Note from Naomi: Today's post is a guest post from the lovely Jenny from Monkey and Mouse. She is a 32 mum of two who lives with her husband and children in a beautiful part of Scotland where she sees the hills everyday. You can visit and read her amazing blog here.
I gave birth to my first son in hospital, after a 2 hour labour. I decided there and then that our next baby should be born at home.
My first son's birth felt so rushed; no one believed me that the baby was about to be born - they kept telling me that there was plenty of time yet. In the end there wasn't.
The water birth I had hoped for didn't happen - as they didn't have time to get the temperature right in the pool - and I gave birth standing up, with the midwife catching the baby. I still feel like my first birth experience was brilliant, despite it being rushed, and that I suffered 3rd degree tears; which - after having no drugs or pain relief during the labour - meant I had to have a spinal anaesthetic while they stitched me back up.
When baby number two was due, I decided I would stay at home which would allow me to have the relaxed birth that I wanted - with a pool - in my own comfortable surroundings. I was lucky, as the midwives did not bat an eyelid and seemed quite happy with the home birth route. I found out further down the line, that there were another three home births due around the same time as me in my local area. Perhaps it's becoming more common?
Over the months leading up to the birth we - and by we, I of course mean I - arranged everything. We ordered a birth pool and liner; tested out the pool; received the box of drugs and gas and air; plus we had visits from the midwives to check out our house and go through the risk assessment. Everything was going perfectly.
My pregnancies were both straightforward and I had no issues whatsoever. However, as I had suffered a 3rd degree tear during my first birth, the consultant at the hospital wanted to see me. The first visit was to find out what I had planned for the home birth; and the second they tried to convince me to give birth at hospital. I refused.
I did not see the point in cutting myself, in the hope that it would stop me tearing. Even with the cut I could have ended up with an additional tear if my old scar tore anyway!
I was in a great home birth Facebook group. They were brilliant at reminding me that although the consultants and midwives can advise you on whatever they want, the choices of how to give birth are always up to the mother. It's your body, your choice. This was great to make sure I was confident in my choices; and stuck up for what I wanted when the consultant tried to convince me otherwise.
My due date came and went. Four days after, I started to feel mild contractions. Throughout the morning they started to get stronger. I knew this was it. We packed our son off with our friend for the day; whilst I listened to my birth music and bounced on the gym ball in our living room.
My husband blew up the birth pool and filled it up with warm water; checking the temperature was correct for when I could get in. As the contractions weren't particularly strong, nothing much happened until around 4pm. This was when I began to feel them getting stronger and stronger.
We had three calls to make; to the midwife, my friend, and my parents.
We called the midwives. We made a quick call to my friend who was looking after our eldest; and arranged for him to have tea at hers and for her to then bring him back when the baby was born. After that, we made a call to my parents to let them know they wouldn't need to come to look after him.
I got into the pool. I breathed through the contractions - making some primal noises. My husband looked worried. I think this was mainly as he didn't understand that the contractions weren't painful, but just a very strong feeling.
My waters went in the pool. This signalled to me that I needed to get out the pool, to allow the midwives (who had been in the kitchen chatting quietly all this time) to help me with the controlled birth of the head. After significant tears last time round, I knew I wanted to slow the birth of the head so I wouldn't need to go to hospital to get stitched up.
I sat down, with my back against the sofa. Baby was born a few minutes later, about 8 minutes after leaving the pool.
We wanted to leave the cord, but it wasn't long enough for our new son to get to my breast. My husband ended up cutting it and littlest latched on straight away. Not too long later I gave birth to my placenta naturally.
I only suffered 2nd degree tears this time. After a little while I went upstairs and lay on the bed whilst the midwives expertly stitched me up. They kept telling me off for shaking every now and then, but adrenalin always makes me shake!
An hour or so after I gave birth, my friend arrived with our eldest. He was much more interested in the train gift his new brother had given him, than in his younger brother!
My friend said she had never experienced the feeling that she got when she walked into our house that night, and that it was like walking into a wall of oxytocin - the love hormone.
I could feel it too, but I didn't realise anyone else could feel it the way I was.
If we ever have a third child (although I've been told it's not happening, as our two are a handful!) without a doubt I would have another home birth. It was the most amazing experience, and I can't imagine a better way to give birth.