Having a home birth wasn’t always a unanimous decision for us. To me giving birth at home felt right from the beginning as I felt very comfortable and safe in our home. I did not want to risk losing this feeling by giving birth elsewhere. Marco my partner, was however not familiar with home birthing and had some concerns regarding safety. Going through all our questions and scenarios with our midwife wiped all his initial concerns hence we agreed to go ahead with it.
I wanted to have a natural birth for several reasons. First, I did not wish to interfere with the natural hormones and body reactions that occur during childbirth. Secondly, I was weary of potential complications related to giving birth under epidural anaesthetics and of ending up having a c-section when not entirely necessary. Had I been at hospital, the temptation to ask for pain killers and the epidural would have been greater.
For weeks prior to going into labour, I had been having “practice contractions”. But that Friday as I woke up, these had intensified. I still went about my day as usual thinking these contractions might slow down at some point. By 7pm I was having contractions every 5min and the pain level was increasing strongly. Around 10pm my partner decided to call the midwife…I still somehow thought this wasn’t really happening! I could barely withhold the pain already but felt very excited at the prospect of finally giving birth. To distract myself from the pain I tried dancing, watching TV and felt the urge to put together a photo album for a friend. None of this was possible anymore at that stage, the contractions were happening every 3 minutes or so.
The first thing the midwife did upon arrival was to check the interval and intensity of my contractions using an ECG and proceeded to check how dilated my cervix was. Upon seeing the result, she decided to stay with us. A student midwife accompanied her and soon after, they started setting up the inflatable pool which we had planned on using for the birth. I was still very cheerful as I entered the pool as sitting in warm water helped me endure contractions better. At this stage I had only dilated 2-3cm. My partner cooked a meal that he then fed me while I was in the pool.
Throughout the evening, I was being checked by my midwife on a regular basis. She checked my blood tension and temperature, the baby’s heartbeat, my cervix and occasionally my contractions using the ECG. I therefore felt reassured all along that my baby was doing fine and so was I. The hours passed and my cervix was still only 3-4cm dilated. Around 4 am the midwife decided I should try to rest in bed as I was not making enough progress. This was very disheartening! I had been having contractions for nearly a day and felt exhausted. She gave me homeopathic medicine that would help slow contractions and buscopan (a muscle relaxer). We all went to bed but I could not sleep. Contractions were still occurring every other minute and now that I was outside of water, I felt them a lot more. My partner was lying next to me, massaging my lower back at each contraction.
Eventually I decided to get up. Throughout the night, my midwife and her student took turns to look after me. They were very discreet and non-intrusive however I knew they were by my side should I need anything, to answer my questions or simply encourage and comfort me. They suggested running a bath to help me relax since lying in bed felt too uncomfortable. Once in the water, I managed to really focus and enter another stage of labour. With each contraction, I worked at opening up my cervix by singing very low “om” sounds as we had practiced during the birth preparation class. I also started communicating with my unborn child. All this helped me approach birth, one contraction at a time. My midwife and her student were still by my side, discreetly checking my progress. By 8 AM I was 8 cm dilated!
It was time to add hot water to the birthing pool and move from the bath to the pool. Once in the pool the process accelerated. I kept asking the midwives when would be the right time to start pushing. Suddenly the bell rang. This was the second midwife who had been called to support in the final phase of the birth. Her arrival made me regain some strength as I knew this meant I was close to finally seeing my daughter. I was now fully dilated and ready to start pushing.
The final phase of the birth was tough since I was exhausted, yet had to produce the biggest effort. Luckily my midwives and partner supported me through this. We were literally working as a team. At each contraction my midwife would ask me to look into her eyes and replicate her breathing. The guidance she gave me felt like a lifeline. I trusted them as they guided me one contraction at a time. At this stage they were checking my vital signs and the baby’s heartbeat after each contraction. I felt physically exhausted but each time I had to push everyone in the room was helping me either by pulling me up, supporting my arms and head or wiping my face. Eventually I felt my water break. As my midwife checked the position of the baby’s head she saw that my ligaments were still in the way. For about 30 minutes I had to hold out on pushing in order not to injure myself or the baby. I did this with breathing exercises which were shown to me by the midwife during each contraction. Once my ligaments were out of the way I was finally able to push my daughter’s head out. What a relief! For the final push to get her body out my midwife advised I should use my own hand to pull her out in order to avoid injuring myself. After all I was best positioned to sense when to pull. I pulled my daughter out and felt instant BLISS! She was so calm and peaceful, and looked at us with her big eyes.
Everything went pretty fast after that. I came out of the pool to deliver the placenta and Marco and I just lay on the sofa enjoying the first precious moments with our daughter. Meanwhile the team of midwives were busy checking me for any tearing, checking the placenta as well as tidying up the flat before they performed the first checks (U1) on our daughter.
Giving birth at home was the best decision I could make, I felt guided and supported all the way. I would definitely do it again if I am to
give birth in the future!