Thursday the 5th June was my due date and whilst I didn’t expect my baby to arrive on this day my instincts told me it would be near enough. I’d had a show on Tuesday and I felt different, I had an urge to not venture to far from home, clean and get everything ready including fairy lights and finishing touches to my birthing area… It’s amazing just how powerful our instincts are! Our kids were in bed, I’d just settled myself to do some yoga when my surges started, very gently, I was aware of them but at the same time I wasn’t, I carried on with my yoga (some gentle stretches and breathing) focussing on relaxing my mind and body.
Alex (my husband) was in the gym so I didn’t even bother him and got on with making dinner, this carried on for an hour or so. At this point I was having surges fairly regularly but hadn’t started timing them as I wanted to focus on them not an app. We ate dinner and watched an episode of Sex Education (great for the Oxytocin levels). We decided to call the home birth team just to let them know that I was in early labour and to make them aware of the situation, this was at almost 10pm. We were advised to carry on doing what we were, get some sleep and ring them back when we were getting our 3 surges in 10 minutes regularly and for an increased amount of time.
I got into bed with a hot water bottle, a relaxation and my favourite candle flickering away, Alex gave me a massage (which he’d been doing all week). I didn’t manage to sleep but I totally chilled out for a couple of hours. By this time my surges had increased in time and intensity however still felt completely manageable using my breath. I just completely relaxed into every one, visualised my birthing muscles doing their amazing job and used my up breathing through each wave.
It was almost midnight and I knew that sleep was not going to happen, it was time to call the midwives back so they could arrange bringing a birth pool out to us…. they arrived about 45 minutes later with the intention of a couple of door step questions and leaving us with a birth pool. However, baby Stott had other ideas. By this point my surges had become strong and frequent and were requiring my full focus to breathe through each one. Alex and the midwives had a quick chat and came in to see how I was getting on. Each surge seemed to roll into the next and I allowed my body to roll with it. Swaying, moving, finding a rhythm that worked for me and my baby.
I had my music on, the lighting subdued, Alex was using our lovely massage techniques and everything felt good. I was calm, felt in control and completely relaxed, I used my up breathing and visualisations. Knowing each surge would have a peak to breathe through, I completely allowed my body to take over and strangely I enjoyed the feeling of letting go and just being in awe and aware of what was happening.
Back to the practicalities, Emma (one of our amazing midwives) needed to check my blood pressure, baby’s position, heart rate etc. (There was not even a mention of a VE, we’d already discussed at previous appointments that this wasn’t necessary). At this point my surges were coming what felt like continuously and I could tell that things were moving forwards; the birth pool was currently being inflated in the kitchen.
It was just after 1am now, I got up to change positions when my waters broke. It was at this point and with my next surge I realised the change of sensation, my baby was coming now. The pool wasn’t inflated, there were no mats down in the lounge, I never expected baby Stott to be arriving this soon. The business around me started, making the lounge our new birthing space, abandoning ideas of my water birth. I was aware of everything going on around me yet it didn’t take away anything from my focus and what I was doing. I just completely shut out everything and focussed on every surge bringing my baby closer to me and it felt amazing
With the sensation of my surges changing I was pretty sure our baby was on the way; I do remember questioning myself though – surely this baby can’t be coming just yet? (both of my previous labours have been reasonably lengthy so I naturally presumed this one would be similar and things had changed so much in only an hour.
With the new birthing environment set up I got comfortable kneeling over the sofa and got back into the rhythm of my surges. I didn’t have an overwhelming urge to push as such but I was fully aware that my baby was descending into the birth canal and I naturally wanted to work with it and my body bear down. I really had to focus my breath through every surge to allow my body to do what it needed to do, both the midwives and Alex were amazing and kept reminding me to let go, relax and just allow birth to happen.
My focussed down breathing and that urge to bear down came so naturally and to be able to embrace those sensations felt amazing. Allowing birth to happen… This is exactly what I did, I let my body take over, I let whatever felt right happen including birthing groans and movement. I think the fact that I felt relaxed and in control enabled me to be so aware of everything I was feeling and it may sound crazy but it felt so good to feel her body moving within mine.
Within about 10 minutes of powerful surges, rolling into one another her head was born and a couple of minutes later I reached down to bring my beautiful girl into my arms. The emotions were absolutely overwhelming… happiness, joy, excitement, relief, amazement that I’d gone from light contractions (thinking nothing of it) to my baby girl in my arms within a few hours.
I couldn’t believe that I birthed our baby girl at home, using nothing more than my breath and my body, wow it felt so good. The best experience and feeling in the world! Our little girl came straight up to my chest for that all-important skin to skin contact, she cried, I apologised to her for her crying but within moments she was still and close to me. The midwives quickly made everything around me very comfortable, cushions off sofas and wrapped towels around our girl and then our time together began. We just cuddled; I held my precious gift so tightly just looking into her eyes. She soon made her way to my breast and had her first feed, it was just perfect.
Being at home meant I felt there was no rush to do anything, I had chosen to have optimal delayed cord clamping once I’d delivered my placenta naturally. This didn’t happen for about 45 minutes, it felt so good to have this time, knowing our little girl had absolutely everything from her cord and again knowing my body was doing just as it was designed to.
We had also chosen to have our placenta encapsulated, the midwives examined it whilst filling us in on some fascinating facts and we popped it into our chiller bag and into the fridge. All necessary checks for me and our little girl were completed, I had a couple of very minor tears which for saying she was delivered in 14 minutes was pretty good! We got settled on the sofa with a cup of tea and the midwives headed off, it was about 4am by this point so we decided to get into bed and try and get a couple of hours sleep. Our youngest woke up at 6:30am, he came into our bedroom saw the cot and just said “baby”. Again, being at home made this moment magical, he’d slept through everything and woken up to a baby sister.
My birth was everything I could have wished for in terms of how I wanted to feel. Yes, my plan A included a water birth however things happen and plans change and on reflection this took absolutely nothing away from the experience. I really did get my dream birth. Thank you to everyone involved who made that dream my reality, it truly was the best experience in the world and one I will forever cherish. Despite everything else going on in the world around us, that night, those hours, those moments were so perfect.
Tabitha Willow Stott is the calmest, most beautiful baby girl and I put that down to hypnobirthing and our home birth.