SUZY AND STEVE'S BIRTH STORY

Gave birth to our little girl today! All at home, and NO DRUGS!! Completely natural and it felt amazing!

Labour started at 2.30am on 31 July 2009, just a day before her due date! I'd been up a few hours before to the loo several times with 'stomach ache' (had a curry and long walk the day before!) and just couldn't sleep, so by 2.30am I could tell it was 'the real thing'. It felt like a dull ache, very much like mild period pains, I timed them - every 20 minutes.

Thought I'd let Steve sleep as he'd need his energy for later! I felt totally calm yet excited. I just sat on the edge of the bed practising my breathing... an hour later I woke Steve to tell him.

We went downstairs to the lounge and Steve asked me lots of questions - did I want the TV on, etc. No - I just wanted calm and quiet, stillness, no distractions or noise as I felt I really needed to concentrate. At one point I did have my birth music on low. Steve played Mafia Wars on the laptop and I was on my knees leaning over the leather sofa as that felt the most comfy position. I stayed like that with my eyes shut, resting my hands on my head for hours but I wasn't looking at the clock.

I had a shower at 4.30am, which really soothed the surges. At this point I remember looking in the mirror telling myself to remain calm and positive saying 'I can do this'. Around 5am the surges were every four minutes, lasting around a minute. Steve kept asking whether he should call the midwives or Natalie, my doula, but I said no. I felt more in control on my own and wanted to wait until the last minute. My show happened at 5.30am, and my waters broke an hour later.

Eventually, just before 8am, Steve called the midwives and Natalie, and they both spoke to me between surges. I said I'd be OK for another hour. What Steve didn't tell me was that the midwives had said they were at another home birth and wouldn't be able to come straightaway! Natalie arrived at 9.45ish, the midwives at 8.30am.

By this stage the surges were very strong. Steve had been pushing on my lower back with each surge since 5am so Natalie took over. She also gave me some lavender in a hankie which I breathed in each time I had a surge, and this worked really well with my Sleep and Slow Breathing. As the surges got stronger I really felt the need to 'bear down' and it was harder to concentrate.

All of this time no one knew where I was up to as I hadn't let the midwives examine me. In fact, I couldn't even get into the right position for them as all I wanted to do was remain on my knees slumped over the sofa. They checked the baby's heartbeat frequently, which was fine, and that was it. The midwives were brilliant - as soon as they arrived they'd read the birth plan (attached below) and completely followed it. They were silent and just stepped back allowing me to go with the flow.

The pressure became very intense and I did mutter to Natalie that I might 'like to try some gas and air'. She distracted me brilliantly and I focused back on dealing with each surge. That is the only way to not get overwhelmed - deal with each surge on its own, not looking further ahead. I was glad she had distracted me as what would have happened if it hadn't worked? I would have found it very difficult to get control back. And that's the key, really - do you trust your body and believe in the natural process or not? It's all about taking on the responsibility for the birth you want, not handing it over to someone else expecting a cocktail of drugs or people to 'make it better', especially when you don't even know what's going to happen. You owe it to yourself and your baby to give nature a chance.

Steve had spent hours and hours filling the birth pool (because the tap shape and hose didn't fit). At 11am the pool was finally ready and I was so looking forward to the water. Unfortunately I didn't like it at all - I just couldn't get into a comfy position as I couldn't be sat down, plus the room was really bright. I felt too exposed and not in control. I was in the pool about 20 minutes, leaning over the side.

I kept visuallising the blue satin ribbons and rose petals unfolding while repeating 'Totally loose, totally limp' and 'I approach the birth of my baby with confidence, baby is coming to me'. In my head I did have several moments of 'I can't do this' but I never said it out loud as that would have 'broken the spell'. Natalie said she had never seen anyone so calm.

Although very painful, it was a different pain, only bearable by believing in how and why your body is changing. And I kept thinking I have to do this for my baby.

So I was now back in the lounge in my original position on my knees, with my head resting on the cool leather. A few moments later the midwives called Steve into the room and I knew 'this was it'. My body seemed to go completely still for a few minutes and I felt very calm. Then within three or four huge surges Sophie was born. First she crowned, then her head, arm and body came out. It felt good, and I knew I only had a small tear. The midwives caught her and passed her to Steve and I. I sat down, amazed at discovering our little girl at last. I just kept looking from her to Steve and back again. Steve was in tears - I didn't cry, I just felt so happy and shocked and proud that I'd done it, and that she was OK. Steve named her Sophie straight away and it suited her (we hadn't been able to agree on any other girls' names). Steve cut the cord and she went straight to the breast and was really alert but calm with only a tiny cry. She scored nine and then 10 on the Apgar test and weighed 7lb 6oz.

After a bath I sat on the couch and had tea and toast. The sun was shining brightly, what a perfect day!

So for me a succesful birth encompasses:
Knowledge and practice
Belief and positivity
Comfortable, safe surroundings
Trusted birth companions



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