If you’d told me little over a year ago that I’d be sitting here writing about our recent home birth I would have thought you were insane. And yet, here we are; four months into life as a family of five and typing this sat in the exact same room where our third child entered the world. And yes, my mind is still slightly blown by it! In the weeks leading up to my due date I scoured the internet for stories about home births, and in particular those from third time parents so in the interests of giving back to someone in the future, here’s our home birth story.
Having a third child was definitely more of a debate for us than adding a second. We always knew we wanted to give our first born a sibling but the choice to keep going after two was definitely a trickier one. Luckily our hearts won over our heads and in June last year that second little line appeared on the test. For the third time running we were incredibly fortunate to fall pregnant the first month of trying and we calculated the due date to be April 2nd, a perfect follow up for our May and June babies. At the time restrictions due to COVID in the UK were loosening and things looked like they would be far more relaxed, which they were… for a while! Dave was able to attend the dating scan at 12 weeks, my due date was brought forward to March 31st and we were able to tell family and friends. I don’t know who was more surprised – it was the first time we’d managed to keep the secret all the way to 13 weeks and I don’t think anyone was fully expecting the news! Unfortunately we pretty quickly went back into further lockdown restrictions which lasted the entirety of the rest of my pregnancy. Have to admit, I didn’t factor in homeschooling a 4 year old into my third trimester plans! Here I am just a few hours before going into labour… look at that sleepy face!
Luckily pregnancy was pretty simple and, having heard of the hospital restrictions, we pretty quickly decided we wanted to explore the option of a home birth. In all honesty, I never thought it would happen. We knew we could change our minds up until the moment the baby actually made their appearance and I thought we’d head to hospital. Even up until the point where the midwife arrived, I thought we’d be grabbing the bags and heading in… but more on that later. Although my midwife had originally mentioned a home birth in my 8 week booking in appointment, it wasn’t until around 34 weeks that I transferred to the home birth team and my care switched to them. This meant that from that point onward, all appointments took place in our home with the midwife visiting us, which meant Dave was finally able to attend an appointment and hear the heartbeat – hurrah! Just before 37 weeks I had to attend the hospital for a quick scan to double check the baby was head down (no unexpected breach babies here!) and we were all signed off and ready to go! At an early point we chose to hire a birthing pool which arrived at 37 weeks. We used a company called Gentle Births Birthing Pool Hire who provided everything we needed and were amazing – I would 100% recommend if you’re looking for a home birth and fancy a fuss free pool experience. The pool arrived, we did a trial run in the lounge a few nights later and both laughed at how funny the whole situation was… it was like having a hot tub in front of the tv!
With two overdue past births, I was convinced that this baby would also be overdue. My due date had been confirmed as March 31st but given past experience we told everyone it was an April baby. This worked in our favour wonderfully as the ‘is it here yet?’ texts didn’t come in at all! A couple of nights before my due date I started to get a large amount of braxton hicks but otherwise there were no signs of labour. As far as I was concerned this was another long haul pregnancy! The night before my due date I had one of the worst nights sleep with pains coming irregularly whenever I started to drop off… no consistency, no real pain just enough discomfort to keep waking me up and I put it down to stressing about our building work – top tip, don’t take on huge renovations whilst heavily pregnant! The next morning (my due date) my mum came to collect the children for the school run and I mentioned it to her – ‘Is this it?!’ I was pretty convinced that this could go on for weeks and all I needed was a good night’s sleep. Little did I know that that wasn’t going to be an option!
After a day of feeling tired and achey, the kids came home around 5.30pm, we waved my parents off and got down to the bedtime routine. By this point I was back to getting the odd pain when I laid down, making bedtime a bit of a nightmare. We got the kids to sleep, Dave cooked dinner and as he brought it in I realised I really couldn’t eat anything. Less than an hour after getting the kids to bed we agreed it was probably a good move to get my parents back to collect the children and take them to their house just in case. At 8pm they arrived and we woke the kids, packed them in the car and I had the most amazing hugs with them both, all whilst sat on the birth ball. Littlest just wanted to cuddle and the biggest had a huge grin when we said we might have a new brother or sister for them next time we met. We packed them off and rang the hospital, it was official, the home birth team were available and when the midwife rang me back she said she’d head over straight away. Eeek!
The midwife arrived just after 9pm at which point my contractions went from every 3-5 minutes to a lot more sporadic. Normally I’d never dream of getting them out that early but I have a history of short, sharp labours and they were nearly an hour away. When she came in, contractions slowed and I suddenly felt really aware of having someone in our home. It took a good hour for that feeling to calm down and things to get back on track; she sat quietly in the corner asking me the odd question and I went back to breathing my way through things. Just before midnight, I went to the toilet and she asked if she could do an internal exam in order to see if things were happening as contractions hadn’t picked up. At this point I was a measly 3cm! I remember thinking that I could walk around like that for weeks! She offered (and I accepted) a quick sweep at the same time and she said she’d stay as she felt things would move on quickly.
Not long after this I asked to get in the pool, more for a change of scene to be honest. In our practice it took 5-10 minutes to put it up but this time it took forever! Poor Dave took nearly an hour to get it set up in place and filled from the tap, by which point I was pretty ready to get in. Contractions had become more regular and I was really tired from the poor sleep the night before. Getting in to the pool was a bit of a dream, it was so nice to be in a new position and the relaxation was next level, I even forgot that I was wedged in between the tv and the radiator! For the next couple of hours I floated around, breathed through things and started to use a bit of gas and air as it felt like baby was beginning to move down. With each contraction I felt pain in the front and I mentioned this to my midwife who thought it was just the baby’s position. As time went on I felt that it was my bladder instead but try as I might I couldn’t wee – even the midwife was telling me to go in the pool! At 3.35am I finally psyched myself up enough to climb out of the pool and make it to the toilet. Back to the sofa and another check from the midwife… 6cm. Finally, active bloody labour! ‘Is that all!’ I remember saying to the midwife who told me she was really happy with the progress. I wasn’t, my labours are usually over and done with in an hour or so! Afterwards Dave told me that this was when he text my parents to cancel my dad and the builders from rocking up at 7am the next morning – thank goodness!
In retrospect, I should’ve gotten out of the pool and managed a wee earlier because from that point things got moving and we all agreed afterward that the baby’s position had almost certainly been causing issues with my bladder and them being able to get past. For me the time was spent mostly in a daze with Dave sporadically heating up the pool with hot water (apparently I was pretty grumpy about this each time – you try having a hot water hose near your bum mid-contraction!) and the midwife checking the baby’s heart rate every so often with a monitor. Around 4.30 I announced to the room that I was ‘feeling a bit pushy’ to which the midwife agreed I sounded that way… she still didn’t ring the second midwife who was 30 minutes or so away. At 4.35am Dave text my parents to say that things were still happening and the second midwife was coming. I vaguely remember hearing the midwife make numerous phone calls to try and track down the second midwife whilst saying ‘You can hear what’s happening here!’. She told Dave that he would have to be in charge of the timings since she needed to be at the business end – terrifying given that he’s awful at timekeeping at the best of times. At 4.37am my waters broke and at 4.38am our second son was born. Nice and speedy, just like his siblings!
With this delivery, I could once again feel him moving down with each push. I managed to stop pushing to let his head bob in a little but that came out pretty quickly. I asked the midwife if she could pull the rest of him out! (She refused… rude). It took a real push to get his body out and she told me I needed to pick up my baby. I looked down into the pool and there it was, a dark haired, dark eyed little thing at the bottom of the pool! It took a bit of telling to get me to pick him up and reveal he was a boy – and an identical one to his brother – I think I was in pure disbelief that that had just happened, again! We sat in the pool, me shaking with shock, Dave having a little cry/laugh and this guy alternating between a cry and a stare.
After ten minutes or so, we got out of the pool. No easy feat in a home birth! There were no steps on the pool meaning I had to straddle and hop over the side, whilst holding a baby, shaking like a leaf and having the cord still attached to both baby and me. The midwife helped me hold the baby whilst Dave helped pull me over the edge and we laid down on the sofa. Such an odd feeling to know I’d been eating my tea (or not!) on the same sofa just a few hours earlier! We laid, snuggled and chatted for best part of an hour before I gave a push and the placenta came out. Dave cut the cord, the midwife examined it and chatted me through it and the second midwife appeared. By this time it was nearly 6am! Dave held the baby whilst one midwife checked him over and the other did my stitches for a small second degree tear and then they helped me up into the shower. Oh my goodness, the bliss of being in your own bathroom for that moment. A shower, a sit on my own bed and my pjs back on before returning downstairs to lounge on the other sofa snuggling my pillow and feeding this brand new little guy. The midwives tidied up, did their checks and filled out their paperwork, waiting a little longer to make sure he was up to temperature – we wanted to avoid a trip in to hospital for low baby temp – and to make sure that my uterus was starting to contract.
Less than 3 hours after the birth, they were gone! Dave and I sat in the lounge and laughed, it was so surreal; a perfectly tidied room, with the only evidence being a birth pool in the corner and a new baby in our arms! We video called my parents to tell the kids, rang Dave’s parents and then tidied up ready for our first visitors just after 8am… the new big brother and sister on their way through to school. What an eventful night!
Oh and the best bit? My ‘little’ newborn turned out to be a whopping 9lb 10oz! I can’t tell you how proud I am to have birthed him at home with just a small amount of gas and air at the end. Like I said, if you’d told me that would be the case a year ago, I’d have laughed at you… and yet here we are! Even Dave is a home birth convert after seeing how lovely and low key it was… and that’s saying something!