Updated: Mar 9
I am a first time mum and on Jan 22nd 2021, I gave birth to my beautiful son, Fox, at home with the help of the Domino Midwives at Holles St in Dublin.
My husband and I are British and we moved to Dublin with work in October 2019. We were there for 5 months until the first lockdown due to the COVID pandemic and 2 months after that, we fell pregnant with Fox. It was a strange time to be pregnant and I know so many have gone through pregnancy in a pandemic… but for me, being in a different country (with one of the strictest covid lockdowns in the world) with no friends or family, made it exceptionally tough and is part of the reason I ended up having a homebirth so that my husband could be with me throughout.
I actually started my pregnancy with private obstetrician-led care, however the more I read about pregnancy and birth (the Hollie de Cruz book ‘your baby your birth’ was amazing) and the more I thought about it, it became clear to me that hospital was not where I wanted to be. I was lucky that I had a very uneventful pregnancy (sickness for the first 17wks and pelvic girdle pain which really was a pain but nothing major) and was deemed low risk early on, so when I expressed an interest in homebirth at around 20wks, I was supported by my obstetrician and transferred over to the Domino Scheme. The Domino scheme is a group of community midwives who give midwife led care for you and your baby in the hospital, and they also cover all the homebirths.
Everything was easy until the last couple of weeks before my due date when I was flagged at a scan in week 38 because I was measuring ahead. I knew there was a chance I’d have a big baby as they run in my husbands side of the family and I’d had a private scan which said I was measuring ahead (I kept that one quiet though knowing my homebirth plans!), but the midwives were concerned of the risks for shoulder dystocia and the potential for undiagnosed gestational diabetes. Because of this, I was sent for a growth scan and had to have a glucose challenge test. Both came back fine, however the baby did have an abdominal circumference in the 99th percentile. Lucky for me, his overall size wasn’t above the 95th percentile, so I was able to continue with my plan for homebirth (anything above 95th would have meant I would need to birth in hospital).
The day after my due date I started having contractions. From the get go, the contractions were regular and lasting for over a minute so I asked the midwives to came and check me. At 9pm they came and checked but I wasn’t in active labour yet. I needed to get the baby’s head down a bit further, so I spent the night, too uncomfortable to sleep, on the birth ball in my living room doing figure of 8s to try to get baby’s head in to position. The next morning the midwife came back and I had progressed to 1cm dilated .... and pretty much stayed that way for another 6 hours.... at this point I had been having contractions 2-3 minutes apart for about 27 hours and was already pretty tired but I was at home and able to move around and shift positions and I was using the tens machine (which I loved) throughout. When I was next checked at 2pm, I was still 1cm dilated. I considered the benefits and risks and consented for the midwife to break my waters - this is where things kicked off! After my waters were broken, I felt an instant increase in the intensity of my contractions.
I got in to the birthing pool in my kitchen and I.....hated it!!! I describe it as a watery prison of doom my baby was super low and it was very uncomfortable to sit down which was all I could do in the pool - I was much happier with the tens machine, standing up. I actually spent most of my labour stood up holding onto door frames or leaning over the bed or a chair and I was happy that way!
After 2 hours I was checked again and I was 8cms dilated and an hour after that my body was starting to push. The midwives kept me moving and trying different positions to help progress the pushing stage but baby came slowly and calmly as he was meant to and the midwives kept my confidence up throughout. I really enjoyed the pushing stage, I felt powerful and in control and I had a focus for the contractions and a purpose. I didn’t find this stage painful at all and I also wasn’t aware of the “ring of fire” people talk about .... I just felt pressure and power.
Finally, at 21:36 after 33 hours of labour and an episiotomy (the baby had been on my perineum for a while and just couldn’t quite get out and I was tiring), Fox arrived with a full head of hair and a gorgeous little squeak and was put straight on my chest for skin to skin. He came out completely clean and had his first feed on me and was taken to be weighed..... no wonder he took a while to arrive - this baby was 10lbs and had a 36cm head!! While he was weighed, I was stitched up and untangled myself from the TENS machine which was still zapping me (until then I hadn’t even noticed) and Fox came back for snuggles. The midwives saw to everything…. Left no mess and even put me in the shower and washed my hair afterwards before putting me into bed with my baby.
I am almost certain that the reason I was able to birth Fox safely and naturally was because I was so calm and relaxed and I put that down to three things - the amazing midwife team at Holles St, hypnobirthing and the fact that I was at home, in my husbands arms in my own surroundings.
So yes - a first time mummy can manage a homebirth even when the baby is 10lbs.... and did I mention that I didn’t have any pain relief?? No gas and air….Not even a paracetamol!
Ladies, our bodies are incredible and don’t for a second doubt what they’re capable of - you can absolutely have the homebirth you want, it just takes some mental strength and will power!