Having a home birth can be an amazing and unique experience – with the right help – as this mum discovered
Lottie Daley, 31, a hypnobirthing expert, lives in East London with Mia, two, and Lily Luisa, 12 weeks
‘I had a long, difficult birth in hospital with my first baby, and felt I’d lost control of my body. When I got pregnant again, I did a hypnobirthing course, which helped me realise that labour didn’t need to be medicalised. This time, I wanted a calm “freebirth” at home, with no midwives, just a doula – a woman who supports you through your labour – and Miles, now my ex partner.
'A sharp, powerful cramp in my stomach woke me up'
‘One evening, two days after my due date, I was in bed when a sharp, powerful cramp in my stomach woke me up. I knew this was the real thing.
The strong contractions – or surges as we say in hypnobirthing – were coming regularly every few minutes. Feeling calm and in control, I asked Miles to rub my back as I listened to my hypnobirthing CD. By the morning, they had eased off.
With Mia around, I was in “mum mode”, so we took her to a playgroup across the road – I kept nipping outside and breathing deeply whenever I felt a surge. Back at the house, Miles filled the birthing pool, and Mia and I got into the warm water, playing games and watching Peppa Pig all afternoon. By now, the surges had become more intense, but I was so aware of Mia being around, that I couldn’t let go enough to allow myself to get in the right mindset, which was frustrating.
By tea time, the surges had intensified and become more frequent so I called my doula, Sam. I cried when she arrived, not out of fear, but because I was happy to see another woman. After I tucked Mia into bed at 6.30pm, two enormous contractions swept across my bump. I paced downstairs, bending over the sofa to ease the pressure in my stomach.
It was hard work, and painful, but the relaxing music and candlelight helped to create the right atmosphere. I also imagined a lily opening as I slowly breathed deeply, which helped me feel in control of the sensations.
'I begged to be taken to hospital for drugs'
But at 9.30pm, my mood changed suddenly. “I can’t do this,” I shouted. Ignoring Sam’s reassurances that it was just the “transition” stage, and that I was almost there, I begged to be taken to hospital for drugs. The pain had just suddenly become incredible.
Panicking, Miles called the midwives. Meanwhile, Sam suggested I reach down to touch the baby’s head. As I felt the soft hair between my legs, peace flooded my body.
In the pool, I reminded myself to keep up my slow breathing, imagining raindrops dripping down a window, which helped me to focus on something other than the sensation of my baby’s head emerging. It felt like I’d been transported to another world.
Allowing my body to take over, I started pushing, and all the pain disappeared. I hardly registered the midwives when they arrived. Eventually, I looked up and asked them if they wanted to examine me. “No, we trust you,” they replied.
A few minutes later, my baby’s head emerged under the water. My relaxation was so deep, I didn’t even fully register when the body came out. “Lottie, pick up your baby,” I heard a voice say. Looking down, I gasped to see a perfect girl floating in the water. Scooping her up, I felt a rush of love. It was such an empowering moment – I felt like a goddess.
Afterwards, the midwives helped us into bed. Lily Luisa was big at 9lb 5oz, and I had a second degree tear. But I decided against stitches, and the wound healed quickly afterwards. I’m sure that being in my own environment, combined with hypnobirthing, helped me to achieve my amazing home birth.’
What I’d Tell My Friends
Read The Birthkeepers by Veronika Robinson (£11.99, Starflower Press).
It strips birth back to something natural and primal that women have been doing forever.
See an independent midwife. I got advice from a local one and her honesty gave me the confidence to make the right decisions for my labour and birth. (independent midwives.org.uk)
Join a local NCT home birth group. Mine was a huge source of helpful, unbiased information. For info, visit nct.org.uk.