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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

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

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