For a long time I have been wanting to post a positive birth story on my blog. There are so many stories that are not positive, where the person giving birth did not feel empowered or was forced to give birth in a totally unnatural way*. Carrying a baby and giving birth is a most sacred practice. It evolves around trust and listening to your body. This is the reason why I was looking for a positive story and just a few weeks ago my lovely friend Ros gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and she let me share her story. It's such a magical story and I hope you will love reading it, just as much as I did. Let's change how we think about birth. Thank you for letting me share your story Ros.
*disclaimer: every birth is different and it doesn't mean that if your story didn't go as you planned or there were complications etc that you did it wrong, but I just want to share this, to show how birth can be totally empowering.
My Magical, Beautiful and Positive Home Birth Experience
Written by Ros Shortland
We have all read and heard about the bad birth stories but we don't hear enough about the beautiful and perfect birth stories. I want to share my magical, beautiful and positive birth experience with as many people as possible! I hope you enjoy reading my pregnancy and birth story.
I will never forget this amazing birth experience. Birth done like this is beautiful and exactly how nature intended it to be. So let's start from the beginning.
Earlier last year I had a few late periods and each time I told Tom thinking I might be pregnant and getting my hopes up, only to find my period was just late. My periods were never that regular but this time I was 10 days late so I was pretty sure, but didn't want to talk to Tom until I knew. I had an old out-of-date pregnancy test in my drawer that said positive, but because it was an old test I wanted to be certain, so I got another test from the pharmacy and this too said positive. When I told Tom I had something to tell him, even though I hadn't mentioned it to him this time, he had already guessed that I was pregnant. I think having the late periods earlier in the year just confirmed for both of us what we wanted. We had always said we were really happy with just Lawrie, but that if we had another one that would be great too - we never put any pressure on it. And amazingly and not planned at all, the due date was exactly the same as Lawrie's - 4th July.
From the minute I found out I was pregnant, I had this confidence come over me from the beginning that it would all be fine and that my body was capable of and perfectly designed to grow a baby and give birth. When I went through it the first time I was so nervous and anxious and unsure about everything. This time round I was so chilled and relaxed and so full of confidence about the whole thing, that I wasn't worried or stressed about anything. Exactly the way it should be because the baby will pick up on your mood from the very beginning, so the fact that I was so calm and relaxed about the whole pregnancy and birth meant the baby was nice and calm too. We also live a very different life now compared to before Lawrie was born. We lived in a busy commuter town in England and both had full time jobs, big bills to pay and were surrounded by noise and bad energy all the time. Now we live in a very tiny village in Central Portugal, where we live in nature, surrounded by beauty with kind generous people and no stresses and worries. It's like a breath of fresh air and such a different way of being and pace of life.
I didn't do any scans, tests or go down the medical route at all because I knew I didn't want that this time. I didn't want to feel anxious about anything this time. I just wanted to stay positive, calm and relaxed throughout. This birth experience was going to rewrite our idea of birth and be completely different to Lawrie's birth, so we wanted it to be completely opposite to his birth; on our terms and how we wanted. Away from the hospital and just nice and chill at home. I also wanted to be really in tune with my body this time.
We did find a private midwife - a lovely Dutch man called Lars. At first I wasn't sure I wanted a male midwife, but after a phone call with him, I could tell that he was on the right vibes and just perfect for what we were looking for. The thing I liked the best was that he said it was my party, all decisions would be mine and he would only advise me and say his reasons, but never tell me to do anything, it would always be my decision. I loved that and knew that's what I wanted. When I saw him during my pregnancy we would have a nice long chat then he would just take my blood pressure, feel my bump and listen to the baby's heartbeat. That's it - minimal intervention and just enough to know me and baby were fine and that's all we needed.
So I was "overdue" according to the due date of 4th July - but I was so relaxed about it, knowing that the baby would come at the perfect time that it was meant to arrive.
You can't rush or force these things, the baby knows when it will arrive. I was getting lots of messages from people asking for news but I was so relaxed. Nothing was stressing me out this time. Everyone else seemed more anxious and surprised by my calmness about it all.
So, at 40 weeks and 6 days, on a super hot afternoon Tom and Lawrie went off to a river beach for a swim with some friends to cool off, but I wasn't up for going. I had this strong feeling to stay at home and when I was saying goodbye to them I burst into tears and felt really upset, but couldn't put my finger on what it was specifically - just this wave of emotion came over me. Almost like my subconscious not wanting them to be too far away from me and me knowing I had to stay at home.
I did a little prayer to the universe saying even though I've loved being pregnant and love my bump so much and feeling the baby move inside, I would also love to meet the baby soon. So would love for it not to come on Lawrie's birthday, any other day, but it would be great if they have their own separate days. After doing a lovely hypnobirthing meditation and relaxing on the bed, at about 16:45 I started getting cramp in my lower tummy, it felt like a mild period pain ache. I still had this pain going on when Tom and Lawrie got back, but it didn't stop me doing things, I was just aware it was there and knew this was the start of the baby wanting to arrive.
By 7ish mild contractions started, but not proper contractions as they were too short and not that intense. When Lawrie went to bed Tom asked him to come and tell me how amazing I was but instead he came out with: "have a good birth Mumma." Awwww - it was so cute that he just knew. I think he could tell I wasn't quite myself - he has a good sixth sense about these things. I had been bleeding lightly since about 6ish which was a good sign too.
By about 8ish they were turning into proper contractions - like an electric wave taking over my lower tummy and back. I breathed through them using the breathing techniques I had learnt in hypnobirthing which helped so much. I was completely focused on my breath and working with my body, not against it. I pushed into a wall or surface while breathing through them and that helped me work through the contractions. Tom gently massaged my back and held a hot water bottle on it while saying nice encouraging things which was lovely. He was a lot more in tune this time to know what to do and how to help. The contractions left my legs shaking like jelly and me feeling really sick and wobbly. All this with no painkillers, but just a few drops of CBD oil and some rescue remedy after dinner, I knew to just work with my body and be in tune with it. Even though the contractions were painful, by using my practised breathing exercises, I could easily work through them. I knew each one was one closer to meeting the baby, so they were a happy pain really and only temporary so I knew I could deal with it. And it seems funny but I liked experiencing the full power of them, because I felt so at one with my body and wanted to really experience birth properly this time.
The contractions kept coming stronger and closer together. By 11pm Tom had stopped timing them (they were about 45 seconds in length every few minutes) and had told Lars to start coming - he was an hour away. Just before midnight I had this feeling I really needed a poo - there was this big pressure in my bum. Walking was so difficult so Tom helped me waddle to the bathroom and I tried to go for a poo, but it was too intense and I yelled out a few weird noises. I stood up, took my pants off for the first time and Tom said: "that's the head coming". I couldn't believe it and looked down and saw and felt the head. Tom quickly set things up in the bathroom as I wasn't walking back to the front room, where we had everything set up with fairy lights and music. At that point I was unsure what to do and could see Tom was getting a little anxious and scared in his eyes as Lars hadn't arrived yet. It was at that moment that Lars arrived. The perfect moment. Tom went outside to let him in and then as I stood there in the bathroom, my waters broke in a big gush.
Tom came back with Lars at 23:58 with the dogs jumping all over him excited to see him. Tom told me to push, but I felt like I couldn't, it seemed too big to push and I had a few seconds of panic, maybe flashes of Lawrie birth, but Lars was there to help guide us. He didn't say or do much, but his calm lovely energy was perfect and just what we needed. I crouched down to make it a bit easier to push the baby out, gave a couple of pushes and the head was out. And with just the head out and the rest of its body still inside me, the baby was already making noises! It was so magical. Like he was giving me some encouragement; "I'm nearly here mummy". Lars later told us that it hardly ever happens, that it is super rare and it would take a lot of strength to do that because he had to use all his energy to make a noise while only half out and the rest of his body was all scrunched up. He said it shows what a strong baby this will be. Then I gave another push and the rest of the body just slipped out and Tom caught him and said: "it's a baby boy." And so the baby was born right there in the bathroom. Tom gave him to me and straight away I held him against my chest skin-to-skin.
Tom quickly ran off to set up the bed for me with pads. Less than 2 minutes after the baby was born I was walking from the bathroom to the bedroom with the baby snuggled against me. Then I just sat there in awe of how amazing the little baby was, who we called Wilfred Harry Shortland or Wilf or Wilfy for short. It seemed so surreal that after talking about a baby joining us soon and watching my body change during pregnancy, he was finally here with us in my arms. It was a bit uncomfy as I still had the placenta to come out and the umbilical cord coming out of me, so I couldn't get fully comfy or enjoy a really nice hug with him. But then about 45 mins later, while me and Tom were just chatting in bed and Lars was invisible in the next room, I felt another big pressure, gave a little push and out came the placenta just like that. Tom then clamped the cord and cut it with guidance from Lars, who then showed us the placenta. It was really interesting to see it - this was keeping Wilfy alive for the last 9 months. So magical how the body works. Tom put it in a container and then in the fridge to preserve it to be made into capsules, tincture and balm as there are so many benefits from it for mum and baby.
It was amazing that the second stage of labour was no more than about 15 minutes and the whole labour only took 4 hours. I knew this second birth would be quicker than my first, but this was so quick, I couldn't believe it. It was amazing how beautiful and magical it went. This is exactly how birth should be.
He was born at 00:04 on 11th July, in only 4 hours, at 41 weeks and just 2 days before Lawrie's birthday. It all happened perfectly and just like I knew it would, the baby came at the perfect time; he knew when he was going to arrive. He was also the first baby to be born in our little Portuguese village in the last 40 years.
Lars did a couple checks on the baby, weighed him (7lb 1oz) and said I needed a small stitch which he gave me the choice of doing it with or without a sedative. I figured I'd done all the rest of it without anything at all, so this bit would be fine too. It was painful, but over quickly. Wilfy latched onto my boob straight away. Then Lars left us to it and was only here for about 2 hours. I loved his calm, relaxed and positive presence, it was just perfect.
By now it was about 3am and even though I was tired, I couldn't sleep. I was on a high and amazed by how incredible Wilfy was and that he was here with us finally. So so proud of myself and how well I managed the birth. It just goes to show how different it can be if you are calm, relaxed and positive and in a good environment. Me and Tom absolutely smashed it this time and it was such a different birth experience compared to my first birth with Lawrie, which was a horrible traumatic hospital birth. This allowed us both to see the other side of birth and how beautiful it can really be.
Giving birth like this is truly magical - in your own environment where you feel safe and comfortable with no stresses or worries and on your own terms. This is exactly how birth should be, away from hospitals with sick people, bright lights and people telling you what to do. Birthing is beautiful when done properly and away from all the noise. It isn't a painful scary horrible thing like it's shown in the media, it's actually the greatest, most magical and natural experience you can have. I felt so empowered and proud of myself afterwards and couldn't wait to share the birth story with others so they can see how positive birth can be. But you can't just magic up a positive birth on the day and expect it all to be great. You have to put the work in from the beginning, have a positive mindset throughout the pregnancy and in preparation for the birth. It also was a big help that Tom was also positive, calm and relaxed throughout the pregnancy and the birth, so neither of us felt stressed or worried about anything and we knew we were both on the same page. If one of us had been anxious it would have made the other feel like that too and that could have had a big impact. But this time we were both so in tune and so relaxed with it all, because we knew it was possible to have a positive birth and we knew that's how we wanted it to be. We were mentally prepared for what to expect, we didn't have any noise around us telling us how to do it and we didn't have any stresses about going back to work.
Lawrie slept through the whole thing and came in in the morning and Tom said: "something magical happened last night; you're a brother." Lawrie was so excited and wanted to hold him straight away and said: "he is the cutest thing I have ever seen." Awwwww.
This is the year that Tom and I became parents of two boys, Lawrie became a big brother and we became a family of four. What an amazing year!
Thank you for taking the time to read my birth story, I love sharing it with people, it is so empowering and shows how positive and beautiful birth really can be. I know in my heart that anyone can experience a perfect birth like I did.