Nicola Nicholson went against her consultant’s advice and chose an independent midwife for her second child.
‘I see no reason for you to not have a successful natural birth after a caeserean section, but as you are high risk, you will need to be on the labour ward for continuous monitoring.’
These are the words of my consultant, which felt strangely contradictory. I was in early pregnancy with my second child, following a pretty harrowing experience with my first baby, which ended in an emergency caeserean section. A heated exchange of words followed, as I explained that being forced to lie back strapped to machines would in no way allow me to birth my baby naturally. I was told in no uncertain terms that to do anything other than this would put my life and that of my baby at risk.
The thought of this filled me with dread, so I began to do my own research. The more I thought about it the more I knew that hospital was the last place in the world I wanted to be.
So I asked a good friend who is a midwife, whether she thought I would be crazy to have my baby at home. She explained the risks to me in terms of probabilities and this enabled my husband Charlie and I to make what we felt was quite an easy decision. We felt the benefits of being at home far outweighed any undue risks.
We decided to pay an independent midwife to look after us during the remainder of my pregnancy and the birth. We wanted to know that the person present on the day would be experienced in home birth and would not rush us into hospital unless there really was a genuine need. This turned out to be the best investment we could have made.
Our midwife, Meg, had decades of experience in natural births, understood all the risks and totally trusted in her own abilities and those of the birthing mother to be able to do it just as nature intended. She was an incredible support, especially when I had the hospital pressuring me to go in for an induction because my baby was ‘overdue’. Meg kept saying if I wanted to birth my baby naturally, I needed to leave it alone. Do nothing, but chill out, it will come when it is ready.
I spent a lot of my pregnancy visualising what my perfect birth would be, and in the end , it was exactly that! My waters broke around 11.30pm so Charlie called the midwife and our doula and began filling the birthing pool. We had decided to have a doula for our home birth to provide extra support to him and Meg, and this also proved to be a very worthwhile investment.
Meg arrived soon after, and observed me quietly and un-intrusively. There were no internal examinations, just a few whispered questions and then she quietly told me that I could get into the pool.
What a wonderful relief warm water is! I was in my kitchen, with a few candles and some soft music playing, with Meg, Charlie and Louise working in whispers around me. I didn’t hear all the exchanges that occurred, I was in my own zone, completely surrendered to the moment. Not once did I ever allow myself to think anything other than ‘I can do this’ and I never felt out of control or overwhelmed.
Our beautiful baby girl, Isabelle Rose, was born just after 4.30am, peacefully in the pool. An hour later, her older brother Ben trotted downstairs, immediately noticed some chocolate biscuits by the fireplace and didn’t even realise that he had a new sister!
What a stark contrast to our first birth experience, which ended up being filled with bright lights, pain and fear. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but so is the power of a woman’s body. Given the right circumstances and being allowed to do what we all instinctively know, we call all birth like goddesses. Trust your instincts, we’ve being doing this for millennia.