Last week we welcomed our beautiful little girl Aisling, at 41 +1, all 7lbs even. I had Aisling at home, a decision I made early in my pregnancy, as I had such anxiety about giving birth without my husband present due to all the current restrictions on maternity hospitals in Ireland.
It was without a doubt the best decision I’ve made and we had the most amazing home birth experience. When I could not get a midwife through the HSE scheme as there are only about 20 Midwifes for the whole country, my only option left was to go private. Private Midwifes Ireland offer a great alternative to the HSE and the minute I spoke to my midwife Ann, I knew I was in safe hands. If you are thinking about a home birth, most health insurance companies cover the cost of this, as long as you are with them for so many months before you are pregnant.
So my labour was short like Isobel, but not as frantic, probably because I was much better prepared but I also knew what was coming.
I started getting some pain after 4am, and got up, went to toilet and wondering was this it. I had a lot of braxton hicks contractions around week 39 so wasn’t sure this was the real thing. I tried to relax and go back to sleep, but I couldn’t get comfortable. I had to stand for the next 2 contractions. They were roughly every 20 minutes and lasting for about 1 minute. My husband was in Isobels room as he had settled her during the night. Thankfully he left the door open so I was able gently wake him without disturbing her. By the 4th contraction I thought this is definitely the real thing, so we decided to move to my “birthing room” downstairs aka the living room. He urged me to call my midwife Ann and let her know what was happening.
She told me to continue to monitor timings and get back to her once they were getting stronger and every 10 minutes apart. In the meantime I stayed on my birthing ball in between contractions, had breakfast, lit all my candles and put on relaxing music to create a nice atmosphere. Myself and my husband chatted and read our books to stay relaxed in between contractions. This was without a doubt the nicest part of the morning.
By 6am, my contractions were now 10 minutes apart, so I called Ann with an update and she said she would leave shortly.
For each contraction I stood up and breathed deeply for each one. The pain was still manageable and felt like really strong period pain. By 6:30am we gave my mother in law an update so she could help bring Isobel to creche at 8am just in case labour progressed really quickly.
Just after 7am Isobel woke and my husband got her dressed and ready. 30 minutes later both my mother in law and Ann arrived. My contractions still continued at 10 minutes apart, but just getting stronger at this stage. I was no longer reading my book in between contractions, just chatting and completing hip movements on the birthing ball.
Isobel loved the music I had on (not your traditional birth playlist, more a mix of rock/pop hits) so we danced together while I awaited another contraction. When I got one she asked what I was doing and I told her Yoga, so she breathed with me through another 2 contractions which was really sweet. We said goodbye to her after 8am as both Shane and his mum brought her to creche.
I went for a shower to help with the back pain and while up there, had another 2 contractions, so they were now roughly 5 minutes apart and getting much stronger. I didn’t know it at the time, but Ann said later I was now in established labour by 8:30. I didn’t have any vaginal examinations during this time, as I didn’t want them and Ann agreed they were not necessary. I never knew how many cm dilated I was, but never felt I needed to know. I knew what my body was doing and I could feel the baby moving down. Ann regularly observed the babys heart rate, mine and my blood pressure to check everything was OK.
Ann also works with a Doula, Janelle who had arrived before 8:30. By 9:00 as the contractions were getting much stronger Janelle offered to do hip squeezes to help manage the pain. These were a much welcomed relief, as I now leaned on Shane for each contraction while Janelle continued with the hip squeezes.
By 10:00am my legs started to feel weak so I sat reclined on the couch, which had been prepared for labour (covered with shower curtains and an old fitted king size sheet). Ann suggested a massage to my thighs would help with contractions. She explained that my legs were shaking a little now as adrenalin was kicking in. I remembered reading about this in the book “Your baby, Your birth”. It explained how Oxytocin works with Adrenalin and how you can help your body not let the Adrenalin take over as it could slow down labour. I breathed more heavily over the next few contractions to help my body relax and stop my legs from shaking. It seemed to work and I then decided to move positions and get into a squat pose on the couch.
I started to feel sick as the toast I had earlier was giving me massive heartburn.
By 10:45 I felt urges to push down and baby was moving down. Contractions were very close together at this stage and I didn’t feel I was getting much of a break. 10 minutes later Ann suggested that I sit on toilet for 2 contractions to take pressure off and help bring down baby. I requested gas and air as I felt I could no longer manage the pain by just deep breathing. I was apprehensive of using it, due to my past experience of making me really foggy and Ann was aware of this history. She explained how to breathe with the gas and air. I immediately felt some relief and thought baby was going to be born soon.
We moved back into the living room at 11:10 and I stood for next contraction leaning into Shane while Janelle squeezed my hips. Ann wanted to check babys heart rate so I sat reclined on couch. She suggested turning around into squat position again as she could not pick up an accurate reading. I was continuing to feel like pushing so did with each contraction which were relentless at this stage. Ann checked me and could feel the head at said with probably more one contraction head would be out.
We waited, I got my breath for a few seconds, roared into the contraction and pushed down with it. All of a sudden, baby was out in one go, screaming and eyes wide open, born at 11:32. Ann asked me to turn around so she could hand me baby and I could sit. She asked me “So is it a boy or girl?” And I said “it’s a girl” I knew when I gave the final push, it was just instinct.
Ann and Janelle left me and my husband alone to bond with baby as we did skin to skin and left babys cord pulsating. Baby was born perfectly healthy and I didn’t require any stitches and had minimal blood loss if any.
The cord was clamped and hour later and I moved to the toilet to deliver the placenta while Shane did skin to skin with baby. Don’t worry a bowl was placed in toilet to catch placenta which safely delivered without intervention by 1pm.
Afterwards Janelle helped me to the shower and helped me get dressed and settled in my bed. Shane then joined us and baby was weighed and placed back on my chest to help start breastfeeding.
My home birth was so relaxed compared to the rush of getting to hospital with Isobel and her been delivered so quickly after arriving in hospital, it was all a bit of a blur. I am delighted that I got to remember all of my birth this time as being a massive control freak, it felt like I controlled the pace of the labour and she came out at the time she was meant to.
I will follow up with another post on breastfeeding, but if you have any questions or comments on a home birth, please let me know!