Photo by @sharonmccutcheonon Unsplash

“Before giving birth the first time, I read a bunch of books on natural birth and even for my second birth I found it very helpful to read different birth stories. So here is mine to share.

Before I start, I would like to mention two things. First, I love to give birth. I think it is the most special state of mind and body one can achieve. It is a really cool experience. Second, I am afraid of hospitals. I am actually afraid of many things, but hospitals are on the top of the list. With that combination, a home birth was a very natural choice for me and my second baby. With the first one I had to go to a hospital. I really hoped I could stay at home the second time.

My pregnancy was not so forthcoming with my plans at first. I struggled with early contractions from week 20 onwards and was not sure if I would manage until week 38 to be able to give birth at home. To make it more exciting, my baby turned into breech position at week 35 almost giving me a heart attack. Luckily, she turned back and despite the early contractions I passed the due date.

Around 2 days before the birth (and 2 days after due date) my usual contractions had changed. While they were long and uncomfortable during pregnancy they started to be short and painless. But, days after the due date it was not entirely surprising to have pre-labour contractions and I was prepared to wait even longer for my baby to arrive. The evening before the birth, I had painless contractions getting more regular, they came around every 20 min, but they stopped after a short while. Still the pre-birth, I thought. That very same night around 1, I woke up. I was dreaming I was in labour and the second I woke up I wasn’t sure if I felt real contractions. I went to the toilet and there I realized that I lost some drops of blood. I read in many books that labour can start with bleeding so I hoped that was the reason. I did not feel any strong contractions yet so I decided to go back to sleep and call the midwife in the morning about the bleeding.

Around 5, I woke up again having mild contractions. I did try to time them and realized they were around every 10-12 minutes. But they were very mild, so again I thought it still must be pre-labour contractions. Again I went to the toilet but this time I got a little shock. I left quite a lot of blood in the toilet, like if I had my period. I got really nervous and called Marloes [the Zwanger in Brussel midwife] who was on call that day. At first, she was not entirely sure if the bleeding was ok but after I explained how much it was and that I had had some contractions already she said its ok. She sent me back to bed and wanted me to go to my appointment for a CTG the next morning, which was set anyway as I was over the due date.

“I went out to my husband and daughter and told them that I am in labour and we have to hurry home not to miss our birth!”

I was still a little concerned about the bleeding and a little excited should I finally be in labour, so I woke my husband around 6 just to tell him the news and we went back to bed hoping for a little more sleep. When I lay down, I felt some liquid between my legs. I immediately called Marloes telling her that either I peed in my panties or my water just broke. She said it was probably my water and that means we will have a baby in the next 24 hours but I should go to my appointment anyway just to check the bleeding.

While my husband went out to bring fresh croissant for breakfast my 4-year-old daughter woke up. She got very excited that her baby sister may arrive that day. I had contractions during all of this but I felt them very mildly and did not have to breath through them. In my previous pregnancy I was told: “If you have to ask yourself if you are in labour, you probably aren’t”. So, as I was still asking myself if I really was in labour I figured I probably wasn’t yet.

“I told her almost apologetically that my contractions had slowed down . She said: ‘Don’t worry about that, I am staying now”‘.

At 10 in the morning we had our appointment for CTG at the Cocon, the in-house birth-house of Hospital Erasme – pretty far from our home. The contractions got more frequent by that time, but they were still not really bothering me and that made me wonder if I was still just having pre-labour contractions. Michele, my midwife at the Cocon took very good care of me. She did the monitoring and a vaginal examination to check the bleeding. She told me that everything is fine, the amniotic bag is still intact and the cervix is 4 cm dilated. So not only had I peed in my panties that morning, but I was already in established labour! She offered me to stay and give birth there but I felt great and I wanted to have my home birth. I went out to my husband and daughter and told them that I am in labour and we have to hurry home not to miss our birth!

“while the others worked and I made pictures of my proud daughter preparing the pool for the birth of her little sister.”

On the way back my contractions got a little stronger but stayed still very friendly. We arrived at home around noon. I was still fine and terribly hungry so I sent my husband to get something for lunch while I stayed home with our daughter trying to figure out who could take care of her during labour. Probably Murphy’s law that exactly that time, alone with my kid and no husband around, my contractions changed suddenly coming every 2-3 minutes. I got nauseated. That made me a bit nervous because it reminded me of the transition period in my first birth.

I called my husband to come home quickly and called Elke, who was on call at that time. Elke answered the phone but told me that she was at another birth (somebody was even quicker than me) and she has to send a colleague. Just after the call the contractions slowed down. I felt quite stupid: second baby and calling the midwife too early… But it was too late, the midwife was already on her way. My appetite came back and I had a light lunch. I was very curious which midwife would turn up and I was very happy and surprised when Arlind arrived around 2 p.m. I met her 2 days earlier for check-up and I really had the feeling she would be the midwife for my baby, but we passed her days on call so I did not believe in my newly discovered intuitions. Yet it was her and I really had the feeling everything is going very-very well.

“I took [my baby] out all by myself without anybody touching her but me. That was the most beautiful thing I ever did.”

I told her almost apologetically that my contractions had slowed down and she may have come for nothing but she just sat down and said: “Don’t worry about that, I am staying now”. She asked when my daughter will be picked up and said labour will probably intensify after she left. While we were waiting for a friend to pick her up, my daughter and my husband prepared the baby-pool we bought for the birth. The sun was shining into the room, I had a nice chat with Arlind while the others worked and I made pictures of my proud daughter preparing the pool for the birth of her little sister. It was a really nice atmosphere and I couldn’t have asked for more.

Around 3 in the afternoon my daughter left and I went into the pool. The pool was very nice and my totally mild contractions felt even easier. After a while I thought it is just too easy and asked Arlind to check me. She suggested to come out of the pool first and let the contractions develop outside. They actually got stronger so I stayed a little while out of the pool standing during the contractions. They were still easy to handle but now I had to concentrate on them. After a few of this intensive contractions Arlind said I could go back into the water if I wished. I really did, but back in the water it again felt so easy, I was worried the birth is not progressing properly. Finally Arlind checked the dilation and I was at 6 cm. It must have been around 5 in the afternoon. Arlind said it can go quite fast from there and I could start pushing if I felt the urge to do so. I just thought: I am only at 6 cm, how on earth should I feel the urge to push? But she was right and our daughter arrived a little after 5.30 after only a couple of pushes. She was born into the water and when she was out, Arlind said to me “she is there, you can take her now”.

I took her out all by myself without anybody touching her but me. That was the most beautiful thing I ever did. I was so high from the birthing hormones, I even forgot to check if she really was a girl.

I had a fantastic birth and I enjoyed feeling every step of the way. I do not say my birth was not exhausting, maybe even a little uncomfortable at some point, but except the “circle of fire”, the pain of the perineum while the baby’s head comes through, I had no sensation I would describe as pain at all. Not in my first birth, not in my second. 

So for all the future mums: it really is possible, the perfect birth. You may pee in your panties on the way, but you can have it. Go for it.

NOTE: Zwanger in Brussels have taken the difficult decision to pause all deliveries (both home deliveries and midwife-assisted deliveries in hospital) from the end of September 2021 onwards, for a minimum period of 6 months. They will continue offering pre- and postnatal consultations, house visits, postpartum consultations, lactation consultations and workshops.

About Zwanger in Brussel

Zwanger in Brussel (website in English, French and Dutch) is a dynamic team of midwives ready to look after you in all stages of your pregnancy, during birth, and after the birth of your baby. Based in Molenbeek (Rue Verrept-Dekeyser 39, 1080), they also consult in:

– Schaerbeek (in Huis van het Kind-Noord on the second floor – Rue du progrès 319, 1030); and
– Ixelles (in SeeU, building Q, next to Haricot Magique – Fritz Toussaint 8, 1050 Ixelles).

They carry out come visits in all 19 communes of Brussels.

Midwife Elke Van Den Bergh is also an IBCLC-qualified lactation consultant, and can offer consultations at any time on your breastfeeding journey.

Tel: +32 495 88 15 02
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