A Positive Birth Experience

When my community midwife suggested home birth to me at my booking in appointment with my second pregnancy I politely declined, thinking absolutely no way did I want to have a home birth. I was terrified of labour after a traumatic hospital induction with my son and didn’t really want to even think about having to go through labour at all.

As my pregnancy progressed I realised I had to face up to it sometime and booked onto the Royal Surrey maternity ward tour as I had given birth at a different hospital before. Being on the labour ward had me in floods of tears and did nothing to dispel my fear.

I started a hypnobirthing course and the hypnobirthing teacher suggested homebirth again to me and after the emotional experience of the labour ward tour, the idea started to make a bit more sense. It was actually my husband who cemented the idea as he knew I would be a lot more relaxed at home.

The more I thought about it the more it made sense and I was desperate for a different experience of labour this time. I went to a homebirth forum to meet the team and had a lot of my fears put to rest. At 28 weeks pregnant I made the decision to switch to the homebirth team.

Having all my antenatal appointments at home was the first huge benefit, I already felt more relaxed especially knowing that I would know the midwife who would be there at the birth.

My named midwife (Tanya) was so reassuring throughout the pregnancy, was great with entertaining my son during appointments and it felt like a friend visiting rather than an antenatal appointment.

As my due date got closer I started to feel excited at the prospect of having a home birth and really hoped everything would go to plan. I set the living room up with the birth pool and positive affirmations so it was all ready to go.

When I was 40+6 Jodie came to do my appointment and asked me what my thoughts were if I got to 42 weeks. I decided to have a sweep there and then as thought it could do no harm and I was desperate to avoid induction. I was 2cm dilated so Jodie reassured me it was unlikely I’d get to 42 weeks which was a relief, and joked that she’d see me later as she was on call. 

Later that afternoon at 4.30pm I started to feel period pains. I timed them for half an hour and realised they were coming every 2 minutes and I might be in labour. I contacted Jodie to let her know and she said to keep monitoring and let her know when they intensified.

I put my tens machine on and carried on focusing on my breathing. My husband started to fill the birth pool as we were worried it might take a while because of our boiler.

I practiced my hypnobirthing and focused on breathing through my contractions. I spoke to Jodie again at about 7.15pm and she said I sounded too happy still but she was ready to come when things intensified.

At 7.45pm I asked my husband to phone Jodie and ask her to come. She got to us just after 8pm and immediately suggested I get in the pool. Shortly after that I felt the urge to push.

Having not experienced the feeling of pushing/crowning the first time around due to an epidural, this made me panic a bit and I asked for gas and air for the last bit of pushing.

At 8.42pm my daughter was born in the water! I felt immense joy and was so proud of myself for doing it. 

The whole experience was incredibly empowering and I felt so relaxed throughout. My husband even has a video of me straight after birth asking why my baby isn’t crying, she was just so relaxed too!

I stayed in the pool for a while after and then Jodie wrapped me up on the sofa to cuddle and feed my baby in the comfort of my living room. It was so lovely to be in our own surroundings getting to know our new baby rather than the loud and busy postnatal ward.

To have had such a positive birth experience made all the difference to the first few weeks with our new addition. After my son’s birth I swore I’d never do it again but this time I’m sad I can’t repeat it as it was so amazing!

I cannot recommend the Surrey Hills home birth team enough. They are so encouraging, incredibly skilled and have the most amazing ability to give reassurance when needed but to step back and let you and your body get on with labour your own way.

It felt like it was just my husband and me throughout the labour but I knew Jodie was there if I needed her (the second midwife arrived after my daughter had been born but I never felt it was an issue with it just being Jodie and a student midwife).

Jodie actually took photos of my daughter being born and sent them to me straight after. I never would have thought I’d want photos but I am so pleased she just went ahead and took them.

The team supported me to believe in myself and trust my body and baby. My only regret is I wish I’d made the decision to have a home birth sooner so I could have experienced their incredible care throughout my pregnancy.  

Surrey Hills Client February 2019

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Freestyle

On Thursday the team had the incredible privilege of supporting this amazing women as she gave birth supported by her named midwife

#BirthIsAmazingWhereverItHappenes

Continuity Matters

Now that our team is growing (hear more in the coming weeks!) we were able to support this amazing second time mum to birth her baby girl in hospital when an induction was advised.

Her named midwife was delighted to be there to support her though her change in birth plan and welcome her beautiful baby earthside.

Supported Choice

I had a slightly more complex route to choosing homebirth as whilst my first baby was a spontaneous and easy birth in an MLU, my second daughter had to be a section at 34 weeks due to antibodies causing her anaemia and her needing a transfusion.

I was therefore under consultant care for this pregnancy, both due to the repeat risk of antibodies affecting the baby, and due to being a VBAC.

Reasonably early in the pregnancy we were sure the antibodies weren’t going to be a factor, so the VBAC was the only concern. However, my consultant was very keen for me to have a medicalised birth with monitoring in the delivery suite, and potentially an early induction.

I contacted the home birth team – initially to discuss whether use of the MLU was an option for me. Tanya helped me understand my options and talked through all of my concerns, and I made the decision that a home birth would be my preferred option.

The home birth team supported me excellently through my pregnancy – especially as I continued to need consultant check ups and was faced with a lot of negativity about my home birth decision. Almost every possible risk factor was raised to try and persuade me out of my homebirth (my age, VBAC, baby size, specific blood tests needed for the baby after birth, post dates, speed of my first labour etc) so Tanya’s support to stand my ground was very much needed.

I attended an appointment with my consultant at 41 weeks, which resulted in a section being booked for 42 weeks – I was concerned my home birth was not going to materialise after all; it was hard to stay positive with a looming deadline and multiple hospital appointments booked to prepare for the section. I booked some reflexology and acupuncture appointments for the coming days and tried to mentally stay in a positive mindset.

 In the early hours of Saturday morning, whilst resettling my daughter back to sleep, I started to have more regular Braxton Hicks. I spent a few hours awake, but decided they were tailing off so returned to bed at 4am. A few minutes later I realised they were actually getting more intense and woke my husband to start setting up the pool.

As we were getting things out downstairs I thought my waters had started to trickle, but realised it was actually blood so I rang the midwife – Jodie was on call, who was comfortable it was nothing to be concerned about. We had a bit of a chat about whether it was worth her coming out yet, as I wasn’t feeling any pain, and could talk happily through the tightenings. We decided she would come and check me over as she could always go back home if I wasn’t close to active labour.

My waters went shortly before Jodie arrived at 5:15 – at this point I was still helping set up the pool and comfortable with the tens machine and walking through any discomfort. Within fifteen minutes everything suddenly leapt up a gear. 

Jodie was amazing at helping me as my contractions were very frequent, with barely any gaps between, then Tanya arrived at 5:50, and ten minutes later I was feeling a lot of pressure.

They coached and supported me brilliantly as I struggled with the intensity of transition and the speed of contractions that I was experiencing, and then helped me into the pool. My daughter was born minutes later, at 6:05, within 3 pushes. We spent a magical hour in the pool with my eldest daughters there, fascinated by their new sister. 

I had felt doubts about my homebirth decision at times during my pregnancy, especially when faced with so many people who only talked about the risks, and with strong opposition to my choice voiced regularly by my consultant.

I am so very glad that I trusted my instincts, and that I had the support of Tanya to make this experience possible for us as a family.

There is something amazingly special about bringing a baby into the world within the safety and familiarity of your own house, with the support of midwives you know and trust, and to be able to get comfortable in your own bed once it’s all over.

I can’t thank the Home birth team enough as this will be an experience we treasure forever as a family, and without Tanya this birth would have happened in a very different environment.

Homebirth January 2019

Note from the team: Have additional considerations in your medical or pregnancy history? We will work alongside our multidisciplinary colleagues to support you to balance up your individual benefits and risks of homebirth so that you can come to a decision that feels right for you. Contact the team to arrange a 1-2-1 chat at Tanya.ashton@nhs.net