I found reading birth stories during my pregnancy really helpful in preparing me for labour so I wanted to share my own. I have included details of any practitioners I saw during pregnancy and books I read etc. at the end of the story.
I had always planned for a home birth, as my sister and sister-in-law both had one, and it was an avenue I wanted to take as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I was lucky that my husband, Bill was always on board too. It helped that the home birth team at Kingston Hospital are absolutely fantastic.
I was lucky enough to have a very straightforward and even enjoyable pregnancy. I was able to stay active throughout with lots of walking, swimming, cycling, yoga and HIIT workouts. In preparation for the birth I had reflexology about once a month and then weekly from about 37 weeks. I even taught Bill the key pressure points to work to help encourage a natural labour, and he did a session the night before I went into labour which I am sure helped!
I went to see a chiropractor at week 37 and 39 to check the baby was in the correct position. I read two really good books that I would recommend to anyone on this journey- “How to have a baby” by Natalie Meddings and “The Positive Birth Book” by Milli Hill. I started eating 7-10 dates a day from 36 weeks and drank a cup of raspberry leaf tea every day from this stage too, upping it to 3 cups a day around 39 weeks. We did a hypnobirthing course which I found really informative and incredibly helpful for getting me through the labour, where all I used were breathing techniques and a TENS machine.
We must have sensed something was going to happen as we went to bed really early on 8th. I woke up at 5am on the 9th November- 2 days before my due date, with cramps in my lower belly which were coming about every 15 minutes. I lay in bed breathing through the discomfort and waited for Bill to wake up. When he woke up I told him I thought things were starting to happen. We tried not to get too excited as he calmly went downstairs to start setting up the house and the birthing pool so that it was all ready…not realising quite how long this latent stage of labour would last!
That day we went for a couple of walks, watched Notting Hill, I bounced on the ball, baked some cupcakes and tried not to clock watch. The contractions weren’t getting any more intense or closer together- they were still about 15 minutes apart, so we decided to get another early night after a big bowl of wholegrain pasta and pesto. I didn’t get much sleep that night and woke up at 5am the next morning again.
That morning is a bit of a blur really, but things started to progress around midday. I didn’t really manage to eat anything that day, apart from a concoction made up by Bill of soaked oats, mashed banana, peanut butter and agave syrup. It was the perfect little energy booster for my stomach which wasn't able to keep anything down. We had a good calming meditation playlist going from Spotify, and Bill made sure the atmosphere in the house was lovely and chilled. Lots of candles, low lighting (he’d even boarded up the windows to stop the light coming in!) and nice smells in the diffuser. I started using the TENS machine when the surges got more intense and found this a great distraction. That along with the hypnobirthing breathing was what got me through this whole second stage.
We called the midwife, Sarah at around 4pm and she came over to do checks on my blood pressure, the baby’s heart rate and position and our general wellbeing! She decided it was too early and left us to try and rest in the hope that it would speed things along. I got positioned on the bed in one of the Miles circuit positions, but found it really hard to rest when the surges were coming about every 4 minutes now, and were really quite intense. After about an hour things really hotted up, and I found myself crouched over the end of the bed with surges coming every few minutes and being really quite intense. I think Bill was quite worried that I'd have the baby in the bedroom without the midwife at this point, but Sarah was on her way!
Bill ran me a bath, which I hated as it was so cramped (our bath is small at the best of times!) and didn’t allow me to move with the surges, and then we got downstairs where I paced up and down, stopping for each surge to sway and bend over the nice cold kitchen island. He started filling up the birthing pool at this point, which I remember watching filling up and thinking it may not be ready in time. The midwife- Sarah had now arrived, and this we now realise was the right time for her to come. At this stage I was doubled over the stairs enjoying the cool draft coming down from upstairs. The kitchen had got quite hot by this stage with the pool being filled up. I felt a big click/pop which was my waters breaking and Sarah said it was ok for me to get in the pool if I wanted to. I was very conscious of not getting into the pool too early, so really tried to wait until I’d exhausted all other pain relieving options.
When I did get into the pool the relief was amazing. It was as though the water took away all the discomfort and the anti-gravity feeling allowed me to move into different positions more easily. I was then ready to push. After about an hour and a half of pushing and being able to rest a bit in between, with a lot of encouragement from Bill, our little baby boy was born in the water at 8.45pm! I couldn't have done it without the amazing support from Bill, and the wonderful midwife.
I managed to naturally birth the placenta shortly after, and then it was cuddles with our little Albie in our bed. Unfortunately his breathing was measuring slightly too fast, which can be a sign of infection, so we had to head into Kingston Hospital for check ups and antibiotics. We had to stay in for 48 hours which slightly defeated the whole point of having a home birth, but it made going home even more special and at least we were able to ensure his safety at the hospital. The home birth team from Kingston were truly amazing, as were the team in the hospital. If you have any questions, please get in touch- I am a massive advocate for home births :)
Stephen Hughes at The Octagon Clinic
Natalie Meddings- How to have a baby
Mili Hill- The Positive Birth Book
One for the partners- Pregnancy for men: The Whole 9 Months
Rosie Gray- https://therichmonddoula.co.uk/
Tor Gatenby at https://www.hamptonwickhealth.com/
I went to have a mummy MOT at 6 weeks post partum, where I had my pelvic floor and abs checked and was given lots of useful advice about going back to exercise etc.
Rosie Jacks at White Hart Clinic: https://www.whitehartclinic.co.uk/
Georgie created "Retreat 4 Your Feet" in 2011. The blog includes fun facts, personal stories, and general information.