THE STORY BEFORE THE STORY:
If you had told me a year ago, that I’d give birth to our son at home, I probably would have laughed in your face! I was always so sure that when I gave birth, it’d be like how it is on TV – in the hospital, laying on my back and screaming for all the drugs! I guess, it comes down to the fact that I was super uneducated and really didn’t know any better.
Even though, I have always been a very spiritual and holistic person, I was extremely naive and ignorant when it came to birth. I remember before I was even pregnant, JayCee would joke with me, about how I’d give birth at home standing up or in a squat position and I literally was like ‘no suhhhhh!’ Boyyy, I really did come a whole 360.
After I became pregnant, I meticulously researched and read every single thing I could get my hands on about pregnancy and child birth. I empowered myself with knowledge and took wisdom from reading hundreds of birth stories. Educating myself was key. As women, we are taught very little about our bodies, pregnancy and child birth and are often left to think that doctors and hospitals know best. I was determined to teach myself everything there was to know because I wasn’t about to play passenger at such a monumental time of my life. Women typically prepare more for their holidays then they do for their births and I didn’t want that to be me!
It didn’t take long to realise that the image of birth portrayed in the media couldn’t be further from the truth and that laying on your back is probably the most painful way to give birth. I felt pretty stupid and ignorant for just assuming that this was the correct way!
The current evidence we have in the U.K. around place of birth comes from a large-scale birthplace study of 60,000 low-risk women. The study ‘found that for low-risk women, even if this was their first baby, planning for a home birth was safer than planning for a hospital birth in terms of avoiding major medical interventions…caesareans, instrumental births, episiotomies, third or fourth degree tears and the need for blood transfusions happened less frequently to women who planned a birth at home.’ (Milli Hill)
With that in mind, I learnt all that I could about birth and the wonderful little hormone oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’ – it’s the hormone that is released when you have sex, or bond with your baby and it is the main hormone needed during labour. Oxytocin likes warm, dark, cosy and intimate settings – so the sterile, unfamiliar settings and bright lights of hospitals often slows down and regresses labour! After learning so much, JayCee and I decided pretty early on that we wanted to have a home birth.
So, we planned meticulously and had copies of our birth plan everywhere! I was set on having a positive experience wherever I was, so I had a back up plan for the hospital and another in case of an emergency c-section so that I was still able to feel fearless and in control of what was happening. We knew that we would have two medically trained and highly skilled midwifes present for the birth and that if anything were to go “wrong” that I would be transferred to hospital in minutes. My main priority was obviously a healthy baby and mum, and for me, having our baby at home was the best option for that.
I figured that, women have been birthing their babies since the beginning of time so I decided to take inspiration and strength from my ancestors and read stories from different cultures across the globe. From Africa, to the depths of the Amazon, to India – I read them all. Taking strength from these women’s stories, really allowed me to lose any fear or apprehension that I previously held around child birth. I completely and unequivocally trusted my body to birth my baby.
I also decided to look into ‘hynobirthing’ which for me was basically enhancing and building upon positive manifestations. So I heightened my spiritual practice: every day, I meditated, visualised a positive birth and practiced breathing techniques.
I was also very fortunate that I work for baby charity, Tommy’s, who fund research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. My job meant that although it was very difficult to hear such heartbreaking stories whilst pregnant, I was surrounded by wonderful midwives who I could turn to for support. I was also very blessed to have met my good friend, midwife and all round angel, Anna (you can check out how amazing she is here) who was an absolute godsend to me during my pregnancy and provided me with the most incredible support! I genuinely thought I would end up FaceTiming her during labour but as it turned out, I was in too much pain to even think about it!
Ultimately, child birth is the hardest thing you could ever put your body through and it is so important that wherever a woman decides to give birth, that she feels empowered, loved and comfortable.
It was the early hours of Sunday, I woke up to pee around 2am (this was a regular occurrence for me at least 4 times a night) and I remember thinking ‘oh maybe my waters have broken’. Now it’s not always like it is in the movies, with some big tsunami-like gush, this was more of a tiny trickle. To be honest, only around 16% of women’s waters break prior so I was a little bit surprised and unsure of whether this was the real deal or not.
I went back to bed and then at around 5am, I had to pee again. This time I was pretty confident that they’d broken but I didn’t want to get too excited and I knew that I’d need all the rest I could get. So, I tried my hardest to go back to sleep for at least 2 hours before I could wake JayCee up (I knew that he would definitely need his rest too!) Those were probably the longest two hours ever, I started getting painful continuous cramps (kind of like reaaaally bad period pain) and I was too excited to sleep.
‘Today is the day I’m finally going to meet my baby!’ I thought to myself as I tried counting to a thousand in the hopes of falling asleep. I got to a thousand – still wide awake – I fumbled around for my phone… 7am. Yaasss I made it, I quietly tiptoed into the living room to go and call the midwife.
I came back and perched on the side of the bed, ‘Jay’ I whispered excitedly ‘my waters have broken’. Still in the land of nod it took him a minute to process what I just said. Once it sunk in, he was like ‘wait, so that means the baby’s coming today?!’
He got up out of bed, and we waited for the midwife from the home-birth team to come by and check me over. That’s the beauty of home birth, the midwives come to you for all of your check-ups/appointments. We didn’t have to fuss about going to hospital – we stayed chilling in our PJs, sipping tea. Once she arrived, she checked me and the baby over – we were both doing great so she left us to it and told us to call them later once things had become more established.
It was around 7.45am and at this point my contractions hadn’t ‘really’ started but the cramps had definitely intensified and were uncomfortable. I tried to get back into bed to get some more rest whilst JayCee went to the gym. I soon gave up on trying to sleep, I was too excited, so I decided to quickly wash, dry and straighten my hair, before things got too painful – so I could look as fly as possible for my baby!
Half way through straightening my hair, things definitely ramped up a little and I started getting contractions which were around 15 minutes apart. Though, they were painful, they were manageable. At this stage, I really wanted to avoid calling them contractions, I was extremely conscious of the way that I was framing labour for myself. I knew that they could potentially stay like this for days. So, I didn’t want to pay attention or time them because I didn’t want to become fixated on them or make my labour feel long and drawn out.
So, we carried on as normal to keep the oxytocin flowing. I really wanted to enjoy the day with JayCee so we went to Bills to grab some brunch for the last time as just the two of us. It was so lovely to have that moment, I sat there eating my sweet potato fries, feeling so loved by him that I could do anything. To share those precious moments together when something so monumental was about to happen was priceless.
The contractions continued to intensify, and I now needed to stop and breathe through them once they arrived. As things got moving, I only got more and more excited. The ‘pain’ from each contraction meant that I was one step closer to meeting my baby.
In the spirit of keeping things progressing nicely, we headed over to my parents house (where I would be giving birth) and took the dog for a walk around the park! Best believe, it definitely worked! Now, each time a contraction came – I had to stop to welcome them. The cold air helped to provide some relief as the surges ran through my body. I’m sure anyone watching would have been hella confused as to what was going on.
After all that, I was quite tired so we headed back to our place so I could ‘try’ and get some rest. This was easier said than done. Trying to sleep through the contractions was not the one, I took to all fours to rock my body through them and tried to take tiny 7 minute cat naps in-between. Whilst I was in my little rhythm of pain and sleep, JayCee thoroughly cleansed our home, both physically and spiritually: he deep-cleaned, burnt sage – there was a whole process. This was so important, to ensure that our baby would be coming back into a highly vibrational space.
The idea of sleep had soon disappeared and it became clear that there was no way I could stay in bed – laying down was waaay too hard! I went into the living room and bounced on my ball. I had made a list of everything we needed to take with us to my parents. So, whilst I bounced, JayCee ran around our home gathering every random crystal, candle and picture I’d requested.
After all the cleansing and running around, we sat down to watch a movie. My contractions felt a little closer together now so I decided to time them so we knew when to leave. Turns out they were around every 3-5 minutes. JayCee jumped into action and started to make me some dinner as he rambled on about how I’d need the energy. I tried to eat, and managed to force all of about two bites – I’d completely lost my appetite. So of course, JayCee helped me out and ate mine for me as well as his own!
Then something switched… my contractions were now one minute apart and had doubled in pain. I remember holding my head against the wall, quietly moaning and rocking back and forth.
‘I don’t know how you’re gonna get me out of this apartment Jay… this baby is coming’ I whimpered at him!
JayCee literally got me by the door and as soon as a contraction had passed, he ran me down the stairs – no sooner had we made it down, another came. We got to the car and another. I threw my arms up over the car and swayed whilst JayCee shoved my birthing ball and everything else in the back.
‘Jay honey, we’ve got loads of time ok – drive slow and safely’ I said once I realised I must have sounded hella dramatic a few minutes ago! He just looked at me like I was mad – completely off my rocker.
The heated seats of the car felt so soothing on my back so it was a struggle getting me out and inside the house! I made it to the doorstep and welcomed another contraction – I grabbed onto JayCee and groaned into his chest.
Getting inside, my birthing space was set up exactly how I wanted it to be. My mum had sage’d it down to clear the energy and set the tone. It was dark and the room was lit up by hundreds of little fairy lights – it felt so magical. We had a little ‘alter’ set up with pictures of various ancestors who we wanted to be present and watch over the birth. Along with countless candles, crystals and highly vibrational images. We had Indian flute music playing softly in the background and beautiful positive affirmations that my mum and I had made, stuck up on the walls. It felt so comforting, peaceful and otherworldly. It was beyond tranquil and allowed me to totally let my body takeover.
We had the coffee table stocked with tonnes of coconut water and little snacks to help me keep my energy up too.
9.00pm – Talking, now became really difficult and I took the most comfort in rocking on all fours or with my arms draped over my birthing ball. I threw up pretty much straight away, as the surges rippled through my body. Surprisingly, after being sick I felt a lot better – almost a little lighter!
I rocked on my birthing ball as JayCee sat behind me massaging my back and comforting me. I needed him close by, he was a great source of strength for me. My contractions were coming thick and fast, and I was so sure our baby would be coming soon. I was having to use every single breathing technique, visualisation and mediation that I had practiced. It took every single bit of strength and focus that I had.
The midwives arrived and set up the birthing pool, (whilst I worried that it wouldn’t be ready in time). I had to lay still whilst they checked me over and monitored our baby’s heartbeat, which felt like the hardest thing to do as each contraction had me squatting to the ground, reaching for JayCee or rocking my hips like I was trying to win a hula hoop contest!
I continued to labour, moan and groan through the pain. In my birth plan, I had opted against having any internal checks to check how dilated I was, because I didn’t want to be disappointed! But, as my contractions were a minute apart, the midwives advised it’d be a good idea just so we knew when to fill the pool.
BIG MISTAKE! I should have stuck to my guns, because boyyyyyy – the pain from that check was like nothing I have experienced before! I literally felt like my whole body was on fire and that I was breaking from the inside out – dramatic, but true. Anyway, it turned out I was only 2cm dilated. 2cm! Best believe, I was pissed. Some women, happily walk around 2-3cm dilated for days and then there’s me, 2cm dilated with contractions coming every minute! I was like sorry, what? This is not what’s supposed to happen.
I still had 8cm to go and was feeling so disheartened and disappointed. It was around 10.30pm and the midwives left to let me continue labouring but the disappointment was REAL. Knowing that I had such a long way to go made me want to give up, I didn’t think that I had it in me. The midwives advised that women usually dilate half a centimetre every hour, a bit of quick maths will tell you that could mean 16 more hours! I became so overwhelmed, I stopped focusing on all of my techniques and breathing and tensed my body instead of allowing it to surrender to the pain. NOT THE ONE.
The next few hours saw me go from pleading, rocking, squatting, in the pool, out the pool – to fully embracing what was happening. Tuning in to my animalistic nature, and letting my body let out these roars I never even knew it was capable of. I felt like a mama tiger. The groaning vibration helped soooo much to release the energy running through me – it grounded me. I let the goddess in me come forth and continuously told myself that no contraction was bigger than me and that my body would only give me what it knows it can handle.
The pain was immense but I felt like a warrior. It was this powerful energy that I was harnessing to bring our baby into the world. I am power – these contractions do not have power over me, I told myself over and over again. It felt so deeply spiritual, I was floating and felt completely connected to source.
My mum, sister and JayCee took it in turns, feeding me frozen oranges, coconut water and pouring water on my back. They worked hard but I really couldn’t eat anything – I needed every part of my body to ride through these massive waves of energy. I couldn’t even really acknowledge them, I was completely taken over. I could feel my baby bearing down and I knew things were starting to change.
My mum called the midwives and they came back around 2.15am. Together with my mum, they got the temperature of the water right and I climbed straight in. There was this immediate relief – this ‘ahhhh’ feeling. The water helped to calm me and allowed me the space to tune into my body and my baby.
Then came the transition phase (chances are, if you’ve had a baby, you know it well). Everything was changing and I suddenly felt like I couldn’t do it – this wave of intense emotion washed over me and I felt so overwhelmed and almost panicked. I lost focus and forgot how to breathe through the pain. I decided to try a bit of gas and air to help with my breathing. It did absolutely nothing for the pain, but the deep intake reminded me of how I needed to be breathing. I was back on track.
I was breathing again… focused. I had just about enough energy to try and buss a joke with JayCee – ‘Jay, how many sets I got left?!’
Mad. I know.
It was go time. I was exhausted but so excited – I was so close to meeting my baby. I don’t remember the pushing being painful but just extremely extremely powerful, and took every single bit of strength in my body. The only thing that helped me through was roaring, and roaring loud. Roaring was truly the best ‘pain relief’. Each time a contraction came, I drew in a deep breath and channelled that energy from my throat all the way down my body. It’s amazing, in that, your body kind of pushes for you – I just had to go with it.
‘I’m ready to meet him’ I said, as everyone told me how he had such beautiful lips. Hearing them talk about how beautiful he was actually made me a little jealous, all this hard work and they could see him before me? Then it dawned on me, I’d had him to myself for the last 9 months and now I had to share him… one more push, and there he was. I reached down and triumphantly lifted him onto my chest – the best feeling in the entire world. Our little king was earthside.
He was born at 3.14am after I’d been pushing for around 13 minutes. Everyone was pretty shocked at how quickly he came after we all thought it was going to be a reaaallly long 16 hour night!
He was perfect. I can’t even put into words how it felt. I sat holding our baby in the water, sobbing these primal tears of joy whilst JayCee had his arms around us both. It was otherworldly. My mum, sister, JayCee and I were transfixed, completely mesmerised by him. He was beautiful. The energy in the room was beautiful. It felt magical, like the whole universe had realigned and was now here in my arms. It was my single greatest achievement in my life (and I’ve done a lot of great stuff!) and I’ll treasure that sweet moment forever.
We delayed cutting the cord so that Amari would benefit from all of the goodness of the placenta. After a little while, JayCee did the honours and I finally let Amari out of my arms and into his!
It was time to get out the pool, but my legs felt like jelly and I just couldn’t move, so I needed some help getting up. I think the whole profundity of what had just happened hit me all at once and I was a little off balance. I remember getting out of the pool and just being so cold and shaking – I’d gone from the warm pool and adrenaline soaring through body to being completely still. It was such an out-of-body spiritual experience that it was almost as though my body was now playing catch up.
I sat on the sofa wrapped up in a towel and JayCee handed our son back to me. I put him on my breast straight away and we just watched him. JayCee on one side of me and my sister on the other – staring at this gorgeous little boy. The midwives left us to bond with him – they’d packed away the pool and were busy writing up their notes in the kitchen whilst making me toast and tea. They were amazing! Throughout the whole of my labour they were incredible, they didn’t intervene unnecessarily and really allowed me to be in the zone to birth my baby myself. They literally sat on the sofa chatting quietly and let us get on with it, I didn’t ever feel watched and was able to just fully let go. They knew exactly how much to talk to me and when to pull back, they had the most loving, warm and caring touch and I can not recommend them enough!
They left us around 6am and it was time to get some sleep. I had a nice hot shower, and then cuddled up in bed with JayCee and our beautiful son beside us. It was surreal. That was the best part, being in the home I grew up in, where I felt safe and comfortable. To have just given birth to our boy downstairs and then be able to get straight into bed with my family.
– Jasmine Reinah xo