This beautiful home birth story is from second-time parents Olivia and Ryan. I love all the details in this story, the candles in the room, the fan and the pool. It has given me some inspiration for my next home birth!
When we found out that we were pregnant for the second time (our daughter, Annabelle, is nearly two and a half) I was really keen on the idea of having a home birth (my first birth was in the midwife-led unit at hospital), and very excited to embark on the Wise Hippo course with Deborah. I’d heard wonderful things about hypnobirthing during my first pregnancy but we’d booked onto an NCT course, and my husband was away too much with work for us to do a hypnobirthing course over a number of weeks together.
Ryan was a little nervous about the idea of having a home birth, but after a couple of sessions with Deborah he was totally on board with the idea. One of the first things we did on the course was to visualize the kind of birth we wanted.
Well, my second birth is testament to the power of positive thinking and visualizing what you want, as it was incredibly similar to the birth story we’d envisaged (with a couple of exceptions!).
Our beautiful home birth
I’d had a few period-type cramps during the nights preceding the day our son was born, and at around 11am on Tuesday 28th June had what I thought was a show. My husband, Ryan, was out doing a few errands but luckily my Mum was round to play with our daughter (and help with a bit of housework!) – I said to her, “I think things might be happening, but it could be another couple of days before I actually go into labour”.
Ryan came home and my Mum left. We had lunch and put Annabelle down for her nap (which she was being a bit tricky about!). By this point, around 2-2.230pm, I felt what I now know were mild surges beginning. When I was in labour with Annabelle I felt all the discomfort and surges in my back, and I was surprised that this time the feelings were mostly around my stomach.
We pottered around and watched a couple of episode of Sex and the City, and at 3pm I phoned the triage line just to give them a heads up that I thought I was in early labour and had a home birth planned. I spoke to a lovely lady who said she’d let the community midwives know, and to phone back at any time if I thought things were progressing quickly.
We also phoned my parents to ask if they could come to pick Annabelle up at 4.30pm (they were having her overnight), once she was up from her nap. I had a snack and watched an episode of Friends. By the time my parents came, Ryan had set everything up ready for our home birth.
We’d already inflated the birthing pool, and had a duvet, blankets and towels ready. Ryan closed the curtains and put little candles around the room, and my Wise Hippo birth affirmations on.
My surges were around 4 every ten minutes, lasting for almost a minute, and I found the most comfortable position was rocking on all fours. I used my Waves of Relaxation breathing throughout each surge, visualizing a wave and thinking ‘I am a strong, powerful wave’ (for some reason, thinking this really helped!). I stayed very calm and focused and thought of my relaxing place between surges. At one point I got really hot so Ryan brought a fan down, which was lovely. I also used a TENS machine as I was feeling some discomfort in my back, and Ryan used soothing strokes on my back, which felt great.
At around 7pm Ryan and I phoned the triage line again to ask whether they could send out a couple of midwives, as we felt things were progressing well. They said the midwives should be with us in a little while, and it was a relief to know that they were available and we could stay at home.
Three midwives arrived at around 8pm, one of which was a student nearing the end of her course – she had a lovely bedside manner and spoke very calmly and quietly, which I really appreciated. I don’t think I actually knew what the midwives looked like until the end of the birth, as I mostly had my eyes shut and was in the zone! I didn’t want to be examined initially, but when they did examine me a little while later I was 9cm dilated – hooray!
Ryan had filled the pool so I got in at this point and, my goodness, the warm water was fantastic! It just made my body feel so much more relaxed. I had the fan on my face so I wouldn’t get too hot, and rocked against the side of the pool during surges, listening to the ‘Sea of Serenity’ track.
My waters went with a pop not long after I’d got in the pool. Unfortunately there was meconium in the waters, which meant baby might be in distress. I felt the need to ‘push’, and tried to hum my baby down. Everyone was expecting baby to arrive fairly soon I think, so when nothing seemed to be happening after a while, I was asked to get out of the pool so they could check baby’s position (I was most reluctant to leave the lovely warm water!).
It was then that we found out the naughty baby had turned back to back – no wonder I was finding it hard to ease baby down! I tried lying on my left side for a while, and then back on all fours but upright, and then standing and wiggling my hips to get baby to turn. The midwives were a little worried (although baby’s heart beat was fine), due to the meconium and back-to-back position, so they called for an ambulance just in case I needed to be transferred to hospital for intervention.
I didn’t let any of this panic me, and stayed in my calm zone. When the paramedics arrived they stayed quietly in the hallway, so I wasn’t really aware they were there.
The end of the labour is a little blurry for me, and the last stage was rather challenging. I ended up giving birth in the clichéd, ‘as seen on TV’ way, on my back with my legs in the air and everyone around me saying ‘give a big push now, lets get this baby out’!
I was pretty determined to have the baby at home and so gave everything I had and powered through, and at 11.17pm our lovely little boy (a surprise), Rafe, was born. He weighed 8lb 7oz and was just perfect. We had skin-to-skin time straight away and Rafe latched on and fed.
After delivering the placenta, and having a few stitches, the midwives stayed to make sure we were all settled. It was lovely to be able to go upstairs to shower and get comfy in my own bed and have what I wanted to eat afterwards.
Although I didn’t quite have the water birth that I’d hoped for, I did manage to birth at home, with no pain relief, and I feel rather proud of myself (and Ryan!) that we had such a wonderful birth. Throughout the whole labour Ryan was completely amazing, providing all the support and encouragement I needed and relaying information very calmly.
The Wise Hippo course really set us up with all the tools and techniques we needed to achieve the right birth for us on the day, and we can’t thank Deborah enough for the part she played in enabling us to have such a positive experience.