Choosing to birth outside the traditional system - Helena's beautiful home birth

Researching all your options for birth can be a daunting process, Helena has shared her story of weighing up birthing at hospital versus at home with various options and the beautiful outcome
My first pregnancy and birth was based within a Pilbara Hospital and although the hospital based midwives I had were fabulous, I really craved continuity of care with the same practitioner who also advocates for physiological birth. When I felt ready for baby #2, I had the discussion with my husband, John, that I felt a home birth would be my preference, with home being my safe place, CV mandates within hospitals for birth support people at the time and ultimately allowing things with labour to flow as they needed without pressure and time constraints. 
I look into the government funded Community Midwifery Program (CMP) but felt more aligned to have a private practising midwife (PPM) instead. John was very supportive of this, given how I laboured at home with our first and seeing things stalled once I was in the hospital setting in Karratha. 
My other request for this pregnancy was to not find out the gender this time around, which John agreed to - like he really had a choice anyway. 
After many phone calls finding the midwife that had availability and aligned with my preferences, I was grateful to have Ciara from Maiden to Mother Midwifery. Ciara was my primary health professional from around 13 weeks in pregnancy until 6 week’s postpartum. Ciara was so caring, knowledgeable, respectful and supportive not only for myself, but also to the rest of the family members. This model of care meant all of my consultations took place at my house! Winning!
I first started to get very mild cramping around 36/37 weeks, this would usually happen after extended periods of relaxation. I never felt this cramping with my first but I was told it’s common in subsequent pregnancies. Ciara was on call from 37 weeks but I knew baby wasn’t ready to come just as yet. 
Woman labours through early labour in her yard
My estimated due date (EDD) was mid February, however I told everyone it was March to prevent any “have you had baby” messages . HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS! 
After my Mother’s Blessing (38 weeks) the cramping sensations started to get more and more. I started to get cramping during night time that would disappear a few hours later or by the morning once my toddler woke. I was very fortunate to have my mother in law (MIL) Helen, from Melbourne staying with us from when I was 38 weeks, she was able to be with our toddler when the birthing time arose. I believe this is another reason why my cramping increased, as I knew she needed to be here for my birthing day. 
I was so thankful I had not mentioned my EDD to anyone! When the day rolled by I had no messages asking if baby had arrived. There was no unnecessary external pressures to birth my baby and I felt in a good place. My only wish was not to be in labour for my birthday. 
I was seeing the lovely Suz from Wonderful Wombs throughout my pregnancy for some amazing massages. I had mentioned something personal that was bothering me during a massage the day after my EDD and that it perhaps was stalling things from progressing. Suzie ended my massage with a beautiful affirmation and I felt like my worries disappear. Suzie also offered a home visit massage consult two days later if I wasn’t already in labour. Having a practitioner go above and beyond for me gave me all the feels and that extra oxytocin boost!
Woman births with a tens machine on
The next day (40+2) I spent the day mostly by myself resting, watching positive birth stories and finishing one last thing on my checklist. I really wanted to make dinner as I hadn’t made a meal for a while since having Helen staying with us. I felt content after a very relaxing day. 
Once my toddler was put to bed and asleep, I was chilling in bed by 8ish and I chatted with John. I wanted to check in to see how he was going and I felt very content and at peace knowing he felt like he was energised after a good weekend. Deep down I needed this reassurance knowing he was a in a good place and not drained or depleted! After all, he was in charge of calling the midwife, setting up the birth space in our lounge room and ensuring the birth atmosphere was quiet and relaxed when the time came. 
Literally after turning the lights off and laying in bed I felt (and heard?) a “pop”! It felt like it was so loud but John didn’t hear it. I went to the ensuite and had light spotting. I was excited, could this be the night?! I mentioned it to John and he responded calmly “to take it easy” and “let it flow”
From here, I spent the next hour or so going from our bedroom and ensuite with cramping and pressure that increased. I asked John for his help getting the tens machine pads on. I moved my affirmation board, cards and beads from my mothers blessing into my bedroom between surges and popped by headphones on.
By 11pm I was in active labour. I laboured for this part solo, as I like my own space and not to be interrupted. During this time, John was setting up the birth space in our lounge room. I gave full permission previously for John to do what he needed to do how he wanted, so I could focus on my job. I felt in control of my breath but also let things flowed. I swayed using the wall for support and embraced each surge (instead of fighting it like I did with my 1st labour) I had a couple of loose bowel movements, showered after and got John attention to reapply my tens pads. I took a quick photo of my baby bump knowing it was last one.
birth affirmations
Things started to feel more frequent and intense, I think it was at this point I may have grabbed my birth comb. I needed Johns presence in the room. I called out for him for some extra support and reassurance. With each surge I wanted pressure on my lower back which John facilitated. I later wanted an all over back massage. I felt safe, in control and supported with John close by. John noticed our pup was going from the front of the house to the side of the house where the ensuite is located. He would be close by depending where I was situated. Unknowing, I had our pup looking out and supporting me also.
Shortly after, I had this huge gush, my waters had broke! I had feelings of excitement and disbelief, I never got to experience this before! I was in the bedroom, so wanted to move to the lounge room where the birth space was. 
Immediately after my waters breaking, I felt this immense pressure in my pelvic, lower back and lower regions. Again, I had not experienced this sensation before. The pressure was so intense, I couldn’t walk towards the birth pool in the lounge room. I managed to get to the wine rack that was just outside our bedroom and that’s where I stayed. With each surge my left leg would prop up, kinda like on my tippy toes like a ballerina. 
At this point I knew baby must be coming soon, I asked John had he called Ciara. It hasn’t crossed my mind earlier but I knew she needed to be here now with how things are progressing fast. With each surge, I needed John to massage my back, it was getting more intense. I felt the urge to poop but held on, Ciara was still on her way. My body just wanted to do its thing but I was going through altered states of consciousness. I glanced across the room to the birth pool and noticed there was no water, I remember thinking “oh well I’m birthing this baby right here as then”. My breathe went deeper and sounded much louder. I could just hear myself over my music. 
a birth pool with fairy lights
John continued with the reassurance and massage during surges. He later got his mum who was in the spare room (who was there in case our toddler woke) to take over the back massages, so he could finish filling the birth pool uninterrupted. Side note: John was panicking thinking he wouldn’t fill the pool in time! He had the hose from the kitchen going into the pool and was also getting extra buckets of water from the laundry sink, all this unbeknown to me at the time 
John would check in on me every now and then, he could just see the baby’s head from down below, but kept that to himself. Helen continued with the back massages. I was still leaning over the wine rack about 3 meters away from the birth pool. 
As soon as Ciara walked through the door, I felt immediate relief that the final birth support person was here. I told her that I cannot make it to the birth pool and I need to poop! Ciara reassured we could make it in time. With the next surge, I had my poop right there and then and things progressed further with labour. (Sorry again Helen)
Once Ciara was set up, I took my headphones off temporarily. She suggested I get into the pool now it was filled. At first I was apprehensive to move and take off the tens machine but Ciara assured me I won’t need them anymore. Once I was in the birth pool, I looked up to Ciara and asked if my baby was coming soon , to her reply “yes, feel the head down below” . This reassurance is what needed to hear, it was so emotional for me! I was doing this and I was nearly ready to my baby. I didn’t realise at the time, but John had left the room after seeing me ask this as he knew the baby was close and he too was emotional. I put my headphone back on but turned the volume down so I could still hear Ciara’s voice.
As soon as I went into the water, I felt the pressure reduce to nothing. I knew I definitely didn’t need the tens anymore. I felt good and at peace, I’m a Pisces, I love water. Ciara was there 
and I could do this! She reinforced me to breathe. 
Very soon after, I felt this intense sting and burning sensation then a pulling sensation. Man oh man, thankfully it wasn’t for too long. I remember pushing twice and on the third, baby made its way out in what felt like a muscular explosion into the water. I looked down into the birth pool, and baby was there. I remember feeling so happy, amazed and totally lost concentration, I was just like “WOW!” I propped baby on my chest. Ciara had the oxygen ready just in case but it wasn’t needed as baby soon made some cries to let everyone know everything is ok. In true John style, the excitement was too much and he wanted to know the gender. I’m sure you can guess my reply to this... 
In the very early hours of the next morning, our water baby was born! We did it, I was so frigen content! Baby and I were still in the birth pool taking it all in, soaking it all up together.
woman holds her newborn baby in the birth pool during her homebirth
Ciara popped my birth music onto my speaker. I asked her to put John Denver’s - “Sunshine on my shoulder” song on first, this instantly made my heart burst. Even today this song still gives me all the feels! Everyone, minus my toddler who slept through everything, was gathered in the lounge room in awe. Baby latched on for a feed and this stimulated my placenta delivery around 10-15 minutes later. Ciara popped my placenta in an empty ice cream container while it was still attached to the baby. John was actually quiet, for a change! I think he was taking it all in. Helen took some photos and I absolutely adore them all. 
Still being in pure bliss about what had taken place only a few hours prior, I slowly lowered the towel, ITS A BOY, ITS A BOY!! Denver was the name we had picked if it was a boy and it was perfect. I was on cloud nine and felt a connection straight away. Something I didn’t feel with my first. My heart was full, actually bursting with so much happiness and love. I couldn’t believe i have given birth in my lounge room with the support of my husband, mother in law, midwife and dog. What a whirlwind couple of hours. 
After enjoying our 1-1 time in the birth pool, we moved into the bedroom and cuddled up for some more skin to skin. There was no rush or expectations to do anything but be present in the moment. I knew this was the model of care I chose with Ciara, but it was awesome doing it how I envisioned. 
The placenta was still in the ice cream bucket with the cord attached. John cut the cord once it had lost its colour and stopped pulsating some time later. Ciara got the crochet cord tie. It was then I realised the backup midwife was also here in the house, I had been in my own world and hadn’t realised! Ciara and the back up PPM debriefed on the birth and completed some paperwork in the kitchen, all while John and myself soaked up newborn cuddles. 
Some time later, Denver’s health checks were done. He weighed in at 9.45 pounds(4.29kg). Ciara had a look down below, I had a 2nd degree tear and graze. This was treated topically with raw honey. The raw honey was applied topically for 6 weeks and I can confirm everything down below has healed up nicely. Ciara finished up with the health checks and questions, packed her birth bag away and left around 3am or thereabouts. Ciara would be coming back to visit mid morning to see how we were all going. 
Once Ciara left, John couldn’t wait to video chat the rest of his family back in Victoria with the excitement of the news. Denver’s has a cousin in Melbourne born on the same day. I contacted my family later in the day as they are based in Perth.
We then continue to rest together in bed and patiently waiting for our toddler who woke at 7am. The look on her face seeing the new addition was something I won’t forget. The four of us snuggled into bed and enjoyed some family time together uninterrupted and soaking everything in. It was the best start to a very slow, peaceful postpartum period! 
Thanks for reading my story, I hope you enjoyed it. 
Woman rests after birthing at home with a private midwife
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