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My Home Birth Story

My Home Birth Story

I believe that giving birth is a huge subject that, despite experiencing it twice, and I do feel that we don’t always know that much about it. In schools we are not taught about giving birth – you don’t learn the science of giving birth – and this is something I am keen to talk about on my blog.

On my son’s first birthday, I spent some time reflecting on my birth story. Often when I talk about Felix’s birth story on Instagram I get a lot of DMs asking what it was like so I wanted to bring my story to the blog, as home birth can still be seen as big risk and I don’t believe it should be this way.

Firstly, it’s important to say not everyone can have a home birth. I was lucky to be low risk and the only factor that could have affected it was in my first pregnancy the placenta got stuck. This meant when I wanted a home birth I did have to get the OK from a Consultant at a hospital. I knew the risk that, if the placenta were to get stuck again, I still felt really comfortable opting for a home birth.

My birth story: Felix’s arrival into the world

This is NOT a perfect birth story!

What it is, is a confident birth story.

I don’t believe there is a “best” birth, it’s about having a birth that you feel comfortable and safe helping. Hypnobirthing was a huge part of that for me and I was supported by Katy Baker @thebirththing who was a huge support.

You can read about my first birth story with Rupert here – you’ll see how different my experiences have been! I felt far more informed about my choices second time round and, often, I believe that comes with experience of a first birth.

When I started looking into hypnobirthing second time round, Katy made me realise that a home birth was a possibility. I thought my husband would say “NO!” and that it was a bit ‘out there’ but Katy stopped me in my tracks and signalled to me that it was worth looking into.

And so I did.

And I started to get really, really excited.

I researched it and found that the science says if you’re feeling super safe and in your little nest, your body is far more likely to relax and do what it needs to do.

The more I read, the more I was able to convince my husband that it would be the right thing for us.

However, at the 20 week scan I was told that I had a low lying placenta so I waited for it to move – this was a really difficult and stressful time. I wanted to prepare for a home birth but needed to wait for 36 weeks to find out if I could have one. So what I did, with Katy’s help, was to plan for a home birth and hope that the placenta will move because in the majority of cases it does.

The 36 week scan showed it had moved out of the way and wasn’t at a dangerous level so I had the go ahead for the home birth.

I swapped from normal hospital care to the home birthing midwife team. Immediately, I felt so impressed with the far more personable service – just having a cup of tea in my home with them blew me away and it felt so natural to me. It reminded me of Call The Midwife! It felt super special and so we signed up.

We had to go through the process of being signed off by the consultant and I had to agree that I’d be ‘ticked off’ for the home birth as long as I was to have an active management of the placenta – e.g. to get it out quickly, following birth, and not getting stuck to reduce the need of going into hospital.

We got the birth pool (and all of the bits that go with it!) and it sat in the corner of the kitchen, whilst I went up to full term. I knew I didn’t want to be induced because of my previous experience so I spent a lot of time on my birth ball, walking, getting on all fours and doing lots of things, including reflexology, to help birth going. After this, I had mini contractions that night but Felix wasn’t quite ready to come.

At 40+5 I wasn’t panicking but was looking forward to getting baby out before I had to go near the induction drip! So I pumped my breasts to stimulate colostrum and did some nipple stimulation to get the oxytocin going and to try and get into that relaxed state. Carly, my reflexologist, came along on a Thursday evening and I had no idea that I would go into labour the following day but something happens when Carly comes to my house and things slowly started to kick off! It’s like she’s magic!

I had a few cramps that evening and so I got onto the birth ball, had takeaway fish and chips and a glass of wine!

The next morning, a Friday at 7am, I woke up and I had ‘the show’. I sent a photo to my midwife and she said things were progressing and that all was well. My contractions slowly started to come on – my husband was due at his best friend’s wedding the next day and I convinced him to stay home as second babies are often said to come quickly. We focused on our family and we had such a lovely day. I had very mild contractions that became stronger and stronger throughout the day. We did a long walk in the morning and then, when we got home, we had a really nice lunch, Rupert had his nap and we watched TV followed by a vigorous long walk in the afternoon. Even though I could feel things ramping up, I still didn’t believe it could be labour! After 16 hours on a drip first time round I didn’t know how to compare the two experiences at this point!

At about 9pm I said to my husband “I should probably go to bed now because this could kick off tonight…” The midwives had told me that, if you have a toddler already, you’re far more likely to go into labour in the night time because once your toddler’s in bed your body tells itself that “right, now it’s safe to get started!” and that’s just what happened.

I could tell that things were starting to ramp up but I tried to get some sleep. I was super excited but made myself sleep to conserve my energy.

Around 11:30pm I woke and could not sleep.

We hired a Doula, to make sure things went smoothly, and I remember she said to me “you’ll know when to get out of bed because you wont’ be able to sleep.” and that’s exactly how I felt. Contractions were about 7-8 minutes apart and I woke my husband and said “it’s time!” d

We went downstairs to the kitchen, Rupert was sound asleep, and my husband set up the birthing ball and my Doula arrived at around midnight.

We kept the kitchen really dark with fairy lights on, and I was walking around as contractions came at every couple of minutes. But, unlike my first birth, I just managed to breathe my way through them. This is where hypnobirthing came into its own because I knew I could breathe through a contraction to get through it. We had some piano music on, it was very quiet and calm. We weren’t doing any weird dancing or anything!

I was just in my zone in my kitchen.

What I remember being poignant was when I went for a wee the constrictions came really fast and that’s total proof that when your body feels safe – in your bathroom at home – your body allows the process to speed up and I found that fascinating.

The midwife was called at 2am and she said I could get into the pool so in I went. It was like a massive relief – I can’t explain the relief from the pain and the weight of the baby drawing down.

I spent the best part of 3 hours, until 5am, in the pool doing my thing. I remember asking the midwife to take a photo when I was in the middle of a contraction! It’s so bizarre that I experienced a normal contraction pattern compared to my first experience of being on the induction drip.

I found the contractions manageable and I felt like normal ‘me’ in between.

At around 5am I was mindful that it had been going on for the best part of 24 hours and my brain was starting to worry if this was going to happen.I was, also, worried about who would deal with Rupert when he woke. We had plans for family to look after him but I was worried he’d be unsettled if he saw me and I didn’t want anybody else in the house. My mind started to wander and so things started to slow down. At 5:30am the midwife told me to go up and down the stairs to speed things up and offered to give me some gas and air. I fought it for a bit but she thought it would relax me and she was totally right, as my mind was starting to THINK and so I wasn’t going to give birth from the right, relaxed place.

After a little walk, the midwife asked if I wanted to be examined, she said I was 8 cms but my waters hadn’t yet broken. My mind had taken me off the ball and then what happened was I literally had three sips of gas and air and she told me to lie on my left side for 2 contractions with my bum in the air and my arms on the sofa! She knew exactly what was needed because – as if by magic – my waters broke all over the sofa and off we went!

I went straight back in the pool and then started pushing!

That transition happened so incredibly quickly and I was amazed that she just knew what to do.

After 45 minutes of pushing in the birthing pool he still wasn’t coming. Having spoken to the midwife afterwards, and a cranial osteopath, we believed perhaps the chord was around his neck and I felt I was losing my confidence, especially as having an episiotomy first time round.

The second midwife who was there got in my face and shouted “you can do this!” at me and then I did!

A final push and out he came. I cried! It was amazing!

And very quickly I had to deliver my placenta because they were cautious of what had happened the first time round.

So there he was!

I think one thing that a lot of people worry about with home births are the risk factors. We had planned for those but we hadn’t thought about the post partum hemorrhage and blood loss.

I quickly started to lose a lot of birth – I don’t remember a lot between holding Felix in my arms and then being blue lighted to hospital in an ambulance.

I was on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance.

They estimated that I’d lost between 1.5-2 litres of blood. So, although I did have the home birth I wanted, the transfer to hospital was less than ideal. But this did teach me even if things go wrong there are systems in place to help. I didn’t need a blood transfusion in the end, things were good and my iron levels did bounce back. I had a placenta smoothie and I do think that helped boost my iron levels quite quickly.

If we were to go for a third, I’d absolutely want to have a birth at home again!

 

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