• Katie McCarthy

Precipitous Labor & Birth Story

Updated: Jan 14

I attended a birth that was, in one word, a whirlwind. The baby came fast and furious and on her own terms.

I'm sharing this story to show that birth is unpredictable. And as an example of how a physiological birth can unfold.

I'm sharing this story because simply witnessing it left me feeling empowered.

This was their first pregnancy and Mom and Dad were planning an unmedicated, intervention-free birth. Because of this, they had received their fair share of comments questioning their decisions. But they had experienced a healthy, relatively easy pregnancy with regular chiropractic appointments and a good childbirth education class. So they felt confident and prepared leading up to the birth.

4:00 AM

Mom woke with light contractions and water leaking. She was 39 weeks and 4 days. Contractions continued to get more uncomfortable and consistent. During this time, I received a message from Mom letting me know that this was the real deal.

7:30 AM

Dad was tracking contractions and they were 2-3 minutes apart lasting 30-40 seconds.

8:00 AM

I arrived at their house and witnessed a couple contractions. Mom was finding a natural rhythm to get through them. Leaning forward, holding onto the counter and sometimes tapping one foot. Dad had been giving counter-pressure for back pain throughout the morning. I suggested we call their provider. Since Mom's water had been broken for a few hours and it was a first pregnancy, their provider advised them to head to the hospital.

The atmosphere was excited and nervous. Before we left, I gave Mom a heart-shaped stress ball to use in the car. Which she did, and continued to use throughout most of the labor.

9:30 AM

When we arrived at the hospital, Mom was checked in triage and was 4 cm dilated, 90% effaced and the baby was at a -2 station.

Dad was very involved in the pregnancy and preparation for birth. And labor was no different. He was Mom's primary support throughout the process, and it was incredible to witness the love they shared. From the start, he was there for every moment, every contraction.

10:00 AM

Mom was taken to L&D where their doctor met them. Mom was checked again and was 6 cm dilated and fully effaced. The nurses were having trouble getting a good read on the baby, so they inserted an intrauterine fetal heart rate monitor. There was meconium in the water and the baby's heart rate was varying more than they wanted to see. There were a few scary minutes when the need for a cesarean was discussed and the room filled with people in surgical gear.


Mom tried laboring on each side which didn't have an effect. We helped her move to a hands and knees position, and from that point on, the baby seemed to cope better. The room emptied slightly.

Mom's strength at this time, while she went through transition, was incredible to witness. Through the sweat and tears, she labored on. Dad and I helped her to focus on her breath. We told her how good she was doing.

Not once did Mom ask for an epidural or any pain medication. Not once was she rude. Not once did she look at her husband with disdain. Not once did she act as though she couldn't do it.

11:00 AM

Because the baby seemed to cope best on hands and knees, Mom stayed there until she felt the pressure to push. This was the only moment Mom showed any real anxiety - when she was told she was 10 cm and ready to push. The thought of pushing was daunting. But her entire birth team was there, encouraging her. Telling her she could do it.




The doctor knew the baby needed to come out, and quickly. As a result, she was very forceful in her directed pushing. This would not work for everyone. But for Mom, with the baby having to come out, this was exactly what she needed. Someone to push her further than she thought she could go.

And she did.

With Dad on one side, Mom pushed for three contractions. On the second push of the third contraction, Baby Girl's head crowned. I told Dad to turn his head (he couldn't take his eyes off Mom) to see his baby being born. And as I sat by Mom's head, supporting her neck, we watched Baby Girl come into this world. With a head full of dark hair, and an eventual scream, she was put on Mom's chest.

Mom's face at that moment, full of awe and disbelief said more to describe the experience than I can put into words. There were tears of joy and pride.

I walked away and let these three people become a family.


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