My birth story starts in quite a boring way actually. It was 11am and I was lying in bed relaxing and watching YouTube videos when I felt a small gush of fluid making a little patch on the bed. I quickly jumped up and hobbled to the bathroom with my knees squeezed together. Could I have finally wet myself at 40 weeks pregnant or was it just pregnancy fluid? It was clear and smelled sweet. I was slightly nervous and excited. I put a pad on and ran back to the laptop to check in with my online parenting group to ask for opinions. Their verdict – my waters definitely had broken.
I felt the urge to go and prepare my birth space…
I felt the urge to go and prepare my birth space in the living room and clean the house. A sudden burst of energy overtook and I ended up mopping all over downstairs and scrubbing my front porch and patio with a wire broom and bleach!
The pad was filling with more bloody show and fluid on the next few toilet visits in between rushing around so things were definitely moving, although I wasn’t feeling anything yet.
Once calmed down, I drew the curtains in the living room and stuck up birth affirmations on the mirror. I played some relaxing music and had my essential oil diffuser on that cycled through different lights. Around 4pm, as I bounced on my ball relaxing and visualizing the birth, I could start to feel some mild tightening. I practiced my breathing exercises learned in Daisy Birth class and focused in on the diffuser lights, pretending to blow it like a candle. The contractions were all in my hips and upper thighs at that time and felt like tight squeezing. I was surprised not to feel them in my belly or back.
My appointment with a midwife was set for 6pm and I was desperately hoping my husband would make it home from work on time. He did get back and was amazed by the smell of the cleaning products. He helped me set up the room and the sofa, lay down soft blankets and duvets and a waterproof cover – all ready for the imminent birth.
The journey to the midwife’s clinic was uncomfortable: I felt every bump in the road and was seriously struggling through the tightenings that were still in my hips and came every five to ten minutes. Once there, I was swaying through the contractions and couldn’t stay still. I was still very calm and looking out of the window- my midwife seemed to notice the signs and asked “are you in labour?”. I hadn’t really processed the fact that this baby was definitely coming so when i said yes I felt quite pleased.
Me and my husband were shocked to find out that my iron, which had supposedly been low the whole third trimester, suddenly jumped up to ‘normal’ levels. Regardless of pressure from the hospital to change my mind, I had always been convinced that my home birth WAS happening! Midwife confirmed I am in labour and gave me some clary sage and lavender to rub on my belly for relaxation.
Then we went shopping and bought loads of food and drink. I had to stop every few minutes to breathe and move through the contractions; still we went to another shop and bought
more food. Struggling with the queue to pay, I had to let my husband sort it out as I moved to the exit to concentrate on my breathing. I was hungry and desperate for fish and chips and saveloy. Scoffed the lot when I got home in between contractions but this was probably a bad idea as it backfired on me later on (vomited it all).
It was really soothing and I enjoyed the water running down my back and hips during the contractions. I felt in control and I was still able to breathe through them.
We got home and I started timing the contractions on my phone and put music back on. I kept the lights dim and tried to get comfortable. My husband suggested I take a shower while he called my mum and asked her to come.
I was having a hard time getting undressed and was gripping the headboard for ages before getting in the shower. I couldn’t speak so I couldn’t call for my husband although I needed him to rub my back and help.
Eventually I shuffled into the shower and stayed there in the dark under the hot water for what felt like ages. It was really soothing and I enjoyed the water running down my back and hips during the contractions. I felt in control and I was still able to breathe through them.
Finally my mum arrived and helped me to get out and dressed. We went downstairs and I tried TENS machine. It was a nice distraction for a while but eventually it got annoying and I demanded it to be ripped off.
The rest of the evening was a blur. The midwife arrived as I was having pushing sensation, thinking I need the toilet. I got to the loo and managed a wee but the poo feeling was false, it was just the baby coming down. Midwife Becky from the Barkantine Birth Centre was very nice and respectful and always asked permission to listen to baby’s heartbeat or measure my blood pressure. She held my hand and encouraged me.
I slept and was away in a colourful magical land, riding the oxytocin high
Contractions got really strong and I was feeling very hot. I needed cold water down my back and asked Patrick (my husband) to squeeze my hips really firmly. Some contractions were “doubled up”, one came on top of the other. I was shouting: “No!” and proclaimed that “it wasn’t supposed to be hurting!” – just as I thought it was over, another powerful wave came. In between them I slept and was away in a colourful magical land, riding the oxytocin high. I was vocalising during the contractions, at this point they were very intense; feeling like a lemon squeezer, I was being twisted and pushed down inside by my uterus.
Next thing I remember my husband shouting: “The head is here! I can see baby’s hair!”
“No it isn’t”, I told him. Surely I can’t push him out yet! I didn’t want to. But I had no choice. My body just pushed – first the head, then – the little body, all within one push. I was kneeling up against the sofa. Midwife passed him through my legs and I turned and sat to grab him. I lifted him up – it was a boy! He looked at me and I looked at him as if we knew each other already. It felt amazing. My baby! I birthed him! Born at 2.41am.
I took my top off and put him on my chest. We delayed cord clamping and cutting until he had all his blood from the placenta; the cord was white and completely thin. The placenta arrived within a few minutes; I had to cough and it flopped out – huge and red like a dinner plate! My husband cut the cord eventually and we allowed him to be weighed. My tiny bundle of joy – 2.980 kg / 6lbs 9oz.
I knew this was the best and safest place to birth for me.
We had to get the baby dressed quickly as I had to transfer to the hospital for stitching of a perineal tear. We missed out on the long bonding period, but the actual delivery was smooth and peaceful. We chose a home birth but I will say that initially, I wanted to use the birth centre but I was ‘risked out’ of being able to use it due to low Hb (haemoglobin/iron in blood). The suggestion was that I had to have my baby in hospital. There was no way that was going to happen, I’m a nurse, I work in a hospital and I know it’s for sick people. I was also concerned about the cascade of interventions and less of a personalised experience which were all going to have a counter effect on birth. I knew I was healthy and I had researched Hb levels and came to the decision that my blood was adequate and actually normal. (According to studies it is supposed to drop in 3rd trimester due to haemodilution of the blood). So I didn’t want hospital, wasn’t allowed in the birth centre and so homebirth it was! The more and more I looked into it and read about it, watched videos online of homebirth, read stories about it. I knew this was the best and safest place to birth for me.
Homebirth was the best option for me and I definitely recommend it to everyone who can do so safely!