The Reality of Home Birth

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First up, apologies for the length, completely understand if you don’t get all the way through!!

After the quick birth of my first son (2 hours start to finish!) we decided on a planned home birth for A.  My pregnancy was all normal and there were no worries about baby, after a short health and safety talk with a midwife at my house I was good to go.  Although, warning for those who also plan a home birth, the health and safety talk almost seems like they’re trying to scare you out of having a home birth, telling you every possible thing that could ever go wrong.  I guess they’re just covering their backs, but you don’t get the same talk with a hospital birth!

I wrote my birth plan, fairly detailed, including points such as no pain relief unless requested, don’t cut the umbilical cord until it stopped pulsating and oral vitamin K.  Of course I also had a caveat about how things may not go to plan and that if we ended up in hospital I still wanted certain things, such as skin-to-skin and baby to be handed to daddy to look after if I wasn’t able to hold him.

Anyway, my second labour was completely different to the first.  I had no Braxton Hicks the first time, but second time around there were quite a lot!  So when I was 4 days over 40 weeks and I started to feel some light Braxton Hicks I tried not to get my hopes up and didn’t tell my husband and went to bed that night with my fingers crossed (my Braxton Hicks were never that painful!) that it may turn into actual labour.  The following morning they were still going and by 9 am they started getting stronger.  I told my husband and we thought that we had better get started with our home birth prep in the hope that this was it!

First things first I phoned a close friend and told her that I thought today was going to be the day and was she still ok to take O for the day?  Of course she said yes, as we had talked about this a lot beforehand! I had several people able to look after O if I went into labour during the day and if it was during the night we were hoping that he would stay asleep through it.

With O out the way my husband blew up the birth pool and filled it up with warm water, checking the temp with a thermometer.  I didn’t want to get in the water until I was in full blown contractions as I know that water can slow the contractions down again.  So I bounced up and down on my birthing ball through the contractions.

I called the midwife team at lunchtime to let them know I was in labour and they sent someone out to check how I was getting on.  The midwife was nice enough and asked to check my dilation, I kind of wanted to know so said yes, but it b*?!*y hurt, so decided I wasn’t having that again! I was only 4 cm dilated, but at least it was definitely labour!  The midwife stayed for a little while to see how strong the contractions were, which I found amusing.  I was sat on my birthing ball while she felt my bump and commented that it was a strong contraction (I hadn’t even noticed it!) and then when I felt like it was a strong contraction she seemed to think it wasn’t much at all!! After a short while she left and told me to phone back when my contractions were closer together and of consistent strength.

At around 4pm the contractions were getting to the extremely intense stage and I knew it wouldn’t be long before baby was making an appearance.  I phoned the midwife team again and told them what was happening, they didn’t seem to concerned as I sounded ok on the phone despite having contractions, but after my insistence that baby was coming soon they sent out 2 midwives.  They arrived at around 4.45pm, by which point I was in the pool and more or less ignored them as I was too busy in my own little labour bubble; holding onto the pools handles tightly whilst contracting and then resting my head on the edge of the pool between the contractions.  My husband was great, he was there for me whenever I wanted him, but not in my face and bothering me when all I wanted to do was hold on to the pool and make some noise!

My waters went sometime after 5pm and the midwife reminded me that if I wanted a controlled birth of the head then I would have to get out of the pool.  This was an attempt to stop me tearing as badly as the first labour, I had 3rd degree tears with O and if that happened again I would have to go to hospital to get stitched up (usually undertaken with a spinal anaesthetic) and I really didn’t want to have to leave home after birthing my baby there!

Of course, just after the midwife reminded me I could feel A’s head coming further down and I decided it was time to get out the pool.  The older midwife asked if I was sure, she didn’t want me to get out the pool if I wasn’t ready, but I did my best to tell her that his head was coming (it felt exactly the same as just before I birthed O in hospital and no-one believed me that I was that far along!).  Anyway, I sat down with my hips forward and the midwife could see the head, I did my best not too push (but I find it so blooming hard not to!!) and baby A was born at 5.35pm!  I felt this overwhelming love flood over me (soppy, I know) and everything felt so perfect, the music still playing in the background and at home where I was so happy and comfortable.  His umbilical cord was quite short, so it was hard to get him to the breast until it was cut (after the pulsating stopped) by my husband and then I sat up on the sofa (on a maternity pad of course!!) and A latched on straight away.  It took O a lot longer to latch on properly, but maybe it was easier with A as I actually knew what I was doing this time!

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Unfortunately I had 2nd degree tears, so the midwives stitched me up upstairs on the bed, which wasn’t easy as I still had a lot of adrenalin pumping through me and my legs were prone to random shaking spasms! But I much preferred that than going into a cold theatre and having a spinal.

My friend brought O back around 8pm, he seemed with his first day without either of us and wasn’t particularly interested in the new baby, but perfectly happy with the new Percy train that his little brother had as a present for him!  Interestingly when my friend came in she said that the atmosphere was so strange, she felt like there was this amazing oxytocin wall as she entered into our house with O.  I have to say I was completely feeling it too, but had no idea others were could sense it as well.

The midwives were great and cleared everything away and packed the boxes (you have huge boxes of everything they could possibly need including drugs and gas and air if you want them (I didn’t bother as my labour’s have been fine).  Someone came to pick up all the stuff a couple of days later.

I absolutely loved my home birth, so much nicer and more comfortable than my first labour.  If I were to do it again (my husband tells me it’s not happening again, 2’s enough!) I would definitely have another home birth!

So, the second labour was longer, I had contractions from the previous night but the actual proper intense contractions were approximately an hour and a half.  At least 40 minutes of that weren’t even noise worthy contractions as I remember being on the phone to my mum in the pool to tell her what was happening whilst having the strong contractions and she remarked that I seemed quite calm!  I don’t think I’m great with pain, but I had read a lot about hypnobirthing and reading books around why labour is natural and the more calm you are the less painful labour is (makes sense, being stressed tightens your muscles and your body is then working against the contractions).  I listened to a hypnobirthing CD, but didn’t really use any of it during labour, just had the calming music on throughout, which I loved.

A never left the house the day he was born, the following day our parents all came to visit and then the next day was a Monday and was his first day out, although just to hospital to get his paediatric check and hearing tested.

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This photo, below, was when A was 3 days old and we took O to the park to entertain him (A is that little blue fleece hood sticking out!).  He loved being wrapped and is still carried everywhere today (although now he gets to go and play at the park too!).

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Another great bit of a home birth is being able to point to exactly where A was born, just there where your feet are is a fun thing to tell friends!

Well done if you got all the way through that essay! Now would you have a home birth?

J x


Mami 2 Five

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  1. May 3, 2015 / 7:30 am

    I almost didn’t read this as I thought it was going to be an account of a home birth gone wrong, but I’m so glad I did 🙂 I’m planning one next month and love to hear people’s positive stories about home birth so thank you, this post was really helpful x x x

    • May 3, 2015 / 8:19 am

      Ooh, I’m so excited for you! It was an amazing experience and I absolutely love having a home birth. Good luck with yours! 🙂 xx

      • May 3, 2015 / 12:08 pm

        Thank you! I’m finding that even though the NHS and my midwifes are all for it, they do also seem to be doing everything in their power to put me off, or find reason’s I can’t have it. All very contradictory. Going to have to stick to my guns nearer the end I think!!!

        • May 3, 2015 / 4:03 pm

          Oh yes, I didn’t mention in the post, but because of the 3rd degree tear I had first time I was sent to a consultant to talks about it. They said that I should consider a hospital birth in case it happens again and I would need stitches, but as it took 2 hours before I was taken to surgery the first time and it’s only a 20 minute drive to the hospital it wasn’t really a problem. It just meant I would have to go to hospital after baby was born if I needed stitched up. She then tried to tell me I should have an episiotomy, I didn’t as I would rather wait to find out if I tore than definitely need stitches. Anyway, a lot of it does seem a bit like scaremongering, probably because it’s actually easier for them to control it themselves to make their lives easier. X

  2. May 3, 2015 / 10:45 am

    I love a birth story. I had hospital births as that’s where I felt safe. I had two very different experiences, but both times the hospital was amazing.

    The midwives didn’t believe me either when I phoned up to say I was coming in with my second. They told me I sounded really calm and not to rush as It would be ages yet. I did rush and he was in my arms an hour after we arrived at the hospital!

    • May 3, 2015 / 11:43 am

      Ha ha, I’ve heard so many people say the same thing. They told me with my first not to bother coming in and have a bath, well he would be a home birth too if we had done that! 🙂 xx

  3. May 3, 2015 / 10:58 am

    Thank you for this. Although we’re not planning to have our second for a few years yet, I have told the other half that I would really like a home birth. This story has helped a lot. x

    • May 3, 2015 / 11:42 am

      Glad it’s helped! It’s good to think about it before you’re even pregnant so you can decide what you want. I loved my home birth, it was the best choice I made! 🙂 x

  4. May 3, 2015 / 1:38 pm

    Aww I loved this. I’m interested and read it all! I had a midwife led unit birth in the pool and was thinking about home next time around. Your experience sounded ace. I agree with the staying calm and letting your body take over. It’s very clever and help with the pain.
    Gorgeous pics and interesting post xx

    • May 3, 2015 / 3:53 pm

      Thank you, Sarah! I would definitely recommend a home birth, I just can’t explain how amazing an experience it was and how perfect it felt for my precious baby to be born in that environment. 🙂 xx

  5. May 3, 2015 / 10:49 pm

    This is such a lovely story. It is so nice to hear of a home birth being perfect. That is lovely. If I had another I would like a home birth. Little Miss H was born in under 4 hours from my first contraction and so I have been warned that another labour could be much quicker. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can have one because I had a retained placenta and a post-partum haemorrhage and has to go into surgery. Which is so shame as you make it sound perfect. Thanks for linking up with #SundaysStars. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

    • May 4, 2015 / 7:36 am

      Thank you, that’s a shame Miss H’s birth, but every birth is different I guess. Maybe the next one will be easier for you. Thank you! 🙂 xx

  6. May 4, 2015 / 8:10 am

    Before I gave birth I was intrigued by the idea but was going to be staying at my parent’s house and knew they wouldn’t have it. After giving birth, if there is a next time I will be requesting ALL the drugs. I am in awe of women like you who can do it alone!


    • May 4, 2015 / 9:18 am

      That’s the thing I don’t think I’m good with pain, generally, I think because I was so relaxed and comfortable it never occurred to me that I would need anything. I was also lucky that my labours have been either short or the intense contractions part has been short, don’t think I could cope with that for hours on end like some women do, an hour or two is plenty! Thanks for commenting! 🙂 xx

  7. May 4, 2015 / 12:16 pm

    Such a brave and beautiful account of your home birthing experience xxx

  8. May 4, 2015 / 1:15 pm

    I’ve been mulling over doing a home birth post for the last week or so. We’ve just looked after out friends two girls whilst they had their 3rd baby at home. It went really well and definitely changed my views on home birth. I’m still not sure I would be brave enough to try as I needed syntocin in both my labours but I would definitely be more encouraging of other people wanting to do it. Your birth sounds lovely – apart from the tearing- and just what I would ideally choose.

    • May 4, 2015 / 3:32 pm

      I’m not sure what drugs were available, but I had a hell of a lot in the fridge and on top of it! Plus the gas and air. Ask the midwife and they’ll tell you what drugs you can get at home (I didn’t pay attention to that bit!). I would definitely recommend a home birth though, it was amazing! xx

  9. May 4, 2015 / 8:38 pm

    A lovely birth story, I prefer to be in hospital just in case, but it’s a nice idea to have a home birth. My Lizzy was breech so I had a planned c-section but when I have a second I’ll be re-creating my hypnobirthing book to help me relax (hopefully I can have a vbac). #mummymonday

    • May 4, 2015 / 8:52 pm

      Really hope that next time you can have a Vbac, I know quite a few women who have, so fingers crossed for you! 🙂 x

    • May 5, 2015 / 9:28 pm

      Thank you very much! I shall bookmark your story to read tomorrow, getting a bit late! 🙂

  10. May 6, 2015 / 9:32 am

    I was really keen but although my second baby was a water birth in hospital the other 3 have been complicated, wrong way around tricky babies so I didn’t feel it was safe. Glad your experience was so positive #sharewithme

    • May 6, 2015 / 12:03 pm

      Oh, that’s a shame, but at least you had a lovely water birth with your second. That was always my intention with the first, but he was too fast and the pool temp. Wasn’t right! Xx

  11. May 6, 2015 / 10:18 am

    I love hearing birth stories. I would have loved a home birth but that was not an option for me. I’m glad yours went well and enjoyed reading the post. Angela xx

    Angela recently posted “A Cinderella Daddy Daughter Date”

    • May 6, 2015 / 12:00 pm

      Thank you! Glad you enjoyed reading it. A shame it wasn’t an option for you though. Xx

  12. May 7, 2015 / 11:07 am

    Well done on having a home birth, sounds lovely. Home births are so much better, and safer, for both mothers and babies, I only wish more people knew and were prepared to do it. Most births in the Netherlands are at home, and their maternal and neonatal death, and injury, rates are significantly lower than ours. Hospitals unfortunately inevitably mean interventions, drugs and lots of risks to both mother and baby.

    It’s weird how the approach differs between areas and midwives though. Our second baby was a NHS midwife-attended home birth and she brought hardly anything with her! Sophia was quite big (2 weeks late) and had a shoulder dystocia so her head was out for 10 minutes before her body, but she was fine. If we’d been in a hospital they would have been running around panicking, probably shoved her back in and whisked me off for an emergency Caesarean! Instead we had a beautiful home birth and a very happy, relaxed baby. Number three was a completely unassisted pregnancy and birth, so even more amazing! Must write up our birth stories, it’s on my to do list.

    Thank you for sharing yours #BrilliantBlogPosts

    (Oh and meant to say, did you know the vitamin K given orally is exactly the same stuff they inject, so full of all the chemicals, formaldehyde etc? Most evidence suggests that unless babies experience severe trauma during birth, they don’t need it. I think Michel Odent has come out against it now too.)

    • May 7, 2015 / 5:03 pm

      Completely agree with the home being safer and less interventions, unfortunately a lot of people believe the opposite, especially with television programmes like One Born Every Minute, showing how difficult and painful it can be. I didn’t even realise home birth was an option for my first, but was well aware second time round and it was the best decision ever!

      I was a bit forced into the Vit K and asked why it was required for every baby and the best I got was that they didn’t know which babies would need it, so all were given it. Not sure if I would let a 3rd baby have Vit. k at all if healthy etc.

      That’s so interesting about the shoulder dystocia, the midwives were telling me at my h&s talk that it was extremely dangerous and although they would do their best, I might be transferred to hospital. Love the idea of an unassisted birth, maybe next time (if I can convince my husband on another baby!). Xxx

      • May 8, 2015 / 7:34 am

        I loathe the way they push these things on everyone and it’s only if you’ve done months of research and remain as strong as an ox that you get anywhere!!

        The vitamin K thing shows how completely distrusting of women and natural labour the medical profession is. Would nature really get it so wrong? Maybe that’s why colostrum and first breastmilk is so full of vit K?! Doh. OH dear, I’m ranting again, climbs down offf sopabox and schedules in vitamin K post… 😉 Lx

        P.S. Now following blog x

        • May 8, 2015 / 12:04 pm

          A Vit K post would be great for other mums, especially new mums! I wondered that both times too, why give my baby something it already has, but it was kind of put on me with a ‘your baby might die/be unwell’ speech! Will come over and follow your blog later today too! 🙂 x

  13. May 7, 2015 / 3:04 pm

    Wow; what an engaging story … I sure feel like having a home birth now … ok, maybe not exactly. I worry about the mess; I wish you wrote about this. How did you deal with emptying the pool and protecting furniture that you sat on or were stitched on from being ‘painted red’.

    I’m really glad to have read I clicked on the link to your story from Awesome Austerity. ‘Noise-worthy contractions’- now that’s quite a phrase lol. You must have been so thrilled with the quick latch, and of course the oxytocin wall, I’ve never heard of this before.

    And my, 2 hours for your 1st? Wow, how fortunate. Thanks for sharing your story; definitely inspiring. #aNoviceMumBlogHop

    • May 7, 2015 / 4:53 pm

      Haha, the mess wasn’t an important issue for me, hence why I didn’t write about it! The maternity bed pads (I had some from Boots and the midwife brought some too) were put on furniture and the bed while I got stitched and then I wore pants with a thick pad as usual. I also had several old towels, they all got thrown out by the midwives, they were great and cleared up the mess. My husband emptied the pool, you can get a pump to do it for you (down the toilet), but We were being cheap and just used buckets, didn’t actually take that long!
      I’m glad you enjoyed reading and thank you for the great comment! 🙂 xx

  14. May 8, 2015 / 9:22 am

    I love birth stories. I think if I had a third I would definitely do it at home. Considering both mine came out from the moment I woke up in the night under 45 minutes I was holding them I think a home birth would be easier the third time around. What beautiful stories. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

    • May 8, 2015 / 12:11 pm

      That definitely sounds like a good idea if they are that quick! I loved that we could just stay at home after too, no stress of going anywhere, everything is brought to you. 🙂 xx

  15. May 8, 2015 / 10:08 am

    I would in a way love to have a home birth, but in a way I am too much of a worrier, I decided on a water birth in hospital in the midwife led side of the delivery unit. I was happy with that – I liked that calm and the water but also the safety net of being at the hospital.
    If I was less of a worrier I would have definitely considered a homebirth though – yours sounds perfect!

    • May 8, 2015 / 12:15 pm

      Thanks! I know what you mean, but the chance of intervention is higher in a hospital birth, one of the reasons I didn’t want another hospital birth. I can understand the worry with lots of people having issues giving birth, but I really do believe that a lot of them are only because people are scared and the hospital staff are too worried and keep intervening where they should let the mum relax and keep going. There are still a few people who do obviously need help though. 🙂 xx

  16. May 8, 2015 / 10:27 pm

    So glad you had a fab experience but sad you had tears again! The things we do for children ay?! It must be cool to show people where you gave birth! #mummymonday

    • May 9, 2015 / 7:23 pm

      Hee hee! I do love that bit! Thank you! 🙂 xx

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