Meet Emily Johnson and her big baby, Emmett, who arrived at their home birth.
‘This baby won’t be small,’ my midwife said at my antenatal appointment. ‘I’d say around the 9lb mark.’
I was 41 weeks pregnant. My bump was a couple of centimetres larger than average, but my scans showed nothing out of the ordinary, and my first son, William, had weighed a very normal 7lb 7oz.
Second time around, a home birth really appealed. My midwife, Sarah, backed me up 100 per cent and made me feel confident. I did my homework, learning positive visualisation techniques and listening to a relaxing MP3 every day. When my due date came and went without a sign of labour, I still felt positive.
Ten days past my due date, I went to run William a bath, but found there was no hot water. Our boiler had broken.
‘I bet I’ll go into labour tonight,’ I joked to Kevin, thinking of the empty birthing pool in our dining room.
Sure enough, at 2am, I was woken by an ache in the bottom of my bump. I lay in silence, breathing through each ache and grabbing Kevin’s hand. He stayed asleep, even when at 4am I stood up to go to the loo and felt a trickle of fluid down my legs: my waters were breaking.
When he finally woke up, Kevin texted his parents to let them know what was happening, while I breathed through each contraction. He also phoned the utility company to call out an emergency engineer, but apologetically handed me the phone – the account was in my name, so I had to request the repair. I just about managed a short conversation!
By 8am, the contractions were getting more intense and were every 10 minutes. I texted Sarah to let her know she’d need to come over soon.
At 9.30am I heard my in-laws’ voices downstairs as they arrived to collect William. I suddenly felt the need for quiet, and once the house was empty it was great to be able to focus on myself.
I went downstairs and longed to get into the birthing pool. But with no sign of the engineer, how would we get hot water?
Kevin knocked on our neighbours’ door and explained our predicament. Luckily, the pool I’d hired came with an extra-long hose, and Kevin managed to connect it from the pool, out of the back door, over the fence, and on to the neighbours’ tap. It worked perfectly! ‘Thanks, that’s enough now!’ he called, once the pool had filled up. I giggled between contractions.
Just then, Sarah arrived. As I lowered myself into the pool, the warm water was soothing.
The next couple of hours passed by in a blur. I retreated into my own space, aware of Kevin and Sarah in the room, and reassured by their presence.
They chatted quietly, topping up the pool with warm water from the kettle. Another midwife arrived later that morning, and the boiler repair man came too. But I was in the zone and didn’t take any notice.
At about 11am, two incredibly intense contractions gripped my bump and I visualised standing on a beach, waves rising and subsiding during my contractions. Fleetingly, my calm was shattered and
I fretted over how I was going to cope.
‘Don’t worry, just go with it,’ Sarah told me.
I felt a urge to bear down and I put all my energy into pushing. I placed my hands down and felt the baby’s head, but after a while it seemed to pop back up.
Sarah suggested I went to the loo. Getting up the stairs, supported by Kevin, was a 15-minute ordeal, involving frequent stops, but as I sat on the loo, I suddenly felt the baby’s head dropping down again. It had done the trick and we shuffled to the bedroom, passing the boiler engineer on his way out!
I lay back and followed my body’s instructions about when to push. It seemed to take ages, but just as we were discussing whether we needed to change plans, I felt an enormous pressure. Sarah dropped to her knees and gently guided the head out.
I felt a massive release of pressure as the body quickly slithered out. It was such a relief.
Sarah and the other midwife checked our baby boy, wrapped him in Kevin’s fluffy dressing gown and gave him to me for a cuddle.
Gazing at his face, I felt a rush of love. He breastfed straight away, non-stop for the next 45 minutes. As we waited for him to finish, so he could be weighed, I wondered about his size.
‘Do you think he’s 9lb?’ I asked. The midwives guessed 10lb, but as they placed him on the scales, they smiled.
“He’s just over 11lb!’ Sarah said. I could hardly believe it – no wonder pushing had taken so long!
I’m so proud of myself for giving birth to such a big baby without any intervention.
Emmett’s birth felt amazing and special, and I’m convinced it went so smoothly because I stayed relaxed and in my own environment. If I can deliver an 11lb baby at home with a broken boiler, I feel I can do anything!
Three things I’d tell my friends if you’re having a home birth
- Buy babygros in a range of sizes, just in case. We only had newborn clothes and they were far too small for our big boy.
- My midwife referred me to One to One Midwives (onetoonemidwives.org), a free service that ensures you have one midwife caring for you throughout your pregnancy. Ask your midwife
- if there is a similar scheme in your area.
- Even if you want a home birth, still pack a hospital bag. I had my just-in-case items in an easy-to-carry box – somehow that didn’t make me think of the hospital, which helped me feel positive.