2019: The Second Quarter

Due to the popularity of our previously published stats the Jodie has put together the stats for the second quarter (April 2019-June 2019) of this year.

In the second quarter of 2019 the team were responsible for case-loading the care of 49 woman, 94% of whom went on to have a vaginal birth.

92% of our caseload were cared for in labour by a midwife they had met before.

From this caseload of 49 women, 81.6% (n=40) still intending to birth at home at the start of their labours, while 9 women (18.4%) , for various reasons, changed their intended place of birth.

35 members of our caseload (87.5%) birthed their babies at home as planned while 12.5% changed their planned during the intrapartum period (active labour to two hours after birth) and transferred to the Royal Surrey for further care/support.

90% of the women who laboured/birthed at home used water to support them in their labours (hydrotherapy) and 85.7% of the births that took place at home occurred within the water (waterbirth).

We were privileged to welcomed 19 girls and 30 boys in to the world and to support their parents in the first crucial weeks of parenthood.

If you would like to learn more about the team and birthing your baby at home, and you live within our catchment, come along to one of the team’s informal forums or contact the team to arrange a 1-2-1 chat in the privacy of your own home at rsch.homebirth.referrals@nhs.net

Birthday Boy

A third October birthday for the men in this family.

The team were privileged to spent the early hours with this family as they welcomed their third child in to the world, their second at home with the team.

Birth Time

This afternoon the team had the absolute pleasure of supporting this lovely family as they welcomed their second baby earth side in the comfort of their own home. This was their second pregnancy with the team but first birth at home.

Such a joy to practice in a continuity model that sees us supporting families as they grow with each new addition.

From anxious pregnancy to relaxed birth

13 weeks ago, we welcomed our beautiful 2nd daughter safely into the world along with the Surrey Hills homebirth team, who I am eternally thankful for. 

My first daughter was born 4 years ago in hospital and the birth was quite straightforward. I had developed a bond with my community midwife (now a member of the Surrey Hills homebirth team) and remember feeling that I wish she were at the birth. The midwives who delivered my baby were very kind and calming but it was all such a blur, I can’t even remember what they look like! I do rememberb1 of the commenting that because of the speed and relative ease of the birth that should I have another, it should be at home! At the time I felt horrified at this thought- another? I’ve only just pushed this one out! However, I also felt quite proud that someone thought I was capable of this and a homebirth sounded like a very brave thing to do.

2 years later, I fell pregnant for the 2nd time. I visited the same community midwife and was very excited that she was still working my patch. She asked if I had considered a homebirth and I felt confident to say that it was definitely on the table. My first experience at hospital had gone smoothly, but I’d been left with the thought that it could have been much more comfortable. Unfortunately I had suffered a miscarriage and then two more.  

The 3 miscarriages resulted in lots of trips to the hospital due to scans, operations and meetings with a consultant. It felt that every time we stepped into that hospital, our hearts got crushed. We were told the bad news following scans and put into a room to await a nurse. It was the same one every time who we nicknamed our “bad news nurse”. Bless her, she was so kind and empathetic but our bad news seemed intrinsically linked to her. By this point, I really couldn’t stand the hospital and had a mixture of anger, sadness and an incredible amount of anxiety about the place!

When I fell pregnant for the fifth time, I was so used to it ending badly and without answers, I just ignored it. Early scans had just fuelled my anxiety previously and had given false hope and I knew I couldn’t go through that or see Bad News Nurse again (unfortunately I did used to see her at the local leisure centre quite regularly and this induced anxiety that I would walk around the place with my head down- fearing that eye contact with her would lead to more bad news!). So I didn’t bother arranging a booking in appointment.

By 9 weeks, I thought should get the ball rolling- 9 weeks was further than I had got for a while and I was suffering quite strong morning sickness- something I’d had with my first but not so much with subsequent pregnancies. I had an emergency booking in appointment but it was not at my GP surgery as they didn’t want to wait until the next available appointment. I then had a couple of appointments with the community midwife.

We couldn’t believe that we had actually got to the 12 week scan and nothing had gone wrong! By this point, we started to feel like this might actually happen and I mentioned to the community midwife that I would like a home birth.

I was referred to the team and was surprised to find out that all prenatal visits are in your own home. It made life so much easier with juggling work (I could work from home around appointments) and my daughter and husband could also be around (some appointments were at weekends). The whole process really empowered me and eased my anxiety as I got to know my named midwife.

Towards the end of the pregnancy, other members of the team came out too, they included my previous community midwife and a midwife who had helped my neighbour birth her 2nd child. People were so surprised when I told them I was planning a homebirth and some were even aware of members of the team- they are legends across Surrey! 

People often commented how brave I was and asked what about if something went wrong. To me, a home birth felt like the safest option and feeling safe gave me confidence that nothing was going to go wrong.

When I was 40+3, I had a routine appointment. I was 41+4 when I gave birth to my 1st daughter so figured I still had a way to go. I discussed the merits of sweeps with the midwife and also mentioned that I wanted to avoid being induced. I felt that my choices were being respected and this helped me to feel even more in control.

At 11pm, my waters broke. Despite exceeding the due date, this took me by surprise as I had assumed that I still had another few days, not to mention that my waters broke very late on with my first child. Everyone says it’s not like what you see on TV, but for me it was- a pop which took me by surprise. Another surprise was just how much water there was and how long it continued for. My partner and I consulted the instructions which said to call the hospital if your waters break at night  but you have no other symptoms and they will inform the home birth team. So after explaining this on the phone, the person I spoke to insisted that I should go to hospital immediately because I must see a consultant. Luckily, I disagreed with this and called the home birth number directly. I can’t say how relieved I was to hear my named midwife at the other end of the phone! She reassured me that it was fine to stay home and to keep an eye on things and let her know how things progressed. Not long after hanging up, my contractions began.

The next few hours are a bit of a blur. I remember double checking all of the kit and trying to formulate a plan as to what to do with our 4 year old daughter so sent messages around asking people to be on standby. The contractions progressed and steadily got stronger and closer together.   I was relieved when they reached the magic 3 contractions in 10 minutes, I really felt that I wanted the support of my named midwife. I remember asking my husband to call and him letting me know she was on her way. Time to get the pool up.

We has already done a practice run so everything was quite straight forward and quick. I was more preoccupied with organising someone to pick up my daughter- it was 5am and our family hadn’t picked up any messages yet. Luckily, between friends and family we got it sorted.

My midwife arrived accompanied by a student midwife.  I was aware of them being there and getting things ready but they were so non intrusive and just let me get on with things. It wasn’t long until they said it was fine for me to get in the pool. 

My daughter came to the door just as I was getting in and I’ll never forget her face as I smiled and waved goodbye as she got collected. Things really seemed to ramp up when I got in the pool.

Small gestures from the midwives really helped relax me- they lit the candles I’d left out and helped create a calming atmosphere. I remember 1 of their phone alarms going off and even that music was soothing! I tried to put some hypnobirthing techniques into practice but I felt that I couldn’t get my head into it. The pool had made things more comfortable and it felt that things were moving very fast and I couldn’t calm myself down. My midwives were so supportive and reassuring- it was like having 2 cheerleaders in the room.It really made a difference when I felt that I couldn’t carry on and that it was too tough. I can’t emphasise enough the difference that support made. 

My husband asked if I wanted and photos/videos- we’d watched enough homebirth videos on YouTube and I’d previously commented how lovely to have that record but at that point I thought that I didn’t want to be reminded of it again! I never even noticed that my midwife was taking photos all along. 

There was such a difference from my first birth- I was able to get into whatever position felt comfortable for me and the midwives worked around that. I remember being asked to move the first time round and finding it so uncomfortable but this time it was all about how I felt.

At 6.54am my baby was delivered in the water. It took me a moment to be able to reach down to pick the baby up. There was no noise and I remember thinking how grey the baby looked but the midwife reassured me that everything was fine. And we just stayed there cuddling and taking it all in for what felt like an eternity. 

You could see the colour coming to the skin and eventually a cry. I hadn’t even thought to check what gender the baby was- the midwife said to make sure I kept him under the water to keep warm and both my husband and I said “Oh, it’s a boy,” to which the midwife replied “Oh, I didn’t see, I meant keep the baby in the water.” When I checked, it was a girl! Even that felt special- I was the first person to find out as opposed to being told like last time. 

At some point, another midwife arrived but again it was so non intrusive, I hardly noticed. 

The delay in cord cutting gave us such a lovely time to have a cuddle and seemed to last forever! But, I was conscious that I wanted to get the next stage over. There seemed to be no sign of the placenta budging- the midwives were great in suggesting positions to help and remained very calm despite the fact it was taking so long. Eventually it all came away and I was oddly fascinated to see it. The midwives did all their checks and it felt so nice to be included and we were able to ask questions and have them answered.

The baby latched on for a feed and the midwives left us to it snuggled on the sofa. They did an amazing job of clearing everything away and in no time at all, the pool had been emptied, cleaned and packed away- my husband was especially impressed with that! 

A little while later we went through everything that would happen in the next few days and then they were gone.  Soon after, my daughter came home to meet her baby sister. It was so special for her to come home and see us all in a familiar place. And I was so grateful to be able to shower and change in my own home.

The support I received in the following days was invaluable. It really did feel like family members coming to see how everything was going! The team happily played along in doing checks on my 4 year old’s baby as well as the real thing and they even arranged for my named midwife to see us before we were discharged.

I actually found it very emotional being discharged from the team, it’s hard to put into words why as I felt confident in looking after the new arrival but I felt a sense of loss at knowing my time with the team had ended, everyone really made an anxious pregnancy into a relaxed birth and I cannot thank them enough for the memories. 

Every now and then when we’re sitting in the living room, I look at the spot where the pool was and tell my baby about how she was born in that very room. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but I wouldn’t change anything about the experience so thank you to the whole Surrey Hills homebirth team… almost makes me feel like having another one! Almost...

Reflecting on the events of a year ago today…

Reflecting on the events a year ago today…

09.10.18

We were living a building site (classic have a baby do arenovation– run out of time!) as well as being 8 days overdue and 2 sweeps down the line, it was beginning to feel like having a homebirth wasn’t very realistic…

On that Tuesday I had just attended a clinic appointment(had another sweep!) and reluctantly booked in my induction for two days time. Following the appointment I had a huge urge to take my cocker spaniel, Alfie, for a walk to our favourite place and have some alone time with him– it was a really special afternoon just the two of us and we walked for hours until the sun began to setand I remember feeling very content and mellow.I alsoremember that we kept having to stop so that I could catch my breath– I think in hindsight Alfie was well awareI was already in labour as instead of being his usual crazy self- he walked calmly and stayed next to me throughout.

1800- we got home and and my boyfriend j was headingout running and I didn’t stop him as I still hadn’t twigged it had really started. He said he got the feeling he needed to come back and when he got home he found me frantically cleaning which is completely out of character! I managed to convince him that I was in “very early stages” so he headed off to bed and I stayed up scrubbing floors! I text Jodie to know that I was nowregularly having some twinges. She told me to rest and she would keep as ear out for her phone. I ran myself a bath, lit some candles and got my 2 hypnobirthing tracks playing on repeat. The bath felt amazing and I was beginning to realise that my little one may be on their way and all I could feel was excitement! I got out the bath and plaited my hair but I remember thinking that a 5 minute plait had easily taken an hour as I kept letting my hair go to grab hold of the sink every couple of minutes.

After the bath I went into the baby’s room and realised that their room didn’t have a lampshade- so I decided that I needed to get to work on it ASAP. During this late night craft session (photo below taken at 0018), Idecided that I would put my TENS machine on but I didn’t want to wake J incase it was “a false alarm” so I managed (using a mirror) to aim the pads in the right area on my back (not recommended!) and that first time I pressed boost I remember feeling euphoric and deciding that I would be able to cope thanks to this magic little machine.

So to paint the picture I’m in a tiny box room making a lampshade with one hand (which is unsurprisingly very wonky) boosting my tens with my other hand, breathing deeply whilst trying not to wake up J or the kids on the other side of the wall of our semi-detached house. My mooing however wasn’t as quiet as I thought and J woke up to me apparently “groaning” but still desperate to finish the lampshade! Jodie text me at 02.39 and asked how I was getting on to which I replied I was having strange pains every 3-4 minutes (you wouldn’t think I was a midwife !).

0326 messaged Jodie to say these “strange pains” were now every 2 minutes and Jodie was on her way- J was now WIDE awake and filling up the pool as directed by Jodie. Jodie arrived just before 4am and very dramatically my waters decided to break on her arrival! This was shortly followed by all of my dinner coming back up! Jodie agreed that it seemed as though labour was well and truly in full swing. J had very proudly filled the pool up (he loves a task) only to realise that he hadn’t put the all important liner in it (the pools are reuseable!) So at now 04.30 in the morning- with the equivalent of 4 baths worth of water in the pool- J was now emptying the water into the drain outside our house on the main road that we live on- needless to say that thanks to hypnobirthing and doggy doula cocker spaniel- I was completely unaware of all this going on around me!

 0600 Tanya arrived as the second midwife and I had no idea she was planning to come so I remember getting really excited to have her there as well as feeling incredibly lucky to have such amazing women there to get me through this! 

Very shortly afterwards I was getting huge urges to push and was encouraged by both Tanya, Jodie and J to go for it and “see what happens”- needless to say this pushing malarkey is NUTS- how do women all around the world do this everyday (again you wouldn’t think I was a midwife as my day job!)

0800 J was watching and quickly learning from the best (Tanya and Jodie) and was an incredible support I remember him moving all my affirmations into my eyesight which was really what I needed at that point. I clearly remember just looking round the room and realising that I was so lucky to have 3 (plus one of the furry variety) amazing cheerleaders there for me. I used the pool for a while but chose to jump out when I knew the baby was near.

The excitement was building and with every push I knew I was getting closer to meeting them! This excitement also bought me back into real time and realised that we needed to tell the builders not to come this morning as they were due to arrive anytime!

I knew I was getting close because I could hear changes in the baby’s heart rate but those final few pushes took everything out of me and I reached around J’s neck and that final push we did together and it was enough to get the baby round the bend.

The atmosphere in the living room changed from calm into excitement and I knew now was the time that I’ve told so many women to “just to listen and I focused all I could into tuning into Jodie and just Jodie and I knew how much I trusted her in that moment. This was it- I was about to meet the baby I had yearned for for so long who I felt I had already known forever….All my years as a nanny and then a midwife and now I was about to meet my own little one… I heard J shout ‘there’s a head’ and I remember laughter from either Jodie and Tanya or from me as for j this bit was all new! 

0850: the baby’s born! Jodie lifts the baby up to reveal their gender but the midwife in me could only see his HUGE tongue tie and then I quickly came back into the moment to realise that we had a boy- a long and slim boy who looked identical to his daddy! That relief of holding your prize after all that hard work- I’m not sure there’s a feeling like it- and then the love- the raw, unconditional mothering love that engulfs you as you cradle baby in your arms. 

And then there was the other star of the show: Alfie, who we was with me from start to finish-he watched the whole process from the comfort of the sofa and came over to see and sniff him as soon as he was born and needless to say they’re still the best of friends!

 So how to sum up this experience: primal but perfect- everything I imagined homebirth to be and then some! If we’re lucky enough to have another– I can honestly say I’ll be excited for birth again- whenever I remember that night I beam- I beam because I was so lucky to have experienced the magic of the Homebirth Team

Jodie and Tanya- you are our heroes! X