Sarah’s Homebirth Story

Many people who wouldn’t normally choose home birth are considering their options right now, due to covid-19 restrictions on birthing options. I’m a huge fan of birthing at home, having had my second baby in my lounge, but I appreciate it’s not for everyone! Hearing about other people’s experiences can be helpful to give you a feel of what it could be like. Of course, everyone’s experience is as unique as they are, but it’s so lovely when we hear positive stories in the Big Birthas Facebook group, and so I asked for permission to share this one with you. This is Sarah’s homebirth story.

Homebirth story - welcome Gabriel Leonard (pictured in a rainbow babygro)
Gabriel Leonard

Welcome to the world, Gabriel Leonard!

Just wanted to announce the arrival of our gorgeous 4th baby, Gabriel Leonard, born in a pool at home on Wednesday 15th July at 07.48am, surrounded by peace, quiet and love.

I am very much a larger lady with my bmi probably in the very high 40s (I refused to be weighed), I had gestational diabetes (GDM) for which I was on 2 500mg modified release metformin tablets. I also have a medical history of gall stones, diverticulitis, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). None of those things affect me and have just been found on scans over time rather than because of emergencies. I am otherwise fit and well and still perfectly mobile (something they like to presume is fat = immobile 🙄).

This birth was slightly different from my other 3. He was my latest to arrive (38+2, 39+1, 37+6) at 39 weeks and 2 days. To be perfectly honest I was losing faith in having a natural birth. When you have GDM the word induction gets thrown around a lot regardless of how well mum and baby are getting along 🙄.

The other things that made this birth different were the fact that in my other 3 births my waters had gone first, and then my contractions started a few hours later. With this baby I started off having some slightly uncomfortable cramp. That cramp then started coming and going and increasing in intensity. I called my homebirth team and they said someone would be with me within an hour.

Early stages

Husband set about getting the pool up and my mum (who lives with us) did a great job of herding the other wild animals (ie my other 3 😂). By the time the midwife arrived I was so uncomfortable but managing to own it by breathing through (seriously ladies, get hypnobirthing!). The midwife just sat there quietly letting me do my thing, not interfering or asking me to do anything at all.

I did start to have a little wobble, being unused to my labour starting before waters breaking, I thought I was probably only 3cm and thinking “Jesus, how do I make it through the rest!?” I asked for a vaginal examination as I needed to know in my own mind what I was dealing with. The midwife was fantastic and waited until in between contractions to assess me. I was 6cm!! Knowing this really helped give me the push to continue.

Time for gas and air…

The second midwife arrived with the good stuff (gas and air) and the pool was ready at last (which meant the husband got to live on for another day!). That amazing feeling when you get into that water is indescribable. Things felt like they really ramped up. Within a few moments of being in the pool my waters went which was such a strange sensation! Probably 5-10 mins later I could feel baby start to come.

I reached down and could feel his head (something I’d never done before). In the next 2 contractions his head was out and then in the next his full body. I lifted him out of the water and onto my chest. I don’t think I have ever felt more proud of myself in that moment.

The midwife asked for the pool to be topped up with hot water and occasionally wet the towel covering baby to keep him warm. The midwives said what an amazing and calm birth it was, I didn’t make a sound other than the grunty breath noise whilst my baby came out. (My husband said our toddler makes more noise whilst having a poo 😂😂). Placenta came away nice and easily.

Baby fed like an absolute pro. My husband eventually cut the cord and the midwife helped us tie our cord tie.

Reflections

It was the blissful birth I’ve needed. Baby was absolutely perfect and weighed in at 8lb 7oz.

I just wanted to say the homebirth team were sensational and never once did I hear “no”, “but”, “maybe”. From first visit they believed in me and my baby.

I also had a private midwife to do my antenatal and postnatal observations. She came a few hours after Gabriel arrived. She was so full of joy and happiness for us that we got the birth we needed. After doing the first set of bloods on baby (in GDM, blood sugars are done on newborns to ensure there isn’t hypoglycemia), she did a few other checks on us both, had some celebratory chocolate (it had been soooooo long without chocolate!) and left us to it.

My mum set about emptying the pool whilst the hubby child herded. I just sat there in my own living room in utter bliss eating toast and feeding my baby.

I did his second set of bloods which were also absolutely fine so no further bloods needed.

Still on a massive euphoric high.

So ladies listen to YOUR BODY, YOUR BABY. Do not accept no for an answer. There are still people in the profession that see beyond your weight and believe in you as a woman and as a mother. It’s taken me 4 babies to find that very special team of women.

Sarah pictured with newborn and toddler - homebirth story
Huge congratulations to Sarah!

Would you like to share your homebirth story? Or hospital birth story? Or wherever it happened to take place story?

We love hearing about births. Even if it didn’t go exactly as you hoped, or if all your plans went completely out the window! Huge congratulations to Sarah, and thanks so much for sharing your very special homebirth story. It just goes to show that GDM and other health conditions need not be a bar to homebirthing, if it’s what you would like.

Welcome to the world, Gabriel!

Homebirth Midwife

Look what Deborah Neiger has just brought onto the market! It’s your very own homebirth midwife doll and accessories!!

Ha ha, not really. This IS homebirth midwife Deborah Neiger, plus all her kit laid out in all its glory. So, if you’ve ever wondered what’s in a homebirth midwife’s magic toolkit – here it is. We’ve come on a bit since the days of Call The Midwife!

Or maybe not! In reality, Deborah says that at most births all she uses is the Doppler (14), the incontinence pads (3), the scissors (31), the gauze (6), the scales (20) & baby weighing sling (12) – plus the wonderful midwife (1), obviously!

Homebirth Midwife and kit -Deborah Neiger

Second thing to note is that Deborah says the list isn’t exhaustive, and it’s not listed in order of importance.

The Kit

  1. A kind and sensitive *known to you* midwife
  2. Rebozo for comfort measures or to help fetal positioning
  3. Lots of incontinence pads to soak up birth goo
  4. Catheter if passing urine is difficult or a full bladder is causing excessive bleeding
  5. Cord tie
  6. Gauze Swabs, mostly used to check the perineum for damage after birth if desired, or for microbiome seeding
  7. Placenta bag if parents want it disposing of
  8. Fetoscope
  9. Penguin suction, NEVER used as routine, only as part of resuscitation should it become necessary
  10. Gloves
  11. Pinard
  12. Baby weighing sling
  13. Stainless steel mirror for pool use
  14. Doppler
  15. Transducer gel for doppler
  16. Birth pack, only carry it for the unlikely possibility we ever need the Spencer Wells clamps and super sharp episiotomy scissors in it, though it actually has never happened
  17. Some needles and syringes to administer emergency drugs or vitamin K to the baby, if needed/wanted
  18. Cord Clamp
  19. Lube in case of vaginal examination, also not routine ever
  20. Hanging scales
  21. Sphygmomanometer to take blood pressures
  22. Giving set and tubing for Entonox
  23. Vomit/emesis bags (or as Deborah likes to call them – puke tubes!)
  24. Stethoscope
  25. Entonox tank
  26. Urinalysis sticks
  27. Infrared thermometer
  28. Emergency drugs to control excessive bloodloss (Syntometrine, Syntocinon, Ergometrine) and vitamin K if desired by parents
  29. Tongue depressor, for use during insertion of Guedel airway during baby resuscitation if necessary
  30. Bag and Mask for baby resuscitation
  31. Sterile scissors to cord eventually once fully white or placenta birthed, unless Lotusing
  32. Sharps bin

Addendum, not in photo!

  1. Phone! This is useful when you need to look up things, if ever in doubt, and to summon help.
  2. Torch. To huddle and write notes when in a dark room, check heads emerging in darkness if there are concerns, check perineums.

Thanks for sharing, Deborah! I had no idea my lovely homebirth midwife most likely had all this stuff nearby when I gave birth to my second!

If you’re interested to find out more about Deborah and her work, you can follow the link to her original Facebook post here.

You can also find support at the Big Birthas Facebook Group here.