Birth Story: Adeline's Water Birth at Home in Leeds
Updated: Sep 27, 2023
Preparing for birth:
My second pregnancy was straightforward, I remained active throughout, hard not to with a 2-year-old to look after. When it came to my birthing options, I started to consider home birth, although it wasn’t immediately my first choice. I spoke to various people to help me work out what was right for me, including my husband - Martin, my community midwife, the Leeds Home Birth Midwives (who were fantastic) and women who had previously birthed at home, in person and via the Leeds Homebirth Support Facebook group. I was worried about “all the mess” of a home birth , but actually, home birth isn’t all that messy, especially birthing into a pool.
"Martin laughed that he was cooking, I was in labour and everything was so relatively normal, which it was. We were calm and relaxed."
My eldest daughter, Arabella, was Frank breech (bum down legs up) in pregnancy and induction isn’t an option with breech and I went into labour spontaneously at 39+1 weeks. This time, my baby, Adeline, was head down, and because of this I was conscious I could be offered induction of labour at some point. I knew my options and most importantly what was right for me, and preferred to avoid any form of medical or mechanical induction, including not having any stretch and sweeps, as long as both baby and I were well. So, my focus was on feeling calm, being patient and boosting my oxytocin levels, which, given everything I know about birth, hormones and the fallacy of due dates, I did still find surprisingly tricky. When I was 39+3 weeks and still pregnant (Arabella had been born by this time in her pregnancy), it felt like I’d be pregnant forever! (side note: no one is pregnant forever) and even though I knew my baby would be born when she was ready I still got frustrated and felt the pressure, externally and from myself. (My brother kindly referred to me as "a Cracken")
Towards the end of my pregnancy I started drinking raspberry leaf tea and at 39 weeks booked myself some acupuncture on the recommendation of a friend, I thought it’ll either help baby come or I’ll leave feeling nice and relaxed and chill, either way, win win!
At 40 +1 weeks pregnant I was so grumpy! I was hot (it was July), and I was fed up of being pregnant, in hindsight this mood change was likely my birthing hormones adjusting and getting my body ready for my baby be born. I treated myself to a manicure, instructed Martin to cook an aubergine bake, recommended by my acupuncturist to start labour, and had a lovely meal with my brother and sister-in-law. At about 6pm I started to feel some tightening’s in my abdomen, I ate my dinner and kept an eye on the clock, I'm pretty sure my brother and sister-in-law didn't have a clue as I didn't tell them. The tightenings weren’t too intense or regular and stopped a couple of hours later so I just went to bed.
Labour ramps up:
"Yes – I went on a seesaw while in labour!"
The next day, after a good night sleep, soon after waking at 7am the tightening’s started again, I kept track of them, while carrying on with our usual day, they were coming more regularly and with a bit more consistency this time. Around 10am I called the home birth midwives who advised I go for a gentle walk. We drove 5 minutes to Roundhay Park and walked to my favourite spot on the lake and took some pictures with Arabella, we ate lunch in the café and had a play in the park (yes – I went on a seesaw while in labour!) all pretty normal really, in the last days of my pregnancy I had a real yearning to take pictures of the 3 of us, before we became 4, conscious everything was about to change.
My contractions were continuing to come and I felt like labour was slowly progressing. We got home from the park and I had a bath with lavender scents and did some nipple stimulation which helped boost my oxytocin and further bring my contractions on. I then sat on the birth ball and watched the Wimbledon Women’s final, which was tense, Serena Williams lost and that slight boost in tension and adrenaline slowed my contractions. At 3pm we decided it was time for Arabella to go for a sleepover at my best friend’s house and after she was picked up we went for another walk around the block. After our walk Martin cooked some tea while I swayed in the kitchen in rhythm with my contractions. He laughed that he was cooking, I was in labour and everything was so relatively normal, which it was. We were calm and relaxed. Although, I was getting a bit fed up that things were moving ‘slowly’, however, in hindsight they were actually moving just as they were meant to. At around 6:45pm I felt the need to call the home birth midwifes again and wasn’t totally sure if they should come out to me, however, the midwife on the phone said “if you were going to birth your baby in hospital would you be going to hospital now?” my answer was “yes” and she said that was a pretty good indicator that it was time for them to come to me, so she did.
Setting up my birth environment:
I’d set up my birthing room so that it felt cosy and safe, I had a birth pool and drew the curtains, had lavender essential oils, fairy lights and my playlist playing. Martin started filling the pool which we'd already inflated. I wanted to wait until the midwife arrived to get in and used my breathing to keep me calm and focused. The midwife arrived about 7:50pm, we had a quick chat, she observed me for a bit and said she would stay out the way and I got in the pool. The instant relief of the warm water in the pool was absolutely amazing and shortly afterwards there was a ‘pop’, my mucus plug was floating in the pool and my waters released. The midwife didn’t get much chance to “stay out the way” and now quietly stayed in the room with us, observing me. Then I had an overwhelming urge to push and it felt like my body was taking over. I had gas and air, and asked for some dihydrocodeine which I’d requested from my GP beforehand when planning my homebirth, but my midwife said it would be too late now and baby would be here soon. Hearing that I'd be meeting my baby soon was exactly what I needed and really helped. Suddenly, I felt a wave of fear and needed Martin (who until now had been pottering about in the room) to be right next to me holding my hand. I then remembered what this was, ‘transition’ and the natural surge of adrenaline that made me more aware and scared, another positive indication my baby would be here soon.
"By 10:30pm, I was tucked up in my own bed with 2 hour old Adeline...It was lush."
Hello Baby Adeline...
I used the gas and air and focused on trying to relax, breathe and imagine each contraction as a wave coming in and going out and work with my body, it was so powerful. Her head was born and while I waited for the next contraction, naturally her head and body rotated, manoeuvring so her shoulders could be birthed. It felt weird and intense and again I had to focus on my breath, with great encouragement from my midwife, not to panic. I then remember suddenly hearing my playlist, it was the same one I’d had with Arabella’s birth, and I laughed, the song that was coming next was Mumford and Sons Babel, both my girls would be born to Mumford and Son’s, completely by chance, the thought made me smile. With the next contraction her body was born into the water. At 40+1 weeks, 8:30pm weighing 8lb 1Ib, Adeline entered the world. Soon after I had her on my chest for skin to skin and she and I both cried. She was here! We had done it! And thankfully, as with Arabella, I had no tearing, maybe the perineal massage had paid off once more?
Tea, jam and toast time...
Adeline had her first breastfeed in the pool and although initially I had planned to birth my placenta on 'dry land', cuddles in the pool with Adeline were too delicious and to be honest I was knackered, so we stayed in the pool together and a little while after my placenta was birthed physiologically. We put it in a bowl and it floated around us for a little while, meaning Adeline got her full blood and stem cell compliment. One thing I had been excited about when planning a home birth, was that I could eat anything I wanted after my baby was born. Turns out, the NHS have it bang on with post birth cup of tea and jam on toast. Given the option, that was exactly what I wanted! the midwives kindly rummaged around the kitchen to make me some.
Tucked up in bed...
By 10:30pm, I was tucked up in my own bed with 2hr old Adeline, oxytocin flowing, the midwives were clearing up with assistance from Martin, and by 11pm they were gone. It was lush.
As with the birth of Arabella, I got myself prepped, assessed my options and knew what my first preference was. I knew I could ask questions and what I did and didn't want. I was fully supported by my husband and the midwives and had a really positive birth experience. A big part of that was understanding what was happening in my body and how I could try and work with my body, or surrender to it's awesomeness, during labour and birth.
I hope reading my story helps you, if you have any questions please get in touch, I love a good chat, and I wish you a beautiful, positive birth experience, whatever you chose, and however it evolves.
If you'd like to talk about how a Positive Birth Leeds hyopnobirhting course can help you and your birth partner throughout pregnancy and during labour and birth, do get in touch. I'm always happy to chat. Charlotte x