Positive Birth Story – Home Birth in Leeds

A blow up birth pool in a living room with a Christmas tree.

Reading different types of positive birth stories can be really helpful in piecing together what kind of birth you’d like to aim for. This is the story of my home birth in water at my home in Leeds, with as much detail as I can remember.

NB: If you’ve suffered from previous birth trauma, please seek help by getting in touch with your GP or midwife and seeking a debrief or resolution and other treatment like counselling, EMDR or CBT with a professional. If you’d like to do one of my courses, let me know and we can chat about how you’d like to approach you birth preparation. 

My Second Birth – Home birth using Water in Leeds

I hadn’t thought about the birth until much later on this time. I had a two year old, I was heavy, it was a hot summer and I didn’t feel like I had much chance to think about being pregnant at all.

I’d heard of people reading about hypnobirthing, and so I looked up some books and some courses one day. I didn’t have time to read a book and I couldn’t find a course to fit in with my shifts, so I decided to do an online course. I didn’t know what to expect, and if anything it was a moment for me, a moment to relax and give this pregnancy some space (while my daughter napped, sat in the car!)

Having a deeper understanding of the physical processes changed my perception of birth completely. I previously thought having a home birth was risky, why on earth would I want to be so far away from intervention? I worked in ICU down the corridor from the delivery suite, and so the hospital was my second home.

I’d said ‘definitely not’ to my midwife. But then everything I learned about oxytocin and safety; the convenience of being at home too, it all changed my mind. My first birth was quick, would I even get to the hospital in time? Would I be able to get into a pool again like my first? There was only one way to be sure of those things, stay home. I contacted my local home birth team for a home visit, suddenly I knew it was what I wanted. We ordered a pool and some other things on the home birth list, and I started to prepare myself mentally.

My husband had some time off, and so we took our daughter to a class she did a short walk away. My father-in-law was at our house doing some DIY (again!) and as we got back, I felt something leak out. It was definitely waters, with a bit of the plug too, but less obvious this time. I called the home birth midwife, and I agreed that I’d like her to check that my waters had broken at home.

I’d had no surges, maybe a few tightenings / braxton hicks. The midwife checked and said my waters had partially broken. She let me know that this meant I may be scheduled in for an induction the next day. So we had my mum take our daughter to stay at hers and we made our living room cosy. We dimmed the lighting and watched ‘I’m A Celebrity..’ and relaxed. I had some irregular surges, but went to bed and managed to sleep!

At around 4am I woke up for the toilet and the rest of my waters broke. We moved downstairs and called the midwife – my surges slowly started to build – I felt so calm and excited!

The midwives came with a student at the end of their shift. They sat on my living room floor with a cup of tea, having a chat and watching as I breathed through a surge, then continued the conversation calmly. They said I seemed to be very regular and possibly further than they thought, as I was ‘the silent type’.

The midwives swapped their shift, and got down onto the floor on my knees instinctively, with my arms around my birth ball. I asked for my TENS machine, and rocked over the ball with every surge. I went to the toilet between surges, using the TENS machine when I needed. I asked for the birth pool to be set up. My amazing husband was there waiting for instruction. I had sips of water, and bites of food if I wanted it. He set up the pool which took 5 minutes to blow up, and what felt like forever to fill – if it had been much longer I could have nearly missed it!

The pool was so incredibly soothing that the contractions felt more manageable. I moved on to gas and air too when things intensified. This time around things were just as intense, the contractions were becoming all-encompasing and I knew the feeling. This time I had coping techniques to help me get through. I stayed calm and breathed, I changed positions, I made noise, I chose instinctively what I wanted.

There were a few times I wondered if something would happen and I would need to go to hospital, but I also trusted my body and managed to keep myself calm using my breath. Bringing myself back with affirmations and focusing on meeting my baby. The midwife was in and out with a doppler, but mainly stayed silent in a corner with all of the emergency equipment set out on the floor. 

Suddenly things stopped and I had a really random chat with her (transition?). I could feel that urge to push. I breathed and bared down when I pushed, the midwives commented on how controlled it was. A head, then a few minutes pause, and a body, and he was out! Our little boy!

We had what felt like ages in the pool, just looking at him. I felt a bit chilly and wrinkly, so we got out and carefully sat on the sofa. We noticed the cord was white, so my husband cut it and I started to feed. I felt the period-like pains again, and it took a while to come this time, but I stood up and did a little push to deliver the placenta into a bowl.

We had an absolutely blissful couple of hours. He fed on-and-off, we cuddled. We sat, bare on the sofa covered in towels for so long that we forgot about clothing him! When I was checked for tearing by the midwife, I was thrilled to hear there was nothing but a small abrasion that needed no stitches. I felt absolutely amazing.

Sometimes I feel there’s an element of luck to my smooth home birth, I still could have had more information and support in my birth preparation. I certainly didn’t know what I know today! But I also did exactly what I wanted to do, with the information I had at the time. 

Postpartum was different this time around. I recovered pretty quickly physically, but the challenge of having two with no regular childcare was hard. Thankfully I did have some support from a friend and my mum. It was mentally draining but at the same time I really appreciated the little things. Breastfeeding was better for a while, and the appriciation I had for having a newborn meant bonding felt magical. 

A baby laid on a blanket

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