I had both my babies at home. I had read (and heard) a lot about midwives being against home births and that I would have to ‘fight’ for what I wanted but I didn’t experience this at all. I found that with both my births (one in England and one in Wales) the midwife teams were totally on board with my home birth plans, listened to me, answered my questions and respected my opinions.
My husband took a bit of convincing as he was anxious about a home birth, but after a lot of research (he’s a scientist!) and talking it all through with the midwife, he was also on board.
I went into labour at 41 weeks. I’d managed to persuade my midwife to give me a sweep a few days previously and lost my mucus plug shortly afterwards, a few days later I started having some very mild and irregular pains. We went for a long walk and stayed up late with me bouncing on my birth ball (if I’d have known how long labour would take I would have gone to bed earlier!) At midnight, just as I was getting into bed I heard a loud pop like a balloon bursting and felt a strange pinging sensation in my lower abdomen, a slow trickle of liquid confirmed my suspicions that my waters had broken.
Convinced that birth was just around the corner I delightedly told my husband we needed to phone the midwife and that the baby was coming. Disappointingly the midwife suggested we get some rest and call her again when the contractions got stronger. I couldn’t sleep so we made some tea and played cards. Eventually, the contractions became stronger. I had a plan to start with a tens machine, then a bath and basically rotate the two and that was my full plan for pain relief (!) I hated the tens machine immediately and it was ditched. I got in the bath but I found the contractions overwhelming. We called the midwife convinced this was it.
When she arrived, she examined me, immediately a huge rush of water soaked the pad she had thankfully put underneath me prior to the examination. When my waters had gone several hours before, they had popped towards the back and the liquid hadn’t escaped - well it had now! The midwife gave us the crushing news that I was 1cm dilated but was effacing nicely (I can tell you that I did not care about effacing at this point!) I stomped off back to the bath somewhat stroppily - I had thought this would be it. The next hour or two was quite challenging. I had a moment where a home birth didn’t seem quite as appealing as it had done and I was scared and in pain. My husband was amazing. He got me up and reminded me of what I had wanted and why. He supported me completely and soon enough I was pacing the floor and managing the contractions a lot better.
At some point (possibly about 9am) the midwife arrived after my husband had called her. I had settled myself in a kneeling position on the living room floor leant foward against an armchair, my husband had made a nest of duvets and covered this with a waterproof sheet and towels and I was comfy and in my own little world. The midwife immediately set up the gas and air. I had asked for no pain relief but I am forever grateful to the midwife for bringing the gas and air. It really helped me. I concentrated on the breathing and it made a huge difference to me. From that point on I was in control and confident. (I was also completely starkers and cared not one bit. I feel a bit embarrassed everytime I think about this but I’m pretty sure no one else minded!)
I had read so much about needing to be examined at regular intervals and only pushing at 10cms, but this was not my experience at all. I found that the midwives totally trusted my body and told me to push when I felt ready. I actually asked them to examine me because I wanted to know. At this point we discovered I was 10cms and I felt confident to push.
I was surprised that at no point I felt the overwhelming ‘urge’ to push that I had read about. I simply pushed with the contractions from that point on. It took 35 mins to push our baby out. It was hard work and scary at times. You feel like you might break in two and pushing into that feeling is both brave and terrifying, all of sudden it was over and our beautiful baby was handed to me. I was kneeling, so she had to be passed underneath me by the midwife. We didn’t know the sex and the midwife had put a clean towel on her straight away. We were so overwhelmed by the fact that we’d had a baby that a minute or two passed before the midwife said ‘don’t you want to see what you’ve had?’ We were amazed that we hadn’t even found this out yet and immediately lifted the towel to discover we were parents to a beautiful baby girl.
I had opted for a physiological third stage (no injection to help the placenta along) and it was roughly 30 mins before I felt an urge to push. The placenta came away reasonably easily but I did lose a lot of blood. Once the placenta was delivered (and we’d had a good look at it and the amniotic sac - we could even see the hole where the waters had popped!) the midwife examined me. She said that I had lost more blood than she’d like and in hospital I’d be borderline for a transfusion and I also had a tear that in hospital she would have to stitch, but at home she could offer me the choice, though I would have to transfer to hospital for stitching. I opted for no stitching and we agreed that I take an iron supplement for a few weeks and we monitor my iron levels and recovery. Amazingly after 3 days my tear had all but healed. I was breathless and tired for a few days but with iron supplements and good food I recovered quite quickly. I really appreciated being given the option and the faith both me and the midwives had in my body to heal itself.
My beautiful girl weighed in at 8lb 13oz. We had a rocky start to breastfeeding but eventually, we got there and I fed her for a year.
I felt the trust and the faith the midwives had in me and my body through this experience and it taught me to trust my own body so much more. Two years (almost to the day) I had my second birth, where that trust led to an amazing birth experience... to follow