One thing I wondered about before I had my home birth – was it going to be better than my hospital births? I’d seen home birthers describe their births as incredible, empowering and magical, but I couldn’t imagine feeling any more empowered than I did after my first birth, which had happened in hospital. So is home birth really all that, or is it positive birth that’s so amazing, regardless of the location?
Well finally, after two hospital births (one of which had been a postdates transfer from planned home birth), I birthed my third baby, a girl, at home. Was it all that great?
Yes, yes and yes again. Not the birth itself, necessarily – that was a whirlwind and I don’t think it would have mattered all that much where I was once I got into the hot and heavy stage. Once I went inward, where I was became irrelevant and in fact at one point I thought maybe I’d have been better off in hospital as there was a fair bit of hustle and bustle going on around me trying to get the pool filled in time for me to birth in it. And that hustle and bustle was getting on my nerves, big time (I should have just gone upstairs and laboured in the bedroom).
There were lots of things, mostly relating to comfort, that just made the overall experience better, though. Here are some things that rocked about being at home for the birth
1. Not having to make the journey to hospital
My waters went at 11.50pm. I rang my midwife to come at 12.55am, not because I needed her yet, but because I was afraid things would start to move fast. They did. Had we been going to hospital, I’d possibly have birthed the baby in the car or just inside the door. The journey would not have been fun. Our baby girl was born at 2.15am, around half an hour after my midwife arrived
It was nice to not have to have discussions about admission CTG or vaginal examinations, or any of our choices. Everything had been discussed in advance with our wonderful UK Birth Centres midwife, Gail, and anything deviating from our preferences would have been fully discussed, if necessary.
The plan had always been for our daughter, who is nearly 6, to be at the birth. In the event, we only called her down for the very end as she had an important Hallowe’en party in school the next day to attend and had left instructions not to be woken should I have the baby that night! My 3.5 year old son, however, woke during my labour and came downstairs for the last 45 minutes. He sat calmly on the couch and watched the whole thing. He was both amazed and unperturbed, and delights in telling people, ‘I actually looked!’.
I had an excellent midwife for the birth of my son in hospital and could not ask for better than the care I received. I will never forget the relief I felt this time,though, when Gail arrived and put her hand on my back. It felt very right to have someone I already knew and trusted have my back in labour. Literally!
No matter how private it is once you get into your hospital delivery suite, you’re going to have to be out in public and talk to strangers at some point – during the journey, in the hospital reception, as you meet your midwife. It felt very different to be in my own home with only people I’d carefully selected around me. It was a family event in our home, rather than something that myself and my husband shared with others at their place of work. Very intimate and right.
6. The normality
While the birth was, of course, a momentous event, at the same time it was a part of the fabric of everyday life. I laboured and birthed in our living room, kneeling in front of the fireplace. All of the family were present. It came out of nowhere, with my waters going as I sat on my couch, like any other night, watching one of my favourite movies. A couple of hours later, I was holding my newborn. In my home. It was, simultaneously, a huge life event and no big deal. Normal.
Getting tucked up into bed after by my midwife, with my new baby in my arms and my older children on either side was cosy, comforting and downright blissful.
Everyone always raves about the tea and toast after their births in hospital. I must have drawn the short straw because it was rubbish both times after mine. But this time, yes, it was amazing!
Official policy in hospitals in Dublin is no photos. My doula captured some great moments during the birth and we had a photographer come right after to take some professional images. A world of emotion is captured in them and I’m so happy to have them to look back on.
This was the best part. The atmosphere in the room was joyous after the birth. This was something I hadn’t fully anticipated – how incredible it would feel to be able to share the post-birth euphoria not just with my husband, but our other children, a midwife we had grown to cherish and my wonderful friend and doula. It was reminiscent of the atmosphere of celebration at my wedding
A few months ago, I was involved in an on-line discussion about whether or not the births of one’s children were the best days of your life. And I said what I’d always said – the births of my children were the most euphoric and happiest moments of my life, but those days weren’t my best days. My wedding day was the happiest day of my life. It was a small affair, 25 close friends and family. We loved everyone in the room and I experienced the whole day in a beautiful bubble of love that stayed with me for a long time afterwards.
But now…I have had my home birth and although I didn’t get much value out of the ‘birth’ part at home, as an overall experience it was unsurpassable. It was by far the best after-party I’ve ever been to – and I’ve been to more than a few! So while my wedding day was still the happiest day of my life, the night my third baby was born at home was the most magical, beautiful and happiest night.
You can read the birth story here: http://birthtobaby.ie/at-last-birth-third-baby/