At 40 +6 days, I was beginning to get a little anxious about when our little one was going to join us. My “due date” came and went. The daily calls and text messages began. “Any news?” I was asked – as if I would have failed to mention to my nearest and dearest that since the last message 12 hours ago I’d had a baby!
Having planned for months to have a homebirth, the idea of having to be induced and to wave goodbye to my lovely “bedroom birth suite”, kitted out for the biggest event of my life, filled me with dread. I’d like to be able to say I was super relaxed and easy breezy about when I would go into labour but having been offered routine vaginal sweeps by the community midwife from 37 weeks, despite making it clear I didn’t want any interventions for inducing labour. You can’t help but start to feel the pressure. Unbeknown to me, I had actually been in early labour for the previous two days. I’d experienced two very small hind water leaks – so small that it’s only in retrospect I can be sure that’s what it was. Otherwise there were absolutely no other signs.
It so happened that the day my son decided to start his journey into the world was while we were having a very lovely afternoon tea at The Prestonfield House in Edinburgh. Who knows what’s in that Prestonfield tea blend? But it worked for me! Within an hour of returning home I had my show, a stomach upset, and contractions were coming regularly (every 12 minutes). We tried to stay as calm as possible knowing this was just the beginning. Several calls to our Doula (did I mention we were having a Doula?) for reassurance and I headed to bed with my TENS machine to try to rest while my husband filled the birthing pool. By 11pm, contractions were every 6-8 minutes. Our Doula started her journey to get to us through an almighty storm with high winds and just about every bridge closed and route blocked.
2am, our Doula arrived, closely followed by two midwives who would both be with us throughout the duration of my labour. I don’t know where I got this notion from but, genuinely, I thought that I would be pottering around the house serenely throughout the night while my Doula rested in our spare bedroom, and my husband was in the kitchen cooking something delicious to nourish our lovely midwives. Let’s just say this is NOT how the picture looked. I’d been caught off guard by how physical this process was. Resting in bed was out of the question. My body wanted me to move. They don’t call it an active birth for nothing! I was examined and told that despite intense and regular contracting now for 4 hours, I was only 4cm dilated. I looked at my Doula and she knew instinctively what I was thinking. HOW CAN I ONLY BE 4cm DILATED!!! I’m not going to be able to do this. She reminded me this was great progress for a first labour and not to feel disheartened. I COULD do this.
This is where I’m going to wax lyrical about the benefits of having a birth Doula. Although not a choice for everyone, I will say that the decision for us to have a Doula was one of the best we have ever made. For me, having someone I trusted, who knew me and knew my preferences before things got so intense that I was not capable of advocating fully for myself made me feel safe. I had not anticipated it to be that hard, after all women have been giving birth for centuries. I have even supported women giving birth. But, every woman has her own unique experience and for me our birth story became that of delivering a baby who mid process had decided to turn, we think, “back to back”. Luckily for me, my Doula had herself laboured with a baby in a less than ideal position and she reminded me, that although more difficult, it was still possible to have my baby naturally. The support my husband and I got from our Doula made the difference, I believe, between a natural birth at home and what would have probably ended up as an emergency situation in a hospital environment. I often hear people asking if a Doula is worth the financial cost, we even debated it ourselves. Let me just say now, in my experience, a good Doula is worth her weight in gold and should be compensated for her experience and skill set in the same way anyone in any other profession would be.
So… 3,4,5am… multiple position changes, hypnotherapy, in and out of the birthing pool. Some gas and air. Drinking… lot’s of drinking. 2 showers. Up and down the stairs to pee (trust me if I had not been strongly encouraged to do this I wouldn’t have agreed to leave my bedroom the contractions were so intense and by then I was exhausted). By 8.30 am, the hard work had paid off and my baby had again shifted position and I was finally fully dilated – time to push! Within the hour we were holding our son safe and well in the comfort of our own home.
The following few hours are a bit of a blur but I do remember my Doula made me the best cup of tea and slice of toast I have ever had in my entire life. My husband had undisturbed skin to skin time with our Son while I showered and ate, and by 12pm everyone had left our house and we all climbed into our kingsize comfy bed and slept….
We feel very blessed that outcome of our story was that we did end up delivering our son at home. For us, it was absolutely the right thing to do and we would not hesitate to opt for another birth at home in the future.
If you are considering a home birth check back next week for my top tips.