Guest post written by Hannah @Hannahlmaynard
I feel incredibly lucky & grateful to have had two very empowering and positive birth stories.
When I would tell family & friends about each of my labours, it was often met with surprise that they were relived from such a positive point of view and that I was excited to do it all again.
It makes me feel a bit sad that most young girls are growing into women fearing labour straight away, and after reading some truly inspiring home birth stories myself, I feel it is only right to share my own.
My first labour was very quick at just over 2.5 hours to bring my daughter Primrose into the world on her due date. It was a hospital birth & I arrived already 10cm dilated just in time to push but with no time for pain relief.
I have never felt so empowered and like a real-life superwoman after delivering Primrose. This is what gave me the confidence to choose a home birth with my second daughter, Olive. I’d laboured successfully and calmly at home, surrounded by my own comforts with just my partner, Dex. I knew I could do it again.
My midwife and I discussed what to expect from a home birth and how to prepare as much as possible and I was warned to expect an even faster delivery this second time around, another factor in my decision to go ahead with a home birth.
This pregnancy was thankfully much easier on me than my first, being pregnant with a toddler to run around after is definitely hard work! I couldn’t sit and relax with my feet up and nest like I did with Primrose, so the lack of nausea and fatigue was very welcomed.
Unluckily for me, I was heavily pregnant during a heatwave in the summer, and for everyone’s sake I just wanted this baby out sooner than later!
I had a sweep booked for the day before my due date and upon assessment my midwife told me that I was already 2cm dilated. Goodness me, are all sweeps that brutal?! I felt so sore after, but I made the most of Primrose being at nursery that day, trying to get all my ducks in a row and relax a little, hoping that labour would come on soon.
I had to pick Primrose up from nursery at 5pm and by the time we had gotten home, I had a tummy ache and said to Dex that I felt a bit ‘laboury’, with no idea how else to explain the feeling I had in my gut that things were beginning to happen. I wasn’t sure if it was my mind playing tricks on me, but I was hopeful the sweep had got things moving, so I was keen to try and get Primrose to sleep as fast as possible. I really wanted her to be able to wake up in the morning to her brand-new baby sister.
At the time, I was happily still breastfeeding Primrose mostly just to sleep, but at 6pm as we lay next to each other with her nursing, I quickly began feeling period-like cramps, so I began timing the surges using an app on my phone. We had planned for my mum to be over just in case Primrose should wake up at all whilst I was in labour, meaning Dex was able to stay with me, so I sent a text to my mum saying that I might need her over sooner than later.
By 6.25pm, my contractions were already lasting just under 1 minute every 3 minutes; I’ve been told my labours seem to start with the intensity & frequency of contractions that labour finishes with, so I phoned my mum saying I really needed her to come over now and phoned the delivery suite of my local hospital saying that I was planning a home birth and needed a midwife. Unfortunately staffing had been affected due to covid and there wasn’t a midwife available to come but I was told they would try and jiggle some people around & call me back. I’ll admit this did panic me a bit as I had been told that if there wasn’t a midwife available to come to the house then I would be asked to go into hospital for the birth and there was no way I would be making it there with how fast things were progressing.
Throughout all of this, I’m still lying with Primrose, so between contractions I attempted and failed to put her in her cot. I bought her back in to lie down with me and nurse her back to sleep again, when at 6.41pm the phone rings with the hospital letting me know that a midwife is on her way and shouldn’t be too long.
I took one last photo with Primrose, asleep peacefully next to me, to remember the very last time it was going to be just the two of us before her baby sister arrived. It was the one thing I’d had overwhelming anxiety and guilt over and had felt so emotional about what a huge change this was going to be to her little world, one where she’d been our whole world her whole life. I was worried how I could love another like I did Primrose.
Once Primrose was asleep again, I decided not to stir her and let her sleep in our bed so I could wobbly make my way downstairs, where Dex & my mum were waiting with no idea how fast things have already progressed.
They lay the shower curtain down on the floor, I got into a kneeling position leaning forwards onto the sofa and at 6.54pm my waters broke. I had been rocking the big Tena lady knickers, so these were ripped off me allowing my waters to break freely. No one worries about their dignity during childbirth!
I was concentrating on my breathing when I could feel the baby’s head crowning, but I was a bit worried that the midwife still hadn’t arrived, so I was remembering what I was told during my first labour to push only when I felt a contraction. I had no control at that point, my body was almost in autopilot, pushing down on its own with such intensity. At 6.58pm and two pushes later, my mum caught Olive with Dex stood next to her with a tower of towels and a midwife from the delivery suite on the phone.
Olive cried straight away, and I remember looking behind me to check she was still a girl. She looked so much like Primrose as a new born that she felt so familiar already. And I had the same thought of ‘I’ve done it! All on my own’. God, women’s bodies are just so damn clever, I’ll always be grateful & fascinated by the miracle of childbirth.
They told my mum to pass Olive through to me so I could do skin to skin as soon as possible. Isn’t it the best feeling in the whole world, the first time your baby is handed to you? The feeling is indescribable and one I will always remember from both my girls being born. Olive latched on straight away to breastfeed, and I don’t think any one of us moved from our spots until the midwife arrived at 7.10pm.
The midwife was amazing, checked baby Olive & I over and cleaned us both up. Dex cut the cord at 7.26pm so we had just under half an hour of delayed cord clamping meaning Olive got all the goodness & benefits from that. I had a natural third stage of labour, Olive had the vitamin K injection, and I luckily only had a very small labial graze so didn’t need any stitches.
One thing we weren’t prepared for was the amount of towels needed, that meconium can really keep on coming! So if you’re considering a home birth, definitely have more towels than you think you’ll need!
It was amazing having my mum there to help Dex & I stay calm and grounded during the labour once the realisation of having no midwife present had dawned on us all, but my poor Mum has seen more of me than I think either of us thought was possible! But what a fantastic story to be able to tell Olive that her Nanny & Daddy helped deliver her, all whilst her big sister slept upstairs.
The midwife left just after 10pm and my mum left soon after, leaving Dex and I in a beautiful newborn bubble that we celebrated with a glass of Prosecco and a Rustler burger! We went to bed feeling extremely blessed and so excited to introduce Olive to Primrose first thing in the morning and begin adventures as a family of 4. And I needn’t have worried about loving them the same, because it’s true what they say; your heart doesn’t half, it doubles.