I was blessed to birth at home- the best decision we made
With my first, despite the awful morning sickness, I actually enjoyed my pregnancy. I managed to practice meditation and yoga as well as hypnobirthing techniques that I learnt from my hypnobirthing class with the wonderful Crystal. I even managed to keep to a healthy diet as I was craving fruits and vegetables most of the time. Overall I was in a very positive place.
Pregnancy number two however was quite the opposite. I had a toddler to look after, working full time and had no time to practice any yoga or meditation (at least not until the very last couple of weeks). For this reason it was in my head that since I had not practiced any of those things, my birth would not be as smooth as my first. This created a lot of negativity and anxiety which I just could not shift.
In addition to that, Covid19 had struck the UK and it wasn’t looking good. My husband and I had previously discussed a homebirth but had not decided on it. We discussed it further and decided that it was the best thing for us as a family and contacted our local hospital who were very much supportive of our decision to homebirth and arranged for the community midwives to come home and start the process.
A week later I got the dreaded phone call advising me that all homebirths in our area were not going ahead due to high risk and lack of ambulances available. A few days after receiving what I though was the worst news, I was advised that no partners would be allowed during or after the birth.
Anxiety was high, and by this time I was dead set against going to the hospital, let alone birthing alone. Whatever happened to fathers’ rights? My husband was going to miss out on the birth of his second child! It was all a bit much to take in.
I felt so lost and felt I had no control of what would happen on the day that my baby was going to be born.
I started speaking with friends and birthing support groups and was advised that although homebirthing wasn’t in my catchment area, I could give birth at Edgeware Birthing Centre. I was ecstatic, some hope at last! I rang the birthing centre, who were fantastic and booked me in for an appointment the very next day. The birthing rooms looks so beautiful and was definitely the next best thing to homebirthing.
24 hours later, I get a telephone call telling me that the birthing centre had been advised to shut down and no births would take place there for the time being. At this point I was heartbroken and sadly all of the excitement of welcoming a newborn into this world was just not there.
I still remember feeling so low and thinking this is not how this precious time should feel. No one knew what was going on, everything was so uncertain and a million thoughts ran through my head.
We decided that we would continue to prepare for a home water birth and bought all the required equipment. Camden and Barnet Home Birth very kindly arranged a donation pool for me to have free of charge. In the end I didn’t use it as I wasn’t able to collect it due to all the madness of Covid-19 etc. However, Samantha @thepushystylist messaged me via a Facebook group, and offered to lend me her own pool. I was so overwhelmed by the gesture and trust that a stranger had shown me – the mum/homebirth community is just wonderful and it really made me feel so fortunate to know these amazing people and be a part of this group.
It was getting closer to my expected due date, by this time there were no face to face hospital appointments, everything was done over the phone. Although the NHS midwives didn’t know themselves what was going on, they were still keeping in touch with me all the time, making sure I was okay and just checking in. I had the same amazing support from Camden and Barnet Home Birth.
On Tuesday 7th April, in the evening, the surges began and continued all through the night. But come 10am the next day, they stopped. I wasn’t surprised by this as I was in a similar situation with my first. Later that afternoon my body started slowing down and I just felt like I needed to take it easy. In my heart I knew the baby would be with us within the next 24 hours. My mucus plug began to show around 4.30pm and soon after that the surges began. Slow and stead to begin with.
I carried on with my day as normal and I spoke to Mini Me and told her what was happening. We explained that baby was coming soon and the next day possibly she could be a big sister!
When Mini Me saw me going through a surge, she did look concerned and worried however when I explained that I was not in any pain but baby was just making its way down, her emotions changed and she kept saying “baby coming!”
I started to set up my front room with my electric candles, lemongrass oils, my hypnobirthing music in the background and hubby set up the pool.
After about 3.5 hours the surges were getting stronger and more intense. By this time, Mini-Me was fast asleep in her bedroom. At this point I was standing in the kitchen straightening my hair! As crazy as this sounds, it made me feel good. I remember stopping doing my hair as each surge came, I leaned over the kitchen counter for support, and once the surge passed I continued doing my hair and watching Mini- Me through the monitor.
We contacted our midwife around 8/830pm and she arrived by 9pm. I continued through the surges, using my birthing ball and my husband as support. In my head I thought I had many more hours before I would be seeing my little one, and therefore didn’t get in the pool too early. However the surges were coming through thick and fast, they felt much more intense than the first time round.
It was all happening so very quickly. Around 1130pm I got into the pool and soon after my body felt like it needed to push. I listened to my body and started to breath my baby out, but for some reason I just couldn’t find a comfortable position in the pool to do this.
I got out of the pool, leaned over the birthing ball and started to breath my baby out, with my husband directly in front of me, literally holding and supporting me all the way through. Within a few minutes I heard a cry, my baby’s head was out and even before she was fully out, she was making herself present and making sure we knew she was coming. The next surge and my baby was in my arms. ‘we did it’ was the first thing I said. I just sat on the floor, held this beautiful bundle in my arms and just stared at her. At this point we didn’t even know (or care) what gender she was. I was just so overjoyed by the fact that she was here in my arms safe.
Soon after something didn’t feel right and I told the midwife that it feels like I need to push still – was that normal? She told me that my placenta was ready to come out. This was a totally new feeling as I never had this the first time round. My midwife advised me that I could go back into the pool if I wanted. I was so happy to hear this as I knew it would relax the aches and pains in my body, and so I got back in and it felt so good to be in warm water. I held my baby in my arms, and delivered the placenta. After some time, Daddy was able to cut the cord.
It all felt so peaceful and relaxed, I wasn’t rushed out of the pool, or told to get dressed or shower. It was the perfect moment with no commotion in the background. Whilst sitting in the warmth of the water, I closed my eyes, whispered a special mantra into my baby’s ears to wish her well and welcome her into this world.
In the end I was blessed to be able to home birth and it’s the best decision we made. I sat on my own sofa and fed by baby, I slept in the comfort of my own bed, knowing that my toddler was just in the room next door safe and sound. It really was the best feeling.
And although I was not able to actually birth in the pool, I am so thankful it was there as it helped before and after the birth.
I cannot express how thankful I am to all the support I had during this time. I had no idea that birthing support was so widely available if you just know where to look. I am so happy to be able to share my story with you all.