Noah’s home birth story, by Sarah and Matt
I was five days past my baby’s estimated due date and despite trying not to focus on this I was going completely insane with waiting for some labour signs to appear. I’d been listening to the Wise Hippo birth affirmations (my favourite track) every single morning since the course. The phrases would often pop into my mind throughout the day, and by this point I strongly believed them. I’d also spent a lot of time since the course (bus journeys, before bed etc) listening to the other tracks and music.
The choice to have a homebirth was originally based on wanting the guarantee of access to a water pool but was later boosted by wanting to feel in as safe and familiar an environment as possible, for me this was not hospital or even a midwife led unit. I had had severe PGP for months and also have a visual impairment which worsens in stressful/unfamiliar situations, so the thought of having to navigate around a hospital room etc made me feel uneasy. After the Wise Hippo course, I had gained so much more confidence in my body’s natural abilities and knew to trust my instincts about where I’d be most calm and relaxed. Deborah also helped prepare us for the potential that things might not go to plan and how to stay in the zone should things change and I did need to be transferred.
When my waters finally did break at 6pm I was SO excited that my baby was finally on its way – I literally couldn’t stop grinning! The living room was already all set up with pool, oil burner, low lighting, towels, gym ball and snacks, so after a giant fish and chips takeaway I was excited to go in there and finally be putting it all to use for real!
Standing our ground
We had to really stand our ground about not going into hospital for an assessment, as the team were so short-staffed they didn’t have any midwives they could send out.
I was adamant not to go in, but things progressed really quickly and for many hours of intensifying surges we were on our own not knowing if any midwives would be available later, or if my partner Matt would be delivering the baby solo!
He was very brave at this point having to explain to triage that I was refusing to go into hospital because being at home was right for us and them telling him that we had no choice but to go in. This was one part I know we would have been very panicked about had we not been taught how dads can take charge of being the contact with medical staff to take this job away from the mum so she can focus solely on the job in hand.
After the phone calls, Matt would return to reading bits from the birth partners script reminding me I was safe and doing well, and to go to my relaxing place.
Eventually some midwives did become available and there was someone with us from about 3am onwards. Some weren’t usually part of the community midwife team but they were all just AMAZING. They gave us both constant reassurance and space. Matt gave them chocolate cake.
To start with Matt’s soothing strokes were enough to help with the surges. But while he was filling the pool I started using the TENS machine. After a while though this made me go very cold and shivery. So at that point I got into the pool which felt great. Throughout we played the hypnobirthing tracks and used the breathing techniques, without which I wouldn’t have got half as far without any medical pain relief. It didn’t feel like there was long between surges to go back to my relaxing place but I tried to fit in as many 5-4-3-2-1 breaths before beginning the surge breathing again (I used counting up and counting down alongside visualising the rolling waves).
I later asked for gas and air, and had one dose of diamorphine as I was worried how tired I was becoming from being awake and labouring all night. Although neither was part of my original birth plan, I knew I didn’t need to see this as any sort of failure, and they really helped at that stage.
I tried not to focus on how much time was passing or how long might be left, but this was something I struggled with. For some time we lay in the dark in bed with a midwife popping in every 15 minutes to check on baby. I actually liked this as I knew that each time they crept in we were 15 minutes closer. One of the best moments was as the sun was rising was finding out that our wonderful midwife Natasha that we had seen exclusively antenataly was starting her day shift and would be coming to take over and would be the one delivering baby – it was the icing on the cake of being able to stay at home.
She arrived and about 8am announced I was fully dilated (happy days!!) so I got straight back in the pool once it was warm enough again. There was an hour of ‘passive pushing’ or in more hypnobirthing type words, nudging baby gently down, not rushing it and waiting until it felt totally ready to let my body ‘push’.
I think by this point I was a bit delirious with all sorts of mixed emotions and tiredness that I was talking a fair bit of nonsense to the midwives and Matt (I don’t remember!)! Matt’s hand truly took a bashing with how hard I squeezed it at times! Something I do remember is having a few spoonfuls of honey just before pushing and it gave such a hit of energy!
Baby Noah was delivered in the pool at 10.01am by Natasha and I had the amazing first cuddle before Daddy cut the cord and had some skin on skin cuddles of his own.
Natasha helped dress Noah, started us off breastfeeding and stayed at our house for a fair while afterwards which was lovely.
It was for us the perfect birth experience. I’m so glad we were stubborn on the day about staying at home despite lots of efforts to talk us out of it. Being super prepared with all the stuff that I may or may not have needed during labour all carefully organised and on hand meant I felt comfortable that there was no need to go anywhere else. We are so so glad that we did the Wise Hippo course with Deborah; so much of how well the birth went was down to what we’d learnt and practiced, and the calm and positivity that we were able to keep up throughout.