Back in 1982, I was a brand new certified nurse-midwife and had only been in private practice for about six months. One of our prenatal clients was a patient that I will call Angie. She was 29 years old and had had one previous pregnancy that ended in a cesarean section, because the baby was in a breech presentation.
Angie was adamant that she wanted to have a vaginal delivery with this baby. At that time, the hospital required that a woman who was undergoing a trial of labor had to have the operating room staff and anesthesia staff in house during her labor. I discussed this with Angie and explained that if she came to the hospital in labor and the two staffs were not present then they would have to be called in. If she did not need a cesarean, then she would be responsible for the bill. She looked at me, smiled and said, “Don’t worry, DeAnna. The baby will cooperate.”
When Angie was 38-weeks pregnant, she called me at 6:00 a.m. and said that she was starting to have contractions. Because she had never been in labor before, I though that we were in for a long day. However when I met her at the hospital at 7:30 a.m., she was already 3 cm dilated and the baby’s head was engaged. The fetal heart tones were reassuring, and Angie was in a good contraction pattern.
During the following two hours, Angie rapidly progressed to 7 cm. At this point, she began to panic. Her husband and I worked with her and helped her calm down. In between contractions, she said that she needed to meditate and relax more. She went into a near trance state and became extremely calm.
After an hour, she was still 7 cm, and her contractions had decreased to every seven minutes. “I guess I relaxed too much,” Angie said. Yes,” I responded. Her labor needed to become more regular again. I suggested nipple stimulation, but she insisted on doing it herself.
Angie started breathing a little faster. Within 30 minutes her water broke spontaneously, and she started bearing down. Fifteen minutes after that, she delivered a healthy baby.
Angie had a great impact on me and on my subsequent practice. I have since encouraged women to take control of their bodies and to believe that their bodies will cooperate. I have delivered over 6,000 babies now, but none have eclipsed my memory of Angie and her influence.