My son was born in October 2014, at home in the birth pool. I had made a contingency plan for all eventualities except for one; breech baby. Why would I? I was told during every antenatal check I had that his head was low down and then in the final stages that his head was engaged. Why would I even have considered it?
My ESTIMATED due date was October 1st 2014. My pregnancy was not planned and I was catapulted from 24/7 party girl to Mother to be in the 2 quick minutes it took for a line to appear on the pregnancy test. Emotions ran high. I knew nothing about babies! I doubted my abilities to be a mother but it didn’t take long for the idea to settle.
For some reason, I had always liked the idea of a water birth. I began to research water birth and discussed it with the midwives who explained that there were a limited number of birth pools at the hospital and it would just depend on whether one was free at the time. I didn’t like that. I wanted to be in the water. I feel such a strong connection with water.
After more and more reading I discovered that you could get an inflatable birth pool and have a water birth in your own home! Wow! This was a whole new kettle of fish. Initially, I thought this wouldn’t be an option. First babies were born in hospitals, weren’t they? I was thrilled to discover the Leeds Community Pool Hire who hire birth pools to expecting ladies in Leeds and proceeded to bombard them with my questions. They gave me so much amazing advice and suggested I go along to the Leeds Homebirth Support Group so I could learn some more. This is where it all began…
I took my (hungover) partner along to the group one sunny Sunday in April and we all sat in a circle and introduced ourselves. The room was full of families at different phases of their journeys. Some newly expectant mums such as myself searching for answers. Some newly-made mum’s with newborns in arms retelling their homebirth tales. Same sex couple mums. Mum’s with several little humans. Mum’s breastfeeding walking talking little humans. We had been catapulted into a whole new world we never knew existed. We listened to women talk of their strength and courage when it finally became their turn to bring their baby into this world. I left and felt inspiration on a whole new level. I wanted to be like these women who spoke proudly of their birth achievements.
I spent the following weeks and months reading as much as I could and preparing myself for what would be the biggest event of my life. I am fortunate that the first book recommended to me was “Spiritual Midwifery” by Ina May Gaskin. It is now the book I always recommend to new pregnant mummies. The book talks of Ina May’s journey helping literally hundreds of women birth their babies in the comfort of their home surroundings - in this case, converted school buses! It taught me what birth *actually* can be, not like the stuff you see on mainstream television!
It was also during my first attendance at the Leeds Homebirth Support Group that I came to learn of One2One Midwives; an alternative antenatal care provider that gave you one midwife who would complete all antenatal checks and be your appointment midwife for the birth. It sounded amazing! I quickly started the ball rolling however fought hard for my care package. Unfortunately, One2One midwives no longer operate in Leeds however the Leeds home birth team has an amazing reputation.
From around my 18th week of pregnancy my care was provided by One2One Midwives. I later discovered that one of the midwives was actually a Hypnobirthing instructor, a term that had intrigued me and I needed to know more. After more research and reading I knew this was the right path for us! Danny and I signed up for a private course with the wonderful Amanda Wardle and we all instantly felt a connection.
Through the last month of my pregnancy we spent around 8 hours at Amanda’s home, learning the techniques that would aid our longed for gentle birth. I felt a piece of the puzzle was missing. About a week before the birth I plucked up the courage to call Amanda and ask if it would be possible for her to be my primary appointed midwife. She needed to check but came back to me with positive news shortly after our call. I was over the moon!
October 1st came and I was in good head space. I felt ready for it. The afternoon slowly rolled in and although I didn’t feel tired, I decided a nap would be a good idea. I slept for about 3 hours and was awoken at about 5pm by a sensation that differed slightly to Braxton Hicks. I was apprehensive about timing them as I didn’t want to get excited about nothing. There was a pattern there for sure! Every 5-6 minutes I’d feel this wave, this tightening; it was happening! I messaged Amanda to let her know and she suggested if I felt comfortable at home with Danny then to contact her when they started getting closer together.
The funny part - I told Dan I think my surges (hypnobirthing term for contractions) had started and asked him to tell our friend who was fixing our television not to come to our house but it was too late. He had just pulled up outside after battling from one side of Leeds to the other in rush hour traffic. I freaked out and thought his presence would bring these beautiful surges to halt but I decided to stick on my headphones and listen to my positive birth affirmations.
Dan poked his head around the door about half an hour later and said something, I asked him to start running a bath for me and off he went. I jumped into the bath, candles lit, soothing music playing and I continued to time the surges. They were certainly getting closer together and with each surge I felt more positively that our baby was on its way. It then suddenly dawned on me that Dan hadn’t come to see how I was doing for a long time. Where the hell was he?! I rang him only to be told “I’m on my way to the Leeds United football match with Josh! I thought you were kidding so I didn’t go!” Oh my lord, after a stern “No! This is the real thing!” he quickly turned around and headed back home.
We spent the rest of the evening in a blissful state. We did everything we had learned about raising oxytocin. We cuddled and kissed in the cosy corner I had made and we felt a deep sense of connection. Dan took charge filling the pool and I *excitedly* jumped in around midnight. The warm water was instant relief. It took my weight effortlessly. I felt light and floaty.
I spent the next few hours in and out of the water, alternating between bouncing on the birth ball and doing yoga. I started to feel tired and the surges were fading. My heart sank as Danny fell asleep on the sofa and I thought my labour had come to a standstill. I snuggled onto the sofa with Dan and drifted off into a deep sleep.
It wasn’t long before I was awoken by a sensation a million times stronger than before. I panicked. My hypnobirthing techniques went out the window and I was feeling it! Danny called Amanda and she was with us at the speed of light! She encouraged me to get back in the pool despite my fears of the labour slowing again. The relief was incredible. I had always wanted Danny to be in the water with me but there was no room! My body danced in a way that only now I know was helping my little baby make its way to us - bottom first!
[I had opted to not have any drugs at all]
I felt a pop. “It’s the head!” I shouted. Nope. Just my waters. Oh my, it was getting close.
Amanda reminded me the gas and air was there if I needed it. I made full use of it! I was tripping! My body was momentarily numb and eyes and ears were hallucinating! The final moments came, I reached down and cried “I can feel the head”. A slippery little body swiftly followed and Amanda guided this tiny soul to my arms.
“It’s a boy!” We had opted to not find out the gender so it felt amazing to finally find out! If you are considering being team yellow I would say go for it! The feeling of holding your baby in your arms for the very first time is like no other.
My back hurt. I needed to get out of the water to find a comfortable position. As I stood up my placenta passed, what a relief! We delayed the cord clamping until it had stopped pulsing and turned white and then Amanda helped upstairs and tucked us all into bed. She left us to all get acquainted with each other and slipped downstairs to start operation clean up. She seemed to know the perfect ratio for giving us our privacy but being close enough for me to feel secure.
Amanda came back and checked me over and unfortunately decided I needed to transfer in or stitches.
It was at that moment she said to me “your baby was breech, you know?!”
What? I couldn’t get my head around it. How did it happen? I was told his head was engaged by 3 different midwives. When he turned we’ll never know but what I do know is that Amanda was destined to be at our birth with her extensive experience of natural breech births and I will be forever thankful for that.
Had I known about his world entering position preference then maybe I would not have felt so confident about a homebirth. I am now a strong advocate that breech is just another variation of normal and with the correct support then natural breech births are possible. I am proof of that!