Just a week ago our little Penelope was born in our home and here is an account of our experience as a family...
I had previously had very long labours with trips back and forth to hospital that made things take even longer. However I had never considered a home birth before. I saw it as something only hippies do. I was put off by the possible mess and the way our home could be tainted by the memory of a birth. I was nervous about complications and the risk of having to be rushed into hospital.
At 28 weeks, I reported to the Ruby team for my usual checks and laughed when the midwife asked me what my birth plan was. “This is my third child, I know there is no such thing as a birth plan. Things never go according to plan” was my answer. We talked about my experiences and she suggested a home birth. I promised to give the Rainbow team a call and soon was in touch with Kat and Gloria who won me over effortlessly.
I still half expected to end up in hospital but played along with it. It was comfortable. From then on all my appointments were at home and mostly took place at the weekend. Soon I realised that my elder children were taking a much more active part in the arrival of their sibling and I started to look forward to the next appointment when they would handle the Doppler themselves to listened the heart beat or learn under Gloria’s expert guidance how to feel my tummy to see in what position the baby was. They started talking to her and showing much more excited anticipation at the approaching arrival.
I loved having that very personal touch with Kat and Gloria and I loved the fact that the approaching birth was becoming a family matter rather than my own experience with a number of helpless family witnesses.
At 40+6 I woke up to mild contractions. I let them continue for the morning. I tried to call the delivery suite for them to alert the midwife on call but it was busy so I simply texted Kat and Gloria to let them know that it was likely to happen today.
Kat was on call. She came in the afternoon and stayed with us for a couple of hours. Then left to come back in the evening by which time labour had really started.
I loved her discreet but watchful presence. Her way of timing everything perfectly and assessing stages without over monitoring (one examination just before entering the pool, regular foetal heart monitoring though). I felt that I only needed to focus on my labour. The rest was being taken care of. She knew when the pool needed to be filled, when I could get in, when I should take my top off for the skin to skin. She was gentle, encouraging.
Pénélope was born at 11.30pm and the rest was pure bliss (I had forgotten that contractions don’t just stop there and then). I was home, with my baby in my arms. I stayed on our sofa while my husband and the midwives took care of everything. I could eat my own food, choose the level of light, the music and just be with my baby who was already feeding nicely.
I showered in my own shower and slept in my own bed with my baby next to me from the first night, not in a ward with 5 other mothers and their newborns. Just us...
The bliss continued in the morning when Pénélope’s brother and sister woke up to meet her for the first time. It was just like Christmas for them and I am so glad they didn’t have to go to hospital to meet their sister.
I didn’t have to wait to be discharged. We didn’t have to fit into anyone’s schedule. Our family life just continued but with one more member.
Postnatal care is also done primarily at home (I am going to hospital for the first time in months for the hearing test in a few days). Kat has been back and I have seen a couple of community midwives. I have found the level of care outstandingly human, gentle and affectionate.
I don’t know if it’s got a lot to do with the experience but our baby is incredibly peaceful, she feeds like a dream, she sleeps plenty and I have recovered faster than ever before.
Sorry about the long post, if you got to the end, I hope you enjoyed reading my story and will feel even more confident about a home birth. My only regret is not having considered it for my other children.
Happy home birth!
PS: home birth does not make it pain free!