Friends of Belmont Birthing

Matilda's Birth

My labour started at midday on a Saturday at 41+2 weeks, after a few days of Braxton Hicks contractions, a good cry at being overdue, and a visit from Jenny our midwife telling me not to give up on my homebirth dream just yet. To be precise my labour started immediately after carrying a runaway pet goat named Snowflake back to our neighbour’s house – unorthodox I know, but whatever works! I returned from my goat-carrying adventure around midday and lay on the couch, when I felt pressure building in my belly and back. I hoped this was the real deal and went for a rest on the bed, followed by a bath around 4pm. The previous few days a bath had seen the contractions ease off, but today they became closer together and stronger – hooray!

I went back to bed to rest, and lay on my side breathing through the surges almost until our doula Nikki arrived at 10pm. At this point I had just needed to shift position and was standing with my hands on the bed, swaying my hips through the surges. They were coming 7 times in 20 minutes, and Nikki suggested I move to the lounge room where Tim was filling the birth pool. I leant forward with my hands on the table and eyed off the pool as it filled slowly, breathing down and using low noises to help bub out.

The surges started rolled on and one started to merge with the next. At times there were 2 minute breaks between them, other times it was 30 seconds, and sometimes no break at all with two surges rolling into one three minute marathon. Nikki talked me through it all and breathed with me, encouraging me to keep hydrated and believe in myself and my body.

When we rang Jenny at 11pm, I realized I could hardly answer her basic questions even between surges. My knees were sinking with the contractions as I felt my baby move further down into my pelvis. After 20 weeks positioned with your head side on, you had turned anterior during the labour as our lovely midwives had said you would – all it took was movement, leaning forwards during active labour and your much-appreciated cooperation. I felt my body shudder and three distinct drops as I hit transition, and I knew we were getting close to meeting our precious bundle.

Nikki helped me into the bath while Tim poured more pots of hot water in. The water level was a bit low but I assumed our hot water tank had run out. I was thankful to be in the pool whatever the depth! Another intense contraction hit, this time made much more manageable by the warmth and my new kneeling position with my hips in the water and arms on the side of the bath.

I was able to sit with my bottom on the inflatable floor of the pool between my feet during the rest times, which were now fewer and further between. Nikki helped brace my arms and continued to encourage me.  Jenny arrived not long after and started checking baby’s heart rate, holding the wand against my lower belly in the water as I contracted. About this time I asked for water to drink and Tim asked if I wanted to coconut water or plain water, which at the time seemed so ridiculous – of course I wanted normal water, was he deaf?!

Jenny asked Tim to fill the pool up more, which was amazing as the intense pressure was mostly in my lower back which had still been somewhat exposed to the air. Turns out we had heaps of hot water left, he was just trying to save it for that long, drawn out labour that he expected would continue through the night. Soon I was sweating from the steam and effort and not caring a bit.

Tim took his position in front of me, sitting on the couch holding my arms in a monkey grip and before long I felt the urge to push. I don’t know how long the pushing went for, or how loud I was. Jenny said I wasn’t that loud, whereas Tim tells me the only people who yell that loud are people who are dying!

I was aware of Jenny moving about a lot but didn’t register what she was doing. She put a mirror under me and got her torch out, and it wasn’t long until the words “I can see your baby’s head” found their way into my consciousness.  By now I was moaning, groaning and shrieking during the surges and flopped over the side of the pool between them, letting my body hang loose and breathing deeply. It took a few more surges to get to the point of crowning and I steeled myself for what was to come. I wanted to reach down and touch your full head of hair but felt fixed to the spot, unable to let go of Tim or move anywhere. I remember making some guttural noise I will never again be able to replicate as your head made its way out into the water, followed by your body with the next push.

Jenny was telling me to ‘lean back’ but I couldn’t figure out how or where to go, and Tim eased me back against the wall of the pool as she scooped you this perfect little human up and out of the water and onto my chest. I was overcome by the feeling of holding my baby, so warm and soft and loved. There was quiet for a few seconds and I asked “is it breathing?” which was answered swiftly by a big, beautiful cry – music to my ears! A big towel was thrown over both of us as I kissed your head and inhaled your newborn smell. Tim held my shoulders and leaned in to look at you and I could feel us both shaking with adrenalin and tears.

I have no idea how long I sat there for in my state of euphoria until Jenny said “do you want to check if it’s a boy or a girl?” I had completely forgotten that was something to find out - I was already smitten regardless. Tim checked and we found out we had a little girl in our arms before cutting the cord and giving his baby daughter her first cuddle. The next couple of hours passed in a happy blur of placenta delivery, baby checks with midwife Janene, and being patched up.

Since your birth I have been asked how painful it was, how I managed without pain relief and been told I was brave to birth at home. Honestly being in labour compared to waiting another minute to meet you was such a relief that I didn’t even think about it! To be so well supported and cared for throughout my pregnancy and Matilda’s homebirth was incredible. There was no distraction of guessing what the ‘right time’ was to leave for hospital or fears of unnecessary intervention - I was able to get into the zone and stay there.  Even after the birth itself, the creature comforts of home only amplified my joy. I was able to shower in my own bathroom, we were guided through our first breastfeed in my own bed, and I ate delicious raisin toast and brownie in my own kitchen. The follow-up visits were also so very welcome – one or two opinions and snippets of advice as I was able to take them in allowed us to start finding our groove as a family from the start.

Thank you to BMGP for this wonderful experience and the respect and support given to us throughout our entire pregnancy and birth journey. I would wholeheartedly recommend your service to all women who believe that birth is a natural process that sometimes needs medical support, not a medical event that sometimes happens naturally. I can’t fault the team and if I am lucky enough to experience a second pregnancy I will be contacting you the moment I see that ‘positive’ test!