Our son, Tyson Smyth was born on 1st September 2016, 11.09pm (New Moon – Virgo) – at home in the birth pool in our apartment in London. Born at 38 weeks gestation, weighing 7.8lbs (3.5g)
Below is my birth story.
I was blessed to have had such a wonderful experience, a positive labour and birth – and I know from so many around me that my experience is not seen as common. But I didn’t just by chance stay at home and hope for the best…. I was well prepared and informed. Some of it is luck and some of it is genetics or it is down to my own preparation – perhaps, but I am also quite terrified of hospitals so that also drove me to my choice of a home birth. I have spent a few years learning about home birth (since I trained as a prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher) and understanding the natural process of labour, I also mentally and physically prepared myself for what was going to happen. Of course, I had a backup plan if there was a need for medical intervention or any emergency (I live in central London – 10 minutes to 3 hospitals). I sourced unbelievably wonderful independent midwives (2 present at the birth) that I got to know and trust, and my husband Rob was fully involved, hugely supportive and backed my birthing choices.
I also relied heavily on my yoga and energy practice to carry me the rest of the way. Yoga is not just about asana (physical postures) on a mat, it is about breath, mindset and focus, awareness and trust (8 limbs of yoga). The energy/intuitive work I do is second nature to me and I share bits of it below, as it was a huge part of my first pregnancy and birth experience.
Home birth may not be for everyone, but an empowered birth experience is possible.
31st August 2016
We were out celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary. Reminiscing on all that Rob and I have done over the past 13 years as a couple…. all our travels and adventures and what we have done as just the two of us. We toasted that time – knowing that soon it would be ‘us three’ – a family. We were excited about the change that was due yet we were also aware that an era was closing. Often, there is a death of some kind in order for something new to be born – symbolic of the New Moon energy that was about that evening. Little did we know our son would be arriving the following evening…. I wasn’t due for another 2 weeks!!
1st September 2016
At around 4am I woke to go to the toilet… nothing unusual there! Throughout my pregnancy I learned to navigate the route to the toilet with my eyes closed, every 2-3 hrs. 4am was my usual snack time… yummmm… bircher muesli!
But this time I woke due to my shorts being fairly damp. I changed and ate my bircher muesli and went back to bed. Waking soon thereafter only to need to go to the loo again…. this time more of a trickle of water rather than to pee. This continued and by morning it was a fairly regular trickle and, now that it was bright, I noticed every time I went I also had a show (mucus plug release). I knew something was up, but they were the only symptoms I had – so it could be nothing. As I had my midwife, Jacqui, calling in at 10am for my 38 week check, I just waited to raise it with her when she arrived.
Jacqui said it could be just a hind-tear in my outer membrane and that could be nothing major, it could leak today but seal back up and perhaps happen on and off til my due date. As I had no contractions she said just stay in touch. But she was also slightly hesitant to go to her next appointment in Essex because she had spoken with my mom, when she was last over with me, and learned of her silent labour with me. (in short: My mom recalled having a feeling of basically needing to pooh, then getting checked and in fact it was my head!!! – Nice!) So, Jacqui and I had our suspicions… but I had no other sensations so off she went. Elke – my other midwife was alerted too, just in case.
I clearly did have some knowing that that was going to be my day because I took a brief moment to create a crystal grid for the New Moon and set my intentions for the day. I also invoked the elements to assist me in my labour. Something I had planned to come back to and meditate on – but the toilet was calling – I couldn’t stray too far!
May my breath to be my guide and assist me in birthing my son
May the Divine Spirit (spark of life) transform within me – maiden to mother
May the water of life (my waters and my birth pool) assist me in a fluid labour
May Mother Earth keep me grounded, present in the physical moment for the birth of this new life.
I had planned to meet some of the women in my NCT (National Childbirth Trust) group (a group of 8 local couples with whom we did a 3 part parenting/birth prep course) that afternoon. But I had to cancel, saying I would see them tomorrow due to my now very frequent trips to the toilet (fairly constant trickle by 1pm) apart from that I was very tempted to get out and meet them. I still had no other sensations.
I called Rob home, as I figured we should at least take the pool out of the box and give it a trial run at putting it up. Thank God we did because we found out it came without a pump…. how were we to inflate a birth pool with no pump!!? Quick thinking Rob decided to take out the blow up mattress we have for guests and inflate that. Then twist the deflate valve and use that air to basically blow up the 3 part wall for the pool. Ingenious – until two inflatable large items started to take over our flat and the short 1 meter cord kept pulling from the socket due to lack of space. So, our entire living room and kitchen furniture was shoved into one corner – the normally cool-as-a-cucumber Rob was now getting flustered and getting very angry – something that I noticed was effecting how I felt and I was aware of some sensations starting to twinge. I knew this meant that I could quite possibly be in pre-labour and stress was not going to help if labour was about to commence. So, I headed back to the bathroom and listened to my hypnobirthing recording. After all that, Rob succeeded in inflating the pool and returned our furniture into position. He then headed off to work in a nearby cafe.
By this stage (3pm or so) I had a real need to pooh. So, for about the next hour I sat on the toilet with the trickle of waters, the regular show and now my body was emptying itself, making space for what’s to come! All signs of pre labour. Still no other sensations or contractions.
As the afternoon went on I started to have a few contractions but very manageable – 2 or 3 breaths and they were over – I was pleasantly surprised. I kept my midwives informed by phone. By 6pm, once I noticed that my contractions were about 8-10 mins apart, I called Rob back home. Jacqui arrived around 7pm, my contractions were becoming regular but still manageable. Jacqui was laughing at me as she said ‘I believe you are in labour but you don’t look like you are!’ – She requested to do a vaginal check to see what was actually going on. (Vaginal checks are not normally done, or kept to a minimum if having a home birth – less interruption.) She checked and I was 4cm. She officially announced labour had started: Game on!
Labour progressed really well – two or three good deep breaths and I got through each contraction. I did vomit a few times as the sensations deepened and felt instantly better. I moved from the bathroom floor to the bed and hung out of the head board on all fours for each contraction. Resting in child’s pose between.
Rob was a pro, coaching me through it and reminding me to breathe deeply and reciting my affirmations to me. I really needed his coaching, the reminder of my birth plan and all the preparation I had put into this kept me focused on being present and not giving in to the sensations. All I had to do was focus on not losing my head – stay with my goal, trusting my body and surrendering to the process, one contraction at a time.
Both my midwives headed off for some dinner, to allow Rob and I to do this together, to be honest, I was unaware they were not there. My eyes remained closed for most of this part of labour and I worked on visualisations for my birth. Once I started to bear down Rob called them back. Even though he was well able to handle it, I reckon he got a little concerned that he was going to deliver the baby alone!! The noises I made were certainly enough to get him thinking Tyson was only a few moments away from being born.
By the time they got back from dinner they had yet to warm the pool!! It was still too cold for me. So, Rob and Elke had the pots boiling and kettle going to heat the pool up. I got into the pool for the last 30 mins of labour. Rob and the midwives all agreed that I instantly relaxed and melted into the warm water. It was quite lovely. At this stage the head was coming down and even though I wanted to push (and I did bear down quite a bit naturally) they all coached me to not push on the last few contractions and focus deeply of a fluid breath. Long inhale and long full exhale to breathe baby out. It worked!
Slowing down my breath here was insane, I became so aware of each sensation in my body and aware of what everyone around me was saying – yet I was also not really there with them at all. I was also aware of the presence of Archangel Gabriel (the Angel of Childbirth) whom I had called on for assistance. I was aware of a space I go to in meditation, one that I had used for preparation with my hypnobirthing, there was a sense of separateness and serenity and yet at the same time I was acutely feeling incredible physical sensations, and everything was so slow yet fast!
With the last 3 contractions, baby came down, crowned, then slightly went back up (a seriously odd sensation); then next one he was back down and out came his head. I immediately went to feel his head – I couldn’t believe it was out – I know how weird this sounds but it felt the size of a hockey ball on his descent – and I guess I was expecting something waaay bigger. I got to feel his head and then let it go so he could turn (again a crazy cool feeling when he rotated) I honestly thought Jacqui was turning him but she never touched him! The next contraction Tyson was born!!! I got to lift him out from the pool and onto my chest. It was amazing! Seriously what an experience! Ecstatic!!!
His head was born with his hand held to his face. My midwives speculated that if it weren’t for that hand he would have shot out! I was very lucky to not tear but that lovely little hand with bizarrely long nails did do some damage and grazed the superficial tissues to my front. That kept me bed bound for a week but all healed now.
1 month on and Tyson has been a dream! Every moment has been fab! I adore being his momma!
I want to say a massive thank you to Rob for all his support. I am so excited to parent this little dude with him!
The London Birth Practice – Independent Midwives
Jacqui and Elke were amazing. I got to know them over my pregnancy as they came to my home to check me and my growing bump. They were amazing on the day and their after-care was unbelievable. I just got discharged (a month on) – what a wonderful bond I made with them, their service made my entire experience even better. I highly recommend them!!