Tag Archives: waterbirth

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

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