Living, as I do, in Brighton, where the community midwives are very supportive of home births, when it was time to start thinking about my birthing plan for Baby Number 2, I decided to give some serious consideration to having him at home. Bringing my first baby into the world had not been the precious experience I had been hoping for and I was dreading a repeat performance. Plus, having had a very complicated miscarriage and spent a month in and out of our local hospital 2 years previously, I wasn’t relishing the prospect of being there again – even if it was going to be under much happier circumstances.
So, when my midwife asked me at one of our routine appointments if I would like to consider a home birth, I took a minute or two to ponder the idea, and decided it was certainly something I would look in to.
Then I set about doing my research!
The first thing I did was put a call out on good old Facebook asking if any of my mama friends had had their babies at home and what the experience had been like. I received a slew of responses, almost immediately, from several women who had given birth to their children at home and reassured me it was a fantastic experience and, they felt, had resulted in quicker, easier births which they felt so much more present for.
So far so good.
The next step was to book myself into a home birthing class at my local children’s centre where a very lovely and very experienced midwife gave us the lowdown on what to expect and why they were so supportive of the idea in Brighton. This was then followed by a Q&A with a wonderfully dramatic lady (with her teeny tiny new born in tow) who described her home birthing experience in great detail and ended with a flourish saying it was something she would absolutely cherish forever – the polar opposite of what it had been like giving birth to her first little girl.
The general feeling from everyone I spoke to was that, as you progress through labour and prepare to bring your tiny bundle into the world, being at home in familiar surroundings - or to put it in more animalistic terms, in your own territory - allows you to feel safe and secure and in control of your labour. This was something that really appealed to me as I had felt anything but in control when giving birth to Ollie. Rather it felt like something awful that had ‘happened to me’ and I really wanted Artie’s birth to be a very different experience.
Decision made, it was time to start preparing our home for the big occasion and getting all the bits and pieces we needed in order to make it a comfortable experience.
The first thing I did was book my birthing pool and I cannot recommend Ceri at https://gentlebirthsbirthingpoolhire.co.uk/ highly enough. The service is fantastic, and your birthing pool comes with all the accessories you’ll need from pumping it up to cleaning the pool after use. The delivery was super quick and she also makes it very easy to send the pool back afterwards. Exactly what you need when you’ve just had a bubba. No faff!
Next, I started looking into essential oils and a vaporiser. I wanted to create a relaxing, comforting environment using good quality oils and a diffuser rather than a burner. I bought an Anjou diffuser and ordered a selection of oils including lavender and peppermint from NHR Organic Oils, a company based here in Brighton. They have a fantastic range and their website states that they sell ‘the purest range of certified organic essential oils in the world.’ Pure and organic is what I was looking for given that my baby would be breathing in the vapour when he emerged from ‘Hotel Mummy’ for the first time.
Other things on my list included:
- Plenty of fluffy towels for me and the bubba
- Plastic sheeting for the floor and to cover the furniture – just in case!
- Puppy training sheets for our bed. What and why, you may be asking! You can buy them here and they are to protect your bed sheets and mattress when you finally climb into it for a well-earned snuggle with your brand new bundle.
- A bucket – in case I was overcome by a wave of nausea
- Comfy sports bra to wear in the birthing pool
- Fluffy dressing gown – because it makes my world a better place!
- Snacks for me, Robin and the midwives
- Tea (regular and herbal), coffee and squash
- Playlist on Spotify which I would play through Alexa
- Packet of tealights which I planned to dot about the living room to create a nice soft, welcoming ambience for my precious arrival.
- My Bubble and Pop baby changing bag, packed with all the things I would need for baby just in case we had to go to hospital afterwards
Checklist sorted, birthing pool delivered, kitchen cupboards filled with snacks, favourite essential oils selected for the vaporiser and I was ready to go.
We waited. And then we waited some more. The due date came and went. We were in the middle of a heat wave. I couldn’t move. We waited some more. I bounced, I walked, I drank the raspberry leaf tea, I visualised him moving gently into position ready for his grand entrance, I bounced some more. But the little bugger was quite happy where he was.
In the end, when my waters broke but labour didn’t progress, we had an induction and forceps delivery. It wasn’t quite the tranquil home birth I had hoped for, but we made the best of it in the hospital anyway. I had my essential oils, my music, and a wonderful foot massage courtesy of a fantastic junior midwife. However, if I was ten years younger and considering another addition to our brood, I would absolutely plan for a home birth again.
Bes of luck to you and your partner if you're thinking of giving it a go!