The Birth of Alma- Chiara’s Homebirth Story
My boyfriend Chris and I wanted to share our birth story; in the hope, it can give positivity to whoever is choosing our same path!
Following a miscarriage in November 2019, which left us grieving but willing more than ever to start a family, we were lucky enough to fall pregnant again in May 2020.
We didn’t want to get too carried away with the prospect of having a baby, so we took every day as it came trying not to worry and just be happy…
We were incredibly fortunate, and the pregnancy flew by without any issues or concerns, and we soon found ourselves at 37 weeks meaning that our baby was able to be born at home.
We spent the last few weeks filled with excitement and positivity, thinking, and wondering when and how the big day would arrive. Every night whilst doing perineal massage we would listen to hypnobirthing or Gentlebirth tracks to ready ourselves for the arrival of our baby, practising yoga almost every day not to mention all the Medjool dates and pots of raspberry leaf tea! Our amazing midwife Nanni took such great care of us in the comfort and safety of our own home, facilitating acupuncture at the last few antenatal checks.
When we reached our due date, we were counting down the days and hours, knowing that the birth was very close. We were mindful that were we to reach 40 + 10 we would have had to visit the hospital for a check-up so at 40 + 4 we were happy to give a stretch and sweep a go!
After two nights of solid cuddles, nipple stimulation and lovemaking, we woke up at 2.30 am (40 + 6 weeks), with what seemed to be ramped-up labour! Surges started very regularly, 3 minutes apart and lasting for longer than 1 minute. After trying to see where this was going, I paced the floor for a good while and then decided to go for a shower. The water didn’t really seem to help with the sensations and shortly after getting out, I had a loose stool and vomited – being a midwife myself I thought this isn’t a rehearsal.
I was unable to lay down and the only elements that seemed to help were Chris performing hip squeezes throughout each surge, heat pads, focused breathing and being on all 4’s with the support of my birthing ball – I did also try the Tens machine but it wasn’t really working for me, so we took it off.
We continued with these coping techniques for about 3 hours before I spoke to my midwife and she suggested for me to find my own rhythm, try to manage with deep and slow breathing and keep active but if we needed her support, to just let her know and she would have come straight away.
Afraid that this would have been early labour we decided to give ourselves more time and continue to work with our existing strategies. Since I was tired, I was finding it helpful to lay on my left side during the breaks having Chris give me a light touch massage and again using the heat pads. As soon as the surges were beginning to build, I would jump out of bed and breathe through it, focusing more and more as the intensity increased.
We found ourselves around 7.30 am in need of more support and with that decided to ask the midwife to join us – at this point, I just needed to know whether I was making any progress. The midwife arrived at 8.20 am and at my request performed a quick examination and sounding pleasantly surprised, she told me I was 8-9cm, it’s fair to say I could not have received any better news at this stage and all our faces lit up thinking that we were rocking this! The only disappointment was we realized it was too late to get the pool ready.
Nanni suggested we try again the TENS machine but alter the placement of the pads to increase the size of the square and the setting- this helped so much in the management of my discomfort. The next few hours felt like they went on for ages but, they passed so quickly. It was helpful having short tasks to complete, whereby I would have 3 surges in one position, change for 3 more and then change again.
While we were in the zone and keeping active, Nanni was organizing everything else, and the second midwife Ali started to make her way over to the house. Both Nanni and Ali were so supportive, and their presence was really reassuring – their relaxed, confident, and patient-centred approach was exactly what we needed.
At 10.55 am, during a surge, my waters went, and the pressure started to increase. We were getting closer and closer to the birth- which was so exciting!
All the time, I had the labour companion track from my Gentlebirth app playing in the background that kept me calm, focused and in control most of the time and I just started to follow my body’s lead, going with the surges, and helping my baby to be born.
After an hour and 20 minutes of consistent pushing (I didn’t just breathe my baby out!), positive reassurance from both midwives and Chris along with so many position changes and warm compresses, baby Alma made her appearance!
I managed to stay particularly focused whilst her head was crowning and Nanni performed some acupuncture on the perineum to help it relax. I birthed her whilst sitting on the cub, supported by Chris from behind at 12.55 pm.
Nanni passed our baby to me, and Chris and I realized for the first time, she was a girl even though in my heart I knew this all along. The emotion that came when she had her first little cry, skin to skin and looking at me was incredible, a moment I will never forget – we were now a little family in our own right!
After a few minutes together on the cub when we fell in love with each other we moved to the sofa where we allowed for the cord to become fully drained, after which it was cut by Chris, and I birthed the placenta easily without drugs or intervention after about 30mins. Nanni then checked if I needed any stitches and with great delight, she announced that the perineum was intact, not even a graze! I am sure the 8 weeks of perineal massage performed every single night by Chris played a major part in this.
Whilst Alma had her first feed, she seemed so alert and curious of the world she had just entered and to celebrate both midwives, me and Chris enjoyed some celebratory homemade chocolate banana bread with ice cream and coffee (upgraded version of tea and toast!).
During a heavenly refreshing shower, Nanni and Ali went ahead with the routine checks and confirmed she couldn’t be any more flawless!
Once dried from the shower, the 3 of us climbed into bed for our first family snuggle!!! We felt so grateful, in awe and so proud of what we had achieved as a team. We were strong, powerful, and just so blessed that everything turned out to be amazingly perfect.
“Childbirth is a rite of initiation. There’s a time in labour called the transition phase where the woman finds her breaking point. She seems unable to continue and sometimes she experiences even the feeling that she could die, and she is right… the girl in her is not strong enough for the task being announced to her. It is during this time of transition that the young woman dies so that the woman can be reborn as a mother with her child. A new version of herself, stronger than ever. She becomes a mother. It’s that saying: you were born of me, and I was reborn of you” (Quote from a friend of Chiara’s that she translated from Spanish)
A special thanks to Mamadoula for her Gentlebirth workshop that enriched us with precious information.
We can’t thank our midwife Nanni enough for her amazing care and support throughout the entire journey and to Ali during the last stretch of labour, we’re so grateful for your special energy and synergy with Nanni – you girls are an incredible team and we feel honoured and proud to have shared our birth experience with you.