I had been told by a few different doctors that I may have trouble falling pregnant due to health issues so my partner Brad and I began talking about whether or not we wanted children. We had been discussing it for quite a while already when my best friend fell unexpectedly pregnant. I offered myself as her pregnancy chauffeur as she didn’t have a car. I attended all of her pregnancy appointments in the hospital with her, and later her birth. Many of these appointments shone a not-so-positive light on the whole hospital pregnancy and birth experience…
Brad and I were still unsure but leaning towards wanting children and becoming less prudent with our contraception, when I fell very quickly and unexpectedly pregnant myself when my best friend was 6 months pregnant. It seemed the prediction I’d have issues getting pregnant was hogswash. I was 12 weeks pregnant when I attended her hospital birth and although she was an absolute inspiration in the way she handled her labour, her birth did not go quite like she was hoping for. After we all talked about her birth in the weeks to follow it became obvious to us that much, if not all of the interventions that took place were unnecessary. I felt truly awful that none of us had been experienced or confident enough to intervene with the situation and make her experience more like what she hoped for. After meeting my best friend’s beautiful new son I was instantly much more excited by my own pregnancy and a lot more clucky! However I was booked in to have my baby at the same hospital and was having fears about my own upcoming birth there.
I attended many hospital appointments alone as my partner was working. I was really disappointed by the impersonal manner of the experience, the epic long days, and the negative reactions I was given when expressing my desire to birth naturally, have no interventions and have minimal tests performed during pregnancy or birth. I was around 18 weeks pregnant when I started looking into homebirth as an alternative option. The idea seemed so natural and inviting but I had unfounded fears based on mainstream misinformation about its ‘lack of safety’ – which in my opinion, in most circumstances, is also hogswash.
Changing to Homebirth
I made an appointment to see my midwife and after a long chat I was instantly sold on the plan to homebirth my baby. I left the appointment smiling and with a hug from the lovely midwife. It was worlds apart from my hospital experiences. My midwife was warm and willing to support my personal choices regarding my pregnancy and birth desires, whilst also giving me a wealth of additional information and answering all of my questions. Brad was not as instantly enthused as I and decided to attend a hospital appointment with me before we made a final decision.
I had experienced some slight spotting at around 21 weeks pregnant and the hospital insisted on giving me a Pap smear and I regretfully accepted. Brad spent many hours with me at the hospital and was in the room when I had the Pap smear. He was mortified by the ‘medieval torture devices’ that they were using on me and by the further bleeding caused which hospital staff deemed safe, when they were so concerned about the previous tiny amount of bleeding. The whole experience was awful enough for Brad to leave announcing that he ‘wouldn’t want his child to be born in such a horrible environment’. Woohoo! My suffering had paid off and now we were both in 100% agreement that a home birth with our midwife was the only option we wanted.
The rest of my pregnancy was a blissful and easy daze asides from a few issues with nosey family members and even strangers trying to convince me not to homebirth. My appointments with my midwife made Brad and I feel calm and confident about the upcoming birth of our child. We decided not to go ahead with the glucose test for pregnancy diabetes or the vaginal swab for Group B Strep Testing at 36 weeks. I was confident in my decision and when my midwife consistently asked what she, Brad or the rest of my birth team should do if I begged to go to hospital during labour, I just kept saying that it wasn’t going to happen. You couldn’t pay me to birth at the hospital and the only way I’d end up there would be in the case of a life threatening emergency. My baby was head down and engaged pretty early and I felt like she might even arrive early, but as my due date passed I wondered if I was holding onto something that was preventing me from going into labour.
Friday 15/12/17- 40+5
On the morning of Friday 15/12/17 I was 40+5 weeks and Brad and I drove to pick up a nursing chair we’d purchased on gumtree. On the way there I felt a strong twinge and wondered if today could be the day. That afternoon we had an appointment with my midwife and after she felt my tummy she told me she thought I’d go into labour by Monday at the latest and Brad thought even a day or two later. I was slightly disheartened because my back was sore and the weather was getting hotter every day. We stopped into the Preston market after our appointment and I waddled around and did some grocery shopping. When we finally got home it was about 4.30pm and I started having some stronger contractions while I was making some lunch. I knew today was going to be the day after all and I kicked myself for not getting any rest that morning or much the night before. It took many hours of me telling Brad that I was having real contractions now for him to believe that I was actually in labour.
I was messaging my midwife about the twinges I was having and eating some late lunch at about 5.30pm when I stood up to go and wee and some of my waters leaked out. Holy moly this was happening for real! I messaged my best friend who was going to attend my birth like I had hers, and my midwife. It wasn’t long before I was in our ridiculously small bathtub with my huge belly sticking out above the water, madly throwing cups of warm water at my belly during every surge and telling my partner I was never getting out. Brad cooked us some dinner but by the time it was done I was too distracted by my labour and didn’t want to eat it. I was so convinced I’d be someone who wanted to eat during labour that I also had a huge bag of snacks that I’d been collecting in preparation but none were touched until after my baby was born!
Eventually Brad coaxed me out of the bath and I spent many hours sitting on a kitchen chair in our bedroom with heat packs and hot water bottles on my back and front. Brad hurried around the house setting up the birth pool, tidying, putting extra sheets on the bed, keeping in touch with my midwife and constantly stopping in between to heat up my heat packs. At around 3am Brad called my best friend and her partner and they came over with their baby to assist us.
Having my best friend present was extremely helpful and she and her partner were a huge support for both myself and Brad. Brad had done a very good job of keeping it from me that my midwife was attending another birth on the far side of town, and I was only starting to wonder where she was when Domi answered a call from her and let this information slip. I hoped that she’d make it by the time the baby came because it really felt like it wouldn’t be long.
Saturday 16/12/17 @ 05.45- Entering the birthpool
Brad had filled the pool for me and I hopped in at around 5.45am. Wow what a relief!! The pool felt amazing and almost instantly it slowed my contractions/labour which was probably a good thing because I was tired – and I knew Brad didn’t want to birth this baby without my midwife there! I stayed in the pool until my midwife arrived at around 6.15am. She and the other midwife asked me to get out of the pool because it was halting the progression of my labour so I got out.
Around an hour after this my best friend helped me to the toilet where the rest of my waters broke in a huge gush. After this my labour become a lot more painful and it turned out that my baby was posterior and was pressing into my spine – ouch. I lay on the bed with Brad unable to stop the pushing reflex for around an hour while everyone else had a rest in other rooms…or at least they tried to rest while I wailed like a wild animal. I had read in one of my birth books to embrace noise and animal instincts, so that I did! Don’t worry we put a sign on the door so nobody would call the police… haha.
After a while of pushing and yelling on the bed I told Brad I could feel the baby’s head. Sure enough when my midwife came to have a look she confirmed she could feel the head at about 8.11am. She had turned and was no longer pressing on my spine. Around an hour later I was regularly pushing and my baby was nearly here. My midwife said if I wanted to have a water birth I could get back into the pool now, and so with help I got back in when it felt as if my baby was inches from emerging. Not long after this I birthed my baby’s head under the water but I struggled to get her body out with the next few pushes. My midwife asked me to stand up because her shoulder was a bit stuck and I needed the extra gravity to assist me. So up I stood and the rest of her body was born into the loving and speechless arms of her father. Violet was born at 9.54am Sat 16/12/17.
Birthing the placenta
I lost a bit of blood so my midwives asked me to get out of the pool and move to the bed. Violet’s cord was too short for her to breastfeed properly straight away so after around half an hour or so of cuddles, we cut the cord and she went for a cuddle with her daddy while my midwife helped me to birth the placenta. That was hard. Birthing the placenta was trickier than birthing the baby for me!
After all of this I had worked up quite the appetite and my midwife lovingly spoon fed me while I breastfed little Violet. My midwife stayed for several hours and helped us to clean up and settle into our new roles as parents. We let the dog out of the room he’d been in most of the night and he was overjoyed to find me still alive and well. It was a beautiful and empowering birthing experience – the best decision I’ve ever made was to have a homebirth – and I wouldn’t do it any other way. I am endlessly thankful for the love and support that was given to me by my partner Brad, my midwife, and the rest of my birth team during and after my labour and birth.