I gave birth to my daughter in September 2020. We’d been in lockdown since I was 13 weeks pregnant so no antenatal classes and no in person hypnobirthing. Our hospital also closed their labour ward so we had to choose a ‘host hospital’ that we’d never been to before for the actual birth. We did an online course and thought we were as prepared as we could be.
My waters went a couple of days after my due date but contractions didn’t really start. 24 hours later in we went to start the induction process as requested. I knew I didn’t want that and I asked to go back home after being checked, I knew the risks and felt confident in my decision. And then it all changed, my blood work came back with high infection markers and in the blink of an eye my birth became very medical and I wasn’t prepared for it. I didn’t know how to advocate for myself in this situation or have the confidence to ask questions. I felt helpless and so I
surrendered myself to the system. I gave up on my birth preferences (I didn’t even show them to any of the medical staff) as I couldn’t see how they would fit anymore. In doing so I gave up all control of my birth.
I gave birth on my back, hooked up to lots of IVs (including oxytocin), had a PPH
(postpartum haemorrhage) of 1000ml and had to have a manual removal of the placenta. Not quite what we’d had in mind... Unfortunately the infection hit us both hard and I developed sepsis and baby was diagnosed with suspected meningitis, resulting in a 3 week NICU stay. We had, and still have, a lot of trauma from the whole experience.
Fast forward to 18 months later and prepping for the birth of my son. I was determined not to give up the control again. I didn’t want to be a passive participant in my own birth. I had a birth debrief with a senior midwife, I wanted to know my risks second time around, what was likely to happen again and what would hopefully go differently. She was wonderful and gave a very medical overview and ended by saying I would want to give birth on the labour ward again due to the risks of a PPH (postpartum haemorrhage) and manual removal this time. Okay. But a niggling voice in my head said I really wanted a home birth, I really wanted a completely different experience. I also wanted my second baby to have all the wonderful microbiome boosting bacteria that comes from a vaginal birth in a non sterile environment.
So I read absolutely everything I could find on all the statistics and the risks, read Cochran reviews and books on physiological birth. I listened to podcasts and chatted to midwives on social media about my circumstances. I also had an amazing birth debrief with Kat from an emotional rather than medical point of view. Eventually we decided on a home birth with a physiological third stage. Despite the slight increase in risk I felt so confident I was making the right choice and that also perhaps my risks were not black and white given the circumstances of my first birth.
Surprisingly the consultant didn’t protest that much (almost disappointingly so as I had come prepared to fight for myself!) and I was granted an ‘out of guidance’ home birth. After a lonely lockdown pregnancy first time around this one was totally different, the Oak Team at Leighton were wonderful, I did a Positive Birth Workshop with Kat and Sarah and, through Kat, found the amazing Cheshire Home Birth group. I felt really confident with all my decisions but I knew I also needed to believe that I could do it. I was anxious of how I would feel if my waters broke and contractions didn’t start again, if maybe I would panic. And I knew that if I didn’t believe I could birth my placenta myself and I started to doubt, my natural oxytocin would go and I probably wouldn’t be able to do it, a self fulfilling prophecy. The wisdom of Kat and Rach from CHB and all the people who shared their stories really helped me with this and at 40 weeks I was ready and raring to go. But baby was not...
I hadn’t expected to go over my dates particularly and after all the work I had put into everything else, I hadn’t prepared for this! I am such a people pleaser and was nervous that when push came to shove I wouldn’t be able to confidently say no to requests to book an induction even thought I knew I wasn’t going to have one just for post-dates. Kat to the rescue again! She kept sending me messages of encouragement and after seeing her the night before my 41 week appointment, I declined to book an induction at 40+12 ‘just in case’.
At 40+11 at 1am I finally started feeling some contractions, I tried not to get too excited and rested between them until about 6am when I went downstairs and listened to some music and bounced on my ball. They were only every 15 minutes so I was ready for a bit of a long first stage. My daughter woke up and we had breakfast together then I went back upstairs to rest. My husband took her to softplay and when they returned at 3pm he was ready for action, he wanted to set up the pool and call the midwife but I was still convinced we were hours away and it would be a middle of the night thing. An hour or so later they were a bit more intense so I agreed to call the midwife and he took our daughter to the neighbour’s house and started to sort the pool out.
I put the tens machine on and just breathed through the contractions. The midwife arrived around 5:30pm and once the pool was ready at about 6pm I got in. Being able to move freely and truly listen to what my body wanted was amazing. All of a sudden my body was pushing and the midwife quickly called the second and prepped the gas and air. At 6:30pm my son was born in his sac (I honestly believe he’s made from a little bit of magic!) and half an hour later I birthed my placenta on the sofa. I felt like superwoman and the adrenaline rush was incredible.
A couple of hours later, after my daughter had met her little brother (we didn’t know the sex beforehand) and we’d managed to convince her to go to bed, my husband and I looked around and our living room looked exactly the same as it had done just a few hours previously but we had our son. We had done it (and with minimal blood loss)!
My home birth was the best thing I have ever done and was the most wonderful experience. I would do it again a hundred times over.
Thank yo for sharing this wonderful magic birth story, it has been so lovely getting to support you all. XXX