Today I’m talking about the incredible home birth I had just over a month ago now. Whilst Pregnant I absolutely loved reading positive birth stories as it made me feel in awe of women and how incredible our bodies actually are.
Ok but before I go on… Why share my birth story? Surely no one needs to know…
Well actually there’s a huge need to change the narrative around child birth. Think about all the births you’ve seen on TV shows and movies… the woman is probably lying down on her back in a hospital surrounded by doctors and she’s screaming her head off. Everyone thinks that what birth is like and grows up fearing it. However that’s not the case! We’ve been having children and giving birth as long as time… You probably don’t need to go to far up your family tree to hear stories of your grandparents giving birth at home.
So why label it positive birth story?
A positive birth story isn’t just all about home births. A positive birth story is any scenario where a woman feels in control and her wishes are met. This can be in theatre, in a birth pool or even if the plans change. Women come out the other side feeling empowered no matter how it happened because they were in control.
Positive birth stories are reframing the way we think about birth… as something we do instead of something done to us.
We all know what kind of year it’s been! Sadly covid has meant my husband hasn’t been able to come to any of the scans and appointments. I’d been keeping an eye on the hospital rules and even wrote to the trust and MP to try and get it changed so that my husband could be there for more. It didn’t look like things were changing anytime soon so we spoke about the idea of having a home birth (the one way we could guarantee he could be there for it all). I’m not going to lie… I was nervous! Most people I spoke to told me home births are dangerous and it was all a crazy idea!
Cue me doing my research! Home births are actually super safe for low risk pregnancies… there’s a lower percentage of you needing medical intervention and usually fewer complications. How I hear you ask? Birth works on your happy hormone… the happier and more relaxed you feel the smoother it goes… and I know for sure that I feel happier and more relaxed at home.
I know there’s everyone thinking “but what if ?!” In the scenario of having to be transferred to hospital the midwives who are with you would pick up on it super early. You have two support midwives for a home birth… yep you read that right TWO! Two amazing midwives who literally watch you like a hawk and monitor to make sure you and baby are happy (usually in hospitals the midwives would pop in and out as they’re looking after the entire ward).
Ok enough rambling… tell us your story!
Ok ok… I know I can go on a bit! So here it is…
I woke up on baby’s due date at midnight feeling some surges… a bit like period cramps. Now I didn’t know if this was the real deal as I had been getting Braxton Hicks before too so I just moved around and did some breathing to see if it would go. Turns out they were sticking around…. I started timing them and they were about 10 minutes apart so it wasn’t established labour but something had definitely started. I woke up my husband and we messaged our doulas (Doula’s are incredible women who have all the knowledge in the world and are there to support you in birth and after). The doula confirmed things were starting but this could go on for a while so to get some rest.
I tried to lie down and close my eyes but the surges kept me awake so hubby and I put on a classic rom com movie, lay in bed and just relaxed. The hours went by and we relaxed, ate food we enjoyed and I was able to breath through the surges with ease. I already had my 40 week appointment with my midwife booked in so we went along and she checked everything was all good. On the way back we decided to do a little walk up a hill and back down again (that was enough for me but also totally helped kick things along).
Shortly after getting back home the surges picked up another level. I now had to put on the TENS machine (incredible little machine that works on increasing the endorphins in your body… your natural pain relief). I asked hubby to call the doula again… I tried watching movies but by this point I couldn’t sit… I was either on all 4’s on leaning over a chair. My doula came and was so positive and encouraging … saying I was doing so well and to keep going and take it easy as it could go on a bit longer still. So she left and I carried on doing what I was doing.
In that time my husband had packed up his work from home laptop desk set up and transformed the living room into the most magical birth environment… fairy lights were put up, music playing and essential oils defusing. He started filling up the pool and got all the snacks ready. My affirmations were hanging from the lights, stuck on the walls and everywhere possible!
Suddenly things ramped up another level and even though hubby had created this dreamy environment in the living room I found myself sitting in our dark bathroom on the toilet! (the benefits of home birth is using every room… even the ones you didn’t think you would!). I asked hubby to call the doula back as now it was stepping up a level. I used the TENS machine and counted by breath (something I had been teaching pregnant women to do in all my classes). I took each breath as it came and coached myself through it “you can do it… keep going”.
It stepped up another level and I threw up (now this is normal but also surprising for me… a girl who hasn’t thrown up since she was 12 and ate too many cheerios for breakfast!). I knew it was actually happening! The baby was coming!
I kept breathing and counting and my doula arrived. I asked them to call the midwives as I felt ready! In the time it took for the midwives to arrive I had my wobble… everyone warns you about the wobble. The moment you think you can’t do it… the moment you want to give up. I was at that stage! I told hubby I was so close to using my code word (Pineapple) which would mean let’s take it to the hospital. Hubby and doula knew it was the wobble and told me I was in control but just take each breath at a time. I listened to them and kept breathing through each surge.
The midwives arrived and it was all go! They read through my birth plan and they were incredible… they didn’t intervene and were happy to leave me to do what I was doing and just popping in to hear baby’s heart beat every now and then. I found myself sitting on the toilet again and using the TENS machine and breath to keep going as hubby finished filling up the pool (this took a little longer than expected and I know he was freaking out about getting it to the right temperature! haha! but he did well to hide it from me).
Suddenly I felt the sudden urge to start pushing. I let my body do what it was going to do and keep breathing through it. My doula was popping cold damp cloths on my neck and forehead and it literally was the best feeling! I usually run cold and remember telling my doula I can’t ever imagine feeling that hot! I did! And she was so on it with the cold flannel… I even borrowed a fan from our lovely neighbour.
Finally the pool was ready and I took off the TENS machine and climbed in. Every ounce of my body sighed with relief! It felt amazing… I struggled with pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy so the warm water actually really soothed my hips and muscles. After climbing into the pool the pushes got stronger and stronger. I kept breathing and going with it. I could feel baby moving down and the midwife told me she could see the full head of hair! We started prepping for hubby to catch the baby but the pushing went on and on… I told the midwife I could feel the baby’s fingers! It was so weird but wonderful! After an hour of pushing I was getting tired. Baby’s heart rate was still strong but we needed to switch it up.
Cue changing the birth plan… I would have to climb out of the pool (no water birth) and move to the sofa. The midwives asked my consent and I felt in full control over the decisions being made. I was ready to change things up… I grew more tired and wanted to find out why it wasn’t progressing. The midwife checked and turned out baby had its hand under it’s chin. She knew I didn’t want to be coached through pushing or even be lying on my back but plans changed and there I was on my back being coached to push. It was my decision and I knew it was the best in that scenario.
I took a deep breath and pushed and there she was… baby was out!
We cried and she was placed skin to skin. Her little eyes looked up at us and I couldn’t help but cry all the happy tears. She was here! She cried her first cry and moved around… one happy healthy baby. My birth plan said I wanted my husband to announce the gender of the baby… he said “It’s a boy!” the midwife looked at him and said “are you sure? Do you want to check again?” He checked and said “It’s a girl!” . We all laughed! The midwives let us enjoy the skin to skin and after a while the placenta was out. I needed stitches and the midwives stitched me up whilst I lay in bed and hubby had skin to skin. Nothing melted my heart more than seeing hubby holding the baby with a huge smile on his face.
The midwives needed to change shifts and I was so lucky that the midwife I had seen throughout my pregnancy had come to take over! I felt over the moon to show her the baby and tell her about the birth. She filled out the paperwork and stayed so I could shower, get ready and got into bed snuggled up with the baby. She made sure I had breakfast and left us to enjoy the cuddles and said she would come back in the afternoon to check on the baby.
So there we were… on a huge high… In our own bed… enjoying all the cuddles and getting to share the news with family. I was on cloud 9 and wouldn’t change a single thing about it!
My positive birth story… just using TENS, Water and breath work. What an empowering magical experience and I’d gladly do it again.
Love from all three of us x