Happy Mother’s Day! This week has been all about sharing birth stories of all varieties – celebrating that we have the freedom of choice here in the UK and should be empowered within that choice. It’s so disheartening to hear of people not being respected in that view, but equally, a cause for great joy when people are supported in their options!
Today, I’m delighted to share a ‘home’ birth story with you from the incredible Jacqui. In the UK, home births only account for an average of 2% of all births but 10% of women apparently would chose it as an option but just didn’t know how. Whilst I’m not sure home birth is an option I’d personally like, I 100% would support anyone else in there choice and was fascinated to read Jacqui’s story…
It seems really fitting to be sitting here, two weeks before my littlest boy turns 1, and reminiscing about the night on which he made his definitive appearance in our family.
He was almost two weeks late, just like his big brother, but the similarities between their two births end there. With my first boy, I was induced and, due to ‘ failure to progress’ was pushed along in my labour journey until, 34 hours after my contractions first started, Callan was delivered. I was tired, sore, bleeding and had been given large amounts of morphine.
Quite early on in my second pregnancy, my amazing community midwife, Elaine, brought up the subject of home birth. To be honest, it wasn’t something that had even crossed my mind before; I’d assumed it was the domain of ‘hippy’ ‘new age’ mothers, and probably not for me. However, we did some reading and it soon became apparent that a home birth was exactly what I was looking for; I would have control over my environment, I could be in the water and, most importantly, I could get into my own bed immediately afterward!
I made it my mission in my second pregnancy to educate myself in a way that I hadn’t during my first. I was far more proactive in my yoga practice, swam far more, and spoke to so many amazing women passionate about birth along the way that I felt ready to birth my second son, and was actively looking forward to it. We’d decided to work with a doula for this pregnancy for several reasons; my miserable first labour, the struggles I’d had breastfeeding our oldest boy and the resultant PND. Tricia Murray came highly recommended and, after meeting her a few times, I asked if she’d work with us. She was so knowledgeable, confident and positive that it seemed like a no-brainer!
My contractions began at just after 6pm on the Monday; I was sat on my birthing ball whilst my son watch Teletubbies and my husband was cooking. I’d been having what I was calling ‘lightning strikes’ for a couple of weeks, so I didn’t say anything to my husband straight away, in case it turned out to be a false alarm. We all sat down to dinner, throughout which my contractions were coming fairly regularly but still quite far apart. We bathed Callan, read him his bedtime story and put him to bed and that was when things started to happen more quickly.
The contraction timer showed that the contractions were coming relatively quickly, so I got in touch with both the on-call team and Tricis to let them know what was happening. I then ran a bath while my husband prepared the living room as we’d previously agreed. Tricia arrived at our house not long after I got out of the bath, and we talked about how I was feeling. The contractions were becoming fairly strong, to the point where I couldn’t speak through them any more, and they were getting much closer together.
At this point I was struggling to get comfy and tried to find a couple of positions in which I could breathe through the contractions. My legs felt quite weak, so I ended up kneeling over the arm of the sofa to get through each one. In between contractions I felt amazing, and was able to talk and laugh with James and Tricia.
Tricia decided it was probably time to call the on-call midwives and get at least one of them to attend, as the contractions were getting really intense and I was struggling without any pain relief. I had been hoping all along that my community midwife would be on call whenever I finally went into labour, and I was delighted that she was. Tricia updated Elaine on my progress, whilst I was in the process of getting into the birthing pool, and Elaine organised the gas and air for me.
In the pool, I was still talking in between contractions, although they were coming super-fast and were incredibly intense. I remember quite clearly the point at which I started feeling the need to push and feeling ready to bring our baby into the world. Elaine called the other on-call midwife, who arrived just as I was about to start pushing. I pushed for about 45 minutes, still in the water, and could hear the different levels of conversation happening all around me. Although there were 4 people in the room with me, I was very much in ‘my zone’, concentrating on my breathing and thinking about the affirmations I’d handwritten to put on our walls. It was important to me that I not have regular examinations whilst in the water, and the midwives were very respectful of that, only checking in very occasionally to check baby’s heart rate.
Jamie crowned and I remember being very conscious of holding him there and just breathing until the next contraction came. I breathed him out at just after midnight and leant in between my legs to catch him and bring him up on to my chest. The adrenaline rush was huge, and I remember shaking with the power of it. We stayed in the water for a few minutes before getting out to get wrapped up and cuddle on the sofa.
All mine and Jamie’s checks were done in the house, and I birthed the placenta in the bathroom. My husband did some skin-to-skin while I was stitched, and then I took Jamie again on the sofa and we sat in our own little bubble, enjoying our moment while everyone bustled about us.
We had Champagne chilling in the fridge and I was given a lovely glass of that, along with a slice of hot buttered toast. The midwives and Tricia packed up and they all said their goodbyes, leaving us in perfect peace and quiet. James and I got into bed with our brand new boy and, in the morning, James brought Callan straight in to say hello to his new little brother.
From the moment we’d decided on a home birth, we said that the ideal scenario would be to put our oldest boy to bed, have me labour and birth overnight and then just bring Callan in to meet his little brother in the morning, and I am over the moon that that was what we got. It was, for us, the perfect birth and I have never felt more empowered.
I have so enjoyed sharing birth stories this week in the run up to Mother’s Day. If you’ve missed reading any then please do look back – and don’t forget to share them with anyone else you think might enjoy reading!
If you’re interested in learning more about Doula’s – particularly here in Edinburgh – then please do check out Tricia’s site and if you’d like to find more from the amazing Jacqui you can visit her restaurant – La Petite Mort!