Despite starting a blog, I am quite a private person and it takes a lot for me to disclose personal details about my life, even to those closest to me. I have thought long and hard about whether or not to write about my home birth and I have finally decided to bite the bullet. My intent is not to persuade or ‘sell’ home births, because they are not for everyone and I am not a health care professional. I certainly have no desire to bad-mouth hospital births because my experience of a NHS hospital birth with my first baby was very positive. This is simply an account of my experience having my second baby at home, a practice that is quite rare these days.
It had never occurred to me to have a home birth. I assumed they were for badass mums who gave birth like warriors, or hippies with their whale-music, candle burning, meditating births. It definitely was not something someone like me would ever consider. So there I was, twenty-something weeks pregnant and chatting to a school-mum friend about my labour plans (because we all know how often they go to plan!) and just happened to mention that I did not want to have such a medical birth this time around- having gone twelve days overdue with my first and then being induced. My friend had her daughter at home and said to me “Would you have the baby at home? I have a birthing pool you could borrow?” And right there something just clicked in my head. This was the choice for me.
As the weeks went on, I had to really convince those around me that it’s what I wanted. Of course I was bombared with “Are you mental?” comments (always helpful), closely followed up with “What if something goes wrong?”
I did my research, I read an abundance of articles about home births and felt I was making the right decision. The midwives were fantastic and fully supported my choice.
My due date came….and went. As did the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that until I was 9 days overdue and waddled into my midwives office as she uttered the phrase I was dreading…”so we need to book you in for an induction.” I remember calling my mum after that appointment and wailing hysterically down the phone about “Why can’t I just have babies like a normal person?” My dreams of a homebirth were diminishing along with my high spirits.
My body had failed me again.
The next morning I woke up to an excited husband, checking the bag, checking his watch a million times and asking me a million questions. I on the other hand was still pregnant, pissed off and snappy. With a heavy heart I called the labour ward to book my bed for the induction, to be told that there were no beds at the moment. The relief I felt in that moment cemented my decision: I was not going to be induced. Even when the hospital called me back an hour later to tell me a bed had become free, I told them I had changed my mind and wouldn’t be coming in after all…
… Cue the biggest argument me and my husband have ever had. And then, as he tried to calm me down with an ‘I’m-sorry’ Starbucks latte and lemon muffin, I wailed (again) about how he “doesn’t understand what I’m going through.”
That night I went to bed exhausted and emotional and convinced I would be pregnant for the next 18 years of my life.
2:00am: Wake up with back pain.
2:30am: Wake up with back pain again.
3:00am: Wake up with back pain and notice my tummy hardening at the same
time. This repeats for an hour.
4:00am: Wake up husband and tell him I think I’m in labour. Husband says “OK,
wake me up again when it gets really bad…..” Thanks babe!
I go downstairs and watch some crap on BBC3 about sex workers in Turkey, still not entirely convinced I was in labour. At some point I decide to ring my mum and tell her that, I’m not sure but I think I’m having contractions and that she may need to pick Bella up from school. I have about three or four contractions while on the phone to my mum and cannot talk through them. She tells me to “ring the bloody midwife!”
When the midwives arrive at my house, they assess me and tell me that yes, I am definitely in labour (5cm, half-way there Woop! Woop!) which makes me feel instantly happy that I am going to get my home birth after all. So, how did I feel?
Well, I was in considerable pain by this point, but there was definitely something about being at home that made me feel more relaxed. I had no sense of urgency or stress. It was all just happening and unfolding naturally in my own surroundings and comforts. I felt completely comfortable to move around my house and do whatever I wanted to. I even helped get Bella ready for school and managed to do a double-french plait in her hair (albeit stopping every couple of knots to breathe!). She had no idea I was in labour.
The midwives were quite keen to get the birthing pool up and full and so they started setting it up as soon as they arrived. I had no idea why they were rushing around, I kept telling them this was going to take hours and they may as well leave and come back later. They exchanged a few glances and reassured me they would stay.
My husband and Bella left for school and almost immediately something changed in me. My pains suddenly felt very different and I instinctively knew what position my body needed to be in. I didn’t feel aware any more, I was not aware of the room or the surroundings or who was with me. I remember telling the midwife I needed to get into the pool and she said “There’s no time for the pool”.
Nature is amazing, the human body is amazing and I don’t think I will ever feel that close to instinct again. The second stage of labour is a totally indescribable experience; painful, difficult but amazing at the same time.
Luckily my husband made it back in time from the school-run and my beautiful baby girl was born at 10:05am in the living room.
After the birth, the comfort I felt from being at home was invaluable. I got snuggled up on my sofa with my new baby, wrapped in her own blankets. I had a cup of tea in my own cup, there was no strange noises or smells, no unrecognisable voices. Everything was calm and familiar. I could go where I wanted, do what I wanted without feeling like I should ‘behave.’ I had total privacy to feed and fall in love with my baby. The midwives stayed for a couple of hours but were very quiet and helpful. Later that day, I took my baby upstairs to her own crib and put her to sleep while I got into my own bed with my own pillow and could totally relax. The whole day was very tranquil, there was no ‘drama’- no dash to the hospital, no panic, no fuss. It was exactly what I wanted and I feel very lucky to have had such a positive experience.