Our baby arrived nine days early in December, but I’m afraid it has taken us a while, too, to find a chance to send out an email!
Kirsty Patricia Mary McIntyre, our second child, was born at home on 14 December and the birth was a very positive experience.
I woke up in the night, unable to sleep, and realised my waters had gently broken and I was starting to get mild contractions/surges. This was at 3.30am, and an hour later the surges were coming quite strong and fast, and Alasdair started to time them now and again. At 6.30am I rang the community midwives and they decided they should come soon, so we started hurrying about preparing things for the home birth. The first midwife arrived at 7.15am and reckoned the baby would be out before lunchtime, which I thought was great news! Another midwife arrived (there have to be two for the delivery) and then two more came at 8am because there was a change of shift, so at one point there were four midwives here, swapping notes and equipment, while we just carried on.
When the surges had started in earnest I’d put on my TENS machine and played some relaxing yoga music which helped me to slow down my breathing through each surge. I leaned over the dining table with a pile of pillows, and in between surges I read over the hypnobirthing notes to help me relax, feel confident and focus my thoughts. The ‘up’ visualisation of the rising sun felt too slow for me, so I thought of a red balloon floating up into the sky each time. I walked around the house a little, too, but when the surges became very strong I ditched the TENS machine (didn’t have time to keep pressing the buttons!), found that the best position was kneeling on the floor leaning over an armchair with my pile of pillows on the seat, and I tried the gas and air. It hadn’t worked for me with my first pregnancy, I think because by that time I’d become too stressed out to breathe slowly and was gasping for an epidural. But this time, with my slower, more controlled breathing, I found it very effective and took it for each surge for the rest of the labour – perhaps for an hour or so.
At 10am I started getting upset and told the midwives I couldn’t go on, which I realised meant I was probably at the transition point, and indeed, in my notes the midwives wrote down that the second stage of labour began at 10am! It took a few very strong pushes and then Kirsty was out, at 10.22am. The third stage, without intervention, took another hour and I used gas and air a little for that, too, but it felt like that stage happened very quickly, more like 20 minutes, because time flew once I was enjoying Kirsty in my arms, breastfeeding her and being brought tea and toast by a proud daddy.
The whole experience was a much more relaxed, natural event compared with when I had my first baby in hospital, four years earlier. This time, at home and using the hypnobirthing techniques, I felt much more in control and confident to follow my feelings. One of the midwives was the lady I’d been seeing throughout my pregnancy, which was a real bonus as she had holiday booked over Christmas and so couldn’t have come had Kirsty been born nearer to her due date. Also, happily, our first child, who was then nearly four, was at home with us throughout the birth. We had arranged for Alasdair’s sister to take her away when I went into labour, but everything happened sooner and faster than we had imagined. When she woke up in the morning she simply played in her room and asked why there were midwives downstairs. After a while she wanted to come downstairs and I felt that would be OK, as she carried on playing with her toys in the other part of the room, oblivious to us. Between surges I told her I was doing exercises and wasn’t really hurting – as I’d explained to her days before, doing deep breathing together – and she didn’t seem bothered when Kirsty did actually make her appearance! It was another bonus of being at home, that our everyday family life didn’t seem interrupted. As our daughter put it, Kirsty was simply out of my tummy rather than in it!
Thank you, Katharine, for giving us the confidence to opt for a home birth, and good luck to all those with babies still to arrive!
Jenny and Alasdair