Birth sto­ries

‘I did things my way this time’

Mother & Baby (UK) - - CONTENTS -

After two ‘over­due’ ba­bies, I know not to view the med­i­cal due date as the be all and end all. In my case, a flex­i­ble due month is more ap­pro­pri­ate! I was per­suaded to be in­duced with my first baby, and lots of med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion fol­lowed. With my sec­ond, I re­fused in­duc­tion and had a much calmer hos­pi­tal birth 18 days past my ‘due date’. Third time round, my con­fi­dence had soared and I felt sure my body was ca­pa­ble of birthing a baby nat­u­rally when – and only when – it was ready. And when I told my mid­wife I wanted to have my baby at home, she was very pos­i­tive. My hus­band, Robin, was ap­pre­hen­sive at first, but the home-birth team an­swered his ques­tions and put his mind at rest. It helped that my younger sis­ter, Emily, had flown back from Aus­tralia a few weeks ear­lier – she had been at both my pre­vi­ous births, and Mum had also been at Henry’s, so it was great know­ing they’d both be there sup­port­ing me again. When my due date came and went, I wasn’t sur­prised, even though I was big and get­ting big­ger! I was 16 days ‘over­due’ when I felt some tight­en­ings. It was 4pm, and I be­gan bounc­ing on my birthing ball to try and ease my back­ache. As the evening went by, I no­ticed more of a dull pain than the usual

Brax­ton Hicks tight­en­ings, so I phoned my mid­wife, feel­ing re­lieved when she picked up and told me she was on duty. ‘Call back if any­thing de­vel­ops,’ she ad­vised.

The con­trac­tions were un­com­fort­able, but I man­aged to put the chil­dren to bed. As I tucked them in, I re­alised that this was the last time it’d be just the two of them to­gether. Their world was about to change; it was so ex­cit­ing. Back down­stairs, my con­trac­tions ramped up. I’m not sure whether it was a rush of hor­mones but, at around half nine, I be­gan to feel shaky and leaned over the sofa, breath­ing through each con­trac­tion. De­spite my wor­ries, it felt great to have Robin, Emily and Mum around me. It felt like the team was back to­gether, and I was all set to go!

But my body, it seemed, had other ideas: the con­trac­tions be­gan to tail off, and I de­cided to try and get some sleep. As I tucked my­self into bed, I felt the pain dis­ap­pear­ing and soon drifted off to sleep. The next thing I knew it was 2am, and the house was quiet. I lay silent as an enor­mous con­trac­tion swept through my bump – this was more in­tense than any­thing I’d felt be­fore. For the next hour I lay next to Robin, breath­ing through the tight­en­ings. But, by 4.30am, I was up, along with ev­ery­one else, chat­ting be­tween con­trac­tions as they got the pool ready. A sense of calm washed over me as I low­ered my­self into its warmth. The wa­ter didn’t take away the pain, but be­ing able to float made me feel free.

My mid­wife ar­rived at five and Mum and Emily wiped my fore­head with a cold flan­nel and of­fered me wa­ter, while Robin held my hand. I was to­tally in the zone, on my knees, lean­ing over the side of the pool and breath­ing through each con­trac­tion. I hardly reg­is­tered when the mid­wife took my blood pres­sure and handed me the gas-andair mouth­piece. It felt nat­u­ral to let out low groans as each in­tense con­trac­tion started. It must have been some kind of pri­mal urge, and felt like the only way to let the pain out. I can’t be­lieve the chil­dren slept through the noise!

With­out be­ing told, I could just feel that the baby was about to be born. And, be­fore long, the mid­wife dipped a long-han­dled mir­ror into the wa­ter un­der­neath me. I started bear­ing down and let my body do all the work. Ev­ery­thing I did was in­stinc­tive; there was noth­ing forced about it. For the next half-hour I kept bear­ing down and breath­ing through each con­trac­tion.

It was only at the very end that it felt nat­u­ral to give a lit­tle push, as it felt like there was an enor­mous melon be­tween my legs! I put my hands down and felt the baby’s head. In the next huge urge to bear down, I felt the torso com­ing out, and I some­how reg­is­tered that she was a big baby. As the mass of my baby’s body eased out of me, I lifted her up from the wa­ter, and into my arms. And she looked so peace­ful! I was buzzing though – achiev­ing my home birth at last felt amaz­ing. Mum and Emily burst into tears!

After the cord had stopped pul­sat­ing and had been cut, I care­fully climbed out of the pool and got comfy on the sofa. ‘Mummy’s big girl,’ Robin whis­pered to baby Win­ter in my arms. My other chil­dren had both been over 9lbs, and Win­ter didn’t seem much big­ger, but when my mid­wife placed her on the scales, she told us she was 5.03 ki­los. ‘My con­ver­sion ta­ble doesn’t go up that high,’ she laughed, and Emily had to Google how many pounds Win­ter was on her phone!

And she weighed 11lbs 1oz! ‘No way!’ I laughed, as Robin put his hands on his head in sur­prise, and Mum and Emily gasped. Even the mid­wife looked shocked! But it only added to my pride: not only had I given birth ex­actly as I wanted, 17 days ‘late’, I’d de­liv­ered a huge baby. I’m con­vinced it all went so well be­cause I didn’t push and in­stead let my body do its job slowly and calmly. I stayed strong and be­lieved in my­self.

Louise with Win­ter an hour-and-a-half after the birth Win­ter, at six hours old LOUISE HILL, 31, A STAY-AT-HOME MUM, LIVES IN DORSET WITH HUS­BAND ROBIN, WIN­TER, EIGHT MONTHS, WIL­LOW, THREE, AND HENRY, FOUR

In the pool, sec­onds after birth Meet­ing big sis­ter Wil­low

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