Sofia, Tony and Eva's Home Birth - Second Time
39+5 Eva Francesca Lisowski Allen - 8lbs 7oz / 3.8kg born at 10.29am 4th June
I wrote this down the day after she was born, as it was such an overwhelmingly positive experience that
I was still on a high from it!
My first birth was also positive, however we had to be on the obstetric ward at St Michael's hospital as my
son had a heart condition, so had to be continuously monitored. The birth and delivery was all fine / normal
(ie no intervention and standard vaginal delivery) although looking back I don't feel like I was in control of the
surges or my breathing and this time round I wanted to feel more in control. I also tore (second degree) which
wasn't anything major, but again I felt like I wanted to try and not do that again!
This time round we opted for a home birth as everything in the pregnancy was deemed as 'normal' and 'low risk',
and as we don't live far from the hospital this seemed like the most sensible option, also as we had our
son around and we needed to sort some care out for him for during the birth.
For the previous couple of days bump was looking a lot lower and I was getting a few cramps/back aches every so often on and off, so I had a feeling it wouldn't be too much longer. We also had a really hot noodle dish on Monday night and I even joked that if this didn't get baby out i'm not sure what would LOL (not that we were impatient as I wasn't even 40 weeks). I must have known something was going to happen as I also went to bed listening to some relaxation mp3s available with the positive birth company digital pack, and also had a bath with my little boy before he went to bed as I felt that might be the last time it would just be us.
I woke at 2am-ish to some stronger cramps/back ache and noticed they were regular, so I downloaded the Freya app and they were coming about every 10 mins, so I listened to some more of the relaxation tracks but then after a while just switched it off as I wanted to try and rest as much in between while the surges were still quite far apart. At about 5am our cats woke us up fighting in the bathroom (!) and I told my husband I thought things were happening, so we should message our friend who would be looking after Sky (our son) for the day. He must have also known what was going on as he woke uncharacteristically early at about 5.30am and so came to bed with us (in the meantime my surges had picked up to every 7 mins but I was still trying to rest and lay down as much as possible).
We got up as normal at about 7am and this point the surges were more frequent. Our friend was coming to pick Sky up at about 8.30am and Tony called the midwives, who arrived at around 8am. I think the app told me I was in established labour at about 7/7.30am and I felt like things were moving quite quickly. The intensity and length of the surges weren't consistent at this point but I was able to use the Freya app to breathe through them (as well as a hot water bottle on my back which was where it felt most intense). Our friend arrived at 8.30am with her little boy and both the boys were running around the house super excited about the pool being set up in the dining room I wasn't able to concentrate much on what was going on at this point and was just concentrating on breathing through the surges. I felt most comfortable standing up leaning over the kitchen counter. In hindsight, this position was probably really helpful in moving things along!
As soon as they left at around 9/9.15am things moved a lot quicker. The pool was almost ready and I had to use my husband to lean on through each surge - he was so calm and used a lot of the soft touch massage on my shoulders and back, talking me through the breathing. I was becoming more vocal at this point as it was getting difficult to breath through every surge, however my husband's words and encouragement was just what I needed! I could feel things were moving pretty quickly although I'm not sure I believed it. I got in to the pool at 9.40am and the relief from the warm water was immense. My husband says I seemed to really relax for about 5 mins and it was almost like I had a bit of a recharge in energy, after that I think I had a couple of really intense surges and my waters went. I had a bit of a wobble at some point saying I couldn't do it (don't know if this was before or after the waters broke) and then we were suddenly in the 'down' phase. On my maternity notes it says this started at about 10am (and she was born at 10.29). My husband was essential at this point in reminding me to breath in and send the breath down, and without him i'm not sure I could have done it! My body took over and that feeling of 'bearing down' was happening. I could feel that baby was coming but even so I still couldn't believe it was happening so quickly! I hadn't even had a vaginal examination to check how dilated I was but the midwives were great and just checked baby's heart beat every now and again (although saying that they probably only got to check it twice before she was born!).
I think it must have been 7 or 8 surges and down breathing before she was out, I was really concentrating on trying to get that breath in and using as much oxygen as possible rather than just holding my breath in. As soon as she was out it was such an amazing feeling knowing that I'd just breathed her out, and I hadn't even had a chance to use the gas and air (which I has said I was happy with in my birth plan, and was kind of looking forward to using!!). She was so calm, she didn't cry immediately and in fact hardly cried at all the whole day. We immediately had skin to skin in the pool and we didn't find out what she was until a few minutes later when it suddenly occurred to us we didn't know.
Later when we got out of the pool the midwives helped me in the delivery of the placenta while we were chilling in bed with Eva, which came out naturally after a couple of pushes (probably about 40 mins after delivery). My lead midwife also checked my perineum and I was only slightly grazed! I have been doing the perineal massage every day since 34 weeks so I was super happy about this.
I've absolutely no doubt that the breathing techniques from the pack and the positive affirmations were what helped me have such a calm and positive birth. The main affirmations I had going through my head were 'my surges cannot be stronger than me because they are me' and 'every surge brings me closer to meeting my baby'. It was also amazing to have my husband as such a supportive and attentive birth partner. I also have found that the fact i've had such a positive experience and mindset has really helped my mindset in the post-partum phase.
Eva is now 4 and a half months old and although I am much more tired I am still on a bit of a high from it all, and love telling my birth story. I would encourage more women with normal, healthy pregnancies to go ahead and have that home birth. The feeling of getting in to your own bed, having a cup of tea in your favourite mug and toast just as you like it is the best thing after giving birth!