Homebirth. A word that appears to almost be a foreign language for many. At the beginning of my pregnancy I knew I wanted to opt for a homebirth instead of hospital. My reasoning for this was simply because I knew about a few friends who had birthed at home and went as far as to say they ‘enjoyed’ the experience, so why not give it a go?!
Now, when I chose this option I didn’t anticipate that so many people would have such strong opinions about my choice. My husband and I were comfortable, our midwife Julie on the Cygnets Homebirth Team (West Dorset) had answered and informed us about every possible scenario so why would anyone else have a problem with it?
A lot of comments I received were: “Oh you’re a braver woman that I am” – nope not really just making an informed choice about birth. And the “what if something goes wrong – you’re putting yourself and baby at risk” guilt comments – I will be delivering at home with two midwives who won’t leave my side and they will be one step ahead of me at all times. That’s all there is to it, folks! Anyway let’s cut to my son’s birthing story.
Day before I went into labour
I had gone 8 days overdue according to NHS dates, (but according to mine he was an hour and a half late!) and I was really fed up. It was Friday, I had people texting me constantly asking for updates and I was trying to mentally prepare myself for induction.
I had my brilliant YesMum hypnobirthing cards on my bedside table – in particular the cards which said “My baby knows exactly when he needs to be born and I trust my body” out to focus my attention.
I had a stretch and sweep booked in for 3pm, and found I was 1cm dilated and baby was low and engaged. After my midwife left I had a little nap woke after two hours and text my husband begging for him to bring Wagamama home. After successfully persuading him, I sat up in bed and my waters broke! Now at this moment in time I wasn’t sure if I wet myself but I rang the labour ward and explained and they said yep that’s probably your waters gone then! A midwife from the homebirth team was to come and see my as soon as possible and see what was going on.
I then rang my husband and told him to cancel Wagamama (which I think he’s still annoyed about because he didn’t get a refund – sorry babe!) and things were happening. Having contractions at home alone were a little bit daunting as they completely took over my body but I just submitted and put my hypnobirthing podcast on to distract me. My husband and midwife Ali turned up shortly afterwards and I appeared to be 2cm dilated so naturally was excited to know things were moving along. She was about to leave when things cranked up a bit and I started getting really bad backache. Ali spoke so softly and calmly, showed me some poses to ease the discomfort and showed my husband how to massage my lower back and hips.
I then decided the only place I get comfortable was in the bathroom so I tucked myself away for a little while to concentrate. She then was paged to check on another lady so left me with a tens machine (which I didn’t get on with at all) and 2 paracetamol. I was a little anxious when she decided to leave but all we had to do was call and she would come straight back. I then decided to try and get some rest and my husband went to the shop to stock up on energy drinks and biscuits (essentials for birth!) within an hour or so I had started pushing so we called her back and she arrived shortly after.
I decided to have a waterbirth so we had borrowed a birthing pool and my husband’s job whilst I was in labour was to inflate it, fit the liner, fill and manage the temperature so I think this really helped focus him.
Pool set up minus water and liner
As soon as I entered the pool my backache melted away and I wondered why I didn’t get in sooner – although I was a bit scared about it slowing down things. Ali called for the second midwife Becky who turned up promptly and we had about 15 mins before our darling boy swam earthside at 1.35am.
Ali encouraged me to reach down and pick him up but I needed a little help as had swam under a leg and I couldn’t find him! Slowly we brought him to the surface where he just looked around without crying before cuddling into me. It was absolutely awesome! We just couldn’t believe it. In that moment everything was so still and peaceful I sunk back into the edge of the pool cradling our precious bundle whilst my husband got to cut the cord.
I then remembered I had to get the placenta out, the bit I was dreading and suddenly felt uncomfortable again. I decided to get out the pool for it and have the injection as my son wasn’t too interested in feeding initially to help it along. Once that was done, I didn’t need any stitches so we all sat on the sofa with tea and biscuits, whilst he was changed and fed, then Ali and Becky (and my husband) cleaned up everything around me. An hour and a half later I was put to bed with some toast and told to call a number if we needed any help. And, just like that we were left to it which I absolutely loved!
2 hours old!
We had a visit the next day from one of the team, then my midwife Julie who couldn’t make the birth carried out the paediatric tests on him the day after. The level of care in my pregnancy, aftercare and support was incredible from every member of the team who we spoke with / saw. I cannot praise them enough.
Anyone can choose to have a homebirth and you can refer yourself with the team.
Things to know:
- You can only have gas and air at home
- if at any point in your pregnancy or labour you decide you want to go into hospital you can do so – just ask!
- You are advised to pack a hospital bag as the midwives will not hesitate to transfer you if something arises
- Birth pools can be hired prior you just need to buy a sterile liner to go in it.
The Cygnets Homebirth team operate out of Dorset County Hospital and look after women in the area but go as far as Blandford and even Lyme Regis. Every first Thursday of the month there is a homebirth meet at the children’s centre in Dorchester where anyone can attend to find out more and also bring back their babies to share their experiences.
My son and our midwife, Julie
This blog post is my personal experience and knowledge, this has in no way been endorsed or paid for by the NHS/ Cygnets Homebirth Team – I just want to share the love and encourage every woman to seek other options for birth.
Finally, if you’ve stuck with me this far I just wanted to note that I know I was incredibly luckily to have such a straight forward birth, especially with it being my first. I am aware birth doesn’t always go to plan and my heart goes out to anyone who really wanted their homebirth but didn’t get it. Every woman’s experience varies but I wanted to share a positive birth story because often they’re not discussed for fear of bragging. If you’re planning a homebirth I hope you get your dream delivery and if you’ve had one, please share with me in the comments!