My Homebirth Experience
“Don’t worry, teeny-tiny girls grow up to be the mightiest of creatures.”
― The Upside of Falling Down (Rebekah Crane)
I apologise in advance, this is quite a long post but it was such an experience I wanted to write it all down!
The thought of having a homebirth never crossed my mind, until my first midwife appointment. After asking about my labour and birth with Dougie, the midwife suggested it, and so I went home and talked about it with Sam. At first I didn’t think it was right for me – what if something went wrong? But I thought I’d speak to the homebirth team at Kingston Hospital and see.
I’m not sure if it’s the same at every hospital, but at Kingston, if you’re planning a homebirth, then all your appointments are at home (huge bonus!) and you generally see the same midwife throughout your care. This was a big plus for me, I didn’t see the same person more than once with Dougie, and I knew it would be comforting to see a familiar face during labour! We also went along to a “Meet the Team” session at the hospital, where I met the rest of the midwives – although I hoped to have one of “my” midwives at the birth, at least I’d met them all! I also heard stories from those who had had homebirths, which was really useful.
By this point, I was completely sold on the idea, though I kept reminding myself that it might not go to plan and so I tried to be relaxed about it all. We hired a birth pool, got everything we needed, and packed a hospital bag just in case. I also bought SO many biscuits so the midwives would have something to snack on, but I also just kept eating them.
Due date came and went. Dougie had been late, so I was expecting this, but oh my gosh I was fed up. I pretty much went into hibernation, I didn’t want to speak to anyone! I had a couple of extra hospital checks, one of the homebirth team thought the baby was lying in a funny position so they wanted me to have an extra scan to check as obviously they don’t want any avoidable surprises during labour, and if there were any problems then my homebirth plans might have to change. Luckily everything was okay, and so I carried on waiting…
At 11 days overdue, I woke up about 1am having contractions. They weren’t overly painful but I knew this was it. Second babies tend to arrive more quickly, and so rather than waiting for the contractions to be four minutes apart, I was advised to call the labour ward if I’d had more than six painful contractions in an hour. They would then contact the homebirth team who would call me back to assess what to do. I woke Sam up and we came downstairs (Dougie fast asleep in his room!) and started to get things ready.
Sam covered the floor in dust sheets and towels and started to inflate the pool. I bounced around on my birth ball waiting for the midwife to call me. Around 3am there was a knock at the door – the midwife hadn’t been able to get through to me for some reason so had decided to just come round. I recognised her voice as soon as Sam opened the door and I nearly cried – it was Carol, the midwife who had done nearly all my antenatal checks.
She was joined around 4am by a community midwife, I hadn’t met her before but she was lovely. At this point, it was all very surreal. Sam was filling up the pool with a hose attached to our kitchen tap, I was bouncing on the ball, contractions steadily getting more painful, the midwives were drinking tea and we decided to catch up on Love Island…
The midwife checked to see how far along I was around 4:30am, I was about 6cm and the contractions were getting much worse.
Things started to get a little hazy around 5am. The pool was finally ready and at the right temperature (it has to stay at 37°C) so I was able to get in. My contractions were absolutely horrendous, much worse than I remember them being with Dougie. During a homebirth, they check the baby’s heart rate and the Mum’s stats much more regularly than they would do in a hospital. Standing up in the pool for them to check the baby’s heart rate while having contractions was unbelievably difficult – I was leaning on Sam, I couldn’t support myself at all. I had a bit of gas and air, but while this had helped with my labour with Dougie, it wasn’t doing much this time and just made me feel sick.
Around 6am Dougie woke up and was calling for me. All I wanted was to see him, and Carol said it was absolutely fine for me to go up to see him if I could manage, and walking can help, so I dragged myself up our very steep stairs. He was SO good. I explained to him that I was having the baby, though Sam had to fill in the gaps of my speech as I had to keep stopping to have contractions! Sam called his Mum to come and get Dougie as soon as she was up, and gave him Paw Patrol to watch, and he was perfectly happy to stay in bed until Sam’s Mum arrived. As he came down the stairs I was back in the pool and he came over and gave me a hug and told me he loved me, and that was just what I needed.
The next hour or so was a painful blur. My contractions were pretty much non-stop, and standing up for heart rate checks was awful. At one point the baby’s heart rate dropped and the midwives both looked a little anxious for a moment but thankfully it went back to normal. Interestingly, during your first labour you’re told to wait until you’re 10cm dilated before you start pushing, but for subsequent babies, they tend to be more relaxed – push if your body is telling you to. Also just to add, we’d turned off Love Island by this point, I think Sam had put Coldplay on in the background. Carol kept saying that as soon as my waters broke, the baby would immediately follow, but they never broke, which did make labour harder.
At 8:21am, Evelyn Jane was born, in the sac, in the pool. The midwife broke the waters once she was out and then handed her to me. We hadn’t found out the sex, and I’d been holding her for a good 30 seconds before I actually thought to look! Sam cut the cord too which was really lovely as we didn’t get the chance to do anything like that with Dougie.
I was wrapped up in a dressing gown and I lay on my sofa feeding Evie while everything was checked and the midwives filled in forms. I was given a cup of tea. It was completely bizarre. I had to have some stitches, I used the gas and air for those and good grief, that was the worst part of the whole experience!
There was no need for me to go to hospital, the homebirth midwives are equipped to deal with minor/moderate post-birth issues. The midwives were there for about two hours after Evie was born, checking me and Evie and doing admin things. They tidied up and Sam started draining and deflating the pool. This took FOREVER! Once they left, Sam and I sat there for an hour or so, just staring at Evie, then we all had a nap which was very much needed! We stayed in our little bubble for a while, and then called our parents, and Sam went to collect Dougie – one thing I had really wanted was for it to just be the four of us for a bit, and so Dougie could meet his baby sister.
I am so, so happy I was able to have a homebirth. I loved being surrounded by my own things, being able to just stay on my sofa with Sam and Evie, having my first shower in my own bathroom and being able to sleep in my own bed. Once the pool was away, you’d never have known a baby had been born there that morning! The homebirth team were absolutely incredible and I couldn’t be more grateful to them. It also meant Dougie was able to meet Evie in his own home, rather than an unfamiliar hospital environment, and that was the most special moment.