I had been feeling a bit tired for a few weeks and visited my local doctor who referred me for some blood tests. On my birthday I got the surprise phonecall from my doctor- I was 6 weeks pregnant with our first child! My doctor referred me to a private obstetrician as I had private health insurance.
I knew that I wanted a natural birth but didn’t know that it was possibe to only have a midwife for pregnancy and birth care until my husband and I started to do some further research. We met our midwife at 14 weeks and decided to have a homebirth.
Quietly I began talking and communicating with my baby in the best way I knew. I chose not to have any ultrasounds during my pregnancy because I felt that this might interfere or imprint the health of our baby and alter my pregnancy experience. I had no risk factors for pregnancy diabetes and also declined the glucose test.
After reading books by Sarah Buckley, Ina May Gaskin and Grantly Dick-Read I gained some more insight into how I want to give birth.
Around 20 weeks an unfortunate financial situation resulted in us having to unexpectedly sell our house and move. This was really hard to deal with. I felt very isolated. I am an only child, both of my parents have passed on and my extended family lives interstate. This was a very challenging time for everyone.
By 36 weeks we had found a new rental home. We had only 4 weeks to prepare the space for our planned homebirth. During this time my midwife recommended that I attend a Calmbirthing Course and see an acupuncturist with whom she works collaboratively with for treatment of stress and preparation for natural childbirth.
I attended the Calmbirthing Course and began with weekly acupuncture treatments which really helped me to find my balance within an otherwise very stressful situation. My acupuncturist also taught my husband acupressure points to use for pain relief during labour and offered to attend my birth should I need her assistance.
At 38 weeks I set up the birth space which was really warm, lovely and inviting. My family visited from Sydney just a little after my due date. The day they left my labour started.
I looked at my phone, it was 12:37am on 23rd of April and I was getting intense waves of sensation. I called my midwife who reassured me that everything was fine, I was in early labour and I should try to relax, conserve my energy and keep calm. The waves kept coming and going throughout that day and that night and I managed well.
The next day was full on! Waves every 1 to 2 minutes for the entire day, it was really hard. By the evening the contractions had started to get even more intense and persisted for the entire night. My husband used the acupressure points, applying pressure with pens, spoons and his thumbs at the base of my spine and this provided some welcome relief.
I rang my midwife that evening and asked her to come over. She did an internal exam and I was 1 cm dilated!
24 hours later, on the morning of ANZAC day my midwife returned for another home visit. I was still 1 cm dilated and going into my third day of labour! After discsussing my options we decided to call the acupuncturist who came straight away.
She put me on a Swiss ball and helped guide me with movements to open my hips. She gave me Chinese herbs, used some acupuncture to help soften and dilate my cervix and to move my baby downwards.
My midwife and acupuncturist work together integrated and were well briefed on my circumstances. I felt really supported, safe and confident that I could birth my baby at home.
Around lunchtime my midwife suggested that I get into the birthpool. The weigthlessness of my body in the water felt really good and the pain eased. The acupuncture pins were removed but I continued to take the herbs to assist the opening of my cervix. I felt like I needed constant movement to be able to deal with the intensity of the contractions and was moving my body in a circular motion in the birthpool the entire time.
I felt more and more exhausted as the contractions kept coming. There was little to no break and I just prayed for my baby to arrive. My midwife did another internal exam- 8cm dilated! This was finally something to celebrate for my days of effort.
At 2am on the 26th of April my waters broke. I felt the urge to push but I did not know what to do. I was really tired and felt like I needed some guidance and structure to focus my mind on. My midwife did another internal exam to confirm that I was fully dilated and guided me to bear down and push. This was really helpful for me as ‘trust your body’ did not work for me.
The pushing was challenging and I got out of the birthpool for the final push and on all fours I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl on the 26th of April at 3.30am.
I birthed the placenta naturally 10 minutes later.
Emerald weight 3800gr, was 52cm long and had a head circumference of 36cm.
The first 2 weeks
We decided to have a Lotusbirth but were not prepared for what was needed. On the second day we decided to cut the cord.
Dealing with the sleep deprivation that I had not anticipated impacted on me deeply. During the night Emerald bed-shared with us and during the day I learned to sleep when she was asleep. This was the way I coped.
Breastfeeding was perfect. I had a good milk supply and no problems breastfeeding.
It took me a good 3 weeks to get back to myself and get used to doing things on my own.
As a first time mother, I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and needed lots of reassurance and the amazing support provided by my midwife continued after birth.
In those early weeks I spoke to my midwife daily, sometimes even twice or more in a day. I was grateful for how available she was and how she helped me to believe in my abilities of being an amazing mum and that we were all doing well.