Birth Stories No. 15: Eloise’s Home Water Birth

Home » Birth Stories » Birth Stories No. 15: Eloise’s Home Water Birth

Firstly, I am really glad to have had the private session with you whereby you repeatedly encouraged meet to let go of my memories of ‘last time’. You were right, of course – it was a completely different experience to my first child.

To start with, this time I laboured and had her during the daylight hours, which is a very different atmosphere to the cocooned silence and dark of night.

I woke up before 6am with mild pain – completely manageable period-type cramps, which I recognised as possible contractions, although I had been having them on and off quite randomly for two weeks. I knew things were about to happen however, as they became regular very quickly and by 6.30am were coming every 7-10 minutes, lasting around 10 seconds.

I lay awake timing them and woke Rex up at 7am by which time they were 5-7 minutes apart but still nothing to write home about.

We got up, had a cup of tea, pottered, tidied and lit some candles. Rex inflated the birth pool (which was a good thing because it took AGES to fill). Contractions stayed about the same for some hours only getting closer together and stronger (now medium mild) at around 9.30am when they were every four minutes, lasting 20-30 seconds.

5D3_7084At 10am Rex called the home birthing team and much to our luck, the head of the team, Claire, was on duty. Having spoken to me, and let us know that she was just around the corner should we really need her, she told us to call back when I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes which were 40-50 seconds duration.

This was happening by 11.45am by which point the surges were strong and relatively painful but ‘good’ and I could tell things were really on the move.

For me, the most comfortable, (in fact only position I could manage) was standing up and I pretty much laboured the entire time upright and leaning forward onto the wall, head between or on my arms – the exact same position we do in yoga! I also rocked my hips from side to side like my life depended on it – with the pattern of the surge (if that makes sense?). It really was the only way to stay focussed.

One thing that was quite interesting was that I had alternate, strong, long surges, followed by shorter, weaker ones. The strong one being painful and lasting 40-50 seconds and the weaker one being much more pleasant and lasting around 20-30 seconds. This pattern went on for some time.

We called Claire again at midday and she turned up about ten minutes later, by which point the pool was full and at the right temperature. She examined me and I was 5cm dilated with my waters still intact, which at the time felt quite demoralising as it seemed to me as though things were really cracking on. I could have got in the pool at this point but was worried the water would slow things down, so between us we decided to stay on dry land for as long as I could bear it, only getting into the pool when absolutely necessary.

It was then when things really ramped up, and in retrospect I wonder if I waited for the midwife to arrive first before really letting myself ‘go there’ after what happened with Blythe.

Things then started to go pretty fast and I have to be honest, it didn’t feel very controlled at all – a bit wild actually! My rocking became quite maniacal, with pacing back and forth in between wall leaning – and my breathing, though deep, was definitely not slow. I developed a rhythm that worked and just stuck with it. I also made long noises with each breath, unable to remain quiet.

This was the point at which I actually felt the baby moving down – it was a very strange sensation to say the least and quite overwhelming.

The second midwife, Keiko, then turned up, which was amazing for us, because it was she who had been my midwife with Blythe and who had turned up about a minute after Rex delivered her.

Finally, I got into the water, which was blissful and soothing. It was deep and I was completely submerged on all fours, with just my head above the parapet, leaning on the side. It worked as some kind of analgesic.

This was good because it must have been just before transition, and my adrenalin/fear rush started to happen as you said it would, and I really didn’t think at this point I could do it.

But Rex & Keiko were incredible and very no nonsense but encouraging. And every time I said: “I can’t do this!” They both said: “But you are doing it!” and before I knew it they were using the mirror to look for the baby’s head.

I then had the most almighty surge during which I felt a completely bizarre pressurised bubble and then a huge pop out of me and into the water, which the midwives explained was my waters breaking.

At this point Keiko said: “OK, now it’s going to be really fast and really painful.” And she wasn’t wrong! I remember shouting: “What do I do now?” And Claire telling me to bear down into my cervix and bottom and to follow my body.

She kept telling me that my body knew what it was doing and to go with it, not to resist or pull away. This was quite a shocking experience because I didn’t feel ‘on top’ of the pain as I had in my first birth so I held back for one contraction until I felt brave enough to go with it and ‘make friends’ with the sensation. However, despite the discomfort I can only describe it as vital and quite fleeting.

I then moved into a seated position so that I could catch the baby under the water, between my legs, and after two contractions (I think), her whole head was out. It was then that her shoulders and body came, and although I ‘pushed’ to some extent, really, she came of her own accord.

And that was it! Up through the water came this bluish purple cherub, out and onto my slippery belly and Rex cried and we sat like that for some time because it was warm and soothing and such a relief.

Looking back, I believe the lack of control and overwhelming sense of things was due to the speed of it all. I hadn’t realised at the time, but she was born at 1.12pm, which meant I had gone from 5cm to giving birth in about 45 minutes.

We finally left the pool after about fifteen minutes as we were both quite wrinkly and I sat upright with her still attached and a bucket between my legs for the placenta. She latched on to my breast quite quickly which was great because this stimulated more contractions (I have to say, it doesn’t feel fair that the hard bit is over but the surges keep coming!) and the placenta passed within fewer than 30 minutes. We buried it in the garden and planted lupins on top to mark the spot!

5D3_7341After our long conversation about the importance of the placenta and not clamping or cutting the cord too soon, I realised that the third stage was really important to me because it hadn’t happened with Blythe.

So I lay down on my back with the baby on my tummy and waited for the cord to go completely white until nothing was left. I’m not sure how long this was for but a good 30-40 minutes. I am hoping she will be a huge brainiac as a result!

Of course, a MASSIVE thank you for all the inspiration over the years, from your book (avidly read twice now) to your yoga classes and the dialogue around the philosophy that is active birthing.

I feel so passionately about it that I could go on an evangelical tour of the country! I genuinely believe that your calmness, wisdom, information and overall approach enabled us to have the natural home births we craved, and for that we will always be truly grateful.

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