My Third Birth Story: Home Birth After Caesarean (HBAC)

5 days overdue labour not starting
6 days overdue labour not starting

My internet search history fills with articles and advice, forums of women and their experiences of going overdue. Some positive, some not. Which ending will my story have?

7 days overdue labour not starting
8 days overdue labour not starting

Every morning I wake, disappointed that you are still not here. My darling daughter, where are you? Why aren't you here yet?


9 days overdue. I have another stretch and sweep. My fifth! And final. My last hope. There's nothing more I can do now. In 3 days, surgery awaits me.

"You need to relax and the baby will come", says the midwife.

My body teases me with a bloody show and mild, regular contractions. Is this it? I can't remember what it feels like? It could be it...

10 days overdue labour not starting

It wasn't it. Body, I hate you, why aren't you doing what you're supposed to? I stand in the shower, my tears disappearing into the hot water. Please. Please come baby girl. I've been waiting so long. Please come now. 

In the evening, the contractions return. Slightly stronger, but still mild. I bounce. I try to stay active. I try to relax. I try to keep the contractions going. Please let this be it!

Midnight. I'm 11 days overdue now. And the contractions have stopped.

I give up. I tried, dear daughter, I tried to give you a chance to come on your own. In just over 24 hours, you'll be here whether you're ready or not.

I go to bed and begin to cry. I send a text to Ian, who is asleep with the boys: "I give up."

I cry myself to sleep thinking of the c-section looming ahead of me. Soon I start to dream, dreaming of contractions. I wake up with the intensity of one of them. It's just my body playing tricks again, it won't lead to anything. I go back to sleep, only to be woken a few minutes later with another contraction.

It isn't a dream.

It's 4am on my birthday and I'm having contractions. I change position to see if they stay. They do. I time them for an hour, watching them get a few seconds longer and a few seconds closer each time. They are five to six minutes apart and 50 seconds long.

I go the boys room and gently wake Ian up. "It's time", I whisper.

We go downstairs and I pace the living room, stopping every few minutes to sway and breathe through a contraction. Ian tidies away the children's toys left from the evening before while I wake the boys up. It's around 6am and my step mum is on her way over to collect them.

The boys leave and I feel overwhelmed with emotion. I miss them so much even though they've only been gone for an hour. Because I know that soon their whole world will have changed. I kneel on the stairs and cry. The contractions pick up in intensity and regularity. They're getting closer together, every 3-4 minutes and lasting 50-60 seconds.

It's time to call the midwife.

The first midwife arrives at 7.15am. Sally. She reads through my note while I breathe my way through a few contractions and then she examines me. I'm 5 centimetres dilated and in established labour. It's nearly 8am. The baby's heart rate is strong, she is coping well. Sally goes to call the second midwife - I need two present throughout due to my previous c-section.

While Sally is on the phone I feel a change in sensation. I am kneeling upright on the sofa but feel a downward force. Sally calls through to me: "Sian, can you feel pressure?" I tell her that I can and that I feel like I want to push. Sally checks me again. Fully dilated. She says to go with my body, so I begin to bear down and my waters rupture spontaneously at 8.17am, just before Martina, the second midwife, arrives.

The contractions are strong but they are not stronger than me. They are me. I keep telling myself this and try to keep focused on my breathing. Sally rubs my back and reminds me to slow my breaths. Ian passes me sips of Lucozade. The baby is coping well with each contraction. It won't be long now.

I move off the sofa and onto the floor, but stay kneeling against it. I lay my head on a cushion as I rest between contractions. The baby is descending quickly now, I can feel it. It doesn't hurt but it is a lot of effort and pressure. A third midwife, Katie, arrives at 8.55am, as the shift changeover is happening. Sally says that the baby's head is visible and with the next contraction the head is delivered.

I try to look but my tummy is in the way! Instead I reach down and feel my baby's head while I wait for the next contraction. Something feels strange, I feel like I can't push anymore. The baby is trying to come out with her arm by her face. The midwives gently help me turn over to a sitting position and Sally hooks the baby's arm out of the way. Suddenly, the baby's body is out too! It's 8.58am and my daughter is finally here.

Happy birthday, and happy birth day! 

My phone is beeping with text messages from friends and family wishing me a happy birthday, but little do they know it's also my birth day!

I take off my top so that Essie can lay on my chest. The midwife rubs her and she lets out a small cry. The floor is uncomfortable, my bones ache, so I move to the bathroom so that I can sit on the loo and deliver the placenta. I feed Essie and after exactly 15 minutes I feel the placenta come away, like a slither of warm jelly between my legs. We wait for the cord to stop pulsating before cutting it and tying the stump with a little leaf cord tie.

I come back to sit on the sofa and continue enjoying skin-to-skin. She feels so warm and soft and has that incredibly addictive newborn smell. The midwives check me over; I have a second degree tear but it doesn't need stitching. They check and weigh Essie. My guess of 8lb is way off: she is 9lb 4.5oz! She is given vitamin K then Ian takes Essie to dress her while I have a lavender oil bath. Everything is so blissful, calm and perfect.

Did I really just give birth in my living room? After all the difficulties of Noah's birth, the idea of having a home birth has always seemed like a pipe dream. But I did, and it was the most incredible experience of my life.

Essie, my beautiful darling, you were worth waiting for.


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If you'd like to read my other birth stories, you can read Noah's here and Jude's here. Noah was born by emergency c-section and Jude was a hospital VBAC. I’d love to read your birth stories! Please share them in the comments below or leave a link, or get in touch if you'd like to feature on Beautiful Births.


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Here are some answers to some of the questions I've had - feel free to leave a comment with any other questions and I will update with answers:

- A home birth was suggested to me because my second birth, a spontaneous vaginal birth after caesarean, was so quick, and there was a concern that I might not get to hospital in time. In hindsight, I wouldn't have made it! 
- My c-section scar is a J shape which has slightly increased risks, but because I have had one successful VBAC already I was considered as low risk as any other mum who had had a vaginal birth previously.
- My consultant obstetrician was supportive of a home birth.
- I didn't use pain relief during this birth. I've heard the term "competitive birthing" bandied about recently, but that's not what this was. I genuinely didn't feel the need for any pain relief. Deep, slow breaths made the world of difference and remembering my hypnobirthing affirmations kept me calm.
- Yes, my house has carpets! We put down a sheet of tarpualin, then an old duvet with a lovely soft blanket on top. 
- There was no mess! The midwives were clearing things away as the labour progressed and continuously put out fresh inco sheets. They even cleaned up my bathroom!
- I didn't do anything with my placenta, the midwives took it away with them. I did have a good look at it though as I've never seen one before - it was way bigger than I expected! 

3 comments

  1. Wow! Get you Momma! With Jaxon being breech followed by C-Section I get the feeling that if we do have another baby I will be encouraged towards a hospital birth just in case baby couldn't wait and came feet or bottom first too. I guess we'd see when the time came.

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  2. You did really well and the story for your third birth and thanks for sharing the answers of questions that were in your mind and asked by people.

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  3. What a beautiful and perfect birth story. I love this and so pleased you got your home birth. What a beautiful daughter and the best birthday present ever xx

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