Francesca's Birth Positive Home Birth Story

(6 minute read)

Francesca's Birth Positive Home Birth Story


I'm a first time mum to a baby boy who was born at home, in February 2023. I'd planned a homebirth from about 20 weeks. I'm not in any way anti medicine, but I am very uncomfortable in medical settings. I knew I'd feel most comfortable at home, and I did more research than I probably did for my degrees before settling on the decision!

 

The midwife appointments at home only gave me more confidence, and whilst I hadn't planned fairylights, candles and a playlist, I had practiced hypnobirthing techniques, done some antenatal meditation/visualisations, and was all for the low lighting, waterbirth, and any aromatherapy that could offer pain relief and relaxation. I'd also got myself a TENS machine and a wave comb, and had planned to use the gas and air offered. I'd got my affirmations ready, snacks ready, lucozade sport...I was as prepared as I could be. At 38+4 I had an appointment. The baby was 1/5 engaged and the midwife told me to prepare to go over.

 

I was uncomfortable and fed up. I tried to keep myself busy, and at 38+6 I spent the day doing the food shopping, curtain shopping and clothes shopping. We went out for food in the evening and I just felt grotty.

 

At 39 weeks, I woke up at 3:30am with period pains and thought it was probably the start of something, but that it might come and go for a day or so, or at least take a good few hours. I stayed in bed for 25 minutes and then realised the pains were coming faster, for longer, and with a lot of discomfort. I began to time them, and after the 3rd one I timed my app told me 'You're in established labour. Time to go to hospital'. I didn't take much notice but I did wake my partner, and at 4:10 rang the midwives. They advised to relax, watch some TV, don't focus on the app, and call back if anything changes. 10 minutes later I was on all fours on our bed, no longer able to breathe in for 4 and out for 8, and no longer able to use my phone to time contractions. The screenshots are wild to look back at!

Francesca's contractions timed on an app

 

My partner called the midwives again and they advised to get in the shower. I couldn't do that, but I did move to the bathroom. I'm not sure why, but I wanted to be able to squat on the loo.

 

A few minutes later I told my partner to ring back, and tell the midwives to come. Not because I really thought the baby was coming, but because I'd feel safer if someone was there with me. He rang them back, but looking on from the outside, he knew things were either further along than we could've ever expected.

 

At this point, I was shaking and sweating, and I could feel my baby's head moving down through my body. The intensity of that feeling was unbelievable. I noticed a tiny amount of pink blood and hoped that was normal. Somewhere in my mind I knew my baby was about to arrive, but I was too shocked and scared to face that until the midwives arrived. At 5:02 they came flying in, introduced themselves, and told my partner to grab some towels. One of them told me to sit back so she could see, and once I did I heard her say to the other midwife 'we've got vertex'! Apparently she also told me she could see hair, but I can't remember that bit!

 

My body did all the work....I didn't push at all. If anything, I did the opposite and tried to hold the baby in until the midwives arrived! At 5:05 my baby's head was born followed by his body at 5:06. The midwife lifted him onto my chest just as my partner ran back in with some towels!

 

I remember looking at the midwife and asking if my baby was OK, and she smiled and said 'Look at them!'. He was pink, crying and kicking. His APGAR score was a 10. They walked us back to our bed, helped me deliver the placenta and gave me gas and air to check me over. In my birth notes there are no times for the first or second stage of labour, but the third stage took 13 minutes. The midwives helped my son latch, and then left us in bed for 90 minutes whilst they wrote up their notes.

 

They were amazing, advising me to keep baby warm as it would be a shame to have to transfer to hospital just because of his temperature. They checked him over and he was perfect. It was only after the hormones and adrenaline had worn off days later that I started to wonder what could've happened to him during labour, as we had no monitoring at all and were unattended until his head was born. I asked the midwives on day 5 whether he'd have been stressed, or whether it was dangerous for him. They told me that he would just have been in exactly the right position, and had he not been, labour wouldn't have happened so rapidly. They said he came out perfectly healthy and there had been no danger to him. That was a huge relief. Before I gave birth, I knew my body could do it and it was designed to give birth. I was extremely lucky to be considered low risk and have the choice of where to give birth.

 

Looking back, an unmedicated and unattended labour (neither of which were in my birth plan!) proved just how amazing our bodies and instincts are. If we're lucky enough to have another child, I certainly wouldn't choose no pain relief and no midwives again, but I would choose to do whatever I felt safest.

 

I'd like every woman to feel empowered enough to choose what's right for her and whether that's with doctors around, or midwives only, at hospital or at home, I hope they feel safe enough to make the decision that's right for them.