Catherine, Luke and baby Jesse
Catherine and Luke chose to use My Independent Midwife after feeling like to NHS would not support their preference for a homebirth. Baby Jesse is their first baby and arrived at home in the birth pool.
Even before I was pregnant I knew I wanted a home birth. It just made intuitive sense to me, to be in my own space, with my own things, and not to be treated like a patient - but I barely let myself hope that I would actually give birth at home, convinced I would end up transferring to hospital. I started working with Sarah and Jenny at around 25 weeks to give myself the best chance possible to achieve the home birth I so desperately wanted.
As the weeks ticked by and we got to know each other better, I became more and more confident that my baby would be born how I wanted and that we were doing all the right things to stack the odds in our favour.
Sarah's support really came into its own when I was about 36 weeks pregnant and, having been happily head down for weeks, my baby suddenly turned breech. I nodded along to the consultant after my presentation scan as I was told I ‘must' give birth in hospital, knowing that if I chose to, Sarah would be happy to proceed with my plans for a vaginal birth at home. On her recommendation, I saw Sally Scott at the Pregnancy Chiropractor, and when I turned up for my ECV a couple of days later the baby had already turned head down by himself! After some happy tears we cracked on with preparing to birth at home - I now felt like the baby and I were a real team and we could do anything together.
I had no signs of labour until 40+4 when Sarah gave me her magic clary sage oil blend and having spent the afternoon sniffing it, rubbing it into my skin and burning it in tea lights while in the bath.
I had my first contractions at around 9pm on Friday evening. They were totally manageable so I went to sleep, and they carried on through Saturday morning in a similar way. Everything went quiet overnight on Saturday so we had a good sleep and gradually things started to happen again throughout Sunday. As we moved into Monday morning, I started to find it tough as some of my contractions were getting long and intense but still weren't particularly consistent, and I had no idea how much longer it might go on for, but Sarah was always there on WhatsApp to let me know that it was all serving a purpose and my body was doing exactly what it needed to do.
By 7.30 on Monday evening things had stepped up a gear and we decided it was time to ask Sarah to come - she arrived an hour later just as my waters had broken and just when I needed her calming and reassuring presence the most. Because I had meconium in my waters, Sarah examined me and said I was about 8cm dilated, that we were safe to proceed at home, and - most importantly - the baby had hair! Knowing that I had managed to progress so far on my own and getting the first sneak peak at what my baby would be like really gave me the motivation to pull myself together and birth my baby calmly and confidently.
I got in the pool around 9pm and the warm water was absolute bliss - the fairy lights and candles were lit and I felt cocooned in safety and privacy with just Sarah and my husband next to me. Ten minutes later I started pushing involuntarily and Sarah reassured me that he was coming and coming quickly. Feeling him descend and roaring through the sensations as he did is something I'll never forget. At some point Jenny arrived and both she and Sarah kept telling me how brilliantly I was doing and how soon I was going to meet my baby. Soon his head was out and one contraction later, his body followed at 9.30pm, just half an hour after getting in the water. I lifted him out of the water myself and the instant recognition I felt for our baby - Jesse - was just magical. We stayed in the pool for an hour, cuddling, taking photos and drinking champagne, and then we cut the cord so I could move more freely to deliver the placenta. Meanwhile Jenny had made me a nest on the sofa and I was settled there to feed (me and the baby!), have a few stitches and reflect on what had just happened. By 1.30 everything was packed away, Sarah and Jenny had headed home we were in our own bed for our first night's sleep as new parents.
The more time that goes by since the birth, the more proud I feel of myself, my husband and baby Jesse for what we achieved together. I have never felt so honoured and empowered as I did bringing my baby into the world at home and I couldn't have done it without the absolute calm, assuredness and encouragement of Sarah and Jenny - the cheerleaders I feel so privileged to have had on my team.