From the moment I knew I was pregnant with my second child I knew that a hospital birth was not an option for me. My first child was born in Whittington Hospital, and whilst the labour in itself was actually lovely and pretty easy, the way in which I was treated wasn't.
With the decision to home birth, came a huge responsibility and desire to now study and train my body for another smooth labour. With my first a lot of my training and prep was instinctive, but I didn't really know what I was doing, now was learning time!
First thing was to set my mindset fully to the belief that my labour was going to be easy, calm, gentle, positive and a happy experience.
Then I needed to find out what I could bring in and cut out of my life, to make sure that my belief became a reality. I didn't know how I was going to do this so I started researching with a book called 'The Gentle Birthing Method'. Combining some of the teachings within this book with other things I was learning about helped to bring a dream of a peaceful birth into a reality!
Some of the benefits of having a home birth was being able to allow my then 4 1/2 year old to be involved in the whole process, I felt an overwhelming calm and happiness at not having to get up and move out of my house whilst in the labouring stage.
Another huge benefit for me was the fact that my daughter was born into her home, surrounded with love, all of our smells, the cleanliness, music, incense burning, laughter and warmth!
One of the most profound things I read when pregnant and preparing for a positive birth experience was these words...
If you was to run a marathon you wouldn't just get up one day and try to run it! You train, and train and train... prepare you mind and body. It's the same thing with pregnancy and labour.
These words struck so deep that it transformed how I acted, what I thought, ate and the kind of love I gave to myself, my partner, first born and unborn child.
I began meditating, building a connection to my baby, imagined what my ideal labour would look and feel like, practised taking my mind to a 'safe place' for when the contractions would be getting more intense.
I spoke openly about the developments of the baby with my first born, got him to build a connection and got him excited about being able to share the birthing experience with him there.. .although he wasn't in the room whilst I was pushing... he was dancing around excitedly in the next room with my sister!
Treating myself fortnightly to pregnancy massages helped bring a calmness to me and my daughter, unblocking any fears and strengthening my belief that this labour would be an amazing experience!
Eating in line with what would be beneficial to my body at the ever changing stages, being sure to cut out certain foods that could cause problems to me and baby.
Making sure that I exercised in as many ways as possible helped to tone and prepare my muscles for the whole labouring stage, and also the recovery period after. Preparing my body properly also allowed it to return to it's pre pregnancy state in an unbelievably quick time (literally within 10 hours it looked like I hadn't even had a baby!) Not that I'm saying this to say thats how it should be, it's just how it was for me in this pregnancy... in the following 2 it took a little while longer for my body to readjust!
So, overall... I was lucky to have such a beautiful experience, but that luck was well EARNED!!! Making a decision to home birth really is a huge step which as I said comes with a huge responsibility and commitment you have to make to do everything that you can to ensure you give yourself and baby the best chance to enjoy this experience!
If you're reading this and currently pregnant and considering a home birth, or perhaps for a future pregnancy, I would highly recommend trying it out, even if you want to have a hospital/birthing centre labour, do EVERYTHING you can to ensure your labour as peaceful, healthy and in control as possible!!