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Episode 477

Angela – physiological home birth, private midwife, water birth

In this episode Angela shares her incredibly positive first birth - a water birth at home, supported by private midwives. Before she had conceived, Angela spent years learning about birth and discovered that a physiological birth in water was her preference. She came to this pregnancy - her second - with a strong awareness of body and mind and continued nurturing a confident mindset throughout each trimester. She had enormous trust in the birth process, in her body and her baby and whilst that wavered towards the end of labour - as it’s wont to do - she continued to listen to her body, breathe deep and experienced an ecstatic birth.

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“I was so focussed on my career and my business and for a long time, it was my baby so I didn’t really start considering starting a family till I was 37. When I got my PCOS diagnosis the doctor advised me to go on the pill but I opted to focus on my hormone health to look after my health so I had worked with a naturopath to maintain a regular cycle. I fell pregnant on the second month and I felt really confident but at my 13 week scan a genetic mutation was detected and it wasn’t long after that I miscarried. At that stage I’d already booked my private midwife and they really supported me through the loss and D+C and helped me feel very nurtured.

“I really honoured my body because I wanted it to heal and I wanted to come back to physical and emotional balance. I gave my body three or four cycles till we started trying again. We were definitely more cautious when we conceived for the second time but I had a strong intuition that everything was perfect. I had a really deep trust in my body, I think because I’d given it time to heal after my loss. Once we were past the 13 week scan we were both really accepting and trying.

“I had the same midwives again and I felt really positive about my connection with them. I’d been learning about birth for the past few years – watching documentaries and connecting with mothers on social media – and I knew I wanted a homebirth. I was reading books and listening to podcasts and I shared everything I knew with my partner who was on board to support me and how I chose to birth.

“I maintained my strength and mobility practice throughout pregnancy and filmed classes to share online. My focus shifted to preparing my body for a physiological birth. I knew I wanted to birth my baby in water at home so everything I did was with that in mind. At times it was challenging on my ego – having physical restrictions – but that was all part of it, I think.

“We went to an Italian restaurant to sneak in a date night before birth and later that night I lost my mucous plug. I tried not to freak out or try anything to get labour going; I just chose to ignore it. I’d searched all the homebirth stories on your podcast so I knew to ignore it till I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I went to bed and got a bit of period pain so I just used a wheat bag for comfort but after a few hours, I couldn’t sleep. I got up and was really conscious of connecting with my baby; preparing myself and her for what was to come.

“The next day I went on two or three slow walks, I had the TENS machine on and I spent a lot of time bouncing on the fit ball. It was early labour and very manageable; I was still cooking and eating. That night my contractions got stronger and I went to bed but I couldn’t get comfortable; I had to be upright or on all fours. I moved a lot and focussed on my breath. Marty called my midwife and she listened to me and she reassured us that I had a way to go and it was going to be much more intense.

“I was moving through surges and they were getting really strong. I got into the birth pool at 7am. I felt really in control and then my midwife arrived at 8am. I was moving through the contractions and then labour slowed and got easier when I was in the water. I was disheartened so I decided to get out and walking up and down the stairs; asymmetrical movements can really help the baby descend.

“My midwife suggested I lay on my side for a few contractions which was very intense but that was the point when labour shifted. I went back up to the pool and that’s when I was really doubting myself because I was so exhausted. Marty was in the water with my pressing on my hips and suddenly I had a surge and all the muscles in my belly just pushed down. I moved to the other side of the pool and got in a half-squat position and that’s when I felt intense downward pressure and I was really trying to slow my breaths. I think it was the waters pushing down and that’s when my midwife told me I could put my hand down and feel her head and I could feel her hair in the water. It wasn’t even painful – my body was just doing it – and all I focussed n was slowing my breath in an attempt to slow my body. She slid out and I picked her up and she was beautifully pink and perfect. I just kept saying: “I did it, I did it, I can’t believe I did it.”

“Her cord was quite short – at the 20 week scan we learnt she had marginal cord insertion – so I couldn’t lift her very high so I got out of the bath and lay on the bed. It took a long time for the placenta to come – I think it was about two hours. I sat on the toilet, the midwife gave me a herbal tincture, and we cut the cord. The midwife got me to blow into a water bottle and by doing that the placenta came out which was such a relief.

“We lay in bed and I drank tea and ate sourdough crumpets while the midwives cleaned the room. They stayed for about four hours after birth, they weighed Halo and made sure I had showered and felt okay before they left. They checked in over the next few days which was really reassuring.

“I connected with Joelleen, an IBCLC, in pregnancy but it’s so different when you’re breastfeeding. I’d booked Joelleen and she came on day three which was perfect because I was struggling and was starting to get nipple damage. She helped me get my set-up right so I was reclined so Halo could lead the latch. My nipples healed over the next few days and we were fine from then on. It was a pivotal point on day three when my milk came in and having Joelleen there to guide me was vital.”

Topics Discussed

physiological home birth, Private midwife, Water Birth

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