An Unassisted Homebirth During A Global Pandemic

“Having had an extremely positive first labour, as the time neared for my second I was so calm and excited about the experience — which if you have read my first birth story, you will know that first time round I started off feeling absolutely terrified of the prospect of labour!

This time I decided to opt for a homebirth. I was low risk, we were in the midst of a global pandemic, and the one thing I learned from my first labour was that if I was calm and relaxed, the experience was easily manageable. We hired a pool, met with the homebirth team, and had a hospital bag packed just in case. At the start of the week at 38 weeks, Tom, half joking, asked me to wait until the weekend to give birth as he had a load of jobs he needed to get finished at work.

I woke up on the Saturday morning at 38+4 weeks and something felt different. I can’t really explain what “different” was, but I just had a feeling that we may get to meet our baby today! I didn’t mention anything to Tom as I had the same feeling a few days earlier and it hadn’t amounted to anything. So off Tom went to work for the morning as planned and my 2 year old son Gilbert & I spent the morning cuddling in bed and watching Peter Rabbit… with me running off to the bathroom every 20 minutes to clear out the system! It’s funny how our bodies prepare: i was exactly the same with Gilbert on the hours running up to his birth, so I knew at this point it was likely to happen that day.

Tom got home around midday and I asked him to tidy the living room and set the pool up as I was now sure it was going to happen today. I wanted a tidy, clear space to give birth in, to keep everything as relaxed and calm as possible.

A woman calm and relaxed in a birth pool at home.

I got in the pool at 3pm, and within a few minutes I felt my waters pop. I felt so in tune with my body, it was like the baby was waiting for me to get in the pool for my waters to go. The water in the pool was completely clear which I was happy about, and a few minutes later I needed to change position as the surges were coming on very strong! I asked Tom for some more hot water as I was now on my knees leaning on the side of the pool and my back wasn’t submerged. In hindsight the surges had intensified when my waters broke so a bit more water wasn’t going to make much difference, this was the transition for sure.
We have a pretty small hot water tank in our house and the taps were running cold, so in a bit of a panic Tom ran past me with a bucket to go ask the neighbours for hot water. I knew at this point there was no need for water, the head was coming but the surge was too strong for me to speak in the moment. So off Tom went, and I breathed and moaned through the next surge alone. But it was fine, I was so confident in my body, I didn’t mind that the midwives hadn’t arrived, I just hoped Tom would be back in time to witness the birth.

My surges started around 1pm, and at first were every 10-15 minutes and felt similar to bad period pain. Totally manageable with some good hypnobirthing breathing techniques, so Tom kept an eye on our son while I started to breathe through them. Gilbert hadn’t been napping well at the time but luckily he went down for a nap just before 2pm and then Tom started to fill the pool. I called the birth centre as the surges were now strong and closer together. They had already been prepped that my last labour was quick, so they got in touch with the homebirth team who called straight back to say they were on their way.

My dad called for a chat around 2.30pm, I didn’t tell him I was in labour, and I was so calm that he didn’t even notice my now strong and frequent surges.

I could feel her moving down the birth canal with every breath. A feeling that I’ll never forget! I didn’t have this feeling of control with Gilbert as it was much more frantic and I had been holding him in so I didn’t give birth in the car on the way to the hospital! This time was so different. The surges were majorly intense, almost too much to take… almost. But in the next break I caught my breath and prepared myself for the next surge, reminding myself I was almost there and reaching down to protect my perineum. I was in control and I could do this. 

Her head came with the next surge, I reached and felt her silky hair, and almost immediately after, Tom burst through the door. 

The head’s out!! I exclaimed, then immediately came the next surge and the next urge to push. Empowered that I had got this far on my own, I breathed and moaned and pushed, out came her shoulders at 3.25pm and then instant relief! Our neighbour turned up with the buckets of hot water, giving an extra boost of comfort and warmth to me and the baby, and five minutes later the midwives arrived. Gilbert woke up just after to come and meet his baby sister.

I wasn’t too comfortable in the pool as the umbilical cord was really short and I was hunched right over, so with the midwives now there to help we eased out of the pool, and on to the sofa, which Tom had covered in a shower curtain and bed sheet. Gilbert was very intrigued but also very emotional. He heard Grace cry and it made him cry too. He wanted to see the baby and he wanted to cuddle mummy. So he came and joined us on the sofa and we sat there while Grace had some skin to skin with both Daddy and I. She latched on for a feed right away.

After a good amount of skin to skin I was starting to get surges again, so one of the student midwives read Gilbert his favourite book whilst I birthed the placenta and Tom cut the now white cord. Before having Gilbert it had never occurred to me that I would need to birth a placenta! Again, in the lottery that is life, I was incredibly lucky, and the placenta came naturally and easily, without any discomfort. I put on some clothes, had a cuddle with Gilbert and a cup of tea, and the midwives checked Grace over and put her in a baby gro. And that was that. We were at home, all together and feeling so so happy, lucky and blessed.

The midwives were happy with everything and were gone in time for Gilbert’s tea time and bed. And Tom, Grace and I cuddled on the sofa for a little while, then I went upstairs to catch a few hours sleep before the night shift began!

I truly thank hypnobirthing for my incredible experiences of labour. Although I know in many ways I was lucky to have quick labours, in the wrong mindset I could have panicked at the midwives not being there — at Tom not being there either! But I felt confident in my body, and that is all down to hypnobirthing!”

Amy W.

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