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
There is one children book which touched my heart deeply. It is entitled “Welcome With Love” and I read it so many times when the children were smaller. The drawings are stunning. I love how the story is so authentic regarding giving birth at home. Thus, the mother goes outside for a stroll when labor begins. Then, when contractions intensify, she leans on her husband. The aunt is present in the house and reassures the big brother. She tells him than mummy is making loud noises because the baby is coming soon. She has brought nice soup for the whole family. There is a drawing of a baby boy coming out of the mother back body while she is almost standing. The father gathers wood outside, then makes a big nice fire in the living room. Eventually, they all sleep together on mattresses gathered in the main room to celebrate the new baby.
Preparing a birth plan means taking back our power as a mother giving birth. It does not mean being stuck to such plan and become disappointed if things do not turn out as desired. Thus, if plan A is giving birth at home in water, plan B could be to look into the various positions in which I can give birth on a bed, at home or at the hospital.
Because the idea of giving birth was overwhelming for me at first, I decided to write things down. It gave me some comfort. Moreover, it helped me to see more clearly what I really wanted versus what was secondary details. So, I wrote a list of my wishes and desires for my midwife to read. I had hired an independent midwife, but my birth plan was also printed to be transmitted to any midwife at the hospital if a transfer was ever required.
First, no light. My midwife used a tiny lamp to write notes during the labor. Second, no vaginal exams. The word itself scares me. My very talented midwife was able to monitor the baby’s health during labor, only by expert touch on my belly and by listening to the baby’s heartbeat with a trumpet-shaped tool. Third, I did not want to be informed of the time. Loosing track of time was indeed required for me to use another part of my brain, e.g. my intuition. I focused on the contractions while relaxing my body, allowing them, not resisting them. The last part of my birth plan was dedicated to my refusal of both epidural and episiotomy. Again, I was ready to have to undergo such interventions should the need arose. However, expressing my wishes and desires in this meant they were only to be used in real emergency.
During my first pregnancy, supported by an extraordinary independent midwife, one of my friend was due to give birth soon to her second baby. Her first baby was born by c-section. During her second pregnancy, she had taken the decision de do her very best to avoid the hospital this time. Her goal was to give birth at home, in water. She was very motivated. I was overwhelmed with joy the day she sent me a text announcing the birth of her second son within the comfort of her own living room. She confided in me afterwards that giving birth at home rather than at the hospital compared to enjoying a five-star hotel.
Personally, I gave birth at home for my first baby. I had read dozens of real life stories similar to my friend’s experience. I wanted to avoid the trauma induced by the hospital. Birthing was a sacred time for me, quite incompatible with lying down on the back with my legs in the air. Consequently, I acquired lots of knowledge by reading tons of books on giving birth, before hiring an independent midwife. She would visit me at home during the whole pregnancy. I never step one foot at the hospital. On the day my daughter was born, she had all the necessary equipment, required in case of an emergency. Thus, she had oxygen and episiotomy tools. In my humble opinion, the time it takes to go to the hospital should an emergency arises is equivalent to the time needed to set up a hospital room for a c-section. I was not worried about this. In the end, my admirable midwife did not have to use any of her special equipment. The only thing she used was a trumpet-shaped utensil to listen to my baby’s heartbeat during labor. So yes, giving birth at home is possible for a first baby. It is even better to do it for the first baby, because giving birth at home after a hospital birth makes it riskier and requires a lot more effort and preparation.
Lastly, I would like to acknowledge all the midwives. You are doing an exceptional job. Thank you.
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.