Holly’s Home Birth Story
My home birth story.
I was 22, full of excitement and unrealistic expectations. Consumed with the idea that having the perfect nursery furniture or the perfect pushchair was at all important. Naively envisioning my beautiful newborn and I in love and absolutely smashing breastfeeding. I never really gave much thought to birthing other than it’ll be alright on the night. It wasn’t. It was long and painful. I appreciate other birth stories are more frightening or severe than my experience with my daughter, but for me I felt like I had failed. We were definitely not smashing breastfeeding. In fact she had lost 15% of her birth weight and we were admitted to hospital for a week with a suspected infection and a course of antibiotics.
I heard women talk about how empowered they felt after having a baby, some describing themselves as warriors. As I cradled my tiny baby, nipples bleeding and riddled with exhaustion I wept. Why did I not feel like that? Why couldn’t I do ‘it’? I will never forget feeling so overwhelmingly sad and anxious. A week passed and our feeding pattern had improved and my daughter regained health. We were discharged and sent home. Never again I thought.
Fast forward 2 years later after a lot of healing mentally, a new house and breastfeeding our now toddler we were very surprised to learn that I was pregnant again. Motherhood, I feel, is a unique journey for everyone. My approach to motherhood was back to basics, I fed Berrie myself, we co-slept and didn’t overthink things we went with the flow. Everything was very natural she was often referred to as my ‘Backpack baby’ because she was nearly always either on my hip or my boob. Motherhood taught me a lot about myself. Now unexpectedly pregnant with my second, house in full renovation mode and in the middle of 2020’s first lock down I can’t lie, I was worried. I adopted my outlook on motherhood when pregnant with my second in the sense that I pondered why it is that we are the only species on planet earth that think we need assistance whilst birthing? I started to read about home births, joined groups on social media and spoke in depth with a private midwife. I was hooked. This is for me. I could feel it in my soul. I read about the importance of oxytocin and the mind blowing brilliance of mother nature, the capabilities of the anatomy of a woman and most of all how your birthing experience is imperative.
I was determined. My NHS midwife, Linda, was fantastic. She was an advocate for home birth and supported every decision that I made. This new life wasn’t only life changing for myself but for my partner and our daughter too so I felt it was important that we shared this experience together. We hired a birthing pool and tens machine from our local birthing trust and set up a beautiful birth space in our conservatory. I continued with my preparation, antenatal one to ones and mizan therapy massages. My due date came and went and I was starting to lose hope of the home birth I had planned, as the pressure of induction was growing by the day.
Term plus 14! After a week of false starts I knew this was it! I ran a bath and filled the room with essential oils and lit my candles I had been saving for labour, my contractions began with regular timings. I let Rob sleep a little more before morning approached and I felt like I could do with the pool filling. Berrie arose and Rob took care of her morning routine and two loads of washing before calling our midwife. It wasn’t long before Berrie was naked and splashing around in the birthing pool! My Mum came over to watch Berrie whilst I continued to keep myself calm and focus on my contractions and breathing. Linda, my midwife, arrived around an hour later and set up the tens machine for me. This worked well. She offered me advice on positions to sit or lean over whilst having contractions. I focused hard on my breathing and was conscious of every height in my contractions before releasing them and feeling like I was another step closer to meeting my surprise baby. As my labour progressed I got into the pool. The background noise of Berrie kept me grounded and the support of Rob kept me feeling safe.
Baby was back to back and I began to question whether I could do this or not. I managed with some gas and air and breathing techniques. I began involuntarily pushing and again started to panic, I remember gathering myself and taking deep breaths reminding myself that I can do this and I will do this. I wasn’t pushing for very long before my surprise baby boy was earth side. I scooped him up out of the water and on to my chest. I cried whilst the overwhelming feeling of love immersed around me. I knew his name almost immediately. He, I’m sure, was sent to me. We sat on the sofa and fed fairly quickly afterwards oozing in love.
It was perfect.
I felt empowered. I felt like a warrior.
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