“I was 6 days overdue and had a “When I found out I was pregnant, I initially was more nervous than excited because I’ve only seen birth in the media and it’s rarely positive. I knew I had to reframe my mind so I started searching for someone or something that could help, and I found a book on hypnobirthing. I read that and something in my mind just flipped – when people said “aren’t you scared?” (why are we constantly asked this!) I’d say “no, I’m excited. This is literally what my body is designed to do.”
“I stayed clear of any tv shows about birth, and tried to not let scary stories take a place in my mind.
“We found an incredible doula named Meg offering a full hypnobirthing course just down the road. Those few weeks of attending the course filled me, and my partner, with even more confidence that I CAN do this (I could write an essay on how much that course probably changed my life). Just learning about the physiology of childbirth, and that oxytocin is key, made us both feel prepared. I remember thinking why on earth did I not book her as my doula, now it is too late!
“I still had fear of the hospital setting though as I always have, one blood test can make me faint and even just the smell makes me lightheaded. At my first appointment the midwife asked me my chosen place of birth, home/birth centre/hospital. I was very intrigued by the prospect of a homebirth but I was told that “it usually doesn’t happen for first time mums. Wait until the second when you know what to expect” So I dismissed the thought and opted for the birth centre. We had a look around and I liked it more than a hospital, and it was lovely, but it wasn’t home.
“I had a pivotal moment when I saw Meg and another doula’s live video on instagram answering questions about homebirths. I remember sitting in the bath watching the whole thing, the water freezing cold but I was enthralled. I thought “I could really do that. I need to do that!” The only place I could envision myself giving birth was my cozy and safe little home.
“I contacted Meg and she came for a chat and told me “your first birth isn’t a practice run”. That was all I needed to hear, and she was absolutely right, why shouldn’t you have your first baby at home? And what if I only had one? I quickly hired a birth pool to set my decision in stone.
“I got a lot of “you’re brave” and “what if something happens” comments from friends & family but I just ignored them and didn’t let anyone else’s fear become my own. And when Meg told me she had some last minute doula availability as if by miracle – I was even more raring to go!
“As I got closer, some self doubt crept in and I started to have niggling thoughts like am I doing the right thing, what if I can’t do it, but then I would read and watch more positive birth stories. Podcasts, instagram, wherever I could find them, and then the trust in my body was restored. I would read chapters over and over again from a book I loved “reclaiming birth as a rite of passage”. I attended pregnancy yoga where birth was spoken about very positively.
“I went into labour naturally at 41+3 after declining a sweep, I knew that it would happen when I felt safe and happy. So naturally, watching dragon’s den and eating chocolate with my partner is when I got my first little contraction at 10pm. We couldn’t believe we were going to meet our baby soon, and I was really giddy laughing and dancing around. We decided to try and get some sleep until it got more intense around 4am. I called the birth centre. Two midwives came but with me choosing not to have cervical checks and my contractions still a bit slow, they left us for a while. That was the nice thing about being at home.
“My partner Matt set up the birth pool, with fairy lights, battery powered candles and a relaxing playlist and Meg even told Matt to go and get some rest whilst she looked after me. I’m so glad she did that as it gave him the energy to be the amazing birth partner that he was. It was nice to have Meg there as I didn’t panic that the midwives had left and I felt fully supported.
“It was a long day with very strong and consistent contractions. I used the comb and the tens machine for pain relief until I requested gas and air (which was quite noisy and distracting so I didn’t like it very much). The best feeling was getting into the nice warm water. Matt and Meg made sure I kept breathing, drinking, and eating chocolate covered pretzels! I moved around a lot from the bedroom, bathroom, pool and back up again. I tried lunges, side stepping, lots of different open and forward positions to get the baby down. Sitting on the toilet backwards, or as Meg called it “the dilation station” seemed to help get things going when I’d hit a plateau.
“I had no concept of time or how long it had been but I was aware that the playlist had been on a loop, it had gone from light to dark, and that there had been a midwife changeover. Two new midwives arrived and one of them was the lady who I had seen for most of my appointments, Rachel. I couldn’t believe it as I had wished for her to be my midwife all along and it was so nice to have her presence as I felt totally safe and unobserved. She just sat back quietly and I didn’t feel as though she was watching the clock. They both just left me to it, and respected my wishes to not be constantly monitored. From then on, the urges to push escalated.
“I had been pushing in the pool for quite some time and was starting to lose confidence in myself. I was saying crazy things like I’m not doing it, what are my options now, it’s not working! I felt strangely really sad and hopeless like I’d been defeated but I guess that is what they call “transition”
“Meg and Matt never once doubted me and just kept reiterating you can do this, you already are doing this, whilst forming a protective bubble around me.
“When my pushing urges got really strong it was such a weird sensation but I was not actively pushing or squeezing at all, my body was just doing it as I focused on my breath. It was completely uncontrollable and nobody needed to tell me when and how to push as it was just happening. I could feel the pressure of my baby coming down and getting closer and closer for a long time, but I was getting exhausted. Meg fed me some honey for energy and I knew I needed to get out of the pool and try something else, so I side-stepped up the stairs and back into the dilation station, still thinking I was getting nowhere. The midwives even stayed downstairs, also probably thinking I wasn’t close!
“After 5 minutes of sitting on the toilet, Matt told me to stand up and Meg said “I can see the head”. Music to my ears. She called for the midwives and I had a rush of adrenaline/something magical as I breathed the baby out. I think it was two more big pushes and our baby entered the world with a loud cry instantly, and the relief on Matt’s face was a picture I will never ever forget. The very short cord was wrapped around my leg and we tried to navigate how to lift the baby up and untangle it for a moment. I announced the gender “it’s a boy!” exactly what we had guessed! He was born at 9.32pm and 8.5lbs. We called him Noah.
“The most beautiful part of having a homebirth was getting into our bed with the baby, eating a banana and taking him all in as I waited for the placenta. I couldn’t stop smelling his little head. The placenta had other ideas, and wanted to stay inside even though we waited for a long time, so I had to be transferred to hospital to have it removed. Noah still got to stay with me, and even with this small complication, it does not change the fact that I got the birth I’d envisioned all along, and I can proudly tell my son one day that he was born in our bathroom.
“I obviously didn’t enjoy being in hospital for that procedure but when I returned home, to my disbelief the battery powered tea lights were still flickering and it was a gentle reminder to forget about the hospital as we sat and reminisced about how beautiful Noah’s birth was.”