She’s here! I still can’t believe it but my beautiful daughter is here. I would love to introduce you all to Tilly, born on 10th July at 3.45am and weighing in at a teeny 7lb 1oz. Oh, we are all so besotted with her and despite not even being 3 weeks old yet it feels like she has always been a part of our family. If you have followed me during this pregnancy you will know I was planning a homebirth and I am so pleased to say that my wish came true! I gave birth in the comfort of my own living room and it was such a positive and empowering experience. For those of you who are thinking of having a homebirth or need to read a positive birth story, here is my story of how my lovely Tilly entered the world.
My positive homebirth story
You would think as a third time mum to be that I would have known what to expect when it comes to labour by now, wouldn’t you? Well, apparently not! I started having what I thought were contractions when I was 38 weeks pregnant, the very irregular but painful stomach cramps were showing up most evenings. So many times in the week before Tilly was born I went to bed having painful tightening’s, convinced things were starting, only to wake up the next morning still very much pregnant and for the pains to have vanished. I was stuck in this weird cycle of stop/start pains for over a week and a couple of days before Tilly arrived I did have a bit of an emotional breakdown. I was so fed up with being in pain most nights for it to not progress at all, I was quietly getting my hopes up every night for no reason and it started to make me really miserable. Plus, I was so massive and uncomfortable and I just wanted to meet my baby, those last days of pregnancy are so tough. I had spent the last month or so listening to the free positive affirmations for birth from The Positive Birth Company and I kept repeating one to myself in those final days that helped make me feel better – ‘My baby will come when my baby is ready‘.
On the evening of July 9th, I went to bed after a busy day. I had spent the morning at the beach with Alex and my parents, seen the midwife at ante natal clinic and done the usual school run/play with the kids in the afternoon. Although I had been having on/off pains throughout the day, I didn’t feel like anything serious was happening so me and Oli went to bed and I was fully expecting to wake up the next morning with no signs of baby making an appearance.
I woke for a wee at about half 2, this had become pretty standard in the last few weeks of my pregnancy so I didn’t think anything of it. As I sat on the toilet though I experienced a seriously painful cramp in the bottom of my stomach, this one hurt much more than those I had been having for the past week. In the moment I knew this was it, I just knew it. There was probably about a minute and then another contraction hit, then another and then another. The pains were coming in fast and I waddled back to the bedroom and clung to the bottom of the bed frame. I started doing my hypnobirthing up breathing (inhale for four, exhale for eight) and this really helped me to stay calm but, I won’t lie to you, it didn’t stop the pain. I swayed from side to side, breathing calmly and trying to relax for a little while, just gripping the bedframe for support but there really was hardly any reprieve between each contraction.
My body was working super hard and I was really thirsty so I waddled my way to the kitchen for a glass of water. What was waiting for me in the kitchen you may ask? Well, the bloody cat had decided to pick that particular night to bring us home a gift in the form of a dead bird – not what I wanted to see when I was in the middle of labour! I managed to get myself back to the bedroom to wake Oli up and I told him there were two things he needed to know: 1, there was a dead bird in the kitchen and 2, I was in labour. Oli was half asleep bless him and wasn’t sure what to do to help me and I firmly told him he needed to get rid of that friggin bird before we did anything else! Bless him, Oli disposed of the cat’s ‘present’ and was quickly back in the bedroom with me. He helped me keep on track with my breathing for a bit and then went off to call the midwife as the contractions were pretty constant now and I am sure he was probably worried he was going to end up delivering the baby himself.
Oli set to work on inflating the birthing pool and lighting candles around the living room while I made myself comfortable on my CUB birthing chair and popped my headphones in so I could listen to my positive birth affirmations and get into the zone. The hypnobirthing breathing really did help me to stay focussed and to relax. I remember resting my hand on my bump and counting out my breath on my fingers, gently tapping each finger on my belly with each count. I just focussed on doing this for a while: counting, tapping, breathing and listening. Every now and then Oli would check in with me, stroke my arms, ask if I was ok but I was in the zone, I didn’t really want to talk or open my eyes, all I wanted to do was breathe and try to stay in control.
The midwife arrived around 3am, she got here pretty sharpish so I am not sure what Oli said to her on the phone. Things were getting extremely intense by this point, the pool wasn’t full yet so I was still sat on my CUB just listening to the positive affirmations, swaying from side to side and breathing. The midwife wanted to do my blood pressure and all her checks but I really didn’t want to be messed with so it took her a while to convince me to let her do what she needed to do. It felt like all of a sudden something shifted, the breathing wasn’t working to keep me relaxed anymore and I was really uncomfortable sitting upright on my stool. Oli helped me swap positions, I was now squatting on my knees and using my CUB as a big supportive pillow. After I moved positions I started to relax again, I got back in control of my breathing and the midwife was rubbing my back as Oli gently stroked my arms and told me how amazing I was doing. All the while I still had my positive affirmations playing on a loop, I can not stress enough how much of a lifeline these were, every time I felt like I was going to lose control I would hear something like ‘I inhale peace and exhale tension’ and I would feel better.
I was in this squatting position for only a few minutes before my waters broke all over the living room floor (good job we don’t have carpet!) and this is when things got really serious. The midwife wanted to examine me up on the sofa but I could barely move. I felt like I was trapped in one long contraction at this point and I really didn’t want to be examined but I was too caught up in trying to manage the pain to articulate this. I felt a huge pressure pushing down inside me suddenly and managed to find my voice again to tell the midwife and Oli that the baby was coming *now* and I needed to push. As everything seemed to progress so quickly I hadn’t got around to taking my shorts off so the midwife had to get them off for me in a massive hurry!
I really wanted to get in the pool to push baby out but it still wasn’t quite full enough (note to mums to be – birthing pools take ages to fill). I stayed on dry land and out of nowhere my body just started pushing, I didn’t feel like I was actively doing anything to help as my body just took over and when the pool was finally ready there was no moving me off the floor! My CUB got moved by someone and I was suddenly up on my knees and hugging Oli, clinging to him for dear life as my body just pushed baby out. Tilly was all wrapped up in her cord so it was really painful when she was coming out as she kept moving back up and the midwife had to do a bit of manhandling to untangle the cord from her neck and arms.
After only pushing for a matter of minutes, Tilly was born on my living room floor between our sofa and the (at last) full birthing pool. I didn’t see her immediately as the midwife still had a bit of untangling to do and she was trying to encourage Tilly to cry. When the midwife did move her from behind me to my side so I could see her though, oh wow I don’t think I have ever felt so overwhelmed with joy. When I saw my daughter for the first time I said ‘Oh my god, she’s so tiny!’ and felt my heart burst with love. She was perfect and had the sweetest, tiniest little face.
After some cuddles on the floor I was then moved onto my sofa and covered in blankets while surrounded by my own pillows and then I was given the injection to deliver the placenta. The after birth delivery was straight forward and pretty painless, we put lots of absorbent bed pads down so the sofa didn’t get ruined in the process! Tilly and I had lovely skin to skin cuddles while the midwives tidied up a bit and wrote their notes and then I gave her her first breastfeed right there, snuggled up together on the sofa. A second midwife arrived just after Tilly was born and she helped me to shower and get into clean pyjamas while Oli had cuddles with his daughter and got her dressed for the first time.
Giving birth at home was amazing. I was so relaxed and comfortable labouring in my own, familiar environment and not having to worry about going into hospital really helped me to stay calm. I felt more in control of my birth as it was happening in my own home and I managed to stay pretty zen throughout the whole process. Being surrounded by all my own things in a place where I feel most relaxed really helped to make my birth experience so positive. Cuddling up on the sofa with my newborn was such a special moment and using my own shower afterwards and having a cup of tea in one of my own mugs made the hours after Tilly was born much more relaxing than they would have been in a hospital post natal ward. The biggest bonus though was Oli not having to go anywhere and when the boys woke up in the morning (did I mention they were asleep in their beds this whole time?!) me and their new baby sister were waiting right there in the living room for them.
If you are considering a homebirth then I say go for it mama! I have had three positive birth experiences and although I loved my waterbirths for Leo and Alex in hospital midwife led units, Tilly’s homebirth was really special. I have never felt more like superwoman, not only did I find the confidence in myself and my body to give birth somewhere where no doctors were in sight, I also made in through the whole labour with no pain relief at all. Hypnobirthing really works and that combined with the comfort of my own home made Tilly’s birth a wonderful, relaxing and empowering experience.
There you have it, my positive homebirth story. I never imagined I would ever give birth at home but it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. If you are thinking about having a homebirth too then I hope you have enjoyed reading about my positive birth experience.
All that is left for me to say really is..Welcome to the world Tilly Mae – we love you so much!!