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Isabella's Homebirth Story

Aurelia was born at home in the early hours of the morning with Cat Power’s Sea of Love playing softly in the background. Our first looks at each other were in our living room, she was calm, peaceful and just delightful. 


In the week leading up to my labour, I slowly lost parts of my mucous plug on the Tuesday, but then also developed a pretty nasty chesty cough. (My cough went away for around 24 hours while I birthed our baby girl and then returned.) Our midwife came to check on us and said to rest as much as you can and that things are happening.


My labour was very intense and began with my waters breaking around 2am. I snuck out of bed to the bathroom and thought I’ll put a pad on and go back to sleep. I was very into the idea of resting in the dark and in the warmth of our bed as long as possible. But alas, I had about 3 mild cramps/surges maybe 2-3 minutes apart and was suddenly in the depths of active labour with strong consistent surges.  


With those early surges I naively was directing my partner to get me a hot water bottle and quickly tried the exercise ball but my body just knew to gravitate towards our shower. We had one of those detachable shower heads which was running hot water over my lower back and perineum as the surges became stronger. I had a bloody show, and I had such a strong feeling that our daughter was very close. My partner was in contact with our midwife and who said she was on her way so I knew things were moving along nicely. I was confident that things were progressing as my waters were clear and I’d had a bloody show, I was just starting to worry our midwife might not get there in time. Things were really intense quickly, and I remember thinking sometimes a bath can slow things down, so I asked my partner to fill the bath but it was so incredibly uncomfortable to be on my back. It is so incredible how my body held its own wisdom and demanded to be on all fours. I remember thinking the bath was too narrow and I wanted more room to stretch my knees out but not wanting to move because I was comfortable. 

It’s funny how you imagine how you will find your rhythm and comfort in labour, as compared to your preferences when labouring. I thought I would want to be held and touched, but I just wanted to be in my own space and still close to my partner. Which I think now, was such a beautiful way to hold space and trust my body to do what it needed to do. My partner was great, anticipating needs, he would try and sneak out to blow up the birth pool but I wanted him close and remember saying ‘don’t leave me!’.

When our midwife arrived she checked in with me, reassured me and helped me shift my breathing and then sorted the pool. My breathing and vocalisations at this point were a bit tense, I was probably a little nervous she wouldn’t get there in time. The moment I saw her in the bathroom I was so relieved and it all became real. At this point I had used all the hot water so the two of them were taking turns boiling water and filling the pool. I remember calling out from bathroom saying ‘I think I am pushing?’. 

Somewhere between 4-4.30am I moved from the bath into the birth pool. It felt like a sanctuary, blissful, warm and luxurious space. I remember feeling so at peace in there. The guttural noises I was making shifted deeper, more moaning, as if the deep vibrations of the noise eased any tension. Each surge I sort of remained on all fours but relaxed into the side of the pool sipping on coconut water. At this point my body was really pushing! Such a surreal feeling that involuntary strength! It felt like a long time but at the same time I was aware that it was quite fast. A laboured for a while longer until our midwife said I could probably feel her head. In between surges she would use the Doppler and check everything was fine, heartbeat recovering after the pressure of each surge. Our baby was navigating labour so well, just totally fine the whole time.


I didn’t feel transition, there wasn’t a distinct moment where I thought ‘I can’t do this anymore’ I just had this innate trust in my body, all the signs had been fine so far, but I do recall being frustrated when pushing. It’s totally normal but her head was moving up and down, and so with each surge I would feel a burning, and as if had I had pushed harder her head would be born but I just wanted to let my body do it. I often think back to that time now, and think it’s probably one of the first lessons in presence my daughter taught me! Until that point I was just completely surrendering to each surge, its rise and fall... trying to focus on my breath and be curious about the sensations in my body. The ring of fire was an incredible sensation, I am so thankful for the warm water, it was so intense and equally exciting knowing the two of you are right at the divine point between worlds. I had about 3-4 surges I think of crowning with strong ring of fire sensations until she was born to her eyes, her nose sort of slipped out between surges, and then her head was born. Her dad looking at her for the first time. That feeling was such a massive relief! Another few surges and her body was born and she was passed through my legs into my arms and we said our first hellos! 

It was truely the most beautiful moment. I still can’t believe it. She was so calm and curious looking around. She didn’t say anything she just was. Speaking to her for the first time was just surreal, and seeing her hear your voice on the outside she had this look of like “oh that’s who you are”. It’s so hard to explain, but I remember thinking I just need a minute so I can show up in this moment better, so I can take it all in. Her umbilical cord was incredibly short, and that was really uncomfortable because I felt like I couldn’t hold her properly. I was already feeling like 'am I doing this right?' and starting to feel really weak... like I might drop her in to the water. Knowing how fast and strong my labour was I think my body was in a little bit of shock, especially after being sick as well. 

It felt like I held her for two minutes and was getting more surges. Like sharp period pain sensations. I asked my partner to take her and for him to cut the cord. I think it was actually about 20 minutes after her birth in reality. I really just wanted to be in bed with my new baby girl and take it all in. A few more surges, some big blood clots in the pool, I then asked our midwife for the syntocinin so I could birth the placenta and started to climb out of the pool. 

Little did we know that my third stage would be almost 8 hours! I think because my body was in shock, shaking on the toilet, fatigued, overwhelmed so on that my body just needed a break before it delivered. But there were a few factors at play. We tried a number of things for the placenta, sitting on the toilet, in the bath, feeding etc. nothing was working! Massages, touch, all of the oxytocin. Still wouldn’t budge. Our midwife was encouraging me to go to the toilet, I had had a lot of fluid in labour, but no sensation. The syntocinin apparently can limit those sensations, so our midwife suggested an express catheter. Successfully emptying my bladder which was blocking the placenta from coming out. The placenta still hadn’t detached, but did eventually. Our midwife was so great in these moments, talking through options including the possibility of the need for transfer. I remember thinking I just need to catch my breath and it will come... and it did. In hindsight I think I was just so in love my whole pregnancy so I can’t help but feel like my body or mind wasn’t ready to let it go just yet. 

I did have a tear and a clitoral graze. Our baby girl was 3.84kg, not that her weight is why I tore. Our midwife was able to stitch me at home which was great. The postman delivered a new set of sheets as this was happening. Which I still think is hilarious. And I still feel like I owe our midwives an apology as our power has gone out at about 5am and we couldn’t even make them a tea or coffee, and all the local cafes were out of power too. 

And so finally I was in bed with our little girl. On cloud nine, amazed at the body and life. Utterly smitten and riding the birth bender hormones!

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