My speedy and amazing HBAC, VBAC and water birth story
My amazing HBAC and VBAC was better than I imagined, I got to lift my baby out of me in the pool and onto my chest, and the whole labour was really quick. Intense but fast and on a beautiful sunny day. Some of my highlights were drinking Prosecco and eating sweets on our sofa just after our baby was born and of course when our kids came home and met their baby sister.
Dreaming of a homebirth
After a first homebirth and a second elective C-Section, I so wanted a homebirth again with our third baby. Our first birth had been an amazing experience.
I had been planning a homebirth again with our second baby, but he was transverse for most of my pregnancy and was transverse at 40+5 so I had an elective c/section.
Although that birth had been super-positive (music, aromatherapy oils, laughter), and shown me first-hand how powerful hypnobirthing techniques are for any type of birth, and especially when plans, I really wanted to be at home again, as I’d loved recovering in my own bed afterwards, with all my own food and having my husband with me the whole time.
Also we’d recently moved house and have a lovely large open plan living and kitchen space – with lots of room for a birth pool.
I had thought I might have to argue my case or really push for a homebirth, but I was referred to the Reading homebirth team at my booking in appointment and assigned a wonderful midwife called Dani.
The level of care I received was amazing – all my appointments were at home and Dani involved our youngest child, Noah in all the appointments. He loved helping to find baby’s heartbeat.Dani also listened to my concerns, reassured me and gave me great advice.
Although she was keen to keep an eye of baby’s position throughout the pregnancy, I never once felt like I was being monitored, just that she was looking out for me and baby. She did also keep saying that she thought it would be a quick labour…which turned out to be totally true.
I did have quite a lot of fear at the beginning of my pregnancy – mainly that baby would get into a transverse lie again. So I saw a chiropractor, the wonderful Kelly, and that helped so much, I also swam every week throughout my entire pregnancy and had regular reflexology with Caroline at Sole Sessions.
On top of this I also massively practiced the hypnobirthing techniques I teach – I listened to the birth affirmations every day (and had them on in labour), visualised and reread the ideal birth story I’d written, listened to the relaxation tracks before bed or a nap and made sure my husband practiced the light touch massage lots!
I also had a wonderful refresher session with Hannah Barnes, something I hadn’t done for my second pregnancy because it felt indulgent when I was teaching it, but it was so nice to be the client, and so important for my husband! Plus the relaxation was incredible.
I truly believe all these things helped massively. The chiropractic treatment and swimming really helped in terms of baby’s position and my physical comfort. And all of the things mentioned above helped me feel pro-active, in control and boosted my physical and emotional well-being.
My amazing HBAC
On the day before our third baby arrived we went for a long walk in the woods with our two kids, my mum, my Aunty and her dog.
It was a beautiful day and I was feeling really good and enjoyed the walk, and all the cake and biscuits we had afterwards .
I went to my wonderful chiropractor that afternoon (something I had done throughout my pregnancy and something that I will write a separate blog post about) and she said baby felt really low and that my baby was coming sooner than I thought. she was right!
That evening I had a lovely bath and slept really deeply, for the first time in ages. I did wake twice to mild cramps, but as I’d had a couple of instances of practice tightenings I didn’t think anything of it. However I woke again at 5am to feel a trickle of my waters go.
My husband phoned the homebirth midwife to let her know. She just said to stay in touch if anything else started happening.
My waters continued to go but I wasn’t experiencing any cramping or discomfort – this actually happened with my first homebirth too, nearly 6 years ago so I knew it might be a while before I felt anything.
Although my husband and I knew sleep would be the best thing for both of us, we were both too excited! Plus our other two kids were still asleep, so it seemed like a good time to start setting things up, or rather for my husband to.
He inflated the birth pool, got all the snacks out, turned on all the fairy lights and battery candles, put the aromatherapy diffuser on, with rose jasmine and clary sage oil, and put relaxing music on.
I can’t really remember what I did.. but around 6.30 I heard my two children chatting in their room and went in and told them there was a change of plan for the day, and that their baby sibling would be arriving today or tomorrow.
My daughter who will be 6 in December, and had been asking most days for the last 8 months when baby was coming, was super excited. My son who is almost 3 was less interested but was enjoying the general mood of excitement.
We all went downstairs and had a really special breakfast together – croissants, pain au chocolate and fruit. During breakfast I had mild period like cramps.
After breakfast we all sat down to watch The Bake Off and that’s when the cramping picked up – I will forever associate Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith with giving birth!
My cramps started to get more intense and started coming between 5 and 10 minutes apart – so I asked Rich to take the kids to my parents, and they all set off around 9am.
While he was out I listened to the birth affirmations, walked around our garden in the sunshine (which was also my favourite place from hypnobirthing).
When he got back I asked him to phone the midwife, as the cramps were starting to come more frequently- between 3-6 mins apart, but they were still pretty manageable with my breathing and if I rocked on my birth ball.
Sadly my midwife Dani was on holiday, but the wonderful Imogen came out around 10.30 and was here for about an hour – she asked if I wanted an examination but I didn’t really want to know, so I declined.
I just carried on rocking or lightly bouncing on my ball and walking around the garden. Then I watched some episodes of Fraser.
The surges started to get more intense after about an hour and they were coming every 3 minutes. It was then that Imogen said she was just going to go and have her lunch. I didn’t want her to leave but she said as soon as she did everything would speed up, and that she wouldn’t go far. She also said not to get into the pool until she got back.
Sure enough as soon as she went the surges became super intense and I was struggling to get into a position that was comfortable.
I kept trying different positions. In the end The best position was kneeling on the stairs with my hands a few steps above.
When it got to the point I felt I was struggling to cope I asked Rich to get Imogen to come back, as I was desperate to get into the pool.
She came back quickly (it was around 12 at this point) and said it was good I wanted to get in the pool and that the noises I was making during my surges rounded good! I remember trying to get into the pool between surges but finding it really hard as they were coming so closely together.
When I did get into the pool it felt so amazing- so hot and such a relief that I felt my body relax. I knelt in the pool with my arms over the side of the pool.
My husband was facing me and doing light touch massage on my arms. I kept rocking and moving in the pool and the surges became more and more intense.
Imogen was in the other room and said to call her in when I felt the urge to bear down (the need to do a poo) and she would call the 2nd midwife to come over.
It felt like pretty soon after being in the pool I felt the need to bear down – and I doubted myself at first because it seemed too quick, but at the feeling kept coming I called Imogen in and she rang the second midwife.
Throughout this active (2nd) stage I kept my eyes closed – I couldn’t keep them open and my husband and Imogen coached me through. I found this stage super intense and felt out of control at times. Rich kept talking to me about my favourite place – our garden – which was just out the window but I found it so much nicer to have my eyes closed and imagine it rather than look! Imogen helped me breathe my baby out rather than strain – the natural expulsive reflex felt so strong that I kept forgetting how to breathe out!
In what felt like no time at all I felt our baby’s head moving down the birth canal and knew she was close to arriving.
Imogen said she could see baby’s head and hair and got my husband to walk round and look. I remember feeling excited. And relieved that she was nearly here.
At that point I knelt up as her head and then body emerged, I waited and then With the final surge lifted her on to my chest. And she was here – our little Phoebe Autumn- born at 13.42 and weighing 6lbs 10oz.
Throughout the birth, especially in the more intense stages I’d had quotes and excerpts from all my clients’ birth stories going around my head – it even felt like I could hear their voices or see their faces – it felt like they were all there with me. A prretty special and intense feeling and one I will never forget.
I didn’t get to stay in the pool long at all with Phoebe as I was losing a lot of blood. Imogen asked me to get out of the pool and asked if I was ok to have the injection for the placenta as this would stem the blood loss.
After the injection I sat on our sofa and she said she needed to check if I’d torn. I asked for gas and air as I felt so tender, and she said – I’m really sorry but the 2nd midwife hasn’t arrived yet with the kit so it’s good you didn’t ask for it in labour!! I hadn’t even twigged that she hadn’t arrived, as I’d had my eyes closed for so much of labour.
Luckily I had only a first degree tear which wasn’t bleeding so I didn’t need stitches. So I got to lie on our sofa and cuddled and fed my baby whilst having the best tasting glass of Prosecco I’ve ever had and some chocolates and Haribo!
The 2nd midwife knocked on the door and I heard her ask Imogen if there was any update… to which Imogen replied – well the baby’s here, the placenta’s out and Vit k has been given.
Although the 2nd midwife didn’t stay long – she did congratulate me on having such an amazing homebirth, and not just homebirth but a HBAC- and I think that’s when it sunk in. That I’d done it!
I’d visualised it for so long that it all felt like a bit of a dream, but also super-fast and intense. I didn’t have any examinations, so I don’t know exactly how long the labour was – Imogen said established labour was just over an hour, although it felt longer to me! It showed me just how subjective time is, particularly in labour, and I’m really glad I didn’t have any examinations.
Once everything was cleared up and Imogen had gone Rich made us cheese on toast with baked beans – which tasted incredible.
Then he went to my parents and told our children the news that they had a baby sister.
A short while later – the door opened and in they all came squealing with delight to meet their sister.