“I thought I’d never choose a Homebirth, but I did and wouldn’t have it any other way”
I have a confession to make, Chantelle sent me this amazing birth story so long ago - and my brain is so full I kept forgetting to read it. OH BOY! I am sooooo sorry I made you wait so long for this one.... IT IS SO GOOD. Grab a cuppa for this amazing birth story, thank you Chantelle for sharing it with us, you're a superwoman! -N
When I found out I was pregnant with baby number two, one of the first things I did was reach out to Nic for advice on which care model to proceed with at Royal Darwin Hospital.
I’d had a positive PROM birth experience for baby number one at the Darwin Private Hospital (birth story: https://www.mindbumpandbirth.com.au/single-post/positive-induction-birth-story) but knew I wanted midwifery care throughout pregnancy and labour this time around.
We are so lucky to have the Midwifery Group Practice model under Royal Darwin Hospital. I was under the care of a small team - Aysha, Blaire, Cathy and Claire, and a couple of student midw
ives. They all knew me, I knew all of them and every visit was so personal - whether at the birth centre, clinic or in the comfort of our home home. I chose this care model as it was closest aligned to my birth values.
Homebirth isn’t something I set out to do. I had seen Homebirth videos in Nic’s Mind, Bump & Birth hypnobirthing course and have a friend on the Darwin Homebirth Group committee so I had people around me that supported and endorsed it but at the time my absolute preference was to labour in the birth centre at RDH. I never felt pressured to Homebirth, both options were readily available and supported. It wasn’t until we had our first home visit from Midwife Claire as she asked where I intended to birth that I pondered the idea more. She shared some of the beautiful things about homebirthing and as she spoke I looked around my home setting and could see how inviting the comforts of home are over a hospital and birth centre and started to visualise what it could look like.
Some of our concerns of the unknowns of Homebirth were alleviated that day and over the following months, I watched a couple of Homebirth info videos on YouTube (recommend Bridget Teylor) and from then just couldn’t imagine giving birth anywhere else but home.
Fears I’d held during my pregnancy were that labour would be too quick (like 2 hours), that I wouldn’t know when to make the call to go into the birth centre, and how uncomfortable that car trip must be! I soon realised if I stayed at home, I no longer had those fears to contend with.
So just like baby number one, I said I’d never hypnobirth, that I was ‘just looking into it’ but ended up hypnobirthing, for baby number two I said I’d never birth at home, but ended up having a beautiful planned homebirth.
With my first baby, Olivia, being born at 38+5 weeks, I had it in my head that baby number two would be born around 38 weeks. So by the time 40 weeks rolled around and went by without any ‘signs of labour’, I was focused on doing everything to bring on labour naturally as taught by Nic. When sitting I tried to use the exercise ball or lean over the CUB as much as possible for optimal positioning of baby.
Knowing I’d be offered a stretch and sweep at my 41+1 week appointment by the consulting doctor, I was starting to look at this pregnancy with an end date and the options were playing on my mind.
Would I be better off waiting it out as long as possible for labour to occur naturally with no interventions? What would be the last day to make this call in time for a delivery by 42 weeks to avoid medical intervention?
Or am I better off having a stretch and sweep which would likely bring on labour spontaneously before 42 weeks and be able to birth at home?
I also had the logistics of birthing to keep in mind, with the weekend approaching our two year old daughter would be at home.
I messaged my friend Michelle who was there as our support person for my first birth. She reminded me lots of babies come between 41-42 weeks and I’ll have my birth team with me no matter what. That gave me a sense of calm.
I had a preparation for labour massage with Greta at ‘Massage for Women’ at exactly 41 weeks which very well may have been the final key.
At 41+1 weeks at 11am Thursday I attended my scheduled check up at RDH to make sure baby was going well. Asking if I’d had any contractions to date, I said no. The monitoring picked up on three within a half hour period. They were so faint to me I’d hardly noticed them but could place two of them. All checks indicated everything was in normal range. The doctor said amniotic fluid was sitting on the lower end of the scale and placenta was showing calcification, saying this indicated it was to shortly stop growing any further. I was offered a stretch and sweep but declined. It was then recommended I get one the next day (Friday), Monday at the latest.
I was perplexed on what to do, my questions still remained. I phoned my midwife support team for advice on the stretch and sweep and Aysha made time for me to stop in to talk it over. She thoroughly explained my options and said I don’t have to decide right now, and I can change my mind at any time. We pencilled in a plan together to discuss again tomorrow.
I felt tightenings a few times in that chat and on the short trip home in the car, which included a detour to grab some good ol’ Territory Laksa for lunch, but didn’t focus too much on them and continued with my day.
My mother and I started to prepare the birth pool (we’d agreed the days before to finally set a time to do it after it had been sitting in its bag for weeks). I silently paid attention to a few tightenings, thinking it’s a good thing we were setting it up as this could happen tonight or in the next day after all.
Not long after, Mum went to pick up Olivia from childcare and take her shopping and to the local park. I put on hypnobirthing affirmations and clary sage, sat on my exercise ball and tuned into my body with visualisations as I focused on timing contractions/tightenings. They were 8 mins apart, 45-60 seconds in length and felt quite mild. I phoned my Midwife Aysha to let her know.
Half an hour later, I had some type of show and my waters started to slowly break.
My midwife called with an update. I let her know about my waters breaking and confirmed my preference was to birth at home.
She let me know she was personally on her way over as the on-call midwife in the team was unwell. I knew she’d already done a full day of work, so it meant a lot that she was coming over as an attending midwife, ensuring I could have someone I knew and trusted there to provide continuity of care.
I stood up, had a slightly stronger contraction and as it was finishing my husband pulled into the driveway. Quite literally, as he opened the door and said hello, my waters gushed out. What a greeting!
Form then, I spent early labour in the bedroom with spa music on in the background and affirmations in my air pods as I moved between the CUB, exercise ball and a swaying lean over the bed, changing positions regularly. I was still very much alert during and in between contractions and leisurely watched kids play and people walk their dogs along our street. Aysha felt a couple of contractions and left me to labour quietly. At first I thought it wouldn’t make a difference having anyone else in the room but it really did allow me to just focus inwards. I visualised what my uterus was doing each contraction which works so well for me.
Not too longer after, Mum came home with Olivia. She and my husband sorted her nighttime routine whilst my husband also filled and warmed the birth pool and checked in with me offering a light touch massage, hands to hold and a body to embrace. It was go go go for them whilst I remained blissfully unaware and relaxed.
At 6.30pm, an examination found that I was 4cm dilated. We agreed to do a small stretch and a sweep at the same time. This wasn’t at all necessary but was the decision we made at the time. And wow did it do wonders. Just a couple of minutes afterwards, I had the biggest and longest contraction, what felt like 5 minutes. I could actually feel my baby wriggle down further into the birth canal, almost thanking me for the extra room! That was a surreal and incredible thing to experience so vividly.
I welcomed a heat pack as my first dose of relief as the pressure increased and demanded my full focus. Running through my head was “I’m focused on a calm, easy birth”. Half an hour later my husband suggested I use the tens machine. I didn’t think I needed it, but once it was on it made my contractions feel good and even euphoric at one stage.
45 minutes later I had the sensation that I needed to poop. Knowing what that likely meant, I sent Tristan off to the next room to share the good news with the midwives. He said he’s never seen anyone more excited to hear that.
My midwife told me that if I wanted to use the birth pool, now would be a good time to get in. At this point, I still hadn’t actually decided where I was going to give birth but suspected once I was in the pool I probably wouldn’t want to get out. I went into our lounge room and was greeted by its transformation into a beautiful birth space where spa music was playing, essential oil was diffusing, fairy lights were on and my family and midwife support team were awaiting me.
With the stars somehow aligning, this happened to be the same time Olivia fell asleep. Grandma whispered to her she might be meeting her baby sister when she wakes up in the morning as she drifted into slumber. So as I walked into the lounge area, so too did my mum. I gave her a hug as this was the first I’d seen her since we put the birth pool up earlier that afternoon. I asked for a photo but as I did, the next contraction came on. I attempted to smile but my face instead said ‘woosh, that’s a big one’!
I got into the pool which was delightfully warmer than I expected. I reclined into the chair and felt like an absolute queen on a throne, like I’d been gifted all life’s luxuries. Aysha offered for me to try a different position on the pool, but I replied “nope! I’m so comfortable I’m not moving”. After a couple of minutes of pure relaxation I felt a contraction starting again so I asked for advice on a position. I knelt down and rested my forearms over the side of the pool and pressed my hands together as my body worked through a stronger than ever contraction.
The next wave of contractions had a bearing down feeling so my focus turned to ‘down and out’ J breath work with “breathe all loving energy down to your baby” running through my head. All the while I holding my husbands hands. I was completely in tune with my baby’s movements and responded in sync with her. Aysha suggested I bring one foot up flat beside me for better control which definitely helped. Between contractions my husband wiped my face with a cool washer which was a welcome relief, and my mum did some light touch massage on my shoulder and arm. Aysha was nearby telling me that I was doing so well trusting and listening to my body. No one was telling me what to do or how to do it. Combined, this all meant a lot.
I could feel my baby descending and crowning a couple of times. I’m told I was so quiet that often only Tristan knew if I was having a contraction because I’d squeeze his hands each time.
Within half an hour from getting into the pool and with a silent push, my baby’s head was out. Two more breaths her shoulders and rest of her body easily followed. I guided her out calmly and gently into my arms as I was overwhelmed with pure happiness to meet her. I reclined into the pool chair to give her a cuddle with my husband and mum behind me as we welcomed Sienna Lola Scott into our family.
I got out of the birth pool and laid down on our lounge for skin-to-skin time with Sienna as we soaked up each other’s love. Within an hour, she managed to find her way around for a feed and continued to do so off and on for the next two hours with ease.
I also met Clarice who was the attending midwife taking over from Katie who I hadn’t had the chance to even see yet. Unbeknown to me, she filmed the birth of Sienna and I’m so grateful to her for that.
I birthed my healthy placenta which was a new experience for me, and Clarice talked us through what she was looking at when inspecting it.
After some time, I had a warm shower and retreated to our bedroom. Midwives Aysha and Clarice were there for four hours after birth to be there for me and baby.
I have so much gratitude for Aysha, Clarice and Katie who supported my birth. Aysha certainly went above and beyond to take on two shifts back-to-back so I could have someone I knew and trusted there for my birth. I owe thanks also to Claire, Cathy and Blaire who also made such an impact making me feel trusted, empowered and safe throughout my pregnancy and during postpartum aftercare. It brought me so much comfort knowing I had the best care for me and that I didn’t have to explain my birthing values - they already shared them. Nicole Jackson was always just a message away for words of support and ‘you’ve got this’ mentality that stuck with me more than she likely knows.
Homebirth is an incredibly empowering experience that I’m so glad I chose and was able to experience. It was a huge contrast from my private hospital experience with coached pushing while on my back.
The turn of events from lunchtime that day being told I’d need an intervention to bring on labour to holding my baby in my arms from spontaneous labour that evening is a reminder to trust that your body is doing what it is designed to do.