Emily and Mark

I had my first son in the USA and it doesn’t really get much more medicalised than that. Epidural, lying on your back, hooked up tomonitors with two midwives and a doctor. They also get you in forchecks most weeks and give you blood and urine tests throughoutyour pregnancy. I knew that the NHS simply couldn’t do as muchas my previous care (especially during a global pandemic) so I decided to go private.

I spoke to several different ladies but we just didn’t seem to click. Sarah, however, was different. She completely got what I was looking for and understood my concerns. Sarah managed to do almost all of our appointments face to face and even threw in some extra meetings when I was panicking about whatever I was panicking about. She was always available on Whatsapp and put up with whatever weird questions (and pictures, may I add) that I would send her.

Over the course of my pregnancy, I listened to a lot of audiobooks about birth and started to seriously consider a home birth. Sarah talked me through the pro’s and con’s and I eventually decided that it was right for me.

Jump forward to the end of my pregnancy and I started to get contractions (later to be braxton hicks!) a couple of weeks before I finally had my baby. A pattern started to form on most days at various times: I would start to feel very mild contractions and would get up my Freya app to time them. Sure enough, they’d be consistently 30 minutes apart, then 25… 20…. then I’d be busying around and realise that they’d stopped altogether. This would most often happen in the evenings; so I’d think ‘better get some sleep while I can!’ Only to wake up in the morning and still no baby.

At 41 weeks, I started to get nervous. I knew what an induction entailed and it didn’t sound fun. I really wanted to have my baby at home and, following additional ultrasounds, I knew that going beyond 42 weeks would not have been safe. With my hospital induction looming, Sarah suggested acupuncture and at that point I thought I’ll try anything! I went for a session and on the way home (whilst driving, may I add…!) I had one of the strongest contractions that I’d had so far. Over the course of the evening they became stronger, but I could still talk and move around.

I took myself off for an early night with peanut butter and marmite toast and assumed this would be another false alarm. Sarah came out to see me, but we agreed it was still mild and irregular so she would go home and come back if I needed her.

I woke up around midnight feeling some quite strong contractions. I tried lying on the floor, on all fours and rocking, before settling on leaning over my bathroom sink and mooing – whatever works, eh? At around 3am, I told my husband to call Sarah as I thought things were quite intense and I would really appreciate some gas and air. I was timing my contractions and although they were quite close together (around 7 minutes) they were very irregular: 2 minutes, 10 minutes, 7 minutes…. and throughout my labour then never fell into a regular pattern. I felt like whatever position I was in I would be locked in for the duration of the contraction; as if my hips had turned to metal.

Sarah and her birthing partner, Liz, arrived around 4am. I had told her that I didn’t want any internal inspections so she just watched and listened and relied on her experience to judge what stage I was at. At around 5.30am Sarah suggested that an internal examination might be helpful, but that I had every right to say no; however, I knew it would be prudent at this point and agreed. I found that kneeling at the side of the bed was most comfortable by now and Sarah said that the baby was on his way down. After so many false starts, I still thought Sarah would tell me at any moment that my contractions had stopped and it was time for bed.

I knew that the harder I pushed, the quicker it would be over, so I started the pushing portion of the process. I still had my pants on at this point and yelled ‘CUT THEM OFF!’ – there was no way I was negotiating those things off! Liz had brought a birthing stool, which was just about the best thing ever invented. Quite clearly, the birthing stool was the perfect position for me as after barely 15 minutes of pushing, my little boy appeared at 6am, 41 weeks and 5 days. Despite being almost a month later than his big brother, he weighed almost the same at a tiny 6lbs 15oz.

I was absolutely exhausted and after being helped on the bed I fainted. After coming around, I was fed m&s chocolate rounds biscuits and tea before digging into some toast and changing into some fresh clothes. My baby and I snuggled in bed for ages before it was time to put him to sleep in the cot next to my bed.

Sarah and Liz cleaned up everything and you would never have known what on earth went on last night. Any qualms or concerns that I may have had about a home birth were completely out the window. Talking to many women about their birthing experiences, so many women say ‘never again’ or tell me horror stories about their hospital births; but women seem to only ever have positive birth stories following a home birth.

I would recommend Sarah wholeheartedly in a heartbeat. Her knowledge, experience and advice put me at ease and whilst she was the first to tell me I was overreacting, she also knew when it was time to get a second opinion. Should I ever have a third (I hope my husband isn’t reading!) Sarah and Liz would be integral to my journey and, although it’s a cliche, I really couldn’t have done it without them.