The Birth of Thea: A Water Birth at Darenth Valley Birth Centre
Hayley is my longest term client, and one of my favourite people! She attended my pregnancy yoga classes online during lockdown, then moved to in person with me before the amazing breech home birth of baby Tobias (read the story here). Hayley and Tobias then attended my first ever mum and baby yoga class and stayed with me until the end of maternity leave. A few weeks later Hayley was back at pregnancy yoga in preparation for baby Thea! Hayley writes:
My rainbow boy was an amazing ‘land’ home birth experience in August 2021 and I wasn’t sure I would ever top it!
I knew I wanted to have another personal birthing experience with no/minimal interventions but as I was due in December 2022 (my first winter 3rd trimester) I was in two minds about another home birth – mainly as I didn’t want to be cold during labour (my front room takes forever to warm up lol). I wanted to experience a water birth but wasn’t sure about the faff of setting up and filling a pool in my small lounge area. Remembering the planning I had done for my first home birth and after a chat with Colleen at a pregnancy yoga class I finally decided on a home birth with a bath during labour for the water experience.
In all aspects my final pregnancy was different from my previous – I had an active toddler and a 9 year old so rest was non existent! My pregnancy yoga classes were a much needed break from the business of parenting and essential self care. I also booked with Colleen for the pregnancy retreat which was a lovely day to focus on myself and my pregnancy, and spend time with other pregnant ladies.
As I approached my 36th week I knew my body wasn’t yet ready for labour. Both my boys had been born at 36+5 but my little girl was keeping us waiting! As we got nearer and nearer to Xmas, and experienced a wave of heavy snow which caused very icy conditions I wasn’t sure how much longer I could take being pregnant but I knew I would decline any suggestion of being induced.
At exactly 39 weeks, in early hours of the morning on 15 December I was in bed when I felt the first of my contractions. I laid down for about 45 mins before waking up to go to the toilet and I noticed blood. At this point I was a little worried but knew keeping calm was important. I called the midwife and she said that due to the icy road conditions they couldn’t guarantee an ambulance on standby if anything were to go wrong with the home birth. I said I would think about it and call back. I woke my husband and then went downstairs and called my Mum, who luckily was at my sisters who lived five minutes away. She arrived shortly after and told me that her car doors had iced over! My mum asked what I wanted to do and I said I’d go to the hospital. I called the midwives back and spoke to the home birth midwife. She said she would meet me at the hospital which was amazing.
I knew I didn’t want any VEs or any interventions during the labour process and the homebirth midwife advocated on my behalf as soon as I got to the hospital and throughout my labour. I was placed in a beautiful serene room with dim lighting, fairy lights and a birthing pool. I was able to get in the pool straight away. I remember overhearing a conversation between the hospital midwives and my home birth midwife outside my room. The hospital midwife was asking how they would know how dilated I was if I didn’t have a VE and the homebirh midwife replied that she would watch me and let me tell her when I was ready. I knew in that moment that my birth plan and wants would be respected.
The water was relaxing and allowed me to float between contractions. I lost track of time and my surroundings and focused on my breathing and staying centred. I had my mum, sister and the home birth midwife with me. When the contractions intensified I knew it was time to push, and after a few minutes my daughter was born, with her waters intact (an en caul birth – 1 in 80,000). As I was lifting her from the water she reached up to pop her own sac and I held her to my chest for our first cuddle. She gave her first cry a few seconds later and then rooted straight for my breast where she latched on. We stayed in the water for another 15 mins and then moved to a bed where we were wrapped in towels and blankets.
She fed for 10 minutes more before I started to feel nauseous and my stomach was cramping. The cord was cut (I had asked for delayed cord clamping) and my mum had a cuddle whilst my sister helped me to the bathroom and I threw up (my body’s reaction to the intensity of what we’d been through). My homebirth midwife had to leave the room and I remember the hospital midwife asking several times if I wanted the injection to speed up delivery of the placenta which I declined. I knew my body and trusted nature would take its course. 55 minutes after her arrival I birthed the placenta. The midwife then did a check of me and other than some minor grazing there was no need for any stitches.
My husband and two boys arrived soon after to meet baby Thea. I would have loved to have been able to climb into my own bed for family cuddles however had to wait to be discharged from the hospital first. Despite not having another home birth, it was as close to one for me in the birthing centre – another beautiful experience and I’m so glad I got to have my water birth.