If someone had said to me 10 years ago that I would have chosen to have my baby at home I would never have believed them. Choosing to have a precious baby in an environment with very few options for pain relief, with no doctors in the house should the unthinkable happen, I honestly felt that there would be no sense in making that choice.
But then, I had two children. And whilst both arrived safely, the second experience of childbirth was quite traumatic.
I was that person who didn’t make it to the hospital on time, and on my baby’s birth certificate in the place of birth box it says ‘The Pavement’ – followed by the road name.
Now as soon as the hospital staff arrived, and we had the all clear that my gorgeous baby boy was safe and well – the story of his fast arrival onto the floor was suddenly the funniest thing to have ever happened.
Until I got pregnant again, five years later. And then the memory of that experience made me very, very scared to give birth again.
The fear of giving birth alone on the side of the road, and the anxiety in advance because that is what I would have been expecting to happen for the remaining months of the pregnancy.
I was very lucky to have a very understanding midwife who completely made me feel at ease when voicing my concerns about giving birth again. She was everything I needed her to be – and I felt safe to bring up the idea of staying at home, knowing that there would be no judgement if I decided to change my mind later on.
I was also very lucky to have a very supportive partner. I think a lot of people would be very nervous about having their first child at home, but my other half was nothing but supportive and wanted me to be in the environment where I would be most calm.
He was a little concerned about mess – and actually when I speak to other parents, it is surprising how many people choose to have a hospital birth over a home birth not for the increased access to medical care, but so that their carpets don’t get ruined! Which was definitely a consideration for us having recently painstakingly renovated our home together. So off we went to Poundland for some cheap shower curtains to lay out! We bought way more than we ended up needing!
At 36 weeks pregnant our lovely midwife came to our home along with a student to discuss our ideas for a homebirth and also to risk assess our property. This was really only to establish that there was room for multiple midwives to comfortably move around me in all the rooms I thought I might want to be in and also that an ambulance could get to the home easily. The words ‘just in case’ were used a lot in this meeting, but I left feeling once again reassured – I would have two midwives with me, an ambulance would be on call to blue light me into hospital at the slightest hint of anything not being normal, but that the majority of home births are calm and end up with a very healthy, happy baby and mummy at the end.
I had gone into labour with my two boys at five days over my due date, and baby number three was no different. After breakfast in my local wholefood café with a friend going ‘am I in labour? I don’t know? Maybe… I’m not sure…’ and several hours pacing the floor holding the base of my back I called my mum and asked her to pick up my big boys from school – and I called the soon-to-be dad to be to ask him to come home. I don’t think he has ever done that journey quicker!! At quarter to three in the afternoon he telephoned the midwife, who arrived at half past and quickly proceeded to check me on the bed – taking my blood pressure, measuring foetal heartbeat and movement. She was 5 months pregnant herself and was a gorgeous, smiley positive force who radiated throughout the house – I instantly trusted that I would be safe with her.
‘Am I in labour?’ I asked, as at this point, I still was doubtful as I had been contracting for longer than it had taken the entire labour and birth of my second son.
‘Oh yes’ she said. ‘I will just call my colleague, how exciting, you will get to meet your baby soon!’
I decided to get into the bath as I felt that the water would help with the pain relief. You can purchase or hire a birthing pool to have at home, but we had decided not to as I didn’t feel I wanted to actually give birth in water. I had been warned that even in the final stage of labour I would have to get out of the bath when I felt the urge to push. I had lovely ideas about serenely walking into my living room to give birth on the rug in front of the log burner. Um – nope. When you need to push and are in the final stages of labour – you can’t walk! When I got out of the bath all I had the energy for was to crouch and hold onto the bath. At this point I had my partner holding my hand and four midwives (yes four midwives, due to shift changes) supporting me and encouraging me. And five minutes later, our baby was here.
When you have a baby at home one of the main concerns is keeping the new arrival warm. Most people’s homes are not anywhere near the temperature of a hospital, so we had towels in the tumble dryer, on the radiators – everywhere! When our lovely baby arrived, we didn’t find out the sex for twenty minutes as he was so bundled up in many, many towels! The six of us all peeked inside the towel went ‘awww look at the little thing’ and that was it – we knew we had a lovely baby boy.
The mess that we had worried so much about – wow, nothing to worry about at all! By the time the midwives left two hours later our bathroom was the cleanest it had ever been! The lovely midwives hugged us, cooed over the baby, made us tea and brought us toast – before leaving us to enjoy our first night with our newest family member.
Giving birth is such a personal choice – location, pain relief, baby name choices – everyone will have an opinion about what others should or shouldn’t do. I completely understand why a home birth could be a very scary thought for many women – because I used to be one of them. I didn’t realise how many scars I still carried from the experience of giving birth on the side of the road, how that experience made a hilarious story but actually wasn’t that hilarious to live it. Giving birth for the third time was a very healing journey for me, and I now have the positive birth experience that I hadn’t realised that I needed. I would 100% recommend a home birth to anyone who doesn’t have a medical reason why they have to be in a hospital.
I saw our lovely pregnant midwife a week later for our check. She had never said whether or not she had any other children. It turns out she didn’t but was hoping for a home birth. I hope she has one just like mine.
This guest blog post was written by my university friend Roz and I’m delighted that she wanted to share her home birth story on my blog. Thank you for sharing your story with us all and many congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby boy!
Have you had a home birth? Are you hoping to have a home birth? Comment below, say hello and let us know!
As always, thank you so much for reading.
Love, Thrifty Mumma X
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