Friends of Belmont Birthing

The birth Story of our first son, Atlas

"“We are the only species of animal that doubts its ability to give birth. It’s profitable to scare women about birth. But let’s stop it. I tell women: your body is not a lemon.”

- Ina May Gaskin

I have always wanted babies but when I found out I was pregnant it was a little scary. I had a copper IUD in at the time and I was unsure how that would affect things. I went straight to the hospital where they did an ultrasound and saw the IUD had come down into my cervix and that sure enough, there was a perfect little sack visible and attached up high, well away from the copper. The doctor at the acute gynaecology service removed the IUD and told me that my risk of miscarriage was high in the next few days. I went back after a week and everything was fine. We heard the heart beat at 6 weeks!

Even though I was still unsure if everything would be ok, I called Belmont straight away because I’d heard of the service and knew I wanted a no intervention, natural home birth. I loved hearing birth stories and watching beautiful natural births online and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that, left alone, my body knew how to birth. Thankfully I have an open minded partner, Sam, who quickly came around to the idea of a home birth once he realised that it is actually very safe if you are a low risk pregnancy.

I was assigned to my midwife, Janene, who throughout my pregnancy was such a huge source of empowerment and education for me. She affirmed everything I already knew about women’s natural ability to birth beautifully without intervention and filled me with so much confidence that I was making the right decision- despite it maybe not being conventional for most people I knew.

My due date was 14th of January. The weekend before I started losing mucus plug and having braxton hicks. I thought- great! It’s happening soon. There was going to be a full moon on the 11th and I focused on that date thinking that would be the day.
The full moon came and went and still no baby. My due date passed and every day I felt like things were getting started. We had blown up the birth pool weeks ago now and mentally it became very hard. I didn’t want to make any plans for even a day in advance just in case. At 41 weeks, it is policy to get a scan to check the fluid level. Everything looked perfect. I was checked by Asha who said I was already 3cm dilated! I had a stretch and sweep and thought surely it will be in a day or two. The next day, I started getting contractions that were coming irregularly. By now I knew not to get excited because I had thought things were starting so many times. Sure enough, they stopped by the next morning. At 41+3 I had another scan at the hospital where the doctor there tried to convince me to get induced. I knew that the baby and I were healthy and the fluid levels were fine and I told the doctor unless something looked or felt wrong I would not be getting induced. Afterwards, I was checked by Janene who did another stretch and sweep and said I was now sitting at about 4cm and she could feel the head! Any time now...I went to get acupuncture straight after to try and get things going.
The next morning, my consistently irregular contractions started again. Sam and I walked to the beach that afternoon and as we were walking back I felt them get stronger. Surely tonight was the night. I let Janene know what was happening and she said to try and get some rest and call if it picks up during the night. I went to sleep and... woke up the next day with nothing! Apparently sometimes first babies just really like to take their time. When I got up and moved around the contractions started again and this time more intense than the day before to the point where I couldn’t speak through them. Still, they were consistently inconsistent- around 4-8 minutes apart. I still wasn’t even in established labour. I tried my best to nap in between because I knew I would need the energy if this was going to go on for much longer. Janene came over to assess me at around 4pm. I was 5cm dilated and she could stretch me to 10. The water sack was bulging and cushioning the baby’s head though, which meant there wasn’t enough pressure on the cervix to send me into established labour. Janene guessed that if my waters broke, things would go very quickly. When she left, I laid down to try and nap again. There was a storm building outside and it was looking like it was going to rain. I put on a HypnoBirthing track, Sam rubbed my back through two more contractions, thunder outside rumbled- and then I heard a pop! My waters broke.

I jumped up and got into the shower. Things went from 0-1000. I was instantly in the transition phase of labour. Sam was rushing trying to get the birth pool filled and all I wanted to do was get in the water. Janene arrived back shortly after Sam called her and Jane, the backup midwife soon after that. Finally the birth pool was full enough for me to get in. As soon as I got in the pool my body was pushing. And it was such a relief! I felt safe and secure in my own home and with the midwives there making sure everything was going smoothly. It allowed me to surrender to the sensations and just let my body take over. 2.5 hours after my water broke, our baby, Atlas was born, caught by a Janene and handed straight onto my chest. I had a physiological third stage and no issues so a few hours later the midwives left us to sleep. We were in bed by 11:30! It’s now been one week and Atlas is a dream baby. Guided by the wisdom of the midwives we’ve barely had a hiccup and I’m so thankful a service like this exists for women. We will definitely be back for as many more as I can convince Sam...