Our little girl arrived one week ago at 40+5, delivering her myself in a pool in our front room with my partner and best friend by my side; our absolute ideal circumstances. Resources such as Erin's made all the difference in reframing my mindset towards birth, and so my story is two-fold in the hope that it positively contributes to another woman's experience.
Despite COVID, staff shortages and other factors that resulted in the suspension of homebirths, my intuition told me from the beginning of my pregnancy that it was the right choice for my baby and I. Both my partner and I are healthcare professionals and so this is perhaps why I personally wanted to steer clear of medicalising birth, and the more I researched the statistics of the reduction in interventions and positive outcomes as a result of homebirths, the more this reaffirmed my decision.
My decision was not well supported by my midwife however who would be quick to remind me of all the negatives and risks, as well as the fact my pain relief options would be limited and as a FTM that I "wouldn't know if I could cope". Every time homebirthing was resuspended I was told I "HAD" to go to hospital (just like I was told I HAD to be induced at 42 weeks and HAD to have a sweep at 41 weeks if I refused at 40). Luckily I was already well informed of my choices and didn't take any notice, however it was shocking that she evidently spoke to other women in the same, coercive manner and who perhaps would not be aware that they could decline any and all of those things.
I was low risk and had had a very easy going, healthy pregnancy which is why if the only reason a homebirth wouldn't be supported was because of staffing rather than due to a medical necessity, we would have opted to freebirth.
As it turned out this is pretty much what we ended up doing, as the midwives only arrived as I'd already birthed her head and they didn't get chance to assist. I sustained absolutely no trauma, birthed my placenta naturally and had zero blood loss. The midwives had near enough nothing to do other than the paperwork and said it was the smoothest homebirth either of them had ever attended, and I attribute that to the confidence content such as Erin's instilled in my decisions and ability to prepare myself.
I'd be lying if I said I'd always felt that confident in my own mindset though; as much as I knew I didn't want to go to hospital to give birth, in the beginning I was so terrified of the stereotypical depiction of labour that I seriously considered an elective C-section to 'avoid the pain and trauma of a vaginal birth'. Despite being medical and having attended a few births myself, the amount I didn't know about the physiological side of labour was immense.
Educating myself on oxytocin and all of the other mechanisms that give our bodies such a phenomenal capability, purposely feeding my subconscious with only positive accounts of labour on social media and speaking (mostly) to people I knew who had had good experiences resulted in genuinely and completely eradicating my fear of birth. From someone with a "low pain threshold" who thought they could never withstand labour to doing it unmedicated, it just goes to show how powerful the mind is.
Labour was the most empowering, primitive experience of my life and I would strongly encourage any mama-to-be to ignore the horror stories, trust their intuition and focus on rewiring the negative beliefs and fears that society has instilled as you absolutely have the power to make it magical.