It was International Home Birth day last week, and it has prompted me to share some special news here. We recently welcomed baby no. 4 into our family, via a beautiful home birth. Since I’d had my youngest four years ago my understanding of birth had changed and deepened. My last birth had had the most intervention and it sort of precipitated a questioning of the birth system and what us women are subjected to. Plus, being part of a mother’s group, getting in touch with doulas, other mothers and midwives only reinforced the sense that things could be done better. So when I found out that I was expecting, this coupled with my local hospital’s policy of only allowing one support person in a birth, I decided to look into home birthing.
After convincing my husband that this was most certainly the path that I wanted to go down, and that he had nothing to fear, I found myself a midwife and booked it in. The entire experience was so easy, laid back and respectful. Every appointment was conducted at home, and I only did the tests I felt comfortable with, obviously with much discussion about the pros/cons/risks involved with each test. I got along well with my midwife. My children began calling her “aunt” and they got used to hearing baby’s heartbeat at every session.
I also contacted my doula friend (who lives in Melbourne) and booked her in to do some hypnobirthing sessions before giving birth. We started them a few weeks before my due date and I must say that the calmness, the control I felt during birth, I attribute to those few sessions. They made all the difference in the world and I am so grateful to her for guiding me through my fears and helping me to have the birth I dreamed of.
*Disclaimer: I have gone back and forth trying to decide whether to share this story with the world. It is a treasured memory, a moment in my life that I count as miraculous, a phenomena. I ultimately decided to share it to contribute a positive story of birth, to uplift others. So please, do not share any negativity, fears or concerns here.
The morning before my due date, I hopped in the shower and basically spoke to baby. The last two weeks before my due date I was really feeling impatient to have it all over with. I was getting tired. Fears starting creeping in. It was Ramadan and I was just exhausted with it all really. Anxiety over giving birth again set in and just contributed to my impatience. So on that day, in the shower, I calmly told baby that I would embrace her timing, and if she could just give me a sign to tell me that she was ready to enter the world, I’d be grateful. It was a sweet moment.
And at 11:30 am, I went to the bathroom and saw that I’d lost my mucus plug. Then 15 minutes later, my water broke.
A sign indeed.
Then… nothing happened for the rest of the day. That’s right. I let the midwife know what had happened, called my mum and sister and husband, then basically spent the rest of the day pacing my backyard, trying to do some dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and trying to settle my nerves.
Evening set in. We put the kids to bed. Mum went home. Then we decided to sleep early in case things got going at night. That was around 8pm. My sister settled in on the couch and I went to my room. 8:30pm, I felt a gush. So I went to the bathroom. Had a shower, cleaned up and went back to bed. 5 minutes later, more gushing. Back in the shower I went, changed again, then back into bed. Basically this kept happening and I got no sleep at all, until it was around midnight and I’d had enough so I woke up the husband to let him know and asked him to fill up the birth tub.
Now, we’d set up the birth pool some weeks ago, and this is something I’d totally recommend doing if you have a home birth. It takes time to pump it up, put drop sheets under it, then it takes time to fill it up.
SO while he was filling up the pool, I sat on one of those big bouncy balls as I was feeling some contractions. I asked my sister to put on the hypnobirthing playlist I had found on Spotify as well. The contractions weren’t strong, but they had finally started! Once the pool was filled I hopped in, poured some drops of clary sage on a face towel to breathe in with each contraction, and my sister started timing them.
At around 1am my husband decided that he needed to drop off his delivery van (for one of his employees to take his shift) to work as he clearly wasn’t going in that morning. I asked him how long he’d take. He said 1 hour. I thought, okay, contractions don’t feel super strong, we should be ok. I wasn’t allowing any fear to set in, I simply accepted whatever came my way.
My sister and I spent the next hour in the quiet of my living room. Her timing my contractions and giving me head/neck massages from time to time, adding hot water to the tub, and me breathing through each surge. The hypnobirthing playlist really helped. At one point I thought how different this labor was from my other three. I wondered if anything was actually progressing. Why wasn’t I screaming through each contraction like the other times? It was so calm, it felt so manageable. I couldn’t quite fathom that I was even in labor, even though the surges were 5 minutes apart. I remember that my sister mentioned at one point that it was Ramadan, and the blessings of the angels surrounded us. It was such a beautiful thing to say, and I remember feeling overwhelmingly grateful for the blessing of the month that this baby was being born into.
At 2am I told my sister to call my husband to see where he was at (he was literally at the front door thank God) and to contact the midwife. My husband walked in and immediately sat next to me. Held my hand. And 15 minutes passed with surges getting slowly more intense. At 2:15am the surges completely changed. They suddenly became unmanageable and I was vocalising very loudly. My husband said, “yep this is happening!” and five minutes later I yelled at my sister to call the midwife to see where she was at. She was 20 minutes away. I told everyone that I didn’t have 20 minutes, this baby was coming. The midwife was put on speaker phone. There was no anxiety. No fear. I felt her head move downwards, I felt it enter the birth pool. I had reached down and even touched her head, wet and soft in the water. After a brief pause I felt another contraction and with a momentous roar, she slipped out. Baby was born into the world and I lifted her out of the water and onto my chest. This all took ten minutes.
I can’t really put into words how I felt at that moment.
It was phenomenal. We three were in utter shock. Baby was so quiet, she wasn’t crying, and for a few minutes we did panic. My midwife was still on speaker talking us through it all. Telling us what to do. We followed her instructions, rubbed baby and she took 3 gulping breaths. We didn’t even think to check what gender she was until my sister asked, and I checked and laughed that it was a girl. I had been so sure that she was a boy for the entire pregnancy.
We were laughing and crying and shaking all at the same time. Utter disbelief at what had just happened. At what we had just witnessed.
Once we had settled somewhat, my husband woke up the children and they met their baby sister and we had a sweet moment as a family of six.
My midwife then walked in and we greeted her with tears of laughter and joy. She quickly surveyed baby and me and reassured us that all looked well. I was starting to get contractions again, and it had been a good 15 minutes since baby had been born, the cord had stopped pulsating, so we cut the cord, handed baby to the husband and I delivered the placenta. This was much more painful then I thought it would be. I’d never given birth to the placenta naturally, without the injection they usually give in a hospital setting. I think I was just tired, so it felt like a momentous task at that point.
I got out of the water, settled on the couch nearby, and baby was back on my chest.
She was pink and chubby and shiny and beautiful. A whole 4.22 kgs. 56cm. My sweet, baby girl. Born into the world half way through the month of Ramadan. At home, in our living room, which would now forever be hallowed ground.
At 4:30am, after everything had been checked (I’d had no tearing by the way, not even a graze), cleaned and put away, I climbed into bed after feeding baby girl. I literally said out loud, “Oh my, I am SO comfortable right now” because that feeling of sleeping in my own bed after giving birth was pure bliss. My midwife tucked me in, checked baby one last time and left.
Baby slept for three hours. My sister (who went back home), my husband and I could not sleep. We were buzzing with adrenaline in the aftermath of it all. Still in utter disbelief as to what had happened.
Six weeks on
I’ve spent the last 40 days in rest at home. It’s been… beautiful, slow, giving, restful. But it was also a reminder of how much work newborns are. There were some fears, sleepless nights, adjustments and new routines.
I often thought over the birth in wonderment. Gratefulness. And a keen sense of how merciful our Creator is to have given me this experience to cherish for the rest of my life. Well, not just me. My husband, my sister, even my children. Grateful that it all went smoothly, and that here we now were with a beautiful, healthy baby girl.
It also reinforced the journey I’d taken for 3 years. The lessons I learnt that birth is natural, that a woman’s body innately knows how to birth, that if a woman is supported in the way she needs she can have an undisturbed birth with zero (or minimal) intervention. Did I ever think I’d have a free birth? No, I didn’t. But it simply happened that way. In the comfort of my own home, in the walls of safety with the presence of my loved ones, I was able to birth: strong, calm, peacefully, and empowered…
Some extra info:
My doula was Reyyan Emniyet.
I found my midwife through a friend’s recommendation but if you are in Australia, all registered private midwives can be found at Homebirth Australia.