Trigger warning – baby loss.
Jacqui and Mitch attended a hypnobirthing course with me in preparation for the birth of their first baby. During the pregnancy they found out that their baby boy had a heart disease. Following birth their son had unforeseen complications and passed away a few hours after birth.
Below, these incredibly strong and inspiring parents tell us about the birth of their beautiful boy River…
“I have wanted to tell you about my birth, Mitch and I have separated our birth from what happened after as we truly loved that experience and want it to remain a happy memory.”
I practiced my breathing and my calm bubble space constantly in the lead up to birth. My waters broke at 3am on Friday morning and I was completely calm I showered, washed my hair, we packed up the house and headed to the hospital.
The entire time I felt very relaxed and didn’t have any contractions. Because of our boy having a heart disease they wanted us to stay at the hospital overnight and if I didn’t go into natural labour then they’d induce me the next morning, no contractions started so I had a good night’s sleep at the hospital. At 5am, the next day I was taken back to the birthing unit and they started induction at 7am with syntocinon in a drip. They asked for my birth plan however I really didn’t have one as I really just wanted to “go with the flow” and do whatever was right for the health of myself and my baby, so I just asked for dim lights, played my music which was chilled songs that I like and mentioned I wanted to try not to have an epidural and if I was to have one I at least wanted it after I was 4cm. Words like contractions etc didn’t bother me at all as I don’t associate these words with anything negative, so I didn’t ask anyone to change how they worded things. The midwife we had on the day was amazing as she was very calming.
Once the early contractions started, I liked being on the birthing ball. The midwife realised he was posterior as I was feeling everything in my lower back and there he stayed until it was time to push. They started getting more intense from 10am, I would go from sitting on the toilet to back on the ball to leaning over a chair with a pillow. I was offered gas however I didn’t want it and just focused on my breathing instead so from 10am-12pm I went from 2-4cm, Mitch said my breathing was amazing. I did say to the midwife I was considering an epidural but she and Mitch both said I was doing so well and to keep going and so I did.
It started getting quite intense so the midwife suggested getting on the bed. I went on the bed lied on my side and she gave me peanut ball and I held on to the railing, this position really opened up my pelvis. From 12.30pm-2.00pm I went from 4cm-7cm here the midwife taught be how to use the gas which I then used for this entire time which certainly took the edge off, although I didn’t use it well for every contraction. During the intense contractions there were moments I had thoughts of “I can’t do this anymore” which I didn’t let myself say out loud, moments of wanting to just go to bed and wake up and deal with it later, moments where I literally forgot how to breath but my best moments were when I actually managed to only think of my breathing and think of my bubble place.
After some time, I started naturally pushing and the midwife was telling me to try not push but I was ignoring her as it felt so natural to push. She could tell I was still pushing so they checked me and I was good to go! They asked what position I wanted to be in but I actually felt comfortable being on my back, they moved the bed up so I was in a more sitting position.
I was pushing from 2.30pm. This was my favourite part of labour, the pain had lessened and I was so excited to be so close to the end. They guided me on how to push and I loved that I felt like I was completely in control since I could feel my contractions and the team would say you let us know rather than telling me. I was so close to getting him out on my own however just couldn’t quite get there so they got a doctor in to do an episiotomy which didn’t bother me. I didn’t feel the local anaesthetic go in and didn’t feel the cut which was 3cm, after this I was able to push him out. He was born at 3.11pm. The feeling was just so surreal and relieving they put him straight on my chest and Mitch got to cut the cord after delayed cord clamping.
For me it felt like I held him for the longest time however I was told it was only very brief. I will be forever grateful for that cuddle and kiss before they had to take him from me and start operating on him in the room with us.
During the entire birth Mitch was an amazing support for me. I loved having him close by and during active labour loved having him just holding my leg and just constantly told me to breath and that I was doing really well. During my pushing he was so emotional crying from how proud he was of me and how happy he was. He has been saying how in awe of me he is and that it was his proudest moment.
It truly was the best moment of our lives.
Thanks again for your class, I am so glad I did it before giving birth as lots of those tools helped me get through it and helped me reach one big goal of mine which was to not have an epidural.
My biggest note to people would be that from when we first found out about River’s heart disease at 19 weeks, we were extremely upset for our boy, however we never let this effect our pregnancy. We stayed so positive, never doubting that he wasn’t going to be ok and just wanted to continue giving him the safest home to grow inside my belly. Our biggest focus was to surround him with love and positivity. Even though we lost our boy which is far from what we or anyone at the hospital expected, we still appreciate all the positive emotions we had during pregnancy and how connected to him we were. We love thinking and talking about our pregnancy, our birth and our boy.
We’ve been surrounded by incredible support from family and friends during this time which is helping get us by.
Jacqui and Mitch would like to say a particular thanks to Westmead hospital – the pearl midwife program was amazing and the heart centre at Westmead as well as our cardiologist have been so good to us pre and post birth.
Make yourself comfortable and sit back to read the birth story of Zoe – the beautiful baby girl born to first time parents Amy & Dave. This is such an empowering birth story that highlights the importance of being educated, knowing your rights and making decisions that feel right for you and your circumstances….
“My birth story is a long one which begins way before I gave birth thanks to our little one being far too comfortable in my belly (she must have been enjoying all the ice cream I was devouring). So I apologise for the length but I really wanted to share my story in the hope that it might benefit someone else who ends up in a similar situation to me!
I knew early on in my pregnancy that I wanted to do some sort of birth and parenting class as neither me nor my husband have been around many babies. Due to covid, everything the hospital offered was online so I started researching private classes as I was sick of zoom! I came across hypnobirthing along with some other similar courses but the hypnobirthing syllabus resonated with both of us as we’re big believers of the power of the mind and the stellar reviews for Kerry’s course confirmed it for us.
We took Kerry’s course at 26 weeks which I was worried was a bit early but that was the only one with space on and, in the end, I was so glad to have that extra time afterwards to process and practise everything! The course left both Dave and I feeling so much more prepared for what was to come and also really excited for birth rather than fearful! Up until then, I’d just thought contractions were these painful side effects of labour rather than the body physically assisting the baby down the birth canal. In the weeks leading up to my EDD, I would play the affirmations every time we did the perineal massage or during my acupuncture sessions and I would try and practise the meditation whenever I could, although I definitely didn’t do it as much as recommended (sorry, Kerry)!
From 36 weeks, I began acupuncture weekly. At first, I was so nervous about inducing labour early because I wanted a decent amount of maternity leave before the baby arrived to get ready and relax (turns out, I needn’t have worried about this!). From 38 weeks, I started to expect labour could happen at any moment as they talk about term being 38-40wks which meant that, by the time I reached 40 weeks, I was a bit disheartened that nothing had happened yet. Especially as at my 38 week midwife appointment, they said they’d need to book my induction in at the 40 week appointment, which panicked me because I’d never considered induction a part of my birth journey.
Sure enough, at 40 weeks, they talked me through the induction process and said they needed to book a date now. The way they spoke about my birth suddenly changed from talking about when to call the hospital if I go into labour and how long to stay at home for, to the induction process almost being inevitable for me now that I was almost 40 weeks pregnant, and that I’d require all of the hormones and drugs because I’m a first time mum. I left the appointment feeling so disheartened and almost defeated. Up until that point I’d just been so excited to experience birth! I’d heard that labour induced by synthetic hormones can be a lot harder to manage as it isn’t guided by your baby and body.
After this, determined to not be induced, I kicked my natural labour induction activities up a gear! Acupuncture, massage, eating pineapple, diffusing clary sage, acupressure (after a quick email to Kerry to check that was okay!), walking up stairs sideways, bouncing on the fit ball…you name it, I was doing it daily! I decided to go in for a stretch and sweep at 40+3 and found out I was already 2cm dilated. How exciting, labour must be imminent! But nothing happened. Nor did it after a S+S at 40+6, 41+2 or even 41+4…except my mucus plug came away. Again, this got me excited but still nothing!
Eventually, having declined to talk induction thus far, at 41+2, the midwife said it was hospital policy for me to be induced prior to 42 weeks and she wasn’t in a position to sign off if I did decline it so she asked me to go in and see the doctor the following day. I agreed and, the following day, I went to the day stay for additional monitoring and scans and to speak to the doctor. Again, I explained that I knew that my baby was fine, I wanted to give them a chance to come when they’re ready and I didn’t want to have hormones which could place my baby under undue stress and lead to a cascade of interventions. I was also due to give birth in the birth centre and was sure I’d want to be in the water, both of which would not be possible if I went the synthetic hormone route. The scan showed my baby measuring 4.2kgs so the doctor was saying I probably wouldn’t be able to give birth vaginally anyway.
They were quite persistent about having an induction date booked in. I was currently booked to come in the following day at 9am for cervidil but really didn’t want to. I said I’d compromise and go to 41+6 so that it was prior to 42 weeks (their cutoff). But, because it was Easter, they were completely booked out. So, after much back and forth, we went home to think about it but knowing I wouldn’t take the induction the following day.
The next day we went in for monitoring again (something I agreed to while fighting induction). There was a brilliant midwife on duty who understood my fears and what I was hoping for and she suggested that she check my cervix to see whether or not I’d need the cervidil. Amazingly, she said she could stretch me to 3cm and didn’t think the cervidil would help. Therefore, I could just have my membranes ruptured and this I could do in the birth centre. This was at least one step in the right direction! Due to Easter, the only day I could get into the birth centre was the following day so, after many discussions with Dave and a few tears (picking my baby’s birthday felt so weird!), we booked in for the following day. Finally, we would meet our baby!
After spending the evening hoping to go into spontaneous labour, I woke up the next morning, still pregnant! We made a packed lunch (luxury of induction!) and headed to the hospital. At 9am, they released my membranes. Miraculously, there was no meconium so I could stay at the birth centre. The midwife had advocated on my behalf that I wouldn’t need to have a cannula in straightaway (something the doctor said I had to have) and I could have six hours to try for labour to start before being transferred to the labour ward and the drip being started (the doctor had said maximum two hours). As we both agreed that I didn’t want to spend six hours in the birth centre with nothing happening only to then be transferred to the delivery ward, the midwife and I agreed that we’d reassess after lunch and make a decision then.
After the initial gushing stopped (weirdest feeling ever – I couldn’t stop laughing!), we went for a walk to a cafe. But had to leave swiftly once the gushing started again! Back in the birth suite, I felt really awkward because I thought it was inevitable that I’d be transferred to the delivery suite for the drip so I didn’t unpack any of the things I’d brought with me such as fairy lights and hypnobirthing material. I was feeling some cramping but it was similar to that that I’d experienced after the S+S so I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
Around 11.30am, I had my baguette and we decided to watch some RuPaul to pass the time. I was bouncing on the ball and sniffing clary sage and we were doing nipple stimulation to try and bring on the labour. About 30 minutes into the episode, I felt the cramps intensify, so much so that we had to keep pausing the show so I could breathe through the. Within a few minutes, I was having to stand up and lean against the wall to get through them. Dave decided to download an app for timing contractions and I would tell him when to press start and stop.
It’s from here that I lose track of time but, very quickly, I could no longer talk and was using hand signals to tell Dave when I was feeling these cramps (I’m hesitant to call them surges here as I truly didn’t believe I was in labour!). We remembered we’d hired a TENS machine so Dave suggested we try that. Note to other expectant parents: practise with the machine before you’re in labour! A midwife came in and had to help us figure it out! As soon as we got it working, it was absolute heaven. Such relief! It felt like someone was massaging my back. Why hadn’t I put it on sooner?!
I continued to breathe through the surges (I still didn’t believe I was in labour though). I had my eyes closed and was using the visualisations I’d practised to get through them. I also found pushing against the wall helpful and Dave held a mini fan up to my face; the white noise was really helpful. Best $15 I spent! I quickly became exhausted from standing so was trying out different positions such as leaning on the ball or the bed but nothing was working. It all felt like an out of body experience and I really had no idea what was going on except that I was just in my zone working through these sensations. Dave did try and play the affirmation tracks at one point but I think I was too far gone as I remember to telling him to “turn that f’ing woman’s voice off!” – whoops! I will add here that I think Melissa has a beautiful soothing voice but it just wasn’t working for me at that moment!
Again, I’m not sure what time it was, perhaps 2pm, Dave went to get our midwife because he felt that something was starting to happen. They said they’d be in after they’d finished their lunch to which he had to really stress that something was happening! Nobody thought it would! And I think because I was so silent, the midwife just assumed nothing was happening. From that point, our midwife was in the room with us but she left me to it and would simply come and listen to the baby’s heartbeat intermittently. She never said anything so I assumed all was fine and just stayed in my zone.
After what seemed like forever, I think I finally realised that this probably was labour and these were real surges! I remember asking the midwife whether I could get into the bath but she said it could slow down labour so I should hold off as long as possible. And she’d also spoken to the doctor and agreed that labour had started at 2pm so they wouldn’t check my dilation until 6pm (at which point we could make a decision as to whether I needed the drip or not). I remember feeling so disheartened and also defeated because this indicated to me that they thought I probably wasn’t even 5cm dilated at that stage yet I felt like I was at the end of what I could physically cope with. I kept thinking that I’d need some more serious pain relief pretty soon as I couldn’t go on as I was for much longer.
It was at this point that I said to Dave and the midwife that I couldn’t go on and they’d need to get the baby out of me some other way (I believe I said they’d need to cut her out!). And then I let out this animalistic roar from nowhere and had this urge to push. I could clearly feel a complete change in my body and what it was doing. Incredible! The midwife asked me if I was pushing, which I confirmed, so she said she’d better go and run the bath! Errr, yes please! I think this was about 5pm.
As soon as I got into the water, I felt a huge sense of relief as the weight was taken off my legs. The bathroom was dark and it was just me, Dave on one side and the midwife on the other. I knelt down and leant on the bar across the bath for support and used this to counteract each surge as it came. To feel my body naturally bringing the baby down was awesome! In my head, I didn’t believe I’d be able to push them out so, with each surge, I pushed as hard as I could. In hindsight, probably too hard…At this stage, I was beyond thinking rationally and trying to breathe the baby down! Once her head was out, Dave said that he actually saw her turn, as we’d seen in some of the birth videos on the course. He was totally blown away seeing this in person!
After 55 minutes of pushing, our baby finally joined us! Zoe Magdalena was born at 5.55pm on April 1st weighing 3.67kg (nowhere near 4.2kg!). The midwife guided her out and straight into my arms. Dave checked out her gender (she was a surprise) and then the midwife helped us back into the bed. She explained I’d passed a large clot so would prefer to give me the injection to birth the placenta. I was more than happy for this in case I was bleeding. Luckily, there wasn’t any. I had a second degree tear but, otherwise, we were both healthy.
Our midwife was incredible: she did delayed cord clamping without me needing to ask and Zoe was left with me for four hours of skin-to-skin before they stitched me up or took any measurements. During labour, she just left me to it, only speaking up at one point to ask Dave to make sure I was keeping hydrated. It was only afterwards that I realised I also hadn’t had any cervical examinations as Zoe was born five minutes before I was due for my first one!
After a shaky start to my birth story, in hindsight, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Even the midwives couldn’t believe how perfectly it had turned out! It took me about a week to recover from the shock of how fast it all happened, and many debriefs with the midwives and Dave and anyone else who would listen to me recount it! This was definitely an important part of my healing process.
I owe a huge part of this to Kerry and the information she had given us on the course plus the support leading up to the birth. It meant that I felt empowered enough to challenge the hospital and, ultimately, had the most incredible birth experience. Had I not spoken up, things might have gone very differently. Thank you, Kerry! From Amy, Dave and Zoe xxx”
Mum Nicole and Dad Johnny attended the course with me during their second trimester. From early on in the pregnancy their ‘plans’ for birth changed when they discovered they were having twins. With support from their Doula Amanda (Essential Me Doula) and following their hypnobirthing course, they made informed decisions to have the best birth possible with their circumstances…
Yes we had our twins! Vivienne and Olympia. They are 4 weeks old now. I’ve been in the ‘bubble’ and meaning to share our birth story with you!
We’re going well. The girls arrived at 36 weeks exactly. We were very happy to get them that far after a few scares during the pregnancy. There was an artery to artery anastomosis (AAA) in the placenta which was cause for concern so the Doctors were cautious and discussing the option to take them out around 32 weeks.
Anyway we got them further along then booked in for an induction on 19th April. I had a balloon catheter overnight then when they were close to breaking my waters the next morning a team of Drs walked in and said they were uncomfortable delivering identical twins with AAA naturally. It had never been done before at the Royal nor by the Professor (consultant in charge that day). So after hearing the risks that one twin may not make it we were very comfortable to book in a CS that afternoon. We knew there was a possibility of that outcome through discussions in the weeks leading up to the birth though the ultrasounds had been looking positive and we’d got the all clear to try for a natural birth.
Whilst is wasn’t the birth I’d desired, it was a wonderful experience and our two baby girls came out lungs blaring and APGARs of 9. They did delayed cord clamping and skin to skin straight away. Once I got stitched up and out of recovery they wheeled me into the NICU for more skin to skin and my babies went on the boob straight away.
It wasn’t until 22 hours later that I got to see them from being up in the ward and unable to make it down to the NICU but my husband didn’t leave their side. They needed some glucose and humidicrib time for a few days to regulate their temperatures but other than that they were fine and after 4-5 days of tube feeds with colostrum and expressed milk, they came up with me on the ward for 2 nights then we all got discharged together.
They’re doing well and putting on weight and keeping us busy and entertained. They are just divine.
Thanks for your wonderful support. The learnings we took away from the course were so helpful in giving us a positive birth experience.
First-time parents Renee & Sam attended the hypnobirthing course with me in their second trimester. Renee had recently been advised she had gestational diabetes and the topic of induction was already been discussed with her.
Fast forward a couple of months and their beautiful baby girl Skyla decided she was keen to be welcomed into the world before her estimated due date and the discussion about induction was no longer even needed!!!
Here are some snippets of what the proud new parents had to say about the birth…
- “Our little hypno bub arrived yesterday at 9.22am no name yet !
- But we managed to do it ‘au natural’ (tens machine + gas) and no induction
- Contractions started Monday evening. Finally went into hospital at 5.45am.
- 9.5cm dilated when we got to hospital.
- Only used gas and TENS machine. Managed to push out the ‘little’ one at 9.22am.
- Weight was 3.78kg, 54.5cm which is apparently quick tall.
- She won’t blow her own trumpet but she was amazing!
- Such an amazing effort by Renee – thanks for the great guidance Kerry!
- Happy hormones are running for sure!!”
I had the pleasure of teaching Jamila & Craig in the lead up to their planned homebirth. Here Jamila re-tells her experience of giving birth to their first child, the gorgeous Malakai….
“Birthing at home means not having access to the drugs at hospitals. My midwife came with a warning “Remember, I can’t give you any painkiller drugs you might want.” Good. I won’t want any! With this said, Cara recommended that Craig and I attend a birth course, so that we may learn some techniques to help us with the birth.
I dived into research of various courses and found that Hypnobirthing was one I resonated with most. After searching through a few instructors, I came across Kerry at the Hypnobirthing Mum.
It was a long two days ﬁlled with information. I remember sitting in the course thinking “Every couple needs to hear this stuﬀ!” I loved how the course empowered couples to make their own decisions in an environment where we might feel subservient. Although it was mostly hospital based, there was still plenty of useful content for our home birth.
Over the next few weeks I tried to give the hypnobirthing ‘stuﬀ’ a go. I would listen to the hypno tracks, but would always fall asleep. (Which is apparently ﬁne as it still seeps in to your consciousness). I’ll admit, I could’ve listened to them a lot more over the course of my pregnancy. It wasn’t until my ﬁnal few weeks that I listened to them mostly everyday. I can see how useful they would be if listened to regularly, as it brings you into a state of meditation. My mind kept wandering during the tracks, but practise made it wander a little less each time.
As well as the meditation tracks, each morning I would listen to the aﬃrmation track. This was a peaceful time spent leaning over my exercise ball (allowing baby to get into a good position) and letting positive energy ﬂow through my body.
When it actually came time for labour, mine was far too quick to even pull out any of the aﬃrmation/hypnobirthing tracks. The most useful tool I had was the breathing techniques. In particular, the “poo breath”. A breathing technique where you breathe your baby down and out. It’s called the poo breath because it’s best practised whilst doing a poop! It was this technique that would guide me through pushing. In fact, I didn’t even actively push (until the ﬁnal ﬁve minutes). My body pushed through each contraction all on it’s very own. I believe practising the poo breath helped me and my body know how to breathe properly, resulting in an eﬀortless birth.
My baby was born perfectly on time or what the medical world would call ‘post term’ or ‘late’. At 42 weeks and 1 day, he made our midwife nervous.
This part in the pregnancy was where my belief started to falter. Not because of my own fears or doubts, but because of all the external fear. People kept asking “is the baby here yet?”. When I responded with “No!” they would ask “Is everything okay with the baby?”.
I knew everything would be okay with the baby. No one has ever been pregnant forever, so my baby would come! He was just taking his time. Nonetheless, the constant pressure took its toll. (Deﬁnitely had a few “breakdowns” thinking I might have to go to hospital for an induction, but Craig was always there to calm me down.)
My midwife started sending me information about “late” babies, and highly recommended me to get scans to make sure everything was okay. Although I didn’t want the scans, I decided to get them just to ease everyone’s mind as well as my own.
At the beginning of the week, I knew my baby was arriving on the Friday. Even so, I decided to at least make some small eﬀort to naturally induce labour. On the Wednesday, I tried acupuncture. An uncomfortable but not painful experience. Probably won’t do it ever again. On Thursday, I went and bought castor oil. Thursday night, I asked Craig to blow the pool up because “tomorrow is the day and I don’t want to wake the neighbours up with the air pump at 3am”. I took the castor oil at 9pm and went to bed. At around 1am I woke up to what can be described as mild period pain. I jumped out of bed and sat on the toilet. Thanks to the castor oil, I pooped everything out. I then went to lay back in bed and the mild period pain was still there. “This must be it”, I thought.
My whole pregnancy I kept wondering what labour would feel like. I had always heard about “contractions” or “surges” or “waves” but I couldn’t actually imagine what that meant. I lay in bed thinking “Wow, this is so awesome. I understand now why they are called waves!” The sensation was quite literally a wave. I could feel the rise of the surge slowly building, reaching a peak, and then descending again into nothingness. It was the coolest sensation. I couldn’t lay in bed any longer. I knew labour was commencing and I had to get up and write!
I jumped out of bed and went into my living room. I took out a notepad and commenced writing. The time I noted down was 1.44am. I could only write two paragraphs before I couldn’t continue anymore. The waves had slightly increased but were still not painful, per se. I woke Craig up to tell him things had started and to come out in the living room with me. He helped me time the contractions and they were a few minutes apart. We called our midwife around 3am to let her know what was going on.
She groggily answered the phone and said “That’s great. Let me know when things ramp up!”
Having not experienced labour before and not knowing how long things would take, I thought I better try and rest because it could be a long day ahead. Craig laid down on one sofa and I laid on the other. I tried desperately to rest but had to get up every few minutes to lean forward and sway through the surges. They still weren’t painful but it just wasn’t comfortable lying down during them. This went on for perhaps an hour.
Suddenly, I couldn’t lay or sit down at all. This next part is the only time I felt any pain throughout the whole birth experience. My surges were no longer concentrated in my abdomen, but I was having a tight sensation in my lower back and pelvis. I felt like I needed to poo, but kept saying to Craig “It can’t be poo! I’ve already pooped everything out!”
I was trying to sway through the surges but it wasn’t helping. I kept thinking “Jesus, if this is how surges feel for the rest of labour I don’t think I can handle it.” Whilst standing and swaying during the next painful surge, I decided to try and push just a little bit. Oh my lord! Suddenly the pain was replaced by the most wonderful feeling. My body is ready for pushing?!
The moment I listened to my body and worked with it, the feeling of pain was gone. I realised that yes, my body was telling me to PUSH! Not a poo, but my baby.
We called our midwife to let her know things have ramped up and are progressing and she said she’ll jump in the shower and head over.
After calling the midwife, I called my mum to tell her to head on over. I had tasked her with bringing over snacks for us all. (She, too, didn’t realise how quick my labour would be and went on her merry way to the shops before heading over, taking her sweet time. Luckily she arrived in time).
It was now 6.15am and I went and sat on the toilet. Sitting in my undies was my mucus plug. Yum. Whilst Craig went ahead and started ﬁlling up the pool, all my practicing of the ‘poo breath’ came naturally while sitting on the toilet. My body automatically kicked into gear and was breathing down through each surge, all on it’s own! I didn’t even have to consciously “push”, my body was doing it for me. So cool.
I’m not sure how long the pool took to ﬁll up but maybe around 7am I jumped into the deliciously warm water. I can’t tell you just how amazing it felt in there. The warmth was so comforting and my body ﬂoated eﬀortlessly. I was worried pre-birth with how my dodgy knee would hold up, but in the pool it caused no problems at all! I was able to move around freely into whatever position I felt like.
I leaned over the sides for most the time, breathing down through each wave. Cara arrived around 8am and I said to her “Cara, I’ve been pushing but I don’t even know if I can be?! Can you check me please.” Cara checked and conﬁrmed “Yep, I can’t feel any cervix.” Awesome. It was all go ahead from here. Cara melted into the background and let Craig and I do our thing. My mum arrived not long after Cara and later told me she didn’t even know Cara was there at ﬁrst, because Cara disappeared into the background lol! Having a home birth really means having control over your space. The wonderful midwives let you do your thing and only jump in when necessary.
Pushing a baby out was interesting. Every time I would push a little, baby would move down a bit. After I stopped pushing, baby would move back up. It felt somewhat frustrating, as if all that progress was doing nothing. Midwife Jo (my backup midwife) assured me that during each push, baby’s head was expanding the canal even more.
When Cara thought it was getting closer, Craig jumped into the pool with me. The plan was for Craig to catch the baby, but it turned out better for Craig to be sitting directly behind me, supporting my body. It felt like we both kinda gave birth because of the position we were in.
My body pushed on in this peaceful way for perhaps an hour and a half. Every now and again, Cara would check baby’s heartbeat and we could hear the healthy beating sound. But then, on one of the checks, something was diﬀerent. Unmistakably, baby’s heartbeat was slower. We all heard it.
Cara said “He’s getting tired. We have to get him out now.” Although the panic raised a little in the room, Craig and I were able to still remain super calm. The words were what I needed to hear to muster up all the strength within me to actively push baby out. I now took control of my pushes and really had to puuuussshhh with all my might. After perhaps 5-10minutes of intense pushing, out popped my baby’s head.
Time stood still in this moment. I remember staring down at his little head between my legs. His body then started rotating and moments later the rest of his body slid out. I think Cara held him under the water for me to reach down and pick him up. As I pulled him out of the water and onto my lap, I had a moment of de ja vu, thinking “I’ve seen this before.” My brain was freaking out, not sure why it would think it had seen my baby before. Cara had to tell me to hold the baby against my chest, because I was frozen, my mind tripping.
My mum started letting out some tribal cry only a grandmother can do, and I could see Craig’s fat tear drops ﬂowing into the pool. I had no tears as I was just in pure shock seeing my baby’s little squishy face and body. Craig and I held our baby in the water, soaking up the moment.
17 minutes later I felt a minor contraction build up inside me again and with one small push, out came the placenta. Craig cut the cord and then we eventually got out the pool. I went straight over to my sofa and was able to lay there with my baby on my chest. He started doing the ‘boob crawl’, which my mum was absolutely amazed about as she had never seen that before.
I gave him his ﬁrst suckle (or at least I thought so. Turns out he wasn’t attached properly. Took a while getting the hang of latching on properly but we both got there in the end.) Cara was patient and calm, allowing me to get used to it and get it right.
After our ﬁrst initial bonding time, I then handed baby over to Craig for some skin-to-skin time. I didn’t have any external tears but apparently had an internal graze that needed a few stitches. I laid there on my sofa, next to my partner and baby, whilst the midwives put a couple of stitches in. After this, while Craig, my mum and I all admired and awed at our little one, Cara and Jo went ahead and started cleaning up the birthing space. They emptied the pool, deﬂated it, threw the towels in the wash and had the place clean within no time at all.
Cara also showed us the placenta, allowing us to really admire and check out the beauty of this organ that my body grew and which kept our baby alive! So cool.
I never realised just how much birth takes a toll on you. Even with a quick labor, I had no energy and got out of breath just going to the toilet! However, it felt good being in the comfort of my own home. Laying on the sofa for days with my baby was bliss 😀
On top of that, midwife Cara came to our home for all checkups for the ﬁrst 6 weeks. I really never had to leave that sofa and could fully recover, lol!
Homebirthing really is a wonderful experience that I will always recommend to people. The dedicated care and attention you receive is next to none. Not disrupting the labour process by making your way to a hospital, creating your desired birthing space, being surrounded by people you know and chose to be there, tucking up into your own bed with your new baby – all these things and more.
I keep saying to people that if I had to re-live giving birth for the rest of my life, I would. It truly was a magical, peaceful, intuitive, calm, divine and loving experience. My body and baby knew what they were doing, all I had to do was show up!
It was such a pleasure to work with Emily & Chris again for their second child. Their first-born Alfie was about to become a big brother and Emily was seeking a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean)…
When Clio and Ricky attended the course with me they were on a different journey towards birth, but one week before their baby made their appearance they got into the hospital homebirth program! Here is their pregnancy, birth and postpartum journey…