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Liz’s Birth Story – Unplanned Homebirth

Liz’s Birth Story – Unplanned Homebirth

Whilst I think I did a pretty awesome job of staying relatively stress free in my second pregnancy (one of the MANY lessons learnt from my first), the one thing that was bothering me was the logistics of labour with a three year old to look after. I am a firm advocate of the ‘it takes a village’ approach but we live three hours away from family, and it’s all very well considering good friends to be part of your village in daylight hours … but who really wants to be woken up at 3am because my waters have gone?!

I finished work a good 4 weeks before my due date, ever resentful that Baby Number 1 came a week early and I never got the week on a sofa with Netflix promised me by everyone who talks wistfully about maternity leave. If Baby Number 2 arrived in a similarly keen fashion, I was determined that all my nesting would be done AND a good solid five days of Netflixing would have been had.

I was 39 +1, the nesting was done, the Netflixing was being had hard, and we’d spent the day in Pittville Park with friends. It had been an active day and I felt good. The evening was uneventful, and I’d gone to bed about 10.30ish I think.

I half woke up at about half midnight feeling a little bit twingy. In that way you do when you really don’t want to wake up, I just tried to ignore it, get comfy and go back to sleep, and probably dozed like that for 40 minutes or so. Realising I wasn’t really asleep, I went for a wee in the hopes that would make me more settled. I think this woke me up properly and, sitting on the loo, I realized that I really was feeling quite uncomfortable. I was getting the bad period pain tightenings that I’d managed to forget all about from three years previous, but suddenly felt all too familiar. Balls. This was EXACTLY what I didn’t want, middle of the night labour and the worry of whether we needed to get a friend out of bed. Hopefully it would either die away a bit, or just rumble on for a good few hours uneventfully and no one would need to be called. I think this is what they call wishful thinking.

I woke my partner Alex at 1.40am ish, explaining that I thought things were happening and I’d appreciate his input. I think he could tell from my face / huffing and puffing that it was the Real Deal and we decided I’d call my friend and ask if we could drop our little boy round with her on our way to the hospital. She was fantastic, she’d been keeping her phone near her in bed in case I did call and was immediately mobilized. We know from phone records that I called her at 01.56 and we spoke for 1 minute and 37 seconds (this makes this blog sound like a true crime podcast).

Alex started getting stuff sorted; my hospital bag for the car, notes, Teddy’s things for nursery the next day, so that we could grab Teddy as the last thing and go. Everything is a little bit fuzzy here memory-wise, but I know I felt the need to be on the loo and suddenly everything was feeling very much pressurey in the old baby evacuation area. Hmm. Interesting. I was fairly sure I might be having a baby a little sooner than I’d hoped.

I called for Alex, trying really hard to use a tone of voice that was the right sort of urgent, without wanting to worry him, and also not wake a three year old. I was successful, he appeared. I wasn’t really able to do much talking, but I didn’t need to. He asked me if I needed an ambulance. I remember really wanting him to make that decision, but I nodded. I really, really hoped that was the right call. I’d be mortified if paramedics walked into my room and told me I was 3cm dilated and to pull myself together.

Alex disappeared off to make the call. He went downstairs, I think so he could concentrate on making sure he told them the right things. This is really when things started moving, and – without being too happy-clappy – where I really began to learn just how amazing bodies are. Or women’s ones at least! From this point on, my body just took over completely, it knew what it needed to do. I sort of crawled from the en-suite to the bottom of my bed (grabbed a towel, well done me), and just sat on the floor, legs akimbo, doing some super deep breathing and just letting everything do what it needed to do. I’d refreshed myself about birth at from TBTBC antenatal course and am a huge convert to hypnobirthing, so I knew that my body knew what it was doing, me getting in a flap would only get in its way so I might as well let it crack on.

I was vaguely aware of Alex coming up the stairs talking to 999 dispatch, saying something along the lines of ‘No, no I don’t think she’s giving birth yet, there’s definitely no head …’ *clocks me, clocks the action end* … ‘oh no wait, I can see the head’. Cue a high speed round of Finders Keepers (do you remember that, with Neil Buchanan?) where Alex reappears after what seemed like 10 seconds with every towel we own, a shoelace (don’t ask) and a safety pin (definitely don’t ask). I am pushing with every contraction now, and vaguely aware that it’s pretty awesome that Alex is helping me have a baby (turns out he wasn’t, 999 instructions are to keep your hand over the exit and encourage baby to stay exactly where they are).

Phone records show that at 02.19 I text Fi to tell her the front door was open (she’d text once she’d woken up properly to say she’d come and get Teddy, Godbless her, rather than us going out of our way to drop him off). The first responder paramedic arrived about 02.25 and was such a lovely energy walking into the bedroom. I couldn’t open my eyes, or really be part of what was going on, but I definitely registered him as having a brilliantly in-charge attitude. He was super chilled and all ‘Oh brilliant, we’re having a baby!’. He had the gas and air already out in one hand, and after asking me if I’d had it before, handed it over for me to suck on. I sucked once, hard, then feeling another contraction sweep through me, pushed hard and out flew Baby Number 2 at 02.30am, catching everyone slightly off guard.

Brilliant things that happened in quick succession soon after:- Alex gets to tell me that we have a squawking, pink baby boy, with ten finger and ten toes- Fi arrives, a bit worried at the sight of the response car, and does the best comedy double take ever when she walks into my room – Two more paramedics arrive in an ambulance, and everyone gets very giddy about the first Paramedic, John, delivering his first ever baby – I know everyone says it, but the minute the baby was out, I was completely back in the room and the pains of labour were immediately forgotten. I was giddy at what had just happened, and with only 15 or so minutes of pushing, I didn’t have any of the fatigue at all that you’d have with 2 hours of pushing.

We were incredibly lucky that the baby was totally healthy, and the placenta delivered easily soon after, I completely appreciate that an unplanned homebirth might sound scary or be a bit more complicated. But to be sat in bed with our new baby boy, being made tea and toast by Fi, 2 hours after I’d first woken up with some early aches, was an absolute dream. We are incredibly lucky that we have that story.

And Teddy? Slept through the whole thing. Slept through my moaning and groaning on the bedroom floor. Slept through three paramedics writing notes outside his bedroom door. Win.

Fi went home after an hour or so. What a champ. The hospital couldn’t free up a midwife to come out to us, so the paramedics drove me and the baby in to be checked. Alex stayed home to get Teddy up, took him to nursery (telling him I was at work), then came to pick me and the baby up from hospital. We’d spent a few hours in the delivery suite in Gloucester being incredibly well looked after and eating more tea and toast. Baby was a bit cold, because our bedroom window had been open while Alex looked for the first responder and because of the ambulance ride, but other than that everything was perfect. We were home by lunch, to have a few hours to ourselves before Teddy came home to be greeted by his new baby brother.

Great things… friends who get out of bed at 2am, make you tea and toast for a couple of hours, then go home to their own 2 children and a full day of work

Great things… paramedics, 999, midwives and the NHS

Great things… Rug Doctors for putting bedroom floors back together.

If you want to know about ways to keep calm during your birth, ways that you can stack the odds in your favour to have a great birth and techniques that you can start practising now in your pregnancy to prep for birth, then you can get all the information from the convenience of your own home on your own time, by accessing our online course.

An online course put together by UK midwife, Beth offering both hypnobirthing and antenatal education, which has helped women across the globe feel confident and calm during their birth.

Jessica’s Birth Story

Jessica’s Birth Story

 

After a positive first birth with my daughter in America (my husband Mark and I relocated to California for a couple of years, where our daughter was born – yay dual citizenship), I was keen that my second birth would be another one to look back on with fond memories. I decided to sign up for antenatal classes with TBTBC, despite having “done it before”, for a couple of reasons: I wanted to find out more about labour and birth on the NHS after a pretty medicalised experience in the US; I wanted to give hypnobirthing a go, and I *really* wanted to make friends with people who’d have babies at the same time as me, as I know the 4am WhatsApp chat is invaluable, particularly during the early weeks.

 

 

 

Our antenatal classes with Beth were excellent, even my skeptical husband who wasn’t convinced we needed to do them second time around was won over… perhaps by the beer and donuts at Baker and Graze! Although I think some of the other people in our class thought I was slightly unhinged as I would tear up at any mention of the moment where you first hold your baby – pregnancy hormones are real!

 

 

 

A combination of feeling more confident in my own decisions second time around (seriously, look into the statistics on the safety and positives of a home-birth, you may be surprised!) and the great support and advice from Beth led us to decide that we would plan for a home-birth, with a hospital bag packed just in case.

 

 

 

My first labour was very quick (under an hour and a half from start to finish), so another one of the reasons I wanted to plan for a home birth was that I couldn’t face the idea of giving birth in the car on the way to hospital. I also knew the importance of a comfortable birthing environment to help labour progress and after doing *a lot* of research I decided that the safest place to give birth, for me and our baby, was at home.

 

 

 

My due date came and went, but thanks to the positive mindset gained from TBTBC hypnobirthing class I was feeling relaxed and knew my baby would come when he or she was ready. I was also much more relaxed about the thought of labour occurring at any time as the birthing pool was all set up and Mark had a list of things to do when I went into labour… and the snack cupboard was fully stocked for the midwives!

 

 

 

The morning I went into labour I felt different to how I had been feeling for the rest of the third trimester and I was convinced that it was the day we’d finally meet our baby. I was so convinced that I phoned my in-laws and arranged for our daughter to go to them for the weekend, just in case something happened. Thankfully my mum was also staying with us so it was reassuring to know if I did go into labour that our daughter would be well looked after and I could concentrate on birth without the added distraction of a toddler. Having had such a quick labour the first time, on the advice of my midwife I called the maternity unit at the first sign of contractions – in my case it was like very mild period pains – and Mark started filling the birthing pool.

 

 

 

Our midwife arrived shortly afterwards and after taking some details, sat quietly and unobtrusively making notes while I laboured on the birthing ball. I was glad that I called them early because although my contractions weren’t regular, they were definitely getting stronger and I felt that it wouldn’t be too long before things really got going.

 

 

 

Having not had any pain relief for the birth of my daughter (they don’t use gas and air in America for birth – but strangely you can use it at the dentist – and I didn’t even have time to consider an epidural due to my quick labour), I wanted to use more natural methods including a birth pool to manage the contractions. However, I was advised not to get in the pool by the midwife as I had some bleeding and although all the other monitoring was normal, she wanted to keep an eye on any more blood loss which would be harder to do in the pool with the water. This was a good opportunity to use my “BRAIN” as we’d been taught during antenatal classes. I decided that although I wasn’t worried about the bleeding being a sign of anything wrong, I was managing the pain of contractions well enough without the pool and I was keen to keep the midwife happy and avoid her recommending we go into hospital for monitoring so we agreed with her recommendation and the pool remained unused. Using all the hypnobirthing techniques we’d learnt with Beth, I managed the pain by using breathing techniques, movement, sniffing essential oils and listening to affirmations (just reading this makes it sound so hippyish, but it really can work!). The pain was intense but manageable and at no point did I feel that I couldn’t do it – it helped that I had done it once before. Having said that, I read the notes my midwife made during labour and she used the word uncomfortable to describe how I was feeling… it was definitely more than that!

 

 

 

After about 45 minutes I really felt things change and knew it was time to push. The midwife stayed back and let me do my own thing and go where I wanted which I hugely appreciated – she also put in a call to her colleague to hurry up as home births are usually attended by two midwives! The only time I was really aware of the midwife was during the examinations and I was happy labouring by myself. At birthing class we talked about labouring women being in one of two categories: those who like company and those who would rather be alone – I’m definitely the later! I decided that I didn’t want to know how dilated I was in case it wasn’t much and I would have found it demotivating, the only time we found out was when I felt ready to push and the midwife checked that I was at 10cm.

 

 

 

After the sensation of contractions, feeling my body push was really satisfying. In our birth plan I’d written that I didn’t want coached pushing and I was happy to let my body do what it needed to naturally. I also had a lovely few minutes (or at least that’s what it felt like to me – my husband said it was more like 20 seconds!) break in between my contractions at this stage just before delivering the head where I could catch my breath and get really excited that in just a couple of pushes we would meet our baby and finally found out if our daughter would have a little brother or a little sister.

 

 

 

An hour after feeling the first “proper” contraction, our beautiful baby boy Arthur was born. The moment the midwife caught him and passed him up to me was just as amazing as I’d remembered from the first time. I needed a couple of stitches, which were genuinely more painful than labour and birth, but being able to have them done on the comfort of my own sofa with our baby having skin to skin with his dad more than made up for it! The endorphins kicked in and I felt like a superhero for days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of hours after they had arrived and with all our observations done, the midwives left and Mark and I had brownies and a glass of champagne to celebrate – definitely a perk of giving birth at home!

 

 

 

For any one considering a home birth, I would highly recommend it – I think it was the single most important decision I made for a positive birth and labour. Having a homebirth is relatively unusual, so expect some raised eyebrows if you mention it to anyone. This is where being armed with facts really helps, not only for your own decision making but also to quickly shut down any unwelcome “helpful comments” you may receive. I feel very lucky to have had such a brilliant experience and now two beautiful children.

 

 

 

Having said that, wherever you give birth it is possible to have an equally brilliant experience. It is such an important thing to be able to feel like you’ve made informed decisions and the best choices along the way for you and your baby – doing an antenatal classes like TBTBC really helps with that and will hopefully allow you to look back on your birth positively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to know about ways to keep calm during your birth, ways that you can stack the odds in your favour to have a great birth and techniques that you can start practising now in your pregnancy to prep for birth, then you can get all the information from the convenience of your own home on your own time, by accessing our online course.

An online course put together by UK midwife, Beth offering both hypnobirthing and antenatal education, which has helped women across the globe feel confident and calm during their birth.

 

Birth at home on the toilet- Not quite the birth planned

Birth at home on the toilet- Not quite the birth planned

After experiencing 2 births, I can safely say that it rarely goes according to our imaginary plan or so we believe when we reflect on it later on. Some plan a free-medical pain relief option and end up with emergency C-section, others elect to have a home birth but have to be rushed to the hospital for health reasons.

With this in mind, I drew a birth plan for my second baby with a few options marked in. My main point was to stay comfortable so all options remained on the table.

I still prepared myself for the birth unit, practising yoga and religiously listening to my hypnobirthing track. I visualised almost to perfection how I would deliver the baby myself in the warmth of the pool surrounded by professional midwives and my husband (OK he was in one corner of the room, just like the first birth).

Little did I know…

In a nutshell, this is how it went: I gave birth to our second daughter in the ensuite bathroom, without any kind of medical pain-relief (no not even a paracetamol). Child number 1 was fast asleep in her bedroom. My husband being downstairs to call 999 (he had the nerve to ask me ‘who should he call?’ while the head was crowning… Ghostbusters maybe?).

When I talk about my unexpected home birth to people I always feel stupid with the following remarks:

‘Did you not notice you were in labour?’ Yes I knew.

’Why didn’t you go sooner to the hospital?’ Contractions every 5-10 minutes, and I live 10 minutes away.

‘Were you not in pain? It only became unbearable 15 minutes before birth, by that time the only reasonable thing to do was to stay home.

I thought that as long as my daughter was in the house, I wouldn’t believe it would actually happen. But my body/mind interpreted it differently: She is in a safe place so bring it on.

I strongly believe hypnobirthing brought me comfortably up to the pushing phase. I’m not gonna lie, when it was game on I was dreaming of an epidural. Weirdly enough, I think my body knew. I installed a maternity mat on the bathroom floor and thoroughly washed my hands an hour prior to fun time.

Tip for any future second time mummy: Get rid of child number 1 after a few contractions in a row (Mum of the Year Award anyone?).

The community midwife who arrived 20 minutes after birth managed to diffuse the touch of drama that was going on in my head. She asked to have a look at my birth plan, I laughed and enquired why as I clearly didn’t follow it. She went through it point by point and made me realise that if you twist things a little bit, you always nail your birth plan.

OK I didn’t plan to stain the carpet with blood. Yes having strangers (paramedics) looking at my fresh-from-birth-vagina is not what I had in my mind. Nor panicking the neighbours (two of them pregnant at the time) in the early morning with the ambulance (thank god to paramedic who prevented anyone to go inside the house…see point about strangers and my vagina). Finally, I certainly didn’t plan that baby’s first trip in the car seat would be in the ambulance going TO the hospital. But I did plan for a calm, comfortable, straight forward birth, which was exactly what it turned out to be.

My husband said that he curiously enjoyed it more than birth 1: It was quick and he was the most useful person in the house, organising ambulance, midwife, babysitter, throwing towels at me to warm the baby, and cleaning the whole room!!

If only I could have photographed his face when he found me sat on the toilet holding a baby, priceless!

So if you ever find yourself in this situation, at home or elsewhere that isn’t a hospital, keep this in mind: If it goes that quick, it means it’s all fine! (That’s not from me, it’s from the pediatrician!)

Nicki’s Birth Story. A Homebirth

Nicki’s Birth Story. A Homebirth

I had my first baby 10 years ago and the whole experience was so traumatising that I vowed that if I ever had another baby, I was going to be one of those ‘too-posh-to-push’ mums and have baby extracted via the sunroof.

I met my now husband, James, in 2009. We got married in May 2015 and I was pregnant by August. We were absolutely over the moon. This time, I decided that I was going to completely embrace being pregnant; I was going to look after myself, carry on working out and contrary to the first sentence of this post, I was going to plan to give birth naturally BUT I was going to do something about the fear I still held onto and decided to enroll hubby and me onto a hypnobirthing course.

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The hypnobirthing course was fab and made it real for James too. I was totally keen for all of the breathing techniques and the course was worth it just for those. It was also worth it because hypnobirthing empowered us to ask the right questions with the medical staff looking after us. For example, during my first labour, I would have asked them why they needed to intervene and speed up my contractions when I had been getting on just fine? As a result of the course, I also decided on a homebirth… yes, away from all the medical intervention, surgeons and drugs! We moved to Cheltenham from Berkshire when I was 8 months pregnant and I immediately noticed how amazing the midwifery care was here compared to where I had moved from. My desire to have a homebirth and use hypnobirthing terminology, like saying “surge” instead of “contraction,” was fully supported. I felt excited about the impending arrival of our second baby girl! A complete turn around from the fear of birth that I had at the beginning.

We got the spare bedroom ready for the birth and 3 days after my due date, I started feeling tightening in tummy. I went to sleep that night and woke up to the same tightening. I had breakfast and decided to take a warm bubble bath. Whilst in the bath, the tightening felt stronger and I felt I had to breathe through it. I called Cheltenham birthing centre and had to stop talking when another ‘surge’ came – the lovely midwife said, “If you couldn’t talk just then, you’re in labour my love.” I put on the music that I’d listened to during my hypnobirthing relaxation sessions and sat on a swiss ball, gently bouncing. The first midwife arrived at about 10am and asked me if I wanted her to check how things were progressing. I said yes and found out that I was already 6 to 7cm dilated. The surges started to come in stronger and I used my breathing techniques to breathe through them. I wouldn’t say they were pain free, far from it, but the breathing really did help. I buried my head in hubby’s neck which I found really comforting and hubby didn’t speak… also comforting. 😉 Two more midwives arrived and they were all fantastic – kind, patient, friendly, chatty – everything I could have wished for. I got to 10cm dilated with no pain relief but it was becoming unbearable so I asked for the gas and air. My water’s still hadn’t broken and I didn’t really feel the need to push but they told me to start pushing. I felt exhausted and just wanted to sleep. I felt like I had nothing left in me. I then heard the midwives saying that they were calling for an ambulance as the baby’s heart rate wasn’t recovering quickly enough between surges. I remember lying there thinking, “Wait a minute. If an ambulance comes, I’m going to have to get downstairs (there’s no way I could have walked), get into the ambulance, travel to Gloucester hospital – all the while with no pain relief – and our baby was going to be pulled out with forceps or worse, I was going to end up having a C-section.” Within seconds of hearing this, I put my chin to my chest, closed my eyes, breathed down and gave it everything I had. Before I knew it, I heard the midwives saying, “Cancel the ambulance, the baby’s coming!” And come she did at 1.19pm – my waters broke as she arrived! Gosh the relief was dizzying and I was ecstatic that baby girl and I had made it. We left the umbilical cord pulsing for nearly 30 minutes before James cut it and I delivered the placenta naturally too. The midwives stayed for nearly 2 hours after the birth and left me, James, baby Jasmine and the room I’d given birth in, all clean, fresh and ready to start our new adventure together. We relocated to our bedroom and ordered Chinese takeaway at 6pm. Hands down the most delicious meal I’ve ever eaten!

If you’re low risk, I can’t recommend a homebirth enough. Not having to worry about when you can or can’t go into a hospital was brilliant and I genuinely felt excited about being at home, amongst our home comforts. When friends come to stay, I love saying, “I gave birth to Jasmine in the room you’re staying in.” ☺

 

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If you want to know about other ways to have a great birth then…

You can join our Hypnobirthing classes in Cheltenham. We do antenatal classes too in Gloucester and Cheltenham.

If you want all the information from our award-winning hypnobirthing and antenatal classes but from the convenience of your own home on your own time, then you can get this with our online course.

Check out our series of YouTube videos on how to make your birth better.