Welcome to the world Baby Zariah! And what an entry it was too! Huge congraultations to proud parents Mwenya and Raph. I am blessed to be able to share Mwenya's birth story with you - Mwenya is a GP and had a very real, first hand expereience of birthing within the system after giving birth to her first born Zeke (her experience is outlines below - TW - induction, ventouse, PPH) . With her second baby she decided to move towards a more instinctive birth, at home, using Hypnobirthing and Doula support. Mwenya outlines her birth below and how she got the healing birth of her dreams! As always, I'm so grateful to be given permission to share this with you.
"2nd baby, known baby girl – Zariah ( pronounced Za ra ya)
Born at 40+6 on 10/10/2023
Birth weight 3.2kg
Planned: home birth, either in the birth pool or on land
Actual: home birth in bath tub, BBA
Pain relief: TENS, hypnobirthing, water in a bath
***Back ground – 1st pregnancy***
Induction of labour after 24hrs of waters breaking (at 40+1) and no signs of labour.
Baby boy born at 40+3: ventouse, epidural, 1100ml PPH, sepsis which I strongly suspect was because of the VEs I had at the start of the induction process.
We had a 3 day stay in hospital so I could finish the course of IV antibiotics. Baby didn't need antibiotics.
Baby wouldn't latch on to breastfeed. Local breastfeeding groups were amazing and baby eventually started breastfeeding at age 4 weeks.
I was keen to do things differently and to avoid the negativity that surrounded my last birth. Last time, when questioning midwives for more info, I wasn’t given enough to make an informed decision – I only realised all of this when looking back and trying to make sense of what happened.
I researched and read about homebirths before we started trying to conceive and I decided it was what I wanted. The Homebirth Support UK Facebook Group run by Samantha Gadsden was amazing and very encouraging throughout this journey. We also found a lovely Doula, Terri from Cornwall Hypnobirthing. We live in Plymouth, Devon.
I had mild nausea throughout the whole pregnancy.
This was a low risk pregnancy. I declined OGTT.
It was an exhausting few months juggling pregnancy exhaustion, looking after a very energetic 2 year old, moving house and working in a very emotionally demanding job. Family live further away so it was just my husband and I juggling childcare. So overall it felt like I had no rest at all this pregnancy, so I was very much looking forward to meeting my baby.
I made it clear to the community midwives from the get go that I wanted a home birth. There’s no home birth team or MLU in our area so the midwives rotate through 2 weeks of working on labour ward followed by 2 weeks in the community, so you don’t really get a named midwife. I didn’t get much resistance from the team except a letter from hospital saying I would be birthing against medical advice, which I was very comfortable with because there were clear factors during my first birth which increased my risk of PPH: induction, epidural, ventouse, episiotomy.
Throughout pregnancy, I surrounded myself with lots and lots of positive birth stories from the Homebirth Facebook Group. I also listened to lots of positive birth podcasts and watched lots of positive birth videos. My husband and I did a hypnobirthing course with Terri which was amazing as it helped eradicate the fear associated with childbirth, encouraged me to trust my birthing body and the process of childbirth, and to surrender to it.
I woke up on the morning of 10/10/23 around 7am. I had some mild lower abdominal cramps and the pad I had put on the night before was soaked. I went to the toilet and the slight trickle of clear fluid continued. I also had a tiny bit of bloody show. The cramps were very mild, I was able to get my now 3 year old ready and dropped him off at nursery for 8.30am (I drove). I had lost part of the mucus plug 1 week prior.
I messaged Terri at 8.47am to let her know. I chose not to inform maternity triage of the waters going because I didn’t want to be put on a clock, and I also wanted to see how things would progress.
By around 9.30am-10am, the cramps were getting more uncomfortable. I tried to watch something funny but it didn’t take my mind off the cramps. I then asked my husband to watch a funny movie with me, the laughing wasn’t helping either.
At 11am, I messaged Terri again because the surges were ramping up. She suggested we set up the birth space and I use the TENS machine. We had already blown up the birth pool a few days before, so my husband set up the rest of the room: curtains drawn, projector etc. I was having to breathe through the surges and was making what I think sounded like a humming or loud sigh to get through it. I tried to time the surges but gave up because it was making me lose focus.
At 11.08: Someone from maternity unit rang to say ‘ you’re on our list to have homebirth please be aware the ambulances are at full capacity so if you needed emergency transfer to hospital, you would be waiting for ages, so we recommend you come to hospital when you're in labour’. I stuck to my guns and said I would still like to birth at home. This call annoyed me a bit but it didn’t scare me.
At 11.23: I messaged Terri asking her to come over because things felt like they were progressing quickly.
At 11.37: husband went to pick up our toddler from nursery. When they got back, my son saw me on the living room floor on all fours and ran to me. I managed to say hello, give him a hug and asked him to go upstairs with grandma, which he did. My mum then took our son upstairs to keep him occupied. This was what he had originally planned for childcare.
My husband and I spoke with Terri over the phone sometime after 12 noon to check in. Looking back, I think I reached transition around this time because I was overwhelmed by the lack of a break between the surges, and I was thinking to myself ‘ I should have gone to hospital where there’s pain relief’.
Husband rang the midwives around 12.50pm and was told they would head over.
Terri arrived around 1.05pm. I was so relieved to see her! She suggested I move to the bathroom and try sitting on the toilet, but I couldn’t because I was so uncomfortable. Instead I got on all fours which was a lot more comfortable and felt natural. I had a sense that I wouldn’t be leaving the bathroom for a while! I managed to breathe through the surges and continued using the TENS machine on low. Interestingly, looking back, I didn’t need the boost function on the TENS compared to the early stages of my previous labour. I was in a totally different headspace this time round. I remember repeating to myself ‘ I am strong, I am powerful’. Terri kept encouraging me to surrender to the sensations, which I did. At some point, the pain stopped and all I kept feeling was an overwhelming urge of my body bearing down. I didn’t make my body do anything, it did it all on its own. I was mooing which I recognised straight away. Bathroom windows were open and I've been told neighbours heard my vocals!
My husband was trying to fill it up the birth pool but there was an issue with the tap connector. Terri suggested I get in the bath for some water relief. The bath felt lovely when I got in. The overwhelming urges continued and I roared through them. I felt the baby's head come out, this was followed by an amazing calm moment. I reached down and felt a head full of hair and said to my husband ‘baby’s head is out’. I felt her turn in the birth canal and the rest of her was born after another surge or possibly two. I let out a yelp at the ring of fire - totally unexpected sensation!
Our baby was born at 1.51pm. I didn’t push her out, and I’m not sure if I breathed her our either. I lifted our baby from the bath water onto my lap to remove the cord around her neck, then put her on my chest. Baby was alert and looking at me, she didn’t cry straight away. I couldn’t believe I had done it! I felt incredible and so empowered! It was just myself, my husband and Terri in the bathroom when baby was born. Our toddler got to meet his sister before I got out of the bath tub, the look on his face was amazing to watch.
A midwife and a student midwife arrived a little bit later despite my stating ‘no students’ on my homebirth assessment though. 2nd midwife turned up a bit later. I was still in the bathroom at this point. We got our ‘wait for white’ with the cord. My mum cut the cord when I was laying on the sofa with our toddler.
Unfortunately I lost my oxytocin bubble after midwives arrived. The placenta hadn’t delivered after the first 1hr. Midwives got twitchy because of my previous PPH and the ‘guidelines’. I felt fine, BP, heart rate etc were all fine and there wasn’t much blood loss. I said I wanted more time, but they hovered outside the bathroom door waiting. I consented to the 1st oxytocin injection, I had written I was open to this in my birth plan. The placenta hadn’t delivered 15minutes after the injection. They asked to try controlled cord traction – I agreed but I couldn't push at the point, I guess my pelvic floor was exhausted. They offered me a 2nd oxytocin injection and kept going on about bleeding - I’d had enough of this by this point and just wanted to enjoy baby with some peace and quiet, so I accepted it. I didn’t feel coerced into accepting this. I asked midwives to leave the bathroom. I stayed in there with Terri the door closed. I squatted and the placenta delivered. My estimated blood loss was 250ml.
I had a nice shower afterwards. Terri kindly helped tidy up. After midwives left, myself, my husband and our 3 year old enjoyed pizza in bed while I cuddled our newborn.
Overall, I had a very empowering birth and am very grateful for the way things went. I’m glad baby was BBA because I was able to labour undisturbed, something which I think was amazing because I had no one bursting my oxytocin bubble and was able to focus on bringing my baby earthside.
Terri was amazing from the time we met, and we are very grateful she was with us through this journey. I would encourage whoever is doubting/unsure about getting a Doula, to get one if possible. I’m still on a birthing high weeks down the line. Baby is super chilled our and our toddler can’t get enough of her!"
Hypnobirthing and Doula support had a wonderful impact on Mwenya's experience. If this is something you would like to explore then please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website www.cornwallhypnobirthing.co.uk . My next group Hypnobirthing course is in January 2024, and I have availability for private sessions throughout 2024, with only 1 space remaining in December for a private course.