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Home Water Birth Story with Doula, Midwife, and Photographer

Yuba City Birth Story written by photographer Justine Michelle Films



Doula helping laboring woman at her first home birth in Placer County



I received a text first thing in the morning that Molly had been leaking fluid and having some cramps since 4 am. I got up and got myself and the kiddos ready for a birth day. A few hours later her water broke so I hopped in the car to be close by for when she was ready for me to come over which ended up being right as I was near her house. When I got there she was still all smiles and you wouldn't have even known she was birthing a baby today. Her doula. Joni Tuttle was already there and we all chatted and relaxed between contractions while waiting for her midwife, Tel, to arrive. There had been some meconium in her waters so Tel was coming a little earlier than they normally would have called so that she could come check on her and keep an eye on baby's heartrate, which was nice and strong throughout the whole labor! Gradually the contractions got stronger and Tel prepared the birth tub. Meanwhile, Joni, helped Molly and Mike to do some lift and tucks during a few contractions to get the baby in the right position and help get labor really going. This seemed to really help as Molly began to really focus during contractions and they started to be more consistent in timing and intensity. Eventually Molly moved to the shower and did some lunges to also help with positioning. Molly and Mike made such a great team and he was with her the whole time not wanting to leave his post by her side. As labor got more intense Molly craved the comfort of the birth tub and she finally got some relief in the warm water. She labored on her knees hanging over the side of the tub as her body prepared to birth her sweet baby. She wanted counterpressure on her back so Mike hopped in to help. As things intensified Molly got quite warm so we were all working to keep cool rags on her back and head. I could totally feel for her as I am usually so incredibly hot during labor and there is nothing like that relief from a very cold cloth on your face. After a bit Molly began feeling the urge to push. With each contraction she would work at bringing baby down. Everyone was excited with anticipation to see baby's head start to emerge but it seemed maybe baby wasn't quite ready yet. Tel suggested Molly change positions to make a little more room for baby so she laid back in the tub against Mike in a sort of floating squat. That seemed to do the trick as shortly after she began to crown. Molly pushed and worked her sweet little head out. After a couple of pushes it seemed as though she again needed to give some more room for baby so Tel asked Molly to stand up to give her that little adjustment. Molly stood up supported by Mike, her doula Jonie, and her mom and shortly after baby Teagan was born! Tel handed her to Molly as she sank back into the water and Mike was so relieved that baby was here. As Mike and Molly looked over Teagan and reeled over all that just happened Molly's placenta was ready to come. We all noticed her beautiful cord and all the birth junkies in the room were oohhing and awing over it. After her placenta came Molly moved to the bed. Baby Teagan was breathing but she seemed to be struggling a little bit. Tel patted her on the back a few times but she still needed some extra help. After some assisted breaths with an ambu bag she began to clear her lungs a bit more. Under the watchful eye of Tel and her assistant Randi, Teagan looked around with bright eyes looking into the faces of her mom and dad but she was still struggling some to fully open her lungs and get good deep breaths. It was suggested that baby might need some extra calories as it was clear she was a very large baby and sometimes the larger babies struggle with blood sugar which can also affect their energy to get the whole breathing business in order. She needed some donor milk and quick and I offered to give some as I am still nursing my own sweet girl. The milk helped and baby was able to fully open her lungs and breathe much better. The midwives were so amazing to watch. They kept a close eye always making sure that both mom and baby were safe. Usually the after birth process at home births is a bit of a whirlwind of checking on mom and baby and cleaning up. I usually stay for about 2 hours after and the midwives aren't' too far behind me in leaving the family to rest and enjoy baby. But this time since baby needed some extra care and they were just amazing. They took everything slowly and gave mom and baby plenty of time to make sure they were all good. There was no rush to cut the cord, or get measurements or any of the tasks they normally do. They still did those things but there was more time and space given to make sure everything was as it should be and I just so loved and appreciated them for it. Molly and Mike were just incredibly amazing through the whole thing. Even with Teagan having a little struggle they stayed so calm through it all. As I left Teagan was calmed down and Molly was able to start nursing her. And later she text me with baby's weight, 10lbs 11 oz!! So so amazing!


Justine is a birth photographer and film maker as well as a doula, birth keeper, and birth tub renter. With 5 young children of her own and another on the way all born at home her life never has a dull moment. Being in the birth community is a dream come true and her favorite thing is to inspire, empower, and encourage mothers to birth on their terms.


Photographer: Justine Michelle Films


Doula: Joni Tuttle


Midwife: Tel Cunningfolk


Justine and Joni are members of Placer Birth Connection, a collective of birth workers in the Placer County, California area serving families in our local community during the childbearing years.





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