How I fell in love with homebirth.
By Sophie Fletcher
Homebirth wasn’t even on my radar when I had my two boys. It wasn’t given as an option, neither my midwife or my friends had mentioned it; it wasn’t something my mother or any of my 5 aunts had done. I just had no thoughts about it, bad or good.
Predictably I had both my children in hospital, and it wasn’t until my path took an unexpected turn that I found myself at a homebirth. At that time I was still training as a doula and it was only the second birth I’d attended.
Stepping into a home where a baby is to be born is a wonder and the first home birth I attended was an awakening of sorts. Here is how it was, on that night.
“When I arrive at their home, at 10pm, it is dark. I am struck by the normality of this quiet cul-de-sac in a small town, where everyone is preparing to go to bed, as they do every day, while in the home in front of me I know a baby is coming. A pocket of something extraordinary amongst all the ordinariness. I feel as if I’ve been let in on a miraculous secret.
I am welcomed in – it feels like stepping into my grandfather’s home when I was a child, on Christmas Eve, when everyone was full of joy. When, us children would be upstairs, quietly listening out for the magic in the air, knowing that someone long awaited would soon arrive.
The mother is upstairs in a dim room, candles lit, just quietly swaying. A smile, a hand squeeze, whispers, a hug. Then a flurry as the pool is put up, the midwife on her way, a father and mother to be – without disturbance – together in their home. Their faces shine in the dim light, a sense of purpose behind the father’s movements as he makes sure everything is ready.
The midwife arrives, the kettle is on, the cake the mother baked earlier in anticipation is shared out. Baby is quietly checked, the steady pattern of the baby’s heart punctuating the stillness, whispering “I am here, I am here”. The mother gets in the pool, she moves, sways and moans quietly. No one tells her what to do, no one examines her. They listen and wait as her contractions rise and fall in her body. The room, her home, her partner, her energy holds her.
She moves out of time – journeys to the stars and back – and collects her baby, embraced by the universe, and returns. Her little girl small, perfect, quietly curled against her body in the dim soft candlelight.
The placenta is born, baby is on her breast, she is snuggled up with her partner in the comfort of her own bed, cup of tea nearby in her favourite mug, radiantly bathed in a birth afterglow. A takeaway has been ordered. Everything has been cleared up, the washing machine is on. Home life momentarily eclipsed by something extraordinary.
Three years later she will tell her little girl about her birth, and will say,” that is where you where you were born”. And every time she looks in that room she is reminded that there is magic in the everyday, and that in a home like hers, right now, there is another woman having her baby.”
This is why I love home birth and the wonderful homebirth group I attend. Every time I go I am reminded of women, of what they can do, how they can support each other, lovingly. As time rolls on, babies are born, women move on, but the energy of the room where we hold the group still contains all their experiences and emotions. The group holds us all – whether we have a homebirth or not, we are reminded of what we are capable of, and how we are held with love.
Warm, dark, hushed, timeless, loving, graceful, powerful, comfort, family, home. These are the words that mean birth to me.