I want to break the myth of the first baby who takes hours to come to our world, after a difficult and painful long labor, leaving the mother totally exhausted. I am not the only one to have enjoyed an easy labor. I did my best to prepare for a home birth, reading about it and hiring an independent midwife. I had no idea how long my labor would be. What a beautiful surprise to have given birth within a matter of few hours! I started having very intense contractions around 9 pm and my amazing baby daughter was born at one in the morning. I am grateful for both the strong raspberry leaves herbal tea I drank throughout the pregnancy and for the inflatable birthing pool I used. My friend, my sister, it is definitely possible to give birth at home, within hours, without an epidural, without atrocious pain and without episiotomy.
Please find below an extract from my midwife’s notes about the day my baby daughter was born:
- early labor since morning
- irregular contractions
- regular since 8pm
- Claire is walking around at 9:30pm
- at 11pm when midwife arrives: Claire is active and mobile, puttering around in the flat, drinking raspberry leaf tea, squatting during strong contractions which come every 3 minutes
- emotional state is very well
- snacking and drinking plenty of water
- no vomiting
- at 11:30pm contractions every 60 seconds
- at 23:30pm: Claire in the shower, helps with contractions, quietly vocalising through these, sometimes singing and keeping nice and relaxed
- midnight: strong contractions, Claire is moving around the flat coping well, can feel baby moving
- contractions strong and long, membrane still intact
- having sips of apple juice
- 0:30am: pushing during most contractions now, can feel baby moving
- vacalising, labor intense
- 1am: Claire feels like being sick, contractions very powerful, feels afraid, wants to stop, isnt pushing anymore – midwife talks about fear being normal and that Claire is doing it anyway
- Claire is very quiet and poised
- 1:20am: birth! beautiful and quiet greeting, Claire scooped her baby, we haven’t seen yet if it’s a boy or a girl
- 1:25am: baby to breast, cord still pulsing
- 1:30am: out of the pool and in bed, nursing baby, blood loss approximately 200 ml, Claire lying on side
- 2am: still nursing, cord still pulsing
- 236am: birthed placenta
- 2:50am: cord clamped and cut by Claire
- 3am: vaginal exam by midwife: labial grazes, nothing requires stitches
- 3:45am: resting and having a snack
- 4:30am: midwife leaves
Having the freedom of moving around and choosing the positions which suit us most during labor is a true luxury that only home birth can offer. While my daughter was born at home, my son was born prematurely at the hospital. Consequently, I know the sensation of the monitoring tools being wrapped all around the belly. Some women even have a perfusion in their arm during labor. Very often, women are prevented from eating in case a c-section would be required. Home birth is quite the opposite. It allows a beneficial freedom to the mother, who is then more relaxed. This lowers the risk of the baby getting stuck during labor. When my contractions started, I walked a bit around the neighborhood. IT was a nice and warm summer evening. When the contractions intensified, I remained active, but inside the house only. With each contraction, I would squat and do a kind of moaning to relax my whole body and mind. The last step was getting into the birthing pool. However, my midwife made sure I did not get into it too early. Indeed, water is so relaxing that it could stop the labor altogether. While I was in the warm water of the inflatable pool, I still enjoyed my freedom of movement. Eventually, I was squatting when my daughter made her big entrance into our world.
How do you spend your days after giving birth at home? First, the few hours after the actual birth are a delight. My friend, my sister, you will enjoy the comfort of your own soft bed and your beautiful baby is so worth it. One great tip is to lay a big shower curtain underneath your bed linen. It will protect your mattress during the labor and birth. Losing some blood is normal. Afterwards, all you have to do is remove the shower curtain and the stained sheet, then replace it with a new sheet. Within a few minutes, your bed will be nice and clean. What a luxury compared to giving birth at the hospital!
My daughter was born in an inflatable birthing pool in the kitchen. After she made her entrance in the world, I went out of the pool and into the shower to cleanse myself. Then, I ate a little while my brilliant midwife weighed and measured my beautiful baby. Lastly, the baby learned to properly latch on the breast before we enjoyed a well-deserved rest, on my own familiar bed.
The next day, the birth pool had to be emptied. The house had to be reordered a little bit. Nevertheless, being already at home in a familiar environment, was true luxury and such a blessing. For instance, I could easily learn how to use cloth nappies.
My lovely midwife visited me daily after the birth, then weekly. After a few days enjoyed resting and getting to know my baby at home, I started going outside, to do some grocery shopping and see an osteopath, both for her and for me. Thus, I learned to tie a wrap baby carrier, so she could al ways stay close to my heart.
When I gave birth, I was trapped in an abusive relationship. The father of my children stated later than he only made children with me so that it would prevent me to leave him. Consequently, he was not elated when I got pregnant, totally not involved during the pregnancy and he spent the time of labor at home in front of his computer. Yet I had a fulfilling and happy birth.
Moreover, I read many books by the well-known French doctor Michel Odent. It is interesting that, over the course of his work, he changed his mind about the presence of father during the actual birth. He concluded later in his career that giving birth was a sacred time which was best enjoyed between women only. Thus, the body of the woman could keep the same appeal to her man after birth. I find it quite interesting. I am convinced that it is true, even of a subconscious level. Maybe it is better for fathers to avoid seeing their woman in pain. Loving men do everything to avoid their woman being in pain by always looking for solutions. It is only natural, then, to prevent them from being disempowered witnesses to the unavoidable labor pain.
What do you think?
During my first pregnancy, I was working as a personal assistant within a law firm in London, next to the river Thames. During my one-hour lunch break, I used to go for a walk on South Bank. I loved standing in front of the river, admiring the tranquil water. For about ten minutes, I would visualize my future contractions while observing the little waves. I would visualize a fabric doll with long legs, light and flexible, floating on the waves’ crest, coming and going effortlessly. I was preparing my body to handle the physical pain of the contractions. I was training my mind to be aware of the impermanence of such pain.
A few months afterwards, when I started experiencing contractions on the evening my first baby was born, I made the conscious effort to remember the way my imaginary fabric doll gracefully danced on the waves. I gave birth to my daughter without epidural nor episiotomy.