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Martha, Adam & baby Emil’s beautiful home birth story and why they chose an Independent Midwife

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Baby born at home in the pool with an Independent Midwife, North East. Home birth, water birth. Physiological birth and 3rd stage
Baby Emil's birth

I had a straightforward NHS homebirth with our daughter 3 years ago, it wasn’t a long labour, she was born into the water, everything was textbook, it was a pretty great first birth. 

When I got pregnant with our second it seemed easy enough to just do that again, we had the same community midwife as last time, everything was ticking along. 

But every appointment left me feeling flat and anxious, poked and prodded to fit someone else’s targets and timescales. When it came to 26 weeks and the measurements started the sense of dread and deja vu deepened with talk of measuring small, growth scans, and risks. 

First time round I’d tried to decline late scans, they didn’t feel right at all, like they were looking for something wrong with our baby- who I just knew was fine. The consultant midwife who was brought in to persuade me threatened that they wouldn’t deliver the homebirth kit unless I complied. 

We started to talk about the birth. No, it wouldn’t be possible to decline fetal heart monitoring every 15 minutes (which had felt so invasive and intrusive in active labour). It would be recommended that I have the vaginal examinations (the lowest points of my first labour). And asking the midwives not to chat through the birth or rush us through the first minutes and hours of our baby’s life with weighing and checking and fretting about the placenta felt just too hard to bring up, they didn’t really get it. 

I began concocting a plan that we wouldn’t call them when labour started, we’d just do it by ourselves. But that wasn’t really what my partner and I wanted. He felt anxious that his role in labour would be a kind of gatekeeper to the midwives- likely strangers- if we invited them into our home, that he would inadvertently let me down if he wasn’t able to fend off things I didn’t want. I didn’t want to have to be in a defensive headspace for the rest of pregnancy and birth. But we didn’t really want to be totally alone without care. 

I knew independent midwives existed, I knew a couple of people who’d hired them, but it seemed self indulgent to me to spend that money on protecting an ‘experience’ when I felt informed and assertive enough to navigate a version of the birth I wanted on the NHS. 

But after another appointment left me in tears my mum googled ‘independent midwives NE’ found Debbie’s website and said- call her, you can’t go on like this. My partner agreed, this would be our last child, his birth is something we’ll remember forever, let’s find a way to make it be the way we want and honour it properly. 

So Debbie took over, seamlessly, communicated with the NHS team, came for long chatty antenatal appointments at home, never measured my belly, trusted by feel and what I felt in my body that our baby was growing and well. Asked ‘what will we do with that information?’ before any test. Listened to us- properly listened and designed a birth plan that fit us. 

I went a week past due but we didn’t need to chat about induction, that clearly wasn’t on the cards. Waters broke at 41 weeks on a walk down the overgrown path of June flowers by our house. Contractions started  that evening and I laboured in bed next to my partner listening to a whole audiobook as the hours passed until midnight. Contractions were easy to manage with a bit of movement on all fours and resting between. My partner filled the pool which we knew from a practice bath kept at temperature for a good while. Things felt so manageable, by 1ish I told my partner that I’d have two more contractions in bed then go downstairs into the pool, he’d make me a glass of cold squash and I’d have the baby by 3.15. 

He’d been keeping Debbie informed and she and second midwife Sarah arrived so quietly some time after 2 into our silent candlelit house that we barely registered they were here. They set up on the kitchen table round the corner from the pool and just observed and listened. We carried on in the rhythm we’d built up, I didn’t need any hands on support this time. With our daughter I’d wanted lots of water poured on my back, to hold onto my partner for pushing. This time I felt very self contained. Contractions became very strong, and suddenly without warning were pushes bringing our baby down and out, three pushes and he was here! I bought him up out of the water, he was coughing a bit, he’d popped out too fast to clear his airways on the way, but he was strong and beautiful and here. At 3.03am. 

No one but us spoke in that time afterwards, we stayed in the pool for a while, got out to rest on the sofa, everything was gentle and quiet and calm. The sun was coming up and the dawn chorus loud outside. 

In my first birth the placenta took an hour, and eventually delivered sitting on a bucket while blue gloved midwife hands pushed our daughters mouth onto my nipple to try and get her to latch and hurry it up. It was the worst and most uncomfortable part of her birth. 

This time I squatted after an hour and it fell out, no one but myself and my partner had yet touched our son. I cut his cord and Debbie and Sarah started their newborn checks, still quietly, respectfully and at our baby’s pace. He was already well stuck into feeding. 

He was weighed and on the small side for his gestation, so Debbie followed up with the hospital for advice. She did this outside and so discreetly we didn’t even realise. We had a conversation then about what that meant, how that might usually mean a transfer in for observations but that we could look after him ourselves and make sure he was fine at home. There was no pressure and no anxiety about it, just good information and trust in us as parents. We stayed put knowing he was already feeding so well. 

His first days have continued gentle and easy. He is such a calm baby. My milk came by the second day and today at five days old he’s already put on a bit of weight and feeding all the time. The way he came into the world was so ordinary and so amazing. I’d wish that for every baby and every birth. Debbie gave us the time and space and trust to find that for ourselves. We weren’t disturbed or faffed on with or derailed from the simplest most beautiful birth we could have wished for.

That’s what an independent midwife can give you- putting you, your baby and your family at the centre of things. To listen and trust you. To treat you as an intelligent individual and have confidence in your ability to just do it. For the price of a fancy holiday or an ok second hand car you can have hours and hours of personalised maternity care and the trust and expertise to have exactly the right birth for you. That’s fully worth it.  
Physiological home water birth, Independent Midwife North East. Physiological third stage, newborn baby breastfeeding. Continuity of care

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