I'm so pleased to be able to share the story of my beautiful second baby's birth. I hope it will help any second time mums who are worried about giving birth again. My first baby's birth was a traumatic experience for all involved. After a lovely straightforward pregnancy, I was induced at 40+12 due to being "overdue" (although I realised as I was preparing for my second birth that this is still a normal length for a pregnancy!) My first birth ended up being very medicalised and a million miles from what I had hoped for.
I think his was largely because I wasn't very clued up on my birth rights and as a first time mum didn't feel able to speak up for myself, deferring to the professionals and not questioning their decisions. I ended up being wired up to monitors and not “allowed” to move which made the pain harder to manage. I ended up with a forceps delivery after Freya got into distress.
I fell pregnant with my second baby when Freya was 9 months old, and was very worried about giving birth again as I was still emotionally recovering from my first experience.
I swore I wouldn't have a repeat of last time with this birth. I realised that knowledge is power and started reading up on natural birth and discovered hypnobirthing, which was incredible during my pregnancy and labour.
After speaking to friends who had had lovely home births, reading up on the risks and benefits and getting the support of my lovely midwife I decided to go for it. I'm so glad I did! Being at home meant that I felt in control. My caregivers were coming into my space and so I felt confident to stick with my choices and labour as I wished.
I was adamant that I would not be induced this time and all through my pregnancy I prepared myself for Torben arriving in his own leisurely time! We even added a couple of weeks onto the due date we told our friends and relatives. This all meant that I was very relaxed going into labour, not stressing about when baby would make an appearance.
By the time I got to 40+10 weeks I began to feel like something was happening. I had had a show and was beginning to get a few twinges here and there. However, having never gone into labour naturally before, I had no idea what to expect and doubted it was happening all along.
I woke at 6am on Wednesday morning with a small trickle. I wasn't sure whether it was my waters or not but popped a pad in and got on with my day. My husband had the day off so we had a lovely pancake breakfast and then I decided to have a long walk to ASDA to see if we could get things moving.
On the way, I started to get tightenings but these were not at all painful and I just presumed they were Braxton Hicks. Once I got to ASDA baby felt really low and I was starting to waddle! My husband was sure we would be meeting Torben soon but I was still in denial, insisting we had a few days yet. We bought a few last minute supplies 'just in case' and as we set off home the heavens opened. Cue a very soggy half hour walk home in the rain, the tightenings continuing as we went.
Once home I dried off and my friend Carla came round for lunch with her little girl. As the children played I bounced on my ball sipping raspberry leaf tea and debating whether this was it or not. At one point I had a tightening that felt a bit stronger and I said to Carla I remember what a contraction feels like now!
After Carla had gone the mild contractions continued about every half hour, still mostly painless. I busied myself making brownies and playing with my daughter still adamant that this was latent labour and we had a few days yet.
My husband, Adam disagreed and started getting the house prepared for labour, making room for the pool in the kitchen and tidying up. In the meantime me and Freya had a disco session dancing ridiculously to some cheesy music. This definitely helped shift the baby down and into a good position as the feel of my bump changed and I felt like his back was lining up into a good position for labour. I was starting to feel a bit more hopeful that this might be it!
After our last tea as a family of 3, Adam put Freya to bed and I went for a shower. Once I got out at about 7.30pm the tightenings began to ramp up.
Fairly suddenly, I was getting strong period type pains lasting quite a long time and quite close together. I was still insisting that they were Braxton Hicks though as they were nothing like I remembered from last time.
Adam came down from putting Freya to bed at about 8pm and we dimmed the lights and put the Office on TV to keep the oxytocin flowing.
I was bouncing on my ball and feeling good but having to stop and give each contraction my attention, using my hypnobirthing techniques to breathe through it.
For some strange reason by about 9pm I decided now was a good time to go to bed and try and get some sleep. Once I laid down I realised that I wasn't getting any rest. My contractions instantly felt worse; my body was telling me to keep moving so I hung out in the bedroom for a bit, moving with my body and listening to my hypnobirthing music. This quiet time really helped me to gather myself, get in the zone and recap all the techniques I had learnt.
After about an hour of being upstairs, Adam started to time me. They contractions were lasting over a minute and only 3 minutes apart. He insisted we call the midwife , which I was not happy about as I felt that they were easing off with movement and so weren't established labour.
The midwife told Adam to run me a bath. If they eased up in the bath then this probably wasn't the real thing, but if they ramped up we should call them back. When I got to the bathroom Adam had put on my lovely music and had my candles lit. I got into the bath, leaned back and had a very intense contraction and had to sit right back up!
It was amazing how my body was telling me exactly what position I needed to be in.
Once I had sat back up, the contractions started coming even closer together so Adam went to call the midwives who said they were on their way. I think at this point I realised that this was it.
Adam said he was going to fill the birth pool. I kept saying to leave it as I thought I would be a lot longer as the contractions were so manageable, despite being so close together. Luckily, he ignored me and started filling it up. I got out of the bath with some difficulty, having to stop every minute to breathe through a contraction. I headed downstairs where I sat bouncing on my ball. I tried a few positions but this was definitely the way my body was telling me to move as I felt so much more comfortable in that upright position.
By this point I was definitely getting into 'the zone', totally going into myself to deal with each contraction. I focused on keeping my jaw and hands relaxed, did my up-breathing and recited my affirmations in my head. Adam was amazing at using soft touch massage and counting me down for relaxation when I needed it.
Carla came to collect Freya at about midnight and was closely followed by our wonderful midwives, Louise and Raynor, who soon realised they would be staying. Adam gave them my birth plan to read through and they were incredibly supportive of my decision not the have any internal examinations and in helping us to create a quiet, calm atmosphere.
After about half an hour on the ball with the midwives they asked if I had had wee recently. I realised I hadn't so decided to go to the downstairs loo. As soon as I sat down I felt as if something had shifted and the contractions got very intense and were back to back. I somehow managed to have a wee but when I tried to get up, I realised couldn't! I called for Adam as I was starting to panic.
This must have been transition, though I didn't realise it at the time. This is the only point where I didn't think I could do it as I was thinking 'I can't deal with this if it goes on for hours!'
Adam squeezed himself into our tiny loo and talked me round using our hypnobirthing techniques. It was amazing to be able to work as a team to bring our baby into the world. He then called in Louise who helped him get me up, as I got up I felt a huge pop and instant pressure as my waters went dramatically all over the tiles (I'm so pleased I avoided the carpet!).
With the next contraction I started making a crazy growling, mooing sound. It was so bizarre! Raynor rushed in when she heard this as she knew I was ready to push! Louise shut the toilet lid and announced, “Let's not have this baby in the toilet! Would you like to get in the pool now?”
I pretty much ran to the kitchen to get in, I had definitely realised I was in labour now!
Luckily, the pool had just finished filling. Its a good job that Adam hadn't listened to me when I told him not to fill it.
Getting into the pool was pure bliss. I instantly felt my body relax and I felt much more calm. We didn't have time to put on all the fairy lights or candles I had prepared as I was straight into a very intense second stage and needed Adam to be with me through each contraction.
I leant over the side of the pool and focused on my affirmation wall that I had made. The contractions were coming thick and fast and felt incredibly intense. I could feel my body taking over and pushing. I couldn't have stopped it if I tried!
I used the down breathing I had learned during my hypnobirthing classes and tried to go with what my body was telling me to do. I kept repeating my affirmation “I soften, open and release,” in my head.
As I roared through each contraction I felt incredibly confident and powerful; my body knew exactly what it was doing! I could feel baby's head moving down with each contraction. The midwives just let me and Adam get on with it, giving reassuring words as I needed them. Ten minutes after getting into the pool, I shocked myself and the midwives when I felt Torben's head beginning to crown! With another contraction his head was born. I couldn't believe it!
With the next contraction, I felt him turn, it was absolutely incredible! After his head was born I thought all the hard work was done as I remember Freya's body just slipping out easily after the forceps.
However with Torben, birthing his body was the only part where I had to push. One big push and he was born! As he was being born I thought someone was pulling him up, but it turns out it was the force of him turning. He shot across to the other side of the pool so I had to go and fetch him rather than catch him from between my legs! When I picked him up it was the most incredible moment of my life, I couldn't believe we had done it and it all happened so quickly! I found out the sex myself and then had the joy of telling Adam he had a son.
I was in the pool for around about 20 minutes and Torben was born at 12.55 am, less than an hour after the midwives had arrived. He weighed 8lb 3, exactly the same as his big sister. We had immediate skin to skin in the pool and he latched on for a little feed while we waited for the cord to stop pulsating. The midwives got me to feel it and tell them when I was happy for it to be cut, which was a lovely, empowering touch.
Once the cord was cut, Torben went to his daddy for some skin to skin while I birthed the placenta. After that was done we had a lovely long snuggle on the sofa and got to know our beautiful baby, while the midwives did their paperwork. I felt a million dollars! I had such a rush of endorphins that I felt like I could have climbed Mt Everest! I wish I could bottle that feeling!
Unfortunately, due to the speed that Torben came in the end and the fact that I had an episiotomy with Freya, I did have a 3rddegree tear which I had to be transferred to hospital for. But the ambulance crew and all the staff at the hospital were great. I was on such a high that I didn't really care about being transferred, I was just so happy to have my baby and the lovely birth that I had hoped for! I still can't believe that I did it all with no pain relief; home birth and hypnobirth rock!!