Rebecca's home water birth with a private midwife

Sep 21, 2021

This is the beautiful birth story Rebecca's baby girl, Giselle. Rebecca birthed her baby at home in a water birth with the support of Wollongong midwife Rachele Meredith of With Woman Midwifery. Rebecca's two older kids are teenagers and were both born in the hospital system, so Rebecca is able to compare her different experiences. This is a beautiful, family-centred birth, and the loving teamwork between Rebecca and her husband George is just gorgeous. I know you're going to love it.

Over to Rebecca...

A brief background into Giselle’s birth story

I’m a mum to two teens. The world was at the height of COVID-19 when we found out I was pregnant. Surprised to say the very least! My youngest was 13 years old! As shocked as we were, we couldn’t be more excited about our new addition. It was always meant to be! We had some big decisions to make shortly after we had our confirmation tests. We had both our older kids through the private hospital system but given we were “done” having babies, we had no private health insurance for obstetrics. We looked at the public system and with the health climate the way it was, we didn’t want to be in a position where I had the baby and my husband would be asked to leave the hospital shortly after and have limited visits due to COVID restrictions. It’s not something I would’ve coped with at all so our research into alternative options brought us to home birth!

We hired a private midwife Rachele Meredith, and the rest is history! Best decision we EVER made and if I could go back and do my first two pregnancies and deliveries the same way I would!

There’s just something so magical about bringing life into the world in the family home. It was special, sacred almost, AND most importantly, I could have whoever I wanted attend the birth because it was at our home. This was a major deal-breaker for us. Home birth gave us the freedom to make so many decisions that we probably couldn’t have if we went to hospital. I’ll be forever grateful for this opportunity.

The continuity of care has made a huge difference in the entire experience. Our midwife has become another member of the family. At each visit if our kids were home they were welcomed into the chats and check ups and free to ask questions. They even got their own lesson on the birthing part of the experience with a dolly and a pelvis model to go with it! Rachele really embraced and respected our decisions and advised us where she felt necessary. It was so nice not to feel judged at any point in time.

The lead up to Giselle’s birth

I finished up at work Thursday 11 February with 4.5 weeks until my due date of 16 March. Hindsight is an incredible thing...I couldn’t be more grateful for that time I had off. When I think back now, I wonder how I ever fit work in! I was so busy! I had plenty to do but also had plenty of opportunities to do nothing at all if that’s what I chose.

In those 4.5 weeks I busied myself with filling my freezer with wholesome home cooked meals, washing baby clothes and airing out baby furniture,having my windows cleaned, organising postpartum care such as acupuncture and massage, did lots of reading and did lots of running around to appointments for my eldest daughter who we found out has a mild fracture in her back (oh the timing!).

I was annoyed at the weather for not accommodating my plans to do school drop offs and head straight to the beach for a walk or better still, slip into the cool salty water to see out the last few weeks of summer. I did get a few good days but for those who know me well enough, it needs to be pretty damn hot before I’ll even put my feet in the water!

Everything for me at this point was going really well (except for my daughters health concerns); I was feeling well physically and mentally albeit how very little sleep I was getting the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I was quite heavy towards the end but in awe of what my body had done to date. I was keen as beans to meet my baby but aware of the privilege of feeling her flutters inside me and how much I would miss that feeling.

Sleeping was an effort... or should I say... moving in bed was a monumental effort! I had no problem sleeping, LOL! My bed had become a pillow fort which was literally built up around me to support my back and belly. Somewhere in there my husband managed to find a spot to lay his body to sleep! I promised it would all be over soon and he’d have the bed back soon enough.

A week out of my due date I made up my baby’s wipes, a baby bum cream, (do your research on the amount of toxic crap there is in the store bought wipes and sudo type ointments! Yikes!), haemorrhoid spray, peri spray, nipple balm (ditch the old wool fat or lansinoh! The stuff I made is epic and so nourishing for the skin and in fact can be used for anything skin! I’ll share the recipe soon), cord stump roller and postpartum hair loss spray. At this stage all that was left to do was put the cot together, set up the baby change table, install the car seat and for me to learn how to use the beautiful pram we were handed down from my generous sister in law.

A week out, I have a admit I was irritable with everyone and every little thing. I remember waking up shitty a few days before due date and just being shitty all day. I didn’t want to speak to anyone and was quite happy in my own company. Still no signs of labour though!

The Sunday before Giselle was born, we were invited to celebrate my mother in law’s birthday up in Sydney. I thought it’d be much smarter if I didn’t venture too far from home a few days before my due date just in case things started to happen, so George and the kids went up and I spent the day in self-care mode. I washed my hair, had a nice long hot bath and facial while I diffused clary sage (known to set off labour and help contractions be more effective and efficient). I then spent the rest of the day visiting my mum who was caring for my sister's kids. Still no signs of labour at this stage... just exhausted by the weight I was carrying.

I saw George and the kids home that evening and had a simple dinner with them before turning in for an early night. Little did I know, this was the last day and night I would ever feel my beautiful baby’s movements within my womb, a feeling us women are so blessed to know and one I will never ever take for granted! An experience I have missed every day since my beautiful girl came to us earth-side even though now I get to hold her and smooch her in the flesh! But anyone who has carried a baby will know what I mean.

Giselle's birth

I woke at 1:20 am Monday 15 March 2021 with epic heartburn! For the two nights before I’d slept sitting up to help with the discomfort and got cocky on Sunday night and slept laying flat. Serves me right for thinking I was over the heartburn!

I went to the bathroom and felt a little wet. Wasn’t sure if it was my waters that had broken or wee. I had no other symptoms.

I downed a double dose of some Quick-eze lozenges and came back to bed. By then I realized I was getting some regular contractions. I couldn’t fall into a deep sleep so I started recording the length of contractions and time between each one from 2:11 am. Excitement filled me and helped me get through those first few hours! I was about to meet my baby!

I stayed in bed for the majority of the early morning hours except for the frequent toilet trips, just breathing through the contractions and talking to my baby, encouraging my baby to be brave and to be kind to mamma during this process. Manifesting that really worked because looking back, it was painful and intense but uncomplicated and the sweetest arrival earth-side.

George woke to my heavy breathing just before 4:30 am and held my hand through each contraction for a long while. At this stage I was still comfortable being in bed propped up on a bazillion pillows. I reached out to my midwife Rachele at 4:26 am and notified her that I was in the early stages of labour and contractions were 5-8 minutes apart and lasting 50 seconds to 1.5 minutes long.

 

I also messaged my mum and sister around the same time to let them know it was “game day!” My poor Mum had my sister’s kids overnight and didn’t see the messages until about 7:30 am and was freaking out she’d missed something. My sister on the other hand who was about 32 weeks pregnant herself at the time was on-call. Her phone was by her bedside on loud ready for the message like this!

I went between the toilet (can’t get over how many toilet trips I made!) and the bed for what felt like ages. On one of those toilet trips I lost my mucus plug, it was 5:50 am and contractions were pretty intense and 2 minutes apart. I messaged Rachele again to update her with that information. I remember at one stage desperately wanting to get into the shower to feel the warm water on my back and on my tummy but for some reason just didn’t quite get there for a while. 

My sister arrived ahead of both midwives just after 6 am, then Rachele, then my second midwife Kira Waetford. My sister arrived with coffee and phone in hand ready for action. Rachele quietly met me in my bedroom mid-way through a contraction where she sat and observed until I was ready to chat.

When Kira arrived I was in the lounge room on my ball leaning over the lounge, she gently squeezed my shoulder and said a very quiet hello. At this stage, I couldn’t have been more comfortable with the people in my space. I was at peace, feeling confident, pretty tired but satisfied that my birthing team was there for me.

My house was a quiet kind of busy. The midwives were busy with their paperwork, setting up the birthing pool and monitoring me, my kids were getting themselves ready for school (they had the choice to stay or leave for the birth and they both opted to go), my sister was discreetly following me around taking photos and videos (of which I will be forever grateful because I couldn’t afford to pay a professional) and George was close by every step of the way from the start. I don’t think he ever left my side!

I felt like the contractions were concentrated in one main spot, the crease of my upper right leg and lower tummy on the same side. The pressure in my bum the whole time was something else! I don’t ever remember feeling the intensity in my bum with my other two labours and I remember yelling out at one stage in desperation through a contraction, “Ow, my bum!” to which Rachele replied it’s the pressure of the baby’s head and the way it’s coming down. Everything was the way it should be.

I felt the presence of a full house around me but never felt uncomfortable at any point. I just went about what felt good and right to me through every contraction. George never left my side. The touch of his warm hands on my back, the reassuring shoulder squeeze, the strong body to lean up on in the rest period of contractions, the encouraging eye gaze... he truly is my hero and I couldn’t have asked for a better birthing partner.

 I was in the shower for about 40 minutes before I felt the urge to push. When I called out that I wanted to push both midwives ran over and encouraged me to get in the birthing pool. The feel of the warm water engulfing my lower half was incredibly soothing. The contractions were so close together I hardly got the chance to catch my breath.

I felt myself motor boating with my mouth into the water to try and relax my jawline through the contractions and help keep my uterus from tensing up.  The last thing I wanted was for the whole process to start slowing down after we’d come so far.

I kept saying to myself “floppy face, floppy fanny” and for those of you who have never heard of this, follow @thenakeddoula! The other analogy was "keep calm, floppy arm". Tense arm = intense contractions, floppy arm = “easier” contractions. Also mindfully having my palms open and facing upwards during contractions helped with the relaxation of the lower half of the body. Again, follow The Naked Doula for more information. Our bodies are incredible!

Whilst in the birthing pool, I asked Rachele about the purple line in the top of my bum crack that would help to identify how far dilated I was. Using this method avoids having to have internal examinations which was perfectly ideal for me as I really wanted the least amount of intervention as was safely manageable. She didn’t give much away at all. She said, "If I tell you the baby will be here in 5 minutes and it’s not you’ll get cranky". So I had to be satisfied with the fact that I was on track.

At about 8:30 am I was spent and felt Iike I had nothing left in the tank to give. I’d been going since just after 1 am (around 7 hours) and I felt like I couldn’t go any further. I told George that I was done and couldn’t continue. When I watch back the footage, everyone gave a chuckle when I announced I was done because reality is I couldn’t be done til my baby was out. But at that stage I wasn’t sure how I wanted my midwife or anyone in the room to react or what I expected them to do about my decision to quit then and there, LOL. Also watching back I was so, so close meeting my baby ( she was literally about 8 minutes away!) but I remember my despair and desperation for it all to be over. I was absolutely spent.

On top of this, I felt like everything had come to a standstill as my contractions seemed to stop and that was the last thing we wanted. Little did I know it was my body ramping up for the last big effort. At this point Rachele suggested I get out of the pool and start walking around. 

As I was about to get out I got another contraction and got back down on all fours. I felt the strongest urge to push. The next contraction was a strong one which broke my waters (a sensation that totally freaked me out!). The best way to explain it was like I’d literally just expelled a baby! The pressure and the intense rush of the breaking waters was like nothing I’d ever experienced before.

With both previous labours my waters were broken for me and all I felt was a trickle of water. This time was an almighty pop and gush which shuddered my entire lower half under water and with it came baby’s head! I won’t lie, I was pretty tripped out at this stage and pretty overwhelmed by what was happening, but Rachele’s calm voice guided the very swift next few moments. She gently told me that baby’s head was out and that with the next contraction I’d need to push the rest of baby out.

That next contraction caught me by surprise because the next moment Rachele was encouraging me to reach down between my legs under the water and grab my baby.

She was earth-side and I was ecstatic! I did it! So many emotions took over me - euphoria was the strongest! Shock that I had just accomplished that feat came close second!

I peered down in my elation to discover the little gift I had carried for 39 + 6 days was indeed the sweetest little girl in the whole wide world!

All along I was convinced I was having a boy so this was just the most beautiful surprise! Baby Giselle Jamila Georges had graced us with her presence earth-side at 8:38 am on Monday 15 March 2021. She weighed a healthy 3820g or 8lbs 7oz and was 52cm long. She was a gorgeous pink colour and is absolutely divine. She most certainly is a Georges babe, and she looks like her big sister Jasmin. I’ve never felt so complete in all my life.

This one was a special one, and three and half weeks later I thank God every day for sending her to us. We are so blessed.

As I mentioned earlier, both kids went to school but didn’t stay there long. Noah wanted to come home because he was “cold” (lamest excuse ever, lol, but I was there for it and he could have that one today... after all he wanted to meet his little sister just as much as we did!) and Jasmin just wanted to come home once she knew her little sister was born. Mum picked up Noah and George picked up Jasmin.

George and Nat were an incredible cheer squad and support team! So competent, so present, so encouraging. At 32 weeks pregnant my beautiful sister sacrificed sleep and comfort to come and be with me and document Giselle’s arrival. This opportunity I never would’ve had if I had opted for a hospital birth and this opportunity is one I never had with my older two kids as it was not much of a “thing” back in the day! I can never repay her for what she captured and I’ll be forever grateful for it!

And to my husband of 17 and half years, his unwavering support and encouragement and his level of commitment and competence during the entire 40 weeks of pregnancy and the labour day and now 3.5 weeks of life with our baby girl has been nothing short of incredible!

He’s been so selfless, meeting all of my needs so I can have the best postpartum period possible and running our household to the best of his ability. He’s been up at all hours with me settling the baby and doing nappy changes alongside me with no complaints about how tired he is. He honestly is one of a kind and I’m am so very blessed to have him in my life. The bond he has built with Giselle is just so beautiful, something he didn’t really get a chance to do with our older kids because he went back to work so soon. Giselle looks for him when she hears his voice and their little chats over the nappy change table are just the sweetest thing to watch.

Us girls will surely miss him when he goes back to work next week!

Final thoughts

For those of you who are contemplating home birth I say DO IT! Where there are no health risks or safety concerns, don’t hesitate! Try contacting a few different midwives and reach out to other mums who have experienced this and ask questions!

It’s been the best experience ever and I’m so glad we did it this way. If I could go back and do the same with my older two kids I definitely would. I didn’t have terrible hospital birth experiences but there’s many many things I would’ve changed if I knew it was within my rights to ask. Here are some of those things: delayed cord clamping, natural rupture of the waters, no planned epidural with my second birth due to a bladder prolapse, water birth, holding my baby skin to skin immediately after birth rather than having my baby whisked away immediately to be cleaned and weighed etc and the continuity of care postpartum.

My midwife came to see us every day for the first week and then a few times a week after that and will continue to see us until Giselle is 6 weeks old. It’s been wonderful having someone to debrief with and bounce questions off and call on when the dreaded mastitis got me good on Easter Day!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about Giselle’s birth story and my experience with home birthing. If there is anyone who has questions about anything please don’t hesitate to ask. I’d be happy to help where I can.

Rebecca.

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