Working for an Investment Bank, I am frequently amused by the incredulous looks from colleagues when I tell them that both my daughters were born at home. "But, why when you could go to the Portland Hospital with the Bank’s private medical cover?" they ask.
With my first pregnancy a midwife friend persuaded me to consider a homebirth. My husband and I liked the idea but had some concerns as it was my first baby and we worried about access to medical facilities. However, after reading various articles and attending a local homebirth support group we were both convinced it was the best approach. From all the evidence we saw it was clear that homebirths tended to progress in a more straightforward way with very little need for medical intervention. Women were more relaxed and comfortable in their own homes and were much more in control of what was happening to them. In the unlikely event I needed more complex medical support given a normal pregnancy, I would be transferred to our nearby hospital with the midwives.
I did have a positive homebirth with the NHS with my first daughter so when I fell pregnant again I was certain I wanted to be at home. However, I wanted to be sure I could have a homebirth which is not guaranteed under the NHS and know the midwives attending. I also wanted to build a relationship with my midwives through the pregnancy at times which would be convenient to me and to be supported with great midwives experienced in water birth. A friend suggested thinking about Independent midwives.
I met with Elke shortly after my 12 week scan. At our first meeting I was certain I wanted to book with her. It was like meeting someone I knew well already. She is a warm, friendly, funny and caring person who gave me a huge amount of confidence with her experience and approach as a midwife. I also got to meet all of the midwives in the practice over the course of my pregnancy and felt very comfortable with all of them. Elke and Jacqui were always available for any concerns or queries I had (day and night!) and the frequency of their visits ensured I felt cared for and reassured all was well with the pregnancy.
I went in to labour 5 days late in the hottest July on record. I spoke to Elke in the morning to let her know I had started to have very mild contractions every 10 minutes but I was keen to give birth at night when my daughter was tucked up in bed and I would have no distractions. Elke laughed and said she would expect my call later that day. At about 5.30pm my contractions started coming every 5 minutes but were still mild. I made my daughter’s dinner, put her in the bath and she was off to bed by 7.30pm. I called Elke to let her know I was planning to have a bath and would call her when the contractions started to become more painful. I never made it into the bath as by 7.45pm the contractions started coming thick and fast and my husband was massaging my back with each one and then rushing to fill the pool. I called Elke who jumped straight in the car and was there within 10 minutes of my call, followed shortly by Jacqui.
By 8.30pm the pool was ready and the water was a great relief. Within minutes I needed to push. Elke was fantastic and talked me through the contractions, helping me with my breathing and when to push. She coached me to take it slowly and Jacqui, Elke and my husband gave me lots of encouragement that I was doing really well which really helped. As I was in the water I didn’t feel the need for pain relief. In a strange way it was good to be able to feel what was happening as I could tell how much progress I was making.
Our daughter Esther Clementine was born shortly after at 9.50pm. I reached down to bring her out of the water and she was beautiful and looked so peaceful. Unlike my first home birth experience with the NHS, nothing was rushed. We stayed in the pool until I was ready to come out so my husband and I could relax and enjoy meeting our new daughter. Once I was out of the pool Elke and Jacqui were fantastic in helping me through the third stage, making me comfortable and bringing me a cup of tea and toast while I rested on the sofa with Esther. By midnight they had me tucked up in bed with Esther and hugged me goodbye.
The next morning my older daughter Ava woke up and came to kiss and cuddle her new sister in our bedroom. Jacqui arrived in the morning to see how we were and over the next four weeks Elke and Jacqui visited regularly to give support and check Esther and I were well.
I couldn’t have wished for a better birth experience. I cannot recommend Elke and Jacqui more highly. They were truly fantastic and helped me realise the birth experience exactly as I had hoped. Esther is now 8 weeks old and is a very calm and contented baby and I have no doubt her positive entry in to the world has helped to shape her lovely nature.July 2006