My natural home birth wasn't lucky, I planned it that way.

Why I prepared myself to give birth in the way I wanted.

My natural home birth wasn't lucky, I planned it that way.
Deep in hypno-birthing state with my Mum holding my hand throughout.

When I mention that I had a natural uncomplicated home birth with my daughter people tell me I am "really lucky" to have had that experience. The more I've heard this the more irritating I've found it! I wasn't "lucky" I planned my birth and I researched everything I possibly could to ensure I was prepared. I knew what my body was doing and why it was doing it. I had a birth plan that was over three pages long, most of it was about the fact I wanted to be left alone as much as possible to do my thing and concentrate on the job at hand because I had complete faith in my body and my baby to do what needed to be done without intervention.

Throughout my pregnancy one of my biggest issues was the need for my body and my pregnancy to be medicalised and to have to tick the relevant boxes in order to be "allowed" to have a home birth. I learnt early on that I needed to self-advocate and also do my own research to ensure that I knew everything I needed to know.

When I was 15 weeks pregnant the book "Effective Birth Preparation" by Maggie Howell was recommended to me, I immediately ordered it and devoured all of the information in it - I learnt all about the animal instincts involved in birth, how really, the birth should be as natural and as uninterrupted as the baby's initial conception in order to allow the body to take over.

I did feel "lucky" that a close friend of mine had recently trained in hypnobirthing and offered to go through the training with us. The hypnobirthing scripts and recordings were absolutely paramount in ensuring I was in the right headspace and the knowledge gained from the sessions with Emma were perfect for backing up the information I'd researched on my own.

By week 33 when I "measured small" despite having had a 3D scan only a week earlier when we were reassured that baby was growing well and most definitely not "small", I had the confidence to say that I was more than happy to wait until my next appointment with the midwife before worrying about an extra scan. I was most definitely "allowed" to trust my instincts and whilst I knew baby was moving frequently and had a strong heartbeat I did not need to be checked, especially not over 7 weeks before my "expected" due date. The midwife herself admitted she was having a bad day (she was only a couple of weeks behind me in her pregnancy!) so really it could have been anything making the measurement seem "wrong".

Again the hypnobirthing scripts worked wonders when I sat chanting "head down, chin to chest, hands to heart, back to belly" and felt my baby move head down into my pelvis and remain there for the rest of the pregnancy.

My main learning was that I really didn't have any concerns, my body knew exactly what to do and I just needed to trust it.

Writing my birth plan was probably one of the hardest and most important things I've ever done. My biggest concern was being interrupted during labour and it causing any complications, the first note on my birth plan said "I am hypnobirthing, please respect this and only disturb me if completely necessary". It took the two weeks of my holiday (weeks 33-35) to finish the plan, when it was completed I slept like a log for several hours, I was exhausted but now relaxed in the knowledge I knew that I had written all of my wishes in a format that would be respected.

My midwives were *fantastic*, they followed my plan to the letter, one of them even commented afterwards that it was fascinating for them to see someone give birth without any pain relief, the gas and air was delivered as per protocol but it was taken away again without my even knowing it was there! The only "help" I had other than my mum's gentle supporting voice and my partner providing me drinks and keeping the pool at the right temperature was homeopathic remedies to support my progression through labour and delivering the placenta. The midwives were on the periphery and incredibly respectful, I was barely aware of their presence apart from the reassurance each time they measured the heart rate with the doppler that I had a "happy baby".

The primal ability of the birthing woman is something that has been reduced to a myth by medical professionals who seem to want to control one of the most natural processes known to man. It doesn't need to be this way! Whilst I understand that most women feel more confident in a hospital, that doesn't mean that they need to be interfered with, the birthing room should be as close in similarity to the room the baby was conceived in as possible - "what put the baby in there will get the baby out", not exactly that then the oxytocin and love that was in the air at the time. I was told about one birthing suite with 14 people in, not exactly a relaxing experience for the mother!

The only advice I give to any woman I meet who is pregnant (because let's face it, who wants advice?) is "drink lots of water and DO YOUR RESEARCH as nobody else will do it for you". The number of messages I've had after friends and relations have given birth thanking me for this small piece of advice has been uncountable - you can't rely on a doctor or midwife to do what is right for you and your baby unless you know what it is they are suggesting to do, my further advice would be to make sure your significant other or birth partner are also well informed so they can advocate for you.

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Lisa Sherratt
See all posts by Lisa Sherratt