Long, but powerful, home birth perfect for final baby

Choosing between hospital and home birth

dani gazes adoringly at her darling baby girl who is her fifth and final child. She closes a chapter in her life during her longest and most arduous birth at home during the pandemic
Dani gazes adoringly at her darling baby girl who is her fifth and final child. She closes a chapter in her life during her longest and most arduous birth at home during the pandemic.

Having to decide between and hospital birth and home birth can be difficult for some. That’s how it was for Dani. It’s almost been a year since my dear friend and soon-to-be doula had her 5th and final baby, but I was deeply affected by this birth, as was everyone who was present.

Dani had originally planned a hospital birth with all her birth team there: birth photographer/videographer (yours truly), her husband Gavin, her midwife friend and mentor, her daughter who was to be her doula as well, and her daughter’s sibling doula (Julie Francom). 

Then, the hospital changed policy and tightened the allowance of support people to just one person for a birthing woman.

Dani Reed is at the beginning of her labor in the comfort of her own home. She had planned on a hospital birth but because of hospital restrictions due to COVID-19, she chose to have a home birth so her whole birth team could attend. Here she uses a birthing stool, an exercise or labor ball, and a step stool as she works through the contractions.
A home birth is a wonderful option to have as many people attend your birth as needed. You want 3 doulas and a birth photographer and videographer? You got it. You labor in the comfort of your own home and have access to any necessities you may need.

Dani weighed her options over and over again. She consulted with her husband, her midwife, her daughter, myself, and others. What should she do? Dani had never considered a home birth before and that would mean so many changes, but would allow her to have all her support people there with her.

She eventually felt that the best choice for her would be to have a home birth. Eventually she chose a homebirth midwife Karla Bennett and the rest of us were grateful to be able to stay part of her birth team.

We all waited on tenterhooks for the big day to arrive. 

Baby day arrives!

Then it finally came! Her water broke at 10:30 that night. We all came in waves and were quietly excited as Dani worked through the contractions. It was kind of like a party, and Dani came and went from the living room to the kitchen, or her bedroom, whether she wanted privacy or not. We were available whenever she needed our support.

Dani Reed continues to labor moving from downstairs to upstairs where she plans to deliver the baby in her own room. Her husband and daughter are constantly at her side offering comfort and support. She uses various techniques to get baby in optimal position including swaying, warm bath, and tucking her belly in during squats.
Dani’s husband and daughter were constantly by her side giving her support, both physically and mentally. They were amazing doulas for her, and she didn’t have to want for anything.

Her husband and daughter were always there; they were her biggest supports. I stayed in the background silently filming and photographing the sweet moments.

As time wore on, we settled down in the living room for some rest. Dani and Gavin kept up in their room. My silent prayer (and I’m sure was everyone’s as well) was for Dani to find relief and for baby to get in position and to come soon.

Labor continues to the next day

Dani did so much work as contractions slowed down, from pumping, to warm baths, to sitting on the toilet, to squats. She even took a tincture. Dani was wearing down. We talked over options as some suggested she go to the hospital. She refused. She pushed in various positions. Then the most difficult position for a woman to push in ended up being the one that worked for her, and Minerva made her arrival. Dani reached down, pulled her up to her chest and we all cheered and cried tears of joy. 

Dani gets close to transition and becomes more vocal in her sounds as she works through contractions. She leans on her husband and daughter for emotional support. In the reverse, she offers emotional support and comfort to her daughter who became overwhelmed seeing her mother in pain.
This is the part of high emotions during this birth. As time goes on, Dani becomes more tired and requires more emotional comfort and support. Her husband and daughter are constantly there for her. Then, as things become too much for her daughter during a moment, Dani is able to comfort her.

Labor totals 21 hours to everyone’s surprise!

There were so many stars of the show: Zoey, her daughter, was an amazing doula. She was there when she was needed. Zoey was quiet and unassuming. She was gentle and loving. Gavin was equally amazing. He’s the best male doula I have ever seen, and a great supportive husband. Dani was the queen. She is my hero and I have never witnessed such power and such determination from someone who traversed to hell and back to bring her baby into this world.

Baby M finally makes her arrival to cheers and tears of joy from everyone present. Her head shows clear signs of molding from being in a asynclitic position for so long. She has beautiful dark hair and is alert and calm as she makes the transition from womb to world.
Baby M finally makes her arrival to cheers and tears of joy from everyone present. Her head shows clear signs of molding from being in a asynclitic position for so long.

It was the most emotional birth I’ve ever attended and it was a strong testament to me of the strength we women have as we work to bring babies into the world. It’s not easy, whatever path we take. But it’s such an achievement and it needs to be celebrated, no matter how it happens.

The joy continues as the after birth is delivered. The midwives work hard to get Dani's bleeding to slow down and everyone relishes in being in the presence of a new baby.
The joy continues as the after birth is delivered. Baby M is just the sweetest thing. Dani enjoys discovering everything about her new and final baby.
Baby is weighed and measured and found to be perfect in every way. The rest of the Reed children come home and meet their newest baby sister. The placenta is observed by brother and sister.
Baby M’s big sister is such a great help as she gets measured and checked for any abnormalities by the midwife’s assistant. Gavin weighs the baby who is a whopping 8 pounds! The rest of the Reed children come home to greet their new baby sister. Then as the placenta is examined, brother and sister join in to see the strange, amazing organ that fed their little sister. Home births truly are a magical thing.

If you are interested in having my photograph or film your birth, be it at a hospital, your home, or birth center, (or know someone who does) check out my other work! I’d love to give you the gift of having a beautiful remembrance of meeting the next love of your life!

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