Welcome earthside sweet little D. {A Home Birth Story}

Delilah’s birth story.

It’s been a whole week since we welcomed our daughter into the world… So it’s time to write her birth story.

Monday September 12th 2016 was, without a doubt, one of the most memorable days of my life.

(In this birth story, “contractions” will be referred to as “surges”. This is down to the hypnobirthing techniques we learnt, practiced and used).

A feeling.

On the Sunday night, we got into bed and I told my other half, Ryan that I felt certain our daughter would arrive within the next day or two… I just had a feeling. I went to sleep that night feeling very excited…

In the early hours of Monday morning (from around 4am) I was being woken by very mild surges. I didn’t notice them much at first and drifted back off to sleep easily in between each one.

At around 5am, I could hear our son stirring in the next room. I climbed into his bed and whilst snuggling him back to sleep, experienced a few more surges. It was during these ones, (and because I was now in a slightly more awake state) that it occurred to me that I was in early labour. Once our son had dozed back off, I got back into bed, picked up my phone and opened my ‘Contractions’ app.

Timing my surges.

From around 6am, I had a couple of surges that were coming every 20 minutes and lasting just over a minute long. I nudged Ryan awake to let him know that he wasn’t going to work today. I also messaged my mum to make her aware as she would be taking care of our son.

I lay in bed for the next hour timing my surges and breathing through them. (Not that I needed to, as they were still mild but this was the perfect time to practice the “surge breathing” techniques that I had learned in my hypnobirthing classes).

From timing the first surge, the intervals between them were quite sporadic; 20 minutes, 8 minutes, 11 minutes, 13 minutes, 7 minutes, 14 minutes… But all lasting just over 1 minute long.

Preparing my birth space.

At around 7:15am I got up and started to busy myself around the house; putting away the dishes, folding the last of the washing, and just generally having a good tidy up. My surges immediately slowed and went back to being 20 minutes apart. At 7:45am I went to the toilet and had a bloody show.

Ryan wanted to go into work for the first few hours just to ensure that everything would run smoothly without him there. I didn’t expect anything to happen any time soon so I was happy for him to head into work. (I was in early labour with our son for days). Ryan quickly rushed around the house with me, taking our son’s toys upstairs to his bedroom and moving the sofa to create space for the birth pool. He left for work just before 8am.

At 8am, I stopped for some breakfast with our son. We were sat eating our “Eereal” (Muesli), when I got a really strong surge that made swallowing down a particularly big mouthful of Muesli quite difficult.

At 8:30am I began to set up the birth pool.

At 8:37am I messaged my dad to cancel our lunch plans.

By 9am I’d finished inflating the pool, my affirmations were on the wall, I had my playlist of piano music playing and I’d called the maternity unit to let them know that things were happening.

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Lucky number 13.

At around 10am my mum arrived. My surges were really all over the place now. Sometimes 10 minutes apart, sometimes 30 minutes. I enjoyed this time with my son, having lots of big cuddles and bouncing on the birth ball together. “Big bounce!” I told my mum about how I felt she’d arrive in the early hours of Wednesday morning… The 13th…It’s a lucky number for our family. My late Nan’s birthday was September 13th, my son was born on June 13th and my other half asked me out on April 13th. My mum thought she’d arrive then also. (Our daughter had other ideas, she obviously didn’t want to share her special day with anyone).

At around 11am Ryan got home and my mum left with our son. I knew that once they’d left, I would be able to fully relax and my surges would pick up again.

You can never have too many towels.

At 11:40am we’d half filled the pool. The tap connector didn’t quite fit our kitchen tap and resulted in it popping off and covering our kitchen floor in water a number of times. The towels were getting used already! Luckily, I had around 10-15 towels piled up and ready for use. (I think we ended up with around 3 unused after the birth and everything).

From between 12pm and 1pm I had nothing to do apart from sit on my birth ball and time my surges. They were still all over the place but were picking up in intensity and all lasting around a minute in duration. The intervals were; 12 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 5 minutes… And then they started to consistently come every 6 minutes.

At 1:09pm Ryan took our dog to his parents.

At 1:18pm I messaged him to hurry up as my surges were now every 5 minutes and I was having to really breath through them. I rang the Maternity Unit again to let them know that things were picking up. Ryan arrived home and we decided to fill the rest of the pool up.

My favourite Midwife.

At 1:30pm I had a call from my favourite midwife. (She wasn’t my regular but had covered for my 36 week midwife appointment where we went through my birth plan. She’d gotten so excited reading it and had told me that she really hoped she was there for the birth. I really wanted her there too!) She asked me if I’d like her to come out and see me and run the usual checks. I said “yes please”.

At around 2pm the midwife arrived. We talked lots and had a laugh at the first couple of lines  of my birth plan: ‘Please address all questions to my birth partner in the first instance’. She said she knew I’d be a chatty one.

The pool was nearly filled now. The midwife did the usual checks; my blood pressure, my temperature and listening in to baby’s heart beat.  She had me lie down on the sofa and had a good feel of my tummy – baby was well engaged. The only check she didn’t do was an internal to check the dilation of my cervix. I was very firm about not wanting any vaginal examinations. (She was very on board with this, agreeing that cervical dilation tells them nothing about how quickly or slowly labour will progress).

For the next two hours, she occasionally listened in to baby but mostly just sat watching me, taking notes. During this time my surges were still sporadic but still lasting over 1 minute; 5 minutes, 6 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes. They’d picked up again in intensity and I was now listening to my hypnobirthing MP3’s through my ear phones whilst Ryan lightly stroked my arms and back.

At 4pm, with my surges still following the same pattern, the midwife asked if I was happy for her to leave. She also thought that our baby would arrive in the early hours of the 13th and suggested I go and lie down and try and get some sleep in between surges. I was happy with this and so she left. I went upstairs to lie down but couldn’t get comfortable at all. Being in the lying-down position was causing too much discomfort for me to breathe through my surges and I was losing focus. After 3 or 4 surges of me not coping well at all, Ryan suggested I get into the pool. I rolled onto all fours on the bed, trying to find comfort in the pillows while telling him that getting into the pool this early on could cause things to slow down. He argued that at least I’d be more comfortable. He had a point. I struggled off the bed and down the stairs – our baby felt so low down now, I knew if I had to go back upstairs for whatever reason that there was no making it down again.

Into the water.

At 4:30pm I climbed into the pool – instant relief. Ryan got my hypnobirthing MP3’s playing out into the room for me whilst I worked on regaining my focus. Things didn’t slow down like I thought they would… They picked up. Ryan was there for every surge, talking me through them, reminding me to breathe and distracting me from the discomfort with his light touches. And when I was beginning to feel nauseous, he rubbed some peppermint oil into my forearm.

Things continued to pick up and the surges got stronger and more frequent. I moved around the pool trying to find the most comfortable position. I ended up sat on the floor of the pool, back against the side with my head laid back on the edge and both arms stretched out along the top of the pool. From here I could see my affirmations which I focused on in between each surge.

My surges were steadily coming every 3-4 minutes apart and I was beginning to lose focus again. Ryan’s light touches turned into strong, firm holds around my chest and shoulders. I was becoming quite vocal, humming loudly through my breathing. I told Ryan to call the midwife because I felt I needed some extra pain relief in the form of gas and air. He tried his best to keep me going, not wanting to call just yet as he was unsure how far along I was. (At this stage of my behaviour whilst in labour with our son, it was still another 24 hours or so until he was born).

Transition.

I quickly became aware that I was feeling “pushy”. My humming had turned into roaring and my surges were coming solidly every 3 minutes. I think “transition” kicked in around this time because I was getting panicky that I didn’t have access to gas and air and I was struggling with the intensity of the surges. It was 6:51pm and Ryan agreed to call the midwife. I heard him tell her that I was feeling pushy… The phone call lasted exactly 31 seconds. She was on her way.

At 7.24pm the midwife was back. I felt great relief at seeing her and my surges suddenly ramped up to every 2 minutes. She was busy setting up her stuff whilst on the phone to the second midwife. I asked for the gas and air but she wouldn’t give it to me, becoming quite firm with me, maybe not believing that I needed it yet. She wanted to assess the next few surges it seemed, not convinced that I was that far along. She wasn’t my favourite midwife during that time.

I’d zoned out of my hypnobirthing MP3’s by now so I told Ryan to put my piano music playlist back on.

The surges were coming thick and fast. Ryan was telling me to remember to count (surge breathing), to which I replied; “I’m past the point of fucking counting”. Charming!

At 7:35pm my waters went during one of my surges. I could hear the midwife back on the phone with the second midwife, asking where she was and telling her to hurry.

Pain relief.

Just 5 minutes later at 7.40pm, the second midwife arrived. She was walking in when I quietly and slightly panicky said that I could feel burning. Ryan emphasized this to the midwife. Finally I was allowed that glorious gas and air. From then on, everything became a bit of a blur.

The urge to push was incredible. There was no forced pushing. I completely surrendered to my body, listening to it entirely.

At 7:50pm the midwife said that she could see hair… Followed by Ryan’s, very surprised; “WHAT?!” I quickly reached down to feel the top of her hairy little head and then grabbed the handle on the birthing pool again and smiled as the next surge washed over me. I was feeling euphoric from the gas and air.

With the next couple of surges her head was out (7:58pm). Two minutes later at 8pm (on the dot), I felt the rest of her follow, shooting out at high speed across the pool. (Ryan claims that she actually hit the other side of the pool – the midwives were amazed at how long her cord was, so she could well have). Ryan pushed me forwards, telling me to catch her.

{Ryan’s words: At the time of writing the birth plan, Louise insisted that one of us was to ‘catch the baby’ this resonated with me as it was the only thing in the whole plan that was reiterated numerous times. I knew that if one of us didn’t catch her, I wouldn’t have heard the end of it}.

Damn straight!

I caught our baby girl and lifted her to my chest.

I’d birthed our beautiful daughter.

I looked down at our beautiful baby girl and immediately noticed her incredibly long, curly eyelashes, how much hair she had and how much she looked like her big brother. The midwife reminded me that I’d better check she was a girl… A quick glance confirmed that we did indeed have a daughter. We cuddled in the water for a while but got out after around 10 minutes as it started to get chilly.

The aftermath (and afterbirth)

I moved to the sofa to deliver the placenta. Our darling daughter latched on while we were sat there and had a good first feed. Ryan tied on her cord tie and cut her cord which had now stopped pulsating. (Something he wasn’t brave enough to do with our son – blood makes him queasy). The placenta came away naturally on it’s own around 20 minutes after the birth (with some forced pushing, a bit of screaming and a bit more gas and air – delivering our daughter was much easier than delivering the placenta!) Ryan had to pass our daughter to one of the midwives and vacate the room at this point as he was feeling faint.

The midwives left at 11:45pm and we all climbed into bed together for some much needed sleep.

The whole experience was just incredible from start to finish. I got absolutely everything I wanted in my (rather aggressive) birth plan. The hypnobirthing techniques that I had been practicing for the last 10 weeks played a huge part in the labour and birth – even though I did lose my focus right towards the end, I feel that the techniques worked so well in keeping me calm and relaxed in the run up to and during the earlier stages of labour, that they enabled things to progress as well and as quickly as they did.

Monday September 12th 2016 was, without a doubt, one of the most memorable days of my life.

I have never felt so empowered.

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Delilah Althea, birthed at home in water, 8lb 5oz, spontaneous labour at 40+7

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12 Comments

  1. October 30, 2017 / 8:12 am

    I loved this post. As a midwife in Australia, where homebirthing is far less common than I’d like, I love reading birth stories like yours. Presumably you are based in the UK? I love that midwives can attend you at home with the support of the hospital if needed. I wish we had this model readily available here.

    • October 30, 2017 / 8:15 am

      Thank you so much for reading 🙂 I’m glad that you enjoyed it. Yes, UK based. It’s not the same all over the UK unfortunately but I’m lucky enough to live in an area where the community midwives really are outstanding in promoting Home birth. X

      • October 30, 2017 / 8:20 am

        You are lucky! Homebirth used to be a more popular option here, but now there’s very few midwives working independently who can offer the service legally, and hospital based caseload programs have decreased over time (or become so tightly regulated that very few women are considered eligible). It’s so sad. The midwife who caught my babies in a caseload program was an ex-homebirth midwife, and I absolutely adored her. Unfortunately, even with all of her experience, insurance costs and government regulations made it damn near impossible for her to keep working in the homebirth setting. I wish we had more options for our women here.

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