Hi, my name is Casey Townsend and I made the decision to have a home birth for my second child.
My first born had come quickly, 4 hours, with no complications. It wasn’t the perfect sneeze-and-baby-pops-out kind of birth though. It did come with some trauma. For me, it was being stitched up afterwards with a third degree tear. Who said that you will forget everything about the birth once your baby is born? Codswallop. Whatever that means!
Anyway, I decided that now I have a toddler, a home birth might be more relaxed. When the contractions start, it would be one less thing to worry about. I wouldn’t have to think about childcare as well as getting to the hospital. And if anything did go wrong, I live within 2 miles of the hospital.
I did do a LOT of reading about home births. I read every horror story that Google offered me. I read every Netmums story that I could find. The good and the awful. I had a lot of ‘What if…’ thoughts.
My mind was made up when I met the Eden team for the first time. I went along to one of the open days.
When we arrived, there was a Mum there who was talking about her home birth experience. She was honest and open, and positive about the experience and the staff who had been with her during the birth. It made up my mind.
Once I registered with the Eden team, all future midwife visits were at my home. This was great. It made me feel important, that my pregnancy really did matter to them and that they would be caring and respectful towards me during the birth. Towards the last stage of my pregnancy, a health worker ever came round to give me an aromatherapy hand massage.
I could change my mind at any point about having a home birth – it wasn’t like I had signed on a dotted line. I was concerned that I might need stitches again like I had done after my first. This played on my mind. I spoke to the midwives about it and I felt reassured that I knew what the procedure would be if this were the case.
So I didn’t change my mind, and as the due date got nearer I tried to get a bit organised.
I thought I better get some blinds for the room where I planned to give birth, so I didn’t scare any passers-by!
We looked at home birth pools that you can order online. Then, my husband (thrifty as ever) saw a second hand Lazy Spa going cheap so he went and picked it up!
I bought a roll of plastic sheeting from the local DIY shop which I lined the pool with, as well as the sofa and lounge floor when labour started.
We couldn’t fill up the pool until labour started because the water had to be fresh with no chemicals in it. So as soon as my contractions started at 4am, my partner rushed downstairs at the speed of light to connect the hose to the kitchen tap to fill it up!
Turns out that second babies don’t always come quicker than the first.
8 hours later, my contractions were still on and off.
My mood was bad. My toddler was with the grandparents. I was in the garden bouncing up and down on the exercise ball wondering what the neighbours thought. Then my husband had to call out some people because our drains had blocked – how’s that for timing!
It was comforting at least to think that I was at the place where I was going to give birth, and all I had to do was call the midwife when things really got bad, oops I mean going.
Not long after all this, the contractions picked up the pace. There was a scary half an hour when we couldn’t get hold of the midwife because wherever she was, her signal kept cutting out. But it was sorted in the end and two midwives were with us in no time.
They used aromatherapy oils which I had been sceptical about, but I remember that they actually worked well for me for pain relief. I stayed in the pool as I wanted to give birth in there but it wasn’t meant to be.
I eventually got out the pool and went to the sofa where the midwife had to break my waters. It sounds strange to say it, but it was all very relaxed. I felt in control of the situation as much as I could be.
I was calm, I remembered to breathe, I didn’t feel overwhelmed or scared at any point. I do accredit this in part to being at home. I was in an environment that I felt comfortable and at peace in. My husband could get me drinks when I needed them. I hadn’t had to travel in a car whilst clutching my stomach in agony at any point. Even with the blocked drains and stop’n’start contractions!
When my baby first came out, my husband told me with great wonder in his voice: “It’s a baby boy!” A boy! I thought, wow. The next second, the midwife cleared her throat, I saw my husband squinting: “It’s a girl” said the midwife. “Ah yes well I’m not wearing my glasses” retorted my husband. Should have gone to … that well known opticians. He may never live that down.
I didn’t tear at all this time, so the next few hours were very peaceful as the midwives did their checks and cleared up for us. My husband and I were able to have time with our new baby girl while lying on the sofa.
That night when we went to bed, our new born baby was in her own cot. It was the most surreal and magical moment.
Everything had changed, yet it was all in the same setting as we had started the day that morning. We hadn’t even left the house once.
I have only good things to say about my homebirth experience. I would do it again if I were going to have another child, which I’m absolutely not planning on doing.
Was the sofa ruined? No! Was there loads of mess to clear up afterwards? No, the midwives were amazing. Do I feel sad I couldn’t have a water birth? No, I knew it might not go to plan and I was prepared for the alternatives.
What advice would I give to people considering a home birth? Go to one of the open days and meet the Eden team. Speak to people who have had a home birth. Weigh up the risks and the benefits for you. Find out what would happen if the birth steers itself away from what you wanted it to be like. Be prepared to accept that your plans may not work out at all.
I feel very lucky and privileged to have been able to have one of my babies at home. I had the full attention of two midwives throughout the whole of the birth, and brilliant pre and post-natal care, all in my own home. Thank you to the Eden team for these positive, amazing memories that will always stay with me.