How to have a calm home birth & what to expect in labour...

I've been meaning to write this post for a while but whilst I (wrongly) thought that after the first few weeks, I'd have some kind of routine going and whilst baby was napping, I could get back to blogging, it just hasn't worked out that way.

Whilst we have found a new normal and I can snatch moments through the day to myself, washing, eating and getting some laundry done has taken priority. Having a newborn baby commands every minute of your attention - who knew?!

Anyway for those of you who kept up with my pregnancy diary, I thought you might want to hear about my birthing experience. I wrote here about the Daisy birthing classes I was taking to help give me the calm, active birth I if you're wondering if they worked, read on...

I always opted to keep an open mind when it came to my birth experience but there were a few principals that were important to me. I ideally wanted to be active and mobile as the thought of being confined to a hospital bed didn't appeal to me. I also wanted to keep as calm and relaxed in labour as it's possible to be. I planned a home birth and got a birthing pool on standby at home but I still wasn't sure if I would go into the midwifery led unit.

Well after getting Braxton hicks in the final weeks, four days past my due date I woke in the early hours of the morning to a trickle of water. I woke the Carnivore to say I thought it may have been my waters breaking but I wasn't sure, so we opted to go back to sleep but twenty minutes later there was a bigger gush and I knew for sure.

I rang the labour ward to let them know and they said to go back to bed as it could take some time. I sent the Carnivore to bed whilst I hopped in a bath. After an hour the contractions were getting stronger and closer together, so I woke him up to get him to put my tens machine on. My contraction app told me that at five minutes apart, I should be grabbing my bags and getting an ambulance to the hospital, which seemed quite dramatic.

We called the labour ward again who dismissed that I was in active labour because I was still quite calm and could talk to them in between contractions. I knew they were getting stronger and insisted that as I was booked for a home birth they should send a midwife to check me over. It didn't fill me with confidence that they said they weren't sure how to contact my midwife but we left it with them to figure out. Still they didn't think there was any urgency and insisted we wait it out at home.

I was using my Daisy breathing through each contraction and I was swaying back on forth, which helped enormously. I used my birthing ball but could only lean on all fours, as sitting was too uncomfortable by this point. Things stepped up a level and at 3 minutes apart and lasting for around 50 seconds, I got the Carnivore to call the ward. Finally they took us seriously and said they'd send the on call midwife, who didn't arrive until 8:30am.

When she arrived she immediately called the second midwife, seeing that I was in full blown active labour. Luckily the other midwife was Carolyn, who I'd gotten to know in my pregnancy and knew what kind of labour I wanted.

As soon as she arrived she told the Carnivore to get the birth pool ready, which was inflated in the dining room from our trial run but not filled. I was still swaying and pacing in the living room using my breathing techniques I'd learned at Daisy birthing classes, whilst the Carnivore was running around trying to ready the pool.

At one point I heard him say to the midwife that the hose pipe wouldn't work and between gritted teeth I told him to use the bloody kettle, pots and pans, but just to get it sorted, as I was in desperate need of some relief by this point. It did mean that I spent a lot of the early part of labour by myself whilst the Carnivore tried to get things ready.

By 9:30am I was in the pool which provided so much relief and I continued to use breathing and the various positions that I was taught in my birthing class. The midwife wouldn't let me have the gas and air or the fan on during contractions saying it was motivation to push...I was so focused on the task that it didn't occur to me to demand it.

After much effort, plenty of movement and lots of Lucozade, I had a largely calm but active water birth and delivered our beautiful little girl at 11:31am. I remember the midwives saying she was here and to reach under the water for her but it took them saying it a couple of times before I fully registered that I had done it.

I can't describe the feeling of looking into her eyes that first time and feeling that special connection. The Carnivore looked in awe and wonder at this little bundle who'd made an appearance after months of nudging us through my tummy.

We wrapped our bundle up and had lots of lovely cuddles - I must have said I couldn't believe she was here a hundred times and was on such a high that I had brought her earth side all by myself.

There were a few hiccups like my placenta being stubborn, which almost resulted in transferring into hospital for a general anaesthetic and would have been gutting after going au natural through the labour but luckily lots of midwifery experience and active movements avoided it.

But then due to me being Rhesus Negative and them forgetting to take baby's blood from the cord, we still had to go into hospital that day but c'est la vie. I was just so happy to have her here safely that I didn't care that we had to go in but I wish they had checked my notes.

Part of the reason I wanted a home birth was that I envisaged us all being cuddled up in our bed with takeaway pizza and a glass of champagne, which was exactly what we did after all the necessities were taken care of.

Labour is hard work, no doubt about it, but I'm so happy I managed to have the calm, active home birth I wanted and I think the Daisy birthing classes and hypnobirthing techniques really helped.

All that remains to be said is welcome to the world little princess, you bring us so much happiness and we can't wait to hold your little hand as you make your way in this world.

The key things you may want to consider for your own labour that I learnt from researching and talking to other mums were:

- Think about where you want it to happen i.e. home, hospital, birthing centre or in the outdoors (trust me, this is a thing)
- To have a birthing plan but be prepared to go with the flow - no birth is 100% perfect but you can still have a vision for how you'd like it go. Even if you ended up having an emergency caesarean, for example, you can make sure you still get skin to skin with your baby
- What kind of pain relief if any you might be open to. It's better to know your facts ahead of time and then you can be informed.
- If in doubt remember BRAIN - this is to ask your care providers about things they suggest so that you know the Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Interventions and what would happen if you did Nothing at all. Lots of women  are unhappy with their labour because consent was not given for many interventions - make sure your birthing partner knows to ask this on your behalf when you're focused on the task in hand.

So does a home birth appeal to you? Are there any tips for expectant mums you can share about labour?

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