Rosie’s Positive Home Birth Story with 4th baby, Pia
As women, it is important to share our stories in a safe space, and to support each other as much as possible: birth can be unchartered waters, whether it is number one or number four, yet we can draw on the collective goddess energy of all the birthing woman who have gone before us, who birth with us, and who are yet to come, as well as many practical physical and mental tools to support us to experience the birth we deserve and desire.
See how Rosie, founder of Lenny Rose Active, physiotherapist and pregnancy expert was able to achieve a positive home birth experience.
How she prepared for birth
“So I've had three really great births prior to having Pia, all through using calm birthing and hypnobirthing. And I've done pregnancy courses, except this last time around, I guess I felt like I didn't need to do the course again. But I started prepping for the birth the moment I knew I was pregnant.
I stay active. I continue to do yoga. I work on my mindset. I work on putting the fears aside, because whether you have given birth or you haven't, either way, there are often some deep seated fears around how it might go down, what might happen to you, to your baby, pain, etc.
I think from around six weeks, I listen to meditations and really practice that deep relaxation. I work on the mentality that birth is a natural physiological process and that it can be comfortable.
I felt like the fourth time around pregnancy, and being a little bit older, almost at the ripe old age of thirty seven, I really wanted to have both the medical side covered and also to have that personal care that a midwife gives you. I have both obstetric and midwifery care, which is a real privilege.”
“Most of my pregnancies or births have been between 36 and 38 weeks in terms of gestation time. But this little chicken kept us waiting a little bit longer, and I went into labour just a couple of days after 39 weeks. In third and fourth pregnancies, it can be really common to have what's called an ‘irritable uterus.’ So you have a sensation where you might be cramping and having a sense that you might be in labour. It's more intense than Braxton Hicks and perhaps a bit a bit more regular. But then it’s sort of this quite ‘stop-start’. That had happened to me a couple of times at the thirty eighth week mark. I thought that I was in labour and I shipped the kids up to their grandma’s, but no, it all fizzled out after a couple of hours. I've never had this confusion about whether or not I'm in labour - always been straight woe to go! So it was a little bit of a surprise to me to have had some false starts!
When it came to 39 weeks, I definitely felt like it was happening. I'd had the loss of mucus plug, with a little bit of bleeding, which happened to me just before I had given birth with my third, Leo. So I just waited until things were happening quite regularly.
I was having surges, as I prefer to call them, between two and ten minutes apart-- regularly for a couple of hours. And then I let our midwife Jan know about it, so she came into the house at about 11 PM, but by then I wasn't one hundred percent certain if it was going to happen that night because of the previous experiences over the last week- thinking I was in labour, but then I actually wasn’t.
I have had typically quite fast births. This one was a little bit more tricky. It was very ‘stop-start’. It was a little bit fiddly. By about midnight, I had sent my husband and the 2 midwives to bed thinking maybe it's not happening.
And then by two o'clock at night, I'd be dancing and really working on keeping my hypno breathing. That really helps to put calm into the system. So I'd be dancing along and then listening to Adelle and even sort of singing through the contractions or the surges as well. Everyone else in the house was sleeping!
Then I thought it could be happening, with increasing intensity of the sensation, and increasing regularity - so I'd woken up Jan and we definitely felt like things were happening, but it wasn't happening in a quick way. If I felt comfortable, I really wanted to stay at home and not be in the car pushing. That was quite unpleasant the first and second time around where your body has this natural expulsive reflex, which had taken over on our previous trips to the hospital, and I did not want to be going through that again in the car!
Because when you're getting into that stage two of labor, the active delivery stages of labour, and you let your body lead the charge- by hook or by crook, you will not be able to stop it! The uterus is contracting quite strongly -. and you really can't do anything to stop that from happening. That had happened to me in the car on the way to the hospital for my first and second birth. And I really found it quite difficult to stay in that mental state of calm and to keep the dialogue that I know really works for me.
I didn't want to be in that situation. I would either have had to have left to go into the hospital earlier before things really ramped up, or I would have just decided to stay at home, which I ended up doing. We had a bath filled up and I ended up laboring in the bath.”
Highlights of this birth experience
“I was able to be really relaxed and quite joyful in my labour, and not afraid. I can honestly say that I didn't find the labouring, the surges or the contractions whatever you’d like to call them-- I did not find them painful.
And that is a stark difference among all of my other births. I was able to work through it with my breath. We used to do this technique where my husband squeezes my shoulder. It's called anchoring in hypnobirthing. So it's something that is a signal to remind you to relax. And so poor Paul’s hand almost fell off in my third labor.
But this time around, I didn't feel like I needed that. And I just was really having this dialogue going with Pia going, ‘this is comfortable, this is easy’. ‘I welcome each sensation.’
And because I think I've been dancing, and I was just constantly in this dialogue with myself. Because I wasn't interrupted in that mental state of having to transfer to the hospital halfway through, I can honestly say I did not find the labouring (first stage labor) painful at all, which is-- it seems quite miraculous.
I honestly can say that all of the prep work, all of the mental work, the beautiful breath techniques that are available through hypnobirthing and through yoga can really make birth a comfortable experience.
Labouring in the water, the warmth is really a beautiful pain reliever as well. I found that really helped, too. And it wasn't until stage two or the pushing phase where it got a little bit more intense. But I still would say it was quite manageable. And so little Pia was born in the bath with my husband and two midwives there. And as I said, it wasn't necessarily a planned home birth, but it just felt like the right thing to do at the time. And she came out with probably two pushes, I think maybe one or two for the head and then the rest just followed.
When we brought her out of the water, my husband and I were like, ‘Oh my gosh, it's a mini-Raffie,’ who is our second son. And we just assumed that she was a boy without actually looking. When we put her over the couch, my midwife said. “I think you should check again’. And he was actually a she! It was really shocking because I was so sure she was going to be a boy the whole time. And I guess I wasn't really mentally prepared for a girl, but I'm so glad to have a girl. It's just the most beautiful blessing. I think just having a healthy baby is all that we can really ask for.
One good thing about being at home with people that I trust, I just felt really loved and really supported throughout the birth process. And everyone knew my wishes. My husband probably would have preferred to go to the hospital, to be honest. I could see and feel that. But he was happy to support my decision to stay home and cowboyed up in the moment to not fight that wish.
The third stage happened just naturally and easily in that relaxed and quite comfortable environment of home. We called the ambulance and we transferred through the ambulance to the hospital. We had to get little Pia’s blood sugar checked as I had gestational diabetes throughout the pregnancy. But it was really well managed. I was able, through diet and exercise alone, to keep my sugar under control. So it was a little bit of a surprise that she had low blood sugar when she was born. But being in hospital for a couple of days, monitoring those and then giving her some sugars and I'd expressed some colostrum so that we had plenty of fuel ready to go while waiting for the milk to come in.”
Having a comfortable birth is possible. It can be calm and beautiful. Rosie is living proof of that. There's also lots of other women out there that practice these techniques that are living proof of this as well.
You can also listen to the Mama Matters Podcast by Lenny Rose Active for more tips about all things pregnancy and motherhood related concerns.