Birthing Instincts or A Midwife's Intuition? My Homebirth Story.
Updated: May 30, 2019
I am a midwife. I am a woman. I am a mother. I believe my birthing intuition is derived from all these areas of my life, so when considering my birth options I found myself trusting my intuition far more than reaching for evidence. Instinctively I knew my birth would be fine, intuitively I made a very detailed birth plan! With an incredibly supportive partner by my side, midwife friends to consult with, and care being provided by midwives I know and trust, I was confident my birth would be calm, positive and beautiful.
My husband Michael, like me, believes birth is a normal life event that does not require medical attention. He is unflappable but also has a tendency to press random buttons when in a hospital environment...therefore a homebirth was the obvious choice for us! Interestingly, despite my profession, friends and family seemed surprised about this choice.
7th October 2015 - 41 weeks pregnant
I was in the latent phase of labour all day, gentle, irregular tightenings. Of course, I was in denial. These were just niggles. In the evening, we sat down as a family to watch a silly movie and have take away pizza (I had homemade stir fry…just incase). We painted my belly and each other’s faces. It was a memorable and happy evening. bounced on my ball, did a few laps of the staircase and went to get some sleep. At midnight I awoke with slightly stronger niggles. Michael rolled over, his first reaction being that he needed energy too. So I occupied myself for an hour before nudging him and suggesting that, ‘this is it, time to fill the pool.’ By 1.30am I was in the shower, birth pool filling, being aware of my contractions, wondering if I was actually in labour now; they were coming about three in every ten minutes and were of variable length and strength. Hmmm…maybe. Lets just give it ten more minutes before we call the midwife! My birth plan was clear; Michael and I would labour together with little input from midwives. I wanted to ride out my labour as long as possible before calling the midwifery team.
Birth plans are flexible and I knew that I had to trust my instincts in the moment.
By 2.30am I was dropping to the floor with contractions, desperate to get in the water, keenly feeling the pressure my baby’s head. Finally at 3am, I sat in the pool observing Michaels behaviour as I begged him to stay in the room but didn’t actually want him to do anything (he was reading a book...this was fine!). I decided that as a family we needed some extra support. My contractions were powerful, my birth song loud; audible by my neighbour across the street, but silent to my sleeping 7 year old.
At 3.45am my midwives Serena and Kayleigh arrived. Checking in with me they performed a baseline set of observations. Their presence was so reassuring. They stayed in the room with us…birth hormones were working well and having experienced midwives at our side helped us all to relax. After all, birth plans are flexible and I knew that I had to trust my instincts in the moment. I chose to decline all vaginal examinations as I did not wish to be placed on a timescale by a subjective intervention. When I began vomiting, so I knew I was in transition, either first transition at around 7cm or I was fully dilated - only time would tell which.
My birth song continued. Hypnotherapy helped me to regain control and bring me back into the zone. Water soothed the strong contractions. Michael was my rock. He held my hand, supplied me with water and small bites of food. He watched me and kissed me. He jumped in the pool and placed pressure on my back as I yelled instructions…”too light, too high, lower, lower, lower, firmer, harder…yes, that’s it!”
This was it. It really is how I believe it to be. A powerful uterus, pushing my baby.
Serena and Kayleigh respected my wishes, quietly observing without disturbing me for ‘routine monitoring’. Stepping in and holding my hand, wiping my brow, topping up the pool, supporting Michael, encouraging me to stay in control, watching as my baby emerged.
I felt my body take over. This was it. It really is how I believe it to be. A powerful uterus, pushing my baby. Turning it from a posterior position. I didn’t need to do anything, just breathe. Just disengage my mind and allow my body to do what it is designed to do. With all the support I could ask for, my baby’s head emerged. I felt every movement of restitution; the strangest but most empowering sensation. The wait for the final push seemed an eternity...I blame my midwifery knowledge. Then this tiny little being arrived, floating around in the pool, encased in its membranes. As Michael and I scooped her out of the water the love was instant. Love for my baby, for my incredible partner, for my sleeping son and for the midwives who shared this experience with us. Oxytocin was certainly doing its job.
Serena gently woke Evander, a shining example of continuity of carer; he knew exactly who was in his room in the early hours. Evander joined us to help discover he had a baby sister. He gave her a kiss then disappeared downstairs to watch TV! As I sat gazing at our beautiful creation, the water began changing colour. This was definitely not part of my plan. I knew what I had to do but midwifery intuition battled with birthing instincts...
Baby still attached to the cord, placenta still in place, I clambered out of the pool listening to distant voices. I held it together, laid on the floor and begrudgingly but wisely allowed my baby to be separated from me into her father’s arms; unbeknown at the time that this was an incredible bonding experience for them. Calmly, Serena and Kayleigh helped me birth the placenta as blood trickled. They knew I wanted any bleeding to be conservatively managed and worked patiently to achieve this. The birth of the placenta stopped the haemorrhage and with much help I assumed a comfortable position on the floor with a duvet. My baby girl finally snuggled into the breast. The birth was over. Exhausted and weak I nibbled on my rescue remedy…salted caramel fudge! I was elated and in love.
Now, as I sit here writing my birth story, baby attached to my beast, I am happy. I am positive. My incredible home birth experience gave me the confidence to battle a uterine infection and postnatal feeding struggles, but mostly reminded me that the body truly is awesome; it is intrinsically designed to birth. Complications occur and can be skilfully managed, without the need for over medicalisation. This is where midwives rock! Their holistic support, trust in birth and skills to deal with emergencies are admirable. Suddenly I realised that I am a midwife. I am a woman. I am a mother. And my intuition tells me to treasure and respect all these areas of my life.
The Peterborough Homebirth Team disbanded in 2016, despite many efforts by the Save Our Homebirth Team volunteers. I am part of a fabulous support network that exists to support women who are choosing a home birth in the Peterborough and Stamford area: www.facebook.com/HomebirthpromotionPeterborough
I now offer private midwifery services throughout pregnancy so that when it comes to your birth, you can have that same relationship with your midwife as I did with mine. Although many women who choose an independent midwife choose to have a home birth, it is not a requirement because I accompany you to wherever you choose birth.
Read more about my private midwifery services.
This is an edited version of my original home birth story which first appeared in Midwifery Matters, Issue 148, June 2016.
Available at: www.midwifery.org.uk