Our homebirth story really began with the lovely midwife who we met at the beginning of my pregnancy. We had had a dreadful experience with a GP a week before who, having been told that my husband was terrified of hospitals, had virtually ordered me to have an epidural (this, at only 5 weeks pregnant!) and informed my husband that, should he decide to be present at the birth, he would probably never recover emotionally and that he should stick to the non-business end. We had needed support, not horror stories, and when we met with the midwife we were very relieved to feel that she was warm and full of useful suggestions.
One of these was that we could consider hiring a doula (professional labour supporter) and the other was to consider a homebirth. We had only recently moved into the area and I had no one near who could attend the birth with us should things get too much for David. I had only recently heard about doulas and began to research the idea, eventually meeting up with Maddie. It was the best thing we ever did. We clicked immediately when we met and throughout my (incredibly nauseous) pregnancy she was to become a fantastic source of support and information.
I had always been sceptical about homebirthing but the more I found out, the more it made sense.
I think my contractions had started the day before but as they were very mild I ignored them. I'd been getting all sorts of twinges for weeks, so wasn't sure. I was beginning to get a bit of pressure to be induced as this was 10 days "over" but we insisted that we would wait. Our community midwife gave us the standard speech about hospital policy and being "high risk". I thank God I was informed and knew that everything I'd read and heard from Maddie, the books and websites and even the NICE guidelines, indicated that there was leeway. And Gillian, the head midwife, supported us in this, which was great. But I totally see how you can get pushed into things. I'm quite assertive but felt really torn. Anyway in the end he arrived on his own as I think I instinctively knew he would.
True contractions started at 2am and got progressively stronger. We called our doulas, lovely Maddie and Caroline, who was in training, at 4am and things really got going. I spent virtually the whole time on hands and knees, two sessions in the lovely birth pool. Didn't touch the tens though. Had fantastic support and felt safe and free at home. When the midwife arrived it turned out I was only 5 cm...this is because for some reason he had gone back-to-back at the last moment. Weird as all along he'd been in the perfect position and I had spent a lot of time doing the yoga positions to keep him there. Thank god no one told me or I would have been in despair.
After more hard work (no lull before transition!) and the discovery of gas and air (kept telling everyone I loved them like an old drunk aunt at a wedding!), we finally got there. He had turned himself around on his own so was in the right place. I delivered him myself in the water. He was a bit sleepy so we had to massage him to get him going - apparently common with a water birth.
(Note from Angela: research on waterbirth from Germany suggests that 'sleepy' babies are more common if they are born into hot water, above 35C. Many UK hospitals advise that the water should be 36-37C for birth, based on concerns about the baby losing heat or being stimulated to breathe - although there is no evidence basis for this, and practice elsewhere is to be much more flexible on water temperature.)
I had no tearing, just a little labial graze which stungs like hell when I weed! But no stiches or any perineal tearing (due to brilliant midwife and Maddie coaching me to go slowly when he crowned - bloody difficult!). He suckled immediately so I delivered the placenta on my own while he was in his daddy's arms with no jab.
It was bloody hard work, and yes was painful, but it was also an incredibly amazing positive and beautiful beginning to our baby's life. Despite so many people saying I was "brave" to have him at home and tuttings I honestly feel the opposite is true. We bonded immediately, and so did his dad. We were in our own clean, warm space, calm, at peace and in the days that followed, free to learn and understand our new son on our own. He is feeding really well and I felt comfortable and supported to learn to feed him.
All the yoga, hypno cd, prep classes paid off.
As a postscript, weeks later when Jonathan and I attending a New Mums group organised by the local health visitors, of 12 first time mums, I was the only one who'd had a positive birth experience..and the only one who’d had a homebirth, 5 caesareans, as many epidurals...what does that tell you?"
Hope this might encourage anyone considering their options to go for it.
First Babies and homebirth
Waterbirth at home
Doulas - professional labour supporters.
Hypnotherapy for childbirth
Overdue - but still want a homebirth? When is 'postdates' risky?
Homebirth UK email group
Home Birth Stories
Home Birth Reference Page