A Homebirth with Heart, Part 1: Planning and preparing

By first time mum Alex, who I met years ago climbing up some big rocks.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted a home birth. I was there for the birth of both my brothers, one at home and one at hospital. My mum had a great natural birth with both.natural-process I hate hospitals and because I don’t see birth as a medical condition (though understand that at times medical intervention is needed), I knew home birth was the right choice for me. I set out to find a midwife and was lucky to find someone who provided home births in our small town.

I saw my GP early on and she followed me until week 20 then I would usually have transferred to the midwife clinic. The appointments with my GP were honestly about 5 minutes. She took blood pressure, weight and got blood tests. In and out. No way was there any opportunity to discuss anything that was really on my mind.

I met my midwife, Gail for an initial appointment and just knew I’d made the right choice. She spent about 1 ½ hours with me. I did a lot of reading about natural child birth and had a lot of questions I wanted to ask. I felt comfortable asking her about her experience, her birth statistics and just generally getting a feel for her. We decided to hire her and she followed us up from about week 13. We both feel it has been the absolute best decision we’ve made. She wanted me to book in to the hospital which I did just in case things changed and I required a hospital birth or transfer late in pregnancy.

So my midwife would come for home visits roughly monthly then fortnightly and weekly when pregnancy progressed. She had an awesome library of books and dvds which she lent us and of course just answered our questions. She was really flexible with timing visits so from around week 20, we often saw her after work hours or Saturdays so Mark could attend. I really loved that he got to know her and was comfortable asking her questions. She did all the regular checks on me (blood pressure, baby’s heart beat, fundal height etc.) but she would also just spend time chatting to me. I was able to talk to her a lot about my fear around becoming a mother, letting go of my independence, giving up work for a while, the changes we would experience in our relationship. I found that stuff so much more important to talk about than baby development and birth preparation in general as it played a lot on my mind.

Of course, it was also great being able to ask questions we had around body changes, birth and various tests. I did a lot of reading and discussed tests with my midwife. We opted not to have the gestational diabetes or strep b testing and I was really comfortable with that decision. My midwife gave a lot of information, let us decide and never judged our decisions. I felt so respected with my decision making throughout the pregnancy. She suggested things to help prepare for the birth too, some of which I had never heard of – hello perineal stretching! Yes, that would be stretching the perineum! A scary thought! However, we psyched ourselves up for preparing that area and it was actually pretty funny! I think it helped too for me to become familiar and relax into the sensations I would feel at birth.

I didn’t really know how I wanted my labour to be. Mostly I just knew I wanted a calm, quiet, dark and private environment. Apart from that I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to birth in the house, if I wanted some soft music or candles, if I wanted to be in the shower etc. so we didn’t really plan anything. We debated attending a course like calm birth or hypno-birthing but the timing wasn’t good. In the end the yoga I did was one of the best preparations for me. In the third trimester, my energy levels waned and a friend recommended Satyananda pregnancy yoga. It focussed a lot more on breathing, meditation, visualisation and gentle physical practice. This was new to me but I found it such a good way to connect to my baby and body. I started doing a bit of the breathing and visualisation everyday towards the end of the pregnancy. Even just 10 minutes a day really made a difference. I also used affirmations daily from the 3rd trimester.

We chose to have our midwife at the birth. We also asked a close friend who kind of acted like a doula and my mum.respect-me

I also knew they wouldn’t be offended if I changed my mind and didn’t want anyone there.

Part Two: Welcoming our Daughter…coming soon

My First Catch – A New Midwife Story

from a very special midwife called Avery, who I met in a jungle in Vanuatu.

One sunny fall afternoon I was sitting at a meeting with the other midwives in my practice. Our clinic is in the same building as the birth centre and partway through our meeting we watched a car enter the parking lot, at a possibly unsafe speed. It was one of the other midwives’ clients in labour. The midwife went up to assess and came back downstairs to rejoin the meeting, as this momma still had some labouring to do.

The midwife went upstairs periodically throughout our meeting and labour progressed quickly. When the momma was almost ready to push, the midwife’s phone rang – it was another one of her clients, a first time mum, in labour. She was having strong, frequent contractions and was already feeling pushy pressure!

Guess who was nominated to attend this second momma’s birth? Me! The brand new midwife. I was terrified, but also excited. I had met this client and her partner once before and felt that we had connected well, but I never imagined I would be the one coming to her in labour!

It was rush hour and (of course) this client lived at the other end of the city (they were planning a home birth). I gave them a call to let them know I was on my way and said a little prayer to the universe as I made my way to them. I finally arrived at their house and the door was answered by their wonderful doula.

sun-in-the-windowI had a listen to baby (who sounded happy) and asked if the momma would be comfortable with having her cervix checked – she was fully dilated and the baby’s head was soooo low! I called my backup midwife right away and prayed she would make it for the birth.

I didn’t coach this momma to actively push because baby was doing well and I wanted to buy some time to set up my emergency equipment. With the quiet encouragement of her doula she continued to breath through her contractions.

The timing was perfect! I had just finished setting up when I heard her starting to grunt and bear down. I took a quick look and could already see baby’s head! My backup midwife walked in just in time welcome a little peanut of a baby boy. I brought him up to his momma’s chest and the next several minutes were spent watching the new little family get acquainted.

precious-momentsWhat a special birth for my first catch!

Birth Story Questions

Do you have an empowering birth story that you would like to share? Encouraging positive discussion around birth is very important, it helps balance the wide held beliefs about birth that often leave mum’s to be fearing the day their babe will arrive.

For those of you who are not motivated by writing here are some quick questions that will help you share your story. You can send your stories to me through the Nella Inspired Facebook page in a private message or email janelle.gow@hotmail.com

Where did you decide to birth and why?

Hospital, home, midwife clinic etc.

What did you doing during your pregnancy to prepare for birth day? and what do you believe was he most beneficial?

Yoga, Chiropratics, Acupuncture, Hypno-birthing/calm birth classes etc.

Who attended your birth and do you feel they brought something special to the event?

Midwives, doula, partner, support person

Looking back is there anything you would change about preparation or birth day?

I wish I had strengthened my legs a little more hehe

Share a moment that you will never forget 

How did your birth experience empower you?