“I wanted to show myself that I can do hard things,” Emily said in an interview with Bonsie when asked why she chose a low-intervention labor.
Emily Demo, mother of two, school psychologist, and associate Principal, recently gave birth to her second baby boy, Meyer. (Meyer is Emily’s maiden name and was chosen in honor of her late, remarkable father.) While delivering her first son, Henry, she received an epidural after she was eight centimeters dilated. Recovery after Henry’s birth was very difficult, and this prompted Emily to do further research about her birthing options while planning for her second baby.
“After delivering Henry I was in significant pain for several weeks. I couldn't sit comfortably without support (a cushion, etc) and I had to use a stool to climb in and out of bed. I felt like I was beaten up from the belly button down. Also, right after he was born, I felt foggy and unable to think as clearly as I wanted to. I think I was partially overwhelmed, but also because I was in so much pain.”
During her first and second pregnancy Emily regularly practiced prenatal yoga at hOMe Holistic, a yoga and wellness center. Here she met inspirational women who supported her during her pregnancy, such as Ashely Walburn. Ashley is a birth doula with sixteen years of experience as a doula, prenatal yoga instructor, and the founder and owner of hOMe holistic.
Ashley shared with us some of the ways that she and her company help women prepare for labor:
“Our prenatal yoga classes are tailored to support and heal the specific and unique or common discomforts mothers experience when pregnant. The side benefit is their body is prepared for a low intervention birth. Babies are in more optimal positions and mothers’ pelvis are more flexible. Our prenatal yoga teachers are helping mothers' bodies prepare for birth, specifically supporting the soft tissue surrounding the pelvis be more supple. We want a flexible pelvis so each contraction is effective. Babies move through the pelvis when the pelvis isn’t rigid but is mobile and flexible. Choosing a provider who is supportive of the birthing mothers’ freedom of movement and comfortable with her birthing in positions, not on her back, is an important part of the equation too.”
Three months before her second son, Meyer, was born, Emily decided that she wanted to have a low-intervention birth. A combination of additional reasons prompted this decision:
Her difficult recovery after her first baby
She already experienced dilating to eight centimeters without an epidural
She did not like the feeling of an epidural, such as the pressure and the paralyzed feeling during and after delivery.
Emily and her husband, Dr. Andrew Demo, a pediatrician, also took birthing classes at hOMe holistic to prepare for their birthing plan. They learned breathing techniques, mindset shifts, positioning, counter pressures, and other strategies to best navigate labor and delivery.
While Emily was determined to have a low-intervention labor, she also knew she had to be flexible and prepared for her labor plans to change. Her goal was to naturally go into labor, but due to a series of complications, it was the safest option to be induced at 40 weeks.
On the day she was induced, she was already in early stages of labor and dilated to four centimeters. A “whiff” of pitocin escalated labor and she dilated to ten centimeters very quickly. When asked about her pain and experiencing labor without an epidural, Emily shared that communication with Ashley and her husband was the key for her to feel mentally comfortable.
“Ashley communicated everything with me: let’s get in this hip opener position, he’s about to crown, the worst is almost over…etc. Andrew and Ashley were an amazing team, and having Ashely’s expertise and her peaceful presence was a privilege.”
Emily explained that the most intense part of labor was when Meyer crowned: “It was an extreme burning sensation, but then it was quickly over.” Crowning is aptly referred to as “the ring of fire”.
“I could feel everything,” Emily said. “I could feel him traveling down the birth canal…and my body just took over and knew exactly what to do. I didn’t feel paralyzed.”
Another reason that a low-intervention labor was important to Emily is because she wanted to feel as in control of the situation as possible and truly immerse herself in the miracle of childbirth. She also experiences a trauma or anxiety response when in a hospital setting due to a heartbreaking and traumatic past experience; one of the ways she faced this challenge and separated herself mentally from the hospital environment was by working with a doula and connecting spiritually with the process.
As Emily predicted, her recovery after delivering Meyer was “night and day” different. “Recovery was great, as great as to be expected after childbirth.”
Bonsie’s goal is not to advocate for or against an epidural or a low-intervention birth. Our goal is to promote education on all your options, to advocate for yourself, and to do what works best for you.
Emily approached her pregnancy and labor with her eyes wide open. She did research, worked with her doctor and doula to create goals, took classes to prepare her body and mind for labor, and kept an open mind. While not everyone can afford to hire a doula, (unfortunately!) there are an abundance of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum classes available through your hospital and virtually at little to no cost. Plus, with baby registries such as Little Honey Money and companies like hOMe holistic, hiring a doula is more accessible than ever before.
Empower yourself with knowledge, surround yourself with people who lift you up, and create a birth plan and postpartum plan that fosters healing and bonding with your baby. Bonsie Skin to Skin Babywear is proud to share Emily’s Birth Story.