me through the 40 minutes until I got the epidural. She was the only person who could calm me down. She used a relaxation guided imagery to get me through every single contraction. I concentrated only on her voice and the story she told me each time a contraction came on.

Finally the anesthesiologist arrived. We got the epidural in, took about 15 minutes. Sitting still was no problem since my nurse had a death grip on me and wouldn't let me move even to breathe. I had 2 contractions while he put the needle in. Now we added a urinary catheter to the equation. Luckily I didn't feel it. The baby's heart rate started to decelerate upon each contraction and so instead of being able to sit up and enjoy the epidural and the "good" room, they turned me over onto my side and put my head flat. This had the unfortunate effect of sending the epidural up as well as down. I started shivering uncontrollably, I lost the ability to hear, voices sounded really far away. I started to hallucinate and felt like I was passing out. I was pretty sure I was dying but Steve and Tracy assured me that if anything was wrong they would take care of it. I started to get nauseous as well since they put oxygen on me and it smelled horrible. But it was necessary for the baby so I endured it.

Now I am pain free but completely out of my mind. I couldn't concentrate and the hallucinations were bad. I couldn't hear either. So I just laid there and tried not to throw up. This was now 6pm. At 9pm the midwife checked me and said I was complete and could push.

I asked if we could turn off the epidural and wait for me to feel the urge to push. They all looked at me like I was crazy but I was pretty adamant and they finally agreed. So from 9pm to 10pm I just laid in bed visualizing the baby coming down the birth canal while the epidural wore off. At 10pm they insisted I try pushing. I asked if I could turn around on the bed and get into a squat while hanging over the top of the bed. Again, they were very skeptical but I told them if it wasn't working I would get into their preferred position. So I flipped around and got onto my knees with my upper body and arms hanging over the raised back of the bed. I concentrated on the urge to push (which I now had) and pushed gently but firmly. After just 20 minutes the baby moved from -1 station to +2. The nurses were amazed and impressed. I wanted to stay in this position for the rest of the birth but my legs had gone numb from the position and I just couldn't hold it any longer. But the nurses assured me I saved myself at least an hour and a half of pushing because of the position I had chosen.

So I got onto my back, legs raised against the squat bar I asked for. Tracy wrapped a long scarf around the pole that I used to hoist myself up, instead of pulling back on my legs. I pushed and pushed, using oxygen in between since the baby's heart rate was decelerating during pushing. At one point the midwife started yelling at me to push really hard and there was an urgency in her voice. I looked over at Tracy and she also looked concerned and told me to push the baby out now. I said, "If you can see the head, go get it!" I wanted them to use vacuum extraction since at this point I was so tired I just didn't think I could do it. I kept asking them to help me and just pull the baby out themselves. But they were insistent. Tracy finally got into my face and said, "No one is going to help you. You're all alone. You are the only one who can push your baby out. Now do it!" That got through to me. I pushed as hard as I could and they told me the head was almost out. I didn't believe them so they set up a mirror for me. That made all the difference.

With the next push I saw her head. One more contraction and the head was out. Such relief. But the cord was wrapped twice around her neck so they ordered me not to push while they fixed that and suctioned her. Then they said I could either push the baby the rest of the way out or wait for another contraction. I just pushed and out she came. They handed her to me immediately and she started to cry. Steve cut the cord and then they took her away to the warmer. Steve went with her. I had three small tears. The placenta came out easily after 5 minutes and the midwife stitched me up. Tracy then told me I was minutes away from an emergency c-section since the baby's heart rate was dangerously low each time I pushed. That's why they couldn't use the vacuum extractor since the cord around her neck would have killed her if they had. Total pushing time was only 1 hour and 10 minutes.

While I didn't have the natural birth of my dreams, I know that I made the best decisions I could at the time. After a long labor, my little girl was finally here. Emily Skye Pavlina, born February 24, 2000 at 11:10pm. She is the light of our lives, our sweet little angel.