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POSITIVE BIRTH STORIES: JADE

FIRST TIME MUM, HOME WATER BIRTH,
42 WEEKS

Originally, Jade planned to head to the birth centre to have her baby, but after putting the time into learning about the birthing process and talking it out with her partner, they chose their home as their safe space to bring their baby boy into the world. Below, Jade tells the story of her wonderful home birth.

“Throughout my due time, I spent my days waiting and wondering when my baby boy was going to join me earth-side. As much as I tried to stay positive & be patient, I was so uncomfortable. I knew that as soon as I reached 42 weeks I’d be pressured for an induction & I feared my choice to birth at home would be threatened.

HOW IT STARTED

I’d been experiencing a dull, period-like ache on and off for about week, particularly at night. On the 30th September 2021, 13 days ‘overdue’ at 6am, I felt my first surge. I felt so excited and kept repeating to myself “I am going to meet my baby today!” My surges were sporadic & lasting around a minute. I was adamant I was getting this baby out today, so went downstairs to bounce on my birth ball.

I had a routine midwife appointment booked at 11am, but wasn’t sure whether to attend as I was pretty certain labour had begun, albeit slowly. We spoke to the midwife who explained it would be beneficial to go in so that they could check my blood pressure etc. My partner drove me to the midwife hub. During our time there my surges died down and I felt as though things had stalled. I’d done lots of preparation with my doula during pregnancy around the physiology of birth and the birth space; this made me realise, first-hand, that your environment and comfort play such a huge role in labour progressing. 

CALLING IN MY BIRTH TEAM

When we got back home around 12pm my surges came on thick and fast. I started timing them at this point and they were between 3-5 minutes apart, some lasting up to a minute & a half. I called my doula, Sophia. She said she’d be with me within the hour. When she arrived we spoke to the community midwife team. We thought it was best to give them plenty of notice that my labour had begun, as I had received a couple of calls during that week warning me of staffing issues. I did not want lack of staff to be a reason for transfer. The midwives said they would be with us at 5pm. I moved from the ball & spent the next couple of hours knelt over the back of my sofa. My partner fed me coconut water and rubbed my feet, Sophia set up the birth pool and got the birth space ready. My mum arrived shortly after this. 

I got into the pool around 5pm, before the midwives arrived about an hour later. I was using my breath to stay focused as I wasn’t getting much of a break between surges. Sophia saw the midwives into the kitchen and asked them to read my birth preferences. They asked me if I was happy to be examined and have all the routine checks. Sophia reassured me that I didn’t have to consent to getting out of the pool for this, but I felt happy for them to check everything was progressing as it should be. I struggled with getting out of the pool, but being monitored re-assured me all was okay. I was back in the pool in no time. The midwives then proceeded to sit in the next room to leave me and my birth partners alone.

PROGRESSION

The night started to draw in, the surges were getting more and more intense. An hour after the midwives arrived I asked for gas & air. After a few minutes I realised it wasn’t working for me; it was effecting the rhythm of my breathing, so I continued without it. 

At this point I was completely in my zone. I trusted that things were progressing as they should and really felt that I didn’t have long left. I kept repeating positive affirmations in my head.

SECOND STAGE

At around 11.30pm I started getting the urge to push at the end of each surge. My birth partners offered gas & air again, I accepted. I managed to get into a flow with it this time as it helped ease the sensation of each surge. I was able to relax in between. After about an hour, I noticed I was passing large blood clots. The midwife reassured me that I needn’t worry. She offered to assess me again and explained that pushing before I was fully dilated could cause my cervix to tear. I was happy to be assessed, for piece of mind, so consented to another examination. This meant getting out of the pool again – it was even harder this time! I felt weak and I didn’t want to leave the water.

My midwife confirmed all was well – I was fully dilated! I returned to the water & continued to push with each surge. Another hour passed and I started getting impatient and tired. As I placed my hand under the water and into my vagina to feel for progress, I felt a small, soft bubble. I was certain this couldn’t be my baby’s head because it felt too soft! The midwives reassured me it was. Knowing that he was so close to entering the world, gave me so much motivation to go on. 

In amazement, I shouted “the head’s out, the heads out”! I leant back slightly, as his entire body was born..

Another half an hour passed. I was feeling a lot of pressure in my bum and after what felt like a long second stage, I was feeling exhausted and frustrated. My partner, Sophia & my mum were all so supportive, encouraging me to keep hold of my positive mindset. At 1.58am, with one giant push, my baby’s head was born. In amazement, I shouted “the head’s out, the heads out”! I leant back slightly, as his entire body was born so quickly. Nobody realised he was in the pool with me! 

A GENTLE TRANSITION

I reached down below me to catch my baby and just held him there under the water for a moment. Stillness after the hardest thing I had ever done. We all stared at him, in awe. I felt a rush of relief and shock through my body as I gently lifted him from the water and onto my chest. It was an amazingly, slow transition for him, just as I’d wanted. He didn’t scream, he cooed and nestled into my chest. It was magical.

OUR GOLDEN HOUR

I leaned back against the side of the pool. I wanted an undisturbed third stage, so left him attached to his placenta, which I had not yet birthed. The pool was full of blood so the midwives asked me if I was ok to get out of the pool to birth the placenta, as it is easier for them to monitor blood loss. I didn’t mind moving, as long as the cord remained in-tact. My birth team helped me get up; climb out and sit semi-reclined on the sofa with my baby still attached to me. As I sat there, Sophia and the midwives told me they could see the placenta sitting just inside my vaginal opening. With one push I birthed it, with ease, into a bowl. An unplanned lotus birth! So amazing and so quickly after I had birthed my baby. I felt relieved that it was over and that the surges would now die down. I just laid there holding my gorgeous, healthy baby boy in my arms. 

The midwives left us alone to enjoy the rest of our golden hour. Sophia supported me in getting baby onto my breast. Shortly after, my partner cut the cord and had his first cuddle. I was amazed to hear my perineum was in tact, but due to a very slight tear on my labia I had a couple of stitches. 

It was such an amazing experience.

Sophia made me a bagel and a nice cup of tea. I felt weak but was buzzing with adrenaline. My mum helped me into the shower and then they both got me into bed. My partner brought up our brand new baby boy and got into bed. It was such an amazing experience. I feel so grateful that everything was well and I had the home birth I wanted! I couldn’t have done it without my amazing birth team.

WORKING WITH A DOULA

Sophia worked with me through my pregnancy to prepare me for birth, teaching me things that I would never have known, making me feel comfortable and informed about my choice to birth at home. She supported me during my birth and has been my absolute rock through my postpartum period. I am in awe of her passion towards her work and I know that my birth would have gone very differently without her by my side every step of the way. I would highly recommend to everyone to hire a doula, they are invaluable. It is so important to have that extra layer of support at such a vulnerable time.”

Do you have a positive birth experience you’d like to share?

If so, please email me at info@theintuitivedoula.co.uk

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POSITIVE BIRTH STORIES: MY SECOND BIRTH

SECOND TIME MUM, UNASSISTED HOME BIRTH

Just as with my first pregnancy, my ‘guess date’ came and went. I’d anticipated this, as I knew only 5% of babies come on their due dates. At my 40 week appointment on 1st March 2017, my midwife booked me in for an induction at 41+3, with little discussion. Her reason for this was that “it gets booked up quick”, so better book me a slot. I was furious with how blasé she was. It wasn’t offered to me like I had a choice, nor were the benefits or, more importantly, risks explained. I made it clear I would not be entering into discussion before 42+ weeks as I did not want to be induced.

At that same appointment I was told my baby was head down and partly engaged, which made the induction date seem even more unnecessary. I went home feeling frustrated. The induction date hung over my head for days. I trusted my body, but wasn’t getting any niggles or signs of labour yet. I was dreading the prospect of my labour being interfered with. 

We walked a lot over those next few days! I was dragging Jack (my partner) & Elba (my eldest daughter who was just over 2.5 years at the time) out for walks everyday and bouncing on my birth ball at every opportunity. 

I toyed with the idea of a home birth during my pregnancy, but we opted for another hospital birth this time because I really felt I had such a positive experience the first time; I’d felt safe and things had gone exactly how I’d wanted. Naively, I thought that by keeping the hospital as my choice of place to give birth, I’d be able to have a similar experience. Of course, no two births are the same!

GOING INTO LABOUR

On Sunday 5th March (40+4) I had a familiar, dull period-like pain coming and going all day. During the night, the sensations were coming more frequently and I was sure something was beginning to happen. I took myself to bed to get some rest, assuming I’d be woken by labour at some point during the night. I was disappointed when I woke up in the morning to nothing! Everything seemed to have completely stopped, other than what I thought was my waters slowly trickling. I popped a pad in and went about my day.

We chose not to contact the hospital at this stage, as I didn’t want them to start clock watching or be given a time limit for my birth to happen spontaneously.

We chose not to contact the hospital at this stage, as I didn’t want them to start clock watching.

I walked with a friend that lunchtime. My waters were still very lightly trickling and I was feeling a lot of pressure in between my legs. I trusted that something was happening, but carried on as normal.

Once I returned home, at about 3.30pm, the tightenings and period-like pains returned. I decided to speak to a midwife. My mum drove down to be with Elba and we went in to be assessed at 5.30pm. At this point I was experiencing irregular surges.

BEING ASSESSED

As I arrived at the hospital my waters gushed. It was such an odd feeling and so unfamiliar. During my first labour my waters didn’t break until the last moment and I was already in the pool.

I was seen by a student midwife at around 6pm. She listened-in using a hand held doppler and felt my tummy to gauge the position of baby. I was grateful that she said she wouldn’t be offering a vaginal examination now my waters had released, as this would increase the risk of infection. This isn’t something I would have accepted anyway, as I didn’t feel it was necessary and knew a VE could stall things at this stage.

She then told me I wasn’t in established labour because my contractions weren’t regular enough yet; to go home, take a bath and have something to eat. Then, of course, told me I’d have to come back in the morning for an induction if nothing had progressed further by then. Again, this wasn’t portrayed as though I has any choice in the matter. I was adamant my baby would be here before the following morning! 

ARRIVING HOME

As we left my surges were so strong. By the time we reached the car park they felt quite close together. We weren’t timing them, but I was having to stop and really focus to breathe through them. We followed her advice and headed home anyway (in hindsight, perhaps we shouldn’t have, but I like to think our baby led us home as that is where she wanted to be born).

The journey home was pretty horrendous. Labour came out of nowhere and every bump in the road exacerbated each contraction. We arrived home at 7pm. I was so relieved! 

My mum was in shock to see us home. She’d made some dinner, but I couldn’t stomach anything to eat. I stood in our front room, bent over the table, breathing through regular, strong surges. Mum suggested taking off my leggings and shoes, and getting a little more comfortable. I was convinced I’d be going back to hospital soon, so just took off my shoes and stayed fulled clothed. 

I stood in our front room, bent over the table, breathing through regular, strong surges.

As my contractions were getting stronger and closer together, I suddenly felt so disheartened. I felt I was not coping with my surges as well as my first labour. Little did I know how close I was to having my baby! Elba was sitting on the sofa just opposite from me at this point. I asked my mum to take her up to bed.

Jack spoke to the hospital again just after 7.30pm. We explained how my labour had progressed substantially since leaving the hospital. They kept firing questions at Jack, who was repeating them to me. It was getting harder and harder to converse and answer him. I had zoned in; focusing on my body, my breath, flowing and moving intuitively. They asked Jack if we wanted an ambulance sent out or if we could make the 25 minute journey back to the hospital in the car. I just looked at him. I think my eyes said it all. At this point I had no idea how close together my contractions actually were, I just knew there was no way we were getting back to the hospital in time for our baby’s arrival. 

BABY’S ARRIVAL

I felt calm. I had accepted that we were doing this at home, just us. Whilst mum took Elba to bed, Jack and I stood in the lounge swaying together. He took my weight as I hung from his shoulders. I felt the roar in my throat and the urge to bear down. When my mum returned I told her I felt like I needed a poo, so she helped me into the downstairs toilet. As I pulled down my leggings, the pad I had placed in my pants to catch my waters had a little blood on it. The sight of blood made me feel uneasy. Mum asked Jack to grab some towels from the airing cupboard. I went to the toilet and we laughed as she wiped my bum for the first time since I was a toddler! It still makes me crease just thinking about it.

A second later I felt my baby crowning. 

I felt the roar in my throat and the urge to bear down.

I said “mum, I can feel the head… the head’s there”. 

She said “let me check”. 

I said “No need.. I can feel it!”, as I reached in-between my legs and cupped my hand over the top of the head. A feeling I will never forget. In fact, sometimes now when I place my hand on the top of her head, it takes me back to that moment and I can physically feel how much she has grown. 

I genuinely don’t feel I had to actively push at this stage. My body took over and with my next surge, I experienced the fetal ejection reflex and my baby’s head was born. The rest of her followed very quickly with the next surge. She arrived earth-side at 8.05pm (an hour after arriving home from the hospital). Jack and my mum held the corners of a towel and created a hammock underneath me, catching her as she arrived.

IN A TANGLE

As I stepped forward, mum wrapped the towel around her. We didn’t know what sex our baby was, but I didn’t even think about checking to find out. I just instantly felt I wanted her skin on mine, but the umbilical cord was trailing between my legs to where she was behind me. I still had my leggings around my ankles so I had to untangle myself! Mum was right… maybe I should have taken them off! 

I stripped off my clothes and mum passed her to me through my legs. I brought her up to my chest… and then she cried. What an amazing sound to know that she was ok. Jack and my mum wrapped us both in towels as I sat and cuddled her. I beamed as I realised I had another beautiful daughter. 

THE THIRD STAGE

I sat naked, holding my little Wren for half an hour before the paramedics arrived. They checked us both over and allowed us to wait another half an hour for the placenta to be born. I was eager to get her straight on my breast to encourage a physiological third stage, but in all honesty, was less informed about how else to support it.

I feel I could have been withholding this belief that my body was unable to birth my placenta naturally.

She took a couple of minutes to latch on. Perhaps she was a little shocked after her speedy arrival! I had been disappointed not to achieve a physiological third stage after my first birth and perhaps should have done some more work around this before my second birth. I feel I could have been withholding this belief that my body was unable to birth my placenta naturally. My grandmother had previously told me stories of her retained placenta and said “we just can’t birth our placentas naturally”. This, combined with the adrenaline from my quick, unexpected, unassisted home birth, may be the reason I had to transfer for an actively managed third stage.

An hour passed, Jack clamped and cut the cord (about 90 minutes after Wren was born) – it was completely white! They then helped me into the ambulance. By this stage I just wanted to get cleaned up and my bum was numb from sitting on the floor! Wren laid on my chest for the duration of the journey to hospital with her eyes wide, staring into mine. I was experiencing regular surges on the way to the hospital, and on reflection, I feel that if we’d waited a little while longer and protected this time, my placenta would have eventually been born at home.

My birth didn’t go how I thought it was going to, but it was the most empowering experience of my life. To birth unassisted, calmly and in control, feels incredible! In hind sight, I should have given more thought into preparing and planning a home birth, but I am grateful I had a completely undisturbed birth (with the exception of a short trip to triage in the earlier stages) and it was very telling for how in times like that, instinct takes over.

Do you have a positive birth experience that you would like to share?