Ashley choose homebirth because she wanted to give birth in the safest, most undisturbed place possible, to make it as calm and relaxed as it could be. Here is her story.
As someone who had given birth three times before, I had some specific fears related to things that had happened during my previous births. So when I first started preparing for this birth, I knew there were issues I definitely needed to work on. I’m a Wise Hippo hypnobirthing instructor and although I’ve given birth twice using hypnobirthing, this was the first time I’d used the Wise Hippo. I was excited to try a slightly different approach, use some new and fresh techniques and, of course, to finally try the things I’ve been encouraging other parents to use.
I spent lots of time listening to the fear release ‘Cove of Confidence’ mp3, and listening to the affirmations daily to ‘keep my head in a good place’. My pregnancy hadn’t been completely straight forward, but by 38 weeks everything seemed to be nicely on track; I was feeling super calm and ready for our birth. My husband, Alvin, and I were planning a home water birth and all looked good.
Forty weeks came and went, and baby Astrid seemed very comfortable inside. I was offered a sweep but declined it, feeling confident my body would go in to labour soon as all my previous babies arrived before the 41 weeks… Then 41 weeks mark was fast approaching and my midwife also started be concerned as the growth of my bump was slowing down…
I started to panic. Suddenly I felt pressurised and nervous. Of course, I wanted my baby to be safe, but I also knew that I wanted our birth to be as calm as possible.
I considered all angles, what each of our options were, questioned how I could ensure we had what was right for us, even if things took a totally different path to what I had hoped for. I was honestly pretty terrified of giving birth any other way than in the calm and safety of my home.
Induction scared me, waiting scared me, cesarean scared me (I seriously considered that as a option, in order to stay in control and keep things calm). My hormones were ‘all over the place’ and I felt like the clock was ticking and my dream was fading away.
At 41 weeks I decided to have a sweep, hoping that if labour started I could avoid induction. Nothing happened, so two days later I asked for another one. I continued to listen to the affirmations and ‘Cove of Confidence’ regularly, while my husband and I used natural techniques to try and encourage things along (sex, walking, spicy food, pineapple, acupressure points, keeping as calm as I could etc…).
After my second sweep (and second time of being told that my cervix didn’t feel ready) I had a few hours of practice surges that evening, but they all stopped around 9pm so I went to bed.
Around 4:30am I had a few surges which felt like mild period pains. They woke me up, but I fell asleep in between. I got up around 7am and was still feeling very mild surges, but at this point I felt like I’d be pregnant forever so didn’t believe it was labour, and decided it was best not to over think it anyway. I got in the bath in the dark, and listened to some music while Alvin took care of our older children and gave everyone breakfast. He popped in a few times and asked if I was still feeling the surges. I was, and as they seemed to be staying around, he started organising our childcare and tidying the house, just in case. I enjoyed listening to the music, in the privacy of the bathroom singing and swaying my hips to the songs. After a while I moved from the bathroom in to my daughters bedroom (so I could still be alone) and sat in there on a birth ball, rotating my hips with each surge.
I had a few surges which started to feel really strong and felt slightly panicked by them as we hadn’t called our doula or midwives yet. I thought it best to start calling our support, in case Astrid suddenly arrived.
Around 11am I came downstairs, still feeling quite unsure as to whether this was actually going to be labour. I continued to listen to the music. After a while our first midwife, Angela, arrived at 12:15pm, she checked us over and I was 4-5cm dilated at 12:30pm.
At this point, I felt unbelievably relieved – I was finally in labour. All my worries were gone! I felt a huge sense of relief as I realised I could now just get on with my birth!
I kept breathing, singing and swaying to the music. The midwife said she couldn’t believe how calm I was and telling me how well I was doing. She hadn’t yet read my birth preferences and commented that there was no pain relief in the birth bag the homebirth team had given us, but I said I was hoping not to need any!
Our doula, Ali, arrived shortly after. I spent lots of time sitting on the edge of the sofa, chatting happily in between surges, and breathing though each surge. I drank lots of water and went to the bathroom regularly. My husband and doula started setting up the birth pool. A second midwife, Nicola arrived.
For a while we chilled out, listened to the music, chatted, and sang along to the songs. After one of my bathroom trips I decided to stand for a while, and my doula got some great footage of me dancing, singing, poking my tongue out and looking totally chilled. I decided I really fancied the warmth of the pool so got in at 3:15pm.
The pool was lovely. The warmth of it was so soothing and I finally felt fully able to let go – this was it. The place and time I’d imagined. I was having my baby – I felt so happy.
I did however feel like I was struggling to get comfortable now. No position seemed comfortable enough, so I went from leaning back, to squatting, to sitting, working through each surge and singing along with the music when I felt ‘here in the present’ enough.
Then, I suddenly felt tearful. I wasn’t sure why. I simply felt a bit overwhelmed with emotions and felt tears come to my eyes. I had a little cry and said I felt emotional. It passed quickly, without much fuss, and with the next surge I felt my waters pop.
Two new midwives, Francesca and Kemi arrived as they were taking over for the evening shift. I continued to breath as my body needed to with each surge, and noticed that my breathing had instinctively changed to birth humming. I continued to follow my body’s lead, and with each surge I could feel the downward pressure building as my body moved Astrid down.
The two ‘day midwives’ were just about to leave when I realised I actually felt very reassured having four midwives with us. I felt sure Astrid was well on her way so I asked if they’d stay, and they all said they were very happy to do so!
My body continued to bear down and I allowed myself to simply focus on breathing and trusted my body would do what it needed to.
I felt Astrid’s head emerge, and remember feeling very aware of her moving a lot. I knew I needed a lot of reassurance from my support at this time, so told them: “Please keep reassuring me,” I kept asking “Are we ok? Is the baby happy?” Amazing that I was so able to voice what I needed to at that point!
Astrid’s body came out a few minutes later. She wasn’t breathing straight away and it took some quite vigorous rubbing of her back and face to get her started, but I held her close to me and talked to her throughout – and wow, once she started crying she didn’t stop for almost two hours! I hope she was just showing off how good her lungs are!
I birthed the placenta in the pool, got out and had lots of skin to skin while Alvin emptied the pool, with Ali’s help. We all had tea, I had some toasted pita breads, and sat snuggling our little girl. We used a cord tie and I cut her cord around 1.5hrs after her birth. I didn’t need any stitches, and so, after a few hours when the midwives had finished their notes and were happy we were both ok, they left. By then I was sitting on the sofa, cuddling Astrid.
Our older children came home, we ordered pizza and watched X Factor… it was such a normal, relaxed family evening, and that night I went to bed cuddling our tiny girl!
The birth was absolutely everything we wished for and I still can’t believe I finally had my perfect home water birth!
Ashley Scott-Fisher lives in E6, London, and is mum to four beautiful children. She is also a doula and Wise Hippo hypnobirthing instructor and have the amazing privilege to be able to support families during their pregnancies, births and beyond. This is the story of her fourth birth where her daughter Astrid Emma Scott-Fisher was born on 29 October 2016, weighting 8lb 15oz (4070g).