By the Christmas Tree- Sam’s Birth Story
Bea, Infant Feeding Support Worker and Hypnobirthing Instructor @beasbirthandboobs
I had my first baby in 2016 with no preparation or knowledge and felt so overwhelmed after! When it came to having our second, I knew I wanted it to be different, so I did a hypnobirthing course, hired and doula and we planned for a Christmas home birth.
On Friday 16th December 2022, I had just got our daughter, Aria to sleep and felt wet in my pyjamas about 9 pm, quickly realising it could be my waters, so popped a pad in and went to lie down for an hour. I rang my parents (childcare) and my husband, Duane, who was at work, and he came home and also messaged our doula, Leanne. While I was on the phone with Duane, I felt a pop in my tummy which was weird!
When I stood up, more water leaked but they were clear. I didn’t want to ring the midwives yet as I didn’t want to be put on a ’24-hour until induction’ clock so went to bed to get some rest and see what happened, but I was feeling a bit shaky – the excitement was here! At 9:55 pm, I got what I thought might have been a first surge, in my lower back. I started getting more every 10-11 minutes. At 11:15 pm I decided to tell the midwives so they could drop off the pool.
A midwife arrived at 12:30 am, and I was having to use hypnobirthing to breathe through contractions. The baby was absolutely fine, as was I. She said their guidelines are to book my induction for 24 hours (I mean, what’s the need, I was in labour!) but she left, saying she would see me later that night. I had a quick snack went to bed and tried to rest in between surges, breathing through them until 3 am when felt like I needed Leanne here so Duane called her.
Duane set up the living room downstairs while I was breathing through surges with a hot water bottle and watching Jane the Virgin in bed. The living room was beautiful, just what I envisioned it to look like. Candles, fairy lights and the Christmas tree lights twinkling. I popped The Holiday on to get oxytocin flowing as it’s my favourite Christmas film! Surges were about 6 minutes apart.
Leanne arrived at 4 am mid-surge and she rubbed my lower back and started saying affirmations to me straight away. She did some counter pressure on the next surge which felt so relieving. She asked Duane to run me a bath and while he was upstairs for 10 minutes, I had 3 surges. It’s like as soon as she was there, my body could relax. Duane had made the bathroom beautiful with my candles. He called the midwives he and Leanne took turns setting up the pool downstairs and started filling it while the other was up with me.
At 6 am, two midwives arrived and they were lovely, just observing. The pool felt amazing! At 6:15 am my surges changed and I started feeling very pushy and couldn’t stop myself from pushing, and my breathing turned into noise too. Aria woke at 7 am and Duane went up to her, but she wanted to come down. It was busy downstairs so she only stayed down for a few minutes and just wanted to watch Aladdin upstairs.
Two other midwives (Trina and Helena) arrived at 7 am respected my space and did the handover. My mum came not long after and Aria said bye to me. Once she left, I went fully inwards, barely opening my eyes and not speaking unless I was asking for my water or lipsil.
I tried going for a wee which wasn’t happening and a few different positions. By 9 am, there was no change in seeing the baby’s head and pushing was still involuntary so Trina discussed with me the option of a vagina exam. She was respectful, explaining her reasoning that it may be helpful to check the baby’s position and what’s stopping him from coming out, but she was happy for me to decline. I used the BRAIN tool and made an informed decision to have a VE. She was brilliant through this, stopped when I asked her to and waited for me to tell her to start again. There was a 2cm cervical lip which was stopping the baby from coming and swelling his head a little which was probably making things challenging. I accepted gas and air at this point to help me focus on breathing rather than pushing but this only lasted a minute, I didn’t feel it was helpful. We did some forward leaning inversions, side lying release, walking sideways up the stairs and sitting backwards on the toilet. Leanne suggested I try to get some rest with Duane alone in the bedroom to get some more energy and build oxytocin. I had struggled to eat all through labour and they had been attempting to feed me little bits of Kit Kats and crumpets which I couldn’t manage but regularly had spoonfuls of honey.
I managed to get bits of rest while up there for half an hour, continuing with involuntary pushing, contractions throughout my whole labour were in my back. Trina and Leanne came up to explain their guidelines advised them to examine again as it’s two hours since the last one. She explained the guidelines would be if there’s no change, to go to the hospital for the drip to bring contractions closer together but it was my choice. I didn’t want the drip or hospital. She also offered to empty my bladder with a catheter because I couldn’t wee which I was very happy to accept. I accepted the VE and she said he was further down and some of the lip had moved so it was positive and she asked Helena if she could check too. I accepted it and as she did, she managed to move the lip completely!
So many times I was saying I couldn’t do it anymore and needed a caesarean (hello long transition). Leanne kept saying I could do it and reminding me of everything I had done until that point.
We all headed downstairs (11 am) and I got in the pool again after it was emptied a bit and refilled – it was a very frosty December morning so we kept turning on our electric fire to keep toasty and warm inside. A little later I could feel him moving down but no head yet. I got out and we discussed one final VE and Trina asked me to push while doing it and she could feel him moving down and suggested I do a supported squat with Duane to get gravity to help.
They started discussing transfer with Leanne, but in this position, his head started to emerge! It felt like I was finally getting somewhere! It was burning so much (ring of fire!) and they suggested moving on to all 4s and gradually into the running start position. Every change in movement throughout labour felt agonising and so hard to do, even small movements were so challenging. It felt like it took his head forever to come out, even though it was only 10 minutes. With some coaching from Trina explaining what to do, his head came. Trina said that they’d like me to get the shoulders out as quickly as possible as they were a little worried about shoulder dystocia so be ready to possibly go on my back for the McRoberts manoeuvre, which I understood so I gave a massive push at the next surge and Trina helped him to pull him out and he was out! Born at 12:40 pm on his due date (only 4% of babies born on this day!)
He didn’t breathe straight away, although he had a strong pulse and was awake. So Trina and Helena started rubbing him with a towel to encourage him. I wasn’t as panicked, I knew he just needed time. All of this happened right next to me and the cord intact. Only 30 seconds passed and he was fine, so we got my bra off quickly and he was passed to me for skin-to-skin. Both me and Duane were in floods of tears. I felt so proud of myself, absolutely elated. I got my home birth.
I took 10 minutes on the floor then managed to get up onto the sofa. I planned to do the physiological third stage but at birth, I just wanted to be done so said I would have the injection but wait until the cord stopped pulsating, which was taking longer than 10 minutes so I just waited. I started getting some more pressure 20 minutes later and Trina told me to go with it, and with that, the placenta came out! We got two hours of skin to skin and he latched on to the breast himself and had a mammoth feed! I was checked over and was so surprised that I had absolutely no tears at all!
By 7 pm, we were showered and in clean pyjamas with the room clean and tidy (by the midwives and Leanne) watching the Strictly final with a chippy and Prosecco. What more could you want?
This birth has literally changed my life as I’ve now become a hypnobirthing instructor myself, which is the best job in the world, alongside my day job as an infant feeding support worker within the NHS.