Fantastic midwifery care and home birth with Private Midwives Ireland
I am very grateful to my midwife Gail Mackey from whom I received excellent, passionate care during my fourth pregnancy and first birth in Ireland. This was the maternity care I always wanted and it couldn´t have been better!
My first two children were born in Germany, where maternity care is very obstetric-led, profit driven and with a huge c-section rate. Luckily I had very easy births despite unnecessary, out-dated routine interventions which I neither wanted nor consented to. I knew my births were disturbed and not supported. A few years later I had a birth in the NHS and was amazed what a great maternity care they have in the UK. It was much more evidence based, midwife-led and women-centred than in Germany. Then we moved to Ireland and I learned about the effects of the 8th amendment on maternity care. When the 8th was removed from the constitution I got pregnant at once. After my birth in Britain I got very interested in midwifery and knew home birth is a better option for healthy women, since it lowers the risks of interventions and reduces also the c-section risk which is much higher in hospitals, especially under obstetrician-led care. Also babies benefit from home birth since they have improved gut health and immune system. In terms of mortality home birth and hospital birth don´t differ for women who already had a vaginal birth before. Private Midwives Ireland have a home birth rate of about 90 percent, including women who had complications in previous pregnancies. And most of their hospital transfers still result in vaginal birth. In comparison to the public home birth service Private Midwives Ireland is more flexible in case of overdue pregnancies and older mothers. Personally I was very worried that I will have an “overdue” pregnancy since it happened with some of my other children and it apparently runs in my family.
The midwives of Private Midwives Ireland respect consent rights and choices of pregnant and birthing women. At around 20 weeks I went for a blood test and a scan to a Dublin maternity hospital and also asked if they respect consent rights of birthing women now and they told me they are not used to it yet. That answer was quite worrying. In hospitals I always have the feeling I am in a birth factory, it’s difficult for mammals to give birth under those unnatural conditions. Animal rights campaigners would shout out!
Private Midwives Ireland have a continuity of care model with a backup team in case the main midwife is at another birth or ill. Continuity of care has better outcomes than fragmented care and feels much more personal. My midwife was never ill or late. And I am sure that all home birth midwives at Private Midwives are very nice and are with the woman instead of with the system. Otherwise they wouldn’t take the burden of working as home birth midwives. We all heard of “modern witch hunt” cases like Philomena Canning or Agnes Gereb.
The antenatal care with Gail was great and I was very pleased, I really looked forward to each home visit. She is a very experienced midwife and nurse and had home birthed her own children. In case of an arising problem she is well connected having transferred to all the Dublin hospitals and she knows for example which doctor is experienced in turning breech babies. She also told me of a chiropractor practitioner in Dublin who is very successful in turning babies. I was not so much worried about the breech position itself but about medical staff who are not willing to do a breech birth naturally. In the past breech births were considered to be a complex normality. But today many doctors prefer c-sections because it is easier for them! I have many friends of my age who were first born breech babies and they were born vaginally without any problem! I told Gail about my worries that my baby would be breech and she gave me advice on how to avoid a breech position naturally by moving a lot since the head is the heaviest part of a baby and the baby usually turns round and moving would encourage this.
My children were also included in the care and they all found it very interesting. Gail spent a lot of time explaining everything to them. Her visits were never hurried and her knowledge is very up to date. A lot of health care professionals get very insecure or even offended if a pregnant woman is well informed. It was the opposite with Gail she even encouraged me to read good evidence midwife resources, like Sara Wickham and borrowed me interesting books written by well known midwife researchers and authors. I read books from Ina May Gaskin, Professor Alfred Rockenschaub and Michel Odent, who advocated for natural child birth and had excellent outcomes and extremely low c-section rates, like about 1%. Knowing and comparing their results and the results of the usual maternity hospitals made me also more desperate to avoid hospital birth.
During the pregnancy I learnt hypnobirthing from a friend who is a hypnobirthing teacher and a biologist. She had a home birth herself and had accompanied other birthing women. She has great knowledge and I was extremely happy to have her as my pregnancy and birth companion. I had a straight forward pregnancy. I used different pregnancy teas (in my home country herbal medicine is more available than in Ireland), hypnobirthing, acupuncture, homeopathy, dates, an epi-no and evening primrose oil to prepare for birth. In the last weeks of the pregnancy I enjoyed preparing the birth room. We ordered a birth pool from Private Midwives and I decorated the room with beautiful birth arts and put small lamps in the room. I really looked forward to the birth and watched many home birth and free birth videos. During the months I read several books written by free birth mothers, I found it interesting and encouraging but I was very happy to have Gail at my side during pregnancy, birth and afterwards.
Our children went to my parents on holidays. I had all the time to relax but I wasn’t relaxed at all because I had spoken to many victims of obstetric violence in the last years which even included victims of symphysiotomy and forced c-sections. I am also member of several maternity rights groups so I was very aware of that problem. I was myself a 3 weeks overdue baby that was born with spontaneous labour completely naturally without any problem. I knew I already had chosen the best way to avoid unnecessary, harmful interventions by choosing an independent midwife but I was still very nervous and Gail was extremely nice and helpful! I must say she is one of the kindest persons I ever met and she will stay in my heart forever!
After the “due date” Gail had performed a sweep which I really wanted. She told me that my cervix was not completely ready and she warned me not to interfere with the natural process since it could cause complications and that birth is usually much more easy when you don´t hurry up things unnaturally. Gail had clients before who softened their cervix by using primrose oil capsules vaginally. So after the first sweep I used twice a day primrose oil capsules vaginally and one time orally.
A few days after the first sweep I asked for another one and that one worked very good because my cervix was ready and very soft thanks to the primrose oil treatment. I got a light period like pain in the following hours and some light bleeding was discharged. I kept moving that day and also went to Chinese acupuncture.
The next day in the evening I had the feeling I have to do some mountain walking to get finally into labour. I picked up my husband from work and we went to Killiney Hill. I especially chose to walk up and down the hillsides since I felt walking on flat ground was not enough to bring me into labour. While walking up and down I shook my hip slightly. I noticed that something changed inside me while walking down a hillside. There were some tightenings at the cervix and I enjoyed the feeling while using every possibility to walk up and down. I felt it was very good to get the head down and engage it perfectly into the pelvis. I kept everything to myself and when my husband suddenly asked me in the middle of the way if we should return to the car I denied it and said I want to walk the full round. During the walk I felt strong stretches above the vagina, it felt very interesting and in a way even pleasureful. We went to a supermarket on the way home and I noticed while walking between the shelves that the head really had moved much down and it was time to go home. On the way home I had strong tightenings but no real pain and I wondered why I don´t get any back ache which I often heard from other women. Maybe it was due to forward leaning which I did a lot in the pregnancy, especially in the last weeks. I went up the stairs on all fours because I wanted to bring the baby in a good position. In the bathroom I checked at once if the fluids of the broken water were clear, they were perfect. I stayed for the waves on all fours but didn’t really have pain and my friend came to our house. She was extremely helpful, since she exactly knew what a birthing woman needs and how far the birth was. I think she even knew it better than me.
I had called Gail quite late because I was thinking where are the strong pains which are usually connected with child birth? At my previous births I always ended up with an epidural lying on my back (kind of) and still feeling painful and powerless. This time it was completely different. I kneeled and bent forward over the bed. (Pelvis opens up through forward bending and has like that 28% more space). It was very pleasant that my knees were on the soft carpet floor. I would have liked to do this at my previous births but in the hospitals were hard floors, it was too cold and I worried for hygiene since the staff walked on that floor with their shoes. My birth companion brought me cold cloths and read the hypnobirthing text to me and reminded me of the hypnobreathing. She was really calm and had routine like if she does it every day. I would definitely recommend every woman to have a female doula friend with own natural birth experience with her. My waves were strong and powerful but not really painful. My friend suggested me to sit for some time on the toilet, this also helps the birth progressing. After a while she suggested to go into the birth pool. It was so pleasant to sit in the birth pool, I never sat in one before. Everything was so soft and comfortable. The lights were dimmed, there were only small Himalayan salt lamps on. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and felt completely private.
Gail and the second midwife Liz arrived 20 minutes before the baby was born. I had stayed upright during the whole labour and birth, I didn’t have the wish to lie down for one second. In the pool I still felt strong stretches and I imagined that it is naturally perfect that the baby´s head is slowly stretching my lower body so that nothing gets broken. Suddenly I had to jumped on my knees and she was out with two powerful waves mixed with sensation and big stretch. No one told me when to push only my doula told me in our own language, “Now you have to leave it over to your body to birth. You cannot influence it anymore. You already birthed three babies and you trained with the epi-no.” It was the first time I caught my own baby out of the water. She was rose and didn’t give this angry or desperate cry like my other children. She just looked curious at me. I think it was because she was breathed out and not artificially pressed out. I thought what a small baby I had this time but later I learned she was more than 4000g.
The birth of the placenta was easy too, but I got a little unsure and was glad that Gail and Liz were there. After I had a shower Gail examined me carefully and I didn’t have injuries. Gail stayed over night to make sure that baby and me are fine! She silently checked on me and the baby while I was sleeping peacefully. I was never so good cared for than at this birth! I was very happy to lie with my baby in my own wide bed and not in a narrow hospital bed where I wound be worried to fall asleep during breast feeding and lie on the baby by accident! My husband also cared very nicely for me and made wonderful food! I am also very thankful to him to support my choice about the maternity care I made! I believe that home birth and violence free natural birth strengthens marriages.
After the birth I noticed that all the things I had asked Gail to predict came true. The time of birth (41 weeks), exact birth weight, kind of birth (fast and really easy), no injuries and my wish to speak my native tongue during birth.
I had booked only one week of postnatal care and think a longer period would have been better! Gail was a very good support for the breast feeding. For the first time I didn’t get a breast infection after birth. She is extremely skilled in that. She gave me silver nipple shields which made a big difference for me! The starting infection was prevented and I could enjoy the baby honeymoon without painful breasts for the first time!
In the following weeks I noticed that I am much fitter in my pelvic floor thanks to the natural easy birth and the good advice I got from Gail about pelvic floor exercise before and after birth!
I am very keen to share my birth story because most women and men think child birth must be always very painful and so did I, before I got more educated about natural birth process and birth hormones. This birth was for me also a pleasureful and exciting body experience. I would honestly say it was painless and mixed with ecstatic feelings! I would like to repeat this birth any moment! I really pity that I birthed my other children in hospitals, it always felt wrong! I would definitely recommend to book Gail since she is a fantastic midwife and a very good person!