A homebirth story from a Daisy Foundation Teacher: “This was my third pregnancy and I was hoping for it to be my second homebirth. I’d given birth at home to my daughter Greta, 3 years ago and had actually also planned to birth my first child at home 5 years ago. With that labour I did start at home but then chose to transfer to hospital part way through. That’s another birth story for another time but suffice to say that I valued that time I did spend at home early in that labour and it inspired me for my next. I’ve noticed how much our local Trust, BHRUT, has progressed in terms of helping to ‘normalise’ homebirthing and indeed in some aspects, even promote and encourage it though I do think that it’s important that women are reached earlier on in their antenatal care with good quality information on their choices for where to give birth as homebirthing takes a fair bit of planning and emotional preparation, in my view.
The birth of my second child, Greta, at home had been a positive one; at around 4 hours all up, a good deal shorter than my first rather lengthy labour. It was the birthing experiences of Avaline and Greta that actually inspired a complete career change for me as in 2013 I trained as an active birthing educator and the Daisy Birthing classes that I now teach were to play a hugely beneficial role in my third birthing journey.
As well as preparing physically for the birth of my third child, I felt there was much to be done emotionally and I was mindful of the need to manage my own expectations and be aware that although G’s birth had gone ‘to plan’ that may not necessarily be the case this time round. Whilst planning for a homebirth, I ensured that I gave due consideration as to how and what I could do to remain connected to the experience should I need to be in hospital, possibly even facing something as ‘unexpected’ as a c-section. I’d learnt from my first labour as well as my own teachings in Daisy Birthing classes that having a flexible mindset was vital to me maintaining a sense of control throughout and how pivotal that sense of control is to the whole experience.
My husband and I took some time out of hectic family life to get away for a night (our ‘babymoon’!) to talk through and write down our Birth Preferences and ended up compiling some fairly detailed notes for our caregivers to read through. In this birth ‘plan’, I tried to cover different angles, such as being in hospital rather than at home and I found this process in itself empowering and helpful to dispel some of my own fears of a more ‘medicalised’ birth.
Both of my daughters had arrived [so called] ‘late’ so I was fully expecting the same this time round and felt far more relaxed about this prospect than I had been previously, as in the past I had felt a considerable amount of angst caused by pressure ‘the system’ placed on the need to be routinely induced beyond a given timeframe. I had also previously been told I ‘wasn’t allowed’ a homebirth if my baby was overdue by more than 10 days whereas this time I felt better informed and knew that of course, the choice of where to give birth was mine to make. This time round I was fully prepared and confident enough to trust my instincts and do what felt right for me and my baby and was ready to wait out baby’s arrival if need be. I also believe that pressure for induction could have a physiologically limiting effect on my body and paradoxically inhibit the very hormones that were needed to allow my body to release baby so feel it may not have been a coincidence then that, without worrying about all of this, my labour started just one day after my estimated due date!
I had no inkling the day before that labour was near and had been telling everyone how I was settled in for another week or two’s wait! On the Monday night, I woke (as usual throughout the latter part of my pregnancy) to pop to the toilet and noticed my mucus plug had come away but knew that whilst having ‘a show’ could mean labour was imminent, it could also still yet be some time to go, so I tried to go back to sleep. I dozed off and on but found myself a little more restless than usual. Some hours later, still in bed, I started to feel the odd ‘period pain’ type twinge (hello, old friend) but nothing worthy of stirring my sleeping beauty of a hubby beside me.
The next morning we got up and were having breakfast with the girls and the occasional twinges continued, stopping me in my tracks enough so as to give us a clue that this could be IT. There were still lengthy breaks in between of half an hour or so and in terms of intensity, gently holding my five year old daughter’s hand was all that I required to get me through them. Hubby had by now called my parents who came round after breakfast to get the girls and sort them out on their school runs. I didn’t feel having siblings present for the birth would allow me to fully relax and focus and in any event the girls had school and were looking forward to the opportunity for a ‘sleepover’ at nanny and gramps’ house!
With the girls gone, hubby and I were now able to start setting up ‘homebirth mode’ and do so at relative leisure, with my contractions still feeling fairly moderate and infrequent. I even questioned whether this really was ‘It’ and hoped we wouldn’t be needing to pull up all the plastic sheeting on the floor and deflate the birthing pool without putting them to use that day! Of course, we weren’t to know that our baby would be born around 6 hours later!
By the time we had the room set up as we wished I was feeling tired from my lack of sleep that night and so had a bit of a nap on the sofa bed that was now set up in our living room. When I woke, my husband suggested we go for a stroll around the block, knowing that this might help my labour gain some momentum (his Daisy Daddy training kicking in!). As we walked, I started to feel my contractions intensifying, which I found exciting as any doubts I had about whether baby was actually on its way started to dissolve. I found it helpful to just pause from walking and focus on some of the visualisations and repetitive movements along with the centred breathing technique I teach at Daisy classes.
Once back at home, I told hubby to call the midwife. From here I felt I progressed quite rapidly. I felt excited yet calm, focused on the task in hand and very powerful. Soon, three midwives had arrived, one of whom was a student who I had given permission to be there. I requested the midwives read my (rather detailed) birth plan upon arrival and sensed they would be supportive and respective of my wishes, giving my husband and I the space we wanted to embrace this intense and emotional time of our journey together.
As my sensations became more powerful I found myself calling upon other elements from my own Daisy classes and the knowledge and understanding of what was going on and why it felt as it did ensured that I felt completely calm, capable and in control. I had indicated a preference for minimising internal examinations, ideally only having one to assess baby’s position and had this, being told I was around 4-5cm dilated. I then decided to have a few puffs on the gas and air and found that it just helped me avoid ‘overthinking’ things as I’d started to do at this stage. Hubby popped some lavender oil on a hanky and I found it refreshing to inhale this between my contractions.
I continued to call upon the ‘toolkit’ of practical and emotional elements I’d picked up from Daisy Birthing and around 10 minutes after my examination started to feel a sense of pressure (just like needing to do a poo, which I did try first of all!) and this made me consider getting in the birth pool. The midwife mentioned that the water might slow down my labour progressing but also made it clear that the choice was entirely mine and I felt so attuned to my body that after the next contraction I was certain that this where I wanted to be. And so, into the wonderful pool (kindly loaned free of charge by BHRUT to homebirthing mums in our area) I went and almost instantly felt my body’s natural expulsive reflex kick in – the water had given me the freedom to relax and quite literally RELEASE (without fear of doing something on my kitchen floor that I’d reprimand my dog for!). I yielded to my natural urges and simply used my breath (thanks again to the wonderful Daisy birthing classes I teach that had helped me trust that ‘out’ breath that came so instinctively as being so effective). Hubby commented afterwards that he noticed at this time that I made some unusual noises that he recognised as being significant from our previous labours and he was right as within a few exhilarating minutes I announced to all that my baby’s head had been born! I loved the fact that the child I had grown for nine months inside me was now entering the world and it was my hands that gently embraced her as she emerged into the water. I lifted her out and into my embrace as she took her first ever breath. It was a moment I will never forget and as I brought new life into our world I felt so vibrantly alive myself that words cannot explain this feeling.
My husband proudly announced that we had our third daughter ad we named our little girl Constance. We were both so proud and in awe of her being born in such a calm and gently way, in our own cosy home, filled with love and happiness.
I’d expressed a preference for delayed cord clamping and a physiological third stage and after several minutes relaxing with Constance in the pool, chose to move onto the bed where we were enshrined in our cosy blankets. I was aware of the importance of keeping adrenaline levels low for this stage of my labour and felt calm and relaxed but nonetheless, when after a while the placenta hadn’t been birthed, I decided to have the injection and ‘manage’ the third stage as I wanted to avoid needing to transfer to hospital if at all possible. Shortly afterwards, the placenta made an appearance and the midwives kind of faded again into the background whilst we gazed at our little creation, enjoying skin to skin with her, putting her to the breast for her first feed and embarking on the next chapter of our journey with her.
My pregnancy and birthing was over; I could break out the pate and blue cheese to celebrate but also reflect on how fleeting a phase in my life it had been and resolve to enjoy every hectic, crazy moment that was to come with my new arrival alongside my other two daughters! What an amazing, emotional and positive experience my labour had been; something I felt proud of and will never forget. I bristled when a visiting midwife a few days after the labour asked me “who delivered your baby?” meaning which midwife – it was me that delivered my baby!! But I do feel thankful to have had such a supportive and confident team of midwives there at the birth as they also helped to empower me with their support throughout and believe that this, coupled with my own very thorough antenatal preparation were the main reasons my birthing was such a positive experience.
Some women write their birthing story as part of a cathartic, debriefing process; I feel blessed to be writing from the viewpoint of wanting to preserve the vivid clarity of the moment, knowing that the detail, the full colour version will soon be somewhat displaced by the crazy, hazy, blurry days of motherhood (perhaps more so than ever this time round with three children under 6!). I do hope though that sharing this story might inspire other expectant mothers; maybe to consider homebirthing and to perhaps do so earlier on in their pregnancy, but in any event to hear how wonderful childbirth can be. The best things in life are worth working hard for and for me, much of that preparation took place before the big day itself”.
Story told by:
Lynn Zanatta teacher for The Daisy Foundation Havering
Tel. 07549 009 834