I went to sleep on the 30th November very downhearted.
I was 6 days past my due date and even though I was trying not to focus too much on the date this time as I knew it was fairly meaningless, I couldn’t help being disappointed as the days went past.
Being heavily pregnant is very difficult and being heavily pregnant with a 2 and a half year old to look after who has just decided to drop his afternoon nap most days is even more difficult. I was convinced this baby wouldn’t be arriving any time soon.
However, I woke up at midnight with mild contractions. I wasn’t sure if it could be a false start or not so I lay in bed next Isaac (my oldest child) for an hour and a half, cuddling him and focusing on the sensations of the contractions. This could be my last night with just one child.
I decided it was time to wake Liam (my fiancé) up when I instinctively started hunching over and swaying with the contractions and they were becoming regular and more intense.
I needed to go downstairs into my ‘birth nest’ and I needed his support.
I had spent months preparing the living room to be a place of comfort for my homebirth. I had fairy lights and made sure the lighting was dim as labour hormones prefer dim lighting and I had an aromatherapy diffuser; I decided to use a woman’s balance essential oil blend which was really relaxing.
The changing lights and bubbling water sound of the diffuser also helped to relax me and I found it helped to focus on them during contractions.
Liam and I had attended a hypnobirthing class which was incredibly helpful. After the class, I had such a positive mind set towards giving birth.
The class instructor helped us deal with any fears we had regarding the labour process and taught us some helpful techniques to minimise any discomfort during contractions. She also used guided meditation during the class and sent us a track to listen to during pregnancy and labour.
I found that in the end, I just wanted silence during my labour so I didn’t use the track or any music like I planned however, I had the positive affirmations (we were also given cards with positive affirmations written on which I stuck up on the kitchen cupboards) from the class going round in my head during contractions which helped me keep the positive mind set going.
I never once doubted my ability to get through labour and I kept telling myself that I could do this.
Liam kept himself busy getting everything ready and getting me anything I needed (and also burning a jacket potato in the microwave somehow which made the strongest burning smell which lingered for a few days…).
Every time I had a contraction he came into the living room and rubbed my lower back like we learned in the class which helped ease any discomfort, while I leaned on the futon with my knees on the floor. I called my mum at about 2.30am to ask her to come over and Liam started setting up the birth pool.
Around the same time, Isaac woke up and I wasn’t in the right state to put him back to sleep so he decided to stay awake.
One of the best things about having a home birth was not having to leave Isaac in the middle of the night which would definitely unsettle us both. So he came downstairs and helped Liam fill the birth pool up in between having sleepy cuddles with his granny (my mum).
The midwife arrived at about 4am. I recognised her through mutual friends and from attending the same primary school and it was lovely to see a familiar face.
She read through my birth plan and was very considerate of everything I had written. I had said that I didn’t want any language used that suggested pain and I noticed immediately that she picked up on that. She was also supportive of my choice not to have any vaginal examinations.
I was already in the pool at this point as the contractions were getting very intense and I was moving all around the room to handle them.
The pool eased the contractions so much, I absolutely loved being in there. It felt so natural and I found it so easy to deal with any sensations.
The midwife noticed the contractions were coming quickly so she decided to call the second midwife to ask her to come over (you have 2 midwifes for a homebirth in my area).
I started to feel pressure low down and I recognised this feeling from Isaac’s birth. I knew that in a few more contractions I may feel the urge to push. I asked to use the gas and air but I only used it during one contraction before I felt the urge to push and then I didn’t feel like using it anymore.
My mum took Isaac in the kitchen and made him something to eat as I needed to really focus at this point. I changed position from a seated position with my bum and legs floating in the water to a kneeling position in the pool with my arms around Liam.
The midwife was behind me observing but I didn’t have any coached pushing. I let my body do the work as the fetal ejection reflex took place. All I had to do was manage the sensations and focus on the urge to push.
The sensation of Oliver crowning was the most intense but I knew my baby would be in my arms soon and I trusted my body.
With one last push, Oliver was born into the water at 5.13am. Just over 5 hours from start to finish.
I scooped him up and brought him to my chest immediately for skin to skin.
Oliver went to have skin to skin cuddles with his daddy while I got out of the pool to deliver the placenta which arrived fairly soon after giving birth. The second midwife arrived having missed the birth as it all happened so quickly.
They checked me over while Isaac had a cuddle with his new baby brother. The midwives were happy that I was okay and didn’t need stiches. They were also happy Oliver was healthy and they weighed him.
He was 9 lb 5 oz. I breastfed Oliver and once he got used to latching, he fed wonderfully and I felt very proud of both of us.
After everyone left, we all settled back into bed. I felt so happy and so in love; we were now a family of 4 and we felt complete.
I couldn’t sleep, I was on a high from how perfect and empowering Oliver’s birth was and from how full my heart felt with the love for my two children.
As the sun came up, I noticed a dusting of snow on the ground from the coldest night of the year so far. Everything was calm and everything was as perfect as it could be.
Oliver proved to me that birth doesn’t have to be anything to fear; it can be an empowering experience.
I felt so in control during my home birth and I would recommend it to anyone considering having one.
It was one of the most incredible experiences to trust my body so fully and to not need any medical intervention whatsoever. Birth isn’t an illness, birth can be beautiful.
You can watch Ellie’s vlog on giving birth to big brother Isaac here!
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