Laura Paine, 37, an HR manager, lives in Derby, with husband Steve and daughters Ruby, 22 months, and Cara, four weeks.
My second pregnancy was proving to be very different from my first. I had mild pre-eclampsia so was being monitored, and 10 days before I was due, I spent the day in hospital having my blood pressure and the baby’s activity checked. I had wanted to give birth at home in a birthing pool, with Steve and my sister Debbie, a midwife, with me, but after my check-up I began to accept this might not be possible, as the consultant said my body wasn’t ready for the baby to be born yet. I was sent home, but told induction was looking likely.
That night I started to feel a slight tightening across my bump, which I just assumed was Braxton Hicks as I still had a week and a half to go. I felt more tightening sensations the next day, and I was so tired I had a long sleep that afternoon. Steve went to watch our local team, Derby, in the football play-off. I phoned my sister who suggested I take a bath to help me relax. I was still pretty calm. I’d completed a hypnobirthing course before my first daughter Ruby was born and had the material out again to use this time too. It was really helping me focus and relax.
When Steve arrived home at 8.15pm he shouted up to ask where I was. ‘I’m in the bath, managing my fake contractions,’ I replied. I still didn’t believe I was in labour. The sensations weren’t painful, they were more like period pains and I could talk through them, so I just assumed it was my body starting to get ready for the birth. I felt happy, as I thought I still might go into labour spontaneously without any medical intervention, which was what I really wanted.
I told Steve to get himself some dinner, and once I’d climbed out of the bath and put my underwear on I suddenly felt a much stronger contraction. ‘You need to come upstairs and help me, I think this might be real,’ I called. By the time Steve arrived upstairs I was stood at the end of the bed, when another contraction came over me. He asked if I needed to go to hospital, but there just wasn’t time.
‘I think I’m going to have to push,’ I told him. He urged me not to yet, but as I put my hand between my legs I could feel the baby’s head. I don’t think it was until that moment that I really believed the baby was actually coming. ‘You’re going to have to come here and catch the baby,’ I said. Then another almighty contraction came over me, my waters broke and Cara dropped into Steve’s hands.
It all happened so quickly, there really wasn’t any time to panic or get anything ready. My labour had lasted about 10 minutes from start to finish, a far cry from Ruby, whose labour lasted 36 hours! Unsure of what to do next, Steve passed the baby - who was still attached to the cord - through my legs, so I could hold her and we FaceTimed my sister to get her advice.
She was very positive, congratulating us on our new arrival and advised us to call an ambulance. She then said she’d drive over from Cambridge – about two hours away – immediately. I remember Steve asking if he should dial 111 but she told us we really needed to call 999.
It was all just so surreal, I’d been trying to get my head around the idea that I would probably have to be induced, and then all of a sudden there I was holding my baby in my arms. But I felt absolutely fantastic. I didn’t even feel like I’d gone through labour – there was no pain, no tearing or grazing, I wasn’t even tired as I’d had a long sleep earlier that day and it had all just happened so fast.
The 999 operator talked Steve through what he needed to do to help us, and the paramedics arrived at our house within five minutes. They called the midwife team, who were with us less than an hour later. We managed to stay pretty calm – there just wasn’t time to panic. Thankfully, Ruby stayed asleep in her bedroom while most of the commotion was going on. She did wake up at around 11.30pm, so Steve and my sister took it in turns to sit with her downstairs until she was ready to go back to sleep. We didn’t tell her the baby was here until the next morning. We had planned that a friend would look after her if I had to go into hospital, but in reality it all happened how I’d hoped it would, with us all at home together.
The paramedics carried out their checks and stayed with us until 1am, and the midwives left an hour later. Filling in the paperwork was a little tricky as we didn’t know the exact time Cara was born – we originally said 9.10pm but now we think it was a few minutes earlier. There wasn’t any time to take any early pictures either, as we were focusing on everything else that had to be done – such as trying increase Cara’s temperature as she was a little cold – although we made up for it by taking plenty the next day.
Having Cara at home was the most wonderful, amazing experience, even though it felt like we kind of did everything in reverse. Introducing Ruby to her at home was a really special moment – we’ve got a lovely little video of her saying ‘baby, baby!’ It just felt so nice that I hadn’t gone off to hospital and left her.
Cara’s birth was so different to Ruby’s; it was pain-free and so quick, it still feels unreal that it all happened so fast, but it was absolutely wonderful to have the home birth I wanted, even if it was a complete surprise!
Three things I’d tell my friends
- Try a hypnobirthing preparation course – it enabled me to have two completely different, but equally wonderful, births and helped me to stay calm and not panic.
- Even if you’re planning a home birth, have a hospital bag ready. It was great having everything to hand, all in one place.
- If your baby is delivered unexpectedly at home, call 999 so you can get help as soon as possible.
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