Wanted to Experience Natural Birth

Nancy Kanoudi had a plan.

When it came to pregnancy and labor, the 32-year-old knew very well that sometimes things just don’t go according to plan, but she and her husband drafted one anyway.

Kanoudi wanted to experience a natural birth.

“That was the one thing I knew I wanted,” she said. “Everyone thought I was crazy.”

The Costa Mesa resident didn’t want to be induced and she didn’t want an epidural. She wanted to delay cord clamping and she didn’t want her son to be rushed off for a bath after delivery.

But above all, Kanoudi wanted her son to be safe.

“If need be, I was completely open for medical intervention,” she said. “I was completely OK with that if the baby was in distress or I was in distress.”

But Kanoudi wanted to try to do it her way, and she was looking for a doctor who understood.

“Going in to a natural birth you really have to be calm and have the right support system,” she said. “I wanted the chance for my body to do this on its own.”

As her due date approached, she had still not found someone who she felt truly supported her wish to go natural.

Thirty weeks into her pregnancy, Kanoudi found Dr. Jeffrey S. Illeck at Hoag.

“I had heard Dr. Illeck would be supportive of my birth plan,” she said. “When I met him, on the spot, I said: ‘You’re my doctor.’”

Kanoudi said Dr. Illeck was attentive and understanding. He said he’d be there for her birth to coach her through.

“He is at 90 percent of his patients’ deliveries,” she said. “I feel like that’s really important. You build this relationship with someone then for them not to be there, I’d be really disappointed.”

Kanoudi did everything she could to prepare for her son’s arrival — she practiced yoga, ate healthy and enrolled in Bradley Method classes to support her natural birth decision.

She also relied heavily on the many prenatal classes Hoag had to offer — from courses on pelvic floor strengthening to birthing lessons.

“I would definitely recommend taking a class,” Kanoudi said. “Being a first-time mom, I didn’t know what to expect. When you’re in the moment, you remember everything you learned in those classes and just do it.

“Natural birth is not easy, but it’s not impossible.”

Kanoudi went into labor at about 2:30 a.m. April 25.

“I went from zero to 60,” she said. “Some people labor for hours and days, but I had a really fast labor.”

When she arrived at Hoag, Kanoudi said she passed out her birth plan to the nurses and waited for Dr. Illeck to arrive.

“Everyone was on board,” she said. “The nurses and their staff - everything was amazing. They never skipped a beat.”

When Dr. Illeck joined the team, Kanoudi said she felt at ease.

“He just has a way of going about everything to really make you feel comfortable,” she said. “He kind of made it fun and he made me relax, which is a big thing when you’re doing natural child birth.”

The Kanoudis’ son, Braxton, was born at 7:50 a.m. April 25.

“The nurses and Dr. Illeck respected every single thing I wanted to do. They didn’t question me,” she said. “Everything I wrote down in my plan happened.”