Evie Brown birth story - GavinI can't remember when we first thought about having a home birth, I thought that we would go to hospital and let other people handle it, as I knew nothing about the process of birth. It was whilst we were learning about what was going to happen during the birth that I found that a lot of questions I had weren't being answered. After reading up, and speaking to people about their experience, I actually started wanting to proceed with a birth at home before Laura, but she would be doing all the hard work and so I left her to decide whether it was something she wanted to do.
I began to read as much as I could to make sure I was prepared for what may happen, as apart from some of the rarest events, I felt that gaining knowledge from other peoples experience would help me prepare for the birth.
I think the piece of information that tipped the balance for Lau for a decision for a home birth was that we were told we would be asked to stay at home for as long as possible, and then come into the hospital, and if we were going to do that we might as well stay at home in familiar surroundings. So we decided we would go for a home birth and we took steps to prepare ourselves to reduce the chance of us going to hospital, by trying to understand what things could happen resulting in being transfered in.
On the day, Lau woke me up at about 6 am telling me she thought she had wet herself or her waters had broken, and she had a strange feeling in her stomach. Immediately I knew it had started. Lau was very calm and I suggested that she stay in bed for another couple of hours in case we were in for the long haul! I started to time the contractions while we rested, and they were between 5-7 mins (30 secs long), but by around 8am Lau had to started to use her breathing exercises, as the contractions were stronger and now were 4-5 mins (30-45 secs long)
When we got up I called the midwife, who spoke to Lau and she said that she would be round in under 2 hours. At this time the contractions were gaining strength and the intervals were shortening. By the time the midwife came the contractions were 3 mins or less apart and around 1 min in duration.
One of my worries about the home birth was the midwife that might arrive on the day – would we have met her before, what would her manner be like, was she pro home birth? But from the moment I spoke to the midwfie on the phone, I knew it would be fine. Maisha arrived, quietly came into the room where Lau was and immediately respected her space (brilliant!). She waitied to speak to Lau when a contraction had finished and spoke in a quiet and calm voice in between contractions. Even though we hadn't met her before, I then felt totally confident in Maisha's approach and manner.
After the initial checks Maisha said that the baby was indeed on its way (I took that for granted!) and Lau was progressing well. Maisha said the best thing was to wait and see how things progress, and she would carry out some other visits and be back with us within 2 hours or unless we called. We wanted a water birth, and I had yet to set up the pool. Maisha suggested that Lau get into the bath while I set up the pool, so I ran a bath and Maisha quietly left. Howver, the pool didn't get set up!
Up until this point, Lau had only used the TENS machine, so I hoped a bath would help with the contractions. However, when Lau got into the bath, within an hour the contracts were around 2 mins, with very short intervals, which left no time for me to set things up as I wanted to support Lau. I would quietly let Lau know I would leave the room but would be back, I'd get 3 steps into the other room, and along came another contraction.
About 90 minutes after being in the bath, Lau said she wanted to push! Having read up on birthing stories, I realised that things maybe progressing faster than I thought. I did think that the baby maybe close and I may have to help deliver the baby! That was my only worried moment, but I also knew that we would be able to do it if that did happen. With all the thoughts running through my mind, I tried to look as calm as possible to Lau, looked her in the eye and asked her to pant rather than push, and change positions so I could check if the baby was on its way, but she wasn't ready to arrive yet.
I phoned the midwife to tell her where were we were at, with Lau making her ooooo noises in the background eventually she heard what I was saying,(it was very loud in the small bathroom!) and said she would be back in 5 mins.
The midwafe returned as said she had to examine Lau, so we moved to the bedroom. One interesting point was that even with the short time that Lau was being examined, a change of position from all fours to moving on to her back interupted the regularity of the contractions. I can only imagine what a transfer to hospital at this point, getting dressed, in the car, into a new enviornment would have done to the contractions and overall process of labour.
After another check of Lau, she was well on her way and into transition. With no pool, we went back to the bathroom and Lau, sat on the toilet to help open up the cervix. At this point the noises bagan to change, from a oooo to a errrrrrrr, as she began to listen to her body and to start to bear down. Maisha simply told Lau to listen to her body, which Lau did superbly, getting into her zone for the contractions. Looking back, Lau talked lucidly between contractions, but went totally into her zone during them, which was quite strange to experience.
Although I knew Lau was in pain, she dealt with the contractions superbly, and I could tell the breathing, making noises and dealing with one contraction at a time was allowing her to handle the intensity. Some of them though were getting too much, but these were only a few in the whole labour, which was very impressive.
Lau soon began to bear down for every contraction, and the midwife said that the baby was not far away. After half an hour we could see the baby's head, and after a few more pushes, Lau got into a standing assisted squat, supported by me, and Evie was born! Immediately the midwives gave her a wipe down, and gave her to Lau, with the cord still pulsing. The midwives left the cord which pulsed for another 40 mins before it stopped and I cut the cord.
The whole experience was amazing, and would have been in hospital or anywhere else, but I am convinced that being at home made Lau feel comfortable and assisted the progression of labour. It is always a personal choice, and we put a lot of thought into whether a home birth was the right choice for us for a long time. I would recommend reading as much as possible, including home birth stories, as I believe this can help make you aware of a lot of the eventualities that birth can present, but I would definitely recommend home birth as a truly amazing and positive experience.
Evie Brown birth story – LauraA home first birth:
When we found out I was pregnant we hadnt really considered or spoken about the birth, it seemed such a long way off and we had the next 9 months to enjoy and savour. I think we just both silently assumed we would have it in hospital and were assigned to Kings. I had been to Kings for a separate medical matter and had been impressed with them to date so had no need initially to question the process.
I was keen to keep active as much as I could throughout the pregnancy and joined Nadias antenatal 15 week yoga course, primarily for stretching and relaxation.
It was in these classes however, where Nadia referred to positions for the various stages of labour and that birth needed a calm mother in a relaxed environment with dim lighting and un-inhibited surroundings that I statrted to think about the birth in much more detail and initially I started to think about switching to a birth centre. I read Janet Balaskas 'Active Birth' and Ina May's 'Guide to childbirth'. My husband Gavin also read these and he became convinced very quickly that a home birth would be a great option for us. He never once pressured me but suggested we think about it seriously. I continued to read home birth stories and after a friend of mine also assigned to kings decided on a home birth and I had the opportunity to ask her lots of questions that were worrying me, we decided to talk to our midwife team about it at our next appointment.
They seemed open and relaxed about home births and had experienced midwives who could work with us and wrote on our notes that we were 'considering home birth'. Our main concerns were obvioulsy saftey and what would happen in an emergency which they assured us were of up-most importance and they would always err on the side of caution should anything look or feel remotely wrong.
We decided to arm ourselves with knowledge and spoke to as many people as possible and read as much as we could. Everything pointed us in the direction of a relaxed home birth should there be no risk to mother or baby. At our 36 week birth plan midwife appointment we were booked in for a water home birth and Gavin got into action selecting and ordering a pool and organising everything we would need to kit out the flat. We were really excited but at the same time nervous. Nervous of something not being right for the baby or on the flip side that we would have to be transferred unecessarily.
We were called everything from hippies, to being brave to wreckless by people when discussing home birth, and my only advice is that if its something you truly believe in you have to trust your instincts and go with it. It was the most amazing and positive experience we could have wished for and we wouldn't change it for the world.
The big day:
We had been called by our midwives on Monday 10th January with their apologies that they were short staffed and may struggle with home deliveries on the weekend of Jan 14th / 15th. The advice was still to page them and they would sort out alternative cover. As we were not due until January 31st I wasn't too concerned and they said it was just a pre-cautionary call to all home birth potentials for January.
It was January 14th at 5am that I awoke to a strange pain – more of a twinge and unlike anything I had felt before, deep in my lower abdomen. Convincing myself it was pre or false labour pains I put my head back down and tried to sleep. I awoke again at 6am and felt a warm sensation run down my leg. My waters had broken and the pain returned again. I woke my husband Gavin and told him that I thought things had started and, both convinced we had hours to go, we decided to try and get some more sleep.
We slept until 9am until the pains had become a little more intense and I told Gavin that I thought I needed to walk around or even put the tens machine on. I wanted to leave the pain relief until as far on as possible so as not to peak too early but contractions were coming pretty strong already! Gavin called the midwife who immediately asked to speak to me after hearing my waters had broken earlier and that I was currently on all fours on our landing breathing through contractions. She asked about my waters and listened as explained they were clear. Gav had been stop watching the contractions and I felt I could pass all this responsibility onto him so I could concentrate on breathing and focusing on what was happening to me and my body. This was invaluable to the whole process as I needed that focus from very early on. The midwife said she would be with us by 10.30 / 11am.
When Maisha arrived we felt instantly calm as her tone and manner were perfect. Although she was from our midwife practice, we hadn't met her before and I was worried that this would make me feel uncomfortable. Gavin said afterwards that he also felt immediately at ease with her and this really helped us both engage in the contractions whilst she took care of the rest.
I had the tens machine on and was at level 2 or 3 and finding the consistent vibrations comforting even if they didnt detract much from the pain. It gave my mind something to concentrate on, and I managed to laugh every time Gav gave himself mini shocks trying to adjust things for me.
I crawled on all fours to our bedroom from the sitting room (I tried walking and it felt extremly intense with the contractions) for my examination. She asked if I could be on my back for a short while to give her the best possible position to examine me. I found this really painful and had a contraction mid way through that she let me deal with and then we returned to the examination. She was quick and efficient, understanding this wasnt a position I was dealing well with. I thought of my mother who gave birth with no pain relief on her back for all 3 children and pulled on the strength she must have had for this. Maisha said I was already 4cm dilated with a really soft and effaciated cervix. On reflection, considering I had felt the first pains only 6 hours ago this was pretty amazing, but at the time I had convinced myself that I was further along and felt a little deflated. Gav read my reaction and started talking me through how great I was doing at that this was it, we were going to meet our little baby very soon and if we carried on progressing as I was it would be much sooner rather than later! This picked me up and gave me a boost to thank and believe in my body, that was doing all this incredible work for me.
I stayed on all fours and knelt over the bed for a while, then crawled back to the sitting room and knelt on a duvet that Gavin had placed in front of the sofa for me and burried my head into his shoulder or the cushions groaning through what seemed like much more intense contractions. We tried to put the tens back on as I had taken this off for my examination but I now didn't want this on (poor Gavin got more shocks fiddling around with it!) and I tried counting breathing and saying re-lax through the breaths during contractions but a deeper groaning sound seemed to help me focus more at this point. It wasnt a concious decision at the time, I am convinced it was my mind working with my body to focus, and Gavin said that he could tell when I was moving between the different stages by the way I transferred from breathing, to sounds.
Maisha left and said she would come back in a few hours unless we called her sooner. I asked what positions would be good for me to be in and she suggested Gavin run me a bath so he could leave me there whilst setting up the pool for the water birth later on. I crawled to the bathroom and got in the bath on all fours and loved the sensation of the warm water on my body. However I struggled to get comfortable and twisted onto my side so more of me was actually in the water. The contractions now came thick and fast and I found the pain both gripping and intense. Whereas before I had time between each one to rest and regain focus, there now seemed to be back to pain pain and no rest time. At this point I think I asked Gavin to stop the contractions as I had had enough! Bless him, he fed me juice and held my hand chatting away about how amazing I was doing whilst trying to ignore my impossible pleas.
After an 1 hour in the bath I felt an incredible urge to push, I shouted this at Gav whose face I saw drop as he reached for the phone to call Maisha back. He told me to get on all fours and pant through the urge to push.
At this point I lost 'the show' and gav expertly scooped this away as not to worry me that there was some blood in the bath. I started to rock back and forth 'om' ing' on all fours. I had started to get cold so Gavin had placed towels over my back and shoulders. When Maisha returned she placed a calm hand on my arm and told me to work with the contractions and if there were even a few seconds in between, to breath and relax to make sure I got some kind of rest before the next one. She needed to examine me again so I walked back to the bedroom assisted by gav who took a lot of my weight as my legs were a little shaky.
I was now 7-8cm dilated. Wow, I thought this is really going to happen (im not sure what I had thought before but now it seemed much more real!). In my head I knew I was now going into transition but had no idea what time it was or how long I had been in labour. I dont think I asked once what time it was as I was in a completely different place.
Walking to the bedroom and being on my back briefly had intensified the contractions and disrupted their rhytym so I rested in the bedroom for a short while trying to regain composure and engage back into what my body needed me to do. I felt quite overwhelmed at this point and slightly nauseus and again asked Maisha what position would be good for me - that wasnt standing or walking! She suggested sitting on the toliet to open up the pelvis and get gravity assisting us. I willingly obliged as she had been so wonderful with her advcie so far. We went back to the bathroom where I sat on the toliet and Gav lit some candles so we could turn the main light out as it was really bright.
The pain of the contractions now changed and I felt much more pressure in my lower back. This felt mildly relieving as it felt like my uterus / abdomen was getting a small break. I breathed though the first few and found them ok to deal with and then they slowly built in pressure and intensity. Before each one I tried to look at Gav and found the excitement in his eyes amazing to watch – I was also using this to let him know I was going to have another contraction and I needed him there more than ever. Maisha offered gas and air that I gladly accepted and worked my way quickly through a small canister. I struggled initially to use it in relation to my breathing, sometimes losing the pattern on the out breath as I had taken such a long glug of air in. The gas and air took the edge off the peak of the contraction which was a welcome relief as I was starting to get quite tired.
The urge to push returned and I found this phase tricker to deal with as I dont really think I had thought through how to push or what to do. I lost control on a few contactions letting out a scream rather than breathing deeply or using sounds. Gavin and Miasha brought me back round and I dropped my chin to my chest and groaned deeply though the contractions. I asked for more gas and air but Maisha said it wasnt necessary now as we were so far along. Nadia once said breathing was the heart of labour and this came into my head at this point. Its so true. If breathing is the heart, trust and being in tune with your body is the soul. Its like I was working with my body on a whole different level to anything I had experienced before. In some ways its like we had just met for the first time.
Maisha used a small torch to keep track of what was going on so she didnt have to turn the main light back on and suggested I try 'mooing' on the next few contractions to push the baby out. At this point I suddenly had a thought about the real word and what our neighbours would think hearing me groaning and mooing from within the flat! I had upmost trust in Maisha as everything she had suggested had worked to that point, so decided to let go an give the mooing a try. I felt an incredible pressure on my rectum and apparently between contractions said that I thought I was going to have the baby from the wrong passage, both lucidly and with humour before going straight back into the 'zone' and letting my head hang and groan , but I have no recollection of this happening!
What seems like hours and hours of pushing later (but in reality was 1.5 – 2 hours in total) I heard the words 'we can see the head'. I naiivly thought this was it and the next contraction I would deliver my baby. It took a fair few more contractions before the head crowned but when it did I ignored the burning sensation as Gav was so excited and kept saying 'your doing it, the baby is nearly here' that I completely let go and just went with my body pushing and groaning and at one point growling as if no one else in the world could hear or care.
Evelyn Sadie was born in our bathroom at 15.40 after 10 hours of labour, with a healthy scream and given straight to me to hold. The midwives helped her latch on and a few more contractons and 40 minutes later I delivered the placenta naturally.
Labour for me was raw, instinctual and powerful. It made me realise how fantsatic the female body is. I literally gave myself over to the process of labour. Birth is amazing, wherever you are and however it happens. Its great to have a birth plan but anything can happen on the day.
Knowing that your baby is coming into the world at the end of it keeps you going through the tired and overwhelming moments and being at home let me focus entirely on me, my body and the baby. I know that we were amazingly lucky to have the birth experience that we so dearly wanted, mother nature handed us this blessing and for this we are eternally grateful.
Stay active-walk as much as you can especially in the final trimester. I am convinced this helped thebaby engage and the speed and efficiency of the delivery on the day.
Be as relaxed as possible throughout pregnancy and labour. Your mental state is as important as your physical.
Believe in yourself and your body.
Rasberry leaf loose tea from week 35!