Although the arrival of our first son was one of the greatest moments in our lives, the experience around it triggered nervousness when we found out we were to have a second child and would have to give birth again.
Our first son was born in hospital and a long latent phase that we knew little about led us on a path of intervention that left us physically and emotionally exhausted. We were aware that if we could have been calm & relaxed the whole experience could have felt different.
When we came to consider this second birth, a homebirth was not a serious consideration for us initially, as we had reservations about safety & lots of ‘what ifs’.
The idea seemed wonderful, especially as we had a toddler to consider, with the logistics of getting him looked after if we went to hospital and had to stay there. I also had a strong desire to be able to stay with my husband after birth, this was something we had not been able to do the first night our eldest son was born, due to hospital rules (all hospitals have their own policies, it’s worth checking what they are for each ward)
Because of my fears of birthing again we decided to try hypnobirthing, which had been strongly recommended by friends.
We found a local Hypnobirthing teacher who was supportive of our home birth preference and suggested we look at homebirth.org for the latest research and statistics on the safety of homebirth. This was a great move for us as we realised that many of our fears were unfounded.
We decided to go forward with a homebirth, on the basis that its best to go for a postive experience & trust that we could deal with any issues should they arise.
We were able to borrow a birthing pool and contacted the Crocus Team to move our antenatal care over to their case-loading team. (Case loading allows parents and women to be given one main midwife throughout their pregancy and birth, continuity of care).
From then on we were so happy with the decision. We met our midwife Cecile, who was wonderful & supportive, this added to our security in our decision. All our visits were scheduled directly with Cecile, or the team via mobiles, so communicating was easy. The appointments were also all at our home at a mutually convenient time. This made life much easier, especially with a 2 year old to consider.
As well as being much more relaxed & comfortable, building a relationship with our assigned midwives was great, as it really built our confidence for birth and it was lovely to know the team that would deliver our baby. An experience that doesn’t occur in hospital. This continuity of care has been shown to have beneficial outcomes for mothers and babies.
The Day of Birth and How our Labour Progressed
On the morning of our birth we called Cecile to let her know we were in process. The day before we had experienced a latent stage of gentle surges & opening with shows. After our first experience we realised this was natural & normal, it was great to be able to go through this at home & be relaxed rather than worry about when to go to hospital, we knew that if things picked up we could call the midwives.
We had inflated the pool in the night as surges were waking me, so I used my breathing & we were able to red until 6am when our 2 yr old son woke up. I got up a few times to breathe through surges & have a replacing shower but we were comfortable & well rested for the labour ahead of us. At 6am we called my mum who was coming to look after our son and we moved downstairs to where we had a birthing ball, chair, pool & relaxing music/affirmations.
I made our son breakfast, took out the rubbish taking breaks to breathe through surges. My mum arrived at 9am and at 10am we started filling the pool with water. I got in at 11am and Cecile arrived as we has called her shortly before. I was nervous as I had asked not to be measured but Cecile was very reassuring when observing me that things were progressing & after having a quick check in the water my waters broke & baby’s head followed. 20 minutes later our baby was with us, at 1.34pm
My mum & Leo came down to greet him, it was a magical & empowering experience to be at home together & welcome our son into the world in such a calm & loving environment. Ethan was relaxed & latched quickly so we were able to get breastfeeding started well. I stayed in the water to deliver the placenta which was nice & had my checks in the comfort of our sofa (protected with mats!) while Scott had skin to skin. I was able to shower & change into comfy clothes, while my partner and the midwives tidied all the birthing clutter up, leaving us with a tidy room in which to enjoy our first evening together with our baby. After my shower I was able to get into bed with my partner, toddler and newborn & I had the photo taken that I had held in my mind all along. I had very minor tears that didn’t need stitching & found myself able to go out and about 2 days after giving birth. The wonderful service from the crocus team continued with check up visits being carried out at home over the next couple of weeks.
For us the whole experience was magical & relaxed, and with hypnobirth the experience (I can honestly say) was pain free. I have recommended homebirth to all my friends, it really set us up for family life together.
Sakina Ballard is now a Hypnobirthing Teacher, Positive Birth Momevent Facilitator and Birth Trauma Resolution Practitioner based in London & Croydon. www.tranquilbirth.co.uk with courses running in South Norwood, West Dulwich, Crystal Palace and surrounds – Penge, Beckenham, Addiscombe, Sydenham & Gipsy Hill