“After giving birth to my first babe, Sonny, at 34w in 2020 I had convinced myself I’d need to wait a few years before conceiving again in order to prevent another premature birth. But the universe had other plans and during the week Sonny turned 1 year old we were lucky enough to conceive our second babe, a little girl.
I immediately started planning a home birth again and putting my hypnobirthing tools into practise. I read and listened to tonnes of positive birth stories, practised my “up breathing” daily and hired my wonderful doula, Meg.
I started having regular braxton hicks at 19w and this brought out an anxiety I never knew was possible. I was afraid of having another premature baby and the idea of being in hospital and not being able to see my toddler (the visiting policy at the time) really scared me. I hadn’t spent a night away from him and I was still breastfeeding him too.
I wrote out my favourite affirmations including “my baby will come when my baby is ready” and “my baby will be born full term”. I stuck them up in the bedroom, bathroom and in my birth space downstairs. These constant reminders certainly helped with my mindset.
I continued having braxton hicks throughout but otherwise had a healthy rest of my pregnancy.
By 37w I practised my Hypnobirthing methods pretty much every day, kept UFO as much as I could, bounced on my birth ball, tried the Miles Circuit, did curb walking, had acupuncture, completed Dr Rachel Reed’s childbirth course, researched birth biomechanics…I did everything I could to prepare myself and to help baby get into the best possible position if she wasn’t already.
I woke from a fabulous night’s sleep (the last one I can remember haha) and wasn’t sure on baby’s movements, due to so much sleep, so I went into Burnley birth suite to be monitored. All was good and so I declined the offered induction and extra monitoring. I went to a sound gong bath instead and celebrated making it to 40w.
I refused to discuss induction as I didn’t want any extra pressure or time constraints put on us. I lost some mucus plug and declined a membrane sweep.
“My baby will come at the right time for an easy birth”.
I had a routine appointment with my lovely midwife Sally and asked if she could check my cervix because I’d had a few niggles over a couple of days and was curious if she could see any changes. (I told myself not to have any expectations because I knew changes were happening even if they couldn’t be seen.) To my surprise she said I was about 4cm, and could have stretched to me to 5cm but I decided not to have any interventions.
Sally left and my husband Sam cooked tea, I was feeling crampy so ate as much pasta as I could (just in case I needed the energy) and decided to head to bed.
Within minutes of getting into bed the contractions started and were coming thick and fast. I got on my hands and knees, breathing deeply and text my doula Meg just to give her a heads up but said that I didn’t need her support yet.
I text Meg saying “set off now please” because the contractions were getting on top of eachother. Sam called up our midwife.
I started mooing and got on my hands and knees in the shower, the water falling onto my back felt amazing. The privacy in the bathroom really helped me go inward and let my instinct take control.
Two home birth midwives arrived shortly after and Sam protected my birth space (as I’d requested) by keeping them downstairs. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or be distracted.
Shortly after I made my way downstairs to the birth pool. Thankfully Meg had blown it up 5 weeks prior so it only needed filling with water. Sam and my dad ran round with kettles to fill it up quicker and I’m not lying when I say the feeling of getting into the pool was almost orgasmic😂
I asked for all the lights to be turned off (even my twinkly ones) and just had a couple of tea light candles on. I also asked for the music I’d planned be turned off.
I loved the sound of the water slowly pouring into the pool and the sound of my own breath was what I focused on most.
The contractions got more intense but were totally manageable and I moo’d my way through each one. Meg pressed on my back wherever I needed and helped me focus on my breath when I felt a little wobble during transition.
I’m amazed at how suddenly aware I became as I said “I’m losing control, if this isn’t transition I’m fucked”! Meg and Sam calmed me and brought me back to my breath. It was definitely transition!
What I find interesting is not only did I notice this shift but I had a moment of “rest and be thankful” too where the contractions paused for a minute and allowed me to have a breather. I remember saying “I really needed that break”.
I started feeling pushy, my mooing stopped and I went silent. My uterus muscles were definitely pushing down now and the surges weren’t as intense as before, just different. Meg continued to press on my back which I found really helpful as I pushed back into her palm.
Baby’s head was visible (according to my maternity notes) and I kept pushing excitedly when I felt the pressure. I reached down and felt her head which spurred me on even more.
I definitely felt what’s known as the “ring of fire” but it surprised me because it wasn’t on my perineum where I imagined it would be, but instead I felt a burning sensation up the front of my vagina, again I softened into it and breathed. It was completely manageable. I felt baby’s head moving slowly up and down and knew this was exactly how birth is designed to be.
“Baby’s head almost born” according to my maternity notes. Once her head was born my midwives noted she was “wearing her membranes like a veil” meaning the amniotic sac (which I never felt burst or release or anything!) was over her face! She also came out facing slightly the side so if you look closely you can see her pouting lips out to the side and the membranes too.
Daisy Josephine Aston was born quite quickly into the world and as she emerged her arms were reaching out through the water. Looking back it’s as though she’s reaching for me, ready to meet me. My midwife helped her pass through my legs because I was adamant I would be the first one to hold her. My first words were “I did it, we did it” and I just kept saying it over and over. I felt like we were the perfect team.
The water in the pool was getting cooler and I wanted to snuggle up on the sofa so I was assisted out the pool by my birth team whilst I held Daisy.
Within seconds of being out the pool my placenta fell out in a huge plop and into the waiting washing up bowl below me.
I remembered that feeling after birthing the placenta with Sonny, the relief of the placenta being born and also the lovely soft squidgy belly you’re left with after growing so much life. I might be weird but I love that feeling!
We snuggled up on our sofa and waited for the umbilical cord to go white and stop pulsing before Sam cut the cord and tied it off with our cotton cord daisy tie. The midwife was great at helping Sam do this. I remember thinking “I can’t believe we did it” it felt so surreal. And yet so real as I was so present and in control.
In the hour or so after, Daisy had a practise at breastfeeding, my midwife gave us an awesome “tour” of the placenta and weighed her on the dining table. She was 9lbs 1.5oz! I don’t think I will ever get over that!!
I had a 2nd degree tear (again, and in the same place as I tore with Sonny) and apparently it’s because of weak tissue where I tore previously and there wasn’t very long between births. Plus she was a chunk!
It wasn’t a problem though, as I didn’t feel it and I knew that perineums are designed to stretch and tear. I had an injection to numb the skin while I had the stitches done on the sofa, I used my hypnobirthing breath again!
The midwives tidied up and left and Meg tidied up, cleaned away the birth pool, made us all tea and toast and helped me shower and get into my pjs. Meg left us tucked up in bed, Sam asleep and exhausted and me breastfeeding our gorgeous newborn daughter.
In all honesty, my birth felt like an act of rebellion against a system which sometimes seems designed to sabotage births.
It was fun. It was intense, but it was euphoric. I felt more supported, heard and safer than I felt in my hospital birth with Sonny.
I would honestly give birth like that every day for the rest of my life if I could.
My amazing midwife Sally continued our care at home and did the newborn checks later that morning, in the comfort of our bed and brought us breakfast.
I was on an oxytocin high for such a long time, and I don’t think I’ve come down from it yet!
Daisy Josephine Aston, 9lbs 1.5oz”