‘Birth plan!?’ my friends mocked, ‘that goes out the window pretty quickly!’
And in many ways, mine did; however, my experience giving birth to our first child was so much better than I could have ever planned.
I was really looking forward to a positive, natural birth for our first child, so during my pregnancy, I prepared as well as I could with regular hypnobirthing sessions with my naturopath, as well as hiring a doula to support me and my husband Travis, alongside the hospital staff. We hoped for a natural water birth and, as recommended, we planned to labour at home for as long as possible.
Early Thursday morning, (the day before my estimated due date) as I lay in bed, I felt a gentle ‘pop’. A check-up in hospital confirmed that my waters had broken and we were on our way to meeting our first child. Upon returning home, we snuggled up on the couch to watch our wedding DVD with the oil burner going and blinds still drawn. I began to feel some very mild contractions throughout the morning, and by lunchtime, our doula Bethany had joined us.
As the day progressed, so did my labour, and I handled each contraction with deep, focussed breathing, repeating the word ‘relax’ and raising my voice to match the building intensity of each contraction with a low, deep growl. As each contraction faded, I’d think to myself, ‘I handled that one, I’ll handle the next one just the same until I can’t anymore’. Bethany and Travis would remind me each time that each contraction was gone forever and I’d never have to do it again – and I was one contraction closer to seeing our baby. I would also remind myself of the affirmation Bethany had written for me – ‘The power and intensity of my contractions CANNOT be stronger than me, because it IS me.’
I found that I was able to handle the contractions the best when I was standing up, and whenever I laid down, they would come in multiples and be much stronger. And so leaning on Travis or Bethany, I’d rock, I’d sway and I’d walk gingerly down the hallway from our bedroom to the nursery and back – walking the path between our current life as a couple to our new life as a family.
The light was dim and our familiar birthing relaxation music was floating from our bedroom. For a change, I sat on the yoga ball, leaning over the foot of the bed as Trav massaged up and down my back.
I snacked on fruit, liquorice and date rolls – all the favourites I’d carefully selected earlier in the week for the occasion. I remember feeling so clear and alert throughout the whole labour – this was very disconcerting, as I felt that ‘active’ labour must be a long way off if I was still being so present and polite to everyone!
That evening, Bethany encouraged me to try to rest and conserve energy. I did and Trav snuggled in behind me holding me tighter as the contractions came. As Friday morning came, I was back on my feet, resolving to stay upright and allow gravity to help me. The contractions continued, but without any consistency, and Bethany continued to update the hospital. Throughout the morning, the contractions grew more powerful and I felt my body open a little more after each one. I continued to focus on my breathing.
Around 11:15am, a big contraction approached. When it receded, my curiosity got the better of me and I finally reached down and felt something hard between my legs. I said to Trav in surprise – ‘I think there’s something there!’ Travis grabbed the mirror and looking down: I could see the top of our baby’s head, wrinkled and covered with hair!
Trav called for Bethany who checked and immediately called the hospital and ambulance. I suddenly found myself excited by the prospect of birthing our baby right here at home. Bethany returned with lots of towels and I dropped to my knees, leaning forward on Trav’s shoulders.
My contractions were still irregular when the paramedics arrived 10 minutes later. As we waited for the next contractions to come (it felt like an eternity but was probably mere minutes), Ian, the paramedic who was attending me read out the affirmation on the door ‘I TRUST that my powerful body knows exactly what to do to birth our baby.’
Eventually, in three more contractions, I gave birth to our beautiful baby. I quickly looked down to discover that we had a little son! We heard his first cry and I felt instant relief in the room as everyone released the breath they’d been holding.
As I sat back, propped against the wall, Ian presented me with his slippery little body and I clumsily brought him to my chest, completely in awe of this tiny, perfect human. Travis and I cuddled him close as his skin changed from blue to pink.
I had certainly underestimated myself right up until that last 30 minutes, when, in fact, I had been so calm and focussed throughout my labour that I breathed and walked myself right through ‘transition’ to birthing our baby boy at home. Imagine my pride when I arrived at the hospital that afternoon with my little bundle of joy!
Anyone would think that a surprise homebirth (especially for a first-time mum) would be quite dramatic and stressful, but thanks to my wonderful birth team, I only have fond memories and feel incredibly empowered whenever I recall our son’s birth day.
Throughout my pregnancy, I looked after my own wellbeing and kept a positive mindset, being careful to surround myself only with positive, calm birth stories. Travis and I also had a strong support team in our doula Bethany Meakin of Belly Beans Doula and naturopath Rosanna Mosca of Feeling Healthy and (late entrants) paramedics Ian and Jasmine, who were all vital in giving our son Cory a very gentle welcome into the world.
Little Cory is thriving and is a very relaxed little boy, which I believe is due to his very gentle and natural welcome into the world. Having now experienced a homebirth, I wouldn’t hesitate planning another one in the future, though I might give the neighbours a bit of notice next time!