This is my personal birth story of the birth of my second child, James. We had a planned home birth using a range of hypnobirthing techniques (see this blog post for more about how to prepare for a home birth), having chosen to birth our first child in a birth centre.
On the Friday morning, I went to see my midwife for a routine appointment. At this point I was 8 days past my ‘official’ NHS due date, though trying not to focus on it too much (This interesting post by Sara Wickham explains more about why due dates are inaccurate – remember only 4% of babies are born on their due date!). However, the midwife explained that after 14 days past my due date the policy in my local NHS trust meant that I would be classed as ‘high risk’, so there would be pressure on us to have an induction and possibly birth away from our home. After some discussion about different options, I decided to have a sweep to see if we could get things moving along (More information about membrane sweeps is available on the NHS website). When the midwife did this she discovered that I was already 2-3cm dilated, which made me feel much more positive! I used my calm breathing techniques during my sweep to help me to stay relaxed.
I returned home to look after my daughter, experiencing some cramping sensations on and off, but trying not to get too excited as the midwife had told me that this was a common side effect of the procedure. A few hours later, the sensations were feeling more intense and happening at more regular intervals, and I was feeling more confident that I was in the early stages of labour. Having had a child before, I was surprised at how long it had taken for me to be sure that labour had actually started!
By mid-afternoon, my husband and I agreed that it was best that he finished work for the day and came to support me with looking after our daughter until our reinforcements arrived to look after her. At this point I was enjoying bouncing on my birth ball to keep some movement going. I also spent some time listening to my positive affirmations, and as we moved into the evening we dimmed the lights in the living room (which was our main birthing space). My husband made sure that we had something to eat and then put on one of my favourite films to watch together (27 Dresses – I love a cheesy romcom!). This felt like a really special time to me, and although my surges were building in intensity, I felt very relaxed and happy.
At around 8pm, we decided to try to get some rest and conserve some energy. My surges were getting much closer together, but still not consistently three in 10 minutes as the midwife had told us to wait for. We laid in bed for several hours listening to my relaxation music. I was feeling my surges quite powerfully in my back, so my husband supported me through them with some pressure at the base of my spine. After some time like this, I quite suddenly felt that I could not lie still anymore. This coincided with my surges becoming consistently closer together, so we decided it was also time to call the team of home birth midwives.
We moved back downstairs to the living room and my husband filled the birth pool with water while I bounced on my birth ball and used calm breathing through my surges. We also put on another classic romcom (10 Things I Hate About You), although I have to say by this time I was not really watching it anymore! The midwives arrived just as the birth pool was full. I was determined to get in it so declined a vaginal examination, as I could feel in my body that things were progressing quite quickly.
I loved being in the birth pool, the warm water helped me manage my surges and I enjoyed the weightless feeling while I was relaxing in between. I decided I wanted the film switching off so I could focus on my relaxation music and my calm breathing. After some time had passed I asked my husband to request gas and air for me, which I found very useful to focus my breathing during surges. By now my surges felt like they were coming one after another with very short breaks in between, and I was beginning to feel the urge to push. The midwives encouraged me to go with how my body was feeling, and soon after this my waters broke during a surge. The next surge afterwards was when I birthed his head, and after a slightly longer break I had another powerful surge where I birthed his body.
Lifting him out of the water was an incredible feeling. My husband announced his gender for me (as we decided not to find out ahead of time) and then I had some wonderful skin-to-skin time with James in the pool. He was very calm but also very alert – his eyes were open and he seemed to be taking it all in. We stayed in the pool relaxing together for some time, with my husband next to us, and it was the perfect way to welcome the newest addition to our family.
I hope you have enjoyed reading our birth story! Feel free to comment below if you have any questions.