Natalie's Birth Story

Hugo is our first baby and as I wasn’t socializing in circles of mums and babies people ask me how I came to find out about Independent Midwifery. I started to research alternatives to the NHS as soon as I found out I was pregnant. After watching the dramatisation of birth on TV I knew that I certainly didn’t want my birth to be like that. So after finding that the only alternatives were to go private, or hire an independent midwife, it was a no-brainer! 

My gut feeling was that I wanted a very natural birth with as little intervention as possible: back to basics. After all, why would I need to go into hospital, I wasn’t ill?!

As a Biology teacher I turned to nature and rationalised that the drugs, the inductions, the interventions we see so often now just aren’t necessary in most cases. I understood that there may be a chance that I would need to go into hospital but as a healthy woman with a positive attitude I was willing to work hard for the birth I wanted. From 12 weeks I followed the Gentle Birth Method, signed up for Hypnobirthing sessions with Sophie Kirkham, and signed up for pregnancy yoga which I started at 16 weeks. Some would describe me as a bit of a control freak, and I definitely like to prepare for things! Anything that was going to help me prepare for the birth of my baby could only be a good thing. 

When I proposed the idea of a home birth with Virginia to my husband, Charlie, he wasn’t quite as sure as I was. But being the supportive guy he is he agreed to meet Virginia to raise any concerns he had and see what she had to say. 

As soon as Virginia walked in to our house I knew she would be my midwife. I needed someone who was passionate about midwifery and truly believed what I believed. When she asked me why I wanted an independent midwife I struggled to find an answer. It was such a gut reaction the minute I found out about it that I hadn’t really put into words about why I wanted to have my baby at home, away from the pressures of the NHS. And then it came to me: having my baby would be the hardest thing I would put my body through, and I wanted someone to guide me, someone I trusted, who I knew and who knew me, who I could build up a relationship with. 

Charlie had questions like ‘what if things didn’t go to plan, what if the baby isn’t well?’. Virginia explained that with one to one care, there are very few surprises. She would be there the whole time we needed her and with a few statistics thrown in my husband was sold. 

When we told our family and friends that we would have the baby at home they thought we were mad. Comments like ‘but they don’t let you have a home birth with the first baby’ were pretty common. The language of ‘let’ just put into perspective where the control would be if I were to go through the NHS: it would be with them. I wanted to be in control of my birth and not have decisions made for me. I think women are portrayed as being irrational and hysterical in labour and I knew that I didn’t want those feelings to feature in my labour. When we explained that Virginia would be attending the birth there were more questions about why we didn’t want hospital staff to attend the birth. Charlie simply answered each concern with ‘I was unsure at first, but the minute you meet and talk to Virginia you’d change your mind too’. And that totally sums up Virginia. Throughout my pregnancy and after Hugo was born I would text or call Virginia with any concern and she would give me frank and honest information that I could use to make my own decisions. 

I enjoyed all of Virginia’s visits throughout my pregnancy. Not only because I got to hear my baby’s heartbeat but also because we got to have a cup of tea and a good chat. She showed Charlie how to listen to the heartbeat without a machine… something that was very special. 

I had my blood tests conducted at my local hospital, and because my blood type is rhesus negative I needed a couple more tests. I went to hospital 5 times for 3 blood tests. They labeled the vials incorrectly on some occasions, and each time Virginia called me in embarrassment that I needed the tests again I was so thankful that I wasn’t planning to have my baby there. Upon one visit I was told I HAD to have an injection because of my blood type. I very politely said I’d read the research and no thank you, I didn’t want the injection. I had leaflets given to me and a very stern ‘but you have to’ and I left feeling relieved that Virginia had never told me what I had to do. She would give me all the information and direct me to research so that we could make an informed decision. I then had a phone call the next day to check that I had discussed the injection with my midwife. The pressure I felt from this one midwife just put into perspective the attitude I might receive in hospital. 

In the run up to my due date Virginia talked us through labour and what we could expect at each stage. I very quickly learnt that there was no one route that my labour would take. Surges could last for this long, or that long, sometimes there’s a break, sometimes there isn’t. Knowing this actually made me more relaxed. Knowing that there was no such thing as ‘I should be x amount dilated by x time’ was a comfort and went hand in hand with hypnobirthing techniques that I’d been working hard at for so long. Letting your body take control of your birthing and not your mind was something I had to work hard at but it totally worked and contributed to the smooth birth of Hugo. 

So with total trust in my body I wasn’t scared or apprehensive when surges started at 2.40am in the wee small hours of Jan 7th 2014. I tried to go back to sleep, like Charlie, but found I couldn’t rest. My surges were coming every 10minutes and all I wanted to do was walk around my bedroom. I couldn’t sit still!

Once we knew that these surges were real and not a false alarm we called Virginia to let her know baby was coming. I started bleed, and as I didn’t know if this was ok or not Charlie called Virginia to check and she said all was ok. The intensity of my surges had increased quite a lot and at 5am I called her again. Virginia arrived at 6.30am and asked if I’d like to be examined. When she checked me out I was 9.5cm dilated!! I couldn’t believe it. I was fully dilated using my breathing techniques and just letting my body get on with it. I was at home where I was warm and comfortable and I couldn’t imagine putting on clothes and going outside in the wind and rain to get to hospital. 

After prioritizing and making Virginia a cup of tea (!) Charlie got on with filling the birthing pool. A couple of weeks prior we had filled the pool and I loved it. I was visualizing being in the pool during our hypnobirthing practice and was really looking forward to getting in. Our little man had a different plan! He was coming so quickly that the pool wasn’t ready. So I got ready to have him upstairs in our bedroom. 

Virginia was amazing during my labour. She let me choose my positions and go with my instinct, never asking me to move or lay down. She made me feel at ease, we joked and we laughed and it felt like I had a friend alongside me being supportive. 

During the different phases Virginia described the new sensations to me so that I would know what to expect. She explained what was happening and it made me so excited that my baby would be here soon. Virginia encouraged me to feel the head and it was amazing to know that he was so close!

When Hugo’s head was born my waters broke at the same time, and he tried to breathe straight away! With the final surge Virginia was right next to me and caught Hugo at 8.30am – just a few hours after I was woken up with that initial surge. He weed straight away over my shoulder which we all giggled about. I asked Virginia to pass him to me, as I was scared to pick him up, he looked so delicate! A delicate 8lbs 12oz! I didn’t feel vulnerable at any stage of the birth and when a friend asked if I was scared at all it hasn’t occurred to me to be worried at any stage! 

Holding my baby was the most amazing feeling, and I’ll never forget the look on Charlie’s face. We sat on the floor for a while and then Virginia helped us to get into bed: it was SO lovely to get into my own bed and feel comfortable. With Virginia’s help Hugo fed straight away. 

I had planned a physiological 3rd stage but this wasn’t meant to be. During cuddle time with Hugo and Charlie I felt a sudden gush. When Virginia checked I was losing blood. She explained that she needed to get the placenta out so would have to give me the injection. Again I didn’t panic or worry. Virginia’s care was efficient without being panicked. She asked Charlie if he wanted to cut the cord and patiently talked him through how to do it. He took Hugo for the first time. I had the injection, felt a surge pretty quickly and as I pushed she pulled and I delivered the placenta totally pain free. She then stopped the bleeding successfully buy putting pressure on my abdomen. After checking the placenta she explained that it had ruptured but was intact so nothing to worry about. 

The birth of Hugo was just how I wanted it to be (without the pool): it was intimate, stress free, drug free and calm. 

With the amount of blood I had lost I was given strict instructions to stay in bed for a couple of days cuddling my baby, with lots of food and biscuits by the bed – nothing to complain about there then! 

After Hugo was born Virginia was worth her weight in gold! She called me later that day to see how I was feeling and came to visit us every day for the next 3 days but said all I needed to do was call her over the weekend if I needed her and she’s be there. Her visits became weekly because we were doing so well. During this time she checked us both over and helped with breastfeeding, which was SO helpful. I found it easier to feed on one side and was becoming sore so Virginia showed me a different way to feed. She didn’t mind me texting or calling to ask questions or to share little successes in Hugo’s feeding. As a first time mum and dad with lots of questions it was reassuring to have Virginia there to check things with: and however silly or small they may have been she never let us feel silly for asking. 

We can’t recommend Virginia enough! I felt really sad when Virginia discharged me when Hugo was 3 weeks old. She was there alongside Charlie and I when we experienced the greatest event of our lives so far. After speaking to friends who have had their babies with the NHS I know how lucky we were to receive the utmost quality in care from Virginia. I knew that any decision made was in our best interest, not because there were targets to meet. We invited Virginia into our home and trusted her with the most precious thing in the world, and we’ll be doing it again in a few years time.