Another festive arrival! This little one has been doing the “3rd baby dance” with his mama for the passed 10 day and much to her relief he chose the early hours of this morning to ‘meet her under the mistletoe’ at home! #homebirthjusthappened
“My first two daughters had been born in a small cottage hospital in Australia, where my primary care had been from the same midwife. The hospital was so tired that the paint was peeling off the walls, but I could see the sea from the windows. It was a simple but special place to give birth. I had practised hypnobirthing and in both cases, had a very positive birth experience.
We had since moved back to the UK and, pregnant again, I was excited by the prospect of giving birth for a third time. My best friend had opted for a home birth in London during the height of the COVID pandemic. As the NHS were unable to support the service due to a lack of ambulances, she had opted to go private. A hypnobirthing teacher herself, she was convinced a home birth was the start she wanted for her little boy. Her experience was wonderful.
I had also heard from many mums in Onslow Village of their positive experiences with the Surrey Hills home birth team. I was worried about the thought of a very medicalised pregnancy and birth, and continued to hear stories of intervention in UK hospitals. I knew I wanted as simple and as calm a start as possible for my baby. My second baby had been delivered after only 40 minutes in hospital so I was expecting a quick labour, and with COVID still rife it also felt like staying home was the best place to be.
I didn’t know until it happened to me that third babies can be tricky – no one knows why – and this time round my labour was not as simple as it had previously been. At 36 1/2 weeks I started to experience some tightenings. They were more than just Braxton Hicks, instead I was feeling them in my uterus where I feel contractions during labour. I was so excited! I just had to get to 37 weeks and then I could have the baby at home, but I was certain it wouldn’t be long before I met baby number 3.
Four weeks later, 5 days overdue, my third daughter was born. Throughout this whole month I had days or nights of what I now know to be called ‘false labour’. The contractions were sometimes strong (strong enough to wake me up), distracting, and, despite best efforts to keep busy, my sole focus for many hours of those weeks. I would have days of feeling totally normal (and healthy in my pregnancy) and then days or long nights when I was convinced the baby was coming. But the contractions never got stronger or closer together. After around 5 hours or so, they would fade away, and I’d be left wondering if I had imagined it all. It was a mental marathon that lasted for weeks.
During this whole period the home birth team was by my side. In the 6 days leading up to the birth someone from the team ‘popped in’ to see me at least every other day. They encouraged me to rest when I could, to have baths at 3am to ‘knock the false labour on the head’, and to keep the faith. I was starting to worry that something was wrong, that my body had forgotten how to do this, or that the baby was stuck in the wrong position. Even a sweep at 40 weeks hadn’t been enough to get it going.
However, good news was to come, a second sweep at 40+4 showed I was already 3cm dilated and that my cervix was thinning. I went for a swim and then reflexology, willing my body to relax enough for nature to take control and for labour to properly start.
That afternoon the contractions started more regularly. I was excited but had been here too many times before to really believe this could be it. By 10pm once again, they hadn’t built to anything substantial, and with a heavy heart, I fell asleep. Around midnight, I woke up and needed to get out of bed. The contractions had strengthened. Finally they were the waves I had longed for that would take me to the moment I met my baby. It was time to call the midwives.
Kirsty and Claire arrived around 1.30, and everything was building nicely with contractions becoming more intense and only a few minutes apart. That is, until around 3.00am, when everything stopped.
I couldn’t believe it. After everything, I was here again – sitting on the bathroom floor, willing the contractions to come, but they had evaporated.
At this point, I told my husband that maybe I was worried about waking the girls, and that this worry was holding things back. They are small and I didn’t want them to be upset if they saw me in pain, and I was no longer convinced they would stay asleep. So in the dead of night my husband carried them across to our neighbour, and I tried to stay positive.
In an attempt to reset I had a bath, and it worked. Within 15 minutes, we were back in action, and our beautiful baby girl was born at 4.45 in the morning. We called her Beatrix, after her Trixie beginnings.
The birth itself was one of the most special moments of my entire life. For most of it, the midwives left me and my husband to ourselves, where we swayed to relaxing music and candles, as he (and the gas and air!) helped me through my contractions and transition. When it was time to push, I moved to the bed, and the midwives guided me through a controlled and calm delivery. Beatrix weighed 10lb 4oz, but I didn’t have any bruising or tearing. I was astonished.
To rest straight away in our bed, new baby on chest, with a cup of sweet tea was the most blissful experience. After a few hours, the girls came home to meet their baby sister, we all snuggled in our PJs and ate toast in bed. My connection to Beatrix was strong from the start, and she cluster-fed on the first day so that on day 2 my milk came in (previously it had taken 4 – 5 days). I didn’t have the baby blues I had felt before. I was overwhelmed with love, and gratitude and the magic and marvel of birth.
I will never know what led to my false labour. It could well be that because of her size, Beatrix was just trying to get into the perfect positioning. It may have been some worries I had: that the labour would be too fast, that I would disturb my other children, that the experience was unknown from what I had tried and tested with my first two births in Australia. Or maybe it was just nature’s way, of which so much remains unknown.
What I do know is that the experience taught me some vital lessons: that every baby is different, that parenting is about patience, that we must trust and surrender to nature, and, most importantly, that we are so very lucky to finally have a beautiful, healthy baby in our arms. I will always be grateful for the support of Lucy, Kirsty, Claire, Becca and Lucy from the home birth team. And Trixie will be treasured forever. “
A huge thank you to our Surrey Hills Mum who shared her birth story.
If you have been supported by the team and would like to share your story, please email us:
In the early hours of Sunday the team had the pleasure of supporting this amazing mum as she birthed her first baby speedily in to the world and in to her partners awaiting hands. #HomeBirthJustHappened #HomeBirth #Primip #FirstTimeMum
One of the gorgeous caseload babies from Monday’s trilogy!
We were delighted to be able to support this family for the second time as they welcomed their second child in to the world at home in the shower!
#continuity #RepeatCustomer #HomeBirthJustHappened
Psst if Spock Monkey looks familiar that became this isn’t his first appearance on our blog. Here his is announcing another special arrival https://surreyhillshomebirth.org/2017/09/15/spock-monkey/
We are delighted to be able to finally share our 2019 stats with you.
The Surrey Hills Homebirth team work within a continuity caseloading model which means that we continue to care for our clients throughout their childbearing journey, even if plans or place of birth change along the way*
In 2019 we were responsible for the care of 203 pregnant women and their families.
Of these families 32% birthed their first baby, 42% birthed their second, while 26% birthed their third or subsequent baby
92% of our entire caseload experienced a vaginal birth and 82% knew the midwife who was caring for them in labour.
133 (66%) of our caseload used water in labour (hydrotherapy) with 50% (n=101) remaining in the water as they birthed their baby (waterbirth).
We welcomed 99 girls and 104 boys in to the world.
From our original caseload (n=203) 73% (n=148) of families planned to give birth at home with the Surrey Hills team at the onset of established labour. The remaining 55 families (27%) opted for an alternative place of birth. This change in planned place of birth occurred for a number of different reasons including consent to Induction of Labour, the development of situations/conditions which recommended a hospital based birth and moving out of area.
Of the 148 families who planned to give birth at home at the onset of labour 82% achieved their planned birth at home (n=121). 18% (n=27) experienced an in labour transfer to an alternative place of birth, while 3% (n=5) were transferred in the immediate postnatal period.
95% of the clients that birthed at home had a physiological (natural) birth of the placenta with optimal cord clamping.
*please note that there have been some changes to our service in 2020 due to Covid 19 pandemic. Please talk to a team member or read the Covid 19 page for more details
In this time of doom and gloom, I wanted to share my birth story as my baby is coming up to a week old!!
Wednesday 11th March 2020
My homebirth story began at 35 weeks. I was fortunate to meet Emily at my local GP practice as she was covering for the community midwife. One of the questions Emily asked me was “Where are you planning on giving birth?” At first I was a bit taken aback by this question and so my automatic response was “The Royal Surrey of course”.
Emily followed by telling us all about the Homebirth Team and the benefits of a homebirth. Both myself and my husband left our appointment with mixed emotions about the prospect as this was our first child. After a long conversation we decided to go ahead but made the decision not to tell any of our families or friends of our last-minute plan to have a home birth.
As we only had five weeks to go before our due date, Emily arranged it so that my remaining appointments would be with a different member of the homebirth team so I could get to know them all before the ‘big day’. It was an added benefit having all my appointments at home and to meet the lovely ladies in the team. Despite this being my first, I was very much excited at the prospect of giving birth at home but if it meant going to hospital then so be it.
The big day came, 3 days overdue and as this was my first, I had no idea what to expect. I have absolutely loved sharing my birth story and it will definitely be one that both my husband and I will never forget.
As my contractions started to develop, I called the team and the first midwife on call was Lucy. Half an hour later she arrived and it was clear that I was in well established labour. Kirsty joined shortly after and before we knew it I was in the pool and only hours away from delivering a beautiful baby boy.
Lucy and Kirsty were the most amazing and supportive midwives and I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience of child birth. They were so calm and reassuring and made us feel at ease which most definitely had a huge part to play in the smooth delivery of our little boy. All I can hope is that we will be able to have another home birth for our next!
The ladies on the team are absolute legends. I cannot thank every single one for the part they played in the lead up and delivery of our baby. I cannot stop talking about the birth and how wonderful the two ladies were who helped us with our first few hours of parenthood. It still seems very surreal that we had our baby at home, well away from any hospital and the best part….not a single soul knew!! The look on our families faces when we FaceTimed a few hours after giving birth from our very own sofa…priceless!
Sophie, Dan and Baby Louis x
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 a year ago today…
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