I wanted to talk about natural birthing but there are so many avenues to the gargantuan subject, that I’m going to begin with just one; Homebirthing.
I had a homebirth with Huxley, it was an amazing and truly positive experience. I can already see people reading this and eye rolling: No, I’m not a hippie and no I didn’t have a previous short and easy labour, it was in fact 30 hours long, 2 and a half hours of forced pushing, several tears and an episiotomy and a burst blood vessel… but I’d like to explain how I came round to a homebirth the second time around and why I wasn’t convinced until I was 30 weeks pregnant.
As a bit of background info I think its important to mention that throughout both of my pregnancies I have aimed to do things as naturally as possible, (even trying sometimes hopelessly to curb my massive sugar addiction) but I’d say that with Rory I was’t as aware of the possibilities; Although I thought I was healthy, I was still a meat eater and definitely less mindful about food and eating. I was aware of mainstream natural remedies such as Arnica and Tea Tree for after birth but hadn’t explored Aromatherapy or Homeopathy as much. I also knew with both pregnancies that I wanted to birth naturally but again with Rory I didn’t realise the extent you could take natural to, thinking well if I can be in water and I only have pethidine then thats super natural, right?!
At around 28 weeks pregnant with Huxley I had already started a hynobirthing course online with The Calm Birth School so yes, you will have to be open minded- no more eye rolling! Aside from the last stage of my first labour with Rory, I found breathing kept me calm for hours and hours. This led me to think, if you can achieve that without having completed a hypnobirthing course where do the limits end with doing one? (skip to here to read about hypnobirthing)
Another factor that led me towards home birth was this….. Suzy’s home birth water birth. Just WOW. Watch it. I showed it to Gigi who was yet to experience me shoving a birthing video in his face and he was also blown away. I showed it to my mum (who to begin with was all like “Just go to hospital and push that baby out!”) and she showed it to my nan. Also both blown away. For me it was similar to a new pair of designer shoes; I want that! Thats the birth I want and nothing less! Even if you’re not pregnant it’ll make you wish you could give birth. It got us thinking how can we have this peaceful, calm birth? Both myself and Gigi knew that the only difference was that Suzy’s was at home and that we had planned for a birthing centre birth.
My reservations were the following- what if I can’t push this baby out and need an episiotomy, or tear like last time? What if I lose a lot of blood like last time and need to get rushed into hospital? I knew these thoughts were also my friends and families worries and that none of them were really home birth believers. I started off worried until we actually reached out… we called up a doula (one of Gigi’s mums friends) who gave us so much confidence that home births were safe, amazing, never rushing to hospital experiences- and that was out of the one hundred ‘ish’ that she has attended! Spending an hour on the phone to Suzanne felt like a breath of the purest air. We felt so encouraged, reassured and excited to explore this avenue that the day before we hadn’t really contemplated. We did know that we would unfortunately be challenged to get a home birth with our chosen hospital. We were out of their catchment area for community midwives and I didn’t want to cut myself off completely from them by switching to a not so desirable closer hospital in order to get that. I’ll never forget Suzanne’s words … ‘If you can look into getting an independent midwife, it will be the greatest gift you ever give yourself’. She was so right.
So secondly (and immediately after) we contacted some independent midwives who came over to us for a free consultation. We were instantly in love with them and they were the final part to our jigsaw. At first I wasn’t sure if they were lying to me or just overly positive; No you won’t need an episiotomy (how do they know?), no you won’t get rushed to hospital (again how can you be sure?), and this will be such a quick smooth birth(what are they saying about my vagina?!?). This is the positive attitude you get from midwives that have attended so many safe home births and that don’t have a set of checklists for you to pass before you can ‘start pushing’ (I was only checked once when my waters had gone at the very beginning and not again). Our beautiful midwives were available to us 24/7 and an antenatal appointment with them was like having an hour to look forward to every few weeks as a pose to dreading having to wait in a hospital waiting room for an unknown amount of time. Postnatally I wouldn’t have had Huxley latched on without them- After a 3am distressed text on the second night we got 2 visits in one day to make our ‘little tiger’ as they named him, latch on properly! I didn’t want to say goodbye to them!
And so back to the main event…here’s what happened; There was no forced pushing, the baby was out in 3 contractions. There were no set of ‘checklists’ for me to pass before I could ‘start pushing’ and unlike a hospital I would have had the chance to stay in the birthing pool for as long as I fancied had it been filled up sooner. I wasn’t checked for dilation as mentioned so no chance to get disappointed or lose momentum. Yes I had a slight surface tear but no stitches required. Yes I breathed in for 4 and out for 8 so much that I was away with the fairies. And yes I bled a little too much after so that I couldn’t have a natural last stage but you know what, it wasn’t a worry and there was no need to be in a hospital. Within half an hour or so I was in my bed with my brand new baby! I felt safe and in good hands, I felt relaxed (if perhaps a little green to begin with) and looked after. Watching not so tiny Huxley meeting our immediate family members only hours after birth in the calm of our own bedroom, I struggled to wonder why I had ever considered a hospital birth in the first place.
So I wanted to start this blog with this post not to be smug, or to brag or to make those who have had to have medical intervention feel awful. But to shout out from a great height- “Everyone this is SO possible. We were made to do this!” If it has the potential to change just one mindset, open one mind, encourage one pregnant woman, I will forever be content.
Tips for choosing a home birth;
- Be open minded. Friends and family will all say to you “But what if….” No what ifs! Midwives know what signs they are looking for should there be problems. If you go down the ‘what if’ route you are allowing negativity to become a factor in your decision making
- Also on the “is it safe”… unlike in hospital you have your own midwife the ENTIRE time if thats what you want. They are solely concentrating, watching and monitoring just you!
- Hypnobirthing. Supports the above point. Positive visualisation is a proven method by many people pregnant or not.
- Speak to someone professional with home birth experience be it doula or midwife or positive birth group. It will generally be their favourite subject and is extremely helpful!
- Click with your midwives. The mother/midwife relationship is so important, you have to believe in one another. I know financially not everyone can go independent (trust me it was a struggle for us to go down that route) but you have the right to speak up and get a good feeling about the relationship whatever route you go down.
- Your birthing partner/partners need to be totally with you on your preferred birthing method.
- Enjoy it! Put on some ‘plinky plonk’ music. Burn some oils. Light some candles.