When pregnant with Winston my working environment was a room of women aged between 21 years to around 50 years. The room was stuffed with children’s jacket samples, buttons, zips, thread, snips, paperwork, files, fabric, cardboard boxes, embroideries and most of all – vocal women. The topic of childbirth would come up frequently; as usually there were one or two pregnant women floating around the office. It always surprised me how quickly a discussion on childbirth turned into some sort of strange unannounced competition – the “winner” was the person who had had the most dramatic, painful or stressful birth. I would sit quietly and think to myself: “this is a competition I never want to be part of”, and then wonder whether I was ridiculous to want a peaceful, drama free and stress free experience.
I was so confused about how to ‘approach’ childbirth. Most of my lunch breaks during the second and third trimester were spent reading positive birth stories and I booked myself on a hypnobirthing course recommended by a friend. (Hypnobirthing really needs to be renamed something like “positive birthing” or “positive thinking during birth” – I think it’s a bit misleading). I have been called a ‘hippie’ many times in my life for various reasons and I suppose hypnobirthing added to my ‘hippie’ status.
Giving birth to Winston was such a positive experience and during pregnancy with him I tried so hard to fill my head with positive birth stories, rather than negative ones…but I still did wonder: “Is it possible?”, “Am I being overly optimistic?”, “Am I kidding myself?”. I asked my midwife this very question and she simply said to me: “When you’re going to a job interview you do lots of preparation, you do some reading and you hope for the very best outcome. This is how you should see your birth – then if unexpected things happen a long the way at least you’re informed and in a better place to make decisions and deal with any problems”. Such a simple analogy and one that made everything fall into place. There is absolutely nothing wrong with hoping for the best.
It took Jared and I a good few weeks to cement our decision to have a home water birth, but once we’d made the decision, everything felt right and the midwives were so supportive. We were always reminded that a hospital birth still could be on the cards…and when I was 9 days overdue, it seemed the likely outcome. He decided to come just in time!
The three main questions I’m asked regarding my home birth are:
“What if something bad had happened?” – if there was even the slightest doubt that something wasn’t right the midwives would have transferred me straight away. Somebody reminded me that labour takes hours – not minutes, so I always just thought they’d be time to get to the hospital if needed.
“Didn’t you want some drugs?” – you can get all forms of pain relief at home (apart from an epidural), but not being able to feel properly and feeling out of control definitely scares me more than the pain itself.
“Weren’t you scared?” – of something that millions of women do every day? definitely intrigued rather than scared.
The perks of giving birth at home:
– Jared didn’t have to go home after the birth, although I think many hospitals are far more relaxed about this now.
– I got helped into the shower, dressed and all cleaned up in my own house – then just laid on the sofa in my dressing gown.
– You get two midwives giving you 100% of their attention. One to look after you after the birth and one to look after the baby straight after birth.
– You have no one waking you up all night and their approach to breastfeeding was so relaxed. The midwives gave me a few tips, organised the breast feeding specialist to come around the next day and said don’t worry if the baby doesn’t feed – just express some into his mouth if you think he’s hungry; as they’re usually completely exhausted from the birth. He slept for 18 hours and my milk supply was not affected at all.
– You can have visitors whenever you like, including children.
– Your food isn’t far away so you can eat whatever, whenever.