Homebirth Poster Download

GuideOur ‘Why Birth at Home?’ poster was a huge hit on Twitter last week . We’ve now produced a generic version for anyone to download, share, print and use as they see fit. We really hope the poster will be seen on the walls of maternity units, GP surgeries and Children’s Centres around the country by expectant parents and inspire them to consider homebirth.

We’ve included a space on the bottom right of the poster to add relevant local homebirth information. The poster uses the Google open source font Source Sans Pro.

PDF Download ‘Why Birth at Home?’ poster 18.8MB PDF

Why Birth at Home? poster

If printing on a lithographic printing press then please note that colours are processed, not spot, so should separate to CMYK. It’s strongly recommended you do a pre-flight check for colour separation etc.

Top tips for childbirth from Birth You In Love

Kati's homebirth on BBC1

Kati’s homebirth on BBC1 Childbirth: All or Nothing

Kati’s home water birth was featured in ‘Childbirth: All or Nothing’ on BBC1 last Tuesday. Here she talks to us about the response she’s received from people all over the country and what she plans to do next to help bring normal birth back to the forefront of womens’ consciousness.

“I have been overwhelmed by the response and feedback. It seems that the importance of mental preparation and planning wasn’t lost on the placenta smoothie sensation!”

“I did lots of preparation for my birth to ensure I maximised my chances of things going well. I have a PDF that explains all the preparations I did. I researched a lot in journals, books and forums and I am happy for all birthing mamas to read it.”

PDF Download Birth Top Tips from the ‘Birth You In Love’ project (Revised) 629k PDF

“I would love to be able to get the ideas contained in this PDF made into a series of bitesize films that I will put for free on YouTube. I think this will be the most accessible way to get the message out to show what I did and help other birthing mamas be more prepared.”

“But I need the money to get it professionally edited and so, I have created a Crowdfunding project on Indiegogo to do this. I need to get the home birth community behind me in order for this to happen.”

“I have footage of both my births. The facebook page ‘Birth You In Love’ Project explains why. By showing the footage of my first birth, I hope to be able to empower first time mums too.”

indiegogo“Please help support the ‘Birth You In Love’ Indiegogo campaign by donating and sharing.”

“If anybody would like to be entered into a prize draw to win my beloved Oscha Braid Norse Wrap size 5, please Like the Facebook page and comment why ‘The Birth You In Love Project’ is a good idea! I will choose one lucky winner at random. I love my wrap but I want this project to happen more!”

Oscha Braid Norse Wrap

Kati wearing her Oscha Braid Norse Wrap

Antonia’s homebirth story

It was Tuesday lunchtime one week before my due date and I started to get strange one sided pains on my tummy. They seemed to get stronger and more regular but then stopped abruptly later that night. I had no pains all the next day so decided to go shopping for some Christmas bits and pieces, I was achey but nothing significant.

On Thursday I had lots of irregular pains all day and throughout the night and by Friday morning I was tired grumpy and I put my tens machine on as the pains were regular and getting worse. I started to make preparations for my son to be looked after and then all of a sudden they stopped! Bang just like that! I felt so disheartened and started to doubt I would ever go into labour, silly I know as I wasn’t even past my due date yet!

I decided to try some spinning babies techniques after asking for advice from ladies on a lovely birth group on facebook because I was losing heart that I would ever get my home birth. I spent most of the afternoon crawling around the lounge playing and doing inversions in between periods of sobbing because I was so tired and napping when I could get my son to sit and relax with me.

I rang my husband around 4.30pm to ask him to come home but explained it wasn’t because I was in labour but because I just needed his emotional support. Looking back this was a sign that labour was well on its way! An hour later I was still feeling emotional and he wasn’t home so I called to see where he was and he said he was in the back of a police car because he had driven in the bus lane and would call me back in a few minutes! My well timed phone call convinced the police man my husband was telling the truth about his wife being in labour and he let him off without a ticket.

At around 6pm hubby still wasnt home so I decided to get in the bath with some lavender oil (and my toddler) to try and relax and go with the flow and I started getting pains again. These pains were getting more regular and painful but because of all of the false starts I didn’t want to believe this was it so didn’t put my tens machine on and just tried to breathe through the worst part of each surge. When hubby finally arrived home he asked if I had been timing the pains to which I said I hadn’t as it might not be it.

My mother and father-in-law called round for a brew and after having to stop mid conversation three times in ten minutes hubby started timing the pains and suggested I put my tens back on. The pains started to get closer and stronger and I had a show so finally believed this was it so decided to time them for the benefit of the midwife but didn’t ring her as I was still able to cope with the pains.

Around 9pm the pains were around 90 seconds apart and getting to the point where I needed something more than my tens machine so we decided to call the midwife, by the time she arrived at 9.40pm I was beginning to panic due to the pain. When she arrived she asked me to lie on the sofa which really hurt and was something I didn’t really want to do but I decided I would choose my battles as she didn’t know I was having a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) after a large PPH (Post-partum Haemorrhage) yet! She checked and I was at least 8cm dilated (woop!) but she couldn’t tell for sure as my waters were bulging. She asked if I wanted her to break them which I declined (after the first time when they were meconium stained and caused me to transfer to hospital and ended up with an emergency c-section.) She then took mine and baby’s heart rates and temperatures and they were quite high (mine because I’d started to panic and it was bloody hot in our house and babies I think because I was lying down) she was worried that they were too high and wanted to transfer us to hospital. I asked (inbetween contractions) what was the benefit of going to hospital and she said they would put me on a monitor which I didn’t want and do blood tests to check for infection. Now I knew how far I had come in an hour so I knew baby was going to be born within a couple of hours so declined being transferred to hospital. She asked three times if I was happy to stay home against medical advice and I confirmed I wasn’t moving anywhere and as soon as she saw my resolve she was super supportive and immediately rang for a second midwife as I had started to become pushy.

The second midwife arrived with minutes to spare as I had been trying my hardest not to push as I had been pushing for a long time with my first before I really needed to so decided I would try and resist the urge to push until my body forced me to push. Maybe ten minutes after the second midwife arrived I said that I couldn’t hold the urge any more so began to push with all my might and again the midwife asked if I wanted my waters breaking. I asked what the benefit was and she admitted it was just because it’s tidier if they’re broken as opposed to them splashing everywhere! I decided to go with how nature intended and true to her word the waters splashed absolutely everywhere with my first push, hubby had been down at the business end watching and the midwife said ‘I wouldn’t stand there!’ seconds before my waters went!

Baby Broderick

Baby Broderick

Once my waters had gone baby’s head was out in two more pushes and I didn’t get chance to crown slowly as his head was born so fast, next push and his body was out in the pool of water that I was kneeling in! I scooped him up and cradled him, I had done it! I was ecstatic! The midwife suggested that I should get off the sofa so that they could clean up the waters from the sofa (we had covered the sofa in plastic sheets, towels and absorbent pads). I just knelt on the floor hovered over a blue tray to catch the placenta.

Halfway through the clean up the second midwife noticed that my placenta was in the tray so started flapping and writing the time down, she was shocked it had come away so quickly. I was oblivious to the craziness around me on a high after managing to birth my baby on my own at home with just a little gas and air and lots of love and support!

Special thanks go to Helen who gave me the confidence to have a home birth after a c-section and PPH, Olga who came to visit me and put me in touch with some amazing people who have changed my life in the last two years. I know it’s taken a long time to write it all down but life gets in the way. I did it and I would encourage everyone to have a home birth. Believe in your body and trust in your mind!

Antonia – Oldham

Helen’s homebirth story

Our son Dylan aka ‘Diddy’ was born very quickly at 40+13 – just about having made the hospital in time. Birthing him felt so natural and went so according to ‘plan’ that the only thing we decided to do differently for number 2 was to miss out the ‘getting to hospital’ bit and to stay home… so here we were, planning a home water birth.

A lovely lady I met via a local homebirth group had given me an unused birth pool in a box a few months previously, on condition we ‘pay it forward’ and donate to another homebirth mama when we’re done with it. We’d had a trial run putting it up at 37 weeks, to check it would fit and see how long it took to inflate and fill – we estimated around 1.5 hours to set up and another hour to empty. Sorted! I needed to give the husband at least that much notice then.

As predicted, my ‘due date’ came and went without any sign of ‘homer’ planning an exit any time soon. I don’t feel Braxton Hicks and there was very little else happening except some backache each night. Strangely enough though on the Friday we’d gone to the garden centre to buy some fresh plants for the backyard (been giving it a bit of a makeover, nesting style as there was nothing left to do in the house!) and I had a real need to get them all re-potted the same day, even though it was absolutely chucking it down and husband thought I was crazy!
The night before Dylan arrived, when we’d exhausted every other avenue of natural eviction method, we just chilled outl and snuggled on the sofa with Disney films. For some reason, on Friday night I had an urge to do it again so we let Diddy stay up late and built a duvet den on the sofa, lit the fairy lights and had a Toy Story viewing marathon. My sister had sent me a text message earlier in the day asking if she might get a new niece or nephew for the weekend (she lives a couple of hours away and was wondering whether to come visit or not). I replied around midnight simply saying “who knows!? nothing happening but then it didn’t before Diddy arrived either” and so we all went to bed.

I woke up around 6am feeling contractions. I lay in bed just counting them and breathing through, realising they were pretty regular and getting painful. I counted 20 in an hour and a half. By 7.30am, I was struggling to lie down any longer and wanted to be up and about so went to the loo, brushed my teeth, put in my lenses, straightened my hair (giggling to myself at the déjà vu from my first labour). Woke up my husband Phil shortly after to let him know I thought we might be meeting Homer today – he rolled over and went back to sleep.

Came downstairs, sat on the fitball, posted a couple of messages online before realising we were at 4 (painful) contractions in 10 minutes. Diddy was stirring and I was nervous it might all stop with the distraction. I texted my mum to let her know things were happening and to see if she wanted to come get the boy (wasn’t sure initially if we’d want to keep him at home for the birth, but it was immediately evident that that wasn’t going to work). He was trying to ‘help’ daddy put the pool up by tipping his tools all over the floor! Turns out mum is in Liverpool & her car is at home, she’s in a hotel with friends panicking and waking up someone to drive her back so Dad comes round instead. I went back upstairs and resumed my position rocking while leaning on the banister rail whilst the husband called the midwife and started to inflate the pool. By now he was stressing with all the multitasking required! Midwife wasn’t answering her mobile so he called the labour ward who had someone ring us back. She ran through all the usual details and questions – contracting close together, waters still intact, no problems… she offered to come round now with the kit, or said we could call back when I felt I needed her. She had a couple of visits scheduled so I said to tell her we’d be fine and would let her know when to come. Typically right about then the pain shot up a notch and 10 minutes later she was summoned! Phil kept shouting upstairs for me to give him a sign I was alright. Every time he got chance, he’d dash upstairs, rub the bottom of my back, reassure me, bring me cold flannel/ice lolly/drink but I was just in my own little world, hoping the midwife wasn’t too far away and the pool would hurry up and fill. It all felt so familiar.

Community midwife Pat turned up around 9.30am with her gas and air. I had 2 contractions while she was introducing herself! She had a quick scan through my notes and birth plan and then asked me if I could get on the bed for a quick check over in between contractions. I didn’t want to be lying down so bless her she was quick. Felt baby was right down, heartbeat good, my pulse and blood pressure fine. She offered me an internal but I declined, feeling quite confident we were progressing just fine. When I stood up again the contractions were much stronger. I was still refusing any pain relief as, though I like the idea of Entonox, the surges were making me feel sick and light headed anyway and I needed to stay in control – plus, like last time – I thought it was going to get worse and should be saved for later.

Baby Lily May

Baby Lily May

By now I was groaning with every contraction, feeling very heavy pressure, still leaning over the banister and thinking my waters must surely go any minute (and probably soak the stairs!). As I got more vocal, the pool was finally at the minimum level and a comfy 36 degrees so the three of us went downstairs, I stripped off and climbed in. Phil had dimmed the lights and put on the same music we birthed Diddy to. Pat asked me to tell her when I felt the need to push – the first contraction in the water was very different, very pushy. I’d literally just got in in time. She grabbed her gloves and called Stacey, our second midwife, to come quick. I suddenly needed to move. I had to not be sat down but leaning on all fours over the side. With the next contraction came the most immense pressure, I was shouting “Ow! ow! ow! ow!” I wasn’t sure if this was the head coming or waters about to go – turns out it was both. Ouch, sudden flashback to that heaviness/ring of fire moment! Pat was telling me to get ready to receive baby while Phil reminded me to breathe and out flew our baby all in one big push. I opened my eyes and saw her looking up at me through the water, holding her as her body left mine. Amazingly surreal feeling! Lily May was born at 10.18am, 14th July 2012 (EDD 11th July). Second stage recorded as 2 minutes. We had a quick peek and discovered she was a litle girl! One of each! Just perfect. She was very alert, very calm – just looking around, didn’t cry at all but was clearly unperturbed by the experience. Apgar score 10 at 1 minute.

I opted for delayed cord clamping and a physiological third stage so stayed in the pool having attached skin to skin. She latched on right away, clearly a pro! Had a good long feed while Pat let Stacey in and filled her in on the birth she’d just missed. I couldn’t get over how much vernix there was. She had such a thick layer, it was like lard. Phil put some under his eyes this time!

Relaxing on the sofa while baby Lily feeds

Relaxing on the sofa while baby Lily feeds

By now the pool was getting rather red and murky and I was feeling a bit hot and wobbly. Since it’s harder to monitor blood loss in the water we felt it was probably time to get out of the pool. I lay down on a nest of towels on the sofa, while baby had another feed. Cord was cut after 40 minutes but I had to kneel up and use gravity to get the placenta out. It finally released at 55 minutes post birth. They both had a good look at it, fascinated by my plans to eat smoothie and encapsulate. Turns out the cord was a bit unusual, it had extra blood vessels that didn’t go anywhere and a few random air bubbles in the gristly bits. They said it was probably a very good thing I hadn’t had the syntometrin as there was a strong chance the cord would have snapped with pulling and I’d have needed to transfer for surgical placenta removal. Phew! Placenta was small, about one third the size of Diddy’s mega placenta. Stuck it in a box in the fridge for my mum to deal with later. Stacey checked me over, just a little graze and small 1st degree tear needing no stitches – same as last time but definitely not as sore. Lily was weighed (3.75kg = 8lb4oz), measured (37cm head) and checked over then both ladies left around 12, having taken my blood (and left enormous bruises!), had a cuppa, helped clear up and made sure we were ok.

Phil ran me a bath but every time I tried to get upstairs I almost fainted so we gave up on that idea and he carried me to the sofa where I had a wash, then snuggled up in my jamas with our baby girl while we let everyone know she’d arrived. We cracked open the bubbly and birthday cake and Mum brought Diddy round to meet his sister after lunch. He did a grand job of ignoring the elephant in the room, but was very happy with the new bike she bought him! Mum made me a placenta smoothie which really perked me up (and tasted really good!) then took the rest away with her to dry out and stick in pills for me. They were done within 24 hours and my placenta made 110 capsules. Seem to be working – we have milk within 48 hours.

Lily May is a dream child. A natural feeder, she just seems to instinctively know what she’s doing. Everything is just lovely. Dylan has started asking for boob when he sees his sister feeding, but tandem nursing is helping him to accept her so we’re going with it. It’s the only time he gets close and will stroke her arm, play with her feet etc. and ask me about her. It’s been worth every bit of the feeding journey to get here.

Homebirthing is just fantastic, recommend it to everyone! I feel so blessed to have had 2 easy pregnancies and births, not to mention 2 gorgeous babies.  Might have a little rest now though…

Helen – Rochdale

Ellie’s twin homebirth story

On the morning of Friday 14th November 2014, I woke up feeling uncomfortable but excited. I was 38 weeks and 1 day pregnant with twins and I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for many weeks. The night before, I hadn’t slept well because I’d felt a lot of cramping and kept having to go to the loo. I asked my husband to work from home because I felt like something might finally be happening. I had been cleared for home birth the week before by my One-to-One midwife, Sarah, and I was desperate to meet our twins!

I had a difficult pregnancy and had been advised to take it very easy from around August, when I started getting strong Braxton Hicks contractions. I’d suffered with anaemia, dehydration, hyperemesis gravidarium, and extreme exhaustion so I had not really enjoyed my pregnancy. What kept me going was visualising our home birth and how calm and relaxed we wanted it to be – the opposite of our first son’s birth in hospital.

On that Friday morning, my husband took my son to playschool while I slowly got ready, breathing through the surges which were still quite irregular. They got stronger and more regular during the morning, which was funny because I had booked a reflexology treatment that I decided to go through with!

At lunchtime, the surges started to become quite uncomfortable, so I asked my husband to help me to keep focus. I struggled to eat although I nibbled on some toast, as I thought I might need energy later on. Around this time, the One-to-One Midwives arrived – Debbie, who was covering for our named midwife; a second Debbie, who was shadowing the first; Lisa; and Katie, the consultant midwife. I was bouncing on my ball in between surges and still able to breathe through them, with the help of my husband. I was listening to my hypnobirthing relaxation and affirmation tracks, which really helped me to cope with the surges.

I asked Debbie to examine me, as I wanted to see whether this was another false alarm or whether I could start to get excited about meeting our babies! My cervix was still posterior, although Debbie could feel Twin 1’s head very low in my pelvis. She advised me to keep bouncing on my ball to try and move things along. At this point, we all decided that the two Debbies should get on with their afternoon visits while Lisa and Katie stayed to observe me, as it did not seem like my labour was moving very quickly.

Shortly after they left, I suddenly started feeling very different – the surges became very difficult to cope with and I began shouting during them, partially due to fright I think! I decided that I wanted to get into the birth pool, so my husband, Lisa and Katie started to fill it – luckily, we had already inflated it! I was still listening to my hypnobirthing tracks, but was finding it very difficult not to focus on how much pain I was in. I told Lisa and my husband, “It’s not going to be long now,” as I remembered feeling the same way when in labour with my son two-and-a-half years ago. I kept asking if the pool was ready; I was desperate to get in as I believed I’d feel some relief when I did!

At about 3.30pm, the pool was full and I couldn’t get in fast enough! I stripped off and practically dived in and the relief was instant. Unfortunately it didn’t last long – only about two surges – and I began vomiting and feeling the urge to push. I felt scared at this point, because things were moving very quickly and I was worried it meant something was wrong. I started to panic, saying I needed to push, that I wanted to get out of the pool, that I needed pain relief, that I couldn’t do this. Katie, Lisa, and my husband were so supportive at this point, telling me to calm down and focus on my breathing, to listen to my body and push if I needed to. I begged for gas and air but Katie told me she didn’t think she had time to get it from the car!

Ellie and baby Aurora moments after birth

Ellie and baby Aurora moments after birth

All of a sudden, my body took over and my mind quieted. I was able to focus on my breathing and didn’t make a sound during the next few surges, while my daughter’s head was born. It was amazing and so empowering! Once her head was out, it felt like forever until her body was born and I got a bit agitated again, then there she was. She was born with her membranes intact and Lisa and Katie kept telling me to pick her up and I said “I can’t see her! Someone get her!” (My husband told me afterwards that he was afraid I would sit on her…!) She was passed to me and I sat back in the pool with her on my chest.

I immediately began to feel surges again and felt like I needed to push. I felt panicked and asked someone to take the baby, so Lisa and my husband quickly clamped and cut the cord. I leaned forward to focus on my breathing again and suddenly our son was born, with his membranes also intact and the babies’ placentas on his head! I will never forget how beautiful my babies looked in their membranes and I feel incredibly lucky that I got to see them as they were in my womb. There were only three minutes between our babies’ births! It was so fast that the two Debbies did not get to us in time – we had planned that there would be at least three midwives at the birth, so I imagine Lisa and Katie must have felt quite stressed! They did an amazing job and I never felt unsafe in their hands – completely the opposite.

Twins Jake and Aurora

Twins Jake and Aurora

Our son was born white and unresponsive, and he needed some assistance breathing so an ambulance was called. This was very scary but the midwives handled it very professionally and kept talking to my husband and I to let us know what was happening. He recovered relatively quickly and had skin-to-skin with me while our daughter had skin-to-skin with her dad. The two Debbies arrived just after the paramedics and were gutted to have missed it all!

When I was ready, I got out of the pool and lay on our sofa with the babies. Lisa and Katie completed all the checks (the babies were 5lbs 13oz and 5lbs 14oz respectively) while Debbie and Debbie made us cups of tea. It was amazing being at home and I felt so relaxed, yet so empowered! After a couple of hours, my husband’s parents brought our son home to meet the babies. My husband made our son dinner and put him to bed; it was great to be able to maintain his normal routine. During the evening we all chatted, I had a bath, I gave the babies their first breastfeeds (and expressed some colostrum to syringe-feed our son as he was struggling to latch), we ate pizza and salad, and I did FaceTime with my parents to ‘introduce’ the babies. I felt so relaxed and happy to be in my own surroundings, and so well cared-for by the midwives.

Ellie relaxing with her twins at home after their birth

Ellie relaxing with her twins at home after their birth

My friend Sarah came round to make me two placenta smoothies and to begin the process of encapsulating the babies’ placentas (which were fused and quite small, especially our son’s). The smoothies were amazing and really helped me to get through the first night on no sleep at all!

I feel so happy, empowered and positive whenever I think about the babies’ birth – totally different to how traumatised I felt after my son’s birth. I would highly recommend home birth to anyone considering it – even in cases where it might sound unusual, for example with twins. It is possible, and in most cases it isn’t any more dangerous or risky than hospital birth. Know your options and remember – it’s your body, your baby/ies, and your choice.

Eliie – Davenport, Stockport

Jo’s homebirth story

Sophie’s home birth story 12th September 2014.

We started our hypnobirthing journey in July 2012 when pregnant with our second daughter, Emily. The impact it had on Emily’s birth, and our experience as a family was amazing. So when we discovered we were pregnant again in January 2014 I was already excited thinking ahead to the birth of our third child. I couldn’t wait to do it all over again!

Everything through this pregnancy went really smoothly, and we started to think about home birth quite early on, getting excited about the prospect of not needing to trek to hospital, and to be in the comfort and familiarity of our own space. Our previous two births were both really lovely experiences at Macclesfield, but this time we felt ready to try something different, and staying at home felt like the icing on the cake to what we already knew could be a wonderful experience. By 36 weeks we had the pool ordered and delivered, and our two girls (nearly 2 and nearly 4) were loving playing and bouncing in the pool which was blown up ready in the dining room. I’d been out to buy my favourite candles, bought some new PJs, and we were ready to go, although thought we had ages as I was induced at 41+5 with Emily, our second. Martin had to go away with work to Paris as I turned 38 weeks, but other than me being a bit grumpy at being left alone heavily pregnant with two little people to look after we weren’t too bothered. On the Thursday of that week, our two year old Emily was poorly at nursery – cue a tearful and uncomfortable waddle to pick her up, a few texts to Martin, a few more tears, thankfully he managed to catch the last flight home to Manchester, arriving at 11pm.

I slept better that night than I had in a while, happy to have us all back together, but the next morning (Friday) just couldn’t get comfortable. Every position I sat in felt ‘odd’ but I couldn’t put a finger on it. Every Friday morning we take our two girls to a music group in Knutsford, and in the car on the way there I got a couple of very mild “twinges”, just odd crampy feelings across the bottom of my bump. Didn’t think much of it but mentioned it to Martin and remember saying “wouldn’t it be funny if something happened today now that you’re back”. Well as I sat through the session I felt a couple more twinges, and another one as we were dancing with hoola hoops and singing ‘here we go round the mulberry bush’ (I will never hear that song again without remembering this day!). As we got in the car to come home at about 11am there was another twinge, and I texted Jane (my midwife friend who would play a doula role) to let her know (I think deep down, although these were so so mild, I probably knew something was happening). Another couple of twinges on the way home, now only 6 or 7 minutes apart, and I was convinced something was on its way and could feel excitement setting in. Once we’d got home and got the girls some lunch and arranged for them to spend a few hours with my parents “just in case” I felt this strange feeling of calm. Jane had suggested we ring Macclesfield to let them know things were happening and we were booked in for a home birth. When I finally got through to the ward, the answer came back very quickly that they were too busy and wouldn’t be able to staff a home birth and that as soon as I felt I needed to we should head in. Looking back now, I would have expected this to really throw us off course, but it didn’t phase me at all. I think we were already feeling so positive about the birth and what was to come that nothing at all could spoil the excitement and anticipation we were already feeling. I calmly put the phone down and texted Jane to let her know. Half an hour later by about 1pm, and our two older girls safely off to play with grandparents, things started to feel more real and the twinges were changing to recognisable surges. Exciting! Just as the girls left, Jane got in touch to say she was on her way and that Emily (midwife) was coming out too. We had the ‘dream team’! At that point I think I knew I was safe and things stepped up a gear again. I pottered upstairs to strip the bed (thinking ahead to lovely fresh sheets to snuggle under after the birth) and put some comfy PJs on. We both then got downstairs tidied up and Martin got the liner onto the pool and we decided to start filling it up as Emily had said at our last ante natal appointment it would keep warm for a while. I think we both knew it wouldn’t be long! I left Martin to busy about with the pool, lit my candle, set Riverdawn going on my phone, got the curtains closed and got comfy rocking on my birth ball. By 1.45pm I’d had a bit of a show, and was trying to time the surges which were getting noticeably more powerful. I’d assumed they were still about 5-6 mins apart and really short, but checked after three or four and they were only 4 mins apart, lasting well over a minute. I had no idea! The minute I sat on the ball and got the music playing, I was straight into my happy place – the colour and calmness ‘warm pool’ with the multi-coloured fish, and the water gently carrying me to and fro. The sensation of warmth and happiness was so strong. A couple more surges, and I felt a warm trickly…. Waters! It was really happening! And then almost as soon as they went, the doorbell rang and the dream team arrived. We had become really good friends with Jane after our second daughter was born in 2012, and the sense of safety and warmth I felt as soon as I saw her was just overwhelming. And to have Emily there as our midwife too – perfect! My husband was home, we were close to meeting our third child, we had an amazing wonderful friend here for one of the most amazing days in our lives, and things honestly couldn’t have felt better. After a couple of jokes about Jane and Emily turning up in matching outfits, and Martin boiling pans dry on the cooker trying to get enough hot water to fill the pool, Jane left the relative chaos of the hallway/kitchen and came in to see me just as another surge was starting. By this point they were pretty strong and she knelt down to give me a hug as one started, saying ‘relax, relax, relax’ – all the practice and listening to the hypnobirthing tracks, and our previous birth experience came flooding back and I will never ever forget that moment. I felt so strong and safe and happy and warm, visualising the fish swimming to and fro in the wonderful warm water and seeing bubbles floating up to the surface with each up breath. Beautiful. I felt so ‘in the zone’ at the end of each surge that it almost felt as if I’d been using gas and air. Powerful stuff. Then a shout from the hallway “we’ve got a leak”. I was so far into the relaxation at this point that I didn’t really realise what was happening and think I probably just said something like “oh dear” whilst leaving Jane and Emily, and our second midwife who had now arrived to investigate. In a rush to get the pool filled, Martin had turned the taps onto full, and water pressure meant the hosepipe had shot out of the pool and literally filled our dining room with a good inch of water. Good job I had all the towels down ready in the dining room! Soggy was an understatement. But I hardly noticed. Another surge came pretty quickly, and another big gush of waters – the timing was quite comical on reflection! And then, almost as quickly as the flood had happened, the pool was ready to get in to.

And that feeling. Wow. Amazing. The warmth of the water and support it gave – and moving from visualising being in the water with the fish, to really being in the water and feeling the warmth ripple up your body. And relax. I could feel my shoulders drop as I leant forward against the side of the pool. Then another surge comes pretty quickly, and by now they really are powerful. A strange feeling, almost as if now I was in the pool my body had just accepted that everything was ready and we could get on with the last part of the journey. Decided to use the gas and air from that point as things were happening pretty fast. I think I had one surge breathing on the gas, still thinking of the coloured fish, and quickly had my ‘I can’t do this!’ moment. I remember getting very little sympathy from Martin who just said “I’m not buying that, you’ve done it twice before!” (he was trying to be helpful, I know!!) and Jane quickly stepping in saying ‘relax, you are doing it, you’re amazing, remember, best day of your life’ and suddenly believing it. Another surge pretty quickly after that and I could feel myself getting quite vocal towards the end of the surge. Things were changing. And that waterfall visualisation that I remembered being so powerful from our second birth was right there in my head again, and I’d started the downbreathing without even realising it. At this point we knew it really wouldn’t be long. As soon as that surge had finished, quick chat with Martin to check we were still agreed on the names we’d chosen for a boy or girl – nothing like leaving it until the last minute! Then another surge came and wow that pressure – I remember Jane reminding me to breathe it slow and suddenly calming rather than panicking and trying to push – I knew the down breathing could and would work on its own, I just needed someone to remind me. One more surge with that pressure, some definite vocal sounds, and then ahhh, the release, the head was born, catching both midwives by surprise. I remember instinctively leaning back as the surge passed and looking down through the crystal clear water seeing the baby’s head there, and ever so slowly turning, and saying ‘that’s just beautiful’. It truly was the most amazing sight I think I have ever seen. And that moment seemed to last forever, feeling like time stood still. And then another surge, and more noise, and more downbreathing and feeling that sensation as the body wriggles and slips out. Incredible. And Martin leant forward and caught baby – the first hands to touch. Pretty special. He handed baby over pretty quickly and I had a look to see what we had – another girl – Sophie Imogen Seddon! I had to check twice just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything as I’d been so convinced this one was a boy. She was just perfect. Amazingly pink and healthy looking and just perfect.

Jo and husband with baby Sophie just after birth

Jo and husband with baby Sophie just after birth

We had about 10 minutes of lovely cuddles in the pool, then Martin cut the cord as planned and I decided to get out and get comfy and warm on the sofa. I’d decided I wanted a natural third stage, as with my first I had been convinced the injection had made me feel really sick. We had a good half hour of skin to skin on the sofa (which was wonderful and very special) but nothing seemed to be moving. A few changes of position and still nothing, so decided to have the injection after all. But still nothing. Every magic trick possible was tried to get the placenta to move, but it just wasn’t coming. Our second midwife made the call to transfer to hospital. I wasn’t particularly stressed by this as we’d had such positive experiences at Macclesfield in the past, and within about 15 minutes the ambulance had arrived and Sophie and I were bundled up onto the bed for a rather bumpy journey.

Jo's elder daughters meet their littlest sister

Jo’s elder daughters meet their littlest sister

Thankfully my placenta was removed without any complications, and after an overnight stay for me and Sophie we were able to go home the next day, and begin the chaos that is life as a family of five! It was a shame we didn’t get to do the full home birth thing of snuggling in your own clean bed after tea and bacon butties with our superstar midwives, but I wouldn’t change our choice at all. Being able to almost drift into labour uninterrupted in our own surroundings was just lovely and magical. And my placenta has paid its dues for being awkward – three smoothies and some magic pills have seen me through the first few sleep deprived (and at times emotional) weeks!

Jane shares cuddles with Sophie

Jane shares cuddles with Sophie

We did it. We had an amazing, powerful and beautiful birth and I am so proud of myself and my body for doing it all. No examinations, no interventions, nothing, just the power of nature and my body doing exactly what it was meant to do. And being able to do that all at home, happy and smiling, in our own surroundings. Hypnobirthing was amazing. Again.

Jo – Wilmslow, Cheshire

Rebecca’s homebirth story

I woke up at 12.47am on Monday to a contraction. Another one followed 8 minutes after.  I was 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant and I thought “this is it, here we go…”

I had a ‘show’ at around 8.30 that morning, and I continued to have irregular contractions all day Monday.  At times they would be regular for an hour or so, and then become irregular again.  We burnt clary sage oil, and I spent a lot of time bouncing on my birthing ball, or later pacing the living room.

For most of the day I was excited and happy but by early evening I began to feel a bit tetchy. I had a feeling things would possibly ramp up once Toby, our son who was almost 2 at the time, went to bed and sure enough, they did.

By 9.30 that evening I was contracting every 3 minutes and my partner Chris started to inflate the birth pool.  I decided to give it an hour to make sure this was definitely ‘it’, before calling the midwives.

At around 11pm I called the radio room, and about an hour later, a midwife P and my case-loading student midwife H arrived.  P read my birth plan (H had seen it a couple of weeks before), and took my blood pressure.  Initially it was high but I was contracting at the time, plus P had taken it using a portable electronic machine, so she suggested H repeat it with the manual sphygmometer and as I expected the reading was then much lower!

I agreed to a VE, mostly out of curiosity, and H declared my cervix to be “2cms and stretchy”. They both left shortly after, recommending that I try to rest or have a warm bath and call them back if I needed anything.

More or less as soon as I heard their car pull away I had my strongest contraction up to that point, and had to grab on to the bookcase for support and moan through it.  I almost felt like running to the front door and yelling “come back!” but felt like I was possibly being ridiculous.

It was clear that the plan to relax, either in the bath or in bed wouldn’t work, so Chris ended up watching cbeebies in bed on the laptop with our son whilst I knelt on the bedroom floor, leaning over the side of the bed, contracting regularly and moo-ing into my balled-up t-shirt.

Time quickly lost all meaning.  I was listening to natal hypnotherapy on my ipod, but the rythym of the speech didn’t match that of my contractions, so quickly began to annoy me.  I switched to listening to the “relaxing birth music” tracks without speech instead, and that was much better.

At some point Chris hooked me up to my tens machine and fetched me a couple of paracetamol and a glass of apple juice.  My friend Emma made her way over and when she arrived she took over from Chris looking after Toby, so that he could go downstairs and start filling the birth pool.

At some point I told Emma that I wanted Chris to call the midwives, and at 2.20am he did. Around the same time, I decided I’d better get down the stairs or I never would, and once down there I found a comfortable spot kneeling on the sofa, leaning over the back.

I didn’t really experience transition as such but I did have a brief period of time where I suddenly felt very hot and then very cold, and slightly queasy, so asked Chris for a bucket, which he put by the side of me, although by then the feeling was gone.  I also got a bit annoyed briefly, because my headphone cables were tangling with my tens machine cables, so in the end Chris put my relaxing birth music on the hi-fi instead.

Most of the time, Chris was busy filling the pool but every now and then I would call him over and he would massage my lower back as a contraction built, but if he was too late and tried to touch me at the height of a contraction I would shoo him away again.

Finally, the pool was ready, but I was aware the midwives were on their way back and that they’d probably want to examine me when they arrived.  I detested the idea of getting in the water and then having to get out so decided to stay put, unaware of how advanced things were.

Chris told me afterwards that he knew things were happening quickly because he recognised the noises I was making from Toby’s birth, and that he was really anxious that not only were the midwives not there yet, but that I hadn’t even taken my pants off at that point.

The contractions were strong and steady now, and took all my concentration but I was still perfectly happy and lucid between each one, and could hold a conversation (arguing with Chris that if I took my pants off, my bare ass would be the first thing to greet the midwives as they came through the door).

At 3.05am I heard car doors slamming, and knew that P and H were back.  They said they could hear me contracting from the street (oops, sorry everyone!) and asked if they could examine me and check baby’s heart rate before I got in the pool, which I agreed to, although they had to wait for a sufficient gap between contractions for the VE.

Baby’s heart-rate was fine, and P estimated my cervix at 8-9cms so went out to the car to get supplies (I was feeling quite happy at the prospect of some gas and air at this point) whilst H started removing my tens machine so I could get in the water.

At which point I told her to stop, because “the baby is coming”.

Both her and Chris thought I meant in the wider “the baby will soon be here” sense, and were all “yes, yes…we know…we’re getting you in the pool now…” to which I replied “No, I mean, the baby is coming NOW”

H thought perhaps the pressure I was feeling was my waters about to break but she looked anyway and lo and behold, there was a head (told you so!)

Chris said she seemed kind of panicked and out of her depth at this point (he was at my head end, she was at the other, so they were facing each other, but all I could see was Chris’s face and the living room wall behind the sofa) but I didn’t pick up on that at all, I thought she sounded really calm as she told me that baby was being born in his waters, which was considered lucky.  She asked me to “blow” the contraction away.  I shook my head but tried it anyway.

Rebecca and Rudy immediately after birth

Rebecca and Rudy immediately after birth

There was nothing to be done for it though, I understood then what people meant when they’d described the second stage of labour as being like vomiting downwards- you know it’s about to happen and there is nothing you can do to stop it!  P came back from the car and was greeted by a crowning baby, Chris said she didn’t even have time to get her gloves on.  I don’t think I even pushed, there was just one mighty contraction and then there he was- born at 3.16am.  Apparently his waters broke as he was born- I so wish I could have seen it from the other side!  I still couldn’t see him, but everyone assured me he was fine, and then helped me to sit back without squashing him, and we had skin to skin.

P confirmed what she’d read in our birth plan- that I wanted a natural third stage, and I said yes.  H then said she thought the placenta had already detached, and asked me to give a little push.  I did and sure enough, there was the placenta.  The cord had already stopped pulsing so Chris cut it, and then Rudy had a feed.

Just a few minutes after the birth, with Toby meeting his brand new baby brother (although he was more excited by the giant pool in the middle of the room to be honest!)

Just a few minutes after the birth, with Toby meeting his brand new baby brother (although he was more excited by the giant pool in the middle of the room to be honest!)

At some point Emma, who had been stunned to hear a baby crying came down to confirm she hadn’t lost her mind, and Chris went to fetch Toby downstairs as well, so he could meet his baby brother.  Both P and H completed their paperwork whilst me and Rudy snuggled and Toby played with his toy cars on the side of the birth pool (occasionally dropping them in).  There was some lighthearted discussion about what to record the times as, since things had progressed so quickly.  In the end they settled on:

1st stage: 5 hours, 46 minutes
2nd stage: unrecordable
3rd stage: 4 minutes.

Before the midwives left Rudy had his vitamin k injection and was weighed, I was checked for tears (1st degree- no need for stitches, which I was truly delighted about!) and I went upstairs for the obligatory pee and to get a fresh nightie on.

Emma brought me a glass of water and some paracetamol for the afterpains, which I remember thinking were far more unpleasant than the labour itself, and much stronger than I remember them being after my first birth.  Then she had a quick snuggle with Rudy before heading home to bed.  Rudy had a good feed and then at about 6am we all went to bed too.

Rebecca's almost-2-year-old having some fun in the (unused!) birth pool later that morning (we figured someone should enjoy it, after all that time spent inflating and filling it!)

Rebecca’s almost-2-year-old having some fun in the (unused!) birth pool later that morning (we figured someone should enjoy it, after all that time spent inflating and filling it!)

Toby was up a mere two and half hours later and so began our life as a family of four!

People think I am joking, or crazy (or both!) when I say that I enjoyed my second labour and birth.  A lot of people ask “didn’t it hurt?” and the answer, for me, is that yes, it was intensely painful.  But at no point did I ever feel frantic or panicked and although the sensations were definitely strong, they didn’t feel wrong.

I knew that each contraction meant my body was working hard to birth my baby and that my job was just to let it and not fight it, which meant that In the whole 26 hours and 33 minutes- from first contraction to birthing the placenta, I never once felt frightened, scared, or even worried.  In fact, I felt very calm, with the exception of perhaps one contraction just before he was born when my tens cable came unplugged and I bit Chris’s hand in panic! (Sorry!)

Baby Rudy fast asleep a few hours after the birth

Baby Rudy fast asleep a few hours after birth

Throughout the whole experience I felt confident that everything was happening as it should, and that both me and my baby were safe, and I think being at home helped massively with that.

I can’t honestly say it was my “dream birth” or even that everything went to plan, as clearly we had inflated and filled a birth pool for a reason!  BUT it was awesome, and in a way it sort of was perfect, because everything just happened, without me needing to think or act- it just was what it was, and I genuinely loved every minute!

Rebecca – Levenshulme, Manchester

Natalie’s homebirth story

My first birth, at hospital, was great. I was fully dilated at arrival with the triage nurse and was comfortable throughout the birth despite a back to back presentation without pain relief just breathing through the surges. After 3 hours of comfortable second stage I had an assisted delivery with ventouse and episiotomy as the consultant felt it best due to position and heart rate dropping.

This time I wanted to be more comfy after the birth and avoid episiotomy. I spent time involving chiropractic care, yoga and reviving my Hypnobirthing beliefs to help prepare me and optimise baby into the best position. This helped keep me significantly more comfortable whilst carrying too.

At 40+2 I woke up at 5:15am ish and had a show, I had some tightenings low down but managed to get half an hours sleep listening to Hypnobirthing MP3s. I text the midwife about 7am saying something might be happening, by this time my daughter was up and my hubby went in the shower, during this time I had 3-4 surges. I had a shower and again had a few surges, but still thought birth could be a while off.

By 7:30am I’d told hubby to carry on getting dressed for work & he could come home if I needed him. About 7:45 am I found myself sat on the loo not really managing to move which made me think things were definitely in motion but still I was quite comfy. I suggested hubby not go to work and just take daughter to nursery.

Things then started to crank up a notch. The sensations were coming thick and fast, quite intense and I felt I wasn’t managing so well, I started to feel sick too. When I said to hubby I thought this was transition he thought I was being a bit daft!

By 8am I managed to get downstairs and kneeled leaning on the sofa, at this point we rang mother in law to collect my daughter and hubby started filling the pool. I was certainly in the zone by one and was repeating the affirmations to myself until hubby played the MP3. He was running round still in his suit doing all sorts bless him!

My mother in law collected the little one about 8:25, by this point I felt my surges had changed, they felt as though I was bearing down and I had begun to make a noise/ moan at the end of each one, it felt good to let some noise out to help release the feeling. My lower back was feeling uncomfy, like there was pressure there, this part was really intense but I felt I could manage happily as I knew this was second stage and baby was nearly here. It still wasn’t painful and I was still calm just going with the flow.

Once my daughter had gone I felt I relaxed a little more. I crawled over still fully clothed to the inflated but almost empty pool worried my waters would go on our new carpet and leaned on the side of the pool, baby felt really low down.

8:40am the midwife arrived, at this point I called out to her that I felt the baby was coming.
She came in, helped me off with my clothes and turned to hubby to say “do you want to see this?.” Baby’s head was just visible! I kept visualising the blossom flower and kept my J breathing going, she helped remind me to relax and breathe baby down.

Baby Matilda Poppy, 15 minutes old

Baby Matilda Poppy, 15 minutes old

I could feel the head coming down and felt things ‘stretching’ again. I tried not to push and relax, my body certainly took over and did its thing. Then I felt some relief as the head emerged. At this point my waters finally went. Two more surges and the body slipped out. No stitches needed but a slight internal graze. Baby arrived at 8:53am! And was 9lb 1oz. She didn’t cry and was calm and alert. I had some bleeding so had assisted placenta delivery. This was the best feeling.

By 9:30am I was on the sofa having a cuddle and a piece of toast. 10:30am I had a shower and we spent the day chilling out having cuddles before introducing big sister to the new addition.

It was the most amazing delivery and I’ve felt so well since. I wish everyone could have an experience like this. I would certainly do it again. Matilda is a lovely chilled bundle of joy calmly breathed into this world at home.

Natalie – Cheadle Hulme, Stockport

Kathryn’s homebirth story

Kathryn and baby Isaac at home

Kathryn and baby Isaac at home

I wanted to share my story of homebirth for those of you who are feeling unsure like I was.
I have to say prior to getting pregnant with my second child I was one of those people who thought that homebirth was a bit out there and hippyish but when I got pregnant anxieties about being in hospital and leaving my 6 year old meant I started to look into it.

I personally didn’t find the community midwives very supportive or informative (probably not helped by the fact I never saw the same one more than once.) So I decided to switch to One to One Midwives care and met my lovely midwife Sarah who spent time going over everything with us and was great at answering questions both me and my partner had reassuring us about any fears we had. She also booked us on to a hypnobirthing course which was a great source of information and a real change from the antenatal classes we had with our first. They focused on the positives of birth and how your body works during the process as well as the hypnobirthing techniques.

We got to 40 weeks and still no sign of baby coming. At 41 weeks I woke with a few niggles and I felt a bit odd. I carried on with my day as normal. At lunch I had the start of my show and had a bath then we went wallpaper shopping. At 5pm I noticed my surges were pretty regular, every 5 mins or so and decided to text Sarah just in case. We got home around 5.30 and got my son ready to go to his grandmas. I was managing everything fine so wasn’t convinced I was progressing and so we went for a walk on the field behind my house just after 7pm. 2 laps and I was done. We went home and my partner pumped up the pool while we timed the surges for a bit to see how often they were coming. I text Sarah to say James (my partner) was filling the pool as I wasn’t sure I could manage much longer with just breathing and rocking so she said to get in the pool and let her know when we needed her.

Baby Isaac Joseph 8lb 12oz

Baby Isaac Joseph 8lb 12oz

I got in the pool and not long later the surges were coming one on top of another even though I was still not convinced things were happening, James decided to call Sarah and ask her to come over. It’s a good job he did! Sarah arrived at 10 pm shortly followed by her colleague Debbie and checked me and baby over while I was in the pool. Not long after she arrived I felt things change. I knew baby was on its way and although I wanted to tell Sarah what was happening I couldn’t talk at all but I didn’t need to, she noticed the change and realised what was happening. I did manage however to say when my waters had popped. Baby came pretty quickly after that with his hand by his head and when I felt like I couldn’t do any more, with the amazing support of the midwives to get me through those final pushes, he came out at 10.34pm, all 8 lb 12 oz and I spotted we had another boy!

Kathryn's eldest son meets his little brother

Kathryn’s eldest son meets his little brother

We waited for the cord to stop pulsating before it was clamped and cut. Baby was passed to dad while I got out the pool to wait for the placenta to come and get warm (I was rather shivery). We had skin to skin and once all was sorted Sarah and Debbie helped me and baby upstairs and we got into bed so my son could come and meet his baby brother.

Being able to relax at home was the best feeling ever and the mess that I was worried about was no where to be seen the next morning. I can’t fault the care we received from the One to One midwives during our birth and will always be grateful to them for being there to support me and enable me to have such a positive birth experience. It’s certainly something we will never forget and for those of you who were like me, had doubts and find it a bit out there, I say embrace your inner hippy – I’m certainly glad I did!!

Kathryn – Davenport, Stockport

Sam’s homebirth story

River’s Home Birth Story 16th May 2013.

I was coming up to two weeks ‘overdue’, I felt huge, in so much pain with SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) and the midwives were starting to talk about induction, sweeps, monitoring etc (why couldn’t they just leave me and my baby alone! I was thinking) anyhow, to show willing I let them do a sweep.

Sam's mum helps look after her 3 year old daughter

Sam’s mum helps look after her 3 year old daughter

I had realised I had worked my dates out wrong and I was actually more like 3 weeks ‘overdue’ , but I knew by now that was best kept a secret!

I found the sweep incredible painful! And started contracting straight away, low, deep, grating period pain style cramps which went on and on into the evening and through the night. By 5am they were getting stronger so I decided to have a bath (as people always seem to in birth stories!) while everyone slept.

As hubby woke I informed him of my progress, but he didn’t really believe me it would be today and went to work anyway. By lunch time I had called him back, I knew it would be today and with 2 kids to look after and a birth pool to fill, I wanted him home. I called my mum too to come and help with the littlies. She brought roast lamb for after.

Sam smiling between contractions

Sam smiling between contractions

It was a sunny day, I took some time out in the garden barefoot, feeling very alive, connected, real, excited and so so happy my baby was coming and I was in my comfy track suit at home!
It was green and bright and warm and wet and full of hope I was so desperate for this baby to come out safe and well. I remember posting on Facebook that I was in labour and please wish me well.

I contacted my doula to let her know things were picking up about 4ish, and that I’d let her know when it started getting heavy. By 5ish the rushes had started to get strong. I had to stop to breathe through them, and was cross with hubby for doing stuff instead of being with me through the surges! By 6 I was stressed that the doula wasn’t answering and hadn’t arrived, and I was snappy with everyone, then apologising for being snappy between contractions.

Sam's daughters having fun in the birth pool

Sam’s daughters having fun in the birth pool

The photo of me smiling on the sofa was between 2 strongish contractions. My mum was feeding my 3 year old on the other sofa and I took a picture to capture the moment. The girls were excited and happy helping fill up the pool and having a splash in it. They didn’t want to get out!

As it got stronger I wanted attention and help! I felt I needed the pool, the doula (who still wasn’t answering!) and I knew I couldn’t get in the pool without the midwife telling me I was ‘far along enough’ although I knew I was…

So we called the midwives who arrived in a flurry and started to irritate me straight away! The doula arrived too, full of apologies her little boy had switched her phone off, and suddenly there was a lot going on.

The rushes had gotten intense and I was trying to find a comfy place to cope with them, while the hullabaloo of the midwives setting up in my living room went on. Lauren (doula) took me outside, I had liked it earlier.

It was no good any more! I stayed for 1 or 2, then we went back inside. I wanted to lean on something so leant forwards onto the table while Lauren rubbed my back and pushed on my hips. This really helped. I liked it there for a bit.

I still wanted to get in the pool though, as I was sure it would help (it had been immense relief in my last labour).

Sam is monitored in the pool

Sam is monitored in the pool

Finally I was allowed in the pool, and although nice it wasn’t as lovely as I’d expected it to be! Perhaps as it was a summer labour instead of winter like my last, but I couldn’t get comfy, found the rushes hard to deal with and kept feeling too hot. The nurses were annoying me with their constant chatting/questions/wanting to monitor me and baby, and nattering about the water temperature/ height. I wanted them out!

My doula was lovely, helping me, talking to me, telling me I was doing so well, I was so beautiful etc. but I remember her words were not soothing. I just felt uneasy and impatient that it wasn’t happening quicker. I had an underlying worry about something going wrong and me being transferred. Perhaps I was in transition. I kept saying, why is it hard? Why isn’t she coming out? I’m doing all the right things! It felt like ages, but in reality was less than 3 hours from when I got into the pool to her birth, so I guess I was just feeling anxious.

Sam's 6 year old holds her hands and helps her through contractions

Sam’s 6 year old holds her hands and helps her through contractions

The nicest, calming part for me, was when my 6 year old came to help me. I straight away got a grip and stopped panicking. Her hands were warm and sure, and she said well done mummy, there you go it’s ok, just breathe. Talking me through each contraction like a pro!! I was stunned, amazed and grateful all at once, she was way more soothing than hubby or doula!

Eventually she morphed back into a 6 year old and with a grumpy, why is it taking so long?! Stomped off upstairs to watch the iPad, not to return until her sister was born.

The midwife kept insistently monitoring us, kept making me move into different positions to check baby’s heart beat. I like to be only on my hands and knees, leaning on the side of the pool, breathing through each contraction with my partner in front of me to tend to my every need! They kept making me turn over, sit up, get out…so annoying. I kept refusing and quietly telling the doula they were really annoying me and I wanted them to go out the room!

I was finding the labour really hard going and couldn’t understand why. My previous labour had been so lovely! This felt like tough, overwhelming hard work. Why? I kept asking everyone…Is it because I’m older? Are 3rd births harder? Why isn’t she coming out? They didn’t really answer me!

The doula was great, pressing on my hips constantly during each surge as it was the only thing to relieve the pressure. Feeding me energy drinks and water through a straw.

Soon I gave in to the gas and air. It was good! I’d hated it in my previous labours but this time it took the edge off and got me through the blurry, crazy, painful animal bit before birth! By now I was mooing and moaning through the rushes, I knew it was soon.

Head midwife was obviously getting impatient as she ‘unintentionally’ broke my waters as she checked me. I didn’t care though, I’d had enough! I was ready for it all to end. There was meconium in the waters. This resulted in a huge change of atmosphere, I was instructed to get straight out of the pool. There was an air of panic, which I knew was totally unnecessary, but went with it anyway.

Sam meets River for the first time

Sam meets River for the first time

I dutifully went over to the sofa (thinking to myself, I need to get this baby out now or they’re going to start interfering with me (trying to get me to go to hospital!) so I sunk into deep, dark pushing. Once it started my body took over and I couldn’t stop. I pushed and pushed and I felt my baby move down and out of me. I pushed so so hard and out she came, head first. Then another push and fast! Out she burst.

Apparently I bled quite a lot so by the time they passed her to me and I managed to wrap her in a towel and turn us over (a matter of seconds!) her cord was cut! I was a bit disappointed, it was done so quick I didn’t even know! But apparently was necessary due to my blood loss. (I still don’t know why)

I had to sit in a wierd position for a while, bright lights on, on the edge of the sofa, holding my new born, shocked and getting shaky, naked and covered in blood while they all worked on my nether regions trying to stop the blood and ascertain from where it was coming! (I still knew everything was fine and I wanted to lie down!)

Eventually it was decided it was just a little tear! And I was allowed to lie down and cuddle my babe. They were bugging me about placenta, so I think I had the injection and it came our pretty easy although I don’t remember much from this point.

They all fussed and nattered as I wished they would go away, someone would feed me and I could go to sleep!

Sam snuggles up with River

Sam snuggles up with River

Baby latched straight on and was happy and snuggly, before they decided they had to take her off me to measure and weigh! I wish I’d said no to this. I remembering them being shocked I was already feeding her under our birthing blanket a few seconds after she was born, they were all “oh! She’s Already feeding? Oh!” Like they expected me to wait for them to tell me to!

They also hung around for hours after cleaning up and wanting to keep doing checks on me. Apparently I didn’t look too well! (Yes I was shaky and wheezy, but I always get like that when I’m tired and I was absolutely knackered!) Cheekily they confessed to hubby they didn’t want to go back to hospital before the end of their shift as they’d be given more work to do!

Eventually (around midnight and River was born just before 10) They finally all went away and left us all to go to bed in peace. Thank goodness my mum presented me with a roast lamb sandwich in the middle of all the fuss! Just what I needed. And energy drinks. Thanks mum.

I felt ill and shaky, very drained, but in time it got better. River was 8lb 13oz, and a dream baby from the start. She was heaven. The next day life carried on as normal! No hospital, no stress. She breasfed well from the start.

Even though I found it really hard with 2 older children to look after, and I couldn’t walk properly for a couple of weeks And Hubby went back to work after 5 days!! I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Looking back it was a good home birth, about 5 hours in total from when it really started to kick in. If I did it again, I would hire a more experienced and competent doula, and refuse any interference from midwives, or get my own 121 one that knew me and what I wanted. I think this would have stopped a lot of anxiety and helped things progress quicker ; It’s outside interference and stress to the mother that slows or complicates labour. It really is just a natural process that needs to be left to it!

Sam – Bramhall, Stockport

Lucy’s homebirth story

Aurelia’s birth story 8th December 2012

My due date arrived and I sat at home thinking will this be the day? Midnight arrived and there was no sign of labour so I decided to try and carry on as ‘normal’.

On day 41+5 (Friday 7th December, 13 days after my ‘due date’) I was offered an appointment at the hospital to monitor the baby and ensure everything was ok. After being hooked up to the machine for 30 minutes all appeared well with the baby and I was offered a ‘sweep’. After discussing our options and we agreed to accept the offer. We were then offered a visit from the community midwives over the weekend to carry out another sweep and told we could return on Monday to be monitored again and discuss our ‘options’.

Later that day I notice a few trickles of water and some sensations I can only liken to ‘period pains’, I wondered if these were contractions and started monitoring them with my ‘contraction app’. By 10pm they seemed quite frequent so I decided to go to bed and get some rest. I woke up a few times in the night for a wee and noticed some discomfort but I had been fairly uncomfortable for the past few weeks so this was nothing unusual. I woke up again around 5.30 and try to doze but I couldn’t get back to sleep so I got up at 6am and went down stair to listen to my Hypnobirthing CD, which helped me to relax.

I wanted to keep busy to take my mind off waiting so I decided to head out early with my daughter. Whilst out I noticed that I was still experiencing a few sensations but I’d almost given up any hope of spontaneous labour so I it to the back of my mind. The sensations continued so after an hour or so I decided to head home. The sensations continued and started to increase, both in frequency and intensity; I decided to call my partner to ask him to get the birth pool ready, then I contacted my friend to see if she could look after my daughter for a few hours. By the time I reached my friend I was finding it difficult to move so I quickly headed home thinking this is it!

By the time I got home it was 1pm and the intensity of the contractions continued to increase, I made a brew and went upstairs to try and prepare and focus on my hypnobirthing techniques. I could hear my partner downstairs struggling with the birth pool preparations which made me feel anxious, so I decided to call the community midwives to let them know. Coincidently, barely a minute later there was a knock on the door, a community midwife had arrived to conduct the sweep, which fortunately was no longer required. The midwife conducted an examination and advised that I was 2-3cms dilated and in ‘established labour’. After a few phone calls the midwife advised that another midwife would be attending for the birth, she left and I went downstairs to get into the birth pool only to find we had run out of hot water! (hence why it is recommended that you have a ‘dry run’) I got into the pool and attempted to submerge my body in the water, whilst my partner continued filling the pool with saucepans and kettles full of hot water, he spent most of my labour doing this.

The 2nd midwife arrived and told me I needed to get out of the pool so that she could examine me, my partner asked the midwife to go into the kitchen so that he could explain our birth plan. After this she appeared more respectful of our wishes and agreed to carry out any monitoring in the pool. As my contractions increased in intensity I found it increasing difficult to breathe through them as my nose was really bunged up. I began to feel as though I was not able to manage on my own so I decided to use some gas and air at the height of each contraction.

I could feel the pressure building and it felt very intense and overwhelming at points. The midwife suggested I try to empty my bladder as this could help release some of the pressure and may encourage my waters to break. Well the ascent to the toilet worked and a few minutes later my waters broke and I quickly progressed to the transitional stage. I could feel the head starting to work its way down the birth canal, I began to feel the urge to push so I started to pant and avoided pushing when I knew my body was not ready.

Lucy, her partner and baby Aurelia

Lucy, her partner and baby Aurelia

We quickly moved back downstairs and into the pool, the midwife said that we needed to get more water in to the pool as the baby could only be delivered in water if the head remained submerged throughout delivery. I managed the 2nd stage really well and used the gas and air to manage the height of the sensations. I refrained from pushing, which felt incredibly natural and strain free and delivered my baby into a calm and peaceful environment as planned. My partner jumped in the pool and gently lifted the baby out of the water and placed her on my chest, we just sat there peacefully and took a few moments to adjust. The lights were dim, we had the Hypnobirthing music playing in the background and we both just sat there cuddling her, it was the most incredible, surreal moment of my life, I felt so alert and aware of what was happening.

Relaxing in the pool

Relaxing in the pool

I offered baby my breast and we just sat there in the pool cuddled up for ten minutes, then I asked the midwife to take some pictures. The midwife asked me to come out of the pool to deliver the placenta so we moved upstairs to the bedroom. After an hour of skin to skin contact the umbilical cord had stopped pulsating so we cut it and allowed the midwife to carry out her checks and weigh the baby. I remained in bed to relax whilst my partner went downstairs to tidy up, after an hour or so I began to feel hungry so whilst continuing skin to skin contact I moved downstairs and we had some tea together and settled down to watch the X-Factor final, it all felt very surreal. Normal life resumed fairly quickly, the following day my daughter returned to greet her new baby sister and we all snuggled up on the sofa to watch a film.

Lucy – Whitworth, Rochdale

Rachel’s homebirth story

Rachel's daughter

Rachel’s daughter

I had a home birth with my first baby, born in June 2013. I decided quite early on that it was the right choice for us, despite always thinking I’d have my baby in a more medicalised setting. We chose HypnoBirthing for our antenatal classes, and watched many amazing HypnoBirths, the majority of which were at home. My mum had a home birth in 1984 with my younger sister, and talked about it so positively in contrast to her hospital birth with me. And as my pregnancy progressed I decided I wanted my daughter’s birth to be as natural and intervention free as possible, and I very much wanted to use a birthing pool, which is of course not guaranteed in a hospital or midwife led unit.

I did a great deal of research and found that far from being a risky option, as it is often perceived, the close care and attention you receive from dedicated midwives during a home birth makes it extremely safe, and it is less likely that you will require medical intervention. However, I did receive negativity from some friends, who believed that home birth would be dangerous, and that it was a ‘selfish’ choice. Finding the Greater Manchester Homebirth support group and attending their meetings gave me the support I needed, and it was great to hear many positive home birth stories. The community midwives based at Wythenshawe Hospital were also very supportive, and immediately put me down for a home birth.

I went into labour two days after my due date. Around 11pm I started to feel what I can only describe as ‘a bit funny’! We decided to go to bed and I listened to my rainbow relaxation in bed but after about an hour of dozing I felt I needed to get up and walk around. After that my surges started and were, from the beginning, long and close together. I woke my husband up and got him to start timing them and we soon realised we needed to call the hospital. I spoke to the midwife and had a surge while on the phone – she sensed from the call that she needed to send someone straight away. It’s all a bit hazy as it seemed to happen quite quickly but I remember my waters breaking around 2am which was just before the midwife arrived. I was quite taken aback by how quickly it all happened and my husband really had to keep me focused on my HypnoBirthing breathing and keeping calm.

I had planned to ease the contractions by using different positions but in fact all I wanted to do was sit on the toilet, it seemed to ease the discomfort. I would describe the contractions like very strong period pains which I felt mostly as pressure in my lower back and a band of tightening around the bottom of my bump. I got into the pool at around 3am. I had meconium in my waters but my midwife was very pragmatic and said she would monitor the baby’s heart rate rather than preventing me using the pool or transferring me to hospital.

I found the pool really helped and I was a lot more comfortable in there. I was listening to the rainbow relaxation and breathing through the contractions, also my husband was doing some exercises to take me into deeper relaxation, and the time seemed to pass very quickly. I had a very quick transitional stage where I momentarily wanted to get out of the pool but it soon passed and I moved into the second stage. This is where I get my body really took over and I felt the natural expulsive reflex really working. Far from being in pain I actually found the second stage a relief and was in no pain or discomfort between surges, and I was happily chatting to the midwives (the second midwife arrived at this point) and my husband. The surges themselves were not painful either, just a very strong downward expelling feeling. I really felt my body was in control and could feel my baby descending. I kept telling the midwives that she had almost arrived and I could feel my daughter’s head! It was very peaceful, and my husband says I was gazing out of the window, mesmerised as the sun rose. The midwife noted that the second stage took fifty-five minutes.

Rachel's daughter just after her birth

Rachel’s daughter just after her birth

My daughter was born at 5.41, around six hours after I realised I was in labour, and I had no tearing or need for stitches (so we were surprised to discover she weighed a hefty 9lb 3oz – thank goodness for perineal massage!) I caught her myself in the pool and the midwives respected my wish for skin to skin contact, delayed cord clamping and oral vitamin K. In fact the midwives had both followed my birth plan to the letter, they were very respectful and just let my husband and I get on with it! I didn’t even need to use my gas and air which the hospital had delivered just in case.

Relaxing in the pool

Relaxing in the pool

I had to get out of the pool for the third stage (delivery of the placenta) which I also did naturally without the injection. I must say I found this more uncomfortable than birthing my daughter, possibly because I had to get out of the pool!

My midwife stayed for around four hours after the birth and looked after us completely, ensuring I was washed and in fresh clothes, and that breast feeding was established. They cleaned everything up except the pool, however it was not a messy process at all, I know the thought of the mess puts some people off the idea of home birth. I had a further midwife visit later that day so I felt very well looked after. This is in contrast to friends I know who have had hospital births and have been left alone for hours without seeing a midwife. It was lovely being at home, in my own bed, with all my home comforts and not having to disturb my newborn daughter. Visitors were at our own convenience and my husband was there with us the whole time.

Alert and looking around after birth

Alert and looking around after birth

All in all my birth experience was a wonderful one. I know that being at home, in a safe and familiar environment, was one of the major contributing factors to this. I would not hesitate to have another home birth if I was lucky enough to be expecting another child, and I would recommend it to anyone as a very safe and comfortable birthing choice. And it is completely magical to walk into my dining room and think: “that’s the spot where my daughter was born”!

Rachel – Chorlton, Manchester

Sarah’s homebirth story

I became pregnant in March 2013. I have a severe needle phobia and believe that birth is a natural thing to do and wanted as few interventions as possible. At my booking in appointment I was told I was classed as high risk purely based on my BMI which was 35 (bear in mind that I’m 5′ 7″ and have K size breasts). I was told that I’d have to have consultant led care and would have to give birth in hospital whilst being monitored continuously. I was also told that if I didn’t have my blood taken they wouldn’t do a scan (12 week scan). I was upset and immediately started looking into other options. I was made aware of One to One midwives and emailed them asking them to take over my care.

One to One midwives were a world of difference to NHS midwives, I felt listened to and respected. We decided on a homebirth and was assured every step of the way.

Sarah's homebirth

Sarah, her partner and baby Isabelle shortly after birth.

Now to the good bit: my waters went at 14:15pm on Thursday the 14th November, I was 37+5. I phoned the midwife and my partner. My friend had just come round for a visit so helped me into the shower and stayed with me. There were no contractions to start with but I felt them start to build up and at about 21:30 we asked the midwife to come out. I had just been walking around and getting in and out of the bath and shower, I was calm and relaxed and practising my hypnobirthing breathing. I requested a vaginal examination at about 22:30 and the midwife said she couldn’t feel my cervix and that I had ages to go so try to get some rest and eat something to keep my energy up. She left at 23:30. I went to sit downstairs in my rocking chair, we had the lights off and continued with my breathing and visualisations. At about 01:30/02:00am I felt a difference in the surges, they changed to a downwards pressure and I felt like I needed the loo. My partner text the midwife to say I was panting so I didn’t push and was feeling a lot more pressure. She said that it was because the baby was back to back and was normal and to try and lie down. Lying down was the uncomfiest thing I have ever done so I got back into the bath. My partner was texting the midwife as I was pushing at this point, she said she was on her way. I was kneeling up in the bath and was feeling intense pressure. I suddenly felt different and felt between my legs and baby’s head was out!! Then I felt the rest of her come out. The cord was round her neck twice but not tightly so I unwound it and lifted her up and to my chest. This was at 04:26am. The midwife arrived 5 minutes later by which time baby was pink and breathing fine and had her eyes open looking around. We named her Isabelle and she was 6lb 13ozs.

I absolutely loved my birth and I don’t remember pain or pushing at all, it was just pressure. I know it sounds corny but my body totally took over and we ended up having an unintentional unassisted birth. I had opted not to have the injection to bring on the placenta because of my needle phobia. Unfortunately it didn’t come away and I ended up having a removal under general anaesthetic but even this didn’t take away from my experience!

Sarah – Swinton, Manchester