After a somewhat medicalised (yet still immensely beautiful) hospital birth with my daughter, I approached the birth of my son with an open mind. I was super keen to have a home birth this time but instead of being fixated on it, I reminded myself that birth can often change path along the way and that if I needed to go to hospital again, that was ok.
I was way more relaxed and ‘go with the flow’ this time around in pregnancy. My daughter’s pregnancy went to 42+3 weeks, so instead of doing all the labour inducing clichés, I reminded myself that my body was likely to carry this baby a little longer too, so didn’t even pack my hospital bag until I reached 39 weeks.
Fast forward to the early hours of New Year’s Eve and I started to feel some cramping at about 2am. This coincided with Maggie waking up crying (which is quite unlike her) so I went in and gave her a cuddle with her resting on my bump as I was having light surges. She went back to sleep and I started to take a note of the time between each surge as I wasn’t certain if it was the onset of early labour or if I just needed to go to the toilet! I was 40+3 days into my pregnancy and convinced I’d go past 41 weeks so was very surprised. I went back to bed and tried to get some sleep.
By 7.30am my surges were pretty strong and relatively close together, my waters hadn’t broken and I hadn’t had a show yet so I was pretty relaxed in the knowledge things could take a while. I stayed in bed whilst diffusing some lavender and tried to sleep some more. My husband called the midwife and she popped over at about lunchtime. As soon as I saw her my surges stopped! She decided to make herself scarce and this pattern of stop start surges continued another 3 times as the midwife came and went. I said to my husband that we’d have to do it without the midwife and he just went along with me, whilst quietly keeping in touch with her without me knowing. I was sniffing furiously on a potent and heady mix of Clary sage oil and lavender from a handkerchief in an attempt to get things moving.
We decided to carb load with some pizza at about 5pm – a fab idea as I was in desperate need of some fuel in my tank in preparation for the evening ahead. We watched ‘In the Night Garden’ with my daughter and my surges were back with a vengeance. My mum had arrived to help with Maggie and I was busy practising my calm and up breathing techniques so felt quite in control. I also found that sitting in my daughter’s room and leaning over her changing table with each surge was hugely helpful, as I felt really safe and Zen in her room. We used some of the light touch massage which offered some relief at this point. Whilst running Maggie’s bath at 6.30pm I said to my husband that I absolutely needed to get into the bath right at that moment so ended up sharing a bath with my daughter, whilst having very strong surges. Maggie kept kissing my bump and looking down at the baby’s ‘exit route’ saying ‘herro babba’, which, needless to say sent me into Oxytocin overload!!
Chris had kept in contact with the midwife who arrived just in time to get me down to the birthing pool which we had set up in the living room earlier in the day. By this time I was in active labour, with my Relaxation MP3 playing on constant loop and breathing like a Hypnobirthing goddess! I felt euphoric as I set myself into a rhythm, and the warm water of the pool was a massive pain reliever – I hadn’t had the benefit of water for my first birth and it was amazing.
As transition set in I had a wobble as I was convinced I wasn’t in established labour yet. I asked my midwife to examine me, who had, at our request, been very hands off to this point, leaving me to it. As I stood up, I had my show. I was convinced this meant I was 2 days away from having my baby as I knew the show was often only an early sign of labour starting. The midwife examined me and when she told me I was 8cm dilated I could hardly believe how far I had come with just water, breathing and listening to my affirmations! I got back in the pool and continued on my birthing journey. I had some gas and air on hand when things got a little too much, but to be honest I seemed to do better at the breathing without it. We also had a birthing playlist but at that point all I wanted to hear was my relaxation MP3.
I kept changing positions in the pool and suddenly felt a huge pop as my waters broke and I felt the urge to breathe down. It was an intense, animalistic feeling as I leaned over the side of pool looking up at my husband feeling the baby crowning. 13 minutes later, my son shot out of me all at once, arm first like superman into the pool and I reached down and brought him up to my chest. My son, Jasper was born at 11.35pm just in time to hear the NYE fireworks, weighing a healthy 8lbs 11oz. I will never forget that feeling of laying with him on my chest in the water waiting for his cord to stop pulsating, which my husband later cut. He was so perfect and latched as soon as I offered him my breast.
I contemplated whether or not to share the next bit but think it is important as it may help those of you in two minds over planning a home birth for worry of the ‘what if something goes wrong’. Shortly after I birthed Jasper, I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be the end of it as I waited to feel surges to deliver my placenta. Unfortunately, we waited and waited, but nothing happened. My placenta wasn’t going to budge despite trying everything to get it moving. I was gutted but knew there was only a short window before I would need to be transferred to hospital for manual removal. I could hear the midwives calling for an ambulance and even though it was a busy NYE, with ambulances taken up by drunken revelers, the medics arrived at about 1am to take me to hospital. I remember the cold air hitting my face as I was stretchered out of the door, but looked up to see the full moon looking down on me and I knew everything was going to be ok. I continued my calm breathing and there was another midwife who arrived in the ambulance who held my hand the entire way. I was in the hospital within a matter of minutes and my placenta was removed in a very straightforward manner by a consultant. I also had to have some stitches either because if the placenta removal or the way Jasper entered the world arm first! This part of the story just goes to show that even if you need to be transferred during a home birth, it doesn’t have to be an emergency, terrifying nightmare, and that with the right mindset, can be dealt with seamlessly without having a negative impact on your birth experience. All I remember is birthing my beautiful boy calmly into the water at home and the rest is just white noise!
We had to stay overnight in the hospital but to be honest it turned out to be a godsend as Chris was able to stay with me so we got to spend some quality time bonding with our son over endless cups of tea and rounds of toast before heading home the next day to introduce Jasper to his big sister. I still cannot believe that I got to give birth to our son in my front room, just using the skills and techniques learnt from my hypnobirthing course.
Since having Jasper, I use the breathing techniques daily to overcome any anxiety and am in awe of what my body can do by tuning in to the skills I have learnt.
Thankyou so much to Katy for sharing this amazing story! You can read more from Katy here.