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Getting in the pool felt amazing...

Our pool was delivered at 37 weeks and the whole process was really straightforward - I was at work and it was amazing to come home to a pool that was warm and sat there waiting for me to have a test run. Over the next 3 and a half weeks I used the pool 2-3 times a week for relaxing and helping with my SPD as I got bigger and bigger.

At 40+5 weeks pregnant, my contractions started at about 6am and quite quickly settled down to a regular pattern of one contraction about every 5 - 6 mins. I strapped on the TENS machine and got on with the day sending Peter and our son Robert off to Robert's swimming lesson so that I could relax. The contractions continued at much the same regularity for the rest of the day until about 16:00 - I had prepped the pool, but had decided that after a couple of false alarms in the previous week, I would wait for labour to become more established before I 'dived' in .

I contacted the community midwife at about 16:00 before the boys got back from swimming as I felt as though I should tell someone about my contractions and in the space between our initial conversation and the time it took her to pack her car (about 20 mins) the contractions had started to get closer together and I was telephoning our friend to come and help with putting Robert to bed at his normal time. Catherine our midwife arrived at about 17:00, quickly examined me and confirmed that I was 5cms dilated and I practically ripped the TENS off and sprinted downstairs to our pool in the dining area of our kitchen. (One point to note is that if you take a TENS machine off your back without turning it off, it can be very painful on your fingers!).

Getting in the pool felt amazing - I could move around freely and the warm water really helped the pain in my lower back. I felt really comfortable in my own space in the house and that was really important so that I could relax for the birth. Robert came downstairs at 19:00 to say goodnight and went off to bed, happy that Mummy was relaxing in the pool that was going to help her back.

The next few hours went past very quickly. We had the musicals episode of 'Strictly Come Dancing' on the television - I didn't manage to watch any of it, but enjoyed listening to the music. It did result in the immortal words 'I'm not giving birth to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'. After that I was happy to labour without other noise other than the conversation and support from the midwives and Peter.

Lizzie was born at 22:25 weighing in at 8lb 12oz I caught her between my legs and brought her up for skin to skin in the pool and she had her first feed approximately 5 minutes later. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then the cord was cut and Peter had his first cuddle and Lizzie was snuggled up in warm towels whilst I delivered the placenta.

We then went upstairs to our bedroom where I had a few stitches and then was able to cuddle up with Lizzie for a proper feed and snuggle down in bed for a well deserved rest. The midwives tided up downstairs and left at about 2am and we managed to grab a few hours sleep before Robert woke up at 8am and came in to meet his baby sister.

Kat and Peter

Relief getting into the pool!

The relief of getting in the pool was great and definitely helped me to relax and focus, and took the strain from my shaking legs and arms! If we have another baby we'll definitely be in water again! Sara

One chilled little man thanks to a Birthworks birthing pool!

Thank you so much for helping us to have a really fantastic birth experience. After 2 ventouse hospital deliveries, it was totally amazing to be able to use the pool at home for a relaxed labour. Baby Lucas is the most chilled out little man as a result of a very positive birth experience. Nikki xxx

Relaxation and toddler fun!

Thank you once again Fran and Birthworks for the hire of the octagonal pool for our second child.  Even though my labour was so very quick and we didn’t get a chance to use it this time, it was reassuring to know that it was all ready to go as soon as labour kicked in - and it was relaxing and fun to use with my little girl prior to the birth!  Our thanks and appreciation also for your help, support and advice regarding the set up over those first few days.  Helen and Richard, Surrey.

Waterbirthing is the way to go!

Jacob is our third child.  We already have two boys of 7 and 22 months.  Our first was born in hospital after an unnecessary transfer due to a community midwife who was unsupportive of home birth and despite my requesting it I was not able to use the birth pool as it was already in use. 

Our second boy ended up being born in hospital as well.  We had planned a home birth with him, but my waters broke at 36 weeks.  After extensive research we decided to decline induction and instead monitor for the infection that is the concern with prolonged rupture of membranes (PROM) and wait for spontaneous labour which happened a week later.  We went into hospital because we had decided that I would have IV antibiotics in labour to “sweep up” any infection which may be starting (although we have since found that this is not necessarily a great idea) but we chose to have a waterbirth in the hospital, which was wonderful. 

Having compared the labours of my first two boys, we decided that for number three I would absolutely have to have a pool!  Labouring in water, I found, gave me the ability to move how I wanted to, and therefore allowed me to really focus on what my body wanted to do which meant that the labour pain was tough, but absolutely bearable.  Stepping into the pool I exclaimed how I felt that the pain had gone back about 4 hours and I’d only been labouring for about 5 hours at that point!  I loved the fact that I was safe, and the midwives could reach me if necessary, but at the same time I had space around me and could not be forced into procedures such as internal examinations that I’d not wanted and were not necessary.  There is also an element of privacy when in the pool, as even if you are naked the pool sides give some dignity that isn’t available when on land.

Because I labour quickly we were worried about not being able to fill a pool in time and get it to the right temperature, so when a friend recommended Birthworks, and explained that we could hire a pool with a heater and filter that we could fill and leave ready, we felt that this would be the perfect solution.  She had rented a pool from Birthworks to enjoy in the weeks before her daughter arrived – she hadn’t even planned a homebirth – and I thought that was a wonderful idea.  Having had one slightly early birth we therefore decided to hire the pool a month before my due date so that we would have it ready in case of another early arrival and in the meantime I could enjoy floating in it when heavily pregnant.

As it turned out, I had quite a lot of pelvic pain towards the end of pregnancy and the only relief that I got was when I got into the wonderful, warm, crystal clear pool which I did nearly every night for several hours!  My two boys also had a play in it once but the splashing that we had to clear up in the sitting room meant that didn’t happen again! 

Managing the pool water was easy.  We tried a few different temperatures until we found the perfect one for me (37 degrees C) – something not possible with a fill-on-the-day pool.  The system kept it perfectly balanced at this temperature.  We rinsed out the filters every few days and the water cleaning system was easy to use.

After 2 weeks of pre-labour between 3am and 7am, on the 25th April the irregular contractions that I was experiencing decided to carry on into the daytime.  I thought that things would probably kick off but I felt very relaxed, and spent a lovely morning with a friend, our toddlers playing together while I gently breathed through contractions.  I napped after lunch, then woke ready to get my older son from school and was just about to head out when my waters broke!  Great timing – much better than in the car!  I called up to my husband, who works from home, and asked him to do the school run, and by the time he returned about 45 minutes later we decided to call our wonderful midwife (Deborah Rhodes from Wharefdale Independent Midwifery Practice.  While my husband fed and watered our boys I made myself a little nest on the bed upstairs and out of their way and laboured quietly with the TENS machine and my hypnobirthing CD.  I would have liked to have got into the pool but needed to be away from the noisy kids! 

When Deborah arrived an hour later my husband was able to leave me to take the boys to a neighbour and I headed downstairs to get into the pool.  Not a moment too soon it turned out as our little boy was born into the pool just a few minutes after I got in!  So my plan to labour in water didn’t really work out thanks to the whole thing being super-fast, but I then had nearly another two hours until the placenta was birthed which was pretty hard work with strong contractions that the pool made quite bearable.  It was just so lovely to relax in it, letting my body do its thing, the Oxytocin flowing, and my gorgeous baby safely in my arms.  The pool, of course, stayed perfectly at temperature which kept me warmly cradled, supported and cosy.

I probably stayed in the pool for about 3 hours in total and even if I’d not used the pool for those weeks before the actual birth I’d have felt that it was money very well spent.  But the idea of having it for those hard, last weeks of pregnancy was just brilliant because it meant that I could really enjoy the very last time that I would be pregnant rather than wishing away those magic moments that I can never experience again.  And if I was going to have another child, I’d never have one “on land”.  Waterbirthing is the way to go!

Emma

prayer flags around the pool

At the beginning of December Keeley held the most beautiful Blessingway for me here at home.  It was a really perfect way to prepare for the upcoming birth and following that day I felt really ready to meet the little person who had been growing inside me since April.  When I was 37 weeks Jon did a belly cast, another first, and before that Sarah had spent a lovely afternoon putting henna on my belly, she is a very talented artist :-)  At 37 weeks we also put up the birth pool, Ollie and Sophie really enjoyed having a swimming pool in the living room.  It wasn't always relaxing however as they weren't very good at keeping the water in the pool!! 

As part of my Blessingway, everyone brought a bead or two to be part of my bracelet for labour.  They also decorated prayer flags for me to have around the birth pool.  My mum made both the bracelet and strung the flags all up together.  Also on the flags, she made an extra heart for each member of the family.  There was even one for Cosmo and Marley (the dogs).  There was also a blank one ready for our new baby.  The prayer flags were strung up round the pool and we had some lovely fairy lights up as well, it looked beautiful.   Ollie had arrived at 38 weeks and 3 days, and Sophie at 39 weeks and a day so when I passed their gestations I decided that this little bundle was helping to teach me to be patient. 

On the 4th Jan I felt like she had moved lower.  Mandi, my cousin, said to me that she "had located the exit and was doing the packing" which I thought was a lovely way to describe it.  On the night of the 5th I had managed to get both Ollie and Sophie into bed and asleep at 7:30, they had been having a week of late nights since Jon had been back at work after the break for Christmas and New Year.  I was lying in bed but I wasnt very comfortable.  Everytime I lay down I felt like I needed to get back up to go to the toilet.  I was having braxton hicks but I was starting to think that maybe they were a bit more than that.  In the end I got up and sat in the other room watching something on my computer. 

I think it was about half 12 when Sophie woke up as well and unfortunately she woke up completely as she had been sleeping very lightly and waking when I wasnt there.  We decided to go downstairs together.  We lit the woodburner when we were downstairs so we could warm up.  I'm not sure what time it was when we woke Jon up, but I confused him by asking him to go out in the cold and get more logs in for us.  I didnt really feel like I was ready to say I was in labour, that things were happening.  I was having regular contractions but they were only early ones and I was really aware that perhaps they might stop.  We were wondering about changing the water in the pool as we had planned to change it that evening but hadnt managed it.  I was reluctant to do it now though just in case things happened quickly.

It was about half 3 when I phoned Kathryn and said I thought things were happening.  We had timed a couple of surges just before so we could give Kathryn some idea of how things were progressing.  I was just sitting on my birth ball in front of the fire.  Kathryn said she would get ready slowly her end and drive up, but to ring her if we wanted her to be quicker.  I think it must have been about quarter to 5 when she arrived.  My surges were getting stronger and closer but they were doing it slowly, it felt like it was all happening at a nice pace.  Once Kathryn arrived she sent a message to all my lovely Blessingway ladies asking them to light their candles.  I think the hardest part so far was actually keeping Sophie happy.  She was awake such a long time and really what she wanted to do was cuddle up with me for some milk and sleep.  Unfortunately I wasn't really in a place where sitting still and breastfeeding would work for me so we had to keep distracting her.  Eventually she did fall asleep on Jon as he walked around with her.  I dont remember how long she was asleep for but Ollie woke up at quarter to 6 and she fell asleep after that.  When it got to a point where Ollie was awake and getting hungry but Jon was stuck with a sleeping Sophie we called my Mum to ask her to come over. 

That was about 7am.  I can't remember what time I got into the pool but it was before my Mum arrived.  The surge before I got in the pool had been a lot stronger and lower down so my back was sore too, that's when I decided that water would be good.  Once I was in the pool my surges continued to get stronger but they were reasonably far apart, I was just able to float in the pool and chat in between.  Both Ollie and Sophie got in the pool at some point, we have photos, I'm just not sure when that was.  My Mum made everyone, apart from me, some breakfast and then ended up playing lego with Ollie for a very long time.   I felt like I was reaching the point where I would feel pressure but it didnt seem to be coming.  The surges seemed to reach a point and then plateaued, the next stage didnt feel like it was coming.  I was feeling a small amount of pressure but couldnt feel at all that baby was moving down.  I was tired by now and wondering why everything seemed to be taking so long.  I knew I had been in the pool a long time now.  My back started hurting a lot and I was getting Jon to push down on my back during a surge but then I started to feel really sick.  Bowls were fetched and I think that was the worst bit of labour.  Being sick over the side of the pool while my back was hurting so much as well.  I remember saying to Kathryn, how on  earth are you supposed to relax while you are being sick!  After that episode my surges didn't start straight back up again, I had a little rest. 

Then I needed to do something else, my back was sore and I was tired.  I stood up and got Jon to support me  so I could lean on him.  I swayed to and fro and circled around, trying to make my back feel better.  The next surge came and felt totally different, this was what I had been waiting for.  The part where your body just takes over and pushes the baby out.  One surge and I felt her moving down, my waters went with a pop.  The next surge and her head was out.  Jon and Kathryn were both calling to Ollie to come downstairs but they had the bedroom door shut!  I was stood up over the water with my hand on her head, worried about catching her so she didnt go in the water.  I felt her turning and then the next surger she was here.  I caught her and Kathryn helped me untangle her as her cord was wrapped round her body.  She felt big and slippery so it was a good thing that Kathryn was there to help hold her.  I then sank down into the water, so very relieved that it was over, she was there.   Sophie had been there the  whole time and wanted to climb straight in the pool.  Ollie and my Mum came downstairs too so Ollie could climb in as well.  Ollie looked to see whether he had a brother or sister and so we all learned we had a little girl. 

She was born at 12:12 pm on Friday 6th January 2012.  We had a couple of girls names in mind but the front runner and one we thought suited her perfectly was Callie Freya so we started to let family and friends know that she had arrived.  Kathryn thought she was big, bigger even than her son who had been 9lbs 6oz, so we were all looking forward to weighing her.  After a rest in the pool, we cut her cord and then either Jon or my Mum (I cant remember!) had a Callie cuddle while I delivered the placenta, standing over the water again.  I was tired and wobbly but just made it to the sofa where I could cuddle up with both my girls. When we put her on the scales we found out she weighed 9lbs 11oz, so much bigger than the other two were. 

That afternoon she did a lot of putting her hand in her mouth so my theory is that she had her hand in her mouth when I was in labour which was why she didn't descend until I stood up and swayed as that helped her move her hand from her mouth.  It might also explain the sore back if her arm/elbow was poking me.  She was so content the whole time, kicking me in the same spot she always did and her heartbeat never changed either so  I think she was just sucking on her hand happily the whole time!

Karen, Godalming

the whole experience was lovely

Having planned a water birth with my first child Pippa, which didn’t happen as my waters broke over 48 hours early, I was determined to have a home water birth for my second child and hired the same hexagonal pool.  We turned the dinning room into the birthing suite and used the pool as a swimming pool for my daughter (2 1/2) and her friends in the weeks leading up to my due date.  I was planning to have a hypnobirth and used the pool for my nightly practice sessions as well!  

My due date was 26th October and as that was half term week I had my older stepchildren visiting, on Monday 24th we all went shopping and as I bent down to choose fabric in Laura Ashley I felt something shift in my lower back, I think in hindsight that was the baby finally dropping into position. My stepdaughter Emily (13) returned home that evening and told my husband she was convinced the baby was coming that night.  She was quite upset that she would not be there for the birth.  Turns out she was right as my waters broke at 2am in bed.  

I woke my husband who, convinced we had hours to go, told me to try and get some sleep to conserve my energy and we went into the spare room where the mattress was dry!  However only 15 minutes later with contractions fairly strong, I told my husband that we should ring the midwife.  The on-call community midwife told me to call back when my contractions were 40 seconds long and only 3 minutes apart and that she would be straight over as she was only 10 minutes away.  Well an hour later, using a contraction calculator on the internet, we were there and rang for the midwife to attend, however an hour later she still had not turned up and so my husband telephoned again, to be told she had been called into the hospital as they were busy and they had forgotten to pass on the message and she would leave immediately from the hospital 40 minutes away!  

She arrived at 6am followed very shortly afterwards by a second midwife and they examined me at 6.30am stating I was 4cm dilated, at this point I was quite dismayed as I had been listening to the hypno-birthing CD and coping well with the contractions but I had hoped I was further along!  At 7am I felt I needed to move into the pool to help with pain relief.  At 7.30am I asked for gas and air and felt the babies head starting to descend, George jumped into the pool and I began the transition phase.   My baby’s birth was completely different from my first child which had been in hospital with an epidural and quite surreal when the head popped out and I lay back on my husband holding a full conversation with the midwives between contractions about how weird it looked!  Alexander Brian Drydale was finally born at 9.04am, he was placed on my tummy still attached and the cord was not clamped for half an hour allowing it to finish pulsating.  Alexander then stayed in then pool with daddy while I delivered the placenta on the sofa.  

The whole experience was lovely and I recovered well.  

Sue Drysdale

it was just magical having the pool

After a couple of false alarms, we had a little boy, 8lb 6oz.  No name yet.  When things finally did get going, it was only just over an hour from the beginning of contractions to baby coming out!  I'm SO glad I had the pool!  I'm sure you hear this all the time, but it was just magical having the pool here.   With my 3 previous births, they all went well, and were pretty quick, but I found that I would get into an all fours position, and get kind of locked there.  I didn't want to move until it was all over.  With the pool, I felt so comfortable to move around a bit.  Some of the later contractions I could feel at the tops of my thighs, so in between contractions I stretched my legs out, which just felt lovely.   The afterpains were pretty bad.  That night I went in the pool 3 or 4 times, and the relief was blissful. Since then I've been using it daily.  Initially just to relieve the after pains, and then on those emotional, milk coming in days, it's just been a little haven where I can go with baby. Thank you!!

Terry

the worst of the pain seemed to almost vanish immediately

One thing I was sure of as soon as we started to discuss our baby’s birth was that I wanted to deliver in water. Although it was my first baby, we were lucky to have the support and encouragement of a fantastic midwife and we opted to hire a pool and hoped for a home birth. In the week leading up to Emily’s birth I took full advantage of having a warm pool in the lounge and it helped soothe the discomforts that come with late pregnancy.

On the day of Emily’s birth the contractions became stronger as the day progressed and, as it was my first labour, I was reluctant to get in the pool for fear of slowing things down. The TENS machine I was using helped dull the contractions and just about made them bearable. Once the midwife examined me in the early evening and we realised I was fully dilated, I climbed into the pool and the worst of the pain seemed to almost vanish immediately. The water helped to reduce the discomfort of pushing and our daughter was born shortly before 9pm. It was amazing for the 3 of us all to be sitting in bed by midnight, alone for the first time as our family.

I would recommend hiring a Birthworks pool to anyone considering a home birth as I feel it was an integral part of the successful delivery of our little girl at home.

Kate Dodson

the pool really helped me manage my pain...

After having a 36 hour labour with my first son and a fairly negative experience in the hospital, I was adamant I was having a home birth with my second son.  I had tried to use a birth pool at the hospital with number 1 but didn't even get a toe in before I was told the baby was distressed and I couldn't go in.  I ended having a natural birth but did have an epidural.

I wanted number 2 to be as positive an experience as possible and was given positive encouragement from my midwife.  When my waters broke at 11pm my contractions followed very quickly and were very strong.  The midwife arrived and suggested I get into the pool.  I felt instantly calmer and more relaxed, I was having gas and air as well but was very aware of the positive effects the pool had on my body and how it helped me manage the pain better. 

I stayed in the pool until 5am but when the midwife measured me and I was only 4cm dilated she suggested I get out of the pool.  I was really disappointed and very concerned as I didn't dilate quickly with number 1 and was bracing myself for another long labour!  As soon as I was out the pain felt worse and when the midwife couldn't find the baby's heartbeat I was transferred to hospital.  I was really panicky about another long labour but something triggered me to dilate quickly and I gave birth to Albie just before 7 after an 8 hour labour :) 

The pool was relaxing and that's what really helped me manage the pain. 

Sally Edson

I've had three wonderful births...

I feel very lucky as I have had three wonderful births – all of which have been very different, but which without water would have been quite different. My daughter Ella was born in May 1999 and I knew nothing about birth but the use of water appealed to me after having done a bit of reading. I hired a pool and waited for her to come. She was nearly 2 weeks late and after labouring for about 15 hours with a TENS machine and using yoga as pain relief I finally got into the pool. I stayed in the pool for 7 hours without getting out, except for during transition when I genuinely believed I wasn’t in labour anymore and that everyone could go home! The following 2nd stage lasted around 3 hours and had I been in hospital I’m quite sure it would have been an assisted birth with either ventouse or forceps. However, Ella was simply taking her time and as she progressed down the birth canal she gently made her way into the world without causing any tears, which the water greatly helped with. 

My second birth in February 2002 was incredibly quick.   I had bought the birthing pool franchise but due to limited space decided against setting a pool up beforehand, seeing as my last labour was 24 hours long. Little did I know! As Ella had been so late I refused to believe I was in labour for quite a while until my friend insisted in calling the midwife. We proceeded to fill a pool but Theo was born an hour later after a two hour labour with a pool still filling downstairs. I found the use of a birthing ball invaluable and the presence of my friend very calming, but missed the use of water. After the birth I used the pool to establish breastfeeding as the warm water and the buoyancy it provides is ideal for both mum and baby during this special time.

In October 2006, with the due date of number 3 coming quickly I set up a pool with the heater and filter and had my own hot tub – in which I spent my evenings reading or watching television. During a film in the tub one evening I realised that the pre-labour pains I’d been having for a week or so hurt a bit more. I got out of the pool and decided to try to get some sleep – which I immediately realised would be impossible as the contractions were strong enough for a bit of moaning. I spent the following night pacing and waiting for the quick labour I was expecting to come. It didn’t and after 5 hours of really irregular contractions I called my friend who was to be my midwife. We decided to wait for the contractions to become more regular until she came over but they never did and so about 4 hours later she came to see me. I discovered that I was 5cms dilated but that the little one had decided to spin round into an OP position – with the head facing the wrong way and flexed back. I knew that this would mean a more painful labour and that I would need to dilate more to be able to deliver. I decided to get into the pool and what bliss! I waited in vain for my waters to break so that the contractions would come more often but they never did. Owen was born after a thirteen hour labour still in his waters – which broke as he came out – facing up instead of down. However, he was tiny so it didn’t matter and for the third time no tearing! This time I had quite a painful 3rd stage and the pool was invaluable during this time. After this I had a quick bath and soup with my midwives thinking that a fourth labour wouldn’t be too bad! 

it's definitely the best experience of my life so far!

My due date was 11/11/07. Nothing happened until the 17/11/07 when I had a show and was also booked in for a membrane sweep at midday. The midwife was extremely thorough (thought I was going to give birth then and there!) and immediately started to have quite strong contractions from then on. I picked up my other daughter from nursery at 3.30pm and by 6pm had to phone my brother for him to come and pick her up as my contractions were pretty strong. My husband set up the pool and heated it up. By 7pm he phoned the labour ward who wanted to speak to me (I suppose to gauge how strong the contractions really were). So between contractions I spoke to her and asked for a midwife to come to my home asap. I was given her mobile and carried on working through contractions watching 'Six Feet Under', very excited but having no idea what was about to happen. I wanted to check out the pool so I got in and immediately the contractions died down. At this point the midwife called saying she was doing her shopping at the supermarket and would be with me within the hour. I told her that I was in the pool and felt much better as the contractions had died down! She said in almost a shout, GET OUT, you're slowing down your labour!

So I did as I was told and from this moment on the contractions came back with a vengeance. When finally the midwives arrived at about 8.30pm (our flat didn't show up on her sat nav!) I was clenching onto the side of the pool in our front room in a kind of arched position, no longer taking any notice of the tv. They were great, set up their few pieces of equipment around what space was left in our small front room and chatted to my husband about the likelihood of me giving birth that night. The midwife said I was only 2cm dilated which I was at midday. This was a massive disappointment as I thought I was almost ready.  

June the main midwife said I was arching over too much and why don't I lean against the wall instead. After about three more contractions like this, which were so much more intense, (I had tears running down my face) my waters gushed from beneath me and then I it felt like the baby's head had slipped down into the birth canal.  From this moment on I was making noises only farm animals make and the midwives jumped up and started to gather their gloves and other bits. I said I needed the loo but they said I was in transition and needed to get into the pool. As is only right, I shouted I need a poo and marched off to the toilet, they rushed after me and layed out their birthing kit at the toilet door. As only midwives know, I didn't need a poo so rushed back to the pool and got in. Here, although I was only minutes away from giving birth was an amazing retreat, where I was in my own warm, watery space. I felt completely in control as I clenched onto the side, on my knees. The midwives were saying push Caroline push, but I was roaring so loudly I couldn't hear so had to shout and ask if I could push. I felt her head coming and wondered if I could push again, they said yes so I did.

After two major pushes out she gushed and rolled around in the pool a few times before we could catch her and up she came into the world. She was a bit blue and the midwife almost gave her oxygen but after 30 seconds of moving her about she started crying and was given to me where we sat both in the warmth of the water, me completely overwhelmed and exhilarated at the thought of what had just happened. She was a perfect ball of baby.  

Caroline

“I  think my waters have broken”

“M…., M….., I think my waters have broken” I heard the rather plaintive cry from J in the bathroom, cutting through my deep sleep. It was 1am, and 3 days early. I went to confirm: yup, no doubt about it. All clear, which I seemed to remember was a good sign.  

Our hearts were set on a home birth, but we lived outside our preferred hospital’s home birth catchment area,  and so had signed up with the Birth Centre (www.birthcentre.com) a private midwife service. We decided to page them immediately: better to warn them early rather than wait four hours and find ourselves in an emergency. They called back with a promise that Emma would visit at 9am.  

We had indications our baby might be in a hurry: the head had been well and truly engaged for almost three weeks, and a ‘show’ had persuaded us to take a slightly early delivery of the birthing pool from BirthWorks. Our first baby together, J was apprehensive but had steeped herself in moisturiser, exercise and the hypnobirthing relaxation CD. The pool had been filled and ready, but J felt no urge to try it out. The evening before, I had changed the water. 

Contractions went up to every ten minutes in the hour between 4am and 5am, then subsided, and by the time Emma arrived they were back down to every 20 minutes or so. J and I had only managed to sleep a bit, but all in all things were looking good. Emma said a midwife would be around again at lunchtime, but to call if necessary.  

After Emma left, things started to speed up again. J found the Tens machine distracted from the pain without diminishing it; we had a Swiss ball which helped her too: but J stayed out of the birthing pool as we had heard that early use can delay the development of labour.  

By one o’clock (12 hours in) the contractions were every 3-5 minutes and getting longer and stronger. I called the midwife number and they asked J to hold off getting into the pool till a midwife could get to us. But J could not wait and was soon in the pool. I was saying the hypnobirthing mantra with every breath during the contractions – which J says kept her calm and focussed, and she never felt the panic which she had feared so much.  

At 2pm Carol, another midwife, arrived and she was with us for the rest of labour. She was delighted and surprised by the progress J had already made. For the rest of the afternoon we carried on the pattern, J in the pool, some of our favourite music on quietly and me repeating the mantra during contractions. J was drinking vast amounts of Coke, and I was on the Relentless®! Carol had brought gas and air with her, which Jules took in voraciously with the contractions. By 6pm another midwife, Sally, joined us.  

By 8pm, J was through transition and into the second stage almost without realising it. Where J found her energy I don’t know: I was knackered and had done nothing.  

By  9.30pm she was almost there; Carol warned J that she would need to bring the baby to the surface, but J looked blankly at her – the idea there would actually be a baby at the end of it all seemed almost bizarre.  

And then at 9.46pm, two massive pushes from J and I saw the baby, under the water. “Pick the baby up, J! Pick the baby up!” J took seconds, which felt like forever, to react. Then it burst through the surface, in her arms, and immediately let out a loud, healthy cry. J and I took a further age to work out that we had a girl, and then I got to cut the cord.   

After hearing so many birth stories where plans went awry, I can only say that we were very lucky. But J had worked hard for her luck. And the result was for both of us an incredible, intense experience and one which we do not think could have been better.  

Thanks so much to Sam and BirthWorks – so cheerful, encouraging and obliging always. Our pool was immaculate, her instructions clear and we would definitely go back to BirthWorks.

I was only actually in the pool for about 20 minutes, but had a wonderful delivery into the water.

It started at 1.30am when I felt the trickle of my waters breaking.  We phoned the midwife 10 minutes later. No contractions (or openings as I like to say) had started at this point so we went back to bed. This lasted about 10 minutes until I became too uncomfortable to lie down and so I started to walk around the bedroom and did a few silly walks. Every now and then I felt the need to lean on a chair and breathe. At about 2.15 I really felt labour had kicked in fully so Simon phoned the midwife. She said she was on her way. By 2.25 I started to feel a bit 'pushy' during one contraction. Simon phoned the midwife again to ask if I could get in the pool. She said 'yes' so I went into the baby bedroom where the pool was set up, and got in. Rather than being soothing, though, as I had felt for my other 2 births, the contractions became stronger immediately. Very soon after I had a very strong pushy contraction. I put my hand down and felt the head crowning. I knelt back into a half squat as I had decided I wanted to see this one come out. One more contraction and the head was out. The midwife phoned to say she was at the door. One more and out slipped her body. Leila Ann was born at 3.01am.  I leant down, picked her up as she floated out, and held her to my breast. She was perfectly calm and wonderful. 

the story of Toby’s birth

My other two sons (aged 4 and 2) had been born in hospital. The births had been straightforward with no pain relief stronger than gas and air but I hated the “factory farm” feel to giving birth in hospital, so decided to opt for a home birth with baby number 3.  Also, my second labour only lasted three and a half hours, so I didn’t think I’d get to hospital in time if my third birth was any quicker.  

After lots of research, I’d wanted to try a water birth with my first two babies, and although I’d laboured in water with my first baby; lack of resources at the hospital meant I had to give birth on a hospital bed, so I decided to hire a birthing pool for my planned home birth this time.  

The pool was lovely – a good size, with padded tops to the sides. Guy (my husband) found it pretty straightforward to put together and the filtration and heating system meant that once we’d assembled and filled the pool, we just put the cover on and it was ready to use at any time. We got the pool three weeks before I was due, and in the run up to my due date Guy and I spent a few evenings sitting in the pool watching DVDs – it was a lovely way to relax and relieve the weight of my enormous bump.  

My first two babies were born on their due date and I was so cross and frustrated when the day came and went with no arrival.  I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks, but not even a twinge on that day.  I was so disappointed and my poor husband didn’t know how to comfort me; in the end, I went and sat in the birthing pool, watching “Little Women” on DVD and blubbing my heart out, which in a funny way made me feel a lot better.   Four days later and at 8.30am I was trying to decide whether or not I could be bothered to take my sons to their swimming lessons that morning, when I realised that I’d had about four “twinges” in a row.  I called Guy, who’d just arrived at work, to tell him that it may be a false alarm, but I thought I was probably in labour so could he please come home. I also called my in-laws who were going to look after my sons. I tried to call the mid-wife, but couldn’t get through, eventually reaching the delivery suite at about 9am. I told them that my contractions were about four minutes apart but getting stronger quite quickly, and they said they’d get the community mid-wife to give me a call.  

My in-laws arrived and started tying balloons to the hedge in front of my house so that the midwives would know where to go. My mother-in-law said they would stay until either Guy or the midwife arrived, which was sensible, but I think I’d gone into a sort of animal-like state and wanted a bit of privacy so went and shut myself in the bathroom to have a shower.  Apart from sitting on the loo a couple of times, I stayed upright and paced around during my contractions which maybe sped things up a bit, to the point that Guy arrived home at about 9.45 and came upstairs to find me gripping the top of the bathroom door and bellowing through a contraction before shouting at him to call the midwife again.  I have a strong memory of Guy looking quite worried and saying into the phone “Yes, I think she’s quite far along…”  

I sat on the loo and then suddenly realised that the urge to go was actually the baby’s head descending.  I flopped forward on to my knees on the floor, positioning myself over the bathmat because I was worried about any mess. Guy crouched infront of me, asking “Do you want to get into the pool?” but I couldn’t move and just said “No, the baby is coming now”. Another big contraction and woosh! My waters broke and the baby’s head arrived. Guy reached down and held the baby’s head and said “What do I do?” I said “I don’t know…you looked this up on the internet…just don’t pull”. “Guy said “I’m not pulling, and um…the cord isn’t around the babies neck… you’re doing alright…don’t worry” Another big contraction and the baby’s body slithered out into Guy’s hands. He was quite blue, as lots of babies are at first, but he started crying pretty quickly and we held him on his front so the gunk could drain from his mouth. I cuddled him and started laughing – I felt so exhilarated that we’d done it on our own!  The phone went and Guy explained to the midwife on the other end that the baby had arrived and seemed OK. He laid a trail of towels down the stairs for me and I carried my baby boy down to the birthing pool and we had a lovely warm bath and his first feed. The midwife walked through the door five minutes later “Well, congratulations!” she said, and I think she could tell by looking at us that we were all a bit shocked but absolutely fine and very happy.  She was joined by a colleague a few minute later and they helped deliver the placenta before checking us both over thoroughly.   

So, I didn’t actually get the birth I planned, and I still haven’t given  birth in water.  I have three beautiful, healthy sons, and don’t plan any more children, but I think giving birth to a 10lb baby on the bathroom floor without a mid-wife and without any pain relief is an impressive story but not one that I think Guy would like to repeat! 

I have experienced both hospital and water now and I know which one I would chose every time.

I had planned to have my first child in water but after 12 hours and not much action in the dilation department I was taken into hospital where after much interference by the hospital staff my son was born a further 12 hours later. Having hired a Birthworks pool for this and having had the benefit of the five star option and relaxation beforehand it was not wasted.

When I was pregnant with my second child I was a franchisee for the company. I therefore had full use of one of my own pools. My daughter began to arrive at 4 in the morning and by 9.30am I was in the pool. It was amazing as I had not laboured in it with my first. I was relaxed and although spending most of it on my knees there was only one point right before she was born that I thought I cannot do this. 

The water was really calming and as a result she was born 2 and 20 minutes after entering the pool. The best thing was that she and I were reasonably clean and I did no tear like I did with my first. 

I have experienced both hospital and water now and I know which one I would chose every time. I was able to get into my own bed and feed my daughter just 10 minutes after birth. It was the best experience apart from breastfeeding that I have.

Jo Rundle