Two Previous Hospital Births
As soon as my husband, Danny, and I made the decision to try for our 3rd baby, I knew there were things I needed to work on and prepare for first.
The birth of my first baby girl, Rose, had went… well, fairly smoothly! My waters broke at midnight, followed by mild contractions. When we arrived at the hospital it was discovered there was meconium in the waters, so I was hooked up to oxytocin and given the epidural. She was born safely at 7:45 am. Because I had been given the epidural, I felt little pain during the birth, just lots of pressure. However, I suffered significant tearing from pushing and had lots of stitches. I wasn’t phased much by this though, as at that time I figured it was all to be expected when giving birth.
Fast forward a couple of years and we were expecting our second child. The pregnancy was hard in comparison to the first, which had been a dream really. I suffered some symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) which was very uncomfortable. But as well as this, I found myself anxious throughout my pregnancy. Anxious about how the birth would go, and how my little girl would cope with a sibling. This anxiety definitely didn’t help matters once it came to the birth.
I went into labor 10 days early. I got a ‘show’ and then lots of regular tightenings. Once we got to the hospital, things got a bit crazy. My waters were broken by my consultant, for no other reason than to ‘speed things up’. This caused my labor to accelerate (fast & furious), and I was terrified. I had banked on getting the epidural, as I had done on my first baby – and I hadn’t even considered having to give birth without it. But all of a sudden, I found myself in that situation; in the throws of very painful labor, being afraid of what was happening, and convinced I wasn’t going to be able to do it. To make matters worse, I was given an episiotomy. Little Alice was born soon after, at 7:08 pm. I was so happy she was here, but I was in a state of shock & absolutely traumatized by the whole experience.
Putting a plan in place for the next birth
This trauma escalated over the following months and I found myself suffering from post-natal anxiety. I won’t go into the details, other than saying that It was the scariest time of my life. But I sought help early on, and as a result, was thankfully able to get back to myself quite quickly.
I told myself then that I was done and dusted! Although myself and Danny had talked about having 3 children (and that did remain faintly in the back of my mind), I decided there was no way I could go through that again.
Then, out of nowhere a couple of years later, I got a longing for another baby. Danny and I thought long & hard about the idea over the following few months, and agreed it would definitely be something we would love. Dan was a little worried for me though, in light of previous events, but I knew there must be a way of making the experience a more positive one.
It was then I started looking into the idea of having a homebirth. Thankfully, my cousin was a wealth of information on the subject, and had recently given birth at home herself. She introduced me to hypnobirthing and loaned me some books. Marie Mongan’s Hypnobirthing book was fascinating and just made so much sense! I felt empowered reading it, and knew this was the right path to take.
I contacted Private Midwives very early on in my pregnancy. They were an absolute pleasure to deal with over the phone and I couldn’t wait to meet my midwife.
Antenatal Care at Home
Brenda visited my home a few weeks later for an introductory meeting and I instantly felt at ease with her. She was so calm and caring. We spoke at length about my previous experiences and she put me at ease about some of my concerns; I was worried I may have to be given an episiotomy again and dreaded the thought. The healing process after having Alice had been long and very painful. But I soon learned that previous experiences have very little bearing on how the next birth can go. Brenda got on great with Danny and the girls also, and I just knew she was the right midwife for me.
Once I was 24 weeks, Brenda visited my home regularly for my check-ups. It was all so relaxing! And I was doubly happy I had chosen this route once Covid kicked off, not having to go to the hospital was a blessing. Thankfully I had a very healthy, smooth pregnancy. I felt at ease throughout. We did a hypnobirthing course with Brenda in our home and it was amazing. We learned so much about how to view labor and the birthing experience. I knew then that once fear is taken away, the experience can be so positive. I envisioned my own experience, wrote down how it was going to go and played it out in my mind over and over. Each night I would listen to positive affirmations and hypnobirthing relaxation recordings.
A Beautiful Birth
My due date was 15th June, but in the early hours of Sunday 7th, I woke with cramping. This had been happening on/off over the previous week, so initially I didn’t think much of it. But it soon became clear I was in labor. My contractions grew stronger and my waters broke. I called Brenda and she told me she was on her way! My parents called to collect the girls, and my heart melted as they hugged me asking sleepily ‘is the baby coming now Mammy?’
Danny started filling the birthing pool, while I focused on relaxing and using my breathing techniques through each surge. Brenda arrived and examined me; it was still early stages so we decided to slow down the filling of the pool in case we had it ready too early. However, we spoke to soon! The Tens machine, which I had been using as a distraction from the growing intensity of the surges, was no longer doing its job… I felt it time to use the Entonox. Danny resumed filling the pool on Brenda’s instruction, as she knew things were obviously progressing fast. But as intense as my labor became, I at no point felt afraid or incapable. I was relaxed, empowered and completely ‘in the zone’.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the temperature of the water right in the birthing pool in time for delivery. It didn’t even phase me though. I labored a lot on the birthing ball, leaning on the side of the pool, with both Brenda and Danny supporting me through each stage. I just went with what I felt my body needed to do. There was very little pushing, I trusted my body and felt my baby slowly and calmly entering the world. At 9:47 am, Baby Henry was here!
Brenda was just amazing, so supportive. There was no interference or intervention, she simply observed & assisted with nature taking its course. She was so encouraging & supportive to Danny too, allowing him to be such a huge part of the birth.
Liz arrived soon after, another lovely midwife. She was surprised to see that Henry was here before she had made it! Once the afterbirth was delivered, I was examined and delighted to discover I didn’t need to have any stitches. Liz and Brenda cleaned up and worked away quietly in the background while myself and Danny rested on the couch with our new little boy, lots of cuddling and skin to skin. It was an absolute dream.
Liz left a little while later and Brenda completed her paper work in the kitchen until the afternoon, checking on us every so often. I felt amazed by the experience I had just had & couldn’t believe my baby was in my arms and that things had gone exactly how I imagined they would. It was that night before we even put a nappy on Henry! The whole day was spent on the couch, wrapped in blankets, cuddling and breastfeeding.
Brenda visited a few times over the following week for my post-natal care. She even carried out the heel prick on Henry in our own home, while he was relaxed & feeding – he didn’t even budge! That was a welcome change, as my memories from the dreaded heel prick for each of my baby girls was watching them screaming in agony throughout.
"Having a baby is the most natural thing in the world"
I wish I had known more about homebirths and hypnobirthing when starting out having our family. We often just assume things have to be done a certain way; that hospitals, inductions, epidurals, episiotomies etc. are all part and parcel when it comes to giving birth. When in fact, having a baby is the most natural thing in the world, and nothing makes more sense than delivering your baby in the comfort of your own home, where you feel relaxed and at ease. I’m not denying that going to hospital may be necessary in certain circumstances and certainly not underestimating the amazing work hospital staff carry out to care for their patients. But the reality is, things like, feeling anxious & unprepared, being in an environment that makes you nervous, with interventions such as induction (when it’s not entirely necessary), are the very things that can lead to scenarios where emergency assistance is required.
Trust yourself, your body and your baby.
Linda Kinsella x