Meet Sarah Oviatt – Childbirth Educator in Salt Lake City, Utah

March 5, 2021

Hello! I’m Sarah Oviatt. I grew up in Michigan loving the lakes and the beach. I came to Utah for college and have been here since then. It will be 17 years this fall. I have a bachelor’s degree in sociology. I have learned to love the mountains and all of the beauty that Utah has to offer. I love to explore with my family. I try to take my children hiking as much as possible. They usually enjoy it. We try to take one vacation a year to a National Park. We have so many relatively nearby so we have been able to enjoy several. My favorite National Park we’ve visited is Yosemite NP but our most visited is Arches NP. I am an avid rock climber. I started climbing just after I graduated from high school. I stopped climbing before I was married and started again when I was struggling as a mother to two young children. Climbing keeps me sane and helps me remember who I am as an individual. I also love to sew and quilt and knit and make soap and garden and can food and bake and learn new things. I am kind of a jack of all trades, domestically speaking. I married my amazing husband, David in 2009 and we have three children, Isaac, Zeke and Hazel.

We struggled to conceive and ended up needing assistance. It was difficult, to say the least, to feel like my body had betrayed me when all I wanted was to have a baby. When I found out I was pregnant with my oldest I was so happy. I was fortunate to have already been working with a midwife to conceive so we changed gears and began prenatal visits. I planned a hospital birth, toured the two hospitals where my midwife delivered and chose one. I wanted to have an unmediated birth; I was scared of an epidural. We took a 6 week long hospital birth class. It was fine. I don’t remember too much about it. I remember talking about focal points and breathing. At my 38 week appointment my midwife asked if I was still feeling the baby as much and I said I wasn’t sure. The non-stress equipment at the office wasn’t working so she sent me to the hospital to have an ultrasound to check on my baby. My fluid levels were a bit low so she decided that we should induce. I broke down. Although I was done being pregnant I was not prepared to have a baby that day. I was at the wrong hospital. I had a lunch date planned that day. I had no support other than my husband. I was not prepared. But, ready or not, this was happening.

I began labor at 2 cm dilated and partially effaced. The nurse got my IV going and started pitocin around noon. My midwife came around 4 and broke my water. I think I was around 3-4 cm dilated at that point. I was handling things fine with my water intact and once it was broken labor got real. I had to really start to focus and breathe through my contractions. I had my husband start to rub my back. I couldn’t concentrate when someone talked to me during contractions. All the while, the nurse kept coming in and bumping my pitocin up every half hour. The highest pitocin got was a 34, which is very high. Around 8 pm I couldn’t find any relief through the contractions. They were so hard and so close together that there was barely time to catch my breath before the next one came. I talked to the nurse and she gave me some different options. I tried an IV narcotic first and I really couldn’t tell much of a difference. So she said that if I wanted an epidural or thought that I might, it would be best to call the anesthesiologist sooner than later since he had to come from home. I said sure. I was in so much pain with no way to cope. I needed relief.

I got the epidural around 9:30. Shortly after the epidural my baby’s heart rate started to slow too much. The nurse came and turned the pitocin down a bit and my baby’s heart rate normalized. I was lucky that my epidural didn’t lead to a c-section. It easily could have. Around 2am the nurse came and checked me and told me I was ready to start pushing. I was completely numb and couldn’t even feel pressure. I struggled to figure out how to push without feeling anything but eventually figured it out with a mirror. Sometime while I was pushing my mother in law and sister in law arrived. They had driven all night to get there for the birth. It was so nice to have other women with me! I pushed for 45 minutes and had a healthy, screaming, 6lb 11oz baby boy. I remember my midwife saying “well, he certainly wasn’t in distress!”

I had one minor tear. I recovered easily. My baby breastfed easily. It was not a traumatic experience but it was not the experience I had wanted. I had a managed birth when I had wanted a natural, spontaneous birth. I had wanted to go into labor spontaneously. I had wanted to labor at home. I had wanted to have a natural childbirth. I wish that I had known what questions to ask when we began talking about induction. I wish I had been consulted about procedures like breaking my water instead of just being told that was what was going to happen next. I wish I had known that pitocin could be turned down or off. I wish I had a more comprehensive childbirth education.

A couple years later, after one miscarriage, and more help to conceive, I became pregnant again. My insurance had changed and I needed to find a new provider. I found a midwife group that delivered at the hospital that my insurance now covered and settled in for my pregnancy. I had a healthy pregnancy again. My baby stressed me out a bit because he would not turn head down; he was still breech at 32 weeks. The midwives started talking about an external version. I had a few friends that had had them without success so I wanted to avoid that route. I found a Webster certified chiropractor and between visits to the chiropractor and techniques that I found on the Spinning Babies website my baby was finally head down at my 34 week appointment.

That baby wasn’t a kicker, he was a stretcher and he stretched and stretched until I thought I would burst. I was so uncomfortable and desperate to be done. At my 38 week appointment I told my midwife all of this and she threw out the option of inducing at 39 weeks. After an induction with my first I knew what I would be getting into if I chose that route. I left and thought and talked to my husband and eventually we decided to schedule the induction. I was just so uncomfortable and needed a light at the end of the tunnel. I still really hoped to have a natural birth and felt a little better equipped to handle an induction this time. I invited my mother in law to be my support person along with my husband this time.

I arrived at the hospital at 9am and got checked in. The nurse checked me and I was at 4 cm dilated; this was going to be quick. Yay! I got my IV and pitocin started. The midwife on call, who I had never met, came in and was going to break my water but I said “no, I’d rather labor with my water intact.” I labored easily with my water intact. This went on for a few hours. Lunch time came and my mother in law and husband were hungry but they were so worried to leave me alone because I was going to go so fast, remember? I finally convinced them to go eat. Sometime after lunch I decided to get checked and I hadn’t made much progress. I was maybe at 5 cm dilated. I was still handling things fine but I did not want to wait forever so I decided to have my water broken to speed things along.

After that, labor became more difficult again. Thankfully the nurse stopped bumping the pitocin up since labor was well established. I labored better this time. It helped to have my mother in law there as well as my husband. My nurse was also incredibly helpful and supportive of my decision to have a natural birth and she stayed with me and supported me almost constantly. The midwife on call and a student midwife also were there trying their best to support me in my labor. As things started to get really difficult I got checked and I was 7 cm dilated. I was so close and the rest shouldn’t take long!

A difficult hour later I was checked again and told that I was 6 cm maybe 7 cm dilated. Were you freaking kidding me? I lost a centimeter?! I continued on for a while longer but the contractions were one on top of the other with hardly a break. I asked for an epidural at around 6pm. The nurse called the request in to the anesthesiologist but he had just started a c-section so it was going to be a while. The nurse and student midwife thought I’d have my baby before I was able to get my epidural. I got through the hour of waiting one miserable contraction at a time. I wanted to cry but I knew I wouldn’t be able to breathe if I cried so I kept it together. The anesthesiologist finally came and gave me the epidural around 7:30pm. It was a wonderful relief and I was able to rest until it was time to push at around 10pm.

I pushed 3 times for less than 5 minutes and my second baby boy rushed out of me. He weighed 7lbs 15oz. No tearing this time. I had another healthy baby but not the natural birth I had hoped for. I had more education this time and advocated for myself better but I still wish I had known more. I wish I had known other ways to try to start labor on my own. I wish my midwife hadn’t been so happy to schedule an induction. We were pretty sure that we were done having babies so I just accepted my births for what they were, not my ideal but not traumatic; they could have been worse.

A few years later we felt like we should have one more baby. Since this would definitely be the last baby I really wanted to have the birth that I had dreamed of for years. In the years since my second birth I had made some friends who had home births with a wonderful midwife who only delivered out of hospital. I chose to meet with her and loved her immediately. My husband was a little more wary of out of hospital birth but felt comfortable enough at the birth center that was just 5 minutes from the hospital. After a few months of fertility help I was pregnant again. Over the months of meeting with her I was so impressed with the time she took to really get to know me and help educate me.

About halfway through my pregnancy she found a large growth in my thyroid. She pulled strings to get me into a specialist to get things checked out. When the biopsy came back as cancer she talked over all of my options for the birth, including transferring care to the hospital midwife group so that my birth would cover my deductible and my surgery after would be less money out of pocket overall but there was no way that I was going to switch midwives. I was still healthy and a great, low risk candidate for out of hospital birth, despite my cancer diagnosis, so we continued on that path.

As my belly grew so did my tumor. It grew so much that I decided to schedule the surgery for just a month after my due date. I really wanted my baby to be a month old before I had to be away from her and my midwife agreed so when I was 38 weeks and a few days my midwife gently induced labor. At 10am she did a membrane sweep and gave me herbal tinctures; I was dilated to 3 cm. Contractions started gently about 15 minutes later. I went about my day with my two boys. We ran a few errands and hung out at home. My husband came home from work and we took the boys to their swim lessons together. We had snow cones afterwards. All the while my contractions continued gently and began to become more noticeable.

After swim lessons we got our things ready and got the boys to our neighbor’s house to hang out. I was still doing fine but we didn’t want to hit rush hour traffic so I texted my midwife and we headed to the birth center. When I got there she commented that I seemed to be handling things fine, which was true, and checked me and told me I was a “very stretchy” 5 cm dilated. She gave me the option of breaking my water which she was confident would bring my baby quickly but I was very wary since things had always gotten really hard after my water was broken. So we decided to do another membrane sweep and dose of tincture and go and walk the nearby mall until things picked up more.

About an hour later things were picking up enough that I thought it would be good to head back. When I was checked again I was still at 5 cm dilated but my midwife was even more confident that things would go very quickly once my water was broken. So I agreed to have her break my water when my friend arrived after work at about 5:30pm. After my water was broken things picked up quickly. My midwife recommended that we move to the tub. It was a great recommendation! I labored through transition in the tub with my midwife, friend and husband encouraging me and supporting me.

My transition in this labor was nothing compared to the hours of pitocin induced contractions in my previous labors. It was still very intense and required a lot of me but I never felt overwhelmed. As suddenly as transition came on it ended. I had to switch positions because my legs were falling asleep. I sat semi-reclined in the tub and waited. I got a few minutes of rest time before I felt my baby move down rapidly. I called out “she’s coming” and a moment later my daughter’s head was born; I hadn’t even pushed. I waited until the next contraction came to push her body out. She was born 1 hour after my water was broken. It was such a blissful experience; the birth that I had always hoped to experience.

I learned that having a care provider who gave time to know, educate, and truly care for me makes a world of difference in birth. I learned what being an active participant in decision making in labor was. I learned what true support in labor looks like. I learned that I was made for birth and birth was made for me! My birth experiences have been like a road map of my life as a woman and mother. As I gained more knowledge I became more confident to fight for the things that are best for me and my children. My hope in becoming a Birth Boot Camp Instructor is to provide education to couples so that they feel capable of making the best decisions to bring about their amazing birth, whatever that looks like.

My last birth was so amazing that I wanted to help other women to have their ideal birth. I dove into birth stories and research. I decided that I eventually wanted to become a doula to walk with women through birth. It is my passion. I am so excited to work with first time mothers and teach the things that I wish I had known when I was preparing to birth my first baby. Knowledge is power and empowering.

I was so happy to find Birth Boot Camp! I love how comprehensive the Birth Boot Camp education program is. It is so well researched and evidence based. There is no assumption that one way of birth is the best way or that any way of birth is wrong. It provides couples with information to make the best decision to achieve THEIR amazing birth.

I trained with Hollie Hauptly in March 2020. I loved my training experience. All of the women in my session are amazing and I loved learning from them. We had fun learning and teaching together. I am happy to have found a wonderful, family of supportive women in the Birth Boot Camp world. I love how hands on the training was. I enjoyed teaching each other and using the fantastic tools that the Birth Boot Camp program has developed for the teachers. I feel confident to transfer my knowledge into my teaching and have fun doing so.

You can find Sarah at:
https://www.wasatchbirthbootcamp.com/ , on Facebook HERE, e-mail her here: soviatt@birthbootcamp.com, or reach her by phone: 616-516-7205

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