Manjeet (not her real name) was having her second baby and this time it was at home. She had called me up shortly after finding out she was pregnant to ask me to be her doula again and said she wished she could have a homebirth this time. “So have a homebirth!” I said.
“I don’t know. I’m waiting for permission from my midwives to say it’s ok.”
“As long as your pregnancy is healthy and everything is normal, you can have a homebirth if you want to. You don’t have to wait for permission. You’re the boss. Just TELL them you want a homebirth.”
So she told her midwives, and her family that she wanted a homebirth. Her family was unsure about whether it was a good idea, but she told them, “I’ve researched it, and as long as everything is healthy and the midwives are coming, it’s safe. It’s my birth and I’m the boss.”
So they said, “Ok.”
Manjeet put a lot of thought into her birth. She printed up affirmations and pasted them on her walls. She printed up sheets and placed them around the house to remind all the people who would be at the birth, “p
She called me in the morning to let me know she had had mid contractions at night but nothing to strong but she would let me know when they got stronger. I waited till late afternoon to check back in with her. Her husband said she had a shower went to sleep. She called me back in the evening to say they were stronger but she was doing fine. I figured this was a second baby and she would probably be in active labour soon so I decided to go over.
When I got there, the midwives had also popped in for a check. Manjeet was about 2cm, so they went home to wait for her to call a little later. Manjeet and I did some tidying and then sat down to have a nice conversation over dinner. She had one long contraction that really grabbed her attention. “That was a good one!” I said.
“What do you feel like doing after dinner?”
“You know, I really want to get the lawn mowed before the baby is born. We’ve cleaned up everything else except done the lawn. I usually help my husband hold the electrical cord while he mows.”
So her husband mowed while she held the cord and her 4 year old daughter jumped around in the backyard. It was a nice summer evening. I took photos of them in between contractions. It wasn’t 20 minutes later that there was a gush of water. Her water broke in the yard. Perfect timing – the grass got watered, and she since her water didn’t break in the house there was nothing to clean up. Her contractions got considerably stronger so she was leaning on me by now.
Her husband asked if we should go back in and she said to just finish the lawn. I suggested he start filling the birth pool once he was done. I’ve never seen a person mow that fast.
By the time we got back in and her husband got to work filling the pool, her contractions had gotten strong enough that she was just holding on to her dresser, leaning forward, eyes closed. There was no more chatting or joking in between contractions. Just inward focus. I did hip squeezes and her cousin, who was also there to help with the birth started rubbing her back. Manjeet was focusing beautifully, with just a few encouraging words about how awesome she was doing and to remember to relax her breathing, her shoulders and her whole body. I also asked if she had some music that she wanted to play, which she did.
Once the pool was filled, her 4 year old couldn’t understand why she was not allowed to go for a swim. Manjeet and I had discussed, during a prenatal visit, having her daughter at the birth. I said it was a great idea as long as there is one adult who’s job it is to look after the child in case she needs something. Manjeet’s aunt took her daughter out.
The midwives arrived before the pool was filled. They did a quick check before she got in the pool. She was around 8cm. Manjeet got in the water and sighed, “This is so much better.”
She moved around between hands and knees in the pool and leaning back. I stroked her arms, shoulders and back during contractions and guided her through a visualization meditation we had discussed at prenatal visits. She soon started pushing. Her husband, cousin and sister gathered around the pool in excitement. While she was leaning forward, holding on to her husband, I alternated between doing hip squeezes and taking pictures.
Baby was born easily just after 10pm. Manjeet cuddled the baby in the pool and her husband couldn’t stop crying. The midwive’s asked what it was. “I think it’s a girl.” She did a quick peek and exclaimed, “No, it’s a boy!”
Manjeet’s aunt brought her daughter back to meet the baby brother. Big sister wanted to cuddle her mom and was holding onto her arm when Manjeet felt more contractions so dad held the baby which was still attached to the cord so mom could get more upright. She pushed out the placenta with her daughter still clinging to her arm.
We all helped Manjeet get out of the pool and onto her bed to relax and cuddle baby. She had planned to do a cord burning instead of cutting. It took a really long time but eventually the candle flame burned through the cord and I helped her start breastfeeding.
Everyone helped to clean up the room and get the birth pool disassembled. I helped Manjeet go to the bathroom before she settled down for the night with her family.