Homebirth: not what you may think

By Emma O’Connell

“A homebirth? Wow, that’s risky!”

“You can’t have a homebirth for a first baby.”

“What if something went wrong? You and the baby can die.”

“If (name) had had a homebirth the baby would have died.”

“Aren’t you too old?” (I was 37.)

I had not really thought much about homebirth, however I knew a few people who had chosen to have one and loved it. I was then honoured to attend the homebirth of my friend’s third baby and it was a wonderful insight into such a natural occasion. I began to correctly inform myself on homebirth. I found that it is just as safe, if not safer, than a hospital birth if all is progressing well. Going to hospital when there is nothing wrong with you seems strange to me. Labour and birth today appears to have become so medicalised.

When my husband and I became pregnant again (we had a number of miscarriages along the way) I contacted Homebirth Midwives Christchurch. After chatting to a midwife, it was clear that the homebirth option was plainly for me. My husband took a little more convincing but is now a strong advocate.

From our very first pregnancy I have chosen to remain positive about anything pregnancy and birth related, even telling people that I wasn’t interested in their negative stories, thank you very much. Even though I had chosen a homebirth, I still had a positive contingency plan in the event of a hospital birth. My mother (a nurse/midwife many years ago) has always said that a positive mind-set is half the work done when labouring and she was right.

My pregnancy was without complications and apart from the couple of months of tiredness and feeling yucky, I really enjoyed being pregnant. I didn’t experience any ‘warnings’ at all that I was close to giving birth.

I woke at midnight the day before I was due and felt period-like pains. The contractions quickly ramped up to every five minutes then two, then subsided as the sun rose (common apparently). Around 11am they started up again and just after 2pm the midwife and her student called in. My mother and husband filled the plastic birth pool, completely draining the hot water cylinder. After that they had to heat pots of water on the stove and the fire.

I had done a lot of reading on breathing techniques which helped. My husband also read the same books and was able to remind me of how to breathe properly during contractions. I was offered hot towels which were some relief on my lower back however next time I’d ask for these to be even hotter.

My waters broke on the toilet and immediately the contractions intensified. I roared like a primeval dinosaur. My husband sent my mother next door to warn the neighbours of the sound. The midwife told me that the baby was near and that I needed to get in the pool if I was to have a water birth. All I could think of was that I didn’t want to walk over my new carpet from the bathroom to the lounge!

The pain was intense and like nothing I have experienced before. I did not need to push as my body naturally did the job. It wasn’t unbearable and I did not go through transition where some women think that they can’t cope any longer. Pain relief did not even enter my mind although I had asked that none be offered.

As I knelt in the warm water, our perfect baby girl was born at 3:48pm. I rested in the pool and gave baby her first important breastfeed. Soon after, I pushed out the placenta which now feeds our blueberry bush. I required five stitches which were done by the midwife on the couch. The second midwife didn’t make the birth at all!

I had eaten very little that day and it was so good to have food from my own fridge along with the traditional Dutch pink lollies on a biscuit to celebrate. Going to sleep that night in our own bed, in our own home, not having to hop in a car, was fantastic. We’d highly recommend considering a homebirth.

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