Home Births and HypnoBirthing

When I had LP and Little Man I always knew I’d want home births. From the moment I heard that there was such a thing as a homebirth, before Hubby and I had even got married, let alone thought of having children, I knew it would be something I’d want to seriously consider in the future.

Up until finding out about home births I had seen birth as something awful that you just had to endure to have a baby, the big negative with a great big positive at the end. I had never heard talk of a positive birth experience and never thought it could be a beautiful experience – how wrong could I have been!?

You see, growing up I only heard talk of the negative experiences and no-one really shared the positive which is why when I started hearing positive stories I thought it all sounded too good to be true until I had LP at home in our lounge. It wasn’t clinical at all and was far from a negative birth experience. It couldn’t have gone better and was a pretty text book home birth with Hubby, LP and I at home as a family by ourselves within a couple of hours of birth.

Just after getting dressed for the first time

Little Man’s birth was just as straight forward, and again pretty text book until we had to transfer to hospital after his birth but as far as the actual labour and birth went it couldn’t have been a better experience – he was born in the birth pool, labour lasted just four hours and LP watched the whole thing.

It was only after I had LP and Little Man that I found out about HypnoBirthing and looking back I feel that I dealt with labour quite well by myself, with just gas and air in the later stages but I think that HypnoBirthing could have been great for me if I’d been aware of it.

Companies like Breathing Love offer services and support to help everyone try and achieve a safe and comfortable birth. They help you to create a calm and serene birthing environment and help you to use your natural birthing instincts to make birth as natural as possible. Breathing Love are passionate about empowering women and their partners to take back their birthing experience and do that by teaching a range of techniques such as self hypnosis, relaxation and breathing techniques. If I were having my first baby all over again, or even having another baby now, I would love to have support like this in the lead up to birth. From the moment you find out you are pregnant it is so important to think of birth as something that can be a positive, amazing experience.

I really wish that I had something like this to break down my negative thoughts on birth prior to finding out about home births – birth really doesn’t have to be something to be feared and should be something we look forward to, embrace and savour. It really can be a wonderful experience.

Baby LP - 2 Hours Old

Disclosure: I have not been compensated in any way for writing this post and just feel that everyone deserves a positive birth experience and HypnoBirthing could help that.

Reflections on our Home Birth Experiences

I feel that I am in quite a fortunate position to have had two great home birth experiences but have also now experienced hospital after care – so in some ways I have seen both sides of the coin whilst still achieving the best possible birth experiences for us as a family.

I have, however, heard countless times how ‘brave’ we were to have a homebirth, especially having a homebirth with our first child. Today our Health Visitor came to our house and met us for the first time. She asked if our home birth had been ‘planned’ and when I said that both home births were planned, she said how brave we were and that her third was a home birth but that she wouldn’t have been brave enough to have the first at home.

Brave.

I find ‘Brave’ such a funny word to use.

The dictionary defines Brave as the following:
Adjective
Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.

I honestly do not feel there should be any ‘danger’ in giving birth – it’s a natural function of the female body, something we are all born to do. Yes, some births have complications and some do end in emergency caesarean sections but many are complication free and so do not have any immediate ‘danger’. On the other hand, being ready to face and endure pain is relevant for all pregnant women, not just ones choosing to birth at home. We should really then see all pregnant women as being brave as we all endure the same pain, although our pain thresholds must differ.

Home Births were commonplace up until the 1960’s – 35% of children born in the 60’s were born at home – That is about the same number that are born with a ‘natural birth nowadays – a birth without medical intervention. If you ask relatives where they were born or where their parents were born I’m sure that a fair few would be born at home – I know my Mum was born above a chip shop in Camden, My Husband’s Uncle was born at home. For some reason after the 1960’s birth was made a medical event rather than a natural one. Everyone went to hospital to have a baby, that was the ‘done’ thing. However, for years women had babies at home, there was no alternative and none of them were considered ‘Brave’ – they were merely doing what women do, having babies.

I was going to real off statistics of numbers of home births and their outcomes – but I think you’d all tune off at that point. It is safe to say though that most births at home end happily, with only 40% of first time mothers having to transfer to hospital and 10% of mothers expecting their second or subsequent children. The majority of transfers for first time mothers was down to wanting ore pain relief rather than an emergency with the mother or baby. Statistically, having a planned home birth also halved the incidence of assisted delivery or caesarean birth.

I know home births aren’t for everyone – many women have ‘high risk’ pregnancies and so need to go into hospital to deliver, other women like the security/safety of a hospital and the immediate extra care they can provide and others, especially recently, would rather opt for an elective caesarean. For most women, going to hospital is still the norm. For me, I can’t imagine anything worse than having to deliver a baby in a hospital. It just wasn’t something I wanted to do. For me, as natural an experience as possible was my aim and I am glad I achieved that. However, it doesn’t make me brave. Just a woman giving birth on her terms.

Second Homebirth But So Different to the First!

Well, I always think it’s best to not have a birth plan and to just see what happens. However, we did have a plan of sorts. Baby was going to arrive any time after 14th May – When the Grandparents were back from holiday, they would have LP and we would have a homebirth, or ideally, Baby would arrive at night, LP would sleep through the homebirth and wake up to a new arrival the following morning.

That was as far as our plan went, and the actual events were completely different but not negative at all.

Everything started on Thursday 9th May really, although I didn’t realise it at the time! Hubby had been off work a couple of days before with a virus and went back to work Thursday. I was at home with LP and spent the day in and out of the toilet being sick – I just couldn’t keep anything down. I managed to sip water but didn’t eat anything at all.

Over the course of the day I also had random Braxton Hicks/contractions but nothing regular or very painful. I stayed up until Hubby got home with a milkshake for me at 11:30pm and remember commenting to him that ‘I feel awful, if I go into labour feeling like this I really don’t think I’ll have the energy to get through it’.

We then woke up at 8am on Friday when LP started chatting through the baby monitor. She came into bed with us to watch cartoons – a bit of a ritual! We stayed there for about half an hour during which time I had more pains, although these were now quite regular – every 10 minutes.

We came downstairs to have breakfast and by 10am the pains were closer together – every 5-7 minutes. I told Hubby that if they were still going at 11am I’d ring the hospital. For the next hour I tried to sit with LP while she had breakfast but found sitting incredibly painful. I eventually moved onto my birth ball in the lounge and we decided it was probably best to set the birth pool up in case this was the real thing… I think we both thought it was a practice run and the real event was a week or two away!

At 11am I rang the Hospital who were contacting the local on call midwives for me who would be aware of our homebirth plans. At this point contractions were every 3-5 minutes and lasting 40 seconds.

At 11:30am my midwife, Kelly, and a student midwife Jacqueline, turned up at our house. I’ve known Kelly since my booking in appointment in October but strangely have known Jacqueline since my booking in appointment with LP – I was the first pregnancy that she’d booked in when she started training but unfortunately she wasn’t around to observe LP’s birth. I had hoped that she would be around this time as she so far hadn’t been present at a successful homebirth – so it was nice when they both turned up at the door.

At this point I knew I was in labour and so was honest with the midwives – we didn’t have anyone to have LP while it happened as her Grandparents were on holiday – due back in a couple of days and well before the due date! However, we had arranged for my good friend Jo to look after LP in the event of a transfer to hospital either after or during the homebirth. The midwives were calling a further midwife out, Debbie, as they needed two qualified midwives to be there for the pushing stage and weren’t sure how quick I’d progress. Debbie had met LP when she was a few hours old to do her ‘new baby’ checks. It was nice that all three midwives I knew – last time there were two midwives that I hadn’t met before, which at the time was absolutely fine, just a different experience this time!

We were conscious that the pool took a couple of hours to fill and so Hubby started to fill the pool whilst LP played and watched ‘The Zoo’, the midwives drank tea and looked at our wedding photos and we all chatted whilst I bounced on my ball and breathed through the contractions.

At 12pm LP had lunch – I still hadn’t eaten anything but was drinking plenty of water and after LP’s lunch Hubby put her down for a nap at 1pm. At this point the contractions were still about every 3 minutes but lasting a minute and were getting more painful. I decided that I’d quite like to get in the pool as soon as I could. Hubby came down from putting LP to bed and sorted getting the temperature right on the pool – at least 36 degrees and making sure it was at least above the minimum fill level.

During this Kelly said she’d like to do an examination before I got in the pool to make sure I was progressing as expected. Kelly examined me, said my waters were bulging and I was at least 8cm dilated!

After this I got in the pool at 1:30pm and it was lovely! The warmth of the water was perfect and it felt so good, just what I needed. I carried on having contractions in the pool and they gradually grew with intensity.

At about 2pm I decided I needed some kind of pain relief and so the midwives set up the entonox gas and air for me – I’d forgotten how instantly drunk it made you feel!

I felt the urge to push at about 2:45pm and it was at this point that LP decided to wake from her nap. Debbie went upstairs to get her and she sat quietly with Debbie whilst I was in the pool. When I started to push my waters went with a shock, Baby’s head was delivered at 3:02pm and Baby came out at 3:03pm with the next push! Kelly pushed Baby down through my legs and I brought It up to the surface, at this point Debbie had given LP to Hubby and they were both there, Hubby emotional as I said ‘It’s a boy, We’ve got a blue one!’ and I was crying out of relief, shock and every other emotion.

So Troy Alexander Wishart was born at 3:03pm on 10th May, 16 days early, in our birth pool in the lounge! He was covered in vernix and I stayed in the pool with him until his cord stopped pulsing. Hubby then cut his cord and Debbie took him to clean him off and look him over. I then had an injection in my leg and delivered the placenta into the pool.

The midwives then helped me onto a makeshift bed (a duvet and shower curtains)on the sofa where I had skin to skin with Troy whilst I was examined for damage – no tears or stitches again! Amazing.

We then tried to get Troy to feed and he wasn’t interested – I wasn’t concerned by this as I knew he would feed when he was ready and would probably be exhausted from the exertion of being born!

Second Homebirth But So Different to the First!

The main issue that became apparent was that he had been making grunting noises that didn’t seem to be subsiding. It was an hour after his birth and the midwives rang Central Delivery Suite at our local hospital for guidance. They were told to transfer us to hospital to get Troy checked over and so Debbie rang an ambulance whilst I went upstairs to clean myself up, get some clothes on and compose myself. By the time I came downstairs there were two paramedics in our lounge, an ambulance and paramedic car outside.

Hubby called my friend Jo who came to look after LP and Troy and I left in the ambulance with our ‘just in case’ hospital bags and a handful of Mars bars – I hadn’t eaten in 2 days and knew that the adrenalin wouldn’t last forever! Hubby would follow behind in his car when Jo arrived.

We got to the hospital near enough instantly, it is only a 5 minute drive anyway and so when you’re going there with blue lights flashing it takes no time at all. The paramedics were lovely, the first people to congratulate me on my new Son, and they wheeled me, holding Troy, on a stretcher into the Central Delivery Suite. Kelly had come with me in the ambulance and stayed with me whilst Hubby arrived and Troy was examined.

They put Troy under a heat lamp, took bloods from his feet and did the standard observations on him, during this time he managed to feed well, even though it was difficult for him to breathe during it.

After this we were transferred to the Special Care Baby Unit where more tests were done. To cut a long story short, he was suffering from Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn (TTN) which is apparently a fairly common illness that can occur when a baby is premature or when labour was very quick. It meant that Troy had too much liquid left in his lungs and so breathing was difficult. SCBU put a cannula into his hand to administer antibiotics and to take regular blood samples from. We then stayed with him on SCBU in an incubator until very late at night, when they thankfully transferred us to the Transitional Care Unit where Troy and I have been ever since – less than 24hrs in reality but it feels like an age, especially as Hubby and LP can only ‘visit’. We will be here at least until lunchtime tomorrow, 12th May whilst Troy finishes his course of antibiotics and has more blood tests done.

For now though, Troy is feeding well, at least every three hours and is a beautiful baby. He has that amazing new baby smell, is all scrunched up from being in my belly, has wrinkly too-big-for-him skin, purple perfect fingernails and is covered in hair like his big sister was when she was born. To be honest, they are the image of each other.

I think I’m going to need a few more blog posts to cover off all my reflections of the last couple of days but to start with here are a few ramblings.

I feel incredibly fortunate to now have two healthy, beautiful children both of which were born at home and to have gone through both labours with no tears or stitches will always amaze me – I think I am very, very lucky.

Transferring to hospital after the homebirth was incredibly disappointing for me at the time. I was very upset, but, in hindsight, the best decision was made. I’m glad we transferred and that Troy has had the care that he needed – I had never thought beyond the birth and so the thought of transferring after the homebirth hadn’t ever occurred to me – strange as it may seem. The midwives were incredibly supportive but professional throughout as were the paramedics and the transition to hospital was smooth and as untraumatic as it could have been.

Breastfeeding is so much easier this time round. With LP I had two weeks of hell to establish breastfeeding and this time round it is just working, it feels so natural and I am just so much more confident with it. Yes, we are only 30hrs into our breastfeeding journey but this time I am feeling a lot more positive about breastfeeding than I was at this point last time.

LP has amazed me throughout. It was never the plan to have her around me in labour and definitely not during the birth but having her there added to the experience, it was right for her to be part of the event that has completed her family and I am pleased that she was there for it. Had there been an alternative, LP would have been elsewhere and it would have been less for Hubby and I to think about but with the support of a good friend, everything worked out the best way that it could have. LP with never remember it but she will always know that she was there to see her Little Brother being born.

This homebirth was completely different to LP’s but it was an amazing experience all the same. It was a lot quicker – 3.5hrs from the midwives turning up until Troy arrived, there were more people involved but the one thing that was very much the same was that I had my Hubby for support – who was amazing throughout, I honestly don’t think that I could have done it without him.

Breastfeeding

After LP was born at home, midwives insisted on visiting daily to make sure everything was going ok. This began on the day she was born when a midwife came over at 3pm to complete LP’s newborn checks on her legs, heart, neck etc. The midwife asked whether I’d fed LP and I said I had, at about 10:30am. The midwife insisted on seeing me feed LP there and then, so I had to wake LP up and try to get her to latch. I was nervous, as a first time Mum, of doing it wrong, and of being partially naked in front of a stranger. Along with that, LP didn’t like being woken up so was fairly upset. Luckily she had to be woken anyway to have the checks done.

LP wouldn’t latch and the midwife insisted on helping which LP didn’t like too much – basically the midwife kept pushing LP’s head against my breast every time she opened her mouth. It was with such force that LP started to get upset, and the midwife just seemed to like the fact that she had her mouth open when she cried so she could attempt to force her onto my breast. In hindsight, I know that LP wasn’t hungry, all she wanted was to sleep – not surprising considering she’d only been born 6 hours previously! In the end I managed to get LP to latch whilst the midwife was writing her notes up.

The midwife said that another midwife would visit me the following morning to see how I was getting along with breastfeeding and that I had to make sure that I fed her every 3-4 hours between now and then.

So again Hubby and I were alone with LP and whenever she woke I tried to feed her. This sometimes was longer than the 3-4 hours as I’d always been told to never wake a sleeping baby and I felt that she would wake when she was hungry anyway. Each time I tried to feed her it took a while to get her to latch on, but from memory I think I managed to feed her at 4pm, 11pm and 5am which, as a first time mum, I felt good about. I was feeding my baby! Such an amazing thing. However, each time she latched it did hurt slightly, just a soreness, but I thought this was to be expected as my nipples had to get used to it.

The midwives never told us what time they’d arrive, just that it would be in the morning. So Hubby and I made sure that we got up and dressed by 9am. The midwife, a different one, turned up shortly after. She was concerned that I had only fed baby 4 times in 24 hours and said that I needed to feed her every 2-3 hours for the next few days. She then insisted on seeing me feed LP and again she wouldn’t latch and both her and I were getting stressed and anxious at the situation and again the midwife was trying to force her head onto me. LP just didn’t want to open her mouth on demand and again, she just wasn’t hungry. But I thought that the midwives knew best – what did I know, I’d never had a baby before! The midwife then said I had to hand express some colostrum and spoon feed it to LP to make sure she was getting something. I obviously looked confused so she then started to help me express by hand – by this I mean she manhandled by breast to try to get the colostrum out. She managed to get a couple of drops but not enough to do anything with. So again, she left, saying that she would be back the following morning to see how I was doing.

After she left I told Hubby that I felt harassed and uncomfortable and that breastfeeding was proving hard enough without them coming back daily to see how I was doing with it, manhandling LP and I and making us both stressed. So I said to Hubby that I’d try to feed LP every 2 hours, which gave me an hour window to get her to latch and feed. This ‘routine’ stressed me out completely. I felt that something awful would happen if I didn’t stick to it. I hadn’t dared tell the midwife that I was experiencing soreness when I fed LP as I felt they’d constantly watch over me, manhandle LP even more, make me more uncomfortable and it would make the situation worse. So I told myself that the first thing to do was to get LP feeding regularly and latching easily. After that I could sort out the pain. LP eating was the main thing.

So for the next 24 hours, LP fed roughly every 2.5-3.5 hours. I felt like it was such an achievement! The midwife came and asked how it was going and I said all the time’s I’d fed her and she was happy with that. She asked if I wanted her to come back the following day and I said I’d be fine.

Breastfeeding

By this point, 48 hours after LP was born, my nipples were a mess. LP had taken the top layer of skin off them on day 1 and feeding every 2-3 hours had taken their toll. Feeding didn’t hurt very much, but my nipples looked a mess! It wasn’t until the next day that the pain really started.

The next day every time LP fed it felt like someone was poking red-hot needles into my chest. The worst part was when she latched on. The pain was horrendous. Once she’d started feeding the pain eased but there was still a constant soreness. I knew that my nipples were healing and each time she fed it was disrupting the healing process and the pain started.

I spent the next 24 hours slathering my nipples in Lansinoh lanolin cream and airing them whenever possible! I really felt so undignified in those few days after LP was born. Sitting on the sofa in joggers and a nursing bra, with the flaps of the bra open and cream on my nipples! Luckily I have a very supportive, understanding Hubby. There wasn’t much that anyone could have found attractive by that situation.

The next day, 4, was hell. My milk came in and my nipples would now leak whilst I was airing them and trying to get them to heal. Each time LP latched it made me want to cry with the pain and I found myself pulling away instead of welcoming LP to feed. It was awful. I decided to try expressing to give my nipples a break from the pain of LP latching on, and so that night we expressed. I’d heard that young babies can get confused if you introduce a bottle too soon, so instead me used a syringe to feed LP, but she didn’t like it at all! I managed to express about 15ml. Hardly anything, and LP just spat it back up and cried. I was so upset. nothing seemed to be working. So I carried on feeding normally and the next day I tried nipple shields instead.

Nipple shields were the weirdest things – big rubber teats that sit over your own nipples. By day 5, one of my nipples seemed fine, it still hurt but not as much as the other side, so I just used the shields on the worse side. They were a pain, had to be sterilised each use and you couldn’t feed discreetly with them. But they did ease the pain slightly. I carried on like this for a few days but then I read online that babies can get use to nipple shields and can get dependent on them, so I only used the shields for every other feed. It meant that the feed without them hurt like hell still but it made sure that LP still knew how to latch on that side without the shields.

After a few days I got rid of the nipple shields completely and went back to feeding normally. It still hurt, and I could see on my nipples where they were red, sore and scabbed over. I carried on putting the Lansinoh cream on before and after every feed and gradually I healed. It was when LP was about 3 weeks old that I realised that I was enjoying her feeding. I liked it. I started to embrace feeding and to welcome it every time she was hungry.

When breastfeeding was most difficult – the first 2 weeks – I was told so many times that if it hurts I’m doing it wrong. I knew though, that the damage had been done and LP was latching on and feeding fine, but I needed time to heal. Women don’t need to be told they’re doing it wrong, and there needs to be more exposure to the fact that breastfeeding can hurt like hell at first, but it does get easier and it does, eventually, get enjoyable.

When I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed, and when I’m determined to do something I tend to do it! I’m like a dog with a bone. However, there was a time, after about 4 days that if we had formula in the house I would have used it! I am so glad we didn’t buy a tin ‘just in case’ or I honestly don’t think I would be breastfeeding now.

After those first 3 weeks of pain I realised that I had come so far with breastfeeding, that this was now a journey I was going to love being on and a road I was happy to travel! From then on I breastfed wherever I was when LP needed feeding. I was always discreet and wore vest tops and cardigans so that I could pull the vest down and tuck LP inside my cardigan. I’ve fed her in cafes, restaurants, in the car, in the park, and in a bridal shop. Nowhere too outrageous! But if she needed feeding, I would happily feed her. So far I haven’t had any negative comments about breastfeeding – only really from family members – ‘You’re not going to feed her here are you?’ when sitting in Costa. Erm, yes I am!

I feed LP every 4 hours, roughly, day and night. Now that she is over 6 months we have started weaning onto solids but still feed very regularly. The only thing that changed at 6 months was that family and friends thought I would automatically stop breastfeeding. Something about ‘Breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months’ always seems to get translated into – stop feeding at 6 months. So I have had to explain on numerous occasions that LP will be breastfed until at least a year as if I stop feeding her before then I would need to move over to formula. I have nothing against formula feeding, but after everything I went through in those first weeks it would feel like it was all for nothing if LP ended up on formula anyway.

LP has never had a bottle. I’ve been away from her for less than 12 hours in total in 7 months and now if I need to be away from her she drinks milk from a sippy cup. I feel like her and I have achieved so much so far on this journey and it makes me so proud that every ounce of weight she put on in those first 6 months was from me.

I feel often, that people who don’t agree with breastfeeding, especially in public, don’t understand the lengths a woman goes to just to feed her baby. I have never felt so miserable, and such a failure as I did in those first 3 weeks. There were times when I didn’t want LP near me, and I felt terrible for that. The easy option would have been to give up, and to formula feed LP. But wanted to do what I felt was right for me and LP. I wanted to give LP the best start I could, and to do that I felt like I hit rock bottom. With everything you go through after giving birth, the bleeding, going to the toilet, sweating, losing hair and having such low self-esteem due to your post-birth body being different to how you had ever imagined, it isn’t surprising that breastfeeding not being the idealistic, beautiful experience you’d hoped for could be the final nail in feeling pretty damn miserable!

I dread going through the same thing next time. I think about how I felt this time, and I would rather go through labour again than feel the way I did with the pain and emotion of breastfeeding. But I do know that it gets better. It doesn’t hurt forever, and there are support systems out there. I just felt too pressured and suffocated by the midwives to use the available support networks.

One thing is for sure. I will continue feeding LP until at least a year, and I will do all I can to feed our next baby. I will also continue to feed LP whenever and wherever she needs to be fed. Baby’s gotta eat, right?

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Home Birth

I was going to do a post about breastfeeding but for you to understand my breastfeeding journey I would first need to tell you about LP’s birth.

Whenever anyone speaks about labour and birth it usually consists of pain, indignity and quite often trauma. I had never heard of labour and birth being a positive experience. It was always a means to an end and an inevitable horrendous experience women go through.

Hubby and I had some friends who had a baby about three years ago. I remember going to visit them when Baby was a couple of weeks old. Mum and Dad were exhausted, as is to be expected, so we stayed for just an hour or so. They told us about the birth and they were the first people I had ever heard of to plan having a baby at home. I don’t remember the details of the birth but I remember how they spoke about labour and birth as such a positive experience, how they were so relaxed and how nice it was to bring Baby into the world in the comfort of familiar surroundings.

That conversation stayed with me and soon after Hubby and I found out we were having a baby I told him that I’d like a home birth. Hubby is very laid back and easy going and basically said that he would go along with what I wanted as I was the one giving birth. I asked frequently through the pregnancy whether he had any concerns and I read up about home births so much that I feel we definitely made an informed choice.

We told the midwife at our first appointment that we’d like to have a home birth and she was very supportive.

The pregnancy flew by with no complications, no morning sickness, no hiccups at all! I made sure over this time that I researched birth pools and bought the one I wanted ‘Birth Pool In A Box’ from Boots of all places! I also bought some cheap shower curtains to protect the floor and gathered together all our old towels! I also packed a hospital bag with things for myself and the baby in case we had to be transferred to hospital, or if I ended up being induced, in which case I would have to have a hospital birth.

At 37 weeks the midwives brought round 6 canisters of gas and air, telling me that usually they only bring too but as I’m Ginger I’ll probably need more! They also brought tubing for the gas and air and vitamin k for baby when it arrived and something to inject me with to help the placenta be delivered.

We put everything into storage and I started doing all I could to get the baby to make an appearance. I’d been on maternity leave since 34 weeks so spent every day from 37 weeks bouncing on my birthing ball, having curry for dinner, pineapple for pudding and drinking raspberry leaf tea. I desperately wanted to avoid being induced. I can now say, in hindsight, nothing works. Baby will come when it’s ready.

On the day after my due date I started getting pains in the evening. Nothing regular, and not very painful, so I thought nothing of it and went to bed. When I got up the following day, I had the same dull pains every couple of hours. It didn’t occur to me at all that I may be in labour. I went to bed for a nap at 5pm and when u got up at 6pm I realised that the pains were now every twenty minutes, so getting more regular. Hubby got home at 8pm and we ordered Pizza Hut delivery for dinner and watched X-Factor!

It got to 11pm and I was bouncing on my birthing ball watching TV when I decided to ring the hospital to let them know that I was in labour. By this point my contractions were every three minutes lasting thirty seconds.

The hospital contacted the on call community midwife, who rang me back immediately. She said that I sounded like I was dealing with the pain and to take a couple of paracetemol and ring her when it got unbearable. So I did exactly that.

I took paracetemol, put my tens machine on and carried on bouncing on my ball watching TV! I sent Hubby to bed as I thought at least one of us should get some sleep! Unfortunately about ten minutes later I was physically sick and called Hubby down to be with me. I couldn’t take any more paracetemol as wasn’t sure whether the first lot had been digested, so I just carried on bouncing on the ball watching TV whilst Hubby dozed on the sofa.

I had it in my head that the midwife would come out when the pain was really unbearable and I’d only be 1cm dilated, so I focused on getting through the pain for as long as possible! I just kept focusing on the next hour in the clock and trying to get to that hour. In the end I got to 3:30am and rang the midwife. She said she’d come straight over and it would take about 20 minutes. She said to inflate the birthing pool but not to fill it up until she’d examined me. I also wasn’t allowed to use the gas and air until she arrived.

I focused on those next 20 minutes and they came and went. The midwife got lost en route and arrived at 4:30am.

She then examined me. Looked confused and asked if she could examine me again. I obviously agreed and she said I was 8cms dilated!! 8 whole cms!! At this point my waters went, I’d completely forgotten about my waters!

So Hubby filled the birthing pool, which takes an hour! I carried on bouncing on my ball and at 6am I was allowed in the pool and I started on the gas and air.

The midwife rang for a second midwife to come from the hospital as she said that I sounded ‘pushy’, and I started pushing near enough immediately.

Strangely, when the second midwife arrived she said she’d been to our house before. Turned out that the previous owners had also had a home birth.

It got to 8:30am and baby still hadn’t made an appearance, although the midwives assured me that it had a lot of hair! So they got me out of the pool and made a make shift bed on the lounge floor and told me that baby needed to come put or they’d have to transfer me to hospital. After 12hrs of labour that was the last thing I wanted! So I pushed and pushed. Still nothing. The midwives threatened me with an episiotomy and so I pushed some more and at 8:50am on 28th August 2011 our Little Pickle was born weighing 6lb 4ozs.

The midwives gave me an injection and the placenta came out with another push. The midwives left LP laying on my chest and examined me, where we were all surprised that I didn’t have any tears and so didn’t need any stitches.

I was helped onto the sofa and LP was again put on my chest but she had no immediate urge to feed, just lay there snuggling into me. Before we knew it, the midwives were leaving, insisting one would be back at midday and that if LP fed before they came back it’d be great.

So LP was born at 8:50am and by 10am Hubby and I were alone with this tiny little helpless thing. Baby and I were both naked on the sofa with a towel over us and Hubby was tidying up after the birth and making me tea and toast!

I then gave LP to Hubby and took myself off for a shower. In hindsight a very bad move! No- one should shower alone after giving birth! I felt faint and exhausted but somehow managed to have a shower, wash my hair and get dressed.

I went back downstairs and Hubby and I managed to put a nappy on LP and get her dressed – as neither of us had done either previously! First time for everything!

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I then sat on the sofa and managed to get LP to feed. As a first time Mum I didn’t really know what I was doing, all that mattered to me was that LP had eaten.

The midwife came back at midday and gave us LP’s little red book and made sure that she’d fed.

This is really where my home birth story ends and my breastfeeding story starts, so really this is to be continued!

All I will say in closing is I know that home birth isn’t for everyone. I had an amazing birth experience, I felt in control and loved giving birth. I can’t imagine having LP in a hospital and I love the fact that her birth certificate has our home address on it as place of birth! I was very relaxed about labour throughout my pregnancy and had a very positive attitude – the way I saw it was that women are made to give birth and that everything will be fine. I was very lucky that everything went as well as it could have and I was able to have the labour and birth I had hoped for.

I hope that I am as lucky next time around!